Sherem – Jacob 7:1-23
Before he died, Nephi had given the sacred records and other artifacts to Jacob, who had been called of God, ordained by his brother, and obtained his errand from the Lord. Jacob taught the people at the temple. He taught the people to look forward to Christ. He taught the Doctrine of Christ, which is found most clearly in third Nephi immediately following the Lord’s instruction on baptism.
In third Nephi chapter eleven, the Lord clearly taught that there shall be no disputations among us, especially concerning points of doctrine. He warned us that the spirit of contention is not of the Lord, but is of the devil, described it, and stated that such things were to be done away (contention), and then began to teach His doctrine, which He said the Father had given Him, saying, “the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.” (3 Ne 11:32)
“And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved, and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God. And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned. Verily, verily I say unto you that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father. And whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also, and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the holy ghost.” (3 Ne 11:33-25)
Baptism Precedes Receipt of the Holy Ghost
At this point the Lord teaches a little more about baptism, about being immersed in water and being baptized in the name of the Father, and the Son and the holy ghost. Clearly receipt of the Holy Ghost must be preceded by baptism. It’s certain the doctrine of Christ is connected to baptism. Once we repent and are baptized, we can receive the Father’s testimony of His Son by the power of the holy ghost.
Joseph and Oliver testified their minds were opened after they were baptized: “Immediately on our coming up out of the water after we had been baptized, we experienced great and glorious blessings from our Heavenly Father. No sooner had I baptized Oliver Cowdery, than the Holy Ghost fell upon him, and he stood up and prophesied many things which should shortly come to pass.
“And again, so soon as I had been baptized by him, I also had the spirit of prophecy, when, standing up, I prophesied concerning the rise of this Church, and many other things connected with the Church, and this generation of the children of men. We were filled with the Holy Ghost and rejoiced in the God of our salvation. (Joseph Smith History 1:73)
Receipt of the Holy Ghost Follows Baptism
“Our minds being now enlightened, we began to have the scriptures laid open to our understandings, and the true meaning and intention of their more mysterious passages revealed unto us in a manner which we never could attain to previously, nor ever before had thought of.” (Joseph Smith History 1:74) All of this is possible because of the Doctrine of Christ, which is a belief in Jesus Christ and repenting as a little child, then being submissive to the will of the Father. Christ concludes:
“And again, I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things. And again, I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. Verily, verily I say unto you that this is my doctrine. And whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. (3 Ne 11:38-39)
The Doctrine of Christ
This is Christ’s doctrine, nothing more and certainly nothing less. This is His doctrine. This is the power of redemption. This is the way the holy ghost is obtained. This is not all of Christ’s teachings, tenets, precepts, covenants, commandments, or principles, but it is all of His doctrine. There is no more doctrine than this, according to Christ. The word “doctrine” is used very liberally among mankind. This was also the case when Joseph was alive, but Christ used the word very specifically and confined His doctrine to only a few statements.
“And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establisheth it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil and is not built upon my rock, but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell standeth open to receive such when the floods come, and the winds beat upon them. Therefore, go forth unto this people and declare the words which I have spoken unto the ends of the earth.” (3 Ne 11:40-41)
The Record of the First Anti-Christ in the Book of Mormon
With this foundation we can return to the record of Jacob (chapter 7) and read about Sherem, a much-learned man. Sherem had a perfect knowledge of the language of the people. He could use much flattery (excessive or insincere praise), and much power of speech, according to the power of the devil. He obviously wanted something from the people – presumedly praise, power, or money.
“… he began to preach among the people, and to declare unto them that there should be no Christ. And he preached many things which were flattering unto the people; and this he did that he might overthrow the doctrine of Christ.” Now can you see why I wrote so much at the beginning of this paper to define the doctrine of Christ? Why do you think Sherem wanted to overthrow the doctrine of Christ?
“…[Sherem] labored diligently that he might lead away the hearts of the people, insomuch that he did lead away many hearts.” He was a foolish man, filled with vanity, believing in the power of flattering words, which he later admitted had been given him of the devil. The scripture is very clear that the words he taught appealed to his own lust for power and recognition, even praise from others.
Sherem Denies the Need for a Christ
According to the quotes in Jacob 7, Sherem was extremely bold and worked to stir up contention. He was basically calling Jacob a liar. He accused Jacob of blasphemy and perverting the right way of God. He said he did not believe there was a need for a Christ, yet claimed to understand the scriptures, which testify plainly of Christ. Surely the Brass Plates contained more prophecies of Christ than we have in our current version of the Book of Mormon. But if he read them, he did not accept them. Note that phrase about “perverting the right way of God.”
The Lord poured His spirit into Jacob and gave him words to refute the lies of Sherem. He proclaimed that the scriptures did indeed testify of Christ. Jacob taught that “none of the prophets have written nor prophesied, save they have spoken concerning this Christ. He then shared that he personally knew there should be a Christ and of the importance of the atonement to be made. That is “the right way of God,” to have a personal witness of the reality of Jesus Christ.
