Max Skousen Excommunicated Twice

MaxSkousen2Please don't take offense at the title. It is sensational on purpose but I think factual. Read on to see why. Note: I changed the title from the original because so many people wrote to say they found it offensive. It was not my intention to offend. The original title was: "The LDS Church Excommunicates those who Know Christ" The next week Denver Snuffer was summoned to a disciplinary counsel and was eventually excommunicated. He was one who wrote a book about the Second Comforter: Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil."

Some Controversial Writers

I have been reading Max Skousen. You know, the Max Skousen who was excommunicated twice for writing about Christ. It made me think about Mel Fish, my friend from Cedar City who was excommunicated for writing about Christ. As I pondered further, I thought of my LTM branch president, George Pace, who was released as a Stake President for writing about Christ, Finally, I thought of Denver Snuffer, who is under church investigation for his recent books on the Savior.

Remove the Condemnation

What is going on in our church? Why are we forcing men out who want to bring us to Christ? I have read the works of these men and can say without reservation that each of them have been sincere and have gone to great lengths in their labors to teach us how we can come unto Christ. It is not an easy thing to write a book, let alone several of them as some have done, in their efforts to help us remove the condemnation we are under for esteeming lightly the Book of Mormon.

Church Teaches Come Unto Christ

This concerns me. On the one hand, I have been taught all my life from General Authorities, Bishops, Stake Presidents, Gospel Doctrine Teachers, and just about anyone who teaches in this church that if we will but come to know, love, follow and emulate Christ, we will be blessed, we will be happy, and we will be able to help the rest of the world by our example. I have tried to live this principle all my life. My number one goal is to come unto Christ. Always has been.

We Need to Know The Savior

Something is wrong here, or so it seems to me. Have I simply chosen a few poor examples in my list above? These are men whose writings have affected me deeply. I have met and interviewed some, and have prayed about each of them and their writings. Now, to be sure, I am also affected by the words of the men we sustain in this church as prophets, seers and revelators, sometimes very deeply, especially when they teach of the Savior. Aren’t we all supposed to know Christ?

Looking Beyond the Mark

I think the problem is that these men I mentioned above, and you can read about each of them in the links I have provided as I have written about them previously, have gone beyond what the Brethren felt comfortable in letting them share. Does that sound strange? It does to me. It seems to smack of controlling or restraining in some way, something I find distasteful. It makes me ask, of what are they afraid? What do they fear these men have taught or are trying to teach us?

A Blessing Hitherto Unknown

Take Max Skousen for example. He passed away in 2002, but you can read his books on the blog dedicated to his works, with links to Scribed, where they are stored. I have only read a few of his essays and the first few chapters of Looking Beyond the Mark, the first in his series of books, A Blessing Hitherto Unknown. In it he describes how he was inspired by President Benson who invited us to remove the condemnation of pride and unbelief from ignoring the Book of Mormon.

Disciplined for Doctrinal Writings

Max simply expounded that. I read no further than a few pages before I had to know about the man and what motivated him. That’s when I discovered he had been excommunicated twice for writing his books. The pattern became obvious. Each time the Lord has led me to read the works of someone who teaches about the Savior in greater depth than what we find in our curriculum, I discover they have been disciplined in some way or form. Thus I write this post, wondering why.

Tree of Life not Tree of Knowledge

From what I have been able to discover so far, Max teaches us about the differences between the tree of knowledge and the tree of life. Oh, how quickly I was able to relate. I have been seeking new and revelatory experiences every day at the tree of knowledge, when all along, I should have been pursuing my way to the tree of life, clinging to the iron rod until I fell down at the presence of the tree to partake of the fruit, which the Lord promises we can taste and even have in this life.

Investment in Denver Snuffer Books

I have only just started reading Max’s works. I am so pleased that someone has gone to great trouble to place them on the Internet where I can find and read them for free. I do not have to buy them like I did when I wanted to read what Denver Snuffer has written. I don’t mind. I suppose I have invested well over $200 in Denver’s books, but I wanted to have them in my library. Some I have read multiple times, and others I am still reading, like Removing the Condemnation.

I Remember a Great Teacher George Pace

I read George Pace’s book many, many years ago, went to many of his lectures, and received personal counsel from him just as I was starting my mission. I’ll always remember his focus on the Savior, and how he KNEW we could have a personal, sacred, and sustaining relationship with him that would give us strength throughout our lives. I was devastated when I later read what happened to him and his family all because he dared teach what he taught about Christ.

Learn About Mel and Gwena Fish

I’ve written previously how I was led to meet with Mel Fish, a man who I am convinced knows the Savior better than anyone I have ever met. If someone were to ask me if I knew anyone who had their calling and election made sure, Mel and Gwena Fish would be the first couple to come to mind. The sprit witnessed to my soul how much the Lord loved Mel and Gwena and just how much he appreciated what they were doing to help people cast off the influence of the adversary.

Conquering Spiritual Evil

By the way, two other other individuals come to mind who have done so much to help people free themselves from the adversary and were persecuted by their church leaders for doing so. One is Doug Mendenhall, who wrote Conquering Spiritual Evil, and my friend Jan Graf who was somewhat of a mentor to me in first learning about communicating with our subconscious mind, although I learned his techniques second-hand and modified through one of his students.

Denver Snuffer Lecture Series

Anyone who has read my blog for the last year and half knows how I was introduced to Denver Snuffer and his writings, as well as the subsequent change in my life as a result of what I learned, and am still learning, from his books. I still hope to make it to one of his seminars in Utah next year. I’m certain I won’t be able to go to his Idaho or Northern Utah lectures anytime this year. I have some very specific questions I want to ask Denver why some teach evil spirits can repent.

Men Persecuted for Publishing Truth

The point of this post is this, and it’s more of a question for those who are my regular readers, if I have any left after being dropped by most LDS blog aggregators for being too controversial. I have felt led to read the works of these men I have mentioned. Their books have thrilled me. They have fed my soul. Reading them have been spiritual experiences, akin to reading scripture. Why is it that these men are persecuted by our church when their writings ring so true with me?

