Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A Response to Elder Ballard

I feel compelled to respond to a recent talk by Elder Ballard.  In doing so, I do not judge Elder Ballard’s intentions.  I think his plea to those who are disaffected with the LDS church is genuine.  But I want to respond because there are incorrect assumptions within his questions.  I want him and other members of the LDS church to understand more about the choices that others make. 

Elder Ballard begins his talk by recounting events from John 17:

Several years ago my family and I visited the Holy Land. One of my vivid memories from our trip was a visit to the upper room in Jerusalem, the traditional site of the Last Supper.  As we stood in that place, I read to them from John 17, where Jesus pleads with His Father for His disciples:

“I pray for them … that they may be one, as we are. …

“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.”

I was deeply moved while reading these words and found myself praying in that sacred place that I could ever be one with my family and with my Heavenly Father and with His Son.  Our precious relationships with families, friends, the Lord, and His restored Church are among the things that matter most in life. Because these relationships are so important, they should be cherished, protected, and nurtured.

The false assumptions begin in the preceding paragraph.  Elder Ballard states that “our precious relationships with…His restored Church [is] among the things that matter most in life”.  That may be among the things that Elder Ballard believes matter most, but some of us are not worried about a relationship with an impersonal, bureaucratic, oligarchic organization.  I care about the church with a small c, the people who consider themselves to be followers of Christ.  People matter.  God matters.  Organizations do not.  Elder Ballard, please understand that not everyone believes that Joseph Smith came to restore a hierarchical church. 

Elder Ballard then continues by relating events from John 6 and tying them to the events of John 17:

One of the most heart-wrenching stories in scripture occurred when “many of [the Lord’s] disciples” found it hard to accept His teachings and doctrine, and they “went back, and walked no more with him.”

As these disciples left, Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Will ye also go away?”

Peter responded:

“Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

“And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”4

In that moment, when others focused on what they could not accept, the Apostles chose to focus on what they did believe and know, and as a result, they remained with Christ.

Later, on the day of Pentecost, the Twelve received the gift of the Holy Ghost. They became bold in their witness of Christ and began to understand more fully Jesus’s teachings.

Given Elder Ballard’s statements about relationships with family, the LDS church, and then this story about disciples leaving Christ, he is clearly trying to tie together leaving the LDS church with people abandoning Christ.  Elder Ballard, is it really so hard to believe that a person could actually choose to leave the LDS church because of their love for Christ?  I understand that people can be deceived about what is right.  My bishop essentially said the same thing when I resigned my church membership.  But please, have some respect for differing opinions.  I left the church because I sincerely believe that God wanted me to do so.  I did not do it for spite, or anger, or offense, or even desire.  I did it because I believe it was the right thing to do.  I honor God the best I can.  You don’t know me, Elder Ballard.  You don’t know that our family is more prayerful, more considerate, more generous, more Christ-centered than ever, despite the fact that I have resigned and my wife and children are largely inactive.  We care very much about what is right.  I ask you to please accept that a person, even if deluded, can genuinely love Christ and serve Him outside of the LDS church.

Elder Ballard continues:

Today is no different. For some, Christ’s invitation to believe and remain continues to be hard—or difficult to accept. Some disciples struggle to understand a specific Church policy or teaching. Others find concerns in our history or in the imperfections of some members and leaders, past and present. Still others find it difficult to live a religion that requires so much. Finally, some have become “weary in well-doing.” For these and other reasons, some Church members vacillate in their faith, wondering if perhaps they should follow those who “went back, and walked no more” with Jesus.

Elder Ballard, in making this statement, you are equating church membership and attendance with following Christ.  These two things are NOT, NOT, NOT the same.  I could cite examples of your own leaders saying the same thing.  If following Christ and being active in the church are the same thing, why do church leaders continue to find it necessary to continually admonish people for viewing pornography, treating people unkindly, and other things?  Please, Elder Ballard, be honest.  There are some, maybe even many, who have left the LDS church because they love Christ.  I know that you claim that your church is the only “true” church, but Christ has repeatedly said throughout scripture that ALL MEN may come unto him and be saved.  Even if your claim of being the only “true” church was correct, repentance and love for the Savior are not exclusive to your church.

Also, it is extremely discouraging to see that you accuse nonbelievers of wanting to sin.  You don’t use those words, but when you say that some become weary in well doing, what else am I to conclude but that you think that defectors from the church want to sin?  This is a tired argument that is beneath you. 

If any one of you is faltering in your faith, I ask you the same question that Peter asked: “To whom shall [you] go?” If you choose to become inactive or to leave the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where will you go? What will you do? The decision to “walk no more” with Church members and the Lord’s chosen leaders will have a long-term impact that cannot always be seen right now. There may be some doctrine, some policy, some bit of history that puts you at odds with your faith, and you may feel that the only way to resolve that inner turmoil right now is to “walk no more” with the Saints. If you live as long as I have, you will come to know that things have a way of resolving themselves. An inspired insight or revelation may shed new light on an issue. Remember, the Restoration is not an event, but it continues to unfold.

I have an answer for you, Elder Ballard.  I will go to Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.  Not to men who purport to speak for Him, but to Him and Him alone.  He is the keeper of the gate and employs no servant there.  I understand that prophets and apostles are sent to testify and warn, but true prophets and apostles do not set themselves up as middlemen in the great heavenly bureaucracy.  They point to the light, they do not set themselves up as a light.  Please understand that some of us do not believe that LDS church leaders are God’s “chosen leaders”.  Some of us have a different understanding of what “chosen” means.  Also, you ask why “some doctrine” would cause someone to leave the church?  For myself, the doctrine of “follow the prophet” is a damnable, false, and pernicious doctrine that retards the spiritual growth of many.  According to Russell Nelson, by sustaining the prophet I am binding myself to all of his counsel.  What if his counsel is wrong?  I wholeheartedly reject the doctrine that the leader of the LDS church cannot lead us astray.  In fact, I believe they can, do, and have.  If a person does not profess belief in the church president as a prophet, he cannot be baptized and certainly cannot receive a temple recommend without lying.  When it became apparent that this “follow the prophet” doctrine is the driving force in the church, I concluded that I should leave because I was not suitable for baptism and would eventually be forced out anyway if I spoke to others about my “apostate” belief.

