Owing to the many reports which are in circulation in relation to my family's private religious worship, all of which has resulted in assaults against our character, whether intentional or un-intentional, I have been induced to write this letter, to disabuse the minds of those so doing, and to put all inquirers after truth in possession of the facts, as they have transpired, in relation both to myself and my family, so far as I have such facts in my possession.
Inasmuch as fear reigns in the hearts of many, I feel I must disclose up front that on the night of Thursday March 5th and into the morning of March 6th, at exactly midnight I, Jonathan was excommunicated from the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for apostasy. Kari was excommunicated 3 days later on Sunday March 8th at 9:30pm, for the same false accusation of apostasy as I was. All this came as a result of our desire to enter into the Presence of God and His angels, which necessarily includes following the precepts of the most correct book on earth, to not only say but to DO, (D&C 84) which book and it's precepts are "not in line with current church doctrine", according to the testimony of both our Bishop and Stake President. (Their words not mine). Therefore, if you do not want to read or know about or understand the precepts contained in the Book of Mormon, the most correct book, and also if you have no desire to see into our hearts and our journey, and you fear that you may be damaged by reading further, please stop and do not continue. For we have been cast into that pit of despair by our brethren even as Joseph of old, apparently without water, all with a smile on the face of authority.
Here are the official definitions:
1. Repeatedly act in clear open and deliberate public opposition to the church or it's leaders.
2. Persist in teaching as church doctrine information that is not church doctrine after they have been corrected by their bishop or higher authority.
3. Continue to follow the teachings of apostate sects (such as those who advocate plural marriage) after they have been corrected by their bishop or higher authority.
4. Formally join another church or advocate it's teachings.
They read these definitions from the handbook but never accused me of any particular charge, nor told me which charge was made against me, nor told me which charge in their opinion I was guilty of. So my response is to all four charges listed in the CHI.
As to accusation:
1. I have never publicly acted in any way in opposition to the church or it's leaders. I have worshipped in private, but I have never sought to convince or publicly preach my private views. I AM INNOCENT of this charge. My only speaking of my beliefs has been in private conversations.
2. I have never preached or taught as "church doctrine" anything other than approved correlated material. I have had private discussions regarding scripture (that is approved as the canon for the church btw) but I never taught anything as church doctrine that wasn't "accepted" as such. My bishop nor the stake president could identify anything I had taught as church doctrine that was false doctrine. I have different views, but I never taught my views as church doctrine. I AM INNOCENT of this charge.
3. I have never followed the teachings of any "apostate sects". I do not belong to, nor I have I ever belonged to any earthly church but the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I do not belong to any other "sect" or church. I have not started a church nor do I intend to. The claim that I "follow Denver Snuffer" therefore I follow an apostate sect, is false. I do not follow him or any other man. I have never met the man, I do not follow him, I testified that for me he is not a prophet, I don't belong to nor do I even know of a church of his that I even could belong to if I wanted to. I am following the scriptures. My views do closely align with Denver's, but that is my own truth and knowledge from God to me, and you can leave him out of it. My beliefs are mine and not anyone else's. I AM INNOCENT of the charge.
4. Once again, I do not belong to any other church, nor do I teach any other church's teachings. I AM INNOCENT of this charge.
I testified of my innocence of all these charges, and asked to go my way in peace, restoring me to full fellowship. I would not accuse them if they did not accuse me. They instead claimed I belonged to and taught the teachings of a church and sect that does NOT exist, by a man I've never met and do NOT follow, teaching as church doctrine some undefined and unnamed "false doctrine". (which was never explained, nor was I given where I might find said "true" or "false" "church doctrine" in scripture, being referred instead to "current church doctrine", and the handbook.
It has been my desire for some years now, to obtain an audience with The Lord, as the scriptures, specifically the Book of Mormon, make the astounding claim that doing so is not only how redemption is obtained, but also the moment in which it is in fact received, and that this must be done while in this life. To accomplish this it is necessary to know upon what principles this may be accomplished, if in fact it is necessary for salvation, and where to find the principles laid out, if in fact such principles exist.
Who do I think I am? Why would I believe I could, or that I even had a right to seek such blessings?
I trust Joseph’s certification of the Book of Mormon when he said: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (DHC 4: 461.) I would like to be nearer to God.
