The following is an interview between my wife and I and our seven children in the stake high council room. The premise of the meeting was to "get to know you". After some preliminary small talk it went something like this:
Pres. Barker: Well, that’s great. That’s wonderful. Well, Jon and Kari, Brother and Sister Durfee, we’re happy to do this as a family, or however you’d like to do this. We wanted to go over a few church things…
Pres. Barker: With your parents.
Jon: They’re privy to pretty much everything. So, there shouldn’t be any suprises.
Pres. Barker: Okay, alright. Well, that sounds great. Well, talk to us! A little bit about your faith, and talk to us about Joseph Smith, and then talk to us about President Monson. Just give us some thoughts.
Jon: Well. Do you want me to talk?
Jon: Or do you want to go?
Kari: Go ahead.
Jon: Well, we believe in Joseph Smith. He is the Lord’s mouthpiece, for sure. The Lord spoke to him, the Lord appeared to him. D&C 128 says that the church is true because the voice of God, and the voice of Michael, and the voice of Raphael, and the voice of Gabriel had been heard from the beginning of the church until that time. So, you know, he spoke with these beings. He spoke with Adam and with Enoch, and Gabriel, who was Noah, as you guys know. So he was singular, you know? He had a direct connection to heaven; the heavens were opened to him. I believe that and I know it. And I don’t mean by knowing, that I just really, really believe it cause it sounds like a good story. It’s because I’ve had the same vision. The heavens have opened to me, and though I might be persecuted for saying so, I have had a vision and I have seen the Lord. That’s my testimony. I know the Lord lives because I’ve seen Him. I know Joseph Smith is a prophet because he’s spoken to me. President Monson?
Pres. Barker: Yeah!
Jon: President Monson’s great. I love him. He’s a great man. I think that he’s the President of the Church and I think he’s doing a bang-up job, he’s doing a great job.
Pres. Barker: Let me ask you a question. Have you got your scriptures there?
Pres. Barker: Would you turn to D&C Section 107:32-3. Actually, let’s just focus on 32. Let’s talk about that one. Oh, it’s 33 and 34 actually. Do you want to read that for us?
Jon: “The twelve are a traveling presiding high council to officiate in the name of the Lord under the direction of the presidency of the church, agreeable to the institution of heaven to build up the church and regulate all the affairs of the same, in all the nations, first unto the Gentiles, and secondly unto the Jews.”
Pres. Barker: Okay, what do you understand that to be, in terms of the ordinances that we participate in, in the Church? Or that anybody who belongs to the Church might participate in? Does it say how they should be performed and who would direct, who would perform those ordinances?
Jon: I don’t see the word ordinances in there.
Pres. Barker: Okay, well let’s say, ‘regulat[ing] all the affairs’ of the church, what does that mean to you?
Jon: Well, first of all, the first, the only man who was ever called the Prophet was Joseph Smith, up until David O. McKay in the 1950’s. Brigham Young refused the title Prophet, and he insisted on being called the President. All the other Presidents took the same thing. When President McKay was forced to take that title, he was embarrassed, at first, and refused to take it, and insisted on people calling him the President of the Church. So, I take that to mean that they are to officiate in the affairs of the church, which they do a great job at. They buy land, they build buildings, they, you know, they officiate over the temporal affairs of the church, which is also scriptural. So, that’s their job. It’s to officiate, right?
Pres. Barker: Let me unwind you for just a minute, there. It says to ‘regulate all the affairs of the [church]’.
Jon: Mmhm! Sure!
Pres. Barker: So, that doesn’t mean, like, baptism? You don’t think that means baptism.
Jon: Well, I think that Christ has an obligation and a ministry on the earth that is separate from the Church. So, for instance, Article of Faith 6 says that we believe in the organization of the church in the New Testament times, right? This was quoted to me, (by the bishop) that [this] means we have apostles and prophets, right? So, I believe in that, too! So, in the New Testament times, there was a man called of God. He was called directly by God, by the voice of God from heaven, as Genesis 14 declares that all priesthood is supposed to come. That man’s name is Paul. He was not voted in by the quorum of the Twelve, by Peter, James and John. They actually voted in a separate man. Paul was called directly by the Lord. Peter, James and John did not get jealous of Paul, they did not censure him, they did not kick him out of their church, they did not excommunicate him, or call him and say, [slaps palm on scripture] ‘we have the authority!’ They said, why don’t you write the New Testament Paul? Paul is responsible for almost two-thirds of the New Testament. So, all I want, honestly, is to worship God in private. I’ve never once preached that the Church doesn’t have authority. I believe the Church has all the public authority to officiate in all of the Church’s ordinances. I would submit to you President, I don’t do the Church’s ordinances. I baptize, by having the authority of Christ, by his own voice from heaven to me. I don’t use the words that the church uses, I don’t say ‘having been commissioned’. I have not been commissioned, I have been given authority from Christ, see the difference? And I don’t baptize to a church. I don’t belong to any other church but the LDS Church, and I desire to remain a member of that Church. And I believe that I can coexist, if you’ll let me. And I’m asking you to let me worship in private. I’m not advertising, I’m not speaking evil of you, or the prophet or anyone else. I’m simply pursuing God according to the dictates of my own conscience, as Article of Faith 11 says. Which, if you read the history, Joseph said that [Article of faith 11] in reference to a man being excommunicated because he had a different point of view. Joseph said: I don’t like that. I don’t like a man being called up; it sounds too much like the Methodists. Mormonism doesn’t have creeds that a man must believe or else he’ll be kicked out. Instead, he reinstated the man. So, I believe, you asked me about Joseph Smith, Joseph Smith saw angels. Joseph Smith talked with God. Joseph Smith got power directly from God. Genesis 14 of the Joseph Smith Translation says that priesthood comes “not by man, nor by the will of man,” not by woman, but by God directly from heaven, see? So, I don’t fight against the Church, I never have. But I do believe that God can, and will, and does [minister to man outside some "authorized channel"]. Another example is Moses. Did you know Moses didn’t come through the line of the Israelites? He was a Midianite, right? He was ordained under the hand of his father-in-law Jethro. So, you want to tell me, President, that God has done his work and that he doesn’t speak to men any longer?
