Arguments Against Denver Snuffer (Part II)

This article is a response to Denver Snuffer Jr.’s talk entitled “Other Sheep Indeed” presented at the Salt Lake City Sunstone Symposium (2017, click here for full article). Snuffer argues that the LDS church’s doctrine is incomplete and that the way to receive the full truth of the gospel is to seek out other religions and see if they have truths to add to our own. Since Snuffer makes many arguments in his talk, I find it best to respond to some of his quotes individually:

Snuffer Quotes #1:

  • “The “keystone” of Mormonism is the Book of Mormon. That book alerts its readers that there are many others from vastly different places with vastly different scriptures who are nonetheless Christ’s sheep. Book of Mormon readers are expected to search for, welcome and learn from them. In contrast, institutional Mormonism of all stripes confine trustworthy new religious ideas to their authorized leaders. Early in the text we learn that our faith, like our scriptures, is unfinished, and to anticipate a flood of additional sacred texts to help remove our ignorance.”
  • “What if the “fullness of the mysteries of God” have been scattered, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, worldwide among remnants of believers who have received truths in different times and places?” (p. 21)

Response: Throughout the talk, Snuffer makes several assertions that are not found anywhere in the Book of Mormon. He says that there are many other people who have written God’s word. That is true. Mormons believe that and we believe that these writings will be revealed to us in the last days (2 Nephi 29:11-13/3 Nephi 16:1-3). We do not believe, however, that the truth has been scattered across many religions and it’s each individual member’s job to go out and find other religions and see if they have additional truth. Neither is it true that these scriptures which will be revealed are “vastly different” than what we have now. Quite the opposite. The Lord said “Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also” (2 Nephi 29:8). In other words, the purpose of the “flood of additional sacred texts” is to show that God speaks the same words to all nations who hear his voice. The prophesied texts will serve to support the doctrine of the Book of Mormon and the Bible, not “remove our ignorance” by providing some completely new doctrine we did not anticipate.

He also says that we “are expected to search for, welcome and learn from them” (or other religious texts, regardless of whether they teach the doctrine of Christ). I agree that we should learn about other religions. I myself have read the Koran in its entirety. However, not once did Christ ever say “put down the scriptures and find truths in other religions.” On the contrary, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the creator of Heaven and Earth and all that in them is, commanded the Nephites and the readers of the Book of Mormon not to look for more scriptures, but instead search and feast upon the words of the prophets that they already had:

  • “And now, behold, I say unto you, that ye ought to search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah” (3 Nephi 23:1)
  • “And whosoever will hearken unto my words and repenteth and is baptized, the same shall be saved. Search the prophets, for many there be that testify of these things” (3 Nephi 23:5)
  • “Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do” (2 Nephi 32:3)

Snuffer Quote #2:

  • “Why aren’t people from around the world eager to teach Mormons? What would it be like if Mormons sent out missionaries to inquire if others had any great truths to share with us?” (p. 11)

 

Response: Missionaries should be respectful of other religions and be willing to listen to other people, but the reason why we don’t send out missionaries “to inquire if others had any great truths to share with us” is because Christ commanded us to follow his gospel as contained in the Bible and the Book of Mormon and to preach it to all the world.

  • “For behold, thus said Jesus Christ, the Son of God, unto his disciples who should tarry, yea, and also to all his disciples, in the hearing of the multitude: Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature; And he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mormon 9:22-23)
  • “And now it came to pass that when Jesus had expounded all the scriptures in one, which they had written, he commanded them that they should teach the things which he had expounded unto them” (3 Nephi 23:14)

Snuffer Quotes #3:

  • Mormonism announced in its founding book of scripture that it is an incomplete, markedly unfinished religion searching for more truth to achieve its destiny” (p. 1)
  • Mormonism is only a “starter” religion based on an incipient planting by the Gods. It remains wanting. We Mormons should be people of wit and religion, willing to consider and value all truth from whatever source it springs. The greatness of Mormonism has not been realized in any of its past, and those who have managed to profit from organizing institutions based on its mere beginning are threatened by the idea that there is yet much more to be added” (p. 28)

Response: Once again, Snuffer makes claims that just aren’t true. Yes, Mormons believe that we will receive more words of the Lord such as the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon (Ether 3:27). However, we believe that the Book of Mormon and other standard works provide the Gospel of Christ necessary for salvation.

  • Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me” (3 Nephi 27:13)
  • “Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life. And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ (2 Nephi 31:20)
  • “I must speak concerning the doctrine of Christ…Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel” (2 Nephi 31:2, 13)
  • “Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do” (2 Nephi 32:3)
  • “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. 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…Therefore, go forth unto this people, and declare the words which I have spoken, unto the ends of the earth” (3 Nephi 11:39-41)

Snuffer Quote #4

  • “Institutional forms of Mormonism want to claim that God has finished His work for our day and given His authority