When I compare the speculation of scholars, or what others, perhaps well intentioned, put forth "in the absence of revelation" (to quote a recent church press release referring to past presidents of the church being in "the absence of revelation"), when I compare all of that to what Joseph had revealed to him, I believe it safe to invariably trust Joseph whenever the two differ. God vouched for Joseph's words in revelation.
I trust Joseph Smith and I trust the Book of Mormon as Gods word to me to bring to pass my immortality and eternal life. Here is something from what came to us through Joseph:
2 And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.
3 It was CONFERRED UPON ME FROM THE FATHERS, it came down from the fathers, from the beginning of time, yea, even from the beginning, or before the foundation of the earth, down to the present time, even the right of the firstborn, or the first man, who is Adam, or first father, through the fathers unto me.
4 I sought for mine appointment unto the Priesthood according to the appointment of God unto the fathers concerning the seed.
I trusted Joseph was telling me how to obtain this priesthood and that I too had a right to seek for greater happiness peace and rest, and the right to administer the same.
But it isn’t simply Joseph we need to be concerned with. It is the God of Heaven who spoke to Joseph who is the real issue. First, we should resolve the issue of whether God CAN still speak to mankind. If so, then will He speak to you? Joseph stands for the idea that one recently lived life received God’s direct involvement. It opens the possibility God can continue to be involved with anyones life. But the proof of God’s involvement in your own life remains to be accomplished. If you don’t hear from God directly then Joseph’s contact with Him is largely meaningless. Joseph taught that promises made to anyone else are unrelated to and do not benefit you. You must go get your own.
"You, no doubt, will agree with us, and say, that you have no right to claim the promises of the inhabitants before the flood; that you cannot found your hopes of salvation upon the obedience of the children of Israel when journeying in the wilderness, nor can you expect that the blessings which the apostles pronounced upon the churches of Christ eighteen hundred years ago, were intended for you. Again, if others’ blessings are not your blessings, others’ curses are not your curses; you stand then in these last days, as all have stood before you, agents unto yourselves, to be judged according to your works.” (TPJS p. 12.)
So what does that look like? What is salvation? In Ether 3:13 it says:
And when he had said these words, behold, the Lord showed himself unto him, and said: Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you.
The moment in which the Brother of Jared is redeemed is when The Lord brings him back into His Presence. We can see therefore that salvation consists of entering into the Presence of The Lord, and seeing Him face to face while in the flesh.
"Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am."
EVERY SOUL! Does this include you and me?
If you believe that this is a singular event in scripture then you are not paying attention to scripture. From Adam, to Enoch, the Brother of Jared, Abraham, Moses, Isaac, Jacob, Noah, Elijah, Samuel, Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lehi, Nephi, Jacob, Enos, Mosiah, King Benjamin, Abinadi, Alma, Alma, Ammon, Aaron, Omner, Lamoni, his father the King, Helaman, Nephi and Lehi brothers, Moroni, Nephi, Mormon, Moroni, Ether, a whole list in the book of Ether, and all the holy Fathers, all these came into the Presence of The Lord while in mortality. Joseph Smith also entered the Presence of God. All these were saved and redeemed from the fall by this experience.
Go to Doctrine and Covenants section 76. The closing verses in the Vision beginning at verse 114 tell us:
"But great and marvelous are the works of the Lord, and the mysteries of his kingdom which he showed unto us, which surpass all understanding in glory, and in might, and in dominion; Which he commanded us we should not write while we were yet in the Spirit, and are not lawful for man to utter; Neither is man capable to make them known, for they are only to be seen and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit, which God bestows on those who love him, and purify themselves before him; To whom he grants this privilege of seeing and knowing for themselves; That through the power and manifestation of the Spirit, while in the flesh, they may be able to bear his presence in the world of glory."
There are things both unlawful and impossible to make known. But they are neither unlawful nor impossible for God to make known. You are invited to receive them “while in the flesh” or, in other words, now, in mortality. This is not kept from us until the afterlife. This is what God offers to us all right now.
Is God Changeable?
The next question we must ask is God changeable? Can I expect to receive salvation some other way other than in this pattern found in scripture? Would God save us in the exact same way He has and will save all His children? Or will He save us by some other way? Would an ordinance deliver salvation? Or are they a type or symbol for actually entering into the Presence of God? Of actually conversing with The Lord through the veil? Has God given His power to men? Has Christ ceased to minister? Can I trust the arm of flesh or am I required, like all before me, in every age of man since Adam down to the present day, to arise and enter His Presence myself, working out my own salvation with fear and trembling by so doing?