Pres. Barker: No, no, no. Please, please stop.
Jon: …[you want to tell me] he can’t come and speak to men outside the Church authority? I disagree. That’s where I disagree, that’s all.
Kari: Well, according to our Bishop.
Jon: Yeah, that’s what our Bishop said. Hey, I don’t have authority to officiate in God’s ordinances.
Pres. Barker: You don’t.
Jon: Why would you say that when God says I do?
Pres. Barker: You remember that verse we just read?
Pres. Barker: Ok, well, the authorized construction of that verse is that only those that have authority to baptize, from the priesthood that was restored by John the Baptist, or Peter, James and John or Joseph Smith, must receive that authorization through the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve as exists today.
Jon: So, what about Paul and Moses? What about them?
Pres. Barker: I’m talking about today.
Jon: What about Alma?
Pres. Barker: I’m talking about today.
Jon: So, let me understand this.
Pres. Barker: Yes.
Jon: You’re saying that today, we’re going to go away from the scriptural model, and you’re going to enforce a rule of the Church Handbook, which is not scriptural, which I don’t have access to, which I don’t know what it says. But I do know that… You know what the iron rod is? In Lehi’s dream?
Pres. Barker: Jon.
Jon: Do you know what I’ve covenanted to obey, President? No, I’m upset!
Pres. Barker: Please…
Jon: Do you know what I’ve covenanted to obey in the temple? The Law of the Gospel! And they hold up this book. [holds up quad] You’re asking me to abandon and go against the covenants I’ve made to God in his Holy temple. I’ve not covenanted to obey the Handbook, and I’ve not covenanted to obey a verse that doesn’t say anything about ordinances. Furthermore, the history of this verse actually shows that the Quorum of the Twelve is able to preside wherever there is no stake of Zion organized. That’s the complete version of that verse. So, the traveling High Council, or the Twelve, officiated wherever there weren’t stakes. That’s why Joseph Smith officiated in the High Council, not in the Quorum of the Twelve. And all the members of the First Presidency were always called, not from the Quorum of the Twelve, but from outside it. So, it’s a completely different organization. And that’s why I say, why? I’m not trying to get a following…
Pres. Barker: That’s fine.
Jon: …or have a church.
Pres. Barker: That’s fine.
I’m just simply blessing the sacrament in my home!
Pres. Barker: That’s, that’s fine, Jon. You’ve been given the priesthood…
Pres. Barker: …by those who were ordained through a line that goes through John the Baptist, Peter, James and John giving it to Joseph Smith. Those authorized to determine who can exercise that priesthood.
Jon: Where is that in scripture? that someone can limit...
Pres. Barker: Jon, it’s right there. ‘All the affairs of the church.’ That means everything, particularly the ordinances are regulated by the person that…
Jon: So, why did we do baptisms clear up until 1950, why did we do rebaptisms? And now you’re saying I can’t? Because to me, that sounds like a policy change; and that’s what the Lord told me:
"That’s not even my word Jon, that’s a policy change. Are you going to obey me or men?"
It’s a choice between God and the arm of flesh. And all I want to do is officiate in private, and you can do all the public officiating you want.
Pres. Barker: And, Jon, you can do all the private officiating that you choose to do, but not under the authority that was given you through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Jon: Perfect! I don’t then! I got my authority directly from Jesus. He’s come to me and given me that authority. I don’t use the Church’s priesthood. Perfect!
Pres. Barker: Jon, and that’s fine. If you persist in that path…
Jon: No, no! I’m not using your priesthood!
Pres. Barker: Jon, if you persist in teaching that, as a doctrine…
Jon: I’m not teaching that! I’m acting in it.
Pres. Barker: You’re teaching it right here. [gestures to everyone, especially kids]
Jon: I have the right to officiate and preside in my home.
Pres. Barker: You’re teaching it to your children…
Jon: Absolutely! I’m commanded to, by scripture, to teach the law of the gospel as contained in the scriptures! You open scriptures. Let’s open some scriptures because the rest of the scriptures, preach the doctrine of Christ!