Of course, we know the rest of the story, that Sherem, in his pride and vanity, refused to listen or hearken to the words of a humble servant of the Lord but demanded a sign by the power of the Holy Ghost, and did so with mocking in his voice and words. The devil was using Sherem, a very intelligent man, but he would not, or perhaps by this time, could not, acknowledge it. Jacob clearly recognized the influence of the devil over Sherem and humbly said, “if God shall smite thee, let that be a sign … that Christ shall come.” And it was done.
What Can we Learn from Jacob’s Record of Sherem?
Pride – I would first point out that Sherem was obviously a very proud man, consumed by his own learning and the fact that he had much power given to him to speak with flattery. Sadly, he did not recognize that his oratory skill came from the adversary. He surely had some natural God-given talent but allowed the devil to flatter him and lead him down the path of destruction with this talent.
Flattery – One does not normally use flattery on others unless it is first taught to him by the adversary. Like Cain, he listened to the lies of Satan, who persuaded him he was a great man, who deserved great things, such as respect and power. He must have practiced this oratory skill over time. Perhaps he was a lawyer or a promising politician, seeking office, perhaps even holding an important position.
Learning: “To be learned is good, if [one hearkens] unto the counsels of God (2 Ne 9:29). For some, learning is like wealth. They wear it as a mistaken symbol of how blessed they are. Thinking, “God must really love me because he has given me such knowledge and ability.” Just because one is blessed with a sharp mind does not make one any better in the eyes of God, who is no respecter of persons.
Power – Sherem “began to preach among the people and to declare unto them that there should be no Christ. And he preached many things which were flattering unto the people; and this he did that he might overthrow the doctrine of Christ.” He later confessed he knew he was lying. He was being used. The devil taught him what to say and he later admitted that he had been deceived.
Humility – We can clearly see Sherem was a proud man, yet we must remember he had a choice. If he had humbly acknowledged that God have given him a gift to speak persuasively, he could have been a great instrument in the hands of the Lord. But he chose to believe the lies and flattering spirit that Satan sent to him. Flattery is apparently a very useful tool to those who desire power and gain.
Truth – Why do you suppose the adversary taught Sherem specifically to fight against the doctrine of Christ? It is because that is the core of the gospel. The doctrine of Christ is the essence of hope. It brings faith and leads to happiness. It is the doctrine of Christ that leads us to repentance and to be baptized, showing faith in a being who we may not have seen but who we believe loves us perfectly.
Accusation – You may have noticed that those who accuse others of a certain sin are usually possessed of that same spirit. Sherem accused Jacob of leading away “much of this people that they pervert the right way of God.” This is exactly the same thing Sherem was doing. He was filled with a spirit of accusation. And who is the great accuser? The answer is obvious. It is sad that he did not resist this spirit.
Blindness – Surely Sherem knew what he was teaching was false. He did in fact confess that he lied. He said he believed in the scriptures but denied that they contained any prophecies of Christ. How could he be so blind? We see what we want to see. If he read the scriptures (he said he believed them) then he must have purposefully overlooked the prophecies of Christ. He chose his blindness.
Faith – He declared that a belief in the doctrine of Christ was blasphemy (a wicked and false belief). He said that “no man knoweth of such things; for he cannot tell of things to come.” Faith is the essence and purpose of life. We walk by faith. I know of very few people who have declared they have seen Christ. I have not. But I believe he lives and loves me. In fact, I know this, because of the Holy Ghost.
Testimony – It was the testimony of Jacob that confounded the words of Sherem. Jacob was direct. He asked if Sherem denied Christ. Craftily, Sherem replied “IF there should be a Christ, I would not deny him.” Yet he continued to proclaim, “that there is no Christ, neither has been, nor ever will be.” Jacob countered with logic and testimony, referring to the words of the prophets as evidence of Christ.
Courage – Jacob had courage. When challenged directly to “Show me a sign” (and remember, it is a wicked and an adulterous generation that seeketh after a sign), he brought no railing accusation against Sherem, but quietly stated the fact that Sherem had been taught of the devil. He invited the Lord to let his words be a sign to Sherem, and again gave the honor and glory to God, that His will be done.
Results – Finally, it became apparent that Jacob was endowed with power and Sherem had none. The evidence is clear that the devil does not support those who teach falsehoods. Sherem was indeed struck by the Lord and died soon after, but not before confessing his lies, the reality of Christ and the power of the Holy Ghost, as well as the ministering of angels. Had he known these things all along?
Conclusion – My assignment in reviewing each of the Anti-Christs in the Book of Mormon was given in these words: “…carefully consider if my activities, thoughts, or actions are in any way similar to theirs. Specifically, identify things they said, or did that would qualify them as Anti-Christ and evaluate if I am guilty of similar thought or actions, and if so, how they would be manifest in our modern world.”
