Wednesday, July 29, 2015

All that Glitters, Part 6:
Special Watches and Witnesses

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
—Romans 16:17-18


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

I once visited China, and in the course of business, went shopping for a watch. A friend had a connection who knew a guy who could get us past security and into a secret room in the back of a nondescript building, behind a guarded door.

The cramped, windowless room contained fake watches. Thousands of them.

Every luxury watch brand imaginable was represented in that room, in three levels of fidelity to the original. A cheap copy of a $10,000 watch might cost $50. A better copy might cost $100. And a part-by-part, exact copy, made of premium materials, might cost $1,000. The whole operation lived constantly on the verge of destruction, and would fold and disappear in moments if the authorities came knocking.

The salesman who showed me the watches called every deal "special."

I saw wide-eyed tourists eagerly buy two, three, even ten watches to take home and wear in imitation of worldly wealth, in hopes of worldly prestige. The eager buyers thought they had died and gone to fake-watch heaven, because they could imply, by imitation and deception, that they had something they did not.

Me? I walked out with just one watch, a gift for my wife. It stopped working in less than a week.

If you’ve read this series thus far, you’ve no doubt detected my theme: Real vs. imitation; the genuine article vs. the mere appearance. Satan, the great imitator, offers enticing mimics of the real thing, whether the category is scripture, messengers, marriage, righteousness, or religion. 

This should not surprise us, because nearly all facets of our rapidly crumbling culture have their basis in clever, or not-so-clever fakes, appearing as real. Manufactured performances substitute for real talent, easy credit imitates true wealth, politicians pretend to be everything they’re not, popularity is confused with courage, camouflaged slavery substitutes for true freedom, indoctrination displaces education, and manufactured emotion mimics divine communication. Whether in politics, pop culture, education or religion, a deceptive agenda tells us what to think, what to believe, and how to act. All else is defined as “evil.”

We are so immersed in, and enamored with imitations, that many of us have lost all ability to discern between the true article and the fake.

Religion is no different. Imitations, appearing as real, tempt us to accept fool’s gold instead of the real thing. Such a bargain leaves one feeling rich, until the day of reckoning, when all such fakery will be revealed, counterfeits rejected, and unpaid debts settled. In that coming day, only the genuine article will have any power to save. All else will be cast out, bound in bundles, and burned as stubble. (Matthew 7:23, D&C 101:66, Malachi 4:1) False religion will have no more value than fake watches in that day.

Rejected Strangers

Who will stand rejected of the Lord at that coming day of reckoning? Christ offered the following prediction that will befall the falsely religious:
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:21-23)
It’s worth noting that Joseph Smith changed this passage to read “And then will I say, Ye never knew me…”

Those who profess His name without actually knowing Him, are the counterfeits He rejects. 
For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart? And again, doth a man take an ass which belongeth to his neighbor, and keep him? I say unto you, Nay; he will not even suffer that he shall feed among his flocks, but will drive him away, and cast him out. I say unto you, that even so shall it be among you if ye know not the name by which ye are called. (Mosiah 5:13-14)
So unless you want your ass driven out, you’d better not be a stranger to the Lord.
For behold, in my name are they called; and if they know me they shall come forth, and shall have a place eternally at my right hand.  
And it shall come to pass that when the second trump shall sound then shall they that never knew me come forth and shall stand before me. And then shall they know that I am the Lord their God, that I am their Redeemer; but they would not be redeemed. And then I will confess unto them that I never knew them; and they shall depart into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (Mosiah 26:24-27)
And so, it comes down to a question of knowing Christ. 
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3)
Special Witnesses

Who is a witness of the Lord? Who can truthfully bear witness of His resurrection? Who can reliably tell us the way back into His presence? 

Those who know Him. 

Due to language in D&C 107, we assume members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are automatically such men. Indeed, they are known to sometimes bear their “special witness” of the Lord. Many church members assume this is a personal witness born from having met the risen Lord.

I believe the words they use are carefully chosen, and ought to be carefully reviewed if we are to understand what they are saying, and what they are not saying. Here are some examples:
Boyd K. Packer: 
Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon recorded the following after a sacred experience: “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!
“For we saw him” (D&C 76:22–23). 
Their words are my words. 
I believe and I am sure that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that He lives. He is the Only Begotten of the Father, and “by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (D&C 76:24). 
I bear my witness that the Savior lives. I know the Lord. I am His witness. I know of His great sacrifice and eternal love for all of Heavenly Father’s children. I bear my special witness in all humility but with absolute certainty, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Though Elder Packer bears both his “witness” and his “special witness” he still borrows the words of others rather than declaring anything he has seen or experienced himself. He "believes," and is "sure," and "knows," the things he claims (thought these are mutually exclusive ideas) but does not explain how or why he knows. 

Are we not all to stand as witnesses? (Mosiah 18:9) What makes Elder Packer’s witness unique? He doesn't say.
Henry B. Eyring: 
I am a witness of the Resurrection of the Lord as surely as if I had been there in the evening with the two disciples in the house on Emmaus road. I know that He lives as surely as did Joseph Smith when he saw the Father and the Son in the light of a brilliant morning in a grove of trees in Palmyra.
Elder Eyring points to the experiences of others as the source of his knowledge, just as we all can. He does not state anything that would make him an independent witness. He relies on others. "It's as if I've been there" is not the same as "I've been there."