Pres. Barker: Please, go ahead. We’ve got to leave by 9:30, but please take as much time as you’d like. But, before you do, let me just tell you that the doctrine that you’re teaching is not the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Jon: So, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has let go of the iron rod. Is that what you’re telling me?
Pres. Barker: No, Jon. I’m saying that the doctrine you’re following is not the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
And that’s sad. Because it’s not the doctrine of Christ. He actually says, repent, be baptized in the name of Christ, partake of the sacrament [with] wine and bread; any more or less than this cometh of evil. What you’re telling me is that you’re making some policy up that changes from prophet to prophet. So, which one led me astray? David O. McKay, when he said it was fine to get rebaptized? You see the problem? Joseph Smith got rebaptized several times. Brigham Young was rebaptized.
Pres. Barker: Jon, can I stop you for a minute?
Jon: Sure! I just don’t understand how I’m differing in doctrine in scriptures.
Pres. Barker: You are. You are.
Pres. Barker: If you ask the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints whether a person should be rebaptized, what would they tell you?
Jon: Uh, probably no.
Pres. Barker: Not probably.
Jon: Ok, no!
Pres. Barker: Absolutely no!
Jon: So, that’s a policy, because until 1950 we did it! So, you see the difference? Doctrine doesn’t change! Joseph institutes it, tell me which prophet has the right…[to change what Joseph had revealed to him by God?]
Pres. Barker: Do you believe in polygamy?
Jon: Absolutely not!
[this made me laugh! My perverse sense of humor almost said, "no, but would you like to meet my other wives and question them?" But I really don't, so that would have confused him and the issue].
Pres. Barker: Alright, ok! In any event, Jon, that is not the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that there be rebaptism.
Jon: So, I mean, I’m officiating in that…
Pres. Barker: So, you shouldn’t teach that!
Jon: I don’t teach it, that’s the Church’s doctrine!
Pres. Barker: Jon, have you baptized your children?
Pres. Barker: Ok, ok. That’s teaching it.
Jon: Well, I can teach it in my own family? Or no?
Pres. Barker: In order to remain a member..
Jon: So, you’re micromanaging, then…
Valarie: Let me testify, then.
Pres. Barker: Please, please. We asked to speak with your parents. You’re welcome to listen.
Jon: Let her talk! Let her talk!
Pres. Barker: Brother, brother Jon…
Jon: No! Let her talk!!!
[prez slumps into his chair silenced by the force of the Spirit of God]
Valarie: You brought up a thing, and it’s not fair to speak a thing in my presence [and let it stand] when I know it’s false [and can rebut it]. He [pointing to me] offered something, only by preaching out of the scripture. He did not say, I will do this for you. He did not say, I am going out and doing it. I didn’t know he was doing it until I realized, by him bringing up scripture: O my gosh, Jesus commands me to be baptized. The only reason he gave it, was because God gave authority, and I asked. The only reason. So, don’t pin that on him, that’s all I’m saying.
Jon: Thank you for letting her speak.
Pres. Barker: Sure. Well, Jon. We’re going to go ahead and proceed. We’ll confer before we do so.
Pres. Barker: But, apparently, this is what you believe and it’s what you’ve been taught, and you’re going to go with what you’ve been teaching. Is that what you’re going to continue to teach to your children?
Jon: Yeah! And just so I, just for the record, I do believe that it is a private matter and I’m not trying to take it public, I’m not trying to… I don’t use the Church’s words, I don’t use the Church’s implements, like I don’t use the same thing the Church uses.
Pres. Barker: I understand that.
Jon: So, our view is outside of that.
Pres. Barker: Then you should not have any difficulty with having…
Jon: So, it’s a separate ordinance!
Pres. Barker: …your relationship to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints severed, it sounds like.
Jon: Well, why would you want to do that to me, when I…
Pres. Barker: Because, it’s called apostasy.
Jon: No, apostasy is when you leave the truth, and the scriptures are telling me… I want to ask you something.
Pres. Barker: Please.
Jon: Can you quote a scripture that says: Repent, and rely on your baptism from 20 years ago? It’s all present tense, President. All of it! And in Alma 5:62, it says, this is your Book of Mormon, whom the Church website still says is the most correct book on the earth, Alma 5:62 says, the members are commanded to be baptized, and the nonmembers are invited to be baptized. Why would members, who presumably were baptized, be commanded to be baptized? Well, for the same reason Joseph rebaptized people all the time, and so did Brigham Young. Because rebaptism is a fundamental core of the Doctrine of Christ; it’s "Be" baptized. Moroni 8:25 says, the firstfruits of repentance are… baptism! I don’t know about you guys, but I still sin! When I repent, the scripture, the most correct book on earth says, "the firstfruits of repentance are to be baptized!" It doesn’t say, the firstfruits of repentance are think back and remember [your last baptism]. Because, do you know when they started making the sacrament, [all about] ‘renewing your [baptismal] covenants’? If you study it out, it’s in the 1950’s, right when they stopped allowing rebaptisms. So, they changed the doctrine, to cover up the fact that they didn’t want people to do rebaptisms. It’s part of our history. You can pretend it doesn’t exist. We can all say, (in dramatic deep voice) "well, now the new guy…" Long live the King, right? Well, as soon as this king dies, what is the next guy going to say?