What I Learned from Studying About Sherem
I’d like to start by pointing out I am not Anti-Christ. I want that to be clear up front. I believe in Christ. More than that, I know He lives, for He has spoken to me many times through His spirit. He has whispered into my mind and given me words to say or write. I know this because of the peace that accompanies me in my heart and mind. He has also clearly prompted me to repent and to do good.
I took great pains to point out the doctrine of Christ, which is to believe in Him, repent and be baptized. This I have done and will continue to do all my life. I have learned from sad experience that unhappiness and discontent accompany me if and when I do not follow the promptings of the Spirit. You can reason what I have been taught is not from the Lord. I will not argue with your belief, nor contend. I choose to be a peacemaker. I know what I believe is based on study and prayer.
Results of the Doctrine of Christ
It is because of the doctrine of Christ that I can exercise faith and have the spirit of peace, the Spirit of the Lord, the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Because I believe in Christ, I have been baptized as a sign of faith in Him and His servants. I have a sure witness and testimony of His love for me and His desire to help me come unto Him, either someday in this life or at the gateway that we call death.
I watched my father on his deathbed. He suffered, yet he looked forward to the opening of the door and coming into the presence of the Lord. He has come to me in my dreams. So has my deceased mother. I know that life continues beyond the veil. There is a spirit world all around us where our loved ones await our return. My mother came to me after her death to encourage me in my work and my life.
It is because of the doctrine of Christ that I can repent and make efforts every day to walk with Him, to come unto Him, to hear His voice and to give heed to sacred and holy promptings in my heart. Sometimes, in fact, almost always, it is simply to be a peacemaker, to be kind, to be helpful and to guide someone else along the path of life. I am asked to be a friend, to help lift the hands that hang down in life.
Am I Guilty of Being an Anti-Christ?
I would hope not. I pray not. I have made it clear I believe it is Anti-Christ to deny the sacrament to an individual who has clearly demonstrated by his words and deeds that he is a disciple and follower of Christ. I am not a disciple of any man. I do not worship Denver Snuffer. He cannot save me. I am not a follower of Denver Snuffer. I am a believer in and a pupil of Jesus Christ. He teaches me each day.
Can one inadvertently fall into the type of thoughts, beliefs, or actions that are characteristic of an Anti-Christ? Of course. It is easy to fall into the sin of pride, but Christ has a way of humbling us because he loves us. I am reminded of my weakness almost daily when I encounter difficult people in my work – people who express frustration, anger, or impatience. It takes effort to resist those spirits.
Because I like to study gospel doctrine and LDS Church History (I got that from my mother), I have come to some different, non-orthodox conclusions about both history and doctrine than what I learned, and taught, growing up in the church. Does that make me an anti-Christ? No. Does that make me a heretic. Maybe. So why, eight years after removing my name from the Church, have I met with the bishop of the ward we now attend to discuss my standing with the LDS Church?
Seeking Unity in Marriage
Carol has made it clear she does not want me to do this solely because she desires it. I have watched Carol’s response closely over the past eight years. I know she loves me but thinks I have been deceived. She does not like Denver Snuffer. She blames him for my decision to remove my name from the records of the Church. He did not tell me to do so. In fact, he did not even suggest it, as far as I can recall.
I made that decision on my own, while driving across the desert on my way home from a lecture Denver had presented in Phoenix Arizona in September of 2014. He only stated that baptism is a sign to the Lord that you accept the message he had delivered. I thought about it, I pondered it, I prayed about it. I talked to the Lord about it while Carol was sleeping. I felt it was the right thing for me to do.
Was my decision, my action to remove my name from the church in any way similar to Sherem’s? Was there anything in what I thought, believed, or did that was anti-Christ? You be the judge of that. I do not believe so. I believe the very opposite. I believe I expressed faith by making the decision I did and took the action I did – to be publicly baptized as a sign to the Lord I believed His message.
Difference Between My Actions and Those of Sherem
Sherem was crafty. He did not say he denied Christ. But he introduced doubt in his response to Jacob by stating, “IF there be a Christ …” I KNOW there is a Christ and that He has been resurrected. I have heard His voice. I seek to give heed to His promptings. Again, you must be the judge if I have been deceived. By their fruits ye shall know them. I seek peace. I desire to be a peacemaker. I will NOT contend with others about my decision to give heed to the word of the Lord.
I know I’ve brought this up three times now, but I’ll reiterate it once again since it became a catalyst for my decision to have my name removed from the records of the LDS Church. It is clearly anti-Christ to deny the sacrament to an individual who seeks to follow Christ, has confessed Him as his Savior and asks only to be allowed to obey the Lord’s command to his disciples, “This do in remembrance of me.”
The statement that a man loses priesthood when his name is removed from the records of the LDS Church is false. The Church does not control priesthood. The Church requires priesthood to be acceptable to the Lord. I believe I still hold or possess priesthood, which is a fellowship with other followers of Christ. Since the Church now will not allow me to partake of the Sacrament, it is clearly anti-Christ.
Is it Anti-Christ to Deny the Sacrament?
