Knowing I would be on vacation in Northern Utah this week, I asked Denver for the opportunity to meet with him to clarify a few questions I had been pondering from the Mesa lecture and his talk on Plural Marriage a few months ago. He was gracious in allowing me to do so, as well as to record it and use it here on my blog.
I want to emphasize Denver has no spokesman. I am not trying to interpret what he has said. I simply want to understand the message a little better. I realized I would not have time to transcribe his responses, so I decided to make the MP3 recording available online if you want to listen to it on your drive to the retreat this weekend.
Fellowships and Churches
I hope to share a few additional posts based on the 100 minutes of the interview, but I want to mention two things now that impressed me about our time together. First, I was impressed with how much he deemphasized his role in all this. You will hear him mention several times, this is not about him. Focus on the Savior.
Second, and this was a major light bulb moment for me, you’ll hear him refer to the churches that are forming. I called them fellowships. He calls them churches just as the New Testament authors did when writing letters to the churches in the years following the death and resurrection of the Savior. That clarifies so much.
Not Yet Is Now Available
After I listened to the recording I realized I didn’t enunciate clearly on some of the questions. Others we did not read in the interest of time, so I have included them below. There were originally twenty questions prepared but we only had time for fourteen of them. Maybe someday we can ask him for his answers on the last six.
Original source material is always best when digging into a topic. Thus, I felt it appropriate to make the recording available to those who are interested. I think you’ll find the answers provided amplify some of the main points shared in PTHG as well as the Phoenix lecture. If anyone wants to transcribe this, please do so.
Update: Not one, but two readers have transcribed the Q&A session. I include them both in links below. One of the readers even sent the transcription to Denver for his review. He added some clarification and additional material from his notes that didn’t make it into the original session due to time constraints.
Transcript One: http://3tcm.net/a-visit-with-denver-snuffer-transcript.pdf
Transcript Two: http://3tcm.net/tim-malone-QA-with-denver-snuffer.pdf
Link to the MP3: http://3tcm.net/Denver_Snuffer_QA_13May2015.mp3
Note: The file is 60MB. It’s best to right-click on the link to download it.
One: In a recent talk (3-22-15) on plural marriage, you said (page 39), “There have been many signs given by God that He was about to do something new from the time of the death of Joseph Smith till today. All that was left at the end was for a witness to be appointed, to come to declare, ‘Now it has come to an end.’ In the last talk in the ten lecture series I said, the witness has now come, and I am he. It has come to an end with something new now begun. One of the signs of it having come to an end was the passing of Eldred Smith.”
Will you elaborate on the significance of the passing of Patriarch Eldred G. Smith on April 4, 2013 and how or why we should take this as a sign that something has come to an end? In particular, what has come to an end? You are declaring you are a witness of an end-time event. This seems vital. What is that event, how are you a witness, why is it important for us to recognize this event and how should we, or how do you think God expects us to acknowledge such an event in our own lives?
Two: In the lecture on Christ, the Prototype of the Saved Man given in Ephraim (6-28-14), you said, “…either I am a liar, and you ought to forget everything I’ve said, or I have been sent by someone greater than I am. If I have been sent and you reject and quibble over the things I declare to you, it is at your peril! It ought to be that way. I ought to be damned if I’m a pretender, and I ought to be damned and rejected by God if I’m saying things about which I know nothing! But I bear witness to you I know what I’m talking about. I have no reason to lie to you. I have no reason to pay to reserve a place to speak to you, and ask nothing of you but to listen. It requires a sacrifice to do what I am doing. I have no other reason to do this than to tell you the truth. Joseph Smith testified to these things and I am come as a second witness. Therefore you now have two proclaiming the same doctrine.”
You bring up Joseph Smith. Joseph testified the heavens are open. He bore witness of God the Father and His Son as two separate and distinct personages possessing glorified and perfected bodies. He also testified he was an instrument in the hands of Christ to bring about a restoration of things hidden since before the foundation of the world. You say you know what you are talking about. Do you mean this in the same sense Joseph Smith declared his knowledge, that it was received through revelation, vision and the visits of angels? As a second witness, how is the Savior working through you to continue the restoration He began through Joseph Smith?