Pres. Ogden: Hey, Jon, let me ask you a question.
Jon: Yeah. Sure.
Pres. Ogden: You’re pretty adamant that you’re not teaching this, right?
Pres. Ogden: And you’re teaching us right now.
Jon: Well, you asked why I’m doing it! So, I feel I’m obligated to tell you, doctrinally.
Pres. Ogden: Right. You don’t do this outside of your family? You don’t teach this to others?
Jon: Uh, no, that’s true. People do come to me, but I don’t seek them out.
Pres. Ogden: So, you’re teaching them!
Jon: So, if someone…
Pres. Ogden: Because they’re coming to you…
Jon: Well, see, that’s where I differ. I don’t call it teaching, I call it a discussion on the gospel. They come and tell me stuff that they believe… kind of like you, you meet with your friend about your car. So, my whole life is the gospel of Jesus Christ. But I don’t actively seek to recruit people, proselyte people; I don’t go out and try to convince them to my way. If someone comes and says, Jon, what do you believe about the doctrine of Christ? I’ll open up 2 Nephi 31-2, I’ll open up 3 Nephi 18 and I’ll read the scriptures! And I’ll say, well, what do you think? And they’re like, well that sounds like I should be baptized if I want to repent!
Pres. Ogden: A few more questions. You’re baptizing other people besides your family?
Pres. Ogden: Ok.
Jon: When asked, yeah.
Pres. Ogden: When asked? How many? Just out of curiousity.
Jon: A lot. I’ve been doing this since 2012.
Pres. Ogden: Since 2012.
Pres. Ogden: And up until then, you were fine with most of the doctrine, following the prophet of the Church?
Jon: I still follow the prophet.
(As an aside, I do understand the difference between receiving prophets and following them. But I was interrupted and we never got back to it. This is one of the many ways I failed in this interview as I should have clarified what I meant and not let this statement stand.)
Pres. Ogden: Ok, well you followed him. You kind of made it sound like: "President Monson, good guy up there." But do you believe that he has authority from God, just like you claim to have?
Jon: Yeah, yeah!
Pres. Ogden: You think he does as well?
Jon: Well, I’ll quote you his words.
Pres. Ogden: No, I just want a yes or no answer.
Jon: No, no! I want to quote you his words, because it’s important. In the April 2010 General Conference, in his talk, you can look it up, he says:
My testimony of Christ is based on the eye-witness accounts of others who have seen him.
I don’t believe President Monson would lie. I actually believe he’s trustworthy. When he testifies, over the pulpit in General Conference, that his testimony of Jesus is based on the eye-witness accounts of others, I believe him. So, no! I don’t think he’s talked to Jesus! Because he told me he didn’t!
Pres. Ogden: Never! He’s never…
Jon: He said his witness of Christ was based on the eye-witness accounts of others. That’s recent!
Pres. Ogden: So, you don’t believe he’s a prophet of God similar to how you believe Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. You believe he is…
Pres. Ogden: Hold on! You believe he is the President of the Church and he has the right to take care of all the temporal affairs of the church: buy land, church buildings. But as far as speaking with the Lord, being a prophet just like Joseph was… Because I believe he was a prophet just like Joseph was. He is a prophet just like Joseph was. I believe he has the authority to do so, and he holds the priesthood keys.
Jon: Yeah. Yeah.
Pres. Ogden: But you don’t believe that.
Jon: That’s not true. I believe he can, but when he testifies… see, it’s an obligation, a scriptural edict, that when any leader of the Church has seen God, or had a revelation, that they state so. So, when he states exactly opposite, in public, over the pulpit, I just believe him. I’m not disbelieving that he doesn’t. What I’m saying is, he’s never told me that he has. So, where has he said, ‘I’ve received prophesy’? He never has; I’ve searched! And searched! And searched!
Pres. Ogden: Ok, Kari, do your beliefs differ at all from your husbands? Or…
Pres. Ogden: Ok.
Pres. Barker: Jon, just so I’m clear on your feelings about President Monson, I’ve never heard him talk about rebaptism.
Pres. Barker: Ok, so, you think he’s gone astray on that?
Jon: No, I don’t judge him on that at all.
Pres. Barker: Well, do you think that Church Doctrine… Because the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as it exists today, does not teach rebaptism.
Jon: So, I would ask, where’s the scriptural proof of that?
Pres. Barker: Well, let’s just assume…
Kari: And I would say that they need to repent and follow the scripture!
Jon: Look, we’re under condemnation.
Kari: We’re under condemnation!
Jon: Do you believe that President Benson was a prophet?
Pres. Barker: Yeah, yeah I do.
Kari: We’re not taking this seriously!
Jon: We’re under condemnation because we refuse to abide the precepts of the most correct book.
Kari: We’re trying to remove that from us. If the church wants to, [do something else] that’s fine. Individually, I get to do it. I can’t control the Church, but I can control what happens now, and I’m going to follow this [gestures to Book of Mormon].