This is evidenced by the ordinance of restoration as found in the church handbook which is publicly available. Note the words. One is not ordained again. One does not have the priesthood conferred upon him again. The words are something like “I restore unto you all your former blessings” with additional words regarding the temple. Clearly, I hold priesthood. I have authority to bless the sacrament myself.
Of course, the church tries to control this very carefully – it would take a whole separate study of the way the church defines keys to understand why this is believed and taught by the leadership of the church. We are taught that keys mean permission. I do not believe this. To me, keys are knowledge. Keys represent knowing how to call on the name of the Lord and to receive an answer. Again, you may say I am deceived.
Because of church policy, I have refrained from blessing and partaking of the sacrament in my own home (also out of respect for my wife’s feelings). I believe the sacrament should be administered with wine. Carol is very much opposed to this idea. Because I love her, I respect her wishes. I go to LDS church services with her because she asked me to. For eight years I’ve partaken of the sacrament there. But now I’m asked to do so no more. I will obey out of a desire for unity.
Partaking of the Sacrament in the Home
However, In the few months that I have refrained from blessing and partaking of the sacrament in my own home, which I remind you is a commandment from Christ to “always do in remembrance of me,” I have noticed a loss of the spirit in the form of strength to resist temptation and motivation to study the gospel. I know you know as I do, there is a real correlation between partaking of the Sacrament and having the Spirit or Mind of the Lord to be with us each day.
Therefore, I have repented of the sin of giving heed to the words of man (in the form of the LDS Church general handbook) which directs local leaders to restrict individuals from partaking of the sacrament. As you asked, I will no longer take the sacrament as administered in our local ward as I sit with my wife in worship. However, I have begun again to bless and partake of the sacrament in my home. I fear offending God by not obeying his commandment to participate in this sacred ordinance. I need the blessing of His spirit to be with me as He has promised.
I know this is forbidden by the LDS Church – to partake of the sacrament at home without the permission of the Bishop. However, since I am not a member of the LDS Church, I am not bound by the directive in the general handbook which is designed to compel and control. As we both know, when one seeks to compel or control behavior by virtue of the priesthood, “Amen to the priesthood of that man.” I have priesthood authority given to me by my father I can use to administer this ordinance in my own home. I choose to obey the Lord’s commandment. I feel his strength as I show the Father that I do remember His son in this holy ordinance.
Nehor – Alma 1:2-15
Nehor was large and noted for his much strength. He went about preaching that which he termed to be the word of God, bearing down against the church, declaring unto the people that every priest and teacher ought to become popular; and they ought not to labor with their hands, but that they ought to be supported by the people. (v3) And, in fact, many people did believe on his words, even so many that they began to support him and give him money. (v5)
We’ll look closer at (v4) in a moment. In (v6) Nehor began to be lifted up in the pride of his heart, and to wear very costly apparel, and even began to establish a church after the manner of his preaching. In (v7-10) He met Gideon and began to contend with him sharply, but Gideon withstood him, admonishing him with the words of God. Sadly, Nehor became angry, drew his sword, and slew Gideon, who was an old man. So, the people brought Nehor to Alma to be judged.
In (v11-15) Alma identified what Nehor had done (beside murder) was introduce priestcraft, which was to preach (lies) for money, and attempted to enforce it by the sword. Alma judged Nehor was worthy of death for his crime and condemned him to die, according to the law. Before he was put to death, he acknowledged that what he had taught to the people was contrary to the word of God. Sadly, this did not put an end to the spreading of priestcraft throughout the land.
Let’s inspect (v4) closer: 1) Nehor said all mankind should be saved at the last day. 2) He said the people need not fear nor tremble. 3) He told the people that they should lift up their heads and rejoice, 4) that the Lord had created all men, and 5) had redeemed all men and finally 6) in the end, all men should have eternal life.
What he doesn’t say is that 1) Salvation or resurrection is a free gift to all mankind because Jesus Christ gave his life so that we might be saved from death. 2) He did not say that we need to be humble before God, listen closely to His spirit, and study what God has caused to be written or shared by His servants. 3) He did not say the reason we can rejoice and be happy is because of Christ and forgiveness.
Nehor Clearly was Anti-Christ
4) He did not remind the people why they had been created – he did not teach faith in Christ, repentance, or baptism. 5) He did not teach we are redeemed by Christ and 6) He did not teach that eternal life is dependent upon how well we give heed to Christ. The quality of eternal life is determined by obeying Christ.
In a sense, Nehor didn’t lie, he just didn’t tell the people all they needed to know. However, there are many interesting points of the gospel that are brought up in Nehor’s teachings, which, no doubt, were familiar to the people as they were loosely based on true principles. Nehor’s sins were pride, priestcraft, and murder.
In my reading of the Book of Mormon, I get the impression many people did not read or write but gathered as a body of believers (the definition of “church”), to hear the word of God preached to them, and then to return to their labors. King Benjamin was a great example of this, he did not tax his people. He worked. King Noah was a terrible example of this – he taxed his people to support wickedness.