Moroni 8:18 answers: "For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity."
So if salvation and redemption from the fall consists of entering into God's Presence while in the flesh, and God is unchangeable, then I believe that this is how and when salvation occurs.
How then do I enter into Gods Presence? It seems almost impossible. As I considered the narrowness of the pass and the height of the mountain necessary to ascend, I shrank. I get the fear. I get the reluctance to approach the mount. I also stood afar off and watched the lightning and the thunderings. I understand the Terror of The Lord. I was content to let my own modern day Moses go up for me, and for a long time I believed that was salvific.
18 ¶And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.
19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.
It was too high a mountain, and the requirements were too narrow and fear took the very heart of me. I also had 40+ years of a reliance upon the arm of flesh built into my religion which said, "you don't need to talk with God, we will do that for you; you will see Him in the next life, you do not need to enter in to His Presence in this life".
After much study and prayer, I decided that if Joseph and all the other holy men could and did find God despite the fearfulness of the journey, and despite the false traditions of my fathers, (Abraham 1:5), I found courage in the words of James; I decided that I too lacked wisdom and that perhaps God would also answer a lad as ignorant and foolish as myself; and so I decided to inquire.
The answer came at first not by a pillar of light, or an angelic encounter, but by the spirit directing me to the gospel of Christ that remains still in scripture.
20 Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.
21 And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;
22 For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.
23 Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God;
24 But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.
25 Therefore, he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also;
26 And the lesser priesthood continued, which priesthood holdeth the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel;
27 Which gospel is the gospel of repentance and of baptism, and the remission of sins, and the law of carnal commandments, which the Lord in his wrath caused to continue with the house of Aaron among the children of Israel until John, whom God raised up, being filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb.
The Power of Godliness is required to see the face of God and live.
The Power of Godliness is manifest in:
1. the ordinances and
2. in the authority of the priesthood.
I trusted this. I acted on this. But got nothing. I struggled for years as I cried to The Lord to bestow upon me also the Power of Godliness. What was wrong? Why could I not obtain this Power of Godliness? Did God no longer appear to men? Was salvation not found in the earth? Was I doomed to be cast out forever because God had changed the rules and I was ignorant of His new ones, or was I doing something wrong in my approach?
As I cried out to The Lord, He kept leading me to the ordinances. "Why don't they work for me", I finally cried out? The answer was a thunderbolt and a lightning bolt that struck fear in me. Truly a moment of "awakening to my awful situation", as the answer came again in the form of scripture.
"The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant."
The ordinances are not the same as Joseph restored them! We use different implements and different words, and different requirements for access to the ordinances, and by so doing we "break the everlasting covenant". We do not perform ordinances the same as in Joseph's day, nor as described in the Book of Mormon, by the words of Christ Himself. There is also no other church that calls their covenants, "the everlasting covenant". Isaiah was speaking to us! To me! I was not receiving the power of Godliness from the ordinances because they had been changed and thereby broken.
So I need:
1. To see the face of God while in the flesh for redemption
2. To do so and live I must have the power of godliness
3. To get the Power of Godliness I must perform a valid/unchanged ordinance with real priesthood power, not just a form of priesthood as Christ informs Joseph in the first vision.
We have come full circle, where we as latter day saints find ourselves with a form of Godliness without any power. How is that possible you ask? We have assurances we will never be led astray! We have a unbroken chain of authority from Joseph to now! We have the ordinances and the priesthood and this is Gods church! We are His chosen people! Yes. I thought the same thing. But an empty hole filled my heart, because I knew I didn't know God and I knew there was something more. Deep down I knew salvation meant something more. Why was I being told "all is well in Zion", and that they would speak to God for me? Had God changed the rules?
I had come to a cross roads. Either I trusted that God spoke to man still, and furthermore that He was speaking to me, and leading me as I went forward, or I must return to the idolatry of my fathers and accept that God had given His power to men and no longer ministered personally; he had completed His work and left it to men.
And they deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men;
2 Nephi 28:5
The thing that tripped me up in this verse for a long time was the phrase, "behold there is no God today". The leaders always spoke of and testified of God. None ever said those words of Nephi. But what do those words mean? If they changed the ordinances and defined priesthood as "the power to act in Gods name on the earth" (Joseph F. Smith came up with that definition), but God had never given His Power to men, but wanted to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life by coming to us and appearing to us and taking up His abode with us, then they could profess "God" but they would be denying the very way in which God does His work, thereby essentially saying "there is no God". The best way to deceive is not to get us deny God by our words, but for us to do as all men have done in every age, and that is to profess Gods name while denying His personal ministry among us, preferring instead a form of Godliness delivered by the arm of flesh, to His actual power, the Power of Godliness.
