Confessions of a Mormon Blogger

MembersFacingDisciplineI thought about entitling this “Lessons Learned from Church Discipline,” but I don’t want that to be the main focus of this post. First, to be clear: In spite of rumors to the contrary, I am not under any restrictions or church discipline. I turned in my temple recommend because I felt I no longer qualified – all based on my understanding of the way I thought a question had to be answered.

So Easy to Be Judged and Misunderstood

One of the things I learned is how offensive this action is to some people. I was truly shocked by the number of private and public emails, blog comments and Facebook comments from people who expressed disappointment, shock and even anger at what I had done. To them, it was as if I had turned my back on the church and was declaring myself a non-believer or even an apostate.

Wisdom in Keeping Some Things Private

I also learned the wisdom of following counsel to keep some things private. I am now certain I misinterpreted my priesthood leader’s request to not write about this on my blog or Facebook. I thought he meant to not share the private details of the conversations, which I haven’t. I believe now he meant to not share *anything* about the process. Too many people have misunderstood.

Yet Open Dialog Helped and Persuaded

OK, so I’m a fool. Nevertheless, I’m grateful for the conversations that ensued with wonderful input from some of my friends who helped me understand what that temple recommend question really means. As they have shared, just because you read material from individuals who have now been excommunicated, it does not mean you are no longer worthy of a temple recommend.

Come to Understand Certain Key Words

You’d think I would know better. I’ve probably conducted hundreds of recommend interviews over the years but never had anyone say anything other than “no” when asked the affiliation question. I thought deeply about those three words: a) support, b) affiliate, and c) agree. They refer to “teachings or practices that are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the church.”

Stigma of Being Labeled an Apostate

I have spent two and a half years reading, studying and trying to understand the writings of one LDS author who has now been excommunicated. In spite of this, I am more confident to answer that last temple recommend question “yes.” There are many, many things in his writings which caused my heart to burn and with which I agreed as I studied them. I found much truth in them.

Support, Affiliation and Agreement

Once this author was excommunicated, I had to answer the question for myself if I supported, affiliated or agreed with his teachings. I made up my mind he was not teaching new things, he was simply offering his interpretations of key scripture. I happen to agree with many of those interpretations. Did that make me an apostate, especially since I intended to go to his lectures?

Responses Based on Both Love and Fear

I discovered the idea of reading the material of a now-excommunicated author and especially my intention of attending a couple of his lectures was particularly offensive to some of the people I know and with whom I keep in touch on Facebook. It confused me. What motivated such words of condemnation? How had I threatened them by my intentions? Were they really that insecure?

Seek Learning by Study and Also by Faith

This particular author is presenting a series of lectures along the Wasatch Front. I purchase the recordings, study the transcripts and write blog posts about them. I do this because I have asked the Lord in prayer for knowledge on opening the heavens, which is the subject being addressed. I have learned answers to private, individual prayer are difficult to explain to those not involved.

Must Experience It Yourself to Relate

It reminded me of my missionary days and the salt analogy from President Packer. I had tasted salt. In my personal and private prayers, I received undeniable witnesses I was on the right path for me. The Lord was pleased with my studies, my efforts to understand the truth and my future intentions to deepen that understanding through attending lectures discussing profound doctrines.

Takes Time to Understand Deep Doctrine

After many discussions, Carol has agreed to attend two of the lectures with me in July, although I know it is not something she really wants to do. As part of my “due diligence” in forming my opinion and ascertaining truth for myself, I felt it important to experience the lectures in person. There’s nothing like hearing someone teach in order to get a better understanding of their spirit.

Continue to Invest in Close Relationships

That brings up another thing I learned – the importance of lots of open conversations with others in your family who are invested in your spiritual standing with the Lord and the church. I tried to reassure Carol over and over that my many hours of studying this material – along with studying the scriptures – will NOT lead me away from her, from the LDS church or from our Savior.

United as a Family in This Challenge

I believe Carol has a right to participate in my upcoming counseling session with the Bishop and Stake President this week. I intend to ask them if she can attend the meeting. Ordinarily, such interviews and counseling about temple worthiness are conducted separately, even when husband and wife are being interviewed for the recommend renewal process. That’s just the way it is.

Surprise at the Rapid Growth of the BlogGrowthOfBlog

I am extremely appreciative of the thousands of people who read my blog. Each time I write a post, it goes into the news feeds or email boxes of people all around the world. I know because I have reviewed the list of subscribers. There are many additional thousands who come to read my blog each time I post something new. Hundreds have joined the dialog to share their comments.

Thoughtful Comments From Blog Readers

For the most part, readers and commenters on the blog are civil and respectful toward each other, even though my subjects tend to cause strong feelings. There are those who are supportive of the conclusions I have reached in my studies and those who see them as heretical or false doctrine. I am constantly reminding my readers I am not teaching doctrine – only expressing my opinions.

Facebook Readers are a Different Breed

On the other hand, I notice the dialog on Facebook has a different tone. It seems more combative with occasional personal attacks. For a while I disconnected my Facebook connection to the blog until I saw how many hundreds of readers came from Facebook. Every blogger seeks readership and I am no different. I write to be read with the hope of being understood, otherwise why write?

Grossly Uninformed but Still Opinionated

Many of my readers have taken the time to read, study or otherwise come to an understanding of some of Denver Snuffer’s commentary on the scriptures. Others have a cursory comprehension based on the summaries of others. That’s unfortunate. They come across as misinformed and even bigoted because they have missed the wonderful depth of doctrine that he has explicated.

A Closed Mind is a Dangerous Thing

It never ceases to amaze me that people want to talk about Denver as opposed to my desire to discuss the scriptures he has opened to unorthodox interpretation. It also surprises me how many people are adamant they know such interpretations are wrong because they do not fit what we have taught in the standard historical narrative over the years. Their minds are closed – period.

Equally Yoked – Both Love to Write

Carol and I have discussed this often with specific examples of individual cases from my blog. Since Carol is a writer with some experience and skill, having invested thousands of hours in her craft, I know she can relate when people are dismissive of her ideas about superior ways to get a story across. I am grateful for my dear wife who accepts the importance of continually learning.

Edifying Content Can be Controversial

When I first started sharing my study notes, observations and commentary on the things I was learning from this writer, I was surprised at the polarity in the feedback. One of the best tools of a writer is persuasion. Everyone should learn to write persuasively. Writing with passion is also a skill that helps get your point across. But there is a difference between passion and ad hominem.

Persuasion Part of Power in the Priesthood

As I have attempted to share what I have learned about certain uplifting subjects such as power in the priesthood, it became clear even long-time members of the church do not understand the source of that power and the only authorized way the Lord endorses our exercise of that power. They seem to be confused between authority and power even though it’s such a basic doctrine.

LDS Bloggers Being Excommunicated

Because I have written so much about what I have learned by studying the scriptures behind the doctrines expounded by this particular writer, I became concerned as I was made aware of others who were being excommunicated for what appeared to be simply reading and commenting on the same books I was studying. My fellow bloggers were excommunicated for endorsing a book.

Practices of Fear and Control in the Church

I knew about the Strengthening Church Members Committee from the excommunications of the September Six back in 1993. I remember those days. It put a real damper on intellectual pursuit of the doctrines of the gospel. It initiated a period of time where nobody dared to ask questions anymore for fear of being reported by the SCMC committee to their local priesthood leaders.

Strengthening Church Members Committee

Now, I don’t think the SCMC is particularly looking to find fault with my material, but I have to wonder at some of the IP addresses in my logs that come from downtown Salt Lake City. I know I have readers in the Church Office Building. Some of them have written and called me. I have enjoyed our discussions. Thousands of readers come from Utah but don’t comment. That’s okay.

Guidelines from the Church PR Department

I’m not paranoid. I’m just concerned, especially after learning of the excommunications of some of my fellow bloggers who write about the same subjects. In light of the disciplinary action for Brent Larsen, Will Carter, John Dehlin, Kate Kelly and Rock Waterman, the church recently responded with some helpful guidelines. My friend Log helped me parse the church statement:

  1. Insisting on changes to “Church” doctrines or structure.
  2. Recruiting others.
  3. Creating organized groups. <—- that’s “affiliate”.
  4. Staging public events.
  5. Creating literature. <—- books and blogs qualify.