I also find it interesting that you state that the Restoration is not an event, but it continues to unfold.  Elder Ballard, I find this ironic because you and the other church leaders continue to enact policies, make statements, change ordinances, and move away from the teachings of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.  I could cite so many things – the pursuit of filthy lucre (i.e. business investments with tithing money, a paid clergy (please don’t try to say that you support yourself with your own labors), teaching the commandments of men (word of wisdom, 10% of gross as tithing) as doctrines.  These are some of the things you and your colleagues in church leadership have done in opposition to what Joseph Smith taught and what the Book of Mormon teaches.  And don’t even get me started with Brigham Young and polygamy.  Please, Elder Ballard, do not accuse those who leave of moving away from the Restoration.  I embrace the restoration.  I just believe differently than you.  I believe the restoration was one of knowledge, knowledge that God lives and will reveal Himself to ANYONE, not just a few special chosen people.

Never abandon the great truths revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Never stop reading, pondering, and applying the doctrine of Christ contained in the Book of Mormon.

Never fail to give equal time to the Lord through honest attempts to understand what the Lord has revealed. As my dear friend and former colleague Elder Neal A. Maxwell once said, “We should not assume … that just because something is unexplainable by us it is unexplainable.”

You will not get any argument from me about these statements.  Unfortunately, the pondering and searching have led me squarely outside the mainstream of the LDS church.

So before you make that spiritually perilous choice to leave, I encourage you to stop and think carefully before giving up whatever it was that brought you to your testimony of the restored Church of Jesus Christ in the first place. Stop and think about what you have felt here and why you felt it. Think about the times when the Holy Ghost has borne witness to you of eternal truth.

Why do you think it is spiritually perilous to leave the church, Elder Ballard?  Can a man only serve God in a church?  Also, when has Christ or any true prophet ever taught that a testimony of an organization was necessary for salvation?  Why do you not see that teaching these things circumscribes members’ beliefs into a creed?  I have felt much good while at church.  But it wasn’t because of the church.  The Holy Ghost has provided me with much truth.  It has led me to a broken heart, a contrite spirit, and through the grace, mercy, and love of Christ, to a remission of my sins and renewal of my soul.  This did not happen at church.  This happened in the privacy of my own home, with no one around, just me and Christ.  Please do not presume to have played a role in my salvation.

Where will you go to find others who share your belief in personal, loving Heavenly Parents, who teach us how to return to Their eternal presence?

I have found fellowship with people who have similar beliefs.  But even if those others were not there, I will always be able to go to Christ.  Sometimes the journey of truth and righteousness is solitary, save for the company of the Lord.

Where will you go to be taught about a Savior who is your best friend, who not only suffered for your sins but who also suffered “pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind” so “that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities,” including, I believe, the infirmity of loss of faith?

Elder Ballard, I have the scriptures and the testimonies of eyewitnesses of Christ to give me hope that one day, a day here in mortality, I will enter into the presence of God.  There are those who are alive today who have seen these things and testified of them.  I am very sorry to say that based on your words, you are not among them.  So for you to claim to be an apostle is to bear false witness.  True apostles have seen our Lord.  Otherwise they have only been ordained to become such.  They still have not been true and faithful and had their ordination made sure.  I am grateful for those who have seen God and testified of it, because it has given me faith in Him, that He lives.  He is the one to whom I will go.

Where will you go to learn more about Heavenly Father’s plan for our eternal happiness and peace, a plan that is filled with wondrous possibilities, teachings, and guidance for our mortal and eternal lives? Remember, the plan of salvation gives mortal life meaning, purpose, and direction.

I agree with this, Elder Ballard, but I find the church’s teaching about the plan of salvation to be woefully inadequate.  In fact, some of the things I have found from careful examination of the scriptures, sincere prayer, and the light and knowledge provided by true servants of God have shown that there are wondrous things about eternity that the LDS church simply cannot grasp.  Also, I have to say that I find this to be a veiled threat.  Many times I have heard you and other church leaders essentially teach that if I don’t toe the line of belief, that I will be forcibly separated from my family upon death.  While there is merit to the idea that not all men will inherit the same kingdom, I do not believe that you are correct in your assertion that I will forever lose association with my family in the hereafter if I don’t believe as you do.  Perhaps one day you will see fit to explain how it is that this doctrine is in harmony with the principle of free agency.

Where will you go to find a detailed and inspired Church organizational structure through which you are taught and supported by men and women who are deeply committed to serving the Lord by serving you and your family?

Hopefully I will not find a detailed organizational structure.  I expect the structure of Zion to be flat, since all are expected to know the Lord.  I will not have need that others will teach me for I will learn from the Lord Himself.  Please, Elder Ballard, you need to understand that not everyone believes that the LDS church organization is inspired of God.

Where will you go to find living prophets and apostles, who are called by God to give you another resource for counsel, understanding, comfort, and inspiration for the challenges of our day?