Go Where the Spirit Leads

I have to ask: Am I out of touch? Am I out of line with the General Authorities? Are we or are we not taught by our leaders to seek after Christ, to learn of Him, to come to know him and to emulate Him? Why do I feel that the Lord has lead me to the writings of these brethren I have mentioned in this blog? Is it because the writings of these men represent the meat of the gospel? Is what they write too much, too controversial for the general membership of the church today?

Just Your Basic Everyday Mormon

I don’t feel I’m anybody special. I’ve always said, “I’m just a regular member of the church.” I have no special influence. I am a lowly assistant stake clerk. I like to stay behind the scenes. I gladly accept speaking or teaching in church when asked but I ALWAYS teach ONLY what is in the approved curriculum. I do not deviate unless the spirit directs. I like to think I serve faithfully. I love this church. I love my brethren and sisters. I am your basic everyday common Mormon.

An Effort to Control Publishing

I’ll leave it at that. Some will respond that I have been and am being misled. It happens almost every time I write about Denver Snuffer. My counter is always, “That’s not what the spirit has been whispering to my soul.” Is it at all possible that there is some sort of cover-up or rather an attempt to control, to constrain and to tightly correlate what private members write and publish? If so, how can they expect to do that in today’s Internet world? We can publish anything today.

My Faith Discovery Journey

I’ve been blogging and working on an LDS-themed book for years. My wife just beat me to the punch and published her first book. I’ve watched her journey go in an entirely different direction than where she thought she wanted to go. I can say the same thing for me. I started out wanting to ONLY write faith-promoting, toe-the-line LDS explanations that mirrored the official line of reasoning for every controversial and questionable doctrine or practice. I feel like John Dehlin.

Finding Spiritual Fulfillment

John is much smarter and much more prominent in the LDS blogging world than I am but where I am today is not at all where I expected to be six years ago when I started thinking about adding my voice to the LDS blogging community. I don’t question the right of the leaders of our church to lead. I sustain them. I pray for them. I love them. But for the first time in my life, I’ve come to a point where I have to say, I’m not getting the spiritual food that fulfills my soul in my church.

Controversy Always Gets Attention

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not leaving. Where would I go? I also fully recognize feeding my soul is my own responsibility. That’s why I seek out and feel led to the writings of the men I mention at the top of this post. I just can’t figure out why these same men, whose writings I find so very rewarding and fulfilling, can be at odds with those who lead our church today. Is it a made-up controversy? Everyone knows strong opinions and debate generate interest. Maybe that’s it.

General Membership Don't Read

Maybe the brethren are disciplining and excommunicating these men in order to bring attention to their works, so the members will sit up, take notice and make some effort to find out what all the hullabaloo is all about. Yeah, that’s it, isn’t it? I’m kidding. I really doubt that. But if you can tell me why I am led to find such spiritual satisfaction from the writings of these men who are or have been disciplined for what they have written, I would greatly appreciate you clueing me in.

Looking for Informed Opinions

That is, of course, if you know what you’re talking about, have read some of their works and can advise me with an educated opinion. I dislike reading some of the comments that start out, “I’ve never read a thing Denver Snuffer has written, but I can tell you if you don’t stop reading what he has published, you’re going to lose your church membership and then you’ll be sorry." But I have a much higher opinion of my readers than that. Send me a private email if you prefer.

You can Reach me Privately

And, as always, thanks for reading my blog. I hope what I share is helpful and gets us thinking. I can be reached privately at tmalonemcse @ if you prefer, but why not share your insights with others in the comments? I always respond to private emails, even if it sometimes takes me a few weeks. I appreciate the hundreds of readers who have reached out to me privately for help or discussion. I welcome all, public or private and ask only for thoughtful discourse. God bless.


DavidH said…
As far as I know, the public shaming of President Pace was not directed by the FP and 12 as a whole, but was one apostle who felt inspired to say those unkind things. That apostle was known for making other statements as if they were authoritative when they were on matters as to which the FP and 12 were not in agreement and had not unitedly authorized him to speak.

I cannot speak to the others. I have not read their works. I know Denver because we were in law school at the same time, though different classes. I liked and respected him then, and know of no reason to change that.

There are back stories on what happened to the September 6. I don't think those actions were coordinated by the FP and 12 as a group, but likely by certain individuals without clearance from others.

It is said that those who like sausage and laws should not learn too much about how they are actually made.

I think the same is true about religion and religious institutions, including our own. It is a pretty common saying that someone should never take a job with the Church unless s/he has a very strong testimony, because it is easy to become disillusioned as an employee with daily contact with the actual day-to-day operations of the Church.

If the Church really intends to make an authoritative statement or disavowal of any of those teachings, I think it would do so clearly. (In that sense Elder McConkie was kind by making a public disavowal, rather than instituting disciplinary proceedings. The problem was that what he thought was false doctrine was not seen as such by the others in the 12 and FP).

I would treat those books the same way you treat other uncorrelated books. Sort of the way the Lord counseled Joseph Smith about the Apochrypha--to seek the spirit to distinguish between what was true and what was not in those writings. And God's counsel to seek learning from the best books.

I do think that the standard works are valuable as "standards" against which to measure things we read in other materials. And of course our God given ability to reason is part of the evaluation.

I have plenty of heterodox beliefs or nonbeliefs that wouldn't make it through the correlation committee. I am likely wrong on some and perhaps right on others. All any of us can do is, like Joseph Smith, seek truth and good with reason, study, prayer meditation. And then do the best we can, by our best lights. I believe God blesses us as we do so.
Annalea said…
Well-said, Tim. I've been wondering the same kinds of things lately. This bit really got to me, though: "I don’t question the right of the leaders of our church to lead. I sustain them. I pray for them. I love them. But for the first time in my life, I’ve come to a point where I have to say, I’m not getting the spiritual food that fulfills my soul in my church."