Both of these apostles borrow from those who are actually willing to state they have seen the Lord. They compare themselves to those who know. They state they are witnesses without stating what they have witnessed.

That watch may be a Rolex, or it may be a knock off. They won't tell you which.
Bruce R. McConkie 
And now, as pertaining to this perfect atonement, wrought by the shedding of the blood of God—I testify that it took place in Gethsemane and at Golgotha, and as pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that he is the Son of the Living God and was crucified for the sins of the world. He is our Lord, our God, and our King. This I know of myself independent of any other person.
I am one of his witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears.
But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way.
Elder McConkie admits he has NOT felt the nail marks in the Lord’s hands and feet, but expects to do so “in a coming day.” And yet, this ceremony of physical proof is the first order of business when the resurrected Lord appears to mortals. (3 Nephi 11:14, Luke 24:39) In other words, Elder McConkie's witness is that he looks forward to meeting the Lord in a coming day (and he died 13 days later.)

Using the words of others to imply what one is not willing to say does not make one a witness, any more than copying a Rolex makes a genuine article. An actual witness states his testimony clearly and unequivocally. If you are called as a witness to give testimony in court, you are expected to state clearly and publicly that which you actually saw, then defend it when questioned. Mere implication will never stand. 

With that in mind, compare the above “special witness” testimonies with the following words of normal LDS people, without rank or position, who have actually met the risen Lord in person:
I know He lives, for I have seen Him. He has ministered to me. 
I have spoken with Him as a man speaks to another. He speaks in plain humility, reasoning as one man with another. He will reason with you.  
—Denver Snuffer

On April 14, 2012, I was carried away into the heavenly temple. I shook the hand of the angel that was my guide. I saw and heard the Father and the Son speak to me. This experience involved sight, touch, sound, and smell.  It was as real as anything I have experienced in my day-to-day life, only the glory and intelligence conveyed is indescribable. This was not my last encounter beyond the veil. 
I am a witness that Jesus Christ lives. He is a real, knowable person. 
—Daniel Rogers

I’ve been told by God, that I have received my Calling and Election. I have received many visitations by angels and have been taught by them. I have met my Savior more than once. I have spoken to other heavenly beings. I do not say these things to brag – and I am certainly not perfect in the eyes of man and have much to overcome, but to testify of them so others can see that if someone like me (a big huge nobody who has been “spiritually retarded” my entire life) can obtain them, then you certainly can too. 
—Linda Jules Martindale

Nudge, Nudge, Wink, Wink

Perhaps the most appalling, implied “special witness” I’ve heard recently came from Elder Russell M. Nelson. He recently visited a mission where a friend of mine lives, and met with the missionaries there. As part of the missionary meeting, he took questions from the audience. One of the missionaries asked him if he had seen the Savior. The following is his response, as reported by one who was there:
“Well, let me answer your question by asking you some questions. How many of you have been to the temple?” 
     (All the missionaries raised their hands) 
“And while there, how many of you saw and heard sacred things?” 
     (All the missionaries kept their hands raised.) 
“And how many of you covenanted you would not speak about the sacred things you saw and heard?” 
     (Hands still raised) 
“Next question.”
And that was it. Elder Nelson’s “special witness” consisted of the implication that he had special, sacred knowledge he promised he wouldn’t share. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Say no more!

So what is he saying? He has seen the Lord, but promised not to talk about it? But he’s still free to imply it, just as long as he doesn’t come right out and say it like Joseph Smith did? (Because, why on earth would a special witness actually bear witness of seeing the Lord, right?) Does this qualify for some apostolic loophole that allows him to keep confidences by merely implying something without actually saying it?

Or was he hedging his bets, by maintaining plausible deniability that he had ever claimed to see what he has not? Does he assume an implied false witness is not actually a false witness, and does not violate both the third and ninth commandments? 

Why not just come right out and say what you mean? A “yes” or “no” will do. (Matthew 5:37) Why leave us in confusion when your job is to bear witness?

Compare Elder Nelson’s deceptive farce to the Savior’s admonition to his newly called Nephite disciples:
And again, more blessed are they who shall believe in your words because that ye shall testify that ye have seen me, and that ye know that I am. Yea, blessed are they who shall believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins. (3 Nephi 12:2)
How can we receive the promised blessings, unless there are those who will testify that they have seen Him and know that He is?

Why will lay members willingly testify of meeting the Lord, while the Apostles will not? (Incidentally, Elder Nelson is the one who personally insisted on the excommunication of Denver Snuffer, whose testimony of seeing the Savior is given above.)

Denying the Christ

In the recent fireside given by Elder Dallin Oaks and assistant church historian Richard Turley (now dubbed “The Boise Rescue”) the speakers simulated a question and answer session by providing their own pre-canned questions and answers. 