Pres. Ogden: And you… Your whole family has the right to believe how you want to.
Jon: Yeah, thank you.
Pres. Ogden: Obviously, all of us do. Doesn’t mean we have to agree on it.
Jon: Right, exactly. And I’m ok with that.
Pres. Ogden: You’re a little forceful! You’re a little, you’re a little argumentative in here.
Jon: I’m feeling a little bit… [under attack] because I just [got called] in to the Bishop’s office two days ago out of the blue, this is all in violation of Doctrine and Covenants, which requires that I have two witnesses against me. I’ve never seen the witness, never spoken to the witness.
Pres. Barker: Jon, there’s three of us right here.
Jon: It’s actually a conflict of interest for the leaders to be the witnesses. There’s supposed to be a witness. Who told on us? Some guy, I know who he is...but that man should stand up and come and say, this is what, [and] this and that. But I’m not going to hide, so I just told the Bishop everything.
Pres. Ogden: Out of curiosity, in the Pioneer Ward, you feel, according to your visitation, how many visitations from the Lord have you had?
Jon: Oh… I don’t know, I haven’t counted.
Pres. Ogden: So, more than one.
Jon: Right, as Joseph says in Doctrine & Covenants 130: 3, the Lord says that…
Kari: You don’t want to hear the scriptures do you?
Pres. Ogden: Really?!
Jon: … the Second Comforter, the Lord will appear… It’s D&C 130:3, it says, the Lord will come from time to time and abide with thee.
Pres. Ogden: So, the Lord has told you that you’ve been given authority by the Lord?
Pres. Ogden: To perform the ordinances?
Jon: Yeah, But not to fight against the Church! He expressly forbid me from that! He said, don’t…
Pres. Ogden: Sure, sure. So, your sacrament is different from the sacrament…
Jon: Absolutely. The words are different, and the implements used are different. So that’s why I would suggest…
Pres. Ogden: So, out of curiosity, I was happy to see you guys at sacrament today, why, why are you…
Jon: Because, I’ve been Mormon all my life. Hopefully, I’ll remain a Mormon all my life. I want to be Mormon, and so I sustain President Monson.
Pres. Ogden: Not as a prophet.
Jon: No! I do sustain him as a prophet! That’s the name of his office.
Pres. Ogden: No, you said president.
Pres. Barker: But, let me just ask you…
Jon: Let me, let me clarify real quick and then you should tell me--So, if a Bishop calls a Gospel Doctrine teacher, and they suck, right? I still raise my hand and sustain them as a teacher. But that doesn’t mean they're actually a good teacher. So, a seer… so, like in the Book of Mormon, when they bring the Jaredite plates to king Benjamin, who translates them? King Benjamin!
[I was cut off here. The thought continuing is: when they have ancient records now do they bring them to President Monson as the "seer" or the "translator", to translate as in the Book of Mormon, or do they send them down to the scholars at the universities? His office may be called "prophet, seer and revelator" but does he exhibit the gifts?]
Pres. Ogden: Do you believe that President Monson speaks with the Lord just as you say you do?
Jon: I hope so, but I don’t know because he hasn’t told me. See the difference? He hasn’t told me that he has like Joseph did. Joseph would say, 'thus saith the Lord.'
Pres. Ogden: So, every prophet that we consider a prophet after Joseph Smith, you don’t necessarily consider a prophet unless you read that he’s said it…
Jon: Well, that’s what we forget in our short minds because our history…
Pres. Ogden: That’s a yes?
Jon: Well yes! But it’s clear and it’s based on history. See, we have a short memory and we think every prophet between Joseph and David O. McKay… we didn’t call prophet, we called them President. So, that didn’t happen in our lifetime, so we forget that. And so now today we want to place this man between us and God. I submit the number one reason for apostasy from Christ is: that the prophet can’t lead us astray. He’s not infallible. Every other dispensation, a man could lead people astray, but suddenly in ours, we have this man who’s infallible and can’t. I don’t believe that. I don’t think he is leading us astray. I’m saying the possibility exists that he could.
[here is another failing of mine, when I said, "I don't think he is leading us astray". By the church handbook of instructions own policies, the church or President Monson or whoever is in charge, IS leading us astray because they deny us unchanged ordinances and then forbid and try to force us not to perform them privately, thereby denying members the possibility of receiving the power of Godliness which is what we require to behold the face of God and live as per D&C 84. I should have clarified.]
Pres. Barker: But isn’t he leading us astray on rebaptism in your view? Just like your wife told…
Jon: No. Because, I’m free to pursue God according to the dictates of my conscience in private. It’s a private matter, which I’m asking you to just let me go my way in peace.
Pres. Ogden: If President Monson came out next General Conference and said, I am a prophet, I speak with the Lord regularly just as Joseph did, what would be your remarks there?
Jon: I would like that actually. I would be…
Pres. Ogden: Would you consider him… so, based on that, he’s a prophet because he has stated he has spoken with the Lord? Cause that’s kind of what you hinged it on.