Elder Ballard, I believe that the test of life is to find truth wherever it is.  While some truth is present in the LDS church, please understand that I do not consider its leader to be a prophet simply because of his church calling.  In fact, I believe that much counsel that comes from the presiding brethren is false, damnable, and filled with darkness.  Prophets are around us in this day.  In fact, you and Russell Nelson were involved in excommunicating some of them.  You know who they are.  They spoke truth and you cast them out.  You and your colleagues claim that you are the only ones who can claim the title of prophet, seer, and revelator, but the scriptures do not support your claim.  Further, you have not prophesied, you have not seen, and you have not revealed anything.  None of you have.  So how is it that you can make this claim?  I’m sorry, but the hard truth is that you are not what you claim. 

Where will you go to find people who live by a prescribed set of values and standards that you share and want to pass along to your children and grandchildren?

The only values and standards that matter are those given by the Lord.  The number of earrings, the presence of tattoos, the consumption of beer, and the use of tobacco are the standards of men.  Personally, I agree with most of the personal conduct standards set by the church, but Christ was found among the sinners, not the whited sepulchers of the church leadership.  I do not believe our day is any different.

And where will you go to experience the joy that comes through the saving ordinances and covenants of the temple?

Here is that veiled threat again.  Please, Elder Ballard, do not make the temple ordinances more than what they are.  First, the ordinances do not save.  Living the principles taught in the ordinances help us to come to Christ, the only one who saves.  The temple endowment is merely a tool that teaches us how to come to God.  How is that you do not understand this?  The sealing ordinance is misunderstood and does not conform to what Joseph Smith taught.  I do not believe that you or your colleagues or predecessors understand what Joseph was doing when he sealed people to himself.  You have changed this ordinance.  It still has value in teaching but it is not correct.  Perhaps if you spent more time studying the life and teachings of Joseph Smith and less time presiding over the opening of malls and real estate developments, you would find out what God is really doing.  Elder Ballard, you and your fellow church authorities and those who follow you are being left behind in the dealings of God. 

Brothers and sisters, accepting and living the gospel of Christ can be challenging. It has always been thus, and it ever will be. Life can be like hikers ascending a steep and arduous trail. It is a natural and normal thing to occasionally pause on the path to catch our breath, to recalculate our bearings, and to reconsider our pace. Not everyone needs to pause on the path, but there is nothing wrong with doing so when your circumstances require. In fact, it can be a positive thing for those who take full advantage of the opportunity to refresh themselves with the living water of the gospel of Christ.

The danger comes when someone chooses to wander away from the path that leads to the tree of life.  Sometimes we can learn, study, and know, and sometimes we have to believe, trust, and hope.

 Elder Ballard, the path to God is an individual one.  There is no big, safe, easy way for the masses to receive group salvation.  Please understand as you ask these rhetorical questions that there are those who simply see things differently. 

In the end, each one of us must respond to the Savior’s question: “Will ye also go away?” We all have to search for our own answer to that question. For some, the answer is easy; for others, it is difficult. I don’t pretend to know why faith to believe comes easier for some than for others. I’m just so grateful to know that the answers are always there, and if we seek them—really seek with real intent and with full purpose of a prayerful heart—we will eventually find the answers to our questions as we continue on the gospel path. In my ministry, I have known those who have drifted and returned after their trial of faith.

I have sought these answers you speak of, Elder Ballard.  Is it so hard to believe that the answers I have received have led me to a path that is different from yours?  My faith has been strengthened as I have moved down the path.  You and your church do not have a monopoly on faith.

My sincere hope is that we will invite an increasing number of God’s children to find and stay on the gospel path so they too can “partake of the fruit, which [is] desirable above all other fruit.”

I’ll be honest, Elder Ballard.  No one has stepped forward to find out why my beliefs are different than theirs.  My bishop said he wanted to talk to me about my resignation, but after he read my letter he simply processed it and I have heard nothing since. 

My heartfelt plea is that we will encourage, accept, understand, and love those who are struggling with their faith. We must never neglect any of our brothers and sisters. We are all at different places on the path, and we need to minister to one another accordingly.

It is very discouraging that you equate leaving the LDS church with “struggling with their faith”.  I left as an act of faith.  I acted on a prompting.  I recognize that you would probably believe that I was deceived in this prompting.  I obtained a more sure witness, the nature of which ought not to be public.  But it was sure, and I have faith that what I did was right.  I certainly know beyond doubt that my intentions were pure, and I would repent immediately if I believed I had made a mistake.  Please, Elder Ballard, I am asking you to stop lumping those who leave into the same bucket.  We are not all struggling with our faith. 

Just as we should open our arms in a spirit of welcoming new converts, so too should we embrace and support those who have questions and are faltering in their faith.

Utilizing another familiar metaphor, I pray that anyone thinking of leaving the “Old Ship Zion,” where God and Christ are at the helm, will pause and think carefully before doing so.

Please know that even though great storms of wind and waves beat upon the old ship, the Savior is on board and is able to rebuke the storm with His command “Peace, be still.” Until then, we must not fear, and we must have unwavering faith and know that “even the wind and the sea obey him.”

I am beyond frustrated, Elder Ballard.  The path (or boat) to God is not a giant vessel crammed with people, yielding the steering to an elite few.  I think it is appropriate that Peter left the boat to walk to Christ.  Some of us see the “old ship Zion” as being on a course for destruction.  Personally, I have determined that Christ will steer my ship.  I will not trust church leaders to do it for me.  I do not see malls, land acquisition in Florida, condo complexes in Philadelphia, and financial savvy as the recipe to build Zion. 

Brothers and sisters, I promise you in the name of the Lord that He will never abandon His Church and that He will never abandon any one of us. Remember Peter’s response to the Savior’s question and words:

“To whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

“And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”

I testify that there is “no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ.”