In one of his answers, Elder Oaks called the idea that we must seek the face of our Savior while in mortality a “familiar tactic of the adversary.” (1:00:36)

That’s right—that old Devil is always encouraging people to seek the Savior’s face. But don’t worry, we won’t fall for that old trick! Why, seeking the Savior’s face, that’s crazy talk. I mean, that’s the very definition of redemption after all (Ether 3:13), and who in their right mind would want to be redeemed? So what if a bunch of guys in the Book of Mormon got suckered into meeting Christ face to face—we know better and we won’t go there!

(Sorry, but Elder Oaks’s assertion is so far beyond reason, that I'm only left with sarcasm to highlight its absurdity. The fact that he makes such an assertion presumes his audience is preposterously uninformed and utterly gullible. Wanna buy a watch?) 

Here’s what Joseph Smith taught on the matter:
The other Comforter spoken of is a subject of great interest, and perhaps understood by few of this generation...When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and his election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints, as is recorded in the testimony of St. John, in the 14th chapter, from the 12th to the 27th verses...
Now what is this other Comforter? It is no more nor less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; and this is the sum and substance of the whole matter; that when any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even He will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him, and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. (TPJS 150-151)
I could back this idea with numerous scriptures, but to save space, I'll offer just this one:
Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am (D&C 93:1)
Joseph Smith or Dallin Oaks. One teaches you to seek the Lord's face, one teaches you not to. Pick your prophet.

Later in the same presentation we hear this canned question and answer: (1:03:55)
Brother Turley:
Another claim that we sometimes hear is that current apostles have no right to run the affairs of the church since they do not meet the New Testament standard of apostles because they do not testify of having seen Christ.
Elder Oaks:
The first answer to this claim is that modern apostles are called to be witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world, Doctrine and Covenants 107:23. This is not to witness of a personal manifestation. To witness of the name is to witness of the plan, the work, or mission such as the atonement and the authority or priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ, which an apostle who holds the keys is uniquely responsible to do. 
So, let me get this straight…apostles have a unique responsibility, not to witness of the Lord Himself, but of the plan, the work, and the mission of Jesus Christ? How is that different than any missionary, or for that matter, any other church member?
Of course apostles are also witnesses of Christ just like all members of the Church who have the gift of the Holy Ghost. This is because the mission of the Holy Ghost is to witness of the Father and the Son. 
So there’s your answer. There is no difference between an apostle’s testimony and any other church member’s testimony, born of the Holy Ghost. Thanks for clearing that up.
In addition, while some early apostles and other members of the church have had the sublime spiritual experience of seeing the Savior and some have made a public record of this, in the circumstances of today we are counseled not to speak of our most sacred spiritual experiences, 
Counseled by whom? Who counsels the apostles?
otherwise with modern technology that can broadcast something all over the world, a remark made in a sacred and a private setting can be said abroad 
That would be awful! The world might hear your testimony of Christ! I believe Peter, Paul, Alma or Moroni would have given their lives to receive the opportunity you now dismiss. (See Alma 29:1-2)
in violation of the Savior's commandment not to cast our pearls before swine.
So…testifying that you’ve seen the Savior is casting pearls before swine? Now mind you, we’re not talking about revealing what happens when you meet Him, what He teaches you, what ordinances are performed, or any other sacred knowledge that is revealed. We’re merely speaking of the witness that He lives and is a real person. 

It's ironic that Elder Oaks is a lawyer, because he fulfills this scripture in two ways:
Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered. (Luke 11:52)
If testifying of Christ’s reality is “casting pearls before swine” you’ll need to take it up with Peter, James, John, Paul, Lehi, Nephi, Jacob, Alma, Mormon, Moroni, Joseph Smith, and many, many others who have testified of seeing the Lord.

"But those guys were prophets!" 

   —Exactly. Aren't you?

You’ll also need to take it up with Oliver Cowdery, who gave the following charge to the first apostles called in this dispensation:
You have been indebted to other men, in the first instance, for evidence; on that you have acted; but it is necessary that you receive a testimony from heaven for yourselves; so that you can bear testimony to the truth of the Book of Mormon, and that you have seen the face of God. That is more than the testimony of an angel. When the proper time arrives, you shall be able to bear this testimony to the world. When you bear testimony that you have seen God, this testimony God will never suffer to fall, but will bear you out… 
Never cease striving until you have seen God face to face. Strengthen your faith; cast off your doubts, your sins, and all your unbelief; and nothing can prevent you from coming to God. Your ordination is not full and complete till God has laid His hand upon you. We require as much to qualify us as did those who have gone before us; God is the same. If the Savior in former days laid His hands upon His disciples, why not in latter days? (Minutes, Kirtland, OH, 21 Feb. 1835; in Minute Book 1, pp. 158–159)
Witnessing the Name

Elder Oaks rightly points out that D&C 107:23 stipulates that apostles are called to be "special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world—thus differing from other officers in the church in the duties of their calling."

What does it mean to be a witness of His name? 

Elder Oaks states that it implies an obligation to testify of His gospel, plan, priesthood, etc. But there's nothing unique about this; all members carry the same obligation. This does not differ from anyone else in the church.

I'd like to offer a different interpretation. 

Witnesses of His name are those who have taken upon themselves His name by being adopted into His family, thus becoming His children.
Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ. (Moroni 7:19)
And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; 
And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. (Mosiah 27:25-26)
Those who have a personal witness of the Lord, who meet Him face to face, who become His children and take His name, are those who will know Him at the last day. One who bears the name of Christ has received His name by becoming His child. Such a situation belongs to those who have been in His presence, received redemption, and been accepted into His family, thus becoming His sons and daughters.