As I determined that I must perform an unchanged ordinance, or be damned, the question became, "How to get authority?" How does God work among men? Is He distant and unknowable or is He directly and personally involved? Once again Joseph came with an answer:
27 And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch,
28 It being after the order of the Son of God; which order came, NOT BY MAN nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God;
29 And it was delivered unto men by the CALLING OF HIS OWN VOICE, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name.
JST, Genesis 14:27-29
Priesthood comes "NOT BY MAN... But of God... Delivered unto men by the calling of His own voice."
Could this be true? Perhaps I was deceived and reading the scriptures wrong and interpreting them contrary to Gods will?
42 And wo unto all those who come not unto this priesthood which ye have received, which I now confirm upon you who are present this day, BY MINE OWN VOICE, out of the heavens; and even I have given the heavenly hosts and mine angels charge concerning you.
Not only does God give priesthood by His own voice out of the heavens, but "wo unto all those who come not unto this priesthood...which I now confirm by mine own voice out of the heavens"
Do we really have to hear Gods voice for priesthood? We have a direct line of authority from Moses down right? So said the Jews in Christ's time and Laman to his father Lehi, and the Catholics to the Christians, and now our leaders claim the same power as Joseph simply because they sit in the same seat as Joseph. But did God speak by His own voice out of the heavens to Joseph? Is that how he received all he did including his priesthood? So if Joseph so received, why not me?
52 And whoso receiveth not my voice is not acquainted with my voice, and is not of me.
53 And by this you may know the righteous from the wicked, and that the whole world groaneth under sin and darkness even now.
The righteous hear Gods voice.
The wicked are those who do NOT hear His voice.
Can this be right?
Wo's, and descriptions and definitions of the righteous vs. the wicked that make us squirm! Thunder and lightning indeed!! No wonder we as Latter Day Saints "stand afar off" and ask our Moses to "go up" for us! This is disturbing stuff! God should not say such things! It gives me a dark feeling! This D&C and God's words here must be of the devil because would He really require us to hear his voice before we have priesthood? I feel dark from these words! Am I really wicked if I do not hear His voice? Should I take serious when God pronounces a "wo" upon all who do not receive this priesthood by His own voice out if heaven? God is going to lose His audience if He keeps saying things that cause me such discomfort! We are prospering! Zion is here and well! Tell me some more soothing stories of our noble pioneers so I feel good about my current position before God!
4 Nephi 1:26-27:
"...and they began to build up churches unto themselves to get gain, and began to deny the true church of Christ."
Is the Mormon church "built up to get gain"? I don't ask that with any judgement. I'm asking: Is it? Is it worth Billions of dollars? Can billions of dollars be considered "gain"? Are the top officials of the LDS church among the highest paid clergy in the world? If so, does that equal "gain"? What does "modest stipend" mean? Does that mean if you compare the "stipend" of the top leaders of the church to equivalent salaries of CEO's running similarly valued companies it's "a modest stipend"? Or does if mean just enough to live on? When you define and see what they mean by "modest stipend", and you see the brethren and their friends and families living in lavish million dollars homes and faring sumptuously while the poor suffer, are you willing to be honest with yourself about whether the church is "built up to get gain"? Is telling the truth "evil speaking"? I ask these hard questions because my eternal soul hangs in the balance. I need to know so that I can determine how to proceed. I must see things as they really are or I am blinded by the craftiness of men who will always offer a false religion using the vocabulary of scripture. If the leaders are doing this does it affect my salvation? Can I allow them to do as they are and not judge them and forgive them and then go pursue the Holy One of Israel directly and stop relying on the arm of flesh? Is that the only real value of seeing these things as they are? Not to judge but to offer mercy and forgiveness and then stop my idolatry and go and do as the Book of Mormon asks and come into the Presence of God?
27 And it came to pass that when two hundred and ten years had passed away there were many churches in the land; yea, there were many churches which professed to know the Christ, and yet THEY DID DENY the MORE PARTS OF HIS GOSPEL, insomuch that they did receive all manner of wickedness, and did administer that which was sacred unto him to whom it had been forbidden because of unworthiness.