Tone of Your Writing Determines Response

Based on these guidelines, there’s no doubt the church IS looking at the blogs of the members, searching for content with the wrong “tone.” Clearly, “How and why one asks is as important as the questions we’re asking.” I hope I’ve made it clear. I have questions but I don’t feel there’s anything wrong with that. I don’t consider them doubts or present them as such to anyone else.

Leave Official Doctrine Up to the Church

Another key for LDS bloggers is to avoid teaching. Leave that up to the church. Pondering and speculation are OK. Some doubt the profitability of speculation. I don’t. I love to consider “what if” scenarios. I guess it’s the computer guy in me. I do that all the time at work. Otherwise, you might find yourself called in by your Bishop or Stake President asking specifics about your blog.

Future Direction of My Blog

To close this post, and hopefully encourage some of my readers who wonder about where I’m going with this, I thought it might be helpful to share my conversation with Carol in our weekly family council this afternoon. Because she loves me and seeks reassurance, she is also concerned about what I am doing with my blog, my studies and what I intend to do with what I am learning.

Reassurance is Always Helpful

We went over the five points of testimony. I assured her I know God lives. We pray together as a couple each morning and night. My personal prayers are rich, rewarding and fulfilling. I know my Savior lives and loves me. I feel His presence during the day. I am certain he walks with me and is very interested in how I respond to the daily challenges I face with work and my blog.

My Testimony and One of my Questions

I know Joseph was a prophet of the Lord and received keys to administer this latter-day work. I know he received the priesthoods – both Aaronic and Melchizedek – and passed on the Aaronic priesthood to the church. The power of the Mechizedek priesthood must be received by each of us individually. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God, translated by the gift of God.

God Bless our Prophets and Apostles

Some have expressed difficulty with my qualifications of the priesthood as I have described it above. That’s one of the questions I am working out in my own mind. I sustain each of the fifteen men to whom we have given the title of “Prophet, Seer and Revelator” in this church by common consent. I pray for them each night. I am happy to pay my tithing to the LDS Church.

Acceptance of Local Priesthood Counsel

I look forward to receiving counsel from my local priesthood leaders this week. I plan to fast all day before our meeting as I seek to be humble before the Lord. I intend to accept and implement any counsel they offer, or any discipline they feel needs to be administered. However, if asked to remove my blog, I will need to talk to the Lord about that as I feel He approves of my blogging.

Need Official Guidelines for LDS Bloggers

Note: I started blogging in 2007 just slightly prior to this invitation from Elder Ballard for LDS Members to get involved in the “online conversations” about the church. It sure has taken a long time for the church to finally start coming up with some guidelines about what is and isn’t acceptable in our blogging efforts.  I wonder what took them so long. Didn’t expect this kind of response?

66 thoughts on “Confessions of a Mormon Blogger”

  1. Looks like the Bishopric on Kate’s disciplinary council back in Virginia decided to hold off:

    And the official statement from the church:

    An update from ABC after she was excommunicated:

    Or, if you prefer, from the Huffington Post:

    1. I like that statement from that link: “We should not try to dictate to God what is right for His Church.”

      “He [Joseph Smith] reproved those that were disposed to find fault with the management of the concerns of the Church” (TPJS, 225).

      D&C 1:30 states that the Church is “true.” However, some may need to understand what “true” means (or at least what it doesn’t mean), or they could get confused when they find that at the same time the Church is also “under condemnation” (D&C 84:55) and will need to be “set in order” (D&C 85:7).

      Since God has all knowledge and all power, the current state of things (whether in or out of the Church) is because either God actively caused it to happen, or has passively allowed it to happen.

      If anything in the Church has been done incorrectly or by someone exercising unrighteous dominion, God will have it corrected in His own time and in His own way.

      “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25).

      If we are the ones who have been wronged, eventually “the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it. And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation” (Isaiah 25:8-9).

      Wicked people (in or out of the Church) will be dealt with justly. “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men” (D&C 64:10).

      Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been” (Moroni 7:31).

      “A grateful person is rich in contentment. An ungrateful person suffers in the poverty of endless discontentment” (David A. Bednar, “The Windows of Heaven,” October 2013 General Conference).

      Therefore, instead of complaining about imperfect leaders, I am content to leave things in God’s hands.

      1. I know I hate simple “me too” replies, but that’s all I’m going to say. Thanks for adding your comments. I feel as you do. God bless.

  2. I guess I’m one of those Utah people that comments on your blog from time to time. Thank you for your blog. I do appreciate it.

    1. Donald: thanks for stopping by. Welcome. I hope you find interesting stuff here and things that will feed your spirit as well as strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ. That will always be my objective: to bring my soul and anyone else who I can help along the path, back into the presence of God with joy and rejoicing at having made it through life with trust in him, and not being deceived by the arm of flesh, in or out of the church.

  3. A couple of things.

    I get it.

    I, too, had TR question issues and let my recommend expire for a couple of months while I inquired of God. Therefore, I “get it”.

    A good talk.

    I have run into a post which I really like.

    Why speculation is harmful.

    There is a poster I ran across which says “Science. Because finding things out is always better than making **** up.” And this is eternally so in religious matters. If you read through Nibley, particularly The World and the Prophets, pondering the passing of the Primitive Church, understanding that “philosophy” is speculation and supporting argumentation in matters religious, one immediately observes that speculation is a negative thing, and when the Primitive Church turns to speculation and theology (as they did in spectacular fashion at the councils which produced the creeds), it was a sign that they were left unto themselves, bereft of the Spirit. After all, they either knew the truth or they did not; the things of God are taught by the Spirit of God, and the wisdom of men is nothing (see 1 Corinthians 2); “vain imaginations” (speculation) and pride is the meaning of the Great and Spacious building. For a modern example, suppose one speculates (or, “philosophizes”) that, say, in the Celestial Kingdom, all is one eternal orgy (universal polygamy / polyandry). This proposition has been seriously advanced (not by me). Since, as Joseph taught, “any person who is exalted to the highest mansion has to abide a celestial law, and the whole law too”, one can see how this speculation can lead to a great amount of mischief here and now.

    Hearken to a prophet’s voice

    TPJS p.190

    The best way to obtain truth and wisdom is not to ask it from books, but to go to God in prayer, and obtain divine teaching.

    TPJS p.324

    All men know that they must die. And it is important that we should understand the reasons and causes of our exposure to the vicissitudes of life and of death, and the designs and purposes of God in our coming into the world, our suffering here, and our departure hence. What is the object of our coming into existence, then dying and falling away, to be here no more? It is but reasonable to suppose that God would reveal something in reference to the matter, and it is a subject we ought to study more than any other. We ought to study it day and night, for the world is ignorant in reference to their true condition and relation. If we have any claim on our Heavenly Father for anything, it is for knowledge on this important subject. Could we read and comprehend all that has been written from the days of Adam, on the relation of man to God and angels in a future state, we should know very little about it. Reading the experience of others, or the revelation given to them, can never give us a comprehensive view of our condition and true relation to God. Knowledge of these things can only be obtained by experience through the ordinances of God set forth for that purpose. Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that ever was written on the subject.

    Lecture 6:8 It is in vain for persons to fancy (speculate) to themselves that they are heirs with those, or can be heirs with them, who have offered their all in sacrifice, and by this means obtained faith in God and favor with him so as to obtain eternal life, unless they in like manner offer unto him the same sacrifice, and through that offering obtain the knowledge that they are accepted of him.

    John 17:3
    3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

    It need hardly be pointed out that speculation on these matters is worthless.

    1. That is an outstanding talk. The book he mentions, “the Blessings of Abraham” is also an A+.

    2. LOG, I get your position, HOWEVER, if we don’t ask questions “speculate” we don’t have anything to bring to the Lord to ask for further light and knowledge. I personally have to form a premise before I take it to the Lord for understanding. And the Lord responds in varying ways, here is an excerpt from my journal, I shared on the UnBlog at the passing of John Pontius. The Lord answered my inquiry by sending me to John to receive further light.
      This is a post I made on the UnBlog upon the passing of John Pontius, the author of’ Spencer’s book, “Visions of Glory; with a response by Spencer!