I'm at that point, too. (And if anyone who knows me happens to read this, that's not conduct unbecoming of a member of the church. ;o) I can go an entire three-hour block at church, and only hear the name of the Savior mentioned at the end of the prayers. :o( And on a good Sunday, three scriptures from any part of the standard works read aloud (not including the sacrament prayers). On a poor day, the sacrament prayers are the only scripture I hear. The only Word of the Lord.

I'm also working through why it is that I've grown so much in my relationship to my God through the things I've learned from Christians wholly unconnected to the LDS Church. (You want to learn about relationship with Christ? I know two pastors who you would LOVE to talk to. Amazing people.)

Keep writing. Keep thinking. I feel like the disciplinary actions you mentioned are the battles of an inter-generational conflict that began with the September Six, and are in its last gasp now. Leadership can ex whoever they like (really, due to the "unbecoming conduct" clause), as that's part of the power they hold as leaders in a private corporate organization. And, even though it can be devastating to those targeted, I bear them no ill will. Like you, I love the leaders of our church. I pray for them. I sustain them as the Holy Ghost directs. I'm just so, so glad that no man has the power to separate me from Christ.

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[a]

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
-Romans 8:35-39, NLT

Hallelujah! :o)
Annalea said…
(Sorry--I forgot about WordPress and smileys. I meant :( and :) . . . lol)
Janet Owens said…
Have you read Max Skousens "Temple Book"? I would like to hear your thoughts if you have. Thanks for your blog. It is honest and shows you are a seeker.

I personally have determined to spend as much time in the scriptures and reading conference talks as I do "controversial" authors. I think you have to be careful and listen to the Spirit and pray for the gift of discernment. Is it possible to become addicted to the tantilizing feeling of excitment when a new idea that is a little controversial is discovered. And then start thinking, " why isn't this taught over the pulpit" and become unsatisfied and critical with the things we hear in church? We become like the the Athenians which Paul said in Acts 17:21 ((For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell or to hear some new thing.)

I can read one Neal Maxwell talk and feel strenghthened in my resolve to keep my convenants and draw closer to the Lord. When I do that the evidence in my life that he has drawn near to me is overpowering. I feel "grounded, rooted, and settled." If I go to church and listen for the message I am suppose to hear that day, I always do hear it no matter how unpolished it is delivered. If I work on one imperfection that has been revealed to me through a talk or lession the Lord is aware of my efforts and I am blessed. That is exciting to me, to pierce the veil everyday and know the Lord is aware of my efforts.

It is easy to become distracted by controversial ideas and forget that the work we are here to do is to repent and refine our own souls so we are worthy to be like and with Christ. If we are looking for something sensational and new all the time we may miss the more important message the still small voice is sending. It is sending critical life saving messages on how to improve our own character and over come the flesh.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.
Matthew said…
I really like Janet's reply. I have felt something similar as I have counseled with the Lord. I have come to a similar conclusion to give equal time to foundational material and deeper content. I don't think either should be ignored. There is great wisdom in finding balance between the two.

Why are these men persecuted? Shouldn't all of us expect to be persecuted for bearing true testimony of Christ? It's unfortunate that often that persecution comes from within the Church. But it shouldn't be surprising if, as you point out, that very institution that is under condemnation.
tomirvine999 said…
Here is what the general authorities have taught about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
tomirvine999 said…
A few question their faith when they find a statement made by a Church leader decades ago that seems incongruent with our doctrine. There is an important principle that governs the doctrine of the Church. The doctrine is taught by all 15 members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. It is not hidden in an obscure paragraph of one talk. True principles are taught frequently and by many.

- Elder Neil L. Anderson “Trial of your Faith," October 2012 General Conference
Kevin said…
If the General Authorities see themselves filling a role similar to the Catholic Magisterium which would make them the ultimate connection to- and arbitrators of- the truth--then yes, you may be out of touch, Tim. If you take the Savior and Joseph Smith at their word, however, and embrace truth whereever you find it--you're probably right on the mark and doing us all a favor!

Your post brings to mind Rock Waterman's explorations of the corporate Church and Damon Smith's book on Correlation and the corporate Church. Bruce R. McConkie bringing the smackdown on Eugene England comes to mind as well. Sadly, despite England's humble attempts to reconcile with Elder McConkie, McConkie continued his rough, holier-than-thou treatment of Brother England to the point that England devleoped PTSD and passed away from a brain tumor.

It would be one thing if McConkie's title were 'Cardinal' but there's a sadness to him believing he was the arbiter of truth in the gospel that Joseph Smith restored. McConkie's self delusion was truly breathtaking. It brings to mind the tale of 'Mormon Doctrine'--how he took it upon himself without counseling with his fellow apostles or even President McKay to define what everything means. The man seems to have been in love with the power of his mind at the expense of actually following the Savior. Yes, he undoubtedly has or will bath the Savior's feet with his tears but only after doing so seeking forgiveness from the likes of George Pace and Eugene England.

Do persist, Tim. How is your book about the end of days coming?

Rock Waterman on the corporate Church:

An interview with Daymon Smith on Mormon Stories:
- also on By Common Consent:

An interview with Dan Wotherspoon on the remarkable Eugene England:
Betty said…
"I would treat those books the same way you treat other uncorrelated books. Sort of the way the Lord counseled Joseph Smith about the Apochrypha–to seek the spirit to distinguish between what was true and what was not in those writings. And God’s counsel to seek learning from the best books."
David, I was especially drawn to the above quote in your reply. This is the guidance that I follow, too, as from "day one", my life as a LatterDay Saint convert has never been typical or orthodox. Good points.
Betty said…
Our missionaries are now instructed to give "milk before meat". This has alarmed me from the beginning. It Joseph Smith and the early Saints were passing around "meat" why should I look forward to "milk"?
Annalea said…
I don't think Tim was saying that he never learned anything at all from church. He said he wasn't getting "the spiritual food that fulfills my soul" from church.

Big difference there.

Church SHOULD be the place we come away from overflowing with spiritual nourishment. It SHOULD be the place where the Holy Spirit descends in the rushing of a great wind, angels are seen, and we go back into the world changed and empowered to do God's work in miraculous, powerful ways.