Three: In the Phoenix or Mesa lecture (9-9-14), you stated, “The Lord has said to me in His own voice, ‘I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you.’ Therefore, I want to caution those who disagree with me, to feel free, to feel absolutely free to make the case against what I say. Feel free to disagree, and make your contrary arguments. If you believe I err, then expose the error and denounce it. But take care; take care about what you say concerning me for your sake, not for mine. I live with constant criticism. I can take it. But I do not want you provoking Divine ire by unfortunately chosen words if I can persuade you against it.”
In Genesis 12:3, The Lord said unto Abraham, “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee.” Abraham was further blessed to be the father of many nations, that in him “shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Abraham was a prophet. Isaac and Jacob were prophets. Abraham referred to the Fathers going back to Adam. You spoke about that in the talk on plural marriage and elsewhere. It seems there is something significant about connecting to the Fathers. Abraham was a patriarch. The LDS Church no longer has a presiding patriarch, or even such an office. Is there a patriarch on the earth today who can connect us to the Fathers?
Four: In the same lecture, you quoted from your journal, describing the disciplinary process you went through, your appeal and the significance of section 121 which contains the phrase, “Amen to the priesthood of that man.” You then read, “Last general conference (April 2014), the entire First Presidency, the 12, the 70, and all other general authorities and auxiliaries, voted to sustain those who abused their authority in casting me out of the church. At that moment, the Lord ended all claims of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to claim it is led by the priesthood. They have not practiced what He requires. The Lord has brought about His purposes. This has been in His heart all along.”
This is an astounding declaration. It has been the subject of much discussion on the forums and blogs. It was and is a difficult thing for many LDS members to hear or read. FAIR and other apologetic sites have fallen all over themselves to show how impossible such a claim can be. The idea of a modern, living prophet, authorized and in possession of all priesthood keys held by Joseph is the bedrock of the LDS Church claims to be God’s kingdom on earth today. Your claim evokes emotional distress in some who consider it. It’s been a while since this declaration came out. Is there anything you would add now to help multi-generational members of the LDS Church deal with such a devastating, all-encompassing foundational claim?
Five: You have proclaimed God has ended the way he works with his children on the earth today. You have announced yourself to be a witness of this fundamental change. You have declared yourself a second witness of the many works of God through the prophet Joseph Smith. You have reaffirmed the importance of the Patriarchal Priesthood, the law of adoption or sealing to the Fathers in the family of God. You have announced the LDS Church can no longer claim to be led by the priesthood of God, virtually making it no different from any other church today.
Yet the title and focus of the last lecture in the series “Forty Years in Mormonism” is “Preserving the Restoration.” You have counseled those who have accepted this message and you as the Lord’s servant, witness or messenger in this great change, to be baptized. Specifically, you quoted 3 Nephi 11:26-27 and said, “I am telling you in the name of the Lord that commandment is renewed again by Him today, to you. This is His command … confirmed again today.” Thousands of individuals have been baptized at your invitation. Will you elaborate on how your declarations and baptismal invitation preserve the restoration, as opposed to tearing it down?
Six: You proclaimed Jesus Christ has revealed Himself to you. You declared you have seen Him, embraced Him and have been given specific assignments of things to teach, which you have done at your own expense in publications and lectures. The focus of these teachings is the establishment of Zion. You have counseled those who wish to prepare for Zion to institute fellowships for gathering and practicing the principles of Zion, specifically to use tithing as a means to help the poor. You have taught there is to be no new church, no legal entity to receive and centrally manage funds and property, yet you acknowledge the need for a temple.
A new website has been established for a central recorder, where those who have been baptized are encouraged to submit their names. The purpose of this gathering of names is to present them to the Lord in a temple. You said in Mesa, “We do not need numerous temples, but we will need one to which Christ can come. We will not need to perform endless work for the dead until first there has been a covenant made for us. We must be first connected to the fathers in heaven. Only then can we do something to liberate the dead.” You have already taught much on the sealing to the fathers, but will you take a moment to elaborate on the difference between the visit of Christ to an individual and the visit of Christ to a temple yet to be built?
