It has been over six years since I asked to have my name removed from the membership records of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (September of 2014). I remain convinced it was the right thing to do at the time. However, I have often wondered how different things might have been in my marriage if I had not resigned from the church.
Would these last six years have been better or worse? Has it been better because I have been open and upfront about my doubts of the truth claims of the LDS Church about it’s history? Was it better for Carol to know where I stood or would she have preferred I had not acted upon my searching, pondering and especially my prayers that led to my resignation?
I took a leap of faith. Baptism is a sign. A sign to the Lord and to man that you believe and accept something. In my case, I was publicly baptized as a sign that I believed the message delivered by a man I judged to be a servant of the Lord in my day. I still do. So is it wrong to now consider Carol’s desire for me to be baptized again as a member of the LDS Church?
Denver’s Message Presents a Dilemma
Denver Snuffer has taught that one can be a faithful member of the Mormon Church and still accept the message he (Denver) claimed he was sent forth to deliver (see lectures: 40 Years in Mormonism). He has also taught one can accept the covenant ordinance that was offered at the Covenant of Christ Conference in 2017 and still be active in the LDS Church.
In fact, he has said a Catholic priest, a minister of another faith or even an LDS Apostle can be baptized and enter into the covenant. But how does the LDS Church feel about this? Remember, baptism as practiced in the Restoration movement does not make you a member of any formal church organization. There is none. However, there is a record kept.
You could be secretly baptized, accept the covenant in private and submit your name to the recorder without anyone in your family or the LDS Church knowing you have done so. But would you really want to do that? If you become convinced and convicted by the Holy Ghost of Denver’s message, would you not want to stand up courageously and be counted? I did.
When Loved Ones Reject What You Have Learned
It’s fairly certain you will be disciplined, disfellowshipped or excommunicated if you make an active effort to share just about anything Denver has written with other members of the LDS Church. I’m aware of many folks who have had disciplinary action taken against them for doing just that, although I don’t hear about it happening so much any more lately.
I still get calls and emails from readers wanting to discuss their options. Some report they have already gone and been baptized in secret and are wondering how to break it to their family members. I don’t recommend being baptized that way. I think one should be open about it. Then they tell me how much it would break the hearts of their family members.
I get it. You’ve paid the price in study and prayer. You’re convinced being baptized is the right thing to do and you would like to have your loved ones join with you. They make it clear they are not at all interested and in fact, might divorce you if you go ahead with your plans. They make no secret about their intent to share your intentions with the bishop and others.
Excommunicated for Sharing Denver’s Message
A happier scenario is when your family members join with you on your journey and agree to be baptized with you. You naturally want to share your happy day with friends, neighbors and extended family but soon encounter responses that range from loving concern to outright rejection. You are convinced you are doing the right thing and are soon baptized.
Not more than a few weeks later, you receive a visit from a member of the bishopric and another local priesthood leader. Or if you are an endowed male the visitor is usually from the stake high council and the stake clerk or Executive Secretary. You are invited to attend a disciplinary council to be held on your behalf to discuss your recent act of “apostasy.”
With all the accounts available on the Internet, you read horrible stories of these councils and wonder if you really want to go through with it. After all, you’re still attending church, you even pay your tithing. But the letter you’ve received talks about protecting the church from your act of apostasy. All this because you shared a talk you read from Denver Snuffer.
Participation in Local Wards and Stakes
When I submitted my letter of resignation, the bishop made it very clear to me I would need to have approval of the First Presidency to be rebaptized. I don’t believe he was stating his own opinion. I’m fairly certain he consulted carefully with our Stake President and more than likely with our area seventy. I’m sure he acted within well-established guidelines.
Much of the discussion with my bishop back then revolved around what I expressed to them to be answers to prayer. In other words, I made it clear I was acting carefully after much study, thought, pondering, fasting and prayer. My decision was not a simple one nor was it made in haste. I believe I recognized clear promptings of the Lord in my decision.
Many friends and fellow priesthood leaders reached out to me privately and publicly, always in love and with much effort to dissuade me from my course of action. These were men and women I love and respect, having associated with them over many years in various wards and stakes, in leadership councils, quorums and committees. We served years together.