If that kind of thing can't happen when the saints gather together then where on earth can it happen? Matthew 18:20 comes to mind: "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." The pattern Jesus set in His life was to let ALL come right up unto Him. Touch Him. Hear Him. He didn't keep Himself locked away from the masses, and send down messages through intermediaries and sycophants.
Annalea said…
I also differ in that I don't believe a personal relationship with Jesus Christ could be called new, sensational, controversial or a distraction. And what on earth could be more important than knowing our Savior personally? That's why He came to earth. To save us . . . and in order to do that, we have to know Him. And that it's something that absolutely should be taught over the pulpit. Every week. Every talk. Every prayer. ALL of it should have that focus . . . to bring us closer to Christ, to foster our personal relationship with Him.
Annalea said…
This is awesome. Thank you!

Mormon and Nephi wrote and prophesied about the same things. I was amazed, during the last quarter of last year's Book of Mormon study for Gospel Doctrine, the things that Mormon wrote . . . they truly opened my eyes, and brought me so much closer to my God.
Ray said…
I have liked much of what you've written over time, Tim, but I disagree strongly with the title and spirit of this post. I don't like every excommunication that has happened in our church history, and I lean toward that action only as a last resort, but I also have HUGE issues, for example, with the way Denver Snuffer and Bro. Pace preach(ed) their message and, in my opinion, distort(ed) horribly a few of the core aspects of what I believe to be the overall message of the Atonement.

I'm not going to go into details here, but I will say that I believe this post is way out of line in its claims.
Ray said…
Tim, fwiw, I appreciate your follow-up comment, but most of it doesn't deal at all with why I wrote what I wrote. That is my fault for not going into any detail in my own comment. Let me try to explain a little better why I wrote what I wrote.

"I do indeed have friends who have been excommunicated for what they taught about Christ."

***That's not what the title and post say, Tim.*** It's not even close to what the title and post say. Seriously, it is a radically different statement than the message of the title and the post. I have no argument whatsoever with that wording. It's accurate.

I don't want people generally to be excommunicated for what they teach about Christ - except in those instances when I believe what they teach about Christ is dangerous and damaging. I do not believe Denver Snuffer is an anti-Mormon or apostate, but I do believe there are elements of what he teaches that are dangerous and damaging. I don't want him excommunicated, but it also is totally inaccurate to say that if he was excommunicated it would be because he knows Christ or because he teaches about Christ - and that is what the title and post say. ***It would be because of what he teaches about Christ and the implications of that teaching.***

I'm going to say this carefully, because I do NOT equate him with the evil spirits whom Jesus cast out of the herd of swine, but those evil spirits knew Christ and, in their testimony, taught about him. Knowing Christ and teaching about him aren't the issue; the issue is WHAT is taught about Christ.

In saying that, I don't mean to attack or dismiss Bro. Snuffer's personal experiences - not at all. I would have absolutely no problem with him sharing his own experiences with Christ, assuming they are genuine. However, he isn't just sharing his experiences; he is taking those experiences and reaching conclusions for other people based on them. He is "teaching about how Christ will interact with others" based on those personal experiences - extrapolating his own experiences into expectations for others. There is a strong element of "anyone can have this type of experience if they are righteous and faithful enough" in what he teaches (and in the message many people take from him), and I find that to be in opposition to much of what we have in our scriptures - and I also have seen the real damage that general belief has done to too many people to accept it. I simply don't accept it and am opposed to it.

I wrote a post about a completely different situation only yesterday that is applicable to how I view the aspect of Bro. Snuffer's teaching I just described. I was not thinking at all of him when I wrote it, but please read it if you want to see a very simple, conceptual outline of how I see that part of his teaching. I think the concept of his experience is lovely, but I believe when it is "put into practice" by and regarding others, it often becomes repugnant.

The title of my post is, "Some Things That Are Lovely in Concept Are Repugnant in Practice" - and the link is:
Ray said…
Annalea, I didn't say most of what you are accusing me of saying. Seriously, you quoted some of what I said and then accused me of saying, believing and doing things I don't say, don't believe and don't do.

Finally, we all have to make our own judgments about what we believe is dangerous and damaging - and we all do it. In fact, we are commanded to do it. I said clearly that I believe Bro. Snuffer's experiences are lovely, and I said clearly exactly what I believe is dangerous and damaging in the way those experiences are presented to and applied by others.

Tim, this is one of the reasons I almost didn't comment on this post. I knew this would happen, and I thought initially that it wouldn't be worth commenting. After further consideration, I decided I respect you too much not to share my concern. I hope you understand what I actually said and that you know me well enough by now to understand that I am not setting myself up as a judge of anyone. I thought I made that clear in what I wrote.
Ray said…
Tim, I appreciate the change of the post title. It might or might not have anything to do with my comments, but I appreciate it, nonetheless.
Annalea said…
Hi Ray,

I'm so sorry if you felt I was accusing you of anything. What do you feel I accused you of? I responded to your comment to offer you an opportunity to see how others understand where you're coming from, and find out what you really meant. If I'm not accurate in my understanding, please help me understand correctly what you intended to convey. My apologies for not explaining that explicitly. I'm always learning and refining online communication, and will try to remember that in the future.

Responding and asking questions exposes the miscommunication that happens so easily in text-only interactions, and I view those as a chance to further explain and enlighten one another. I read and respond based on my own experience and paradigms. You read and respond based on yours. I hope that, through a dialogue, I can understand you better, because what you said seemed pretty clear to me, as did the logical conclusions from your statements. I really do want to understand, please. I don't know you at all . . . and I think we could learn a lot from each other.

Best regards,

Ray said…
That's fair, Annalea. I will try to respond more fully when I have more time to do so.

Just so you know, I choose my words very carefully when I comment online, specifically because I have been very active for over six years now and have seen countless times when people have assumed they know what someone else is going to say and, therefore, jump to conclusions without reading slowly and carefully. That's why I almost didn't comment in this thread. I knew it is an emotional topic, and emotional topics are notorious for ending up with completely unproductive threads.