Such can then bear witness of His name indeed, because they carry it and He claims them. Such a witness necessarily requires having met the Lord face to face.

Of course, there will be many at the last day who claim the Lord's name as their own, but never knew Him. Such are false witnesses, claiming their fake watches ought to earn them prestige and recognition. 

And so, we end where we began:

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

38 comments:

  1. Adrian, I can relate well with your comparison to the fake watches. What purpose do they really serve other than to make you look like you had a watch that you don't really have.

    The irony is those fake versions are actually much worse quality than, say, a low-end Timex.

    My favorite takeaway from this article is how silly the notion that the church's first presidency and apostles have adopted to imply they have a special witness of Christ, but focus on reasons they shouldn't be telling anyone about that.

    You pointed out that it's as if God said not to tell anybody, but it's okay for them to imply it. Good grief.

    Great article, Adrian. This entry spoke the most to me from this excellent series.

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  2. Someone recently drew my attention regarding this to a revelation given through Joseph Smith in 1837. I now draw your attention to it as well…From D&C 112:

    23 Verily, verily, I say unto you, darkness covereth the earth, and gross darkness the minds of the people, and all flesh has become corrupt before my face.

    24 Behold, vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth, a day of wrath, a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; and as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth, saith the Lord.

    25 And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord;

    Now, this is where it gets really interesting…

    26 First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord.

    I cannot believe how clearly the distinction is made, right here in the scriptures…those who “professed to know my name and have not known me.” Are you kidding me?

    Sure, this was given as a revelation to Thomas Marsh, but it sure sounds like this is warning against precisely how Elder Oaks defined his role as a modern apostle.

    As I have been reflecting on this revelation, I ask myself if this “vengeance that cometh speedily” which will begin upon His house, was all wrapped up in the early days of the church, or if this was a greater prophecy of events still not fulfilled even in our day?

    Have we yet seen the day where “as a whirlwind [vengeance, wrath, burning, desolation, etc] shall come upon all the face of the earth”? If we haven’t seen it yet, what are we doing to prepare for it, and are we open to the possibility that it might begin upon His house?

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  3. The best post of 2015 I my proud opinion. I live in Central California, but my best friend lives in the Boise area and attended the Boise Rescue. He told me that people in his stake now believe that Denver Snuffer has moved to Idaho, and that is why the GAs sent the 2 stooges to disingenuously answer questions.
    Keep up the critically great work you do, I look forward to all of your words, especially since you use the scriptures of the Restoration so profusely.
    Kudos!

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  4. Adrian-

    I find your posts rather disingenuous. You tend to focus on the few instances where leaders of the church say certain things that support your biased view but ignore all of the instances where they align with your view.

    For example: Here is a testimony of Richard G. Scott-

    "As one of His Apostles authorized to bear witness of Him, I solemnly testify that I know that the Savior lives, that He is a resurrected, glorified personage of perfect love. He is our hope, our Mediator, our Redeemer. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."

    another time, he said:

    "I would like… to speak as an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are fifteen men on the earth who hold all of the keys of the kingdom, and it is a constant 24 hour-a-day recognition of the burden and privilege that that apostolic calling comes that each one of us feel.... “To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world. To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful.” That word “know” is a very important word for those fifteen men who are apostles. The sacred experiences and the confirmation—that there is a certainty that our Father in Heaven lives and that His Son, Jesus Christ, is our Savior—not a hope, not a belief, not a wish, but an absolute confirmed certainty. That is what I would wish to express as I conclude this opportunity to be with you. Our Father in Heaven is real. His Son, Jesus Christ, is real. I know that personally and bear certain witness because I know the Savior."

    When the resurrected Lord visited the Nephites, it was not a quiet, personal event. it occurred in front of a multitude. Your reference of 3 Nephi 12 above, implies that because he told the multitude to testify that they had seen him, equally applies to the individual who has a personal experience. Many times throughout scripture, the Lord after performing a personal spiritual experience (miracle) directed the person to "go and tell thou no one". Probably for a multitude of reasons, but the fact is, it was the Lord that counselled them not to testify of these things.

    Without realizing it, you in a way have reduced the value and importance of a testimony through the spirit for anyone who has not seen the Savior. it's perhaps the highmindedness and pride that is one of the reasons to not focus on witnessing that you've "seen" the savior

    In an earlier post, you referenced Mormon referencing the "polutions" in the house of the Lord. Cameron, above mentions the Lord will start with the cleansing of "my house". Do you acknowledge the current church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as the Lord's House? Are you not throwing out the baby with the bathwater? If the Lord's House will be cleaned (and I don't disagree that there is a need of cleansing) it means it will be cleansed, but not destroyed. The implication, is that the Priesthood, the ordinances, etc. are all still valid.

    I do believe your critiques of the church, has soured your ability to see the good and to recognize how the Lord is still able to utilize this church to accomplish his purposes even with the frailties of the people running it. It was the "saints" that turned upon the Apostles in Christ's dispensation that caused the church to go into apostasy.