      Good bye John, although we only met once, you had a great impact on my life, and plan to pass it on!

      During the summer of 2010, I found myself in the Ogden, UT Desert Book, at a random shelf, picking up a book I had never heard of, by an author I didn’t know.
      Your book, ‘The Triumph of Zion’ and those recommended in it, led me to understandings I needed to further my journey in search of my special witness of the Lord and also to Johns UnBlog and the UnBlog family reunion last fall.
      I didn’t see, let alone understand at the time, how significant of an impact that day at the reunion had inside of me, but feel the need to share.
      Like many of course, I almost didn’t go, but felt strongly that I would help with security, and as strange as it may sound, that feeling of obligation is what pushed me to attend, even though I hadn’t been asked to help with it. But as the spirit had impressed, I did have the opportunity, and was asked to stand at the entrance of the hall and looked at 100’s of people in the face as they entered.
      The gift of discernment is something I have always enjoyed, but that day, it was something wonderful. I don’t know if I performed any security, but the Lord did give me a lesson in the gifts of the spirit.
      As I stood there looking at the faces of those who entered; information of these people came into my mind like a flood, immediately knowing who they were and their intentions for being there.
      One of my duties was to make sure all who passed me into the hall had a name tag.
      As one brother walked toward me I noticed he didn’t have a tag, as I looked into his face the spirit said, that’s Spencer, who is written about in the book “Visions of Glory”, who I had never met, so I didn’t say anything and let him pass.
      And then, as it always seems to be, I doubted myself and all this information, thinking I was caught up in the moment and just getting carried away.
      That’s when this same brother came back toward me the other way, this time with a name tag. In need of visual confirmation to strengthen my faith, I strained to read the name tag “Spencer” it was him; I was indeed enjoying something marvelous.
      People were there for many reasons, most all good, a few seeking to fault find, but only one that I saw with evil intent, and she, I’m not sure was of this earth. I was so stunned as she walked past I didn’t even notice her name or if she even had a name tag. I spent the rest of the night searching the hall, but never saw her again.
      The expansion of my heart, faith and knowledge was so much more than the words of those speaking, it truly changed me. I was blessed to teach a lesson in church the next day with these gifts and able to experience, truly, teaching by the spirit and answer questions as they entered the hearts of those in the class.
      And I won’t even get into “The Book “he wrote of Spencer’s journey.
      Thanks John for fulfilling your errand of the Lord.

      o on December 11, 2012 at 11:36 AM | Reply (Spencer)
      JOHN D, thank you so much for this posting. It touched my heart deeply. God bless you. John is about and with us all. He loves each of us and we must quietly listen and slow down so he can make contact with us. This contact is training for all that lies ahead. “Be still and know that I am God.” In our stillness we can hear that which only sounds like wind as we rush by.
      It would take many pages to share where my speculation took me with this experience as well as many others.

      1. Log
        I do get it and your exactly right, if it doesn’t get you to ask the Lord after you’ve studied it out in your mind, well then its as you say at best a waste of time.

      2. Q: What stops men from inquiring of God to gain knowledge for themselves?

        A: Supposing they already know the answer.

      3. Let me then rephrase.

        Q: What stops men from inquiring of God?

        A: Supposing they already know the outcome of the inquiry.

      4. As long as you include they “doubt” they will receive an answer in supposing they already know the outcome I agree!
        But that’s just speculation 🙂

    3. “Speculate” doesn’t mean “to ask questions.”

      spec·u·late [spek-yuh-leyt] Show IPA
      verb (used without object), spec·u·lat·ed, spec·u·lat·ing. indulge in conjectural thought.

      2. conjecture, guess, surmise, suppose, theorize.

      That is the sense of the word “speculate” that I am addressing.

      Add to the list of synonyms “philosophize, estimate, fancy, reckon”, and others with substantially the same semantic content.

      1. Your right, but I personally find it impossible to form a question without first considering the possibilities, “speculate”!

      2. Somehow, I don’t feel the need to guess before I ask what something means.

        1 Nephi 13:21

        20 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that they did prosper in the land; and I beheld a book, and it was carried forth among them.

        21 And the angel said unto me: Knowest thou the meaning of the book?

        22 And I said unto him: I know not. [not “I think it is the latest sports scores out of Jerusalem.”]

        23 And he said: Behold it proceedeth out of the mouth of a Jew. And I, Nephi, beheld it; and he said unto me: The book that thou beholdest is a record of the Jews, which contains the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; and it also containeth many of the prophecies of the holy prophets; and it is a record like unto the engravings which are upon the plates of brass, save there are not so many; nevertheless, they contain the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; wherefore, they are of great worth unto the Gentiles.

        Indeed, this particular record is rather illustrative of the true role of guesswork in the gospel.

      3. LOG
        Yes, focusing your worship on guess work is foolish, I agree. But again, the act of seeking further light and knowledge requires the consideration of possibilities “speculation” to ever get to the point of pondering and then asking for the Lords help. The difference is Tim is doing his in a form of real-time, for all the world to see. Now is that wrong? You say yes, and I see your point, but in my selfishness, I love it, because it just happens that I, and suppose many others, are considering the same questions. I’m just writing my “speculations on a note pad, his are online.
        Regarding verse 22, they play church ball at the BYU Jerusalem Center?

      4. But again, the act of seeking further light and knowledge requires the consideration of possibilities “speculation” to ever get to the point of pondering and then asking for the Lords help.

        Actually, all it really requires is 1. recognizing one is ignorant, 2. a desire to know, and 3. asking of the Lord, believing one shall receive.

        11 While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

        12 Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know; for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible.

        13 At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to “ask of God,” concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture.

      5. I’m not saying speculation is sin. What I am saying is speculation is, at best, useless, and at worst harmful. I do not understand why the example of the primitive Church in matters speculative doesn’t carry more weight here.

        Those who don’t learn from history….

      6. Another example of Nephi not hazarding a guess: “And he said unto me: Knowest thou the condescension of God? And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things” (1 Nephi 11:16-7). He stuck to what he knew.

        On the other hand, Alma said, “I give it as my opinion . . .” (Alma 40:20). Does that make opinions okay? Or was a verbal slip-up (for which I will not condemn him)?

        Is speculation sin, regarding gospel truths? (Right now I won’t generalize this to all speculation, to include Tim’s occupation.)

        Can a case now be made for that, if speculation is the general way by which philosophies of men get added onto scripture, and since anything more than the truth is of the spirit of the wicked one?

        Instead of speculating, can we avoid sin by simply rephrasing everything as questions (as Ben suggested)?

        Stating “I think that XYZ” and asking “XYZ?” both imply that the person does not know if XYZ is true. The former statement, however, also tacks on their personal bias. What is the motive for stating a preference for something they don’t know? One motive is pride, the desire to be recognized for being a “deep” or “clever” thinker.

        Or is it disingenuous (for lack of a better word), thinking that adding a question mark suddenly makes one’s mindset/intent all right?

        Also — what is the difference between speculation and belief?

      7. Alma was scrupulously honest in dividing what he knew from his opinions (be it remembered that was a letter to his son, not a general epistle for the Church).

        That kind of honesty, in my experience, is rare. If you take a stroll through Tim’s blogroll on the right, you’ll see a general lack of it.

      8. Good point Log, the deference being, Tim is writing a blog sharing with the world his thoughts as he goes through them, Alma was writing scripture. If people are coming to blogs for scripture, they’re in trouble, because all these blogs are is personal thoughts in motion. Good or bad and for me personally I’m ok with that, I’m not looking for truth here per se but expression of thought from others who have differing life experience than I do.

      9. Log, in the interest of harmony, I’m going to concede your point that speculation is a bad word when it comes to offering truth to others. I retain my personal beliefs that it is very applicable to my work, and in my personal gospel study, but once the truth has been revealed, there is no place for speculation in the classroom or from the pulpit.