Again, when I have more time, I will try to respond in more detail.
Annalea said…
Thank you, Ray, for trusting me enough to honor me with that response. I also do my best to keep emotion out of my comments & responses. It's good to know we're on the same page there.

Have a great day!
Ray said…
Annalea, I have some time now, so I will try to explain more fully and clear up some misconceptions. This might be a long comment.

"There is something fundamentally flawed in positioning yourself as the judge of 'dangerous and damaging'."

We all do it, and we have to do it with regard to things that other people teach. We do it with political leaders, co-workers, school teachers, potential friends, etc. - and we ought to do it with religious leaders, as well. Ultimately, we are responsible for what we choose to believe and do, so we simply must make those types of judgments all the time. The key, imo, is to try to be as charitable as possible toward the people - even when, ultimately, we still judge what they teach as something we can't accept. Thus, as I said, I believe Bro. Snuffer's experiences are lovely - but I am more than just wary of the way I have seen others interpret and move forward with them - the way they have been interpreted and applied in real, practical life by others.

"How can you tell what is driving someone from Jesus, or bringing them closer to him?"

Ultimately, all I have is the idea that people will be known by their fruits - particularly when I don't know that person well enough to have seen into his or her soul on a personal, intimate level. Even with the witness of fruits, however, the injunction still is, "Judge not, that ye be not judged" - which I believe applies to making a determination about the condition of one's soul and their eventual place and position with God.

"I find myself very uncomfortable you would be so at ease with the idea of passing that kind of judgement on a fellow church member."

I am not at ease and try hard not to do so, and nothing in my comment indicated I do.

I love the quote from Joseph Smith you referenced, and I use it regularly when dealing with people who classify others as apostate in any way simply for believing something differently than the person doing the judging. However, "calling someone up" and disagreeing are very different things. I'm not trying to call anyone up in any way, and I tried to make that clear; I'm just expressing disagreement.

" I believe we can all agree He acts according to law . . . and that He can, and will, do again whatever He did before, if the conditions occur again."

I agree - but I don't believe he acts exactly the same way with every single person based on some kind of formula. I don't see that at all in the scriptures, and I think such a formulaic construct (input: output) makes God nothing but a machine to be manipulated by the operator. I believe in the "binding" statement in the D&C, but I don't believe we get to set the terms of what is required in such a binding. I think the verse in question is quoted in isolation, out of context when it is used that broadly - and I believe the idea that "If I do x, God has to do y" is extremely problematic, since we as mortals far too often end up deciding what we think "y" has to be. This is perhaps evident most obviously in the idea that some people have that says if a person pays tithing faithfully, the will be guaranteed financial independence and, at the extreme, grow rich and "prosper" individually. I think that is a dangerous idea, and I don't think it's supported by the totality of our scriptural canon.

More in another comment.
Tyce Ferwerda said…
Hey Tim.

Long time no chat. I don't reply much to stuff like this but considered the title of this post and read many (not all) of the replies, so I may have missed something but wanted to address a few points. The main point is the title is accurate and clear, plain and simple. If people are going to be "offended" because of the title then so be it, (but this is a problem). Our world is controlled by the fear of "making offense". We are generally so afraid of being "politically incorrect" or spiritually incorrect that we go over board to be "politically correct" or not making any waves or offending this group or that group. The problem with this state of being is that truth and principle take a back seat to the feelings of others who are offended easily. We work so hard at not having a voice that the people who want to make waves and push their agenda or cause based on personal interests and not principle and truth have a freeway to their goal, their agenda... Those that should have a voice (and you are sharing yours with this post) generally do not express truth and principle. I could be so politically incorrect at this point it is not even funny but I am holding back as I write...

You know me and my story quite a bit so the above is not new from many vantage points.

I have been curious about the process of "offense" and being "offended", why is it that we generally are so easily offended? I don't need to (but maybe I should) go into detail as to all the possibilities as to why but I do put the question out there for people to consider.

The Men you have referred to, if they are truly close to Christ (and I know personally one of them and believe he is) and have had wonderful experiences with these relationships with Christ and they have been excommunicated because of what would seem to be simply expressing their experiences then let the facts be submitted and people being offended because of a title simply representing the facts then so be it. The key here is why does a person take offence?

People who take offense generally feel attacked...

There is so much more that I could write but will see what happens from here.

Thanks for the post(s) and your observations and possibly some button pushing...LOL

It was an experiment, Tyce, but I genuinely asked Heavenly Father if it was OK to state the original title the way I did. He said, "I wouldn't have inspired you with it if it wasn't." I don't pretend to understand all the ways of God, but I think he was saying, "Let's just see what kind of response you get." Well, it really hit the fan in the original form.

It was called "provocative, misleading, a lie, demeaning and degrading." I was told it was damaging to the image of the church. OK, I got that. Most of the conversation took place on Facebook. I'm thinking of taking down my "networked blogs" widget so I can be more selective abut what gets posted there.

You can read the comments yourself, I was mainly told, "How dare I judge why a person was excommunicated. He may have written a wonderful book about how to come unto Christ, but maybe he was excommunicated because he confessed to adultery or polygamy." OK, I got that too. The church will never say. We have to rely on what the person who has been disciplined had to say about the matter.

Church discipline is a sensitive subject and sacred cow among us. You and I have talked about giving and taking offense before - the source of such feelings and the result of doing so. According to the Lord, the only thing that displeases Him is when we don't obey his commandments or acknowledge his hand in all things. There's a lot to that of course, but I try to do neither - give or take offense.

Thus I changed the title even though I felt it was correct. Many others disagreed with me. I could not use it with any authority unless I absolutely knew for a fact that someone had met the Savior, and then been excommunicated by the church, no matter what the offense. And since I did not "know" the status of these men before the Lord before they were excommunicated, I had to concede the point.