    Also, it's easy to find fault with the leaders for not receiving more revelation,etc.however, the pattern in scripture is that the revelations are withheld from the people when the people aren't ready, are wicked or not doing all they can or perhaps because they think they know better.

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    Replies
    1. I find Elder Scott’s words uplifting, but he still has not explained how he claims his knowledge. Elsewhere, Elder McConkie and Elder Packer, for example, explain that their “knowledge” comes from the Holy Ghost, just like every other church member. Yet they use the word “know” rather than “believe” and people read into their testimonies that which they are not willing to say.

      I certainly don’t mean to minimize a testimony gained through the Holy Ghost; it is vital to gain this testimony. I have a testimony of the Savior by the power of the Holy Ghost, and I presume you do too. It is vital to be honest about it and own it.

      What minimizes a testimony of the Holy Ghost is to refuse to identify it and own it, but to instead imply you have something more when you don’t. There’s nothing wrong with a Timex watch. Why not just wear it instead of pretending to something greater?

      I believe Elder Oaks was honest when he said the apostles have a witness of the Holy Ghost, just like other church members. Other apostles have spoken in a similar way. Attempting to imply more without saying more is where it really goes off the rails.

      As for the cleansing of the Lord’s house, if you look at the scripture again, it says nothing about “cleansing.” It speaks of vengeance, burning, desolation, weeping, mourning, lamentation. This is wholesale destruction, not cleansing. This ought to concern us very much.

      Finally, the Book of Mormon is abundantly clear about us, about our day, about our church. We ignore its warnings at our peril. The only safe course is to recognize and repent before it’s too late. But that’s hard to do when we all sit around, unredeemed and unpossessed of saving knowledge, talking about all the good the church is doing. NO amount of “good” will matter one whit if there is not fruit in the vineyard, worthy of preservation.

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    2. Remnant of JosephJuly 30, 2015 at 10:23 AM

      Your watch analogy is poor. There are no qualifications to exaltation hinging on seeing the Lord. I don't see where the brethren are pretending or "implying" more.

      Your comment is interesting. You state that "Elder Oaks was honest when he said the apostles have a witness of the Holy Ghost, just like other church members. Other apostles have spoken in a similar way." This appears to be him stating how they attained their testimonies. Where is he or are they implying more? you didn't share one instance of this. How has he gone "off the rails" by stating what you were requesting he state? Indeed condemning because they wouldn't state how they received their testimonies. It appears they can't win either way - when we have already condemned them.

      Regarding those in the church that will be burned, destroyed, etc. You imply the assumption that ALL will be burned. If this is not the case, and it more particularly is inferring to those that are wicked, that don't really know the Savior, then we can deduct that it's a cleansing.

      However, I believe you misunderstand the nature of He whom you purpose to represent as well as the scriptures on the matter. The destruction will indeed occur, but it will be after the Lord "clears away the bad according as the good shall grow". After he leaves "all men without excuse". After he causes the wheat and the tares to separate. After he gives them a clear choice, "either on the one hand or on the other—either to the convincing of them unto peace and life eternal, or unto the deliverance of them to the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds unto their being brought down into captivity, and also into destruction, both temporally and spiritually". After he causes "the kingdom of the devil to shake, for they which belong to it must needs be stirred up unto repentance". After he causes righteousness to send down out of heaven and the saints to be "armed with power" and truth to be sent out of the earth, "to sweep the earth as with a flood." The destruction is at the end. This flood that is coming, is a flood of mercy- that will cause mens stumbling blocks to be removed, even those who have strayed.

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    3. "Many times throughout scripture, the Lord after performing a personal spiritual experience (miracle) directed the person to "go and tell thou no one". Probably for a multitude of reasons, but the fact is, it was the Lord that counselled them not to testify of these things."

      Then how do we know about those things? Obviously they told somebody somewhere at some time...

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    4. Remnant of JosephJuly 31, 2015 at 10:06 AM

      Anonymous, do you deny that the Lord repeatedly counselled them not to tell anyone? That is the key issue. Their disobedience to that counsel is what separates them from a true disciple.

      Delete
    5. I think we need to be careful in claiming that the Lord repeatedly tells witnesses not to witness anything, and if they do, we label them as disobedient.

      The clarification needs be be made between disclosing that an event took place, and disclosing details of the event.

      I think it's one thing for Him to perform an ordinance and then to command there are certain things about that experience which should not be disclosed except at certain times... And it's another thing to witness that an experience happened.

      Consider this: 3 Nephi 12:2 And again, more blessed are they who shall believe in your words because that ye shall testify that ye have seen me, and that ye know that I am. Yea, blessed are they who shall believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins.

      Here Christ is clearly telling his witnesses that they will specifically witness to others that they have seen him. Shortly after this, ordinances are performed, with a different outcome…

      3 Nephi 19:31 And it came to pass that he went again a little way off and prayed unto the Father;

      32 And tongue cannot speak the words which he prayed, neither can be written by man the words which he prayed.

      33 And the multitude did hear and do bear record; and their hearts were open and they did understand in their hearts the words which he prayed.

      34 Nevertheless, so great and marvelous were the words which he prayed that they cannot be written, neither can they be uttered by man.

