In part 1 of this series (see previous entry,) we introduced a man named Denver Snuffer, an excommunicated member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Church established by the Father for those Gentiles who repent, hearken unto his voice and harden not their hearts.
Mr. Snuffer, a Utah lawyer living in the greater Salt Lake City area, was excommunicated from the Church, after he wrote a book, Passing the Heavenly Gift (PTHG). It’s not my intention to review the offending book in this series of blog posts, but only the tenth of ten lectures Mr. Snuffer presented to the public, after his excommunication from the Church.
However, many others have reviewed the book, both pro and con. Here is a link to one example of a rebuttal to the book’s arguments,
where the author responds to the gauntlet thrown down by a commentator on the LDS Anarchist blog, who wrote:
Snuffer has produced a meticulously researched and reasoned book which accounts for the trajectory of the Church from Joseph’s day to our own, using the Book of Mormon prophecies as the interpretive guide to our history. It is based on publicly available facts, and the conclusions follow as a matter of logic. It has uncomfortable implications with respect to some of our common beliefs, teachings, and traditions.
The arguments and analysis presented in PTHG deserve a substantive rebuttal, if an honest rebuttal is possible…. If the thesis of PTHG is false, then it ought to be shown to be false on the same terms that it was presented – that is, by demonstrating how the historical events and the scriptures together show that the heavenly gift – in Snuffer’s parlance, the fullness of the priesthood – has not passed from the institution of the Church.
The rebuttal that ensues is extensive and engaging, but I don’t necessarily agree with all the arguments the author employs in his rebuttal. My point here is that, like two lawyers, the authors are presenting legal briefs for their positions on various aspects of the restoration of the heavenly gift, the holy priesthood of God.
However, the aspect on the topic of the priesthood of most interest to us, as we “walk through” the 10th lecture, is the idea that John the Baptist “wrested the keys, the kingdom, the power, the glory from the Jews, by the holy anointing and decree of heaven,” as the prophet Joseph Smith put it, as quoted in the lecture.
Mr. Snuffer cites this statement of Joseph’s to support the assertion, which he is going to make later in this lecture, that he, Denver Snuffer, has wrested the keys of the priesthood from the modern Church in the same way John did it anciently, “by a holy anointing and decree of heaven.”
For His return, we should expect something similar to His first coming. That is, an orderly take down of a competing hierarchy using someone ordained to accomplish that end that is put by God on a collision course with the targeted power structure. John’s mission required them to reject the truth and testimony he offered. It was orderly, public and required a conflict followed by rejection. In any modern take down of the LDS hierarchy the Lord will allow those involved to act freely. The hierarchy must voluntarily and clearly violate God’s standard. It must be orderly, public and the result of a conflict ordained by God’s will. This is how a house of order operates anciently and again today.
The context for this astonishing claim, which by the way, is a half-truth, that when properly understood, as we will explain below, does indeed constitute a major mystery of God’s work, is adroitly established by a cunningly devised explanation of the Lord’s declaration that his house is a house of order, which is normally understood as meaning that it is a house governed by law.
However, Snuffer insists in his lecture that, while “God’s house is a house of order, that does not mean what [we] think it means.” He goes on to tell us what it really means:
God follows patterns. He establishes and ordains things according to one pattern, and then He takes them down again according to another pattern, and He does not vary. There is no guarantee, when He establishes a house in one instance, that that house cannot rebel, reject Him, and be rejected by Him at another. Just because God undertakes one work does not mean that He cannot undertake yet another. Just because He ordains one system at one time it does not mean that, when that system becomes abusive, He will not deal with the system He ordained according to its own standards in order to bring about the result He warned about. He follows a pattern and therein is the house of order.
This subtle argument is according to the cunning of the devil. When John was anointed to prepare the way of the Savior and filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb, he did so by teaching the truth, that men were to repent, because the kingdom of heaven was at hand; That is to say, the Savior, the God of heaven, was about to come among them. and they could not reject him and expect to escape the wrath of God.