In any event, the experiment proved something to me, people do indeed read stories based on headlines, especially provocative ones. I knew that and I should be content with the 300 to 500 views I get on my blog each day. I wanted to see if a headline could increase it. I got my answer. I hope some good was done in my dialog with Ross Baron, with whom I served in another stake. I enjoyed answering his complaint that started, "I am extremely disappointed in your article."

The man is a CES teacher at BYUI and a stake president. I'm not going to argue with him. He knows the scriptures so much better than I do. You take it from there. Did any good come out of all this? I don't know. Good to hear from you. Much love to you and your family. You'll be happy to know that my physical condition is much improved - no more spirit sightings.
tyceferwerda said…
So what did you learn from the "sightings"? How did you manage the process? Do you even "feel" anything from time to time? Hmmmm lot's of cool lessons
It's been six months. I've had a lot of time to ponder what happened to me and why but I'll take this dialog about dealing with evil spirits offline because it's not germane to the Max Skousen excommunication dialog. Besides, it will take some time to compose. I'm triple-tasking right now so it will probably be tomorrow before I can put it into words. Later
Blufish said…
Hi Tim, quick question: how do you know Denver is under church investigation? I've only ever read that on your blog. Thank you!
Ray said…
Tyce, fwiw, there was no offense taking on my part. I simply disagreed with the implications of the title and the message it portrayed in the post as a result.

I also will point out that saying someone took offense often relieves one from actually considering what has been said. I have read that charge too many times in my years online, accompanied by no attempt whatsoever to understand - and it has happened on both sides of any discussion. It can be a legitimate criticism (and often is), but it also can be the opposite side of the exact same coin - a reflexive dismissal that, in nature, is taking offense at the impression of another taking offense.

I'm not saying that is what you did. I don't know you well enough to say one way or the other, and there is no objective reason to read that into your comment. I'm merely pointing out that saying someone took offense isn't always accurate. More often than not, it simply means, "S/he disagrees with me and is so obviously wrong that I can dismiss the input without serious consideration."

Frankly, I probably did that (read offense being taken) with Annalea's initial response to me - and she probably did it initially with me, as well. The key is that we continued to discuss the issue, so, hopefully, we both now realize it wasn't a case of taking offense. Rather, it probably is simply a case of seeing things differently and, therefore, disagreeing. In other words, it's a case of being human.
Blufish said…
Thank you so much Tim. Not sure how I missed all of that. I hope they treat him as Jesus would. (p.s. i really enjoyed reading Ray and Annalea's comments on this thread) thank you.
Blufish said…
P.s. how do I get in on hearing about your expeierence in dealing with evil spirits that you referenced above??
Hi Blufish,

Since you asked, I will post it here later. I don't think Tyce will mind. He and I have a long history that goes way back. He is intimately familiar with what happened to me in February that resulted in a couple of ER visits. I attribute them to a "visit" from a lost soul or two that got trapped - at my request - and caused me great distress. Here's a link to a PDF that describes what happened:
Thanks for sharing scriptures Steve, You asked, "Why is doctrinal scholarship so important to you? is it for your own personal benefit and satisfy your pride or is it for the true love of God and the building of his kingdom."

Was that question intended for Ray or for me? I'll answer it as if directed at me, even though it's tacked on to Ray's response. If it was intended for Ray, then disregard my answer, although I think it was a good question for us all.

Dude, I am no scholar. I do not even have a four-year college degree. I was raised by a mother who taught me to love reading and learning. I love to read. I love to learn. I spend my day doing both.

I am paid well for my knowledge of how to keep computer networks running. I don't think I'm all that technical. There are so many people so much smarter than me. I feel so blessed to have a job where I can help and teach others about computers.

As I wrote in the post, one of the first things I learned from Max Skousen's book is that I have been leaning my ladder up against the wrong tree - The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil when I should be striving to reach the Tree of Life and fall down there to partake of that fruit, which is most delicious.

That is what I seek. To know the Lord, to love the Lord, to serve the Lord. How can I do that if I don't study what he has said or what he has inspired other good men who love him to say? Tell me why you quoted the scripture. What are you trying to say? Did I answer your question?
Betty said…
Tim, you said "That is what I seek. To know the Lord, to love the Lord, to serve the Lord. How can I do that if I don’t study what he has said or what he has inspired other good men who love him to say? "
Although we have many times read that "learned men" seek after their own wisdom and let go of the iron rod, I don't believe Heavenly Father ever meant for us to not seek knowledge--especially as it flows from him. I truly believe that curiosity and the desire to learn are human traits that we have that gives the Lord much pleasure in us. When I am "seeking after righteousness" I equate that to "thirsting after truth and knowledge". It's what makes me human in a delightful way to the Lord. If I didn't seek the truth, I could not grow spiritually and develop as the Lord desires me to do.
There is no shame in being a scholar to truth.
Thank you for you posts from Br Snuffer regarding his response to being investigated. I get tangled in the blog threads sometimes so I appreciated that insight to what he is going through. I especially felt his comment about putting the church between members and God and thought provoking and sad. I know this Church is where I am supposed to be and if this is the only "church in which (the Lord) is well pleased" that what does that say about the state of our world?
JRSG said…
I have been hungering for the "meat" of the gospel/doctrine starting several years ago. I am now in a position to have more time to really study and search and read. I found Denver Snuffer's site by accident and love what he writes. I read about what happened to Mel Fish. I did not know about Max Skousen and heard mention of George Pace.
I agree with you Tim. My wishful thinking is that one day the church will create a class for those who are ready for more meat, or at least help those who are ready for more.
There are a lot of things the "church" does that really bothers me, and it makes me wonder about how unfair some of it is. I also wonder about how Christ will straighten it all out, and if the top leaders will get special treatment when Christ comes the way certain members get special treatment over the general membership these days. And what about those like Denver, Max, George, and Mel - will it really be that big of a deal to Christ?
There is so much more I would like to say but will refrain. I accidentally found your site and I really like it! It is great to find people in the church who think like I do. Keep up the good work with your posts.
Betty said…
I think that if we have a strong relationship with Christ and are familiar with and depend on the presence of the Holy Ghost in our lives, seeking deeper knowledge with that 'companionship' of the Spirit' guiding us, we are fulfilling a portion of the destiny that our Heavenly Father has for us.
Prayer keeps us close to Him, and teaches us how to recognise the Spirits confirmation of truth when we come upon those choice nuggets of deeper doctrines.
Thank you for your thoughts on this.
Annalea said…
Thank you, Ray. That absolutely helps me understand much better. Yesterday was nuts at my house, and the weekend isn't looking like it's going to be any slower, so I ask for your patience until I have a chance to reply (it might be Monday).