I also testify that Jesus Christ has called apostles and prophets in our day and restored His Church with teachings and commandments as “a refuge from the storm, and from wrath” that will surely come unless the people of the world repent and return to Him.

I further testify that the Lord “inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; … and all are alike unto God.”

Jesus is our Savior and Redeemer, and His restored gospel will lead us safely back to the presence of our Heavenly Parents if we remain on the gospel path and follow in His footsteps. To which I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Ballard, the Lord’s church is defined in D&C 10:67-68.  They are those who repent and come unto him, and those who teach anything more or less than this come from evil.  I am left to conclude that your teaching that the church is the only way back to God is evil.  You do not speak for Christ.  If you have a message given you directly from God or one of His angels, then speak it plainly and state the source.  Otherwise, you are just a pretender.  You are taking the Lord’s name in vain when you speak these words, and in doing so you are damning yourself and anyone who heeds your message.  Please, Elder Ballard, I implore you to reconsider your statements.  The LDs church is not the gospel path. 

Elder Ballard, you have asked where I will go.  I will go to my God, my Redeemer, my Savior.  I will turn to Him with full purpose of heart.  I will try to persuade as many of the children of men who will hear to do likewise.  Not to leave the church, but to put God first in their lives.  Is it really so hard to believe that someone who loves their Savior could have a different belief than you?  If so, you do not understand the workings of God.  Does God withhold forgiveness from those who do not believe in the LDS church?  If you think so then you do not know your God. 

And finally, Elder Ballard, I close with a question for you.  Have you repented of your sins?  Have you been baptized with fire?  Do you have a testimony from heaven, a KNOWLEDGE that your sins are forgiven, that you are clean before God?  Have you sought with your whole soul know the Lord and do every single thing He asks of you?  Even if that means putting aside the culture, belief system, or teachings you have grown up with?  Are you willing to sacrifice those things on the altar?  Such things are of far greater significance than simple membership in a church.  Your message of repentance should come through loud and clear, not your condemnation and mocking of those who do not conform to your way of thinking.  Why do you care if people leave the church?  You ought to be more worried about whether they love Christ and seek to serve Him at all costs. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


I read a quote today from Rob Smith's book, Teaching For Doctrines The Commandments of Men:

"One lost heathen who is kind means more to heaven than ninety-nine close-fisted Pharisees."

What a great quote.  I think it accurately portrays the heaven and the God I have come to know.

This quote got me thinking about the 99.  The scriptures teach us in Matthew 18 and Luke 15 that Christ leaves the 99 who went not astray to find the one, and that there was more joy in heaven for that one than for the 99.  The version in Luke has Jesus using sarcasm so great that it's almost caustic, talking about the 99 "just" persons who need no repentance.  It seems likely to me that both the Matthew account and the Luke account are talking about the same event.  Whatever he said, Christ thought more highly of the one sheep that was found than he did of the 99 that did not.

So my question for you is, are you one of the sheep who is astray?  Or are you one who is safe in the sheepfold, not having gone astray and therefore needing no repentance?  Do you go out and find the sheep who are lost and astray and coax them back to the sheepfold, or do you recognize that YOU are the sheep, and seek for the shepherd, and let Him do His work to gather his sheep?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

From the Foundation of the World

I grew up believing that the sacrament was instituted by Christ among his apostles just prior to His death.  It was similarly instituted among the Nephites after his resurrection, as described in 3rd Nephi.  Indeed, the web site makes the following statement:

On the night before His Crucifixion, Jesus Christ met with His Apostles and instituted the sacrament (see Luke 22:19–20).

Imagine, then, my surprise as I read from the Inspired Version of Genesis 14:17-18:

And Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought forth bread and wine; and he break bread and blest it; and he blest the wine, he being the priest of the most high God,  And he gave to Abram, and he blessed him, and said, Blessed Abram, thou art a man of the most high God, possessor of heaven and of earth;

I find this information to be very interesting.  For me, several questions arise.  Why is this concept not taught in LDS study manuals?  If the sacrament existed prior to Christ administering it to the apostles, where did it originate?  Why is there no other specific mention of it in the scriptures?  When did the practice die out, that it had to be restored?

Based on this discovery, I believe the sacrament is something that would have been practiced beginning with Adam.  Although current LDS leaders now deny it is true, early LDS leaders believed that Melchizedek and Shem are the same person (  I find the argument that Melchizedek and Shem are one and the same to be persuasive, and therefore I will assume that they are indeed the same person.  If that is the case, then based on the chronology outlined Lectures on Faith and in the Old Testament, there was an uninterrupted line of high priests (those who actually saw into heaven) going back from Shem to Adam, and that is the likely source of Shem's knowledge of the ordinance.  Further, if Adam engaged in this practice, it was probably revealed to him by an angel.  In other words, it is pretty important.  I suppose you could say that the sacrament is one of the ordinances that has existed from the foundation of the world.

This calls to mind the quote by Joseph Smith - "Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed."  If that is true, what should we make of the changes to the ordinances?  What changes, you ask?  How about:
     *  Water instead of wine (3rd Nephi 18:19)
     *  Blessed by young boys instead of the presiding authority (D&C 20:50)
     *  Kneeling is forbidden (Moroni 4:2, D&C 20:76)
     *  Tiny amounts of bread and wine/water (3rd Nephi 18:4)

When we read historical accounts of the administration of the sacrament in Joseph Smith's time, they look markedly different than what we do today.  It has only been 171 years since Joseph died and we have seen many changes.  Small wonder, then, that the ordinance was corrupted from the time of Abraham to the time of Christ.  Or from the time of Christ to the time of Joseph Smith.  It makes you wonder, at what point does the Lord look at our changes and say, this is no longer valid and I no longer recognize what you are doing.  Fortunately, that can never happen today because we live in the last dispensation where we can never be led astray.  Aren't we lucky!