Seven: I have heard your say, and read in many places in your books and on your blog, you dislike the public attention received as a result of performing the assignments given you by the Lord. You’ve been emphatic we should not replace one idol with another. Yet the people look to you for leadership. For example, in the Phoenix lecture you provided some direction on tithing, the sacrament, ordinations, worship or fellowship groups, and in particular, the requirement that the approval of seven women is needed to sustain a man in performing ordinances in public. You also said a man was unworthy – the Lord’s word – if his wife will not sustain him.
In the Jewish tradition, when questions arise, everyone turns to the Rabbi. In the LDS Church, local leaders consult the handbook or turn to a General Authority for help with difficult procedural questions. You have stated you don’t like the term used by some – Snufferites – to describe those who read your writings. You have made it clear every man should have a sufficiently strong relationship with the Lord to get answers to procedural and doctrinal questions. Yet, you are the one the Lord sent as a servant, witness or messenger to declare the orderly dismantling of the established hierarchy. Does that not make you a prophet and de-facto leader?
Eight: A follow-up to the last question about the need for leadership in this movement can be illustrated by a recent post from Keith on the Recorder’s blog. In there he noted some people are submitting names of children baptized as young as five years old. The scriptures specifically teach the age of accountability is eight years old. He also noted the fact that some baptisms are being submitted for recording as having been performed by a woman. He quoted, again from the Phoenix lecture, your statement about priesthood being confined to men because of the Fall. You elaborated much on the idea there are so many opportunities for believers to go off the rails. I see it all the time when we discuss doctrinal questions on my blog.
For example, the worship of Mother in Heaven is a subject about which some people feel very strongly. They advocate a practice – a sacred dance – in which the objective is for a manifestation of divine favor. Specifically, they look for, expect, and report they have experienced the presence of Heavenly Mother in their ritual. This is similar to what happened with the children of Israel when Moses was up on the mountain for forty days communing with the Lord. In the end, Moses wore himself out because he had to judge every little thing that came before the people. What is the right way? How will the Lord provide leadership for His people who are awaiting His return? I’m looking for a practical answer here, not idealism.
Nine: You have declared we have an opportunity to bring about the conditions for Zion. You had proclaimed the Lord is willing and ready to help individuals and groups prepare themselves to become the kind of people who can be sealed to the Fathers, join with the City of Enoch when the Lord comes and not be burned at His coming. Joseph tried to accomplish this in his day. The people, he said, were too thick skulled to accept the things he wanted to teach them. They would fly all to pieces, he said, at the first hint of something not held in their orthodox tradition.
The response to some of the things you have tried to teach has been similar, even though you have taught them from the scriptures. Change is hard for most people, especially when it involves changing long-held beliefs that are mostly tradition. One of the most difficult things for the LDS people to accept is the idea that the Lord could possibly have had in mind what you have declared has taken place. In particular, Daniel’s interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is interpreted by most LDS folks to mean the LDS Church IS the kingdom of God, that it IS Zion and that they are the chosen people. How do you help closed-minded people who are steeped in tradition open their eyes to the idea of non-traditional possibilities?
Ten: I’d like to end this first section of questions with something near and dear to my heart and that is the pursuit of personal spiritual communication with the Lord. I have delighted in your focus and emphasis from your first book that we can and should seek and audience with the Lord. You have declared He is willing to come to us in a literal, physical sense and that we can come into His presence, embrace Him and be taught by Him personally. If there is anything that gives more power to your teachings than your declaration you have seen Him, I don’t know what it is.
In my own pursuit of an audience with the Savior I rely on a sacred dream received shortly after I read The Second Comforter for the first time. Without going into any detail, the dream satisfied my desire to know when I could expect to enter into the presence of the Lord. In interpreting my dream, which I prayed to understand, it is not soon. I have years of work ahead of me – years of faithful and diligent effort to do as the Lord asks. And He has asked things of me, some of them very difficult. I note some people looking to unusual sources for inspiration and help – Shamans, questionable scripture, etc. I know you’re asked this all the time, but if you don’t mind, what counsel would you give for my readers who are anxiously seeking an audience with the Lord, and have become weary with the length of the process?