        I believe this well-known and oft-quoted scripture supports your point:

        7 Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.

        8 But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.

        9 But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me.

        In other words, the spirit of revelation, according to what I have read and understood from the way Joseph described it, is direct, has no hesitation, is clear and cannot be doubted as coming from God.

        Yet, at the same time, we weak mortals must study things out in our own minds. We must read scriptures, consider inspired writings and other pronouncements from Holy men then do all within our power to know and understand the mind and will of God on our own before we then present it to the Lord for confirmation. At least, that’s how I work.

        Your mileage may vary.

      10. Log, in the interest of harmony…

        I apologize, Tim. I could tell I irritated you by this line of thought, which wasn’t really my intent.

        Incidentally, I fully appreciate the irony of your citation. 😀 It could be read to support your point better than mine. That particular model of revelation – how Joseph translated the scriptures – hasn’t been how things have worked for me. I forget if I’ve ever had a stupor of thought which caused me to forget wrong stuff.

      11. Speaking of stupors…

        The recent failure of any of the apostles, seers, and revelators to respond with revelation about the questions posed by the OW movement, and the fact that they are sending PR lackeys out to make statements instead, seems like a pretty spectacular example of a “stupor of thought”.

      12. Webster’s 1828 definition:

        SPEC’ULATE, v.i. [L. speculor, to view, to contemplate, from specio, to see.]

        1. To meditate; to contemplate; to consider a subject by turning it in the mind and viewing it in its different aspects and relations; as, to speculate on political events; to speculate on the probable results of a discovery.

        2. In commerce, to purchase land, goods, stock or other things, with the expectation of an advance in price, and of selling the articles with a profit by means of such advance; as, to speculate in coffee, or in sugar, or in six percent stock, or in bank stock.

  4. Speculation, in regards to personal study and personal discovery, especially in the scientific method, is the art of asking questions, which too many people have given up in their lives. As an engineer, and a person of some scientific background, I am used to the idea of solving problems by speculation – asking “what if” questions and then visualizing the potential outcomes of those scenarios. If I didn’t speculate I would never figure out what’s wrong with a network.,

    This also has application in preparing lessons for gospel instruction. Some may call it the gift of prophecy and revelation. You have a task ahead of you to present a specific topic and desire to engage your readers, listeners or class members. You then speculate on various ideas or methods of presenting the truth in an interesting manner. In this instance speculation leads you to imaginative and creative thinking instead of black and white, cut and dried one way fits all discussions.

    1. The pattern given by the Lord is something else.

      Doctrine and Covenants 84:85
      85 Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man.

      Here’s where speculation goes.

    2. Tim,

      Would it be fair to replace your use and understanding of the word “speculation,” with “asking questions?”

      I think speculation has negative baggage that distracts from what I think you mean by using the word. I see speculation as wild, unsupported guessing, without proper foundations, etc.

      Asking questions is what I think (hope?) you mean, followed by searching for answers in the scriptures, pondering, praying, etc.

      One of my favorite books on scriptures study is by James Faulconer, here’s his chapter on asking questions:

    3. The Usefulness of Speculation

      A few thoughts on speculation: First let me say I get Log’s point. Speculation in matters of theology, and particular in discerning truth may not be very useful. Inasmuch as I use speculation every day as a key element of problem solving, I have an affinity for speculation. It saves me a lot of time, leads me quickly to the correct results and causes my co-workers to wonder how I knew what the problem was and how to fix it. It comes from years of experience in speculation.

      Speculation allows me to form and test a hypothesis with the least amount of wasted actions. With speculation, I am able to quickly throw out ideas that are probably non-productive. While you can say speculation is nothing more than a guess, I consider it an intelligent guess based on past experience. It is a logical conclusion drawn from similar situations with applicable facts. In other words, I am able to use fuzzy logic in throwing together ideas that quickly produce results.

      I readily concede speculation is not conclusive. It still must be tested and proven. It does not replace experimentation – it simply eliminates the need to test unlikely courses of action. In short, it is a way to save time, even though it has inherent risks of missing a possible solution which might be thrown out as being too dissimilar to past successful conclusions. Therefore, speculation is not a negative method, but a tentative and profitable method of seeking results.

      Finally, without speculation, we might find ourselves overwhelmed by an infinite number of possibilities that waste our time. Speculation is intuitive conjecture. Some have a gift for the process and can make it work for them every time. Others, too distracted by every additional possible piece of data that might affect the outcome, waste their time even if they eventually do get results that can be verified by others. Speculation quickly moves hypothesis into valid theory.

      Speculation is meditation. It is continuous and profound contemplation, pondering or musing on a subject or series of subjects of a deep or abstruse nature; “the habit of meditation is the basis for all real knowledge.” It includes reflection, rumination, thoughtfulness, contemplation and a process of thinking manifest through a calm, lengthy and intent consideration of a subject. Those who do not speculate do not exercise faith, seeking to “see in the mind’s eye.”

      As Joseph said, “…the things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity—thou must commune with God.” How can we read this and not consider speculation as a part of the process of revelation. It seems obvious.

      1. How can we read this and not consider speculation as a part of the process of revelation. It seems obvious.

        When I read those words, I recall Nephi.

        1 Nephi 18:3
        3 And I, Nephi, did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things.

        2 Nephi 4:16
        16 Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.

        I’m not seeing any indication, at all, that speculation was part of the process.

        And when I weigh Joseph’s experiences, I don’t think he means by “careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts” anything remotely related to guesswork and conjecture.

        But wait! There’s more!

        You don’t have to take my word for that.

        A fanciful and flowery and heated imagination beware of; because the things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity–thou must commune with God. How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God, than the vain imaginations of the human heart! None but fools will trifle with the souls of men.

        What, one wonders, does he mean by trifling with the souls of men?

      2. And Joseph followed that up with this.

        How vain and trifling have been our spirits, our conferences, our councils, our meetings, our private as well as public conversations–too low, too mean, too vulgar, too condescending for the dignified characters of the called and chosen of God, according to the purposes of His will, from before the foundation of the world! We are called to hold the keys of the mysteries of those things that have been kept hid from the foundation of the world until now. Some have tasted a little of these things, many of which are to be poured down from heaven upon the heads of babes; yea, upon the weak, obscure and despised ones of the earth. Therefore we beseech of you, brethren, that you bear with those who do not feel themselves more worthy than yourselves, while we exhort one another to a reformation with one and all, both old and young, teachers and taught, both high and low, rich and poor, bond and free, male and female; let honesty, and sobriety, and candor, and solemnity, and virtue, and pureness, and meekness, and simplicity crown our heads in every place; and in fine, become as little children, without malice, guile or hypocrisy.

        D&C 121
        41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;

        42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—

        43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;

        44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.

        As we are to be operating in a realm of pure knowledge, having the keys of the mysteries of those things that have been kept hid from the foundation of the world until now, I really don’t know where speculation can possibly fit in.

      3. Here’s a live-fire experiment in speculation. Answer these two questions, whoever is interested in participating.

        Brigham Young’s teaching on blacks and the priesthood – knowledge, or speculation?

        Your answer to the preceding question – knowledge, or speculation?

        Just be open, honest, and forthright in your answers as you feel to be.

      4. I’ll even go first.

        1. I don’t know if Brigham was speculating or if he knew whereof he spoke.

        2. Knowledge – I know I don’t know if Brigham was speculating or knew whereof he spoke.

      5. Eric,
        I’m speculating here but I “think” we are looking at this with deferent colored glasses. Or, your minds work in a way very foreign to me. I cannot see how I would be presented with a question that I lack understanding, that my mind would go DEAD, until I present the question to the Lord and received an answer. My mind will immediately begin considering all possibilities ‘SPECULATION”. Now if I stay at that point, then use my own deduction as my truth, that’s the place I see the application of your thoughts!

      6. I’ll admit that until now I “thought” the same way you and Tim did. But I intend to always discard my thoughts in favor of the Standard Works and inspired words of prophets.

        The divine mind knows all, speculates nothing.

        The human mind knows very little, potentially speculates plenty.