I appreciate your time very much, and the respect you've paid me in continuing our dialogue.

Have a great day!
Annalea said…
Betty, the verse about the Lord being well-pleased with the church was received by Joseph Smith in November 1831. It was less than a year later that the Lord declared the whole church under condemnation (D&C 84:55), and while after that point He gave His approbation to smaller groups and individuals throughout the Doctrine & Covenants, I haven't noticed any further general approval of the church in the D&C. There have been plenty of modern opinions that the Lord is pleased with us, but on the whole, since we're not seeing the evidence of His approval, I personally do not feel that the body of the church can claim that it holds "well pleased" status.

Over the last two years, the Lord has led me to the community of spirit-filled Christians in my county. And I have to admit being surprised by the power of the Spirit of God in their meetings, many of their leaders, and the signs that follow them. Within the LDS church, we assume that membership demarcates the line between faithful and unfaithful. That signs only happen within our church. That the Lord is srsly ticked with the entirety of everyone else. (At least that's what I was taught growing up--and to look down gently and with tender pity for those not blessed as I was. I have since repented sincerely.)

The state of the world is pretty dire. But I don't hold up the membership of our church as an example of righteousness and that which we should strive to do & be in order to gain the approbation of the Lord. Yes, there are a tremendous number of wonderful, faithful, amazing, Latter-day Saints. But our fruit isn't what it should be, if we want the Lord to be well-pleased with us as a whole.

(This is a HUGE topic . . . and if anyone has questions, I'll just blog about it and post a link. ;o)
Denver has been served with a notice to appear before a disciplinary council. His wife posted the notice on his blog:

Yes. I am sad. It is specifically for the publication of "Passing the Heavenly Gift," the book I read first, and the same book which the spirit confirmed to me contained truth.

Wiow. I am literally in shock. From what I understand, it was not unexpected. He hinted at it often in his blog in the past.
Ben said…
Pretty hard to take. There hasn't been any recent writers that have propelled me further into the scriptures and increased my faith more than Denver.
Annalea said…
Christ promised us a feast. An overflowing, amazingly bounteous, huge, rejoicing, wedding feast. That's not done solo. Yes, we absolutely must study and ponder and be close to Christ on our own . . . but when the saints gather and signs aren't manifest, when meat isn't distributed freely to all, why on earth do we meet together? Babies learn to eat by watching their parents. They go through what's called a "sensitive period" around a year old, a several-month phase when they literally imprint the eating patterns they see around them--most specifically their mother's. (I only learned this just a few months *after* my last baby went through that. lol/argh)

The scriptures are full of examples of people hearing, and not understanding. I've watched people in sunday school and in private conversations be offered meat, and completely ignore it as nonsense. If someone's not ready for some truth or other, it's not going to make any sense, and they'll continue on their merry way until they prepare their hearts for it.

"For if I had not been born of God,I should not have known these things." ~Alma 38:6

But if meat is never offered, for fear of damning someone with knowledge for which some mortal believes they're not ready, those who are ready for it are damned because they aren't invited in to the feast. I find it hard to believe that the leaders that push the "milk before meat" mantra encourage investigators and new members to read the Book of Mormon, because there's nothing BUT meat in that book. ;o)

Once someone understands what feasting in company with the saints really means, it's a cherished, prized, sought-after experience . . . and it's excruciating to just sit back and say "well, the correlation committee knows best", as you watch hours and hours squandered on fluffy & peripheral chat.
Betty said…
I agree with your observations. I taught the Book of Mormon in adult sunday school and felt very deeply that we, as a people, were not even close to making progress toward receiving the sealed portion of the BofM.
Betty said…
I could not copy and paste here because I do not own the book, but I was reading the excerpt from Denver's book PTHG and find the 3 paragraphs on page 6 both ironic and disheartening. I am not sure why Saints just don't get it. Perhaps you could paste here for me if anyone else finds this of interest.
I also found the verbiage in the letter to Bro Snuffer regarding his court summons as crushing and disheartening. It makes me feel fragile and vulnerable that my own membership in the Church could be so shaky and at risk of cancel when I personally stand firm in my devotion to the gospel of Jesus Christ and feel daily the Gift of the Holy Ghost.
Ray said…
" I’m saying that we can’t limit Him. That we should all seek Christ, and see what happens. See what He will bestow upon us. He will be as merciful as He possibly can . . . will bless us with every last blessing He possibly can, with generous measure: pressed down, shaken together, and running over."

We agree on the core requirement of discipleship, it appears - and the ultimate reward that awaits such discipleship.

I've tried to be very focused in my comments, so it's my fault that I won't respond more fully to some of the remaining misconceptions you have about me, but I simply will say that my original response stands. Now that Tim has changed the title of this post, most of my objections are gone. I still have reservations about some things, based on my own observations over the decades, but I respect your passion and your right to see some things differently than I do. That also is the heart of the Gospel, imho.
Ray said…
Tim, if you are going to quote from a particular blog post, please include the most damning part of the post. You ended your excerpt thus:

"Those in the Strengthening the Membership Committee are in the gall of bitterness when they suggest my writings are threatening to them."

What followed in that same paragraph is enlightening:

"To promote faith in Christ threatens their **fifedom**? To testify of Christ somehow dimishes the men who claim to represent Him? The idea is so patently off kilter that **it reveals a dark motive to place respect for men above faith in Christ**."