Jon: No, Revelations 19: 10 says, the spirit of prophesy is the testimony of Jesus, meaning Jesus has testified to you of your standing, he’s given you calling and election, or he’s stating he’s testified to the Father. So, that’s the sacrament prayer, right? That Christ is going to witness to the Father of our unworthiness or worthiness. That’s why it’s so critical we’re worthy before we partake. If the firstfruits of repentance is baptism, then it’s probably a good idea, if you want to be clean or worthy before you take the sacrament, to get baptized first. See the progression?
Pres. Ogden: Do you consider yourself a prophet?
Pres. Ogden: That you’ve spoken with the Lord more times than you can count?
Jon: Well, if you define it that way. But I don’t claim such, I just want to be clear: I don’t claim such, to be like--be your leader.
Pres. Ogden: Do the kids? Do you see your Dad as a prophet? Someone who has spoken with the Lord multiple times?
Valarie: I don’t know. That's his standing. I think all we can know is our own standing and let others pursue, trust they are…
Pres. Ogden: Right.
Jon: Yeah, I’m not trying to be the boss of my family either, I guess, really.
Pres. Ogden: So, if someone says, wow, you have spoken with the Lord face to face, he’s given you authority for these ordinances; Jon, are you a prophet? Your response is: yes or no.
Jon: I’d say no. I would say, he can give you the same thing if you fast and pray and go to him. Coming unto Christ means he’ll come to you, and that you can. It’s available for all. President Monson, all of you guys, me; it’s not exclusive to me. I claim no special privileges. I don’t think it’s any different from what we talk about as priesthood in the church, except that in the scriptures, there’s always an organization [which gives] from man to man, and then, like Moses, the Lord shows up. Enoch, the Lord shows up. Joseph, the Lord shows up. All throughout scripture, Jacob, Nephi, all of them! Almost every single man in the Book of Mormon has this priesthood given by men, and then God shows up after. And so, I look at the invitation of the Church as an invitation to receive priesthood and then I have to go to God to sanction it in order for me to have real priesthood power. And so I don’t believe that gives me any right to take authority from the Church. I delineate between authority to officiate… tell you guys what to do; I don’t have any right to go into my Bishop and say, you know what? God spoke to me and you… No! That’s… see, I get that, but in my private worship, I believe God can give me authority to officiate in ordinances that are salvific. And that’s the only reason I’m doing this: because I believe it’s saving. It is salvific to do the doctrine of Christ which is baptism and the sacrament.
Pres. Turley: That’s such a great contradiction, though, between your personal beliefs and what the church, you know, is teaching. Why would you want to stay in an organization that you feel is so contradictory to you what you believe personally? If the leaders are off…
Jon: Yeah. It’s a good question.
Pres. Turley: …then why are you still following, coming to and following the Bishop when he presides over different meetings? Why?
Jon: Because in the early days of the church they didn’t conflate the issues. Joseph Smith said to the Relief Society, your minds are darkened because you’re relying too much on the prophet. So, he was pushing people away from reliance on him. He was asking them to go get their own witness. So, I don’t see it as contradictory. The only faults I see in the presiding men of the church, the only value I see in that, (finding fault) is to help me understand that the Holy One of Israel is the one who is the Keeper of the Gate, that Christ is the One that Saves. Outside of that, of course they’re making mistakes! Of course they’re doing bone-headed things. Joseph did bone-headed things, right? His banks failed, he declared bankruptcy. I mean, you can look at the history, and Joseph was this mess up. And yet today we claim they can’t mess up and it doesn’t make sense to me. So, I can see they’re messing up in the business side of things, and it doesn’t bother me, because I’m not looking to them for salvation. So, to me, the Church is the--it’s God’s Church, not President Monson’s. I’ve sworn allegiance to Him, I’ve covenanted with God, I’ve covenanted to obey the scriptures, I’ve covenanted to hold fast to the iron rod, which Nephi says is the word of God. I can’t get that from a man. I have to get it from God. That’s what the scriptures continually tell me. Nephi, Alma, they all go to the Lord. So, I don’t see it as a contradiction at all. I love these men, I really do. I’ve grown up with them. I’m just not looking to them for salvation, because I recognize salvation comes from the one man who can give it: they Way, the Truth, and the Life; "I am the Holy One of Israel." (He says). This is all in our scriptures. So, I just want to, honestly, if you guys hadn’t been told by some guy that I was doing this, I would have continued for years, hopefully decades, until I died doing this in private. I wouldn’t have caused trouble, I wouldn’t have railed or fought. I still won’t! If you guys even, whatever, get mad and feel like you have to put your thumb on me, which I think is unnecessary. I’m begging you to just not.
Pres. Barker: Jon, let me tell you what our standard is.
Pres. Barker: If you teach as church doctrine…
Jon: I don’t.
Pres. Barker: Jon, aren’t you teaching that, as you just expressed, rebaptism is what the church doctrine…
Jon: No! I’m teaching that the scriptures teach that. The Church is teaching something different. I’m in line with the scriptures, but I don’t claim the right to tell them what to do, so I just let them go.
Kari: See the difference?
Jon: But go ahead and do the Church thing...
Pres. Ogden: Every question, though, I’ve asked you, you’ve taught. But you say you don’t teach! I don’t understand.