Eleven: May I share something? This is from a fellowship community member in Arizona. It’s called “River Church.” I’d like to know your impressions after hearing it if this is what you had in mind when you talked about organizing:
“What a beautiful day. The water was so clear I could see the bottom. The sun was bright and warm. I arrived at the Waters of Mormon about 4pm. As I walked down the bluff, I could see many people going in the water. So many were gathered at the edge of the water cheering and clapping. It was a magnificent scene for sure.
“As I arrived, so many of you greeted me with warmth and kindness. It was like the first time walking through the veil into the celestial room with loved ones there to greet the newly endowed. Such a feeling of peace and acceptance. Thank you. I counted about 33 members of our community there.
“The most wonderful part of the afternoon was right after the bread and wine were blessed and passed. There was such a wonderful feeling in the group. It was so quiet, just children playing in the distance and toddlers cooing. The rest of the group sat earnestly as the waters rushed by.
“Right then I was in the moment. I pushed myself to take mental note. A wonderful experience to hold in my memory. For all my life I will remember that wonderful moment. This morning a word came to me to describe the feeling of that moment: ‘solemn’. I hope many more of you will join us in the future. I love river church.”
Twelve: Daryl’s group is just one of dozens of communities organized in a tithing and fellowship group. However, as far as I can tell, most of these fellowships are only along the Mormon Corridor, specifically in the areas where you presented the lectures. I know some have created webpages to help interested people connect to one another in a specific geographic region. In my case in Southern California, our fellowship is very, very loose with participants ranging from Alaska to San Diego.
I see the movement growing. I imagine you get a lot of emails from people asking about organizing and fellowshipping. You gave good counsel in the Mesa lecture when you suggested our time would be well spent if we did nothing more than read the scriptures – printed version – to one another and pray together. Will you share a little more about why fellowships are so important in bringing unity to the church?
Thirteen: I love the heading on your old blog, “The content of this blog presumes you are already familiar with Denver Snuffer’s books. Careful explanations given in the books lay the foundation for what is contained here. If you read this blog without having first read his books, then you assume responsibility for your own misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the writer’s intent. Please do not presume to judge Mr. Snuffer’s intentions if you have not first read his books.”
From the Wikipedia page created about you: “Snuffer claims his intentions are faith-promoting: ‘I have loved every minute of being a Mormon since I joined the church in September 1973 in New Hampshire,’ he says. ‘I am actually advocating activity and fidelity to the Mormon church.’ Snuffer claims that he intended Passing the Heavenly Gift and his other works to promote loyalty to the LDS Church.” Have your intentions changed? Do you still advocate LDS Members stay faithful and active in their wards and stakes? How can they do that and yet accept the invitation to be baptized which was renewed at the conclusion of the lectures?
Fourteen: From page four of the Mesa lecture: “The Holy Ghost does not thrill you, it informs you. It gives you understanding. … thrilling music can rouse you. A great TV show can get you thrilled and feeling goose bumps. That is not the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost enlightens your mind, it enlivens your senses, it brings light into your life, and you understand something anew. There are some people who have the Spirit with them in such a degree, that to be in their presence is to understand things better. Understanding, comprehension, light and truth—these are the Holy Ghost, not emotion, thrills and goose bumps.” (See DS blog 1-21-15 for more)
I can’t tell you how many times I have been in LDS Church meetings and heard the individual offering the invocation say, “Please bless that we will feel the spirit in our meetings today.” I can’t begin to recount the number of testimonies I have heard where the person sharing their thoughts becomes emotional, and states they are feeling the spirit so strongly. I suppose this is based on our interpretation of D&C 8:2 (mind and heart) and D&C 9:8 (bosom shall burn). Are you saying the Holy Ghost NEVER causes one to feel emotional? I have felt strong emotion in prayer that I attribute to the presence of the Holy Ghost. Isn’t that the comforter?