        I need to ask myself: which mind am I striving to attain?

        Tim, is there a way that can you can erase my redundant posts? I have 3 identical ones. This morning it didn’t refresh the page with my post on it, so I tried again, and then tried it on a different thread.

      7. OK, I if that works for you, I just cant imagine what its like to be brain dead until you receive an answer from the Lord on a inquiry. And yes I do receive answers from the Lord on my supplications. Its just not always on my time frame! And my mind doesn’t go dead until I do receive.

      8. No, on a practical level, it doesn’t work for me yet.

        The prophet:

        Thought A: My wallet is missing.
        Thought B: I will now pray and receive a direct answer as to its location.

        The non-prophet:

        Thought A: My wallet is missing.
        Thought B: I think it’s in the bedroom.
        Thought C: Or in the car.

        The fascinating thing to consider is: In both cases, what connects Thought A to Thought B, through that “dead” space, like some quantum jump? Where does thought originate from, really? Do our own minds really generate new thoughts, or are they more like receivers which receive promptings based on their orientation?

  5. mayberrymaiden

    Tim, I apologize that my comments last week were filled with fear instead of faith and support. I am a passionate fighter for justice and did not want to see you give up your temple recommend even if you feel in your heart to answer “yes” to the question. May God bless you and your leaders as you move forward and may He comfort those who are striving for deeper understanding and have felt unjustly excommunicated.

    1. Mayberrymaiden: I guess I didn’t see anything wrong, offensive or fearful in your comments. May I share a little more of my Sunday afternoon family council with Carol? What I hope will come across as I relate these next few paragraphs is how much I NEED to see and hear a woman’s point of view, especially one who is my equal partner.

      I have shared with Carol some fairly sad stories that some of my readers have shared with me in confidence via private email. They involve misunderstanding and disciplinary action by their local priesthood leaders, with clear evidence they were influenced by someone such as an area authority seventy in hauling them in for “counseling, correction” or whatever you want to call it.

      One case in particular involved divorce over the husband’s desires to study the gospel and share what he was discovering with his wife. She couldn’t take it anymore and left, running home to mother, and taking the kids with her. The stuff he was reading and sharing scared her because it was not “orthodox” according to our standard historical narrative. He was floored by her response. Never saw it coming.

      He thought he was doing his duty in leading his family in the study of the gospel. She apparently saw him as slowly going off the deep end, ran to her bishop and stake president, “tattled” and said he was an apostate and didn’t want her children anywhere near their father. The local priesthood leaders never bothered to call this brother in to get his side of the story. It has now become a terrible, horrible mess.

      That’s why I feel so blessed and greatly appreciate two things: 1) My bishop is sensitive enough to the spirit that he has called me in to discuss how I am doing and ask about my gospel studies, even though he doesn’t read my blog. There’s no way a bishop could have time to read every member’s blog. Besides, what I write is a little “out there.”

      2) I am extremely appreciative that Carol is not shy about opening her mouth and telling me she is worried about me and about what I am studying even though she also does not read my blog. That’s OK, my stuff is not interesting to everybody. Besides, she has her own blog and her own books to write and promote. I rarely read her books either.

      Anyway, in this particular family council, fears were openly expressed, reassurance was offered, testimony was borne, feelings were validated and love was strengthened, amid tears on both the part of the husband and wife. Men and women simply do not see the world the same. I would never understand Carol’s fears if she didn’t have the courage to share them with me. My duty is to listen without judging even though I do not have or really even understand such fears dealing with security.

      My feelings of security come from the Lord. The whole desire of my entire life is to know his will and to please Him. For some reason I don’t entirely understand, Carol gets a lot of her feelings of security and safety from me. The Lord commanded men to love their wives with all their hearts. Isn’t it amazing that the Lord had to do that? Apparently, it doesn’t come naturally to the man and I am no exception.

      I know that can be difficult for the women to comprehend about the man since everything she does is focused on love and building loving relationships. Men simply aren’t wired that way. My every waking thought is “What does the Lord want me to do?” or “What would be the best use of my time to please the Lord?” The Lord OFTEN has to say to me, “Tim, what do you think Carol thinks of this idea or this action?”

      The bottom line is, it never occurred to me that turning in my temple recommend meant anything other than, “Bishop, I can’t answer ‘no’ to that affiliation question so here you go. you’re the Judge in Israel. You hold the keys to my admittance to the temple. teach me or judge me. I submit to your authority.” So many people said I was being stupid, rebellious, arrogant, apostate, dissident and otherwise disobedient. I was called to repentance by several former priesthood leaders. Ouch.

      Sorry for the long diatribe. Thanks you for your loving concern. If there is one more thing I have learned from all this which I didn’t point out in this most recent post, it is that there are people out there who really do love me with the love of the Lord. And I thought they were just being mean and judgmental when they said I had done a bad thing. I can’t tell you how close I came to deleting the blog and my Facebook account.

      God bless and thanks for sharing your comments. You might also enjoy Denver’s thoughts upon the subject of women shared today in light of Kate’s excommunication, and how the Lord regards them as competent witnesses:

  6. marginalizedmormon

    Tim, my husband and I had the same struggle when we recently renewed ours.
    I more than my husband, because I had read some of Denver Snuffer’s blog posts (not many of them).
    I completely agree with Brother Snuffer with regards to having Jesus Christ be at the center of our lives, and I agree with some of his historical theories, etc. But not completely, and that doesn’t matter. Though I had not read his books and didn’t feel the need (I think we’d been travelling parallel paths; I wasn’t having the sort(s) of faith crises many who desperately needed someone like Snuffer right then)–

    when I heard about his excommunication, I was heartbroken. And the fuzziness of the interview question is so very difficult. Vague. Vague. Vague. As so many things seem to be these days (except, for me, Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon)

    My husband, though he kept up to date on Snuffer and shook his head over the treatment he got, had no problem answering the question in such a way as to get his recommend.

    I struggled with it. How far does a person carry sympathizing? Are spouses going to be expected to leave those who have been excommunicated? (a terrible thing, and I know it has happened; I believe that is egregious, and anyone who would encourage it would be doing devilish work)–

    I still haven’t felt inclined to read Brother Snuffer’s books; I am too deeply concerned with the Book of Mormon right now to want anything else–

    but . . . I have begun reading his blogs. And, again, I feel deep sorrow for what has happened to him. I would never have the courage to write a book and give lectures, so I can’t relate to that, but I feel that the way he has been treated is a travesty. And now this new group of people.

    I can’t help but feel, however, that you will receive blessings for the path you are walking. Perhaps each of us has a different trial in all of this–
    after all my health isn’t going to permit me to attend the temple any time soon anyway, so–

    I keep reading your blog and praying for you–

    By the way, your wife looks SO nice. Just a nice person, someone I’d like to get to know, someday–
    and I probably will. But not in this life.

  7. Kate Kelly was excommunicated by her Bishop.

    My understanding is that if she were an ordained priesthood holder her Bishop wouldn’t have been able to excommunicate her–he would have had to refer her to the stake high council for trial.

  8. I just wanted to share that I was recently called in by my stake president to discuss how I sustain church leaders as well as my support for Denver Snuffer.
    The bishop had first made attempt to contact me through his secretary. I didn’t feel ready to chat with him so told them I appreciated their concern but was doing fine. Next thing I know, I’m getttng a call from the stake executive secretary just a few days later letting me know stake pres wanted to meet with me. ( I thought to myself, how rude.. bringing out the big guns now, are we?)

    I had sent the stake president a text that I felt I should be discussing his concerns with the bishop, he being a judge in Israel. I also explained that if a member is not ready to chat with their bishop, he should continue to show forth patience, long suffering and love unfeigned for the member and try again later.

    The stake president called me a few hours before our appointed time to meet letting me know that if I did NOT come to the interview that he would have my temple recommend DEACTIVATED!
    How’s that for a threat? What gives a leader the right to assess worthiness like that? Simply by whether or not the member feels ready to chat?
    “.. when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man”, D&C 121:37

    Not wanting to make matters worse, I did go in. He had also brought another member of the stake presidency along. How’s that for intimidation? 2 stake leaders to interview 1 sister.
    We chatted for about 3 hours. No one has contacted me as of yet.