John was an Elias, a forerunner, as was Joseph Smith. The difference is that John, the Elias, did not restore the kingdom to Israel, as the Jews expected, but Joseph the Elias did restore it. What Snuffer is arguing, in effect, is that he has been anointed to takeover the restoration of the kingdom to Israel, of which Joseph is the head, and return it to the Gentiles!
That this is not according to the words of the prophets should be obvious to any knowledgeable Latter-Day Saint, and it would be, if were stated plainly as such, but it’s not. It is only implied at this point, and later we will show how Mr. Snuffer pulls it off, but for now, I want to focus on the motivation, which the man creates for his dupes to swallow, preparing them for the persuasion to come.
He turns to the Book of Mormon and the words of Joseph Smith to motivate the idea that the Church, as an organization, is destined to break up into, what later will become known as “Zion Communities.”
The Book of Mormon is more prophecy than history. Before the Lord’s appearance to the Nephites, society broke down into tribes consisting of family and friends. Immediately before the Lord’s return we should expect something similar. Therefore, part of the preparation by God’s house for coming social chaos is likely to include some preliminary preparations by families and friends to fellowship with one another in local gatherings, perhaps completely apart from control by the LDS hierarchy. Only by independently functioning can they hope to prepare for social chaos prophesied to accompany Zion and precede the Lord’s return. There will also be indigenous prophet-led people coming through God’s assistance to Zion.
Part of the preparation by God’s house? The reason for the break-up of the Nephites prior to the Lord’s visitation, was not in preparation for the coming social chaos that they foresaw would soon engulf them, but the reason for it was that the wickedness, which had overcome them, made the breakup a result that followed the natural course of events, not a preparation in anticipation of a break-up.
Unfortunately for us, social chaos is undoubtedly on the way today too, but the good news is that not only will the “indigenous prophet-led people” be lead to Zion, but God will lead all the house of Israel to Zion. Yet, this in no way leads us to believe that the saints ought to hunker down in a loose confederation of re-baptized “Zion communities” in order to prepare for it. True, the organization of the Church is destined to be destroyed in the transition, from Ariel to Zion, but more on that later.
What is important that we notice now is that Mr. Snuffer is able to bolster his argument, in the minds of the gullible, by, again, quoting the prophet Joseph:
His word will go forth, in these last days, in purity; for if Zion will not purify herself, so as to be approved in all things, in His sight, He will seek another people; for His work will go on until Israel is gathered, and they who will not hear His voice, must expect to feel His wrath.
In his footnote documenting the above quote from Joseph, Mr. Snuffer adds other quotes along the same lines from the leading brethren, including this one from Brigham Young:
God will preserve a portion of the meek and the humble of this people to bear off the Kingdom to the inhabitants of the earth, and will defend His Priesthood; for it is the last time, the last gathering time; and He will not suffer the Priesthood to be again driven from the earth.
However, the argument that the priesthood would not be “again driven from the earth,” does not mean, Mr. Snuffer would argue, that it wouldn’t be taken from the Church and given to a loose confederation of “Zion communities,” who would collectively constitute “another people,” whom the Lord would seek to carry out his work.
These words are not used by Mr. Snuffer, but the words he does use convey this idea. The difference is that his words cunningly insert the idea into the minds of his listeners, the idea that the revelation regarding the powers of the priesthood, which states that they can only be handled upon the principles of righteousness, terminates the priesthood of Church leaders, without terminating his own priesthood.
As I have already noted, he prosecutes this argument extensively in his book, for which he was excommunicated, but in the lecture, he states the following to justify terminating the priesthood of a “portion of God’s house:”
We should expect God’s house to be ordered around only one principle: repentance. When the pride of a great organization replaces repentance, the heavens withdraw, and when they do, “Amen” to that portion of God’s house. But the restoration through Joseph will always remain, even if God chooses to order it differently before His return. It is His to do with as He determines best.
Who can argue with the obvious fact that “It is His to do with as He determines best?” but the idea that his “house of order” means that the Lord follows a pattern of re-ordering, according to the discernment of Mr. Snuffer, and that the priesthood of a portion of the Church (in this case everybody’s but his and that of his sympathizers) is terminated, does not follow, except for those with ulterior motives, such as those desiring to justify their condemnation of the Church, so that they can form their own “Zion communities.”