In fact, the Lamanites swore they would destroy the records of the Nephites. We also read that part of the pride cycle in the Book of Mormon is identified by the people’s chances for learning. Those who were learned seemed to be far more susceptible to pride and to the wearing of fine clothes and having disdain for the poor. Finally, they cast out the prophets from among them and had them killed.
What we can Learn from the Account of Nehor
Church – This one is commonly misunderstood. The church is not the building, it is the people. We don’t learn this from Nehor, but from Mormon, who is abridging the record and sharing this account. When Nehor was “bearing down against the church” just like the sons of Mosiah, he was attacking the beliefs of the people, he was sowing discord and stirring up contention. He sought to destroy the faith of the people in Christ. He argued, contended, and used anger as one of his tactics.
Pride – Nehor appealed to the vanity of the natural man. He then taught that the teacher, because he was educated, should be lifted up above the people. We see this in the Sanhedrin in the time of Jesus. He also, by his example, demonstrated he was filled with pride by the wearing of costly apparel, which seemed to be a common part of the pride cycle, as if to say, “Look, I’m better than you are. You can see that because of the car I drive, the house I own, and the clothes I wear.”
Priestcraft – Alma stated plainly that what Nehor had done was to seek gain and power by pretending to be righteous. He set himself up as a light, instead of pointing the people to Christ. Mormon, who abridged this record, made it clear in so many places that priestcraft would exist abundantly in our day, just as it did among the people in 3 Ne 11 as they built up churches specifically to get gain.
Clear Teachings on how to Worship Christ
It’s worth noting in v16-17 that “there were many who loved the vain things of the world, and they went forth preaching false doctrines, and this they did for the sake of riches and honor. Nevertheless, they durst not lie, if it were known, for fear of the law, for liars were punished, therefore they pretended to preach according to their belief.” They also persecuted the true followers of Jesus Christ.
They did this because they were guilty of priestcraft. Their pride caused them to “contend warmly with their adversaries.” Today we don’t usually see physical fights about doctrine, but we clearly witness warm contention in social media, sometimes even among members of the church. A sign of a true follower of Jesus Christ is humility. They will NOT contend. They will NOT argue. Just walk away.
Alma chapter one has so much to teach us about how to be a true follower of Jesus Christ. It is here we are taught that the priest is not paid for his labor. There is no professional clergy. No professional administrators. No large institution. The church is the people, not the organization. They met in homes or the open air. This is clearly taught here and in many other places in the Book of Mormon.
Korihor – Alma 30:6-60
The scriptural account of Korihor and especially his interview with Alma is the most detailed of the three Anti-Christ accounts found in the Book of Mormon. His story is similar to the previous accounts of Sherem and Nehor in that he took advantage of the Nephite law that a man could not be punished for teaching that which he believed. However, it ends the same in that he confesses he had lied.
In this case, however, we learn in his ultimate confession that while he knew he was teaching lies, he taught them so much and had so much success that he verily believed they were true. It is a pathetic story of a stubborn and proud man who does nothing to demonstrate that he had any understanding of the ways of God. He had so many chances to repent but resisted the obvious until it was too late.
But even more astonishing, in the case of Korihor, he relates that the devil had appeared unto him in the form of an angel. It is reminiscent of the story of Moses, who also had the devil appear to him, but had just been in the presence of the Lord and could make a direct comparison. Moses taught that except the glory of the Lord had come upon him, he could not look upon him. He was transfigured.
The Account of Korihor is a Warning to all of us
What happened to Korihor could happen to any one of us, especially if we are zealous in our desire to please the Lord. It is not likely that Korihor had the devil appear to him in the form of an angel unless he had been seeking revelation. He was surely somewhat of a student of the scriptures, although we can’t know for sure. He made it clear the devil taught him what he was to teach to the people.
Perhaps he did not study enough. As we have previously learned, the scriptures (remember, the Nephites had many scriptures in the Brass Plates that we do not have), teach plainly of the coming of the Son of God as Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, with a specific mission to reclaim all mankind from the fall of Adam. It is more than likely Korihor did not seek deeply enough to understand Jesus Christ.
In the end he wrote, “I always knew there was a God.” Yet he taught the exact opposite, and many other things (v17) that were pleasing to the carnal mind. He used arguments that have been employed by those opposed to Christ throughout history. We would be wise to understand the specifics of those arguments. We see them used almost daily in social and other media to convince and persuade.
Mormon Included this Especially for us
Korihor was immediately introduced as Anti-Christ (v6). Let’s take a moment to remind ourselves that to be Anti-Christ is to deny that there is any efficacy in a) believing in Christ, b) repenting of one’s sins (all part of the natural man) and c) being baptized as he commanded, both in the water and by the Holy Ghost. We will see in Korihor’s words, given to him of the devil, no credit is given to Christ.
He derided a belief in the prophecies of Christ as a foolish and a vain hope (v13), a foolish tradition (v14), that no man can know of anything which is to come. In fact, he stated twice in his argument that prophecies are not provable. This is clearly pleasing to the mind of the natural man: “Show me and I’ll believe.” In truth, this statement is the undoing of Korihor when he himself asks for a sign.
