Friday, June 19, 2015

All that Glitters, Part 3: Fool's Gold

Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness. 
—2 Nephi 9:51

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

In Part One of this series, I said the following:
“Now, if the point is to become redeemed by our Redeemer—and it is—then what is Satan’s best strategy? Well, he’s got to keep that from happening. But since he cannot ever directly prevent us from seeking the Lord, he has to be much more subtle. He has to distract us by diverting our attention…he just needs us to procrastinate.”
It’s no surprise that the Adversary tries to distract us. In most cases, he doesn’t even need to be subtle about it. Those who have little interest in the things of God will find an unending supply of other pursuits to hold their attention. Our relative ease and endless information access, combined with a false and flattering religious tradition serve to keep most of us safely asleep.

Wolves come among us in sheep’s clothing, speaking soothing words to assure us all is well.
And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell. (2 Nephi 28:21)
He must lead them carefully, so as to not awaken them, as they seek for happiness in all the wrong places, until it is everlastingly too late:
But behold, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure; yea, for ye have sought all the days of your lives for that which ye could not obtain; and ye have sought for happiness in doing iniquity, which thing is contrary to the nature of that righteousness which is in our great and Eternal Head. (Helaman 13:38)
Shhhh. Keep them comfortable. Let them sleep. All is well.

But What of Those who Do Awaken? 

Despite the Adversary’s best efforts, some few awaken anyway. They may actually read the scriptures and believe what’s written there. They may begin to recognize their desperate situation and need for redemption. They may notice the doctrine, ordinances, and practices no longer match scripture.

They may soften their hearts, open their minds, and cast away their unbelief. They hunger for truth.

Awake people represent danger to Satan’s kingdom, and he knows he must deal with them more directly. This is where his efforts become much more subtle. Rather than quietly slinking in the shadows to avoid notice, he switches to an entirely different tactic.

I call it the "false trifecta"

When people stop listening to the flattering voices and seek instead to hear the Lord’s voice, Satan gets his piece of that action by introducing as many strange, new voices as possible. By so doing, he hopes to take advantage of the open minds and willing hearts of repentant souls. He doesn’t care if your mind is open, as long as it’s open to him.

Those who come out of the various Mormon traditions face particular risk because they have likely spent their lives being told what to think, believe, and do, and have therefore never developed much ability to discern truth from error for themselves.

Satan exploits this perfect combination of openness, inexperience, and desire for knowledge by introducing his own counterfeit sources as if they were true. He slips in fool’s gold with the real gold, hoping you can’t tell the difference.

He knows you want to learn, and he's happy to help you do so, just as long as your learning is diluted.  Or deluded. He WANTS you to be "ever learning, but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth." (2 Timothy 3:7)

Let’s examine some of his counterfeits—cheap knock-offs that attempt to look and feel like the real thing. Yellow and shiny, they are indeed, ensnaring the fools who mistake them for gold.

False Teachings

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is delicious and delightful. It fills the soul with joy. Naturally, having tasted of this feast, we want more. More knowledge. More understanding. More Godliness.

Abraham was a “follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge…” (Abraham 1:2) Such desires are good and Godly.

Indeed, Joseph Smith taught, “I advise all to go on to perfection, and search deeper and deeper into the mysteries of Godliness.” (TPJS, 364)

And Alma said:
…and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full. (Alma 12:10)
And so, it is clearly good, right, and necessary that we learn the mysteries of God and Godliness. Because these things are “mysteries,” they will, by definition, be new to us. Learning the unknown gives Satan prime opportunities to insert his own teachings into the mix, hoping we will not notice.

Sadly, this approach is often successful. 

I’ve seen too many people awaken and begin searching for gospel knowledge, only to be seduced by errant ideas about the nature of God, the nature of man, history, mythology, metaphysics, the study of Lucifer, spiritual "shielding," invented ordinances, what they assume went on before this earth, or any of dozens of topics that become at best, distracting, and at worst, Hellish. Such teachings are not gold. They're fool’s gold.

Sadly, these new pet topics become gospel hobbies for some, or even obsessions, causing closed minds, hard hearts, and damnation. What’s the point of shedding an old unbelief only to accept a dozen new ones?

Fortunately, there is a defense against this particular attack. Remember the Book of Gold? The Book of Mormon contains record after record of those who found redemption in the presence of the Lord. It bears witness of what they believed, how they behaved, and the path they followed into the Lord’s presence. These elements serve to guide us.