The argument is so obviously self-serving that it is hard to explain why his listeners accept it other than to conclude that they have “itching ears.” Most of those who have left the Church, or are about to leave it, because of Mr. Snuffer’s persuasion that it is a sinking ship, do so convinced that it is corrupt.
Meanwhile, Mr. Snuffer convinces them, first, that Jesus Christ has made his own calling and election sure (thanks, he says, to the Church’s teachings and priesthood) and that he therefore now stands before God as a priest, independent of the Church priesthood. After this, he goes on to convince them that the priesthood of the leading brethren of the Church (not his own, of course) is actually terminated, because they did not follow the law written in their own revelations, when dealing with his apostasy.
His argument is based on the legal approach that the law directing the handling of apostates is solely within the jurisdiction of local authorities, not general authorities (he lays the groundwork for all this in previous lectures.) Therefore, because his case was clearly handled at the general level, the priesthood of all those involved, and of all those upholding their actions and of all those sustaining these law-breakers in the Church General Conference, held in April of 2014, has been terminated. (Amen to the priesthood of all those men – see D&C 121.)
To persuade those who have bought into the corpus of cunning arguments, crafted by this deceiver from the beginning, that it is all a web of deceit, is very difficult, if not impossible, especially if they want to believe it, but also because the web he has woven is intricately subtle and complex.
To reduce it to a simple, easy to understand set of issues may not be possible, and even in the attempt Mr. Snuffer’s purposes may be well served, as much doubt concerning the verities of the restoration will inevitably be introduced into the minds of newcomers to the controversy.
But, regardless, I will try, because I see the errors being promulgated by this man, and if I don’t try to point them out to others then I would be held accountable. We’ve seen how Mr. Snuffer maneuvers his listeners into a position of accepting the argument that the priesthood of Church has been terminated, while his, and that of those who did not sustain the general authorities, who directed his excommunication, or supported it, has not been terminated.
Later, he will advance a bizarre tenet, concerning the priesthood authority of those who supposedly retain it, because they didn’t sustain the brethren in the April 2014 General Conference, that they need to have it certified by seven women, including their wife, if they are married.
However, rather than address that, I want to pass on to a more central aspect of Mr. Snuffer’s view of priesthood authority, which is based on his idea that we have already touched on: Namely, that the Church does not understand what God means, by his proclamation that his house is a house of order and not a house of confusion.
Mr. Snuffer argues that this proclamation not only declares that his house is ruled by law, as is commonly understood, but that it also refers to a pattern of the Lord’s, wherein he periodically re-organizes his house to keep it in order. To support this contention, he cites the cases of the prophets of Israel, who were called and ordained of God, independently of the priesthood of Aaron and the sons of Moses, to cry repentance unto the house of Israel and warn them of the pending judgments of God, if they did not repent.
Called only by God, they functioned outside of man’s authority and control. The house of order God establishes and watches over has frequently refused to obey Him. Prophets roundly condemned Israel’s priests and false prophets for failing to follow His path and respect His commandments. All of this is God’s house of order.
Perhaps the greatest illustration of this is found in the story of Samuel, the prophet, called of God to replace the lineage of the judge and prophet of God, Eli, whom God cursed, because of his failing to follow the path of righteousness. Clearly, the calling of Samuel was “outside of man’s authority and control.” Yet, he was a descendant of Levi, through his father Elkanah, a very well-known and respected member of the tribe of Levi.
Likewise, Isaiah and Ezekiel were prophets called of God and given important iconoclastic missions in Israel, which was a nation consecrated by God to be a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation,” a light upon the nations of the world. So, it’s important to recognize this, to recognize that the prophets of Israel were descendants of the priestly families of this kingdom of priests.
Consequently, we see that these prophets were not called from outside of the nation of Israel, outside of the priestly families, but from inside the consecrated kingdom of priests. Granted, this kingdom of priests had many internal conflicts and strife, which their God corrected through the work of his servants, the prophets, but the understanding that Mr. Snuffer is promulgating, to suit his own purposes, is that “…the house of order established by God is beyond man’s will and never fully disclosed,” and, therefore, is something that makes the house of Israel, this kingdom of priests, non-exclusive. God can call any descendant of Adam to reorder his house in the world, without regard to membership in the house of Israel, his kingdom of priests.