He denies faith (v15) as part of his argument by stating, “ye cannot know of things which ye cannot see,” which is false, because that is the essence of faith. He then draws a false conclusion, “therefore ye cannot know that there shall be a Christ.” Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Without faith, especially in Christ, we limit our ability to receive revelation, which is to receive the word of God for us.
The Essence of Korihor’s Arguments
Korihor rejects the idea of a remission of one’s sins, stating that such a belief is the result of a frenzied mind (v16). Thus, he denies hope, which comes again from a belief in Christ. All things center in Christ. Yet, he teaches that hope is vain and foolish, a derangement of the mind, again appealing to the natural man. He teaches that faith and hope lead one to believe in things that are not so (Christ).
He taught there can be no atonement (v17) because there is no sin, but that every man fared in this life according to his own power (Elitism), and that he prospered according to his own genius. He said every man conquered according to his own strength (materialism). He taught this life is all there is (Naturalism), therefore whatsoever a man did was no crime (no accountability or personal responsibility).
We learn that Satan also preaches (v18) through the words of men, the result being that they engage in wicked practices, such as whoredoms (both men and women) – telling them that when a man was dead, that was the end thereof. This is perhaps the most common argument I see in the words of those who promote the immoral and wicked practice of abortion, which seems to have become a cult.
The Result of Teaching Against Christ
I love the words of the high priest over the land of Gideon: “Why do ye go about perverting the ways of the Lord? Why do ye teach this people there shall be no Christ, to interrupt their rejoicings? Why do ye speak against all the prophecies of all the holy prophets?” Korihor came out in full rebellion and hardness of heart. He mocked the words of the Lord as recorded in the scriptures to give men hope.
I need not rehearse the remainder of the story to you. Suffice it to say that Korihor blasphemed. He rose up in great swelling words and reviled the teachers and priests. He accused them of glutting themselves upon the labors of the people when he knew they did not receive money for preaching or laboring in the work of the Lord – to teach of Christ, to prophecy of Christ and encourage others.
Finally, he was brought to Alma, the chief judge, who tried to reclaim the soul of Korihor. He asked direct questions. Korihor lied. At this point the adversary had control of his heart and his mind. Alma proclaimed that Korihor was possessed of a lying spirit, that the devil had all power over him and was using him. Then we come to a very poor decision made by Korihor. He demanded a sign from Alma.
It is a Wicked and an Adulterous Generation
It is fairly obvious Korihor practiced what he preached. The scripture clearly reveals he led women and men into the practice of adultery. Alma did his best to humbly teach that the signs of a loving God are all around us. “All things denote there is a God, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it.” He spoke of heaven, “Even the planets do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.”
Korihor would not back down. He would not humble himself. He was indeed possessed by the devil, and three times challenged Alma to give him a sign. Humbly, Alma complied. “…thou shalt be struck dumb, according to my words. And I say, in the name of God, ye shall be struck dumb that ye no more have utterance.” How appropriate for one whose words had led away so many.
So, it was done. Apparently, he was struck deaf as well as dumb. The story ends with Korihor confessing he had been deceived, taught by the devil what to say, and was consumed with the power of the lies of the devil that were Anti-Christ. Too late, he lost everything. He had to beg for food and was run over and killed. Thus, he brought upon himself his own fate, all because he would not repent.
Some Final Thoughts About Korihor
If you’ll recall, part of my assignment was to “evaluate if I am guilty of similar thoughts or actions” of these Anti-Christs and how they might be manifest in my life. This is also my opportunity to discuss if I am deceived by an Anti-Christ. I would hope I have made it clear I am a believer in Christ, that I love Him, and desire to obey every word from him, both in the scripture and through His mind.
For the Holy Ghost is the mind of Christ. When we are under the influence of the Spirit of the Lord, we can know the mind of Christ. We can know His will for us. It may not be the “orthodox” way of the established hierarchy, and, in fact, we may be prompted to do things that would seem to others to be contrary to the will of the Lord. Revelation is a personal thing. It takes work to discern God speaking.
Korihor was convinced he was taught by an angel. He supposed it was an angel of the Lord, but later acknowledged he knew it was the devil appearing as an angel of light. I have been accused of being deceived in the same manner. The words that follow I hope will be persuasive that I have not been deceived as were these Anti-Christs but am doing all within my power to do that which Christ desires.
Discerning Personal Revelation in our Lives
We are a church or a people who believe in revelation, especially in personal revelation. We teach every investigator that they ought to obtain a witness for themselves that the Book of Mormon contains the Word of God. We set aside a time each month to share with members of our ward our personal encounters with revelation. We are taught to use the scriptures as our personal Liahona.