But what is NOT stated provides important guidance as well. You will not find extensive conjecture about multiple mortalities, the identity of Satan/Lucifer, attacks by demons, a hollow earth, polygamy, conspiracy theories, Heavenly Mother, whether the pearly gates swing or slide, how to leave your body, or secret tricks to summon spirits.

The bread crumb trail left for us by those who walked the path back into God’s presence is sufficient for us if we’ll walk the same path. There’s no need to try every other forbidden path fork. Only one path leads to the tree of life, and only those who cling to the rod of iron will successfully navigate that path. Let go of the rod, and you WILL be lost in the darkness.

You can, and you will learn the mysteries of Godliness along the true path when you walk it with patience and diligence. But you will learn them from reliable sources. For myself, I can unequivocally state that deep, careful and inquisitive study of the scriptures, most especially the Book of Mormon, absolutely does open the mysteries to view. Stick with this source and patiently mine the claim. The gold is there.

False Teachers

The question of sources brings up the issue of false teachers.

I’ve noticed that the current movement to preserve the restoration attracts all types and all viewpoints. Certainly all are invited to come and partake of what the Lord freely offers. Satan certainly comes as well, to spread his fool’s gold around.

Some, who are knowingly or unknowingly influenced by Satan, come with the intention of seeking followers, setting themselves up for a light, and getting gain or praise. They teach mysteries and secrets, revealing hidden knowledge—not from scripture—but learned in other ways, and from other sources. Some claim their higher knowledge frees them from the “lower” laws given by God in scripture, and they become a law unto themselves.

Some claim the right or calling to teach such things, even seeking money or other gratification for doing so. Others exercise false spiritual gifts, issuing prophecy about the future, or offering to tell you about your past lives and identities, or your mission here on earth. Some even claim to be reincarnated important people, or claim special powers, standing, or callings. All profess to know tantalizing secrets they will very willingly reveal to impress you.

Do you have any idea how many men have come along over the years claiming to be the “one mighty and strong?” They were all deceivers. (Pro Tip: Anyone who claims to be the One Mighty and Strong—isn't.)

I’m reminded of the tactics used by proponents of “Spiritual Wifery” in the early LDS church. Men came claiming secret knowledge and authority, proclaiming a “higher law” of free love and unrestrained sex, and contradicting what is clearly proclaimed in scripture. Secrecy was the watchword, adultery was the result, and damnation was the reward.

Yes, there are actually people who do know the mysteries of God. And they don't share what they know:
And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him. (Alma 12:9)
This ought to tell you something about those who are eager to share the mysteries they claim to understand.

Do you want to learn the mysteries of God? Learn them from God. Mine his word, labor in the spirit, pray and seek. Pay the price. He will open unto those who knock, and will give them His gold.

Of course, such an effort takes time, patience, and labor. Few are willing to give what is required. Few exercise patience in the face of promised “something for nothing” gratification. Few will keep up the sweaty work of digging and lifting when Satan waves fool’s gold in their face. Don't be a fool.

False Scriptures

As Mormons, we're very comfortable with the idea of new scripture. The anticipated coming of the “Sealed Portion” of the Book of Mormon, together with references to the Book of Enoch, Record of John, Book of the Lamb of God, Record of Joseph, Brass Plates, and others, all combine to give us a lively expectation of, and openness to, new scripture.

We WANT more books.

Combine that desire with an openness and hunger, and you end up with people who eagerly investigate, and perhaps too readily embrace, quasi-scriptural writings. Examples abound:

Apocryphal Ancient Texts: Most of these suffer from the ravages of mis-translation and intentional obfuscation. There are dozens, if not hundreds of these works floating around and garnering attention of truth seekers. Many are indeed ancient. And some may, indeed, contain some truth. Or falsehood. Want to risk it?

Modern Pseudepigrapha: The term "pseudepigrapha" refers to fake scripture, intentionally written to read like scripture, complete with references to actual scripture and narrative elements designed to fit within scriptural history. Want Hagoth’s back story? How about Lehi’s history? The 116 lost manuscript pages of the Book of Mormon? The Brother of Jared's record? It’s all out there for the asking. Or not.

The “Sealed Portion.” Oh yes, it’s available. In fact, there are lots of different "Sealed Portions" out there. They’ve been popping up for many years all over the world, buried in strange places, or even unceremoniously handed over by angels to willing "translators." None of them are the same, none are inspired of God, and none are true. But they all claim to be the secret, sealed portion of the most correct book on earth. In reality, they are Book of Mormon Fan Fiction.

False Revelations: Who says the D&C only has 138 sections? There’s no shortage of folks out there claiming to receive “thus saith the Lord” type revelations, and new volumes of scripture. They range from pedestrian to zany. If you miss the days of Joseph Smith dictating revelation, then this is the deal for you. As long as you’re not actually seeking truth, that is.