Is putting the church handbook higher in order than the truest book on earth "denying the more parts of His gospel"? If the handbook and the truest book differ which one can I rely on to bring me "closer to God"? If I choose wrong, would I move farther away from God or closer? If farther away from God what are my views? What are my perceptions? These are difficult questions.
So I need:
1. To see the face of God while in the flesh to receive redemption
2. To do so and live I must have the power of godliness
3. To get the Power of Godliness I must perform a valid ordinance that is unchanged
4. with real priesthood power, not just a form of it as Moroni informs Joseph
5. Priesthood comes not by men, but the voice of God
6. Wo unto all who do not hear his voice; these are the "wicked"
7. Denying Christ is about not coming into His Presence, and teaching it's not necessary.
It begins and ends then with a valid ordinance and priesthood from God. How then to proceed? What is the process? Once again we turn to the Book of Mormon for an answer and find the words of Christ himself, telling us how to proceed, and what His doctrine is.
31 Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine.
32 And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.
33 And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.
34 And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned.
35 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost.
The reason to be baptized is, baptism by water, after having repented, causes the recipient to be visited with "fire" and the Holy Ghost. Are these separate? Different? Why make the distinction if they are the same exact thing?
36 And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one.
37 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things.
What does that mean? Does "again" mean, to repeat? To do it again? Because, he commanded all to be baptized. These He was speaking to would have obeyed. They were in His Presence. Why does He say, "and again"? Could it be that The Lord may have known that we are weak? That we fall into error and sin? Is the merciful Lord speaking in a manner that we may know how to become clean without spot before. Him? Is this mechanism baptism?
25 And the first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins;
If any of us has fallen into sin, what is the gift God has given to allow us to get back to being right with God? Yes. Repentance. And here we learn that the "first fruit" of repentance is BAPTISM! Does partaking of the sacrament often make it less meaningful? So why do we think to be baptized again would? If this is the most correct book and these really are Christ's words, can I trust them? What if someone else in a position of authority speaks in direct contradiction to these words of Christ? Which one do we trust? Does our very eternal soul hang in the balance if our choice?
38 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
Three "agains". Three levels. Perhaps this book has something in it that can bring me the thing I desire! Perhaps the power of Godliness is not so impossible after all! If this doctrine, of this Christ, can be trusted here in the most correct book on earth, perhaps by following it I can lay hold on the blessing of all the saints of former days!
39 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.
What is the rock?
This doctrine of Christ.
What doctrine is that?
To "be" baptized" --present tense.
Whenever I desire to bring forth fruit following my repentance.
To be baptized after repentance is to validate or "bring forth fruit" which is the Rock. And the gates of hell shall not prevail against that soul who follows the law preordained before the foundation of the world upon which that blessing is predicated. Can we expect to receive this blessing of the gates of hell not prevailing against us by following a different law? Can we "follow the brethren" in doing exactly opposite of what Christ tells us to do, and still expect the gates of hell to not prevail? Or must we do as Jesus asks?
40 And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.
3 Nephi 11:31-40
Any more, or any less, cometh of evil, and the gates of hell stand open to these. Depending on what law we obey, the gates of hell are either open or shut for us. This is an awful situation indeed! How can I know where to find solid ground? Is this doctrine of Christ to be trusted? Or can I trust a handbook I've never read, written by a committee of men I never sustained or do not even know who they are? Why is there such a large gulf between the two? Doesn't God know this is His church? Why does He not stop this? Is it possible God has allowed us to choose for ourselves? Have we chosen to have a King just like ancient Israel? Is it possible He really is the same, and that we are faced with the same awful dilemma of every age from Adam down, namely the choice between the precepts on men, and their false assurances of safety and "all is well" on the one hand, and the subtle whisperings of the spirit telling you to come unto Christ while in this life, in the flesh, and receive the salvation He offers by His personal and literal appearance to you.
5 And when the multitude had eaten and were filled, he said unto the disciples: Behold there shall one be ordained among you, and to him will I give power that he shall break bread and bless it and give it unto the people of my church, unto all those who shall believe and be baptized in my name.
6 And this shall ye always observe to do, even as I have done, even as I have broken bread and blessed it and given it unto you.
7 And this shall ye do in remembrance of my body, which I have shown unto you. And it shall be a testimony unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you.