    1. You’re a woman, then I take it? May I ask if your husband was with you? I would have definitely had mine with me. For sure. What were they using to define as support for DS? (I apologize if this is all too personal and I am in the wrong for asking. I sympathize with your experience, though. I would very much like to understand what you are enduring right now.) I’m so sorry for this stressful experience you’ve had!

      1. Lori, my husband was not with me. (he doesn’t support my religious views at this time).
        The leaders wanted to know if I follow Denver’s teachings. (blogs, books, lectures..) I reassured them that I do not follow a man but Christ.
        I did mention how grateful I was for Denver’s 2nd Comforter book as it helped me better understand a spiritual experience I had. I even sent the stake president a pdf copy of the book. It was a way for me to seal my testimony.

        I shared how disturbed I am that we are not teaching doctrine in our meetings like calling and election and 2nd Comforter.
        I was told that if I’m not hearing the brethren teach these things it’s because the Lord doesn’t want us to know about it.
        I was advised to not share or teach anything that current living prophets are saying.
        I was asked if I sustain our current leaders. I answered I sustain them AS they speak the influence and power of the Holy Ghost.
        I was told the current brethren always speak for the Lord and I should never question what they teach.
        The stake president also felt if one receives the Lord, that’s is something that just can’t be shared with others and will also always come through the prophet.


      2. Oops.. typo in above post:
        Should read: I was advised to ONLY teach or share what our current LIVING prophets are saying.

      3. Truth Seeker: Inasmuch as I am fasting and preparing to meet with my Bishop and Stake President this evening, specifically in regard to how I will answer certain questions in the recommend interview, I read with great interest your account of what I see as unrighteous dominion in the actions of your local priesthood leaders as they appeared to control the interview process through compulsory means.

        I sensed dogmatic answers based on falsehoods. The statement that we are not hearing or being taught certain doctrines in our meetings is simply a matter of not wanting to overwhelm those new in the faith. I have also heard the counsel to not share anything with others than what we can find in the current manual or authorized curriculum.

        Apparently if we want to know more then what’s in the manual, we must study it on our own and then – according to the recent PR release – we must keep it to ourselves, even if we have been counseled to be involved in the online conversation about the doctrines and the church on blogs and forums. We are discouraged from sharing “difficult things.”

        The statement that the Brethren ALWAYS speak for the Lord is patently false and can be proved from numerous sources. The same goes for not questioning what they teach. If you want, I and many others on this blog can provide you with statement after statement by prophets and apostles contradicting that false doctrine of infallibility.

        And finally, the statement that spiritual experiences with Angelic beings or with the Lord are not to be shared is NOT the prerogative of the Stake President (see note below) in a private setting – I consider a blog, even though it’s public, to be a private forum of a member that is NOT under the control of the church.

        If you are prompted to share such an experience by the Holy Ghost or by the Lord in such a private setting as your blog or in the comments of someone else’s blog or forum, you should be obedient to the voice of the Lord. The Stake President may not like it and he may cast you out of the church for so doing but he then risks losing his priesthood.

        Hope this helps, but I think you already knew most of it if not all.

        God bless you Truth Seeker.

        Clarification: The Bishop or presiding authority actually DOES have the right or responsibility to cause a person to cease speaking or sharing a spiritual experience if he feels it is detrimental to the spiritual well-being of the members of his congregation who are hearing it. This is usually done by a mild correction or “rebuke” after the speaker has completed their words, but I have also seen the individual stopped right in the middle of their message by the Bishop on multiple occasions.

  9. FB is definitely a hotbed of contention. I am shocked at how prolific it has become, especially among members of the LDS faith. I really appreciated Sister Oscarson’s brief video, released today, admonishing women in the church to remember who we are and how to behave. It was a soothing balm to my wounded soul.

    I think it is sad when members begin to feel that they cannot say what is on their hearts, either out of fear of retaliation or because they’ll get admonished severely either by leaders, or concerned friends and family. As friends and family, why do we all think our small opinions about other people’s choices matter so much? My heart is truly broken right now.

    I’m not responsible for saving anyone; that’s the Lord’s Responsibility. I just need to love and not judge.

    I agree that these uncomfortable topics and ideas are doing some good. Perhaps the Lord is able to effect some necessary changes, in hearts and in His church. My own faith would stagnate if I didn’t seriously consider and ponder the words of the scriptures as well as modern prophets and apostles, asking questions that others might think are too far out there. Heck, even Sunday church talks need to be approached with that same gusto. The Lord wants us to think for ourselves and ask questions. For some, that means having robust discussions. For others, it means praying in a closet, awaiting the Lord’s own voice. I tend to be the latter flavor, but not always.

    Are there individuals in our church who might be rightfully referred to as ‘thought police?’ I surely hope not. I feel like bloggers are especially on precariously uneven ground. By nature, blogs develop a ‘following,’ like you’ve mentioned. But generally it is out of a desire to exchange and engage in learning. It’s not about starting a ‘church’ or high-jacking the one we’ve already been privileged to receive. I recently closed down my own wee blog. I felt like it was what the Lord wanted. Perhaps He will have me start it up again in the future. I only wanted to testify of Him, but I openly admit I am very uncomfortable with being watched as a blogger. I’m not the enemy! It’s bad enough every comment I make somewhere is being filed away… 🙁 I suppose it is the American in me bubbling up to the surface.

    Perhaps your growth in readership reflects what is happening in the church. I also feel like the internet has completely altered how information is and will be disseminated concerning church disciplinary councils. People are going to choose to make things public that they were never able to do before. Maybe that is a good thing. The LDS church leadership may continue to release statements striving to maintain the dignity and privacy of an individual (a good thing imho), but I think individuals are going to continue to put their views and experiences out there for people to consider. Personally, I always like things out in the light of day. Keeps everyone honest. Though this is not always wise, I admit. But I do think the LDS church does want us to teach, as members with an internet presence. Reinterpreting doctrine is the no-no it seems.

    How can anyone answer the “support, affiliate or agree” TR question honestly these days, what with all the secret combinations controlling our food chain, government and media? Not to mention when a family member is excommunicated. I think often of the spouses of these individuals, who btw have not had any disciplinary actions taken against themselves (that I’m aware of). Do they do things that might be construed as supporting, affiliating or agreeing?

    I’m pleased Carol is going with you to hear a talk or two. I feel strongly it is important for a husband and wife to be united in their pursuit of Christ and His Light. I look forward to reading about your experience. I pray Carol will feel the Spirit teaching her what she needs to know and understand about the Lord and His Gospel. I hope she will find peace and be able to let go of her concerns. I firmly believe that if we keep our Eye on the Lord, we will be okay. My hubby and I will be attending one of DS’ talks because we’ve felt the Lord tell us to go. It has to do with the topic. I’m not fearful. I’m not interested in worshiping DS either. My testimony, in Christ and His Restored Church, is firm. I plan on preparing spiritually to receive whatever the Lord has prepared for me, just as I do for Sunday church, General Conference or any other time when I will be listening to someone speak of the Lord and His Gospel. I still love and support President Monson and the Quorum of the Twelve. I still cherish my membership and feel I can honestly answer the TR questions, because I feel within that the Lord is pleased with where I am at right now. He knows I still need a lot of work, and I know that, too. But He loves me and wants me to keep putting one foot in front of the other, trusting in Him to Light my way as I honour my covenants with Him and His church. God bless you, Tim.

  10. Tim

    I had an interesting conversation with my sister, who is a member of another faith. I thought you might be interested in how another person outside of the faith sees it.

    I ask her if they ex-communicated people in her church and by what standard. She said, “Absolutely!” ?

    “If a member breaks the rules that are written down in the “Source Book,” they are ex-communicated. Every parish has a “Source” book and they are to follow it. That does not mean that the evidence cannot be taken to a higher person for clarification but for the most part… the rules are pretty clear.”