Jon: So, would you rather me say, yes, no, and not teach you the doctrine that you seem to be either ignoring, ignorant of, or you’re choosing rebelliously against God to ignore, because I’m reading to you right from the truest book on the planet, and you’re saying, "well, that’s not our current doctrine." That’s offensive to me, and so I’m asking you let me just go away.
Pres. Barker: We can’t, Jon.
Pres. Barker: Because you’re an ordained Elder in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If you persist in this way of thinking, we’ll need to hold a disciplinary council where excommunication will be considered.
Jon: Well, that’s your choice and I would beg you not to do it. I don’t want to leave the church. I don’t want to fight against the church, I never have. I want it on the record that I’m only following Christ. I believe there’s a difference between public and private; you’re a judge, you know that. There’s a difference, there’s a big difference. I’ve stayed in honor with the Church by not speaking evil of the Lord’s anointed. I’ve stayed in honor by not publicly going out and trying to do this. I’ve stayed in honor by keeping this as private as possible. And I think that you guys have the authority to just go, "well as long as you keep it private, go ahead; we’ll just do our public thing."
Pres. Barker: We don’t have that authority.
Jon: Well, the scriptures actually say that the Stake High Council is equal in authority to the twelve. Brigham Young changed that and conflated it to make the Twelve apostles have authority to tell you what to do. So, do you not think you have authority to just let me go?
Pres. Barker: We don’t; absolutely not.
Jon: Why not?
Pres. Barker: Because we need to follow… because that verse I read to you in D&C 107: 34 says that, the First Presidency and the quorum of the Twelve regulate all the affairs of the church, and that includes the ordinances, and you are participating…
Jon: Can’t you see I’m operating outside of the Church’s ordinances?
Pres. Barker: Not while you hold the Melchizedek Priesthood.
Jon: Well, I actually hold the priesthood after the order of the Son, if you would like to know.
Pres. Barker: Well, you were… I’m not going to argue with you. I’m just going to let…
Jon: No, I’m not arguing; I’m just clarifying what priesthood I hold, actually. And I would like to let you guys know that Doctrine & Covenants 121 says that "the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected to the powers of heaven." (Repeated again slowly and with emphasis) "The rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected to the powers of heaven." INSEPARABLY! You can’t separate the priesthood from the Powers of Heaven. I have a connection with the Powers of Heaven. My priesthood will not end with a Church court, although you may think it does. It only allows the Lord to judge you by the standard you’re judging me with, and I’m begging you to give me mercy, so he can be merciful to you!
Pres. Barker: We appreciate that.
Pres. Barker: We appreciate that.
Jon: I really do...
Pres. Barker: I understand that.
Jon: …want mercy for you!
Pres. Barker: Thank you. Thank you.
Jon: I’m asking for that, for me so that I can just…
Pres. Barker: Jon, we need to proceed as I’ve outlined. Kari, the same would be true in this for you. We’d be happy to meet. We’d like to meet separately with each of you, if you would be willing to do that.
Jon: That’s up to Kari.
Kari: For… what? Separately for what?
Pres. Barker: Well, just to communicate. Just so we get… this is a serious matter and…
Jon: [whispered] Divide and conquer.
Pres. Barker: …we would not do this in front of your children. You… it’s a separate…
Jon: They actually requested to be excommunicated with us. I’m going to allow them to speak for themselves, but if they want...
Pres. Barker: And they will have that opportunity. They will each have that opportunity to do so. It will be a separate proceedings and…
Jon: Is there any way to do it as a family?
Pres. Barker: No, there is not. There is not. But those proceedings can be arranged for those… who’s been baptized? By… let me phrase it this way, Who’s been baptized by someone in the, under the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Not, rebaptism. Who’s been baptized?
[Valarie (19), Walker (17), Angela (15), Sterling (13), Natalie (12), raise hands.]
Pres. Barker: Ok, each of you, absolutely, will have to… you know, the Bishop will visit with you, and if this is what you believe, then, yes, the Bishop will have to go ahead and if that’s what you believe and you want to continue believing that, then you would not be able to remain a member in good standing in the Church.
Jon: And just so my kids know, and you all know, they are free to choose for themselves and they are not compelled by me, in any way. So, I just… I want them to know. I just want to testify to them. Please take his counsel seriously and do…
Pres. Barker: … are willing to allow… certainly, you’re the parents and… well, if you’re over 18, so we typically do that for everybody under 18… we wouldn’t meet with any of your children without your permission.
Jon: Sure. And they’re free to make their own choice. So, if they stay a member, and that’s what they want, that’s fine with me. I would actually encourage it, actually. I would encourage my children to remain members.
Pres. Barker: Well, they wouldn’t be able to do that and accept rebaptism and…
Pres. Barker: …participate in any of the sacraments that you’re offering.
Pres. Barker: So, they would not be able to remain members.
Pres. Barker: Yeah, just so it’s clear. Do you kids understand that?