Fellowship Groups in the Remnant Movement
After I was first baptized in 2014, I attempted to participate in local fellowship groups with individuals who felt as I did and believed as I did. Sadly, there are few like me, especially here in California. It seems the Remnant Movement is more of a Mormon Corridor sort of thing. There are only two groups listed on the Fellowship Locator in Southern California.
You might be tempted to say I’ve missed out on years of fellowship experience because I don’t live in Utah, Idaho, Arizona or Colorado. I don’t look at it that way. I have continued to participate with my local ward and stake as best I can, even with with the lockdowns. The best fellowship for me has been living with Carol, an exceptionally strong Latter-day Saint.
I believe I am doing the right thing in practicing my religion. I can’t think of anything more important I can do than to be a blessing to Carol, be a faithful father and provider, a partner with her in studying the gospel, reading the scriptures, worshiping the Lord and in doing all we can to love and serve our fellowman, many of whom are becoming more difficult to love.
Avoid Apostates at All Costs
Don’t get me wrong. I struggle with this arrangement. Just like Carol wishes and prays I will come back to the LDS Church and be rebaptized, I wish Carol would reconsider her decision to reject Denver’s message that day in Phoenix when she walked out of the tenth lecture. I get it. What went down that day was distressing and hard for many people. I witnessed it.
If you’ve grown up in the LDS Church, you’ve been taught and probably taught it many times yourself that apostates are to be avoided and shunned because they can be very convincing. The accounts of Sherem, Nehor and Korihor are carefully studied and used as examples of what to avoid. It’s especially common to point out their expertness with words.
Some well-meaning teachers will even point out modern day examples of apostates that you must be especially careful of because they can be so convincing. They will go so far as to say you must only read from church-approved sources like official church magazines and web pages. Better safe than sorry, right? You just can’t trust anyone else to tell the story.
A Book That Speaks For Itself
I can say without a doubt that the most life-changing book for me besides the Book of Mormon was “Passing the Heavenly Gift.” It was my first introduction to Denver’s writings and was recommended to me by a trusted friend, a former bishop with whom I had served as a counselor. By this time I was in the Stake Presidency serving as a stake finance clerk.
I don’t recommend the book for just anybody. I was ready for it. I had been studying LDS church history all my life and had a lot of questions. I had put many things up on the shelf and now my shelf was overloaded to the point of breaking. Reading PtHG helped me bring those items down, re-examine them and put them in their proper light on my bookshelf.
I’ve described elsewhere how reading the book cover to cover in one evening was one of the most light-filled experiences of my life. I was receiving revelation. I knew I was being immersed in the heavenly element as I read. My prayers of many, many years were finally being answered. At the end of the night (it was 3am), I knelt to discuss this with the Lord.
Answering the Difficult Questions
I’ve meet with several bishops over the years since I resigned. I met with our current Stake President many times as I went through my decision process. I had a former Stake President, which whom I served as a High Counselor, Mission Presidents, Former Mission Companions and Institute Directors all reach out to me in loving kindness and concern.
But none could answer my doctrinal and historical questions to my satisfaction. Some tried, others said they would not try, sensing my mind was mind up. That was kind of them. There was never any animosity, only love and always heart-felt concern for the welfare of my soul. All my fellow priesthood leaders exhibited genuine care and Christ-like compassion for me.
The closest anyone came was an institute director who engaged me in a long-running dialog, private, at his insistence, as he attempted to address the doctrinal and historical issues. We came to a stalemate primarily because of the distance between us. I would present my point, he would counter with his and I would say, “Let’s kneel down and ask the Lord.”
A Willingness to Ask the Lord Together
That doesn’t seem to really work unless you are in the same room and are both open and willing to receive revelation. Unfortunately, most of the questions I phrased were like this, “In my studies I’ve read *this*, which has led me to believe *this*. In contrast, Elder so-and-so or President so-and-so has said *this*, which is contrary to what I have come to believe.”