    “You’re Church leaves every member open to the “Risk” of being excommunicated because they leave it up to every Tom, Dick and Harry to make a judgement based on the “so call word from God or revelation.” It leaves it open for one tribunal to excommunicate which, if the evidence was presented to another tribunal, the person would not be excommunicated.” I wouldn’t trust that all those folks can hear the voice of God even He was yelling in their ear.”

    “From what I can see in the news, even Headquarters has wishey- washy standards that are open for all kinds of interpretation. You can ask questions but not question? Doesn’t make sense to me.”

    “And why in world are the issues being defended by some “PR department”, who (by the vary nature of a PR department) is there to make your Church look good. Where are you leaders in this? Aren’t these peoples’ questions or issues important enough to received answers from your President who is suppose to “Speak for God?”

    “If I were you, I wouldn’t lay myself bare in front of any bishop or anyone else to make the call whether I’m worthy or not when it is up to their personal interpretation of the “Word of God.” You and God know whether you are worthy or not and what the intent of your heart is. If you are up to no good… both you and He know it. As long as it is up to so called “revelation,” your call is as good as the bishop’s. You’re the one who is going to ultimately be held accountable anyway.”

    Interesting huh?

    With the above being said, I’ve had to look at my “Intent” in reading books or blogs and participating by making comments or attending lectures. My intent has not been to “Make Wrong” the church or it’s leaders. It has be a means of exploration into the meat of the gospel, which I don’t find in the correlated lessons that the sisters READ in Relief Society. These outside associations has helped to connect the dots of my personal study of the scriptures.

    I find the flavor of each book or blog to be different. I love the spicy flavor of Rock’s blog. I don’t take his method of expression seriously (which sometimes makes me laugh out loud) as he share matters that make me think. Your blog has a respectful approach, which I appreciate. Snuffer has a down to business approach as does his lectures and books. I could go on and on.

    I have become stronger in the faith because of my affiliation or sympathy with these people. No, I don’t affiliate with persons or doctrines that lead me away from Christ, the gospel or the Church. I only affiliate with those who strengthen me, no matter their name, circumstances or faith.

    Buy the way… for the life of me I cannot figure out why Will Carter was excommunicated. I feel his blog is most mild and very pro gospel, leaders and Church. All I can say is, I think his counsel was “over-zealous.” They couldn’t even agree between them. One of those Tom, Dick or Harry judgements.

  11. Eric asks some good questions.

    Instead of speculating, can we avoid sin by simply rephrasing everything as questions (as Ben suggested)?

    Snuffer’s excommunication for PTHG suggests the practical answer is “no”. As to how it is unto God, that is God’s to answer.

    Stating “I think that XYZ” and asking “XYZ?” both imply that the person does not know if XYZ is true. The former statement, however, also tacks on their personal bias. What is the motive for stating a preference for something they don’t know? One motive is pride, the desire to be recognized for being a “deep” or “clever” thinker.

    As you have undoubtedly noticed by experience, asking questions (topic, tone, prior assumptions which must be made before a question can even make sense) can also be a sign of one’s personal bias.

    Or is it disingenuous (for lack of a better word) to think that adding a question mark suddenly makes one’s mindset/intent all right?

    *chuckle* To ask the question is to answer it.

    Also — what is the difference, if any, between speculation and belief?


    BELIE’F, n.

    1. A persuasion of the truth, or an assent of mind to the truth of a declaration, proposition or alleged fact, on the ground of evidence, distinct from personal knowledge; as the belief of the gospel; belief of a witness. Belief may also by founded on internal impressions, or arguments and reasons furnished by our own minds; as the belief of our senses; a train of reasoning may result in belief. Belief is opposed to knowledge and science.

    2. In theology, faith, or a firm persuasion of the truths of religion.
    No man can attain [to] belief by the bare contemplation of heaven and earth.

    3. Religion; the body of tenets held by the professors of faith.
    In the heat of persecution, to which christian belief was subject, upon its first promulgation.

    4. In some cases, the word is used for persuasion or opinion, when the evidence is not so clear as to leave no doubt; but the shades of strength in opinion can hardly be defined, or exemplified. Hence the use of qualifying words; as a firm, full or strong belief.

    In my estimation, definition 2 introduces an unfortunate confusion by conflating two properly distinct concepts.

    1. Up until now, I had thought (speculated?) that there was a difference between “belief” and “faith;” that faith was “stronger,” in that it additionally led to corresponding action.

      However, to my surprise, I just now noticed that “belief” and “faith” in the New Testament come from the same root word! I’ll need to “ponder” this further . . .

      1. Eric
        From Bruce R McConkie New Witness to the Articles of Faith

        Chapter 3
        The Doctrine of Belief
        Belief and Faith Are One

        Belief, humble belief, is the foundation of all righteousness and the beginning of spiritual progression. It goes before good works, opens the door to an eternal store of heavenly truth, and charts the course to eternal life.
        Belief is the brilliant beacon that marks the course through the waves and woes of the world to that celestial harbor where rest and safety are found. It is implanted, as we shall see, by divine decree to some extent in every human heart; it is the guiding light that determines the course each mortal pursues.
        Belief in its full glory and beauty comes from God and is a divine gift bestowed upon all mankind. It is a heaven-sent boon of infinite worth that, in the full and true sense, is nothing more nor less than faith itself.

      2. From Karen Armstrong’s ‘A Case For God’, Chapter 4 – Faith

        “Yet did not Jesus constantly insist that his followers acknowledge his divine status—almost as a condition of discipleship? In the gospels we continually hear him berating his disciples for their lack of “faith” and praising the “faith” of gentiles, who seem to understand him better than his fellow Jews. Those who beg him for healing are required to have “faith” before he can work a miracle, and some pray: “Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief.” We do not find this preoccupation with “belief” in the other major traditions. Why did Jesus set such store by it? The simple answer is that he did not. The word translated as “faith” in the New Testament is the Greek pistis (verbal form: pisteuo), which means “trust; loyalty; engagement; commitment.” Jesus was not asking people to “believe” in his divinity, because he was making no such claim. He was asking for commitment. He wanted disciples who would engage with his mission, give all they had to the poor, feed the hungry, refuse to be hampered by family ties, abandon their pride, lay aside their self-importance and sense of entitlement, live like the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, and trust in the God who was their father. They must spread the good news of the Kingdom to everyone in Israel—even the prostitutes and tax collectors—and live compassionate lives, not confining their benevolence to the respectable and conventionally virtuous. Such pistis could move mountains and unleash unsuspected human potential.

        “When the New Testament was translated from Greek into Latin by Saint Jerome (c. 342–420), pistis became fides (“loyalty”). Fides had no verbal form, so for pisteuo Jerome used the Latin verb credo, a word that derived from cor do, “I give my heart.” He did not think of using opinor (“I hold an opinion”). When the Bible was translated into English, credo and pisteuo became “I believe” in the King James version (1611). But the word “belief” has since changed its meaning. In Middle English, bileven meant “to prize; to value; to hold dear.” It was related to the German belieben (“to love”), liebe (“beloved”), and the Latin libido. So “belief” originally meant “loyalty to a person to whom one is bound in promise or duty.” When Chaucer’s knight begged his patron to “accepte my bileve,” he meant “accept my fealty, my loyalty.” In Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well, which was probably written around 1603, shortly before the publication of the King James Bible, the young nobleman Bertram is urged to “believe not thy disdain”: he must not entertain his contempt for lowborn Helena and allow it to take deep root in his heart. During the late seventeenth century, however, as our concept of knowledge became more theoretical, the word “belief” started to be used to describe an intellectual assent to a hypothetical—and often dubious— proposition. Scientists and philosophers were the first to use it in this sense, but in religious contexts the Latin credere and the English “belief” both retained their original connotations well into the nineteenth century.”

        The rest chapter is excellent. Actually the whole book is worth a read.

      3. OT “belief/believe” was translated from:

        aman v. (Strongs H539): believe (44x), assurance (1x), faithful (20x), sure (11x), established (7x), trust (5x), verified (3x), stedfast (2x), continuance (2x), father (2x), bring up (4x), nurse (2x), be nursed (1x), surely be (1x), stand fast (1x), fail (1x), trusty (1x).

        aman v. (Strongs H540): believe (1x), sure (1x), faithful (1x).