8 And it came to pass that when he said these words, he commanded his disciples that they should take of the wine of the cup and drink of it, and that they should also give unto the multitude that they might drink of it.
9 And it came to pass that they did so, and did drink of it and were filled; and they gave unto the multitude, and they did drink, and they were filled.
10 And when the disciples had done this, Jesus said unto them: Blessed are ye for this thing which ye have done, for this is fulfilling my commandments, and this doth witness unto the Father that ye are willing to do that which I have commanded you.
11 And this shall ye always do to those who repent and are baptized in my name; and ye shall do it in remembrance of my blood, which I have shed for you, that ye may witness unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you.
12 And I give unto you a commandment that ye shall do these things. And if ye shall always do these things blessed are ye, for ye are built upon my rock.
13 But whoso among you shall do more or less than these are not built upon my rock, but are built upon a sandy foundation; and when the rain descends, and the floods come, and the winds blow, and beat upon them, they shall fall, and the gates of hell are ready open to receive them.
14 Therefore blessed are ye if ye shall keep my commandments, which the Father hath commanded me that I should give unto you.
3 Nephi 18:5-14
Interesting that Christ implements baptism and calls it His doctrine, and His rock, and says any more than this cometh of evil and then immediately He adds the sacrament with bread and wine as also being part of that same doctrine. Does this have to do with the "floods" and the "winds" coming to beat upon them? If baptism is the Rock of Christ, the sacrament is to fortify us after we get our feet on the rock from the winds and floods that are going to beat upon us and try and get us off the rock of baptism. The sacrament is to remind us that the rock is baptism. Sacrament helps us keep our feet on that rock. Sacrament does not replace the rock! It helps keep us on the rock as the winds and floods come upon us and try to knock us off.
Believing that I could get nearer to God by abiding by the precepts in the most correct book, I once again asked God, because if anyone lacked wisdom it is me. And God spoke also to me, giving me power and authority to baptize and bless the sacrament by His own voice out if the heavens. And when there was doubt He assured me: "You go down to the river in faith and enter in, and if no one else will baptize you, then I will provide a way or I will do it Myself"
So I repented. Like never before. For an entire lifetime of sin. For all that I lacked. For my false traditions and my lack of knowledge. I cried unto God pleading for Him to have mercy upon me also!
On September 21, 2012, on the fall equinox, along with my wife and daughter, I drove to the river near my home in the early morning hours to meet a friend who had agreed to baptize me. We knelt in humble prayer and dedicated the spot. Our own little "waters of Mormon" as we were told to call it.
And as I came out of the water, I prophesied in the name of The Lord of things that were shortly to come to pass. Of the fulfillment of the prophesy of John the Baptist: "that the sons of Levi would soon make an acceptable offering in righteousness before The Lord", and that "the time was at hand for The Lord to commence His work in bringing to pass the covenants made to the fathers", and that "a mighty work would be performed here in this Phoenix area".
On the following day I ascended a high mountain near my home and partook of the sacrament in the exact way Christ instituted it in 3 Nephi, and as He did to Joseph Smith. And the heavens opened and I beheld a light above a bush and was shown things such that, I can testify that I too have had my own "first vision" type encounter with God. I know Joseph saw what he saw because I too was shown a similar vision, and experienced my own personal encounter with the divine.
From that day to today, I continue to "meet together oft" and to partake of the sacred emblems and to baptize and be baptized according to the word of Christ, in keeping His commandments, even as they of old times did also.
5 And the church did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls.
6 And they did meet together oft to partake of bread and wine, in remembrance of the Lord Jesus.
Church here should be understood to be the believers. The few humble followers of Christ, not an organized body or institution. We may belong to these earthly institutions, but this is referencing another church; an assembly of another world.
As a result of my pursuit of this Jesus of whom all the prophets have testified, I have been subjected to church disciplinary action culminating in a meeting where I was required to come and defend myself in front of the high counsel, against a charge that in the handbook is in seriousness next to murder and child abuse. For what? For simply doing what the Book of Mormon says. For in this way and this way only can the condemnation under which we as a latter day people labor under be removed.
54 And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received--
55 Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.