Indeed, Mr. Snuffer goes on to assert:
Although an orderly process fills offices in His house, God can, has and will still speak up through whomever He chooses. Just because He says something to one, we should not conclude He is prevented from speaking with another.
Just how convenient this observation is for Mr. Snuffer, in the present context, is not easy to overestimate. It enables him to claim that he is a prophet of God sent to re-order, once again, the house of God, in accordance with the ancient pattern, while avoiding the charge of apostasy.
With this much established, Mr. Snuffer proceeds to reveal the iconoclastic claims of his own alleged calling:
God’s house is a house of order. He does it according to patterns. It is not God’s purpose to abandon the Restoration, but it is His purpose to preserve the Restoration, which at this moment is in terrible jeopardy. The Restoration itself must be rescued and preserved. If you cannot detect the terrible changes it has undergone and is now undergoing, then you are blind indeed.
He is asserting that God has called him to announce a new work, or a new direction in the work of the restoration, a work to “preserve the restoration.” This is not just a nice choice of words, because to rescue and preserve the restoration would be, in fact, a great work, a strange work, a great act, a strange act, and it enables him to hijack some of the most sacred and vital scriptures of Isaiah to misdirect the faith and patience of the gullible, unprepared saints, as we shall soon see.
However, before we correct this grave error in his understanding of the scriptures, let us clearly understand that Mr. Snuffer is calling for a voluntary dissolution of the LDS Church, before it falls in the coming social chaos, something, as we have already seen, he has prepared his listeners to accept from the scriptures.
Shall God forget the work He began through Joseph? Shall this now universally downward course be permitted without His hand being bared again? Or should a kind and merciful God take steps to give to us a chance to preserve it with His assistance, if we choose to act? There are many willing to act. We only need some indication from God of how to do so. Thankfully, the pattern was given to us through Joseph Smith.
Mr. Snuffer’s answer to the question is that God will not forget the restoration, but will preserve it through the actions of members who accept the following observation:
No corporate church organization, or man claiming authority should hijack your obedience to God. You are accountable to Him. You are accountable only to Him, and not to me or any other man. When Joseph wanted to know his state and standing before God, he asked God. It is to God alone that you must answer and it is to God you must be grateful. Only before Him must you be humble.
That this sentiment is so very parallel to that of the protestant reformers, when they left the Catholic Church, because of its horrendous and horrible abuses, is not lost on many today. However, the result in the days of the protestant reformation has led to more than 40,000 different protestant churches, or “denominations.”
Of course, when one queries the protestants today regarding this lack of unity, this great division among them, they seek to dismiss its relevance, contending that there is an underlying unity on the fundamentals that matter to God. They are, in their eyes, the unseen “church” of born-again Christians, who constitute the “bride of Christ.”
As we proceed with this walk through Mr. Suffer’s web of deceit, we will see that his vision of a loose confederation of “Zion communities” foresees a union with all those who simply “accept Christ,” without regard to the Church that the Father said he would establish among the Gentiles, if they would repent, hearken unto his voice and harden not their hearts.
It’s absurd and patently false to believe that God has raised up a “prophet” named Denver Snuffer, who now declares that the Church the Father has established for the escape of the Gentiles, as promised in the Book of Mormon, is now corrupt and no longer relevant. Don’t believe it for a minute. His voice is a siren voice for the unwary and ill-informed. It is subtle in its cunning, but clearly meant to destroy. Listen:
Does this mean you have to leave the Church? Of course not. This is to add to anything that you already have. There is no reason you can’t be part of this fellowship and be part of the Lutheran Church, Catholic Church or part of an LDS community.
Who will forsake their sacred covenants, made before God and angels and specified witnesses, for this sleight of hand from the devil himself? Unfortunately, the answer is that many will do so, because they allowed themselves to be deceived, not knowing the scriptures, as we will see next time.
(To be continued)