        OT “faith” was translated from:

        aman v. (Strongs H539): see above

        emuwnah n. (Strongs H530): faithfulness (18x), truth (13x),faithfully (5x), office (5x), faithful (3x), faith (1x), stability (1x), steady (1x), truly (1x), verily (1x).

        emuwn n. (Strongs H529): faithful (3x), truth (1x), faith (1x).

        aman v. (Strongs H540): see above

        emeth adv., n. (Strongs H571): truth (92x), true (18x), truly (7x),right (3x), faithfully (2x), assured (1x), assuredly (1x), establishment (1x), faithful (1x), sure (1x),verity (1x).

        NT “belief/believe” was translated from:

        pisteu? v. (Strongs G4100): believe (239x), commit unto (4x),commit to (one’s) trust (1x), be committed unto (1x), be put in trust with (1x), be commit to one’s trust (1x), believer (1x).

        pistos adj. (Strongs G4103): faithful (53x), believe (6x),believing (2x), true (2x), faithfully (1x), believer (1x), sure (1x), not tr (1x).

        peith? v. (Strongs G3982): persuade (22x), trust (8x),obey (7x), have confidence (6x), believe (3x), be confident (2x), misc (7x).

        pistis n. (Strongs G4102): faith (239x), assurance (1x),believe (with G1537) (1x), belief (1x), them that believe (1x), fidelity (1x).

        NT “faith” was translated from:

        pistis n. (Strongs G4102): see above

        pistos adj. (Strongs G4103): see above

        elpis n. (Strongs G1680): hope (53x), faith (1x).

        (I’ll check the latter-day scriptures later)

      4. A made a little table about belief and faith here. I won’t pursue the matter much further, since regardless of whether belief is the exact equivalent of faith or not, I have re-learned that “belief” is not a weak word.

        Regarding “speculation” — all of the uses of the word “speculation” in TPJS are “negative.”

        How about “reason” instead of “speculation”? That word also has some challenges scripturally, but perhaps the following scripture can be applied?

        “Let us reason even as a man reasoneth one with another face to face. Now, when a man reasoneth he is understood of man, because he reasoneth as a man; even so will I, the Lord, reason with you that you may understand” (D&C 50:11-2).

        In the world, we interact with people of other (or no) faiths. If an IT specialist conducting training says, “If the network goes down, just pray and you’ll get the answer,” that might not be satisfactory to the atheist. They’ll need to spell it out: “If the network goes down, consider this, and this, etc.”

        Since Mormon knowingly allowed the Alma 40:20 “opinion” to stay in the abridgment, that does imply that there was no verbal slip-up by Alma, so there can be a place for opinions.

        As long as we’re in the lone and dreary world, we’re subject to its rules and conditions (to an extent). Figuratively speaking, I need to be vigilant that my hand that is raised to the square (for the Aaronic Priesthood ordinance of baptism, etc.) is not overly relied upon to the extent that it becomes the means of my beheading (and subsequent loss of true reasoning and knowledge from God).

  12. Also, if I recall correctly, the bulk of Greg Smith’s “review” of PTHG consisted of reformulating Snuffer’s questions as assertions, because “rhetorical intent”, and proceeding as though Snuffer had made the assertions.

    Just as an aside.

  13. Tim Malone, on June 24, 2014 at 9:53 am said:
    Truth Seeker: Inasmuch as I am fasting and preparing to meet with my Bishop and Stake President this evening, specifically in regard to how I will answer certain questions in the recommend interview, I read with great interest your account of what I see as unrighteous dominion in the actions of your local priesthood leaders as they appeared to control the interview process through compulsory means.

    Tim: Thank you for your feedback. I appreciate the kind words. I may share more later from that interview.
    I hope your visit with your leaders Tuesday night went well. You do have the right to record all your interviews. (this is legal in Utah).
    God bless 🙂

    1. No disciplinary action anticipated. Continue to work with Bishop to see about getting temple recommend back over time. Need to work on finding a way to not offend those who find my material offensive.

      1. Even with our best intentions, there will always be those who will feel offended regardless.
        This quote from Denver comes to mind. I would like to share it:

        “Sometimes what you try to persuade them of is going to offend them. Couple it with your own testimony of the truth.
        Don’t let them simply go away offended. Let them know that when you give offense, and you surely will give offense, that you did it because of your love for them, your love of God, and your faith in the things
        which God is doing. When you offend, do it kindly, and while bearing testimony of the truth and with the compassion that should hail from a position of greater light and truth or intelligence. (D&C 121: 43.)
        They don’t know what they’re doing. They don’t understand it yet. So help them”. (Denver Snuffer, page 14 Logan Lecture)

        If people feed offended by your material Tim, I don’t understand why they would read your blog. Seems like these individuals would be happier finding materials that appeal to one’s vanity and pride and also promote that ” All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth”…

      2. Even with our best intentions, there will always be those who will feel offended regardless.
        This quote from Denver comes to mind. I would like to share it:

        “Sometimes what you try to persuade them of is going to offend them. Couple it with your own testimony of the truth.
        Don’t let them simply go away offended. Let them know that when you give offense, and you surely will give offense, that you did it because of your love for them, your love of God, and your faith in the things
        which God is doing. When you offend, do it kindly, and while bearing testimony of the truth and with the compassion that should hail from a position of greater light and truth or intelligence. (D&C 121: 43.)
        They don’t know what they’re doing. They don’t understand it yet. So help them”. (Denver Snuffer, page 14 Logan Lecture)

        If people feel offended by your material Tim, I don’t understand why they would read your blog. Seems like these individuals would be happier finding materials that appeal to one’s vanity and pride and also promote that ” All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth”…

  14. Tim

    I’m so happy that your meeting turned out as well as it did. I wish you the best. As for your statement “Need to work on finding a way to not offend those who find my material offensive.” Is that possible?

    How can one control whether another choice to be offended or not. There are those with “ill intent” that could set you up. And, of course, there are many who are not willing to take responsibility for their feelings let along actions. However, I don’t think ”The Devil made me do it” is going to go over well on judgement day. I think full accountability and self responsibility will be required.

    Your challenge sounds like a “Catch-22 proposition. Personally, I hate “Do Gooders.” who try to over protect. I say, “Mom… please let me grow up.”

    Most discussions come from a “Point of View” rather than a “Truth” anyway.


    A mother is in the middle of her kitchen twirling around. One child may say, “Look! Mom is dancing.” Another child may say, “Look! Mom is crazy.” Which one is correct? Neither… they are both coming from a point of view. Our point of view is colored by our education, background, our experience and a million other things.

    Truth: Mother is in the kitchen twirling around.

    If one takes responsibility for their view point… it could be stated… “Looks like Mom’s dancing to me.” or Look like Mom’s crazy to me.”

    We live in a society that thinks their point of view is soooo important. Just look at the at social media… Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Blog comments. So much contention as folks fight to be “Right.” When most of the time… who really cares?

    In the case of the premise of your blog, the “fight to be right” is reinforced by gaining support for a position by quoting a GA talk, scriptures, philosophies of men mingles with scripture etc. And, if you gain enough group agreement, you’re on a roll. Of course, the more group agreement you can gather defines a “Truth.” Right?

    What a trivial game we play in the larger scheme of things.

    I am a webmaster and website designer. At the bottom of a client’s website is a Policy and a Disclaimer. The policy sets the rules…. such as “All Troll Comments will be deleted. You set the rules and guidelines for your blog.

    In the Disclaimer, you state your intent and declare your mission statement. You state that those who read your material are responsible for their own interpretation and conclusions. Those who make comments are solely responsible for their comments and those comments don’t necessarily reflect the views of the owner of the blog. (You see this kind of disclaimer statement all the time.)

    This may not totally protect you from the those you are the gate keepers but I think it may help. I hope they are not trying to set you up. It appears that they are really good men who are probably confused and unsure as exactly what to do themselves. New territory.

    I hope to be reading your blog years from now and continue having the opportunity to share my point of view in the comment area.

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