If you are an institute director and one of your students comes to with with honest questions like this, what do you do? What do you say? Do you try to show them additional material they might have missed that might prove helpful? I’m sure that would be appreciated. Surely you wouldn’t say to them, “You’re wrong. That’s not how it was.”
Carol and I are both students of the scriptures and especially of LDS Church History. Carol served her mission in Independence Missouri and visited quite a few Church History sites with her Mission President, Lawrence Flake, who is still associated with BYU. We have quite different understandings of how certain events transpired, especially around 1844 Nauvoo.
Will it be Clear Where to Gather?
We also have distinctly different understandings or beliefs about what will happen in regards to gathering to Zion. Unlike some articles we’ve read from General Authorities in official church magazines about a watered-down Zion, we’re both firm believers in the literal gathering, just as Joseph said. The big question is where – Missouri or the Rockies?
We also believe the Lord will tell his people when to flee to Zion to avoid an upcoming disaster, catastrophe or invasion from an opposing nation. Of course, of necessity, He will need to have revealed the location, which will in all likelihood be in preparation or in some stage of development. Carol believes there will be tent cities around Adam-ondi-Ahman.
I’m holding out for an announcement about somewhere in the tops of the mountains as opposed to the flat plains of Missouri. I’m also very doubtful we’re going to hear any sort of announcement from President Nelson telling us to all start the trip to Missouri, since the official doctrine is that we are no longer going to walk back to Zion. Zion is where you are.
Zion in the Tops of the Mountains
Me, I’m a firm believer in the Rockies. No, I don’t know where. Idaho seems a bit too cold for a California boy like me, I love the Grand Mesa, but still, there’s that snow thing. What about the Second Mesa among the Hopi? Seems like that would be a good spot to keep the feds out of your business. I’m thinking we need to become friends with the folks in Arizona.
In fact, if we believe our theology correctly, the native Americans will be he ones building Zion. I’m a gentile, so if I want to be invited to their party, I’d better bring something that they want. Trouble is, I can’t think of anything off the top of my head. I’ve spent my life as a white man, focused on technology, skilled at computers and networks and stuff like that.
Sadly, Arizona is not part of the Rockies, but does it have to be? The scripture references the tops of the mountains, although it also refers to the everlasting hills. I don’t know. You decide. I’m just thinking Zion is going to be on Indian land where self-government is well-established, far away from the idiots who run some of the states like the one where I live.
Yes, Anyone can be Rebaptized after Resignation
So, back to the thought that started this post. I love Carol and very much desire her eternal happiness. I’m sure it would please her to no end if I were to be baptized once again and become a member of the LDS Church again. I’ll bet she would be ecstatic if I were to solicit and obtain First Presidency clearance to have our temple priesthood blessings restored.
What would it hurt? I still believe Denver is the Lord’s chosen servant for our day. I don’t believe Russell Nelson is the Lord’s spokesman. Sorry. I don’t believe the gifts that Joseph exercised such as direct revelation from the Lord have been evident in any other man who has claimed to be a president or apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
So, it seems fairly certain I could not pass the baptism interview because I don’t accept Russell Nelson as the Lord’s prophet. I do accept Joseph Smith as a prophet. I totally have no problem with that. So how would you counsel me in this case? Is there any hope for me? I don’t want to pretend and I’m certainly not going to lie. This prophet thing is a big deal.
Praying to Come to an Agreement
When I served in Bishoprics and on a High Council, I enjoyed the unified prayer among Priesthood brethren trying to come to a consensus as to what to do. We wanted to call people to serve in ways they could keep their covenants and to grow, yet there were some callings that it was obvious anyone could do if they were willing and humble about it.
On rare occasions, we united in prayer to determine the membership standing of someone who had come before us in a disciplinary council. Sometimes it was difficult to ascertain if they had repented because they still expressed thoughts and feelings similar to what got them excommunicated in the first place. I fall into that situation right now with how I feel.
Is there anyone who would be willing to go toe to toe with me in discussing the message of Denver Snuffer, identifying specific points he has declared are from the Lord and then kneeling down in prayer together to ask, one at a time, for a manifestation of the Lord’s will in the matter, to see if we can come to an agreement on the various points of doctrine?