What do all of these pseudo-scriptural writings have in common? They distract from REAL scripture. In fact, to a believing truth seeker, with shovel and pick in hand, they become an almost irresistible attraction and time suck. There are thousands and thousands of pages of this stuff out there, ready to trap your mind and waste your time—time that could be spent mining far richer veins.

Some justify searching into these sources by claiming that there may be some flecks of gold in that ore, and that they’ll never know until they spend the time to dig it up, grind and process it. What harm could there be in looking, after all?

Here’s the trouble with that idea: It requires discernment. In fact, it requires not just discernment, but super-powerful, ultra-acute discernment in the face of very convincing fakes. Looking for gold in the Devil’s mine isn’t for amateurs. Remember when the First Presidency was taken in by the Hoffman forgeries? Is your discernment good enough to dance near that fire? (Hint: If you think it is, that shows it isn't.)

Just because you recognize SOME truth doesn't mean you're prepared to discern ALL truth. The stakes are high, and mistaking fool's gold for the real thing may cost you everything.

And you know what? Even if there is some truth in some of these non-scriptural sources, THEY STILL AREN’T SCRIPTURE!!! Why waste the time? We have ACTUAL records of ACTUAL people who walked the path to redemption. And we’re woefully ignorant of what has been given!!

Still Condemned

Given some of our current behavior, is it any wonder that only two years after its formation, the LDS church was under God's condemnation for treating scripture lightly?
And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. 
And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written (D&C 84:54-57)
Are you out from under this condemnation? Are you sure?

If not, you really don't have time to waste on false teachings, false teachers, and false scripture. Only a fool will spend his labor for that which is of no worth. Don't be distracted by fool's gold.

Many among us fervently hope and pray to see the full restoration of the gospel; to see the formation of Zion; to stand in that day when the Savior returns. Such hopes will remain mere dreams until we finally remember and take seriously what the Lord has already given. Until we do, Satan will continue to ravage the flocks, culling all the sheep he can.

God has already given us all we need to find Him. Isn't it time we took it seriously?

Behold, I am God; give heed unto my word, which is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, to the dividing asunder of both joints and marrow; therefore give heed unto my words. 

—D&C 6:2


  1. Thanks for this last series of posts on "All That Glitters." You are right on in identifying some of the distractions the adversary employs once we have begun to awaken from spiritual slumber.

  2. "A Book of Mormon! A Book of Mormon! We have got a Book of Mormon, and we need no more Book of Mormon."

  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Adrian for caring about my soul. This is truth. I've seen it happen to me.

  4. Thank you for the timely reminder. I have immensely enjoyed this series on the Book of Mormon.

  5. I suppose this would apply to those who are looking beyond the mark (Christ and his doctrine), looking to bypass the Gate by which we all must pass through, or seeking to obtain knowledge for personal aggrandizement or to subject others.

    I find a tremendous amount of light and truth in much of what you post but are you really claiming to know for a certainty “about the nature of God, the nature of man, history, mythology, metaphysics, the study of Lucifer, spiritual "shielding," invented ordinances, and what went on before this earth?” Has God revealed the truth of all these things to you so you can sit in judgement on others for their belief and suggest they are following Satan if it does not agree with your understanding?

    There is another side to all of this. Those who "set up stakes" and narrowly define what they will accept as "scripture" will not be open to receive "new scripture" when it comes because their eyes are not open to see and their ears are not open to hear. Their heart is hardened because the message comes from outside the "box" they have constructed. They will dismiss and reject it if it does not come through what they consider an “authorized” or “bona fide” source.

    The definition of scripture is found in 2nd Peter 1:21 “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost”. When it comes to discernment, those who live worthy of it have the promise that the Holy Ghost will "lead them into all truth". They should not rely on the opinions of you or me or any other man to tell them what they should or should not do in pursuit of truth. Who are we to put limits on the words of Christ given to other peoples or other nations that “we know not of”?

    Are we any different from the Gentiles who say; “A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible”, if we then say; “A Book of Mormon, we have a Book of Mormon and we need no more of the word of God”?

    “Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?

    Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.