      This idea that special witnesses would be told by Christ not to witness that they had a personal experience with Him seems foolish, and frankly, anti-Christ. It’s understandable to say “I have committed not to disclose details about the experience” but that should also be accompanied by “I have had the experience.” Frankly, I would hope this would also be accompanied by “And you can too, here’s how…”

      As Joseph put it, “I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation.” (JSH 1:25)

      Yet Joseph also said, “and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time.” (JSH 1:20)

      I think it’s interesting that in Joseph’s own words, he could not deny that he had an experience for he knew that by denying it he would offend God…and this even though he had been told many things that he would not write at that time.

      When asked directly about it, the only reason I can think of for denying that an experience happened, or refusing to admit that an experience happened, is that the experience has, in fact, not happened.

      Delete
  5. Here is something I ran into earlier today. Might be of worth to this topic, but is still not an official record.
    Copy and paste this----
    http://www.reddit.com/r/exmormon/comments/3f3w1g/yesterday_i_randomly_ran_into_the_president_of/

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    1. Remnant of JosephJuly 31, 2015 at 10:32 AM

      After reading this, I don't believe Elder Nelson did deny seeing the Lord nor admit seeing the Lord. He only said that the title of "especial witness" did not mean by itself that one has seen the Lord.

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  6. Doctrine and Covenants 112:26
    First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord.

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  7. This just in: http://thesecondcomforter.com/my-advice/

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  8. All of this talk of Elder Nelson is quite intriguing to me. Last october, as I was really trying to figure out truth, I was watching general conference and was very struck by the emphasis on the sticking with the leaders of the church. When Elder Nelson gave his talk, I remember being extremely struck by I guess what I percieved as some serious hostility and very offended that anyone would even think to question president monson's health. I remember telling my husband immediately afterwards how offended and hostile he seemed. I don't know why his talk in particular struck me so hard but it just felt like there was so much pride seething through his words. It made me notice how much of the conference was dedicated to the leaders and their supposed infallibility. Then, just the other night I came across Bret Corbridge's recent post about an anti Christ among our general authorities, now your post here, as well as the encounter stated in the comment link above, and it seems maybe my perceptions were not far off. I went back and watched the conference talk again and don't detect the same hostility I remembered. That's either bc it was just something I perceived at the time or they had him re record it to sound less upset ;).. In my mind, anything is possible. Regardless, I feel like since that time, my ability to detect true messengers has slowly increased as my understanding of the scriptures and their literal meanings have increased and the Elder Nelson is directly contradicting that which I believe to be true. I have enjoyed your blog, I've read every post. Thank you for your insights, they've definitely given me so much to ponder and study!
    TRE

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  9. To the commenter above who wrote "There are no qualifications to exaltation hinging on seeing the Lord."

    D&C 76: "These are they WHO HAVE" obtained the presence of the Son and the Father. Those who have not done either are not exalted, and cannot become until they do, period.

    Of course, it gets worse than that, as Jesus said, "It shall come to pass that EVERY soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am;" (D&C 93:1) If one has not seen the Savior, they should ask themselves which of the foregoing they have not yet done. Are they not obeying his voice? Not keeping his commandments? Not calling on his name? Not forsaking his sins? One or more must be the case.

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    1. Remnant of JosephJuly 31, 2015 at 10:29 AM

      Rob- You have taken this scripture out of context. In the vision, Joseph was seeing those in the future after the judgment who because of their righteousness, etc.had received particular kingdoms of glory and had obtained the presence of the Son and Father.

      D&C 93 and many other scriptures make reference to us seeing the Lord if we're worthy, but only according to the time and will of the Lord and for most of us, it will be at his coming or at the judgment.

      "Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will." (D&C 88:68)

      This scripture alludes that it will be at his coming:

      "For they will hear my voice, and shall see me, and shall not be asleep, and shall abide the day of my coming; for they shall be purified, even as I am pure." (D&C 35:21)

      We must be careful to not hold up the requirement of "seeing the Lord" as a criteria for judgment one upon another (which appears to be happening here).

      Delete
    2. Remnant,

      At His coming, EVERY knee shall bow and EVERY tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ. ALL men will see Him at the day of judgement. Therefore, according to your assessment, scriptures such as D&C 93 and those you quoted above would be unnecessarily given-- else why would the Lord give qualifications to see Him? The only reasonable interpretation of these scriptures, as well as 2 Nephi 32:5-7, along with the testimonies of most of the writers and prophets of the Book of Mormon, is that Christ WILL manifest Himself to you in the flesh if you qualify yourself for such a blessing. This is the whole point of the Book of Mormon--to teach us HOW to come to KNOW the Lord, IN MORTALITY. It's also the whole point of the temple endowment. Our bodies are the veil which separate us from the Lord's presence. We must obey His commands to us so that He can part our veil, come into our presence, and then take us to the presence of the Father. In mortality. The temple never declares that these blessings are to take place after this life. On the contrary, they are the test of this life!

      Furthermore, the Lord clearly teaches that eternal life is to KNOW God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ (John 17:3. THIS life is the probationary state, the time for us to prepare to meet God (Alma 12:24). To know them IS the qualifier for eternal life. Unfortunately, meeting them at the finish line is a little too late. All of us will end up there anyway.