Helping Someone Change Beliefs is Hard Work
When I was a missionary, we would present a concept, ask the person we were teaching if they understood it and then ask them if they would pray together with us about it, asking for a confirmation to their heart and mind that it was correct. We didn’t insist they agreed with us when we started the prayer. We just wanted to know that they understood us.
I used the same process when teaching seminary. I would teach something from the scripture, discuss it with the students, asked if they understood, which they demonstrated by explaining it back to me, then asked if anybody felt the need to approach the Lord in prayer for a greater confirmation. That rarely happened. They usually accepted things.
On one occasion I bore my testimony to my brother about the Book of Mormon. Although we grew up in the same house, he did not accept or believe the scriptures. This was after my mission and I was very fervent. I asked if he wanted to pray with me about the book. He looked at me funny and said, “No, you’re trying to trick me somehow into believing you.”
Revelation is Personal and Private
It can be a difficult thing to get two people to open-mindedly study something out, come to a conclusion an then present it to the Lord in prayer, together, one acting as voice at a time. Those who have served in a bishopric know this process well, or should if they have been seeking to do things the Lord’s way in their bishopric meetings. Doesn’t always happen.
How about in a marriage where two people have different understandings of basic doctrine or history? Is it possible there can be meeting of the minds, where one or the other changes their beliefs or conclusions about what they have studied? We can study the same passage of scripture, pray about it and come away with different understandings of how to apply it.
It all comes down to what you believe about some very basic things, such as how revelation is received. I’d like to think it’s the same for everybody, but I’ve had enough experience to know it’s not. There’s a rich mixture of heart and mind, pure intelligence and good feelings. No matter how much we say revelation isn’t emotion, it’s hard to separate the two things.
The Revelation to Gather to Zion
Revelation is the mind of the Lord expressed in a way that a son or daughter or God is clear what the Lord is communicating. They understand each other because there is feedback. There is is give and take. Images are received and understood, words and phrases are shared and accepted in a way that both could repeat back what the other is saying.
In a setting with two or more individuals, the work is a little harder because definitions of words, phrases, concepts and events are perceived and learned differently. Truth is truth but two people can perceive the same truth in different ways depending on how they came to understand that truth – who presented it to them, where they read it, and what they felt.
That’s why Carol and I have such differences of opinion on how, when and where the Lord will warn us to flee to Zion when the time comes. She expects a large general conference type announcement for the whole church from President Nelson. I expect a quiet warning from Denver Snuffer to a small group of people of are ready and willing to go build Zion.
Gathered by the Angels of the Lord
In fact, it’s my belief that the angels do the gathering or preparing of individuals who will know when it’s time to gather to Zion to band together for protection from the devastation that is overtaking the United States. These are individuals who entertain angels and are instructed by them on various topics that pertain to the events of the last days, like now.
When I was younger and much more naïve, I imagined members of a stake presidency or high council gathered in fasting and prayer for this very specific reason – to know how to council the members of their stake in light of current circumstances similar to those that are facing us now and will only be getting worse as we lose more and more freedoms.
Sadly, those ideas of anything like this happening among the formal organization of the LDS Church are long gone. Yet, I still believe angels appear unto men to instruct them in our day, otherwise, all is lost and wo be unto the children of men. Again, this is not happening in the formal councils of the Mormon Church. I’ve asked and the Lord has made it clear to me.
The Key Question to Being Rebaptized LDS
I use this one example to demonstrate that we have a lot of work to do in our fellowship – my own family. I imagine the variety of opinions among our ward members is quite diverse. I am looking forward to learning what the members of my ward and stake think about when, how and where we will gather to Zion. Has anyone thought about the logistics of this thing?
I mean it’s not like the Lord is going to sprinkle fairy dust on us and we’ll all magically come to the same understanding of what we should do. We don’t know how fast this people will be swept off the land. If you believe the gentile nation is in the process of being destroyed or has just been destroyed, we are now ready to be swept off. It could be a few short years.
So if I approach my bishop and say I want to be rebaptized because I want to be part of the larger fellowship of our ward and stake, I’m sure he would work with me to ascertain my sincerity. Part of that process will be my expressions of loyalty, faith in, belief in Russell Nelson as
a the prophet. Would I be willing to say yes, he is the prophet of the LDS Church?