[multiple affirmations from the kids]
Pres. Barker: You can’t go and… I know it’s what your Dad believes and I know he believes it with all his heart, but it’s not the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
[multiple affirmations from the kids]
Pres. Barker: So, you would have to choose. Well, we’ll have the opportunity to confer and then we’ll… we can either speak on the phone, we have to do these things in writing to be in compliance with what we need to do. And they are separate from what the disciplinary councils are. I typically separate for each person, now. But the kids will, if they want to do that, I, we’ll get permission, because if they’d like you to be there I…
Jon: Well, is it different from stake to stake? Because I’ve read several stories where they excommunicated husband and wife, sometimes without even notifying the wife that she was on trial, but they just ex-ed her anyways.
Pres. Barker: No, we would not. This would be, this would be separate meetings.
Jon: And I’ve heard of children being at the same proceedings, so, that’s why I assumed it would be possible to do it together; it’s cause I’ve actually read accounts where it happened that way.
Pres. Barker: Well, that’s not… that may be right but that’s not my understanding of how it works.
Pres. Barker: We would, we will confer, we’ll make sure we do it in a proper way and then we’ll…
Jon: So, will there be two witnesses that are called against me? Outside, that are…
Pres. Barker: There likely will not be witnesses different than those that…
Jon: Alright. And the Doctrine and Covenants says that it shall be tried on the scriptures? And it’s not according to the handbook? D&C actually has that verb-age, that the trial shall be done… Is it by the scriptures or by the handbook?
Pres. Barker: What we’ll follow is the doctrine of the Church…
Jon: So, the Handbook.
Pres. Barker: …of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is clearly based upon the scriptures.
Jon: Well, there’s glaring differences.
Pres. Barker: Jon, that’s your…
Jon: So, I’d like to see the witnesses and have them be able to face me.
Pres. Barker: Absolutely. Any evidences presented against you, you will be there for.
Jon: So, there will be an accuser outside of my own leaders? Or…
Pres. Barker: No, it may not be anybody different than us or your Bishop.
Jon: You guys have a bias then, it’s not a fair trial.
Pres. Barker: And you’re welcome to, if we’re not authorized to do it that way, we won’t; if we are, we will. And you’re welcome to appeal.
Jon: Alright. Yeah, I’ve been reading about it today and there are scriptures that say it should be done according to the scriptures, and I read the account, the handbook version, and it’s different, so…
Pres. Barker: Well, we will follow what the current doctrine is of the Church…
Jon: So, the handbook then. Ok!
Pres. Barker: …of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That’s what we will do.
Jon: Well, I object to that and…
Pres. Barker: That’s fine!
Jon: …I do not consent to being tried according to a Handbook, which I don’t have access to, and I’m not sure what it says exactly. I would implore you to please use the scriptures as written. Joseph was revealed to, directly from God, on how to proceed in these matters.
Pres. Barker: That’s why, it’s completely your choice to the extent that you participate or choose not to participate.
Jon: Well, scripturally I would have to be there, but ok.
Pres. Barker: It’s whatever you choose to do. Kari, same for you. And then, they’re likely to be held, because Jon’s a Melchizedek Priesthood holder, we go ahead, that will be held in a Stake setting; because you’re not a Melchizedek Priesthood holder, that will be held in the Bishopric for you to do it and if the children choose to go that route. So that’s how that works.
Kari: Well, thanks for telling me how it works.
Pres. Ogden: I think it’s helpful.
Pres. Barker: Yeah, and we’re happy to, if that’s the decision, very happy to meet, and confer and go over how we’ll proceed.
Jon: Well, my decision is not to be excommunicated, my decision is to be…
Pres. Barker: That’s not a choice you have.
Jon: Um, ok.
Pres. Barker: That’s what… That’s the…
Kari: That’s the decision he’s made. (Pointing to President Barker)
Pres. Barker: Yeah, right. Yeah. Your choice is whether to persist in your teaching.
Jon: Well, actually it’s to obey the covenants that I’ve made in the temple.
Pres. Barker: Yes, I understand that. (As an aside, it's incredible to me he just said he understands he would be asking me to break my temple covenants, but he's going to anyway!)
Jon: So, if you’re asking me to stop that, I would be breaking temple covenants. And honestly? I’d rather let you revile me and blasphemy against me than to break my covenants with God. So, I just wish you wouldn’t do that kind of stuff. Kind of sucks for you. I think it’s time to go.
Pres. Barker: Well, we love you guys. You look like a great group, and I can tell there’s some good people over here. And you’ve got parents that love you and care about you and that’s obvious to me. Why don’t we have a word of prayer? President Turley, would you offer that? Thank you so much!
(At this point we all laughed out loud at the preposterousness of the moment, where they are telling us with a smile they love us while they murder us. (Spiritually, at least to their understanding). Paul Toscano's remark came to my mind and made me laugh. He commented about his experience: "it was like being raped by the Care Bears". Yep. We're going to do this to you but we will smile and tell you we love you while we do it, so it's ok. Relax and enjoy it, we love you! This was the first time I had ever spoken to the Stake president and one of his counselors, and had met the other only one time briefly.)
This ended the interview. They told us that they would be filing the paperwork and we would be noticed when the trial was to be held. They also assured us repeatedly that we didn't need to show up to the trial.