If you’re drawn to this blog post by the title, I ask you to look past that to the subtitle. It is “The Believing Mormon’s Guide to the Coming Purge.” Although this will be a review of Rock’s book, I hope it will also provide background and detail on why long-time members of the LDS Church would be willing to lay it all on the line in defending an idea that many find shocking.
The idea is this: The LDS Church is in a state of apostasy and has been since before the death of Joseph Smith. The first time I posted about Denver Snuffer, I invited dialog on his teachings. I certainly did receive it – from both sides. One comment in particular stuck with me. I have been pondering it for years, wondering if it represented an accurate summary of Denver’s message.
This is the comment: “Snuffer’s position can be summed up as follows: I was personally visited by Christ who made my calling and election sure, told me I was part of the true church within the dead church, that he would soon call others like me, and it was my job to help with that.” This was from reader “Fred” on 27 April 2012. I wondered what Fred meant by “…the dead church.”
Gentiles Shall Reject the Fullness
Rock’s book answers that specific question. Rock, of course, is Alan Rock Waterman, proprietor of the “Pure Mormonism” blog, a saucy site that dishes out hot servings of LDS Doctrine with a small twist: “…much of what passes for doctrine among my fellow Saints appears to contain ‘the philosophies of men mingled with scripture.’” His writings focus on early restoration doctrine.
Rock examines the warnings of the falling away of the latter-day saints in our day as foretold in the Book of Mormon. Of course, most Mormons scratch their heads and say, “What warnings?” The discussion centers around 3rd Nephi 16:10 where the Lord says, “…when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fullness of my gospel…” Just who are the Gentiles?
In the dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple (D&C 109:60), Joseph said the “revelations and commandments which thou hast given unto us, who are identified with the Gentiles.” In other words, the Gentiles the Lord referred to in 3rd Nephi 16:10 are in the LDS Church. I have heard the arguments opposing this idea and remain convinced Joseph had it right. We are the Gentiles.
The Higher Priesthood Was Lost
Of course, the next question to be answered is what is the fullness of the gospel? Regular readers of this blog know we have examined that question in particular. In summary, the fullness is the higher priesthood. It is actually more than that, but “higher priesthood” is a good summary. That includes the idea of entering into the presence of the Lord and receiving the Second Comforter.
When did the LDS Church reject the Higher Priesthood? Joseph taught in D&C 124:28 that the higher priesthood could only be restored in the Nauvoo temple, and urged the saints to complete it as soon as possible. Sadly, the temple was not completed before Joseph’s death. Instead of the promised blessings of verses 40-45, the church received the cursings promised in verses 46-48.
Joseph desired to bring the Saints into the presence of the Lord in the Nauvoo temple, where the Lord promised he would “bless you, and crown you with honor, immortality, and eternal life.” This is the same thing Moses desired to do for the Israelites at Mt. Sinai, but they insisted God speak only to Moses on their behalf, something Enoch and Melchizedek were able to overcome.
Introduction to Rock Waterman
That’s enough background. If you want more, you can read Denver Snuffer’s books and lectures. He certainly has enough of them to help anyone understand what the Lord was trying to bring about through Joseph Smith and which was cut short by his death. The Lord placed the entire church under condemnation. A modern prophet confirmed we are still under that condemnation.
On to Rock’s book. You’ve got to ask yourself why someone would write a book with such a provocative title. Rock tells you why right up front. He was told by his bishop, who said he was speaking on behalf of an unnamed general authority, that Rock must either 1) Quit blogging, 2) Resign from the Church or 3) Face Church disciplinary action in the form of excommunication.
I was immediately interested in reading Rock’s book for three reasons: 1) I have been an avid reader of Rock’s blog for years, 2) I recently met Rock at Sunstone and 3) I have also been told by my Bishop to stop blogging. I have tried to do as my Bishop requested but after a week-long examination of my feelings and beliefs, have decided I would rather do as the Lord has directed.
Not the Same Church of Joseph Smith
I can’t speak for Rock, but my blog has been a journey of discovery. It has been my vehicle for learning and sharing what I have learned. I love to study the gospel and early church history. I found Rock had a common pursuit in his blogging activities so naturally I was drawn to what he was writing. Rock is a talented writer who has an entertaining although somewhat acerbic style.