Could I Qualify for the LDS Baptism?
Sure, why not? Any man who has a testimony of Jesus Christ can be a prophet. But if he were to ask if I feel Russell Nelson is the only man on the earth today who is authorized to exercise the keys of the priesthood (however you define those) for all the world, the answer is no, but that’s a temple recommend question and not a baptism recommend question.
So, technically, as I read the questions, yes, I could be baptized a Mormon today. Would that make Carol happy? I think she is much more interested in having the temple sealings restored. I have extremely strong feelings about the temple. I do not believe what Brigham instituted in the Nauvoo temple was what Joseph had in mind. It is only partial knowledge.
No, I haven’t talked to Joseph about it so I can’t tell you, but I believe he had something entirely different in mind for the Nauvoo temple. We only got as much as Joseph revealed in the Red Brick Store and a lot of that has been taken away over the years. As much as I love the temple and the many happy memories I have there, it does not contain the fulness.
Coming to a Unity of the Faith
Every time I write a post like this, I ask myself, “Will this make a different in someone’s life?” I live in Southern California, far away from the centers of this Remnant moment. Most of the strong fellowships are in Boise, Sandy, St George, and other places where you’ll find a large number of LDS congregations and families. I have one covenant neighbor nearby.
There are so many times I wished I could kneel in prayer with someone after having studied something in the scriptures, especially doctrine found in the last sections of the Teachings and Commandments (from section 156 on), or one of the talks I think should be canonized such as Our Divine Parents, and asked the Lord to bear witness to our souls of the truth.
But for now, I am content to join with the Lord and His Angels in receiving that witness for myself. I rejoice to know that he is mindful of me, far away in this heathen part of the world. I imagine there are many others like me in various places throughout the world who feel just as alone. Perhaps like me they are the only one in their family who has accepted baptism.
Taught by the Angels of Heaven
In order to present yourselves together to the Lord, united in prayer, you both must have read the same thing, and hopefully discussed it. When Joseph and Oliver knelt in prayer to ask the Lord about baptism, they were united in wanting to do the Lord’s will in the mater. What a marvelous thing to have John the Baptist come to them and confer the priesthood.
Now this is sacred, so don’t tell me, but have you presented yourself to the Lord after having studied a new concept (such as the doctrines contained in Our Divine Parents), and, with either you or your wife acting as voice, asked the Lord to help you both have a united and more complete understating of the events, perhaps to see them in your mind’s eye?
After having petitioned the Lord for a more perfect understanding, have you been visited by Angels, and had the presence of mind to ask specific questions about how things are conducted in the heavens? Have you walked the paths of heaven, wondered about some of the things you saw there and taken the trouble to ask your guide why such things were so?
Follow the Shepherds of Israel
Or is all this gibberish to you? Do you believe ALL answers you need to know will come through the mouth of Russell Nelson or one of the other leaders of the LDS Church? Then God bless you my friend, for your faith in a man, a man who I hope you can trust to lead you to the Lord. I mean, he does testify of Christ, does he not? Of course he does. We’re heard.
But can we trust the Lord will speak through Russell Nelson for our temporal salvation as He often did through Joseph Smith? Will Russell Nelson stand as a protector of the people when we must flee to Zion for safety? Will he designate the place the scriptures foretell will be in the tops of the mountains, where the wicked will not go out of fear of the righteous?
What are we being told right now by the leadership of the LDS Church that we should do in these dark days (Joe Biden’s words, not mine)? We are being encouraged to “get along” with the LGBTQ element that now runs Antifa and BLM, the same folks who were behind the storming of the capital on Jan 6th. I encourage you to read Anonymous Bishop today.
Join in the Gospel Discussion online
Oh, and by the way, I invite you to take a moment to visit my fellow blogger Gramarye now that he has opened up his posts for comments.. Looking forward to some great dialog there. He asks throught-provoking comments that go way beyond the usual standard Sunday School answers. Check it out and contribute some thoughts to the content there.