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Real Problem

Facebook, bloggers, and the rest of the internet have been abuzz lately with talk of the recent changes to the LDS church's policy on same sex marriage and the children of such parents.  In a nutshell, the church's Handbook of Instructions has been updated to define same sex marriage as apostasy, and also disallows children under 18 who live in same sex households from receiving any church ordinances.

Here is a link to a discussion about the changes --

This whole debate illustrates several problems that need to be addressed.

First, the church has long since lost sight of the fact that baptism and church membership are not co-equal.  Baptism is not done to join a church.  Baptism is done to fulfill the commandment of God that we repent and then witness before heaven and earth that we have repented.  The method of the witness is baptism by water.  Joining a church is completely separate. John the Baptist wasn't out baptizing people into the New Testament version of the Mormon church.  He was baptizing for the remission of sins.  If the LDS church were to separate baptism from church membership, many of the problems they claim to be solving could be avoided altogether.

Second, policies are a tool of compulsion used by corporations to force employees to behave in a certain way.  The Lord does not deal in policies.  He deals in commandments and agency, and men are always free to obey or not, and to receive or not.  Policies inherently restrict agency and the Holy Spirit and are not of God.  They are just another form of idolatry because they supplant God as a source of truth and direction.  No policy is needed.  Just empower people to act according to what they believe the Holy Spirit is telling them.

Third, in his "interview" (I use quotes because it is staged, this is not a disinterested third party interviewing Elder Christofferson), Elder Christofferson gives a number of reasons for the new policy.  These reasons include:
     -- Same sex marriage is sinful and participants need to be disciplined.
     -- The new policy comes because of changes to the laws of the US and other countries.
     -- The policy leaves no room for questions or doubt.
     -- The new policy is family friendly because it frees children from learning one thing at home and another at church.
     -- The new policy for same sex marriage is consistent with the church's approach to polygamy.

Conspicuously absent from the list of reasons given by Elder Christofferson is REVELATION.  There is no claim that church leaders saw a problem and asked God what they should do.  Instead, a list of practical reasons is given.  Personally, if I saw a difficulty in my life that was caused by an outside factor, I would ask God what He would have me do to resolve it.  This is yet another example of how the LDS church is led by corporate leaders and not by revelation.

Finally, the church is acting in a schizophrenic manner.  They state that the primary reason for the policy is to free children from having to learn one thing at home and another at church, and yet if this logic were applied consistently, any situation other than a two-parent, fully active family should result in denial of ordinances.  This is intellectual dishonesty.  If the church is going to make an intellectual case for their position, then they should be consistent in its application

This policy change only serves to distract people from Jesus Christ and His atonement.  The Lord came to this earth to redeem all those who would be redeemed.  He came to offer salvation to those who would receive it.  Policies, procedures, and unsanctioned requirements for baptism interfere with the ability of people to connect with God to receive His salvation.

The bottom line is that I believe the church's new policy to be a step away from Christ and toward chaos, confusion, and darkness.  Baptism should be offered to all who desire it, not just those wanting membership in an institution.  This policy is an affront to the Holy Spirit.  We should compare the behavior of the church and its leaders to the standard of the scriptures.  Where we find a divergence, we should ask ourselves who is out of the way, the scriptures or the church?  You may be surprised at the answer.


For those who desire baptism according to the doctrine of Christ (2nd Nephi 31), without man-made restrictions and without judgment, I encourage you to find someone with authority from God to perform the baptism.  You can find someone here:

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Doing What God Wants You To Do

It is not always easy to do what God asks of you.  God asks one thing of me and another of you, and although those two things are not the same, if we do what God asks we are on the path of eternal life.  In this way we are all on different paths but on the same journey.  Nephi had to kill Laban, steal a book, kidnap a servant, and run away into the wilderness.  Abraham had to sacrifice his son on an altar.  Peter had to suffer crucifixion like the Savior.  All did what Christ wanted of them to fulfill the purposes of God.

In my own life, I was recently asked to do something I didn't want to do.  I was asked by God to resign as a member of the LDS Church.  I have been a member my whole life, and this was hard.  I expect that few will believe that the commandment I received came from God.  I expect that few will understand how I could throw away salvation or lose my eternal family.  But I must do as God asks, and so as of October 13, 2015 I am no longer a member of the church.

God asked me to do this for a number of reasons, but I think the most important reason is to testify of the idolatry and false teachings that are ever growing within the doctrines of the church.  I want to be clear that I did not do this because I wanted to.  I am not angry or disillusioned.  This was not an act of rebellion but an act of obedience.  Below is a copy of the resignation letter I gave my bishop:


October 13, 2015


Dear Bishop XXXXX,

I have been asked by the Lord to do something that I do not want to do.  I expect that I will be misunderstood and judged to have been led astray, but I sincerely believe that what I am doing is what Christ wants me to do.  And so, with great regret, I hereby resign as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, effective immediately.  I understand that the church handbook states that such an action will nullify my baptism, priesthood, and temple blessings.  I believe that this is in error, but I understand and acknowledge the church’s teaching on this matter, and want you to know that I appreciate the seriousness of such an action.  I ask that my resignation would be processed immediately.