56 And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.
57 And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, NOT ONLY TO SAY, BUT TO DO according to that which I have written--
58 That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion.
Vanity is false belief, and a darkened mind is the result, and these two bring condemnation. And the only way to remove it is "not only to say but to do" the precepts found in the Book of Mormon, which will be to bring forth "fruit". Is this the same "first fruit" of Moroni 8:25, baptism? Is there another church or group that call themselves Zion other than the Latter Day Saints? Why is The Lord speaking of a "scourge and judgement to be poured out upon the children of Zion"? Who is this? Is this the Latter Day Saints? The chosen people? Why would a scourge come upon us? We will never be led astray and no matter what we choose to do or what ordinances we change and alter, or how much we change the "doctrine", God will not allow us the agency to choose to go against God's will, right?
Wait... Isn't God the same yesterday, today and forever? And who was it that killed Him? Wasn't it His chosen people? Is it possible we are no better than the Jews in Christ's time? If we refuse to behold Him do we not deny Him? Is it not those who "hear not His voice", whom God calls wicked? Is it not always so in every age of man, that mankind would rather choose religion and ordinances by men over waiting patiently "for messengers from my Father" as did Adam? Why do we not do as Adam in the temple film? Why do we prefer to accept the "many who will be willing to preach you the precepts of men... Mingled with scripture", instead of waiting for Fathers messengers, or angels to come and teach us?
When I began to do the ordinances, I was told not to fight against the church. I was told I did not have the right to tell the church to change the way they do things or how they perform ordinances. Rather, The Lord instructed me that I was to avoid the spies of the King and to perform the ordinances "privately" out of the sight of the King and his men. And to continue to serve and belong to the LDS church. But He also said, that to be redeemed and enter in, I must perform the unchanged ordinances with authority from the voice of God, receive the Power of Godliness thereby, so I could enter His Presence and live!
I am the least of everyone of you. I am a bigger sinner and have been more lost than any of you. What does that tell you? If everyone of you in our families is a better person than me, what does that say?
If God will speak to me, He will speak to you. Do you trust Him? Do you trust Joseph? Do you trust James? James started it! Do you trust the most correct book, the Book of Mormon? If you continue to say you do, but refuse to "do" what the Book is inviting you to do, can you expect the same blessing as if you did "do" what it's asking? Is this the obedience required of us? Or is the obedience required the subjugation of our wills to an oligarchy of men in direct conflict with the scriptures?
I take seriously my temple covenant to "obey the law of the gospel as CONTAINED IN SCRIPTURE". I have not and will not make any such oath or covenant to any man or to the handbook of men. I will never again subject myself to the authority of men. I am free to be about my Fathers business at last!
I love each of you. I do not think myself better, but consider myself the least of you. Come unto Christ and Live!
To reject me or anyone for abiding by the precepts of the Book of Mormon is to reject the Book of Mormon itself. To cast me out for abiding by and living and doing what the Book of Mormon teaches, is to cast out the Book of Mormon as your canon. It is to say and not do. It is to have a form without any power. Can we lay hold upon the blessing of drawing closer to God by refusing to obey the law upon which drawing closer to God is predicated, namely doing what the Book says? to cast out the Book of Mormon is to NOT get closer to God because our refusal to abide by its precepts and we thereby remove ourselves from the light and knowledge God intends and desires to give us so that we may have clearer perceptions and ascend grace for grace until the perfect day when we encounter Christ exactly the same way all the holy prophets have done from the beginning, and thereby receive redemption and salvation.
When Joseph Smith was being abused by the religionists of his day, he observed “they treated my communication not only lightly, but with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil. That there were no such things as visions or revelations in these days; that all such things [were confined to and the sole right of] the apostles.” (JS-H 1: 21.)
The people who rejected Joseph’s beliefs were rejecting the Bible itself, which they pretended was the basis for their faith. Joseph did what James 1: 5 instructed him to do, and got an answer. That is the faith he restored: A living faith in which God will speak to all who, like me, lack wisdom, liberally. I lack wisdom. I go to God with questions. So long as any of us ask in faith, He will answer. I know. He has answered me. Now Latter-day Saints think it is their right to denounce others who have asked God, and have been answered. If Latter-day Saints do possess the truth, then for those they think in error should be met with kindness, not reviling.
(See JS-H 1: 25.) “If they suppose me to be deluded they ought to endeavor in a proper and affectionate manner to reclaim me.” (JS-H 1: 28.) Instead I hear the accusation I am “apostate”, and now I have been cast out. I am not a dissident nor have I fought against the church or it's leaders. It must put a smile on the faces of authority and the devil to cast out those seeking to do what the most correct book tells us to do. These disciples pretend to follow Joseph's restored religion while acting the part of his persecutors. The saints have come full circle indeed.