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    3. Beanie,

      We seem to have two different views. My view is that it is not required in order to receive exaltation to see the Lord, while in the flesh. This is not to say that some have not nor will, but that not all will and not all are required to see the Lord while they are living. Nor is it required to see the Lord in order to testify of him. Your view seems to be that is required AND that if you have not seen the Lord while in the flesh, well then you have no hope if you die without doing so. If that is the case, where are you? How many people do you know that have? And that you can't claim to know him without seeing him. This life is the time to "prepare" to meet God. If we're prepared, the finish line is definitely not too late.

      Delete
  10. I don't believe Jesus is going to reveal himself to any man who is a person who tells half truths and calls others names, therefore I don't believe that Denver saw Jesus

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    1. And yet, during his mortal life, Jesus hid truths and called people names. Quite vile names, actually.

      As long as you insist on defining what the Lord will and will not do, you limit his ability to work in your life.

      Delete
    2. Remnant of JosephJuly 31, 2015 at 10:39 AM

      If Denver is who you say he is, I have a few questions.

      1) What is his mission?
      2) Does he claim or deny to be a prophet?
      3) What does he claim the Lord told him when visited?

      I've read some of his blog and have found things I know to be false. Is this because he is fail-able like any other prophet?


      Delete
    3. Hi Remnant,

      I don't speak for Denver, so I really can't answer your questions authoritatively. I can only offer my opinion. Here it is:

      First, you stated, "If Denver is who you say he is..." Let's be clear about who I have said he is. I've stated that he is a messenger, bearing a message from the Lord, and that we ought to heed the message, not the man.I don't believe I've made any other claims beyond that.

      Now, on to your questions:

      1. I don't know what his mission is. Right now, it appears to be teaching truths of the gospel that have been lost, ignored or distorted. Time will tell if the Lord asks more of him than that.

      2. I have never heard him either claim or deny the title of Prophet. You need to understand, he's absolutely not into titles. His view is that once you have done the work, you can claim the title. But until the work is done, it's just arrogance to claim a title. There must be fruit or it's all vanity.

      3. He has not gone into details of any of his visits, other than to verify they have happened. He stated that the message he shared in the 10-part lecture was from the Lord, in that the Lord gave him specific topics and scriptures to cover; even the timing and locations of the messages. He only directly quoted things Christ said a couple of times in the lectures.

      As for his blog, of course he's fallible, just like any other mortal. The word "know" is a very strong word to use though. There is a lot I thought I "knew" because I'd been taught it all my life, that turned out to be wrong. Lately, I'm much more reticent to claim to "know" certain things that really, I just "believe."

      Delete
    4. Adrian-

      what is the message that Denver is sharing that we should be heeding?

      Delete
    5. Hi Remnant,

      I recommend you search that out for yourself. Obviously, it doesn't boil down to a sound bite or single message. Ultimately, it's the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

      Much of what Joseph Smith taught and restored, or was attempting to restore, has been lost, ignored, or altered. We need to appreciate and value what came through Joseph.

      This includes reading and understanding the Book of Mormon for what it actually says, rather than the fables and children's stories we tell each other about it.

      We need to recognize the Lord is moving again, and has sent a servant with words the Lord claims as HIs own. Part of how we accept the Lord is by understanding the Doctrine of Christ and being baptized anew.

      Delete
  11. That is what I did, defined what Jesus would do or not do, just like every blog you write, change the truth,or the scripture, or the story to fit your narrative

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    Replies
    1. I write based on scripture. If I have erred, and changed the scripture as you state, please go ahead and let me know my error. If you want to make such accusations, you need to back them up so we can discuss them. Otherwise, you only appear as wanting to take cheap shots or start an argument.

      And if you need specific examples of Christ hiding truth or calling people names, I'll be glad to supply them from scripture. But I suspect you already know them.

      Delete
    2. I don't have to reply any more I have my answer

      Delete
  12. In the course of administering the affairs of the Church, the Apostles are weighed down with the administration of the 100 plus commercial corporations that the church has amassed since arriving in Salt Lake City. This responsibility consumes most of their meetings and leaves little time to minister as pointed out by Elder Bruce R McConkie.

    “Though general authorities are authorities in the sense of having power to administer church affairs, they may or may not be authorities in the sense of doctrinal knowledge, the intricacies of church Procedures, or the receipt of the promptings of the Spirit. A call to an administrative position of itself adds little knowledge or power of discernment to an individual, although every person called to a position in the Church does grow in grace, knowledge, and power by magnifying the calling given him.”(Mormon Doctrine, "General Authorities")

    I think that this is even more apparent today as witnessed my Elder Bednar’s recent statement:

    “It is in the consistency of simple witnesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that I know that Jesus is the Christ” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1G6zkS0YXI

    Thanks heavens for the scriptural clarity and invitation to come to “know” the Lord Jesus Christ personally rather than relying on man.

    Thanks for this excellent series concerning the real gold, “Christ”. You have instilled in me a renewed desire to “forsake my sins” and “seek the face of the Lord” as outlined in D&C 93:1; All the best AB2

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  13. I was reading a recent general conference talk by Dallin H. Oaks and felt the Holy Ghost. As I was reading this article, I felt an absence of the Holy Ghost. That is all I need to know.