    And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.” (2nd Nephi 29:7-9)

    Unbelief is the curse and damnation of the Gentiles. “When things that are of the greatest importance are passed over by the weak-minded men without even a thought, I want to see truth in all its bearings and hug it to my bosom. I believe all that God ever revealed, and I never hear of a man being damned for believing too much; but they are damned for unbelief.” (TPJS 374)

    Yes, the stakes are high and salvation is on the line. You should have to judge the matter and your eternal welfare should be at stake. However, just because a person errs in doctrine does not mean they are following Satan or distracted by him. The Lord will preserve those who have a heart that is meek and lowly. Your desires and intentions have to be pure with an eye single to the Glory of God and his purposes. Then, if you are falling into a false belief that will harm you, the Lord will tell you to change course. I am a witness to this.

    1. Mike, I think you make some good points.

      To clarify: No, I am not claiming to know for a certainty “about the nature of God, the nature of man, history, mythology, metaphysics, the study of Lucifer, spiritual "shielding," invented ordinances, and what went on before this earth?” Quite the opposite.

      My point is that exploration of these non-scriptural items diverts time and attention from comprehending and living the Doctrine of Christ. If God didn't see fit to reveal these things publicly in scripture, I trust Him enough to believe there's a good reason. And I trust Him way more than I trust people who want to reveal these things to others.

      There is enough in scripture to keep us plenty busy, and it's been my experience that knowledge of the mysteries comes as a result of careful scripture study, rather than seeking elsewhere.

      As for other books, there are mountains of falsehood out there, posing as truth. We should be very careful when we choose to trust other books as containing God's word.

      I believe there's enough in our body of scripture to bring anyone back into the presence of Christ. Yes, more scripture will come forth, and it will be welcome. But to go seeking after it now, at the expense of attention that could be spent on what comes from God, I believe is a mistake. I'm trying to promote renewed focus on what we already have.

      I agree with what Denver Snuffer said on April 10:

      False spirits will come among you. Prideful and pretentious people will ask you to give them honor. Honor God instead. Do not let a personal revelation displace your attention from the scriptures. Our scriptures are sufficient for our day...We must first remember and observe. Preserving the restoration requires us to be very familiar with the scriptures of the restoration. At present we should fear most our ignorance of them.

    2. "My point is that exploration of these non-scriptural items diverts time and attention from comprehending and living the Doctrine of Christ." Bingo. Remember that the purpose of the Book of Mormon was to restore the fullness of the gospel, or what we need to get from where we are to a frequent audience with Christ. And that was only necessary because people jacked up the Bible so badly. What that means is that if I am not yet in a position where I have communion with Christ to learn all the things that he saw fit were not appropriate for general consumption, then I probably shouldn't be worrying about those things. Particularly if what I "know" about them is really just what I've googled about them, or paid some guy who said he knew about them to teach me.

  6. I really like this statement of yours: Anyone who claims to be the One Mighty and Strong—isn't.

    I'd like to offer a bit of commentary about D&C 85:8, which is the verse immediately following the mention of the One Mighty and Strong. This is not a prophecy or claim of knowledge on my part, it's just an observation and an attempt to understand.

    Verse 8 seems to indicate that when the one mighty and strong makes his appearance and assigns inheritances, he will be challenged by someone who has been "called of God and appointed". Apparently this officer will anger the Lord to the extent that the Lord will kill him in a dramatic or public fashion, like how Uzzah was killed.

    In mainstream Mormon culture, all priesthood officers are considered to be "called of God and appointed", but more especially the high officers. If at some point a high ranking mainstream officer dies in a dramatic fashion while in the midst of fighting against someone who is assigning or giving lot inheritances for Zion to be built, verse 8 would be vindicated. Speculative scenarios would include:

    1 - The Presiding Bishop has the duty to manage the physical property of the Church. If a Presiding Bishop were to wake up and take his duties seriously, (i.e., assign inheritances), this would enrage / befuddle the First Presidency, and they would likely move to release him. In the aftermath of a divine smack-down, the remaining Brethren might allow the Presiding Bishop to distribute the assets he had earmarked, in order to get rid of him. He would then go his way, and they would retreat back into their ivory towers and their all-is-well mindset. The 1905 First Presidency interpretation mentions that the one mighty and strong could be a future Presiding Bishop:

    2 - If a common member or someone outside the Church possessed a significant amount of land and was impressed to give it by lots to those seeking to establish a physical Zion -- and upon beginning that process, a high mainstream leader reviled him or actively opposed him, this might provoke the Lord to strike that officer down, at which point it would be obvious to those seeking Zion that the one mighty and strong was present, and some within the sleeping mainstream might wake up and start putting their shoulder to the wheel.

    3 - The prophecy might already be closed:

    4. The "one mighty and strong" might be a process or way of doing things, not a person. The Spirit might give knowledge to people to move to such-and-such place and show them how to claim their inheritance.