Where exactly do you draw the line and begin to denounce others as “apostate and cast me out?
If we both believe in the Book of Mormon, are we of the same faith or is one of us “apostate?”
If we both believe Joseph Smith was called of God to restore the Gospel, are we of the same faith or is one of us “apostate?”
If we both accept the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price as scripture, are we of the same faith or is one of us “apostate?”
If we both believe in continuing revelation and that God has yet to reveal a great deal as part of the Restoration of all, are we of the same faith or is one of us “apostate?”
If we have all of the foregoing in common, is that enough to respect one another as fellow-believers? Or do you require much more of me than I can give in order to avoid being denounced by you? How much do you want to micromanage my beliefs? Do you ever feel any twinge of concern about not permitting others to worship “according to the dictates of their conscience, and allow others the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may?” (Paraphrase of 11th Article of Faith)
If I believe priesthood has no authority over me, and you believe as Elder Oaks declared from general conference that the “keys” are the right to exercise authority, are we of the same faith or is one of us “apostate?” What if my belief is based on the scripture “no power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood” which I hold in higher regard than a declaration from a church official to the contrary? (See D&C121: 41)
If I believe the Lectures on Faith are still scripture, but you do not, are we of the same faith or is one of us “apostate?”
If I believe the LDS Church has changed dramatically in my lifetime, and even more since Joseph Smith died, are we of the same faith or is one of us “apostate?”
If I believe the scriptures were given to control and govern the faith, and you believe whatever comes from living church officials can contradict or disregard the words of scripture, are we of the same faith or is one of us “apostate?” If I can tolerate your view in this regard, even if I do not share it, are we of the same faith or is one of us “apostate?” If I use the scriptures and you use the scriptures, why are your views correct and mine incorrect? How did we arrive at the odd position that you get to call me “apostate” for believing the scriptures differently than you do? If you trust that “keys” are the thing that guarantees you salvation, what exactly are the “keys,” allowed by scripture, that bear that out?
If I will let you go in peace, why cannot you let me go likewise in peace. The LDS church is an institution of this world, not of the next. We should care less for the things of this world than we do. I am very content with my faith in God, and I'm trying to be in harmony with everything He has asked of me. If you believe the same about yourself, then let that be your assurance and have the confidence to leave me to go my way in peace. Practice your beliefs in the way you think God wants, and I will do the same.
I will never again submit to another man’s priestly claim to dominion, control, judgment or oppression. It was denounced in scripture, and I reject such things. (D&C 121: 36-42.) If you think there is a priest who has the right to demand things of you in exchange for saving you using some “key,” I do not share your belief, but I am perfectly willing to respect you if that is yours. Happy is the man who serves his God in faith and conviction. Happier still is the man whose God is Christ and therefore respects his right to voluntarily act for himself, accepting full accountability for his beliefs, and not expecting man to save him using authority to do so.
If, by your definition, I am “apostate,” then let me assure you I am content to be so. I am fully willing to accept whatever Christ’s judgment is for being so. More importantly, I am entirely satisfied I remain in harmony with what God expects of me, and I wish the same for you.
We love you all. We are happy to now be able to stop hiding at the fountain of fresh water, both from you and from the Kings men. We meant no disrespect, nor hypocrisy, but believed it a personal private matter between us and God, as the current church doctrine is not the doctrine of Christ found in the most correct book, but we felt we had no right to question our leaders on how they do things, but only to pursue our God in private, DOING what the book invites all to do, and for that reason we remained quiet and hid ourselves, as it were.
We love The Lord Jesus Christ. He died. I know because I was given to experience His sufferings and His pains as He suffered in Gethsemane and on the cross. He lives. I know because I have seen Him. He speaks to mankind still. I know because He speaks also to me. I am a literal witness of these things and more. I know Joseph Smith is who he claimed to be because he has born witness to me personally and has ministered to me. The book of Mormon is the most correct book on the earth. I know because it has brought me close to God and by following its precepts, by doing and not just saying, I have entered in and I know The Lord. You can too. I only tell you these things because He wants you to do the same. That is His work and His glory. If you will only have even a desire to believe, let that desire work in you until it grows into a living breathing faith that when rightly pursued always terminates in the Presence of The Lord.
Jonny and Kari Durfee