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    1. Hi Karin, thank you for responding. I recommend you learn about the Holy Ghost from scripture. The myth that we ought to use our feelings as a way to establish truth is one of Satan's greatest triumphs. (I know, that sounds crazy...please hear me out).

      The Holy Ghost is so powerful and so important, yet we've completely changed our understanding to the point that we believe and expect falsehoods about the Holy Ghost.

      I give a complete explanation in this post: http://www.totheremnant.com/2014/11/feeling-and-fooling-spirit.html

      Delete
  14. Pretty bold for you to dictate whether Karin is feeling the spirit or not. Not your place to judge in my opinion. And If you held Mr. Sniffer to the same bar you are holding church leaders to how could you follow him? Somehow he doesn't need to go into details of his visits and he is a man and therefore fallible and that's okay for him, but not our apostles? Do you see the hypocrisy here, or are you so blinded by your hate?

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    1. Hi Jonah,

      The point to understand is that the Holy Ghost is not something we feel in the way we've been taught. The purpose of the Holy Ghost is not to produce feelings. That's what I cover in the post I referenced.

      Joseph Smith didn't go into details about his visits. But he did plainly state they happened.

      I think it is much more bold of you to accuse me of hate than it is for me to speak on the nature of the Holy Ghost. I wish you knew my heart.

      Delete
  15. Great post. Much of the challenge in today's world is sifting through that which is truth and that which disguises as truth. It is truly the great day of Satan's power. The only way to learn truth is from a divine source. This to me is very comforting.

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  16. I'm slowly working my way through your blog so I apologize if you've already answered this question. If the leaders of the LDS church are inadequate witnesses of Christ, and by extension not teaching correct doctrine, who is the Lord's mouthpiece today? Who is His chosen Prophet(s) today?

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    1. Hi Anonymous,

      I have a couple of thoughts to share:

      First, the most important mouthpiece of the Lord is the Holy Ghost.

      2 Nephi 32:2-3

      2 Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongue of angels? And now, how could ye speak with the tongue of angels save it were by the Holy Ghost?

      3 Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.

      Following the Holy Ghost’s teachings will bring the ministry of angels. Both the Holy Ghost an angels speak the words of Christ.

      Second, the Lord has sent a mortal witness with a message. His name is Denver Snuffer. You can read more here:

      http://www.totheremnant.com/2015/02/prophets-part-6-another-prophet-now-is.html

      In fact, I recommend you read the whole prophets series for a more complete understanding.

      And finally, and most importantly, we all need to understand that salvation is a personal undertaking between the Lord and each of us. There is no man who stands between you and your Redeemer. He sends His messengers, it is true, but ultimately, you must hear His voice for yourself.

      Delete
  17. I work for the BSA. Two correction. The first is that the percentage of LDS units is 18%, not 37%. The other is the reason the vote was moved to July was PR stupidity. Local councils didn't want the vote to affect fall recruitment so they wanted it moved up to the summer. They thought the Church didn't mind because the Church seemed okay with the decision.

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    1. Hi Unknown,

      Thanks for the corrections. I think wires must have gotten crossed and you meant to post this over at my BSA post. Please feel free to re-post it there and I'll delete this one.

      As for the 37% figure, I got that directly off the BSA website where they publish all their statistics and raw numbers of units. The LDS church had 37,933 units as of 2013 (latest figures available). Total units for all scouting was 102,565--giving the LDS church 37.04% of all units.

      Very interesting about fall recruitment and the idea that the church seemed OK with the decision. After all the blustering, polling and posturing, it turns out the church was indeed OK with it. Who would have guessed?

      Delete
  18. I have my own Elder Nelson experience. First hand report here.

    It was back in 1993-94. He visited my stake and held a special meeting with the priesthood. I was Ward Mission Leader at the time and a recently returned missionary, as well as fairly new convert.

    Besides the MTC experience in Provo, it was my first up close meeting with an apostle. We met in the chapel in a cozy meeting. There came a time for Q&A.

    I raised my hand and asked a pre-planned question: "Since you are an especial witness of Christ, I have a question. I know this is a sacred topic, but since we are in a special priesthood gathering tonight, my specific question is, have you been visited by Jesus Christ, have you seen him personally?"

    His exact response I remember clearly. He paused, smiled in a warm, grandfatherly manner and said, "There are some things so sacred that we do not share in public." And then he took the next question.

    I felt it may have been a mild rebuke, but no local leader later corrected me and Elder Nelson answered in a loving way.

    I was certainly left with the impression that he HAD seen the Lord. Others I spoke with afterward indicated the same impression and we all were thrilled with the idea that the Lord appears to modern apostles.

    Point being that my story shows that the apostles or at least he has been employing the communication technique (prevarication) for many years to give the (false) impression that he has seen the Lord.

    The question is, why prevaricate?

    Instead he is missing an opportunity to bear witness, to really be "a witness", and "by so doing, the Lord God [could prepare] the way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ, that the Holy Ghost may have place in their hearts..."

    Or, he hasn't had the eyewitness experience and can't truthfully bear witness.

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