The Brethren constantly teach us to come unto Christ through the scriptures and especially through regular, deep, personal prayer. We are taught to ask the Lord to lead and guide us. We are reminded to listen closely to the whisperings of the spirit, to discern truth from error, to take the Holy Ghost as our guide in life. In short, we are blessed the more we obtain the mind of Christ in our daily walk.
And yes, we are warned time and again against deception. We are told that the Brethren have the final word about what is truth and doctrine. Did not Nephi say, “Cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh”? (2 Ne 4:34 or Jer. 17:5) I will not speak or write against the Brethren. I accept them as prophets, but they cannot save me, only the Lord can do that. I will trust only in the word of the Lord.
Determining if we Have Been Deceived
Let’s get very specific about my case. Have I been deceived by things I have read or heard taught by Denver Snuffer? Is this man an Anti-Christ as some have said? I do not think so. I spent two years intensely studying and reading everything I could find that the man had published or said. I could find nothing that indicated he was anti-Christ. Everything I read from him led me to the opposite conclusion.
I read, I studied, I prayed, I fasted, I went to the temple. I attended his lectures. I met the man several times, I had lunch with his family. I interviewed him. I asked him some very difficult questions. I prayed some more. I asked the Lord if the message being delivered by this man was approved of God. The answer came to me clearly and distinctly. What this man taught would help lead me to Christ.
The standard answer is, “Well, he’s been excommunicated, so you shouldn’t read or listen to anything he has to say.” I disagree. He has never declared himself to be a prophet. He has not started a church. All he has done is publish books and deliver a series of lectures at his own expense. He asks for no money. I find I am uplifted by the message he delivered (the series of ten lectures) and his books.
Concluding Thoughts About Modern Anti-Christs
If Denver were to say, teach or write that we should NOT come unto Christ, or if he were to discourage us from reading the scriptures, praying, or partaking of the Sacrament, then yes, he would qualify as an Anti-Christ. Clearly, he encourages us to come unto Christ and yes, to pay tithing, but only to help the poor. There is no central organization or hierarchy. All tithing is for the poor in the local fellowships.
Back to the beginning points I made about the doctrine of Christ. All that Christ requires of us is to believe in Him, be baptized as he commanded in the method he taught, and to receive the Holy Ghost. If you think about it, when we lay hands on new converts or children after they are baptized, it is to confirm them as a member of the church and then command them to receive the Holy Ghost.
My point is the laying on of hands as practiced in the church today is to confirm someone a member of the church. That is NOT how the Holy Ghost is received. That must happen between the individual and the Lord. You cannot give someone the Holy Ghost. You can confirm them a member of the Church, but they must do the hard work of continuing to study, pray and ask faithfully for that special gift.
The Holy Ghost Leads us to all Truth
Many years ago (about 1980 to be precise), one of my favorite church leaders, Bruce R. McConkie, illustrated the principle of asking questions and finding our own answers. He reported that several thousand doctrinal questions were presented to him each year. Perhaps this was part of his assignment as an Apostle or because he had published a book (Mormon Doctrine) that gave the members the impression he could be relied upon for answers to deep doctrinal questions.
Because there was no way he could respond to all these thousands of inquiries, he answered in an open letter entitled “Finding Answers to Gospel Questions.” In it, he pointed out how important it is that we seek light and truth through the Holy Ghost. “In the full and final sense, the only perfect and absolute way to gain a sure knowledge of any truth in any field is to receive personal revelation from the Holy Spirit of God.” I have taken that counsel to heart in all my studies.
The difficult part about personal revelation is that it is just that – personal. I could no more share in a way you will understand what happened to me when I prayed about the material I read that had been published by Denver Snuffer than my wife could share what she experienced when she gave birth to our son. She can share words and describe feelings but I wasn’t there so I can’t understand in the perfect and absolute way that Elder McConkie described in his talk about finding answers.
Why I Started to Write and Publish Publicly
Because my mother was a professional educator, she was also a perpetual student, both of life and of the gospel. When I went on my mission, she decided she wanted to complete all the available Institute classes she could find that were offered at several universities and colleges near our home. When she passed away, she left me several deeply doctrinal papers she had written about the Temple, the Book of Mormon, Testimony, Marriage, and other such subjects.
Perhaps I inherited it from her, but it seems the only way I can come to a full understanding of a subject is to study it out and write about it. I originally started my blog precisely for this reason many years ago – to understand, and hopefully refute, what I saw as false doctrine and outright lies exploding on the Internet about the church and gospel doctrine. For many years it was my primary source of motivation to study the gospel. I desired to share the truth with others online.
In fact, we were urged to do so by the Brethren. They encouraged us to get involved in the dialog that was happening, mainly in the blogging community. As I’ve shared previously, I tackled and responded to many difficult questions. I’ve also related previously how I was introduced to the writings of Denver Snuffer. In order to truly understand why I felt he was delivering an authentic message you would have to have been me in prayer that night and received what I received.
Some Final Thoughts About Anti-Christs
I assume I was assigned to study this subject because Denver Snuffer has been labeled an Anti-Christ by some. Most simply call him an apostate. Those who want to be kind will cluck their tongues and say how sad it was that such an intelligent man (Denver is a partner in a law firm in Sandy Utah), could be so deceived by the devil. Pages and pages have been written refuting his books.