It's hard to make a more damning charge than that, especially when not one of the people charged believes that "to testify of Christ" is the issue in question.
Annalea said…
I agree, Betty. I felt the same way when I read the summons.
Annalea said…
Ray wrote: "It’s hard to make a more damning charge than that, especially when not one of the people charged believes that “to testify of Christ” is the issue in question."

How on earth could they really ever make testifying of Christ the issue? However, that seems to be a red flag, doesn't it, based on the pattern in the post above.

If the church kicks Brother Snuffer out for believing something other than the sanitized Pollyanna version of church history produced by the Church History Department, then honestly not a single member with an inquiring mind could feel secure in their membership. The leadership turn into thought police, and we all must become, mentally speaking, Camazotsian in order to maintain membership.

I keep getting the feeling that the outcome of Brother Snuffer's situation is a pivot, upon which a tremendous number of following events will swing.
Ray said…
"If the church kicks Brother Snuffer out for believing something other than the sanitized Pollyanna version of church history produced by the Church History Department,"

That's not the charge, Annalea - and neither is testifying of Christ.

We can have a productive discussion, but it won't happen if we can't address or even acknowledge why this is happening. If the claim is that Denver is facing discipline for the things you have written, there is absolutely nowhere to go. Anyone who defends Denver has to accept everything he has said and deal with the actual reason he is in this situation.

Steve does that in the other thread, when he says that if God sent Denver then Denver can condemn whomever he chooses to condemn. I can respect that position, even if I don't agree with his view of Denver, since it openly and honestly admits that Denver has, in fact, condemned the LDS Church leadership. Clouding the issue by not admitting and addressing that central fact does absolutely nothing to defend Denver, since it doesn't address why he is seen as a threat - and saying it's about "testifying of Christ" is ludicrous to anyone who also testifies of Christ and is in no threat of disciplinary action. To them, making that charge only strengthens their opinion against Denver. It doesn't help him in any way, and it hurts him in a real way by "bearing false witness" for him.

I'm going to say this carefully but frankly:

If his defenders won't deal with what he's actually written and defend the quotes where he literally condemns and attacks the Church and its leaders, it's pointless. Deal with those quotes, and this conversation can continue; continue the charge that he's facing action because he testifies of Christ, and it ends now.
Annalea said…
I appreciate frankness.

Equally as frankly: the decision on the charge against Denver (that continued publication of Passing the Heavenly Gift constitutes an act of apostasy, per the summons letter) is a foregone conclusion. My husband recently taught the lesson on avoiding apostasy in Gospel Doctrine. I'm more than familiar with the corporate church's definition of apostasy. Under their definition, Denver's guilty of apostasy. By his own actions, and what I understand of his stance through what I've read of his writings, he's not going to comply with any of the demands set forth in said letter. Therefore, they will find him guilty of said "apostasy". Which means saying things that the leaders of the church don't like.

(Understand I am not, in any way, speaking for Denver. I'm surmising and sharing what I believe will happen--nothing more.)

Most of all, I find it truly odd that grown men, men supposedly the most refined and wise and full of the Holy Spirit, cannot seem to follow two things I have been taught (in church, by my leaders) all of my life:

1) When someone attacks the church or its leaders, God always turns it to His purposes, and people join the church. So don't fight it. Just answer questions happily when people ask about it.

2) If someone attacks me verbally, I'm to follow the example of Christ, and either open not my mouth, or respond in love and reach out to them.
Annalea said…
And many thanks, Blufish, for your compliment. I have enjoyed this exchange, as well . . . these conversations always hone and refine my own understanding of so many things. :)
Ray said…
Thank you, Annalea.

Any reasonably objective observer can see that Denver is guilty of apostasy in the traditional sense of that word, and I appreciate you and Steve recognizing and dealing with it openly.

Frankly, I think this wouldn't have come to a head if Denver hadn't scheduled a "tour" to promote his teachings in PtHG more widely - if the leadership wasn't concerned that he would be charging the Church and its leadership with apostasy on an even broader public scale. I think they see the tour as open defiance, and I think they are justified in that view - whether Denver sees it that way or not. Based on his most recent writings, I believe he has come to see himself as a prophet called to preach repentance to the Church.

I might be wrong about that, since I don't know him personally and have never spoken with him about it, but that is the message that I get from his most recent writings. I don't see it in his earlier works, but I definitely see it in PtHG and in his blog. In "The Second Comforter", he even taught that respecting and accepting the authorized Priesthood line was important and a sign of humility and discipleship. (my own summary) I think leaders probably see the same thing, since he is not being asked to back away from any of his other books and writings.

Fwiw, I see someone who started out very differently than he has ended up - but, again, that is only my own view, limited as it is.
Blufish said…
Jmhiatt, thank you very much for this post. I've been agonizing the last few days because of all of this. You've helped me. If Denver is a prophet, I wish he'd frankly proclaim as much. What does he have to lose at this point?
Annalea said…

Blufish, that seems pretty frank to me.
Annalea said…
I think this might help clarify some of what you're struggling with:
Doug Bund said…
Well, it's been a few days since the last comment. Has the topic of the blog moved on to the next new thing, or is there still someone left who cares?

I just want to point out that the Lord has given us the defining parable that teaches us the destiny of the Church, and how Zion is to be redeemed. It's not pretty, but it provides us the view of Christ, as it relates to the twelve, his servants and their works.

It causes my heart to rejoice and shout hallelujah that I ever came to know of this glorious work, and the prophet whom God called to head it up. Let us gird up our loins and pray for and sustain our beloved leaders, before the day comes, when they arise, affrighted, and flee away, and their works destoyed.

Trust in the Lord who shall send his servant to gather the strength of his house, his warriors, the young men and middle age men, to redeem his vineyard, for it is his.

Oh what joy when Israel sees eye to eye. How beautiful it is to dwell together in love and harmony. How beautiful upon the mountains! We know we are his and this is his work.

Onward brethren!!!

(See more at
Steven B said…
As a youth I read Max Skousen's book "How to Pray and Stay Awake" and it changed my life.

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