    5. Some unknown explanation that I've never thought of or heard about.

    For a couple of years, with respect to testing the possibility of the first scenario noted above, I tried really hard to get the Presiding Bishop to wake up to reality. I'm not sure if it's worth continued effort or not, but the website is here:

    It seems deeply perverse to me that so much property given to the Lord in good faith by common members (many of them poor) is being mistreated so badly in the mainstream culture. I think the Lord has a way of liberating his property at various times and in various ways, and maybe someday he will do that with some of the consecrated property being controlled by the high level mainstream officers.

    To come back to the original point: I think you are right that the One Mighty and Strong will not claim to be such.

    At present, he might well be an unwitting and obedient cog in the corporate structure, who will awaken at some future time and start to fulfill his mission. At that point he would know who he is, but he definitely wouldn't announce himself using that title.

    1. Interesting thoughts, Joe. I think there are also other possibilities you and I haven't considered. I only think such an one will be recognized after the work is done.

  7. Hollow Earth! I believe in the Hollow Earth and like to read different books or accounts of it but I don't let it replace or take precedence over the knowledge contained in scripture. Regardless, good post and warning.

    - Hollow Earth Dweller

  8. Thank you Adrian for this wonderful commentary. I have enjoyed it so much. After reading it, I was reminded of something that was pointed out to me quite recently.

    In our triple combination, there is a short section just after the book of Abraham, called "Joseph Smith - Matthew." Joseph Smith makes some wonderful additions and clarification in these three pages of our Three and One.

    IN THE BIBLE: Christ is speaking of the last days. Matt: 24: 4 "And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you." Vs. 11 "And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. Vs. 24 "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible they shall deceive the very elect."

    JOSEPH SMITH - Matthew Additions

    Matt 1: 22 "For in those days there shall also arise faults Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch, that if possible, they shall deceived the very elect, WHO ARE THE ELECT ACCORDING TO THE COVENANT. (The last few words was left out of the Bible)

    Now, here is where it gets good:

    Vs 37: AND WHOSO TREASURETH UP MY WORD, SHALL NOT BE DECEIVED, for the Son of Man shall come, and he shall send his angels before him with the great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together the remainder of his ELECT FROM THE FOUR WINDS, FROM ONE END OF HEAVEN TO THE OTHER.

    There is safety in diligently searching and knowing the scriptures, and more importantly the Book of Mormon. In my opinion, my knowing His word is some of the oil I can put in my lamp that cannot be share with others at the last minute.

  9. Adrian, I find the writings of Snuffer to be the very kind of distraction from the scriptures that you are talking about. Snuffer's writings come in the pattern of educated Phds with many words, as do the present LDS leadership, and not in the pattern spoken of in 1 Cor 1:27-29 that fits men more like the uneducated Joseph Smith.

    1. Hi erichard,

      I appreciate your take. Surely, any author's writings can become a distraction from scriptures if they become your primary focus.

      Having read everything Snuffer has written, at least twice, I can tell you I find his writings to be almost 100% scriptural exposition and explanation. By expounding on the scriptures, his writings have brought me much greater understanding of God's word.

      But I agree, such things must never become a distraction from the scripture itself.

      As for the "educated" tone of the writing, I find his words very accessible and easy to understand. Clearly he is educated, and a good writer, but his power with language, in my opinion, serves to more precisely and fully communicate truth.

      When I encountered Snuffer's writings for the first time, they were food to my hungry soul. But I recognize his style certainly won't appeal to everyone.

      I would suggest that Peter, Paul, Mormon, Moroni, and Joseph Smith were certainly not weak or foolish men, though the world viewed them this way. I believe most of the world views Snuffer as weak and foolish as well. He certainly views himself that way. I view myself that way, and I'm sure you view yourself that way too. By comparison with heaven, we are all weak and foolish. No flesh should glory in His presence. And yet, through mortals, God does His work. I think the word "chosen" in the verses you reference is a key.

      All are weak and foolish. God chooses whom He will.

  10. I love the post, especially the part where you talked about clinging to the iron rod and the Doctrine of Christ.

    You mentioned some other topics that may be of interest to some. But may I just point out something....

    In 2Nephi 32:6- It is clearly stated that no other doctrine will be given until Jesus Christ has manifested himself unto you. And after he does that, He'll give you more.
    So for some, it is commanded of them to remain quiet about their audiences with Christ, and for others it is asked of them to share. Regardless, Christ will only give us more AFTER we live and fulfill the Doctrine of Christ. So we should not judge others of their beliefs and "levels on the ladder" because we do not know where they stand with Christ.


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