Or perhaps I was asked to study the subject of Anti-Christs to ensure I was familiar with the process of being deceived. I hope what I have shared in this paper gives you a clear understanding that yes, I know what it means to be deceived. I know the difference between truth and error. I know how the Holy Ghost works. I have received the Holy Ghost and have taken his counsel as my guide to know truth.
You’ll note I have written nothing in this paper about what others have said or written about Denver. Nor have I quoted from any living members of the Twelve Apostles or First Presidency. That is on purpose. I wrote this entirely from my heart with only references to the passages in the Book of Mormon that dealt with Sherem, Nehor and Korihor along with one quote from Elder Bruce R. McConkie.
Anti-Christs and the Doctrine of Christ
You’ll notice I expressed in strong language that restricting someone from partaking of the sacrament when that person is obviously striving to come unto Christ and has been baptized, thereby qualifying for the ordinance, is the very essence of Anti-Christ behavior. It demonstrates that one does not believe the sacrament will help a person come closer to Christ. This is a clear lack of faith.
Please don’t take this personally. I know you are only doing what is mandated by the General Handbook. However, it is wrong, and I’ll say it again: it is Anti-Christ. By so doing, the church is demonstrating they do not believe the commandment of the Savior that his disciples, those who have taken His name upon them, are allowed to obey his commandment: “This do always in remembrance of me.”
I’ll conclude with a reminder of the Doctrine of Christ. It is simple and anyone who declares more of less than what Christ Himself declared is building upon a sandy foundation. The gates of hell stand open to receive such. Believe in Christ, be baptized in His name, and receive the Holy Ghost. It is so simple even a child can follow Christ. The hard part is consistently resisting the adversary when he tries to deceive us or cause us to contend about the doctrine He has given of the Father.
Bishop, I think it’s obvious I am not ready to be baptized again as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There are too many things I have come to believe that are frowned upon in this church. There are too many instances in church history where I believe I have found things that have been doctored to make the church look better or in some cases, to establish doctrine that is false.
In particular, I do not believe the claim that the gifts of prophecy and revelation were passed from Joseph to Brigham. I have no problem with Brigham as the President of the Church. He got himself elected to that position. Anybody who has studied church history knows how that came about. We place great emphasis on “keys” and how they mean permission or authority. They are keys of knowledge.
I cannot and will never accept that Joseph Smith was an adulterer as was Brigham and several others of the leading authorities in the church at the time of Joseph’s death. I have researched and written extensively about this on my blog. I also do not believe that Elijah has returned. To me, the evidence is clear that section 110 was not received with the wording we have today. Section 132 was also altered.
Moving Forward From Here
I’m not sure there is any reason to continue meeting. I don’t want to waste your time. I greatly appreciate the assignment to read again and think deeply about the three anti-Christs in the Book of Mormon. And yes, I thought very specifically about Denver Snuffer as I read, studied, and wrote. I am grateful you corrected two things that should have been taken care of long ago, so I thank you for that.
You are correct that garments and the sacrament are both symbolic of covenants. As I reported to you, I no longer wear the garment as you have directed. I also will no longer partake of the sacrament as I attend church with Carol. I appreciate you allowing me to continue to associate with the good people of the ward and stake. In my opinion, these are some of the best people in the world. I love them.
Perhaps I just need time. Perhaps someone will point out to me where I have been deceived in what I have read and come to believe about the history of the Church. Perhaps Denver will actually start a church or announce that polygamy should be practiced again. That would certainly make me think twice. Then again, maybe the LDS Church will announce that gay marriage can now be solemnized in the temple through the sealing ordinance. There is great pressure there to do so.
We Enter into Covenants With the Lord
In the spirit of full disclosure and confession, and although I think I mentioned these in one of our previous meetings, 1) I have been baptized as a sign that I accept the message Denver Snuffer delivered in his ten lectures. 2) I have fully accepted a covenant that was offered in September of 2017, which can be read in the Restoration Edition of the scriptures at the link below. That is point three.
3) I have accepted the revised or restoration version of the scriptures found at https://scriptures.info which includes new revelations canonized by vote of those who are part of the restoration movement. I believe the Lord offers Covenants and we can accept them or reject them. I have accepted the covenant below and perhaps this action alone precludes any possibility of rejoining the LDS Church.
Prayer for Covenant: https://scriptures.info/scriptures/tc/section/156
Answer to Prayer: https://scriptures.info/scriptures/tc/section/157
The Covenant Ordinance: https://scriptures.info/scriptures/tc/section/158
There are over twenty new sections that have been added to the Doctrine and Covenants (titled Teachings and Covenants by the restoration movement), one being the Testimony of John. I consider many of Denver’s talks given at the various conferences over the years to be inspired and even revelation. In short, I have learned more truth from this man in ten years than I did in the previous fifty.