The book is 160 pages and can be read in a few hours. I took longer because I wanted to digest the content and compare it to what I was experiencing in my blogging activities. This is the story of a life-long Latter-day Saint who has overcome the blind loyalty to the current managers of the Church operating out of Salt Lake City, which is NOT the same church restored through Joseph.
And therein lies the crux of the matter. If you are convinced the Church today has not changed from the time it was restored, you will not appreciate this book. If, on the other hand, you have seen in your lifetime, as I have, evidences that the Church has become more and more corporate in nature, managed by professionals, then you will find the book helpful in facing the inevitable.
Correlation got Caught by the Internet
Am I suggesting there will be a mass exodus of Latter-day Saints from the Church? It is already happening and has been happening for many years. It started when the Internet became popular. Stories that were once suppressed were being shared in online forums and email reading groups. Today, social media is ablaze with groups dedicated to the sharing of the history of this Church.
The Brethren have made it clear they are concerned about the losses among our Internet-savvy young people, especially returned missionaries, where the losses are said to be as much as fifty percent. Many of these young people are not just going inactive, but are actively resigning from the church, even staging mass-resignation days and sharing form letters online to make the exit.
Why are they doing this? The answer lies in Rock’s book. Remember I asked at the beginning of this post to focus on the subtitle: “The Believing Mormon’s Guide to the Coming Purge.” That’s the key. These young people grew up being taught the “correlated” gospel, went on missions, got married in the temple and then found out surprising things about Church history on the Internet.
Listen to the Prophets but Follow the Lord
Rock is a believing Mormon. I am also. The problem is we apparently believe too much. We believe in things the Church has now abandoned, such as the importance of seeking an audience with the Lord in this mortal lifetime and not resting until it is received. Joseph taught this clearly as being of utmost importance. Today, this doctrine is not found in the LDS Church curriculum.
Instead, we are taught the most important thing you can do as a latter-day saint is to “follow the prophet.” Now, in and of itself, the phrase seems innocuous. The problem is that the phrase is false doctrine. You cannot find it in the scriptures. Or sure, you can find injunctions from the Lord declaring “whether by my own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”
What the Lord said was “Come, follow me.” We are to listen to the prophets, consider their words carefully and then pray about them in order to know the truth of their words for ourselves. But that’s not what we teach our Primary children. We teach them the prophet can never go astray. That is simply not true and the Lord never said it, although Wilford Woodruff did.
There is Room for Everyone in This Church
Rock examines these and other examples of how the Church has changed from one led by a prophet declaring the word of the Lord by revelation recorded in the presence of others to a church that only responds to important doctrinal questions through corporate PR staff. He shares the recent case in point of how the church handled the Kate Kelly excommunication debacle.
One case that has come to light in recent years if that of the resignation of the daughter of Elder Malcolm S. Jeppsen, a recently deceased emeritus General Authority of the Church who became famous for his direct involvement in the excommunication of one member of the September Six. As it is contrary to scripture, General Authorities should not be involved in disciplinary actions.
Rock even mentioned my case (on page 106) in which I have been feeling the heat from local leaders for my blog writings about “Maverick Mormons” such as Brent Larsen, Will Carter, Denver Snuffer, Rock, Mel Fish and others. My heart goes out to these individuals who I have met, interviewed and shared their stories. Each is accused of or has been cast off for apostasy.
Get Ready for the Coming Purge
Rock concludes his work with detailed advice on how to prepare for a disciplinary council. Although I have serious questions about the guidance of the church today, I will not resign. Rock has stated the same. Why should we? We believe in the original revelations and in the mission of Joseph Smith. We know the Book of Mormon is scripture and the word of God.
Rock steps you through the process of what to expect from a Bishop’s council to a Stake level council. They are similar but with key differences. Having participated in both for many years, I can tell you he has it fairly accurate. Rock supplies scriptures that dictate how such councils should be held, but of course, the Church Handbook of Instructions supersedes the scriptures.
I highly endorse this book. I give it five stars out of five. I found only two typos, not bad for a self-published work put together in just a few short months. I’ve already given my reasons above why you might not like it. I recommend you read it anyway. Try to put aside anger you might feel about the sharp presentation. If you have an open mind, you’ll find the book enjoyable.