There are several reasons for this action, and I hope that by listing them it will not be seen as a list of complaints or grievances.  I have listed my reasons so that you can understand my action better and to state that I have not done this because of sin, anger, or hatred.  I appreciate my membership in the LDS church and am thankful for the good and truth that is in it.  Through the church I have been introduced to the Book of Mormon and the prophet Joseph Smith.  I have a sincere testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet and seer and that he restored much truth to the world, including the Book of Mormon.  Most importantly, through the church and through the Book of Mormon I have been introduced to Jesus Christ, my savior.  I have a deep and abiding testimony that He lives.  I have been baptized with fire and the Holy Ghost by Him and been cleansed of my sins by His grace and kindness.  This was a specific event, a testimony from heaven to me about my standing before the Lord.  I am unworthy of such blessings and do not consider myself to be righteous.  I am just a fallen man who loves Christ and relies completely upon Him for my salvation and growth.

Despite the good that has come from the LDS church, there are a number of reasons why I must resign.  First and foremost, the Lord has commanded it and I want to be obedient to Him.  I would not do this if it were not for the commandment I received.  Again, I list these things as an explanation.  Please don’t take it as a list of grievances.  I believe that the Lord wishes me to testify of truth, and the truth is that the church is filled with idolatry and doctrinal errors, and the current course of the church is taking it ever further from Joseph Smith and the truth.

The most grievous form of idol worship in the church is the tradition of “Follow the Prophet” that has sprung up in the last 50 years.  Teaching men to follow other men fosters spiritual laziness and points away from Jesus Christ.  Problems with this teaching include the following:

- We are taught that the prophet talks to God, and that because he does, somehow that is great for us.  Supposedly each successive church leader speaks for God by virtue of their office.  What if by “my servants” Christ meant anyone who is given a message from God, regardless of their church position?  We are taught that the prophet speaks for God because we are to heed his words (D&C 21).  But this scripture is about Joseph Smith.  How can other men claim this same right simply because they have inherited an office?  Because of our preoccupation with prophets, we are not taught to approach Christ to know him personally.  Lip service is paid to this principle, but in practice the focus of the church is programs, ordinances, and leaders.  When you do seek for a personal relationship with Christ, curiously it no longer seems to matter whether we have a prophet or not because you have your own connection with heaven.  Church leaders no longer teach that men should seek to enter into Christ’s presence while in the flesh or to make their calling and election sure.  Instead, we are counseled to rejoice because we have a man who talks to God for us so we don’t have to.  This denies the Christ.  It is hard for me to see how we are any different than the Israelites.  They had a Moses to talk to God for them, and they were cursed for doing so.  We are not different at all.  We have a Gordon, a Thomas, a Joseph, or a Russell to talk to God for us.  We have the scriptures right in front of us and don’t understand how they apply to us.

- We are taught that the prophet somehow has “keys” that men need in order to be saved.  We are taught that without such keys, even the dead who have repented are kept from salvation because we have not done certain ordinances for them.  This is a false teaching and denies the Christ, and is also form of idol worship.  This idea puts men in between us and God.  Jesus is the way of salvation.  We are repent and come to Him.  Outward ordinances do not save.  Baptism is required by the Lord for all who live on the earth, but other ordinances are meant to teach.  Our ordinances are only types and symbols of the real thing, but this concept is not taught.  We are taught that somehow the temple endowment and the marriage sealing magically seal in heaven as on earth.  There seems to be no focus on the fact that every “temple blessing” is offered as a condition, and that we must obtain the real thing from God Himself.  It does not happen by virtue of the “keys” of men.  God does not wait on the keys of men before acting to save the souls of the repentant.  Nephi condemned the latter-day church for teaching that God has given his power to men, and yet we completely overlook this scripture and cannot see that Nephi was talking about us.

- We are taught that the prophet cannot lead us astray.  We deny that he is infallible, yet every word that comes from the church leaders is considered doctrine.  How many times have we heard that General Conference talks are scripture?  If the prophet cannot lead us astray, what need do we have for the Holy Ghost?  The scriptures are the measuring stick for truth, not the words of the current church leader.  The teaching that living prophets trump dead prophets is at odds with the scriptures.  I cannot understand how it is that we accept a teaching that allows the leaders freedom to change doctrines simply because of their church office.  Also, how is it that a leadership position qualifies a man to be a prophet?  Prophets have fruits.  The current leaders claim to be prophets, seers, and revelators, but they do not prophesy, reveal, or see.  Joseph Smith did all of those things and produced evidence.  I’m afraid that what we have in our church are men with church offices and not real prophets or apostles.

Temples have also become an idol.  Members think that because they have “taken out their endowment” that somehow they are all set for the celestial kingdom.  They have no understanding that the endowment teaches them to walk back to the presence of God in mortality, and that one of the first steps is to seek “true messengers.”  Those true messengers are angels, not church leaders.  Before the endowment changes in 1990, the ceremony taught about how preachers were false messengers and should be ignored.  We now believe that the only way to find true messengers is to look at their church office.

The church itself is an idol.  Supposedly the “good ship Zion” will transport us to the presence of God because it can never go astray.  Yet, where are the scriptural accounts of such things?  Nephi found God alone.  So did Lehi.  So did Abraham.  So did Enos.  Adam found the Lord’s presence with just a few family members.  They did not have a church hierarchy or system to bring them back into the presence of Christ.   Our journey is likewise solitary.
The church programs are idols.

There are other idols.  The handbook is an idol.  Church leaders at every level are idols.  The church is filled with idols.  We talk of Christ but preach a gospel that frequently points away from him and turns the pathway to God into a rigid program that has little room for the Holy Ghost.  We have a changeable system that is subject to the whims of the current leadership.

Aside from the idolatry and the follow the prophet culture, I am also resigning because those who do seek the face of Jesus Christ in the flesh and teach others about this are cast out.  I can give you several accounts of people who were excommunicated because they would not confess that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet, never mind that they have a deep and abiding testimony of Christ.  Some even testify that they have seen Him, but they are dismissed because they don’t have leadership credentials.  I think it is foolish to believe that one needs to be an LDS church leader to see Christ and publicly testify that He lives.  Sadly, the apostles of the church who are charged with such a responsibility do not bear such witness.  They openly claim that their “apostolic” witness is one from the Holy Ghost, and put down those who say that an apostle should be an actual eyewitness of Christ.  I humbly submit that the church leaders who are called as apostles are not actually apostles until they complete their calling and become an eyewitness.  If they claim to be apostles before then, they are false witnesses.

Finally, I am resigning because I am a hypocrite.  I would not qualify for baptism given my current set of beliefs.  If I don’t qualify for baptism, why should I be a member?  By the current church handbook definition, I am an apostate.  I associate with and agree with many who have been excommunicated.  Given the new, expansive definition of “sustain” given by Russell Nelson in conference last year, I do not sustain the current authorities of the church.  I do not pay tithing to the church anymore because they church uses the funds to….well, I don’t know what they use them for because they won’t tell me.  But I sure see a lot of spacious buildings and nice malls.  I have chosen instead to contribute my tithing funds to a small group where we support single mothers and assist with the financial needs of the poor among us.  I have performed and will continue to perform ordinances that are not sanctioned by the presiding authorities of the church, such as baptism and the sacrament.  I have not sought an LDS baptism for my children because I they are required to confess Thomas Monson as a prophet as condition for baptism.  In 3rd Nephi and also in the D&C, Christ stated that all who desire to witness their repentance by being baptized should be baptized, and that this was his gospel, and that anything that is added or subtracted is not of his gospel.  We have adulterated baptism as a result.  We have also changed all of the other ordinances.  Since they were revealed by Joseph, the sacrament, the style of priesthood ordination, and now baptism have all been changed, despite Joseph’s clear statement that ordinances revealed from heaven are not to be altered or changed.  The temple endowment has undergone numerous changes, none of which have been done by revelation.  It is my opinion that these changes and the fact that true messengers have been cast out (Denver Snuffer), the Lord does not recognize LDS baptisms as legitimate any longer.

Bishop, I love you and appreciate all you have done for me, my family, and our ward.  I know that my actions will probably not be understood.  I am just trying to do what is right.  I think that what I am doing is right, but if I ever found that I was in error, I would repent immediately, in sackcloth and ashes, begging the Lord’s pardon.  I hope that despite my status as a non-member, I will still be able to love and serve my friends and neighbors.  I love the people of this ward and the church leaders.  I consider you and President XXXX to be men who love the Lord.  Thank you again for all you have done.


Jake Mahan

One interesting but discouraging thing I have noted - as I expected, my bishop shared the news of my resignation with the ward council, who in turn have shared the news with other members of their family.  Of those who have talked with me since the resignation, including the bishop, none have been willing to discuss any of the doctrinal items I have discussed.  I am afraid that they are scared of being corrupted by my apostasy.  Why are people afraid to discuss doctrine?  God is a God of truth.  There is nothing to fear from a thorough, critical review of doctrine.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

My Witness - A Commitment To Follow Christ

Today was a special day for me.  I entered the waters of baptism and was baptized by one having authority. I was also given the privilege of receiving authority from Christ to baptize a friend.  We performed these baptisms in living water, at Inlet Cove next to Utah Lake.  I am grateful to my Savior for His atoning sacrifice, for His example, and His love.  I have partaken of His love and desire to receive more, and to bring others to Him.

I was baptized at 8 years old in the LDS tradition.  I chose to be baptized again today as a symbol of a covenant I have entered into with the Lord, after the pattern of Mosiah 18.  This token is also an expression to the Lord that I believe the words that have been spoken by Denver Snuffer and others are from God.  I appreciate how God delivers His words through unexpected and unlikely places.  I have been witness to this on many occasions.

This is my third baptism.  I baptized myself (as Alma did) last year at Bear Lake, also as a witness to God that I would serve Him.  I love how we can renew our commitment to God, and seal it by ordinance on earth as it is in heaven.  This is a true renewal of covenants.

I praise the name of Jesus Christ.  I look forward to the great day where the veil will part.  I seek such a blessing in this life, in the flesh.  I have been a recipient of the cleansing power of the baptism of fire, and I can testify with authority that Christ can and does forgive sins.  He can and does give sacred promises and covenants to us, directly from Him to our ears, eyes, and minds, independent of any other authority or person  He does show Himself to us in vision.  He does give direction to us every day, every hour, if we will but humble ourselves and listen.  All of these things I know for myself because they have happened in my life.  I know that some will mock, some will disbelieve, some will think I'm crazy.  But I say with authority that these things are true.  Amen.

Friday, September 19, 2014

It's True

I have a few thoughts to share today.  My thoughts have been quite a whirlwind since September 9th.

Throughout this journey of faith, I have felt the Lord's guiding hand, and have continued to feel His hand and hear His voice.  He even helps me when I am weak and when I fail, and for this I am immensely grateful.

Since reading Passing the Heavenly Gift in October 2012, I have heard the Spirit bear witness of the truth of the things Denver Snuffer has said in his books, on his blog, and in the Zion lectures.  Perhaps the biggest bombshell of all came on September 9th, when Denver said this:

Section 121 is a warning to church leaders. It is addressing the powerful, not the powerless. It is addressing those who occupy the seats of authority over others. Only those who claim the right to control, compel, and exercise dominion, are warned against persecuting the saints, who believe the religion and practice it as I did from the time of my conversion. My excommunication was an abuse of authority. Therefore, as soon as the decision was made, the Lord terminated the priesthood authority of the stake presidency and every member of the High Council who sustained this decision, which was unanimous. Thereafter, I appealed to the First Presidency, outlining the involvement of the 12 and the 70. The appeal gave notice to them all. The appeal was summarily denied.

Last general conference, the entire First Presidency, the 12, the 70, and all other general authorities and auxiliaries, voted to sustain those who abused their authority in casting me out of the church. At that moment, the Lord ended all claims of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to claim it is led by the priesthood. They have not practiced what He requires. The Lord has brought about His purposes. This has been in His heart all along. He has chosen to use small means to accomplish it, but He always uses the smallest of means to fulfill His purposes.

None of this was my doing. The Lord's strange act, was not, could not, be planned by me. Was not, could not, have been controlled by me. It was not anticipated by me, or even understood by me, until after the Lord had accomplished His will, and made it apparent to me on the evening of May 1, 2014. He alone has done this. He is the author of all of this.

I have seen the problems and I have believed what Denver has said, but this was hard to swallow.  And yet, is it really so hard to believe?  Is it any crazier than the story of a teenage farm boy who saw God and Jesus in a forest, was told all the Christian sects were wrong and to join none, received a gold bible from an 1400-year dead guy, translated the gold bible by poking his head in a hat and not even reading the words, found an old Egyptian scroll and somehow conjured the writings of Abraham from it even though it doesn't say jack about Abraham, said that men can become gods, and was killed for leading so many people astray?  So really, what is crazy?

So in the Mesa lecture, Denver goes on to give some basic instructions from the Lord about how those who wish to establish Zion should proceed.  He even states that the Lord appeared to him again to give this information.  Upon hearing this, many have rushed out to be baptized and start their Zion communities.  Others have cautioned against this, saying we have to watch and see what fruit is born out of this.  Still others say that they are not ready to do anything, either because they haven't received confirmation from the Lord or because they have family and friends they don't want to be alienated from.

I personally don't feel like I fit well into any of those camps.  I believe Denver.  Crazy, improbable, and nutty as it sounds, I believe him.  There have been too many times where I have received signs and witnesses from the Spirit to not believe.

God gives us conflicts to test us.  I have been conflicted since last week.  On the one hand, I believe Denver, but I don't think we ought to rush into these things.  However, I don't want to fret and worry and wait for others before making my decision.  I want my actions to stand on their own.  So the other day I prayed about what Denver had said, and I also asked Him about another matter.  This prayer was uttered just as I left for work.  As soon as I was done with the prayer, I felt very strongly to listen to Pandora on the way to work, about an hour's drive from my house.  The first song came on, and I suddenly wondered if this was to be the answer.  I then proceeded to hear a total of 12 consecutive songs that gave me my answer about the church.  Titles like No Light No Light, Sick of It, and Wicked.  Songs with lyrics about pretenders who are full of themselves, people who deceive, and people who are satisfied with what they have and don't want more.

I could not help but see this for a sign.  It was hard to hear.  As frustrated as I have been with what goes on in the church, this was a hard truth to hear.  But I feel it in my soul that it is true.  It saddens me.  The church is still full of good people, and I do not think God has abandoned good people.  But things have changed.

I want to be clear.  Denver has not said that the church has lost the priesthood.  What he said was that the leaders involved in his excommunication have had their priesthood terminated and the church can no longer claim that it is led by priesthood.  I think that is a significant difference.  I think the LDS church is at least as far into apostasy as the Christian church was after the death of Christ.

By the way, God also answered my other question with a song.  I appreciate the Lord.  Sometimes he has a sense of humor.  I know this sounds stupid or fanciful or deceived, but I have had too many other experiences with similar signs to not believe.  Sometimes the Lord shows us these small signs and then expects us to act.  Only then will we receive greater witnesses.  Some things we can only know by experience.

So, what to do about baptism and Zion communities?  I am still in the process of asking God.  I realized just this morning that the Lord had answered my prayer EXACTLY as I had asked it.  I realized that have not asked whether it is time for me to be baptized or whether I should join with any of these communities.  So I have work to do, to ask, seek, and knock.  I pray that these things will lead me to greater conformity to the will of God.

Each of us has a different path.  Some, like Tim Malone, have resigned.  I respect his decision.  Were I in his shoes, I would do the same.  Others have already been excommunicated.  This offers them the chance for a new community of fellowship.  Still others have done all this either in secret or without family approval and have much to lose.  I feel for these people.  I am not among them, for which I am grateful.  Leaving the church would not bring as many consequences for me as for others.

My plan is to wait upon the Lord, but not wait passively.  I want to get baptized as a sign that I accept this new order of things.  I believe Denver's words.  I am still parsing through the talk to see what is really there, but I believe him.  It certainly is crazy.  Only time and experience will tell if it is true.  We have to be willing to take chances.  We have to act in faith.  I trust my God.  If Denver is a liar, then I trust God to forgive me as I repent in sackcloth and ashes.  But the unfortunate thing is that I don't think he is lying.  I think he is telling the truth, as unbelievable as it sounds.

And that reminds me, the thought that started this whole journey out of the Matrix was that God is a God of truth and that anything true cannot be evil.  Truth can be painful.  It can be hard.  It can be difficult.  It can seem impossible.  And yet, truth cannot be evil.  And Truth is what makes God God!  He is light and truth, and He offers us that same light and truth, if we will stop walking in the darkness at noon day.

So my journey of faith will continue.  I have faith in God to act on the truth revealed through the most unlikely of people, an attorney in Sandy, Utah, who has been cast out of his church.  I prayed some time ago that if Zion were to be established in my lifetime, could I be a part of it?  And perhaps this is my chance to have my prayer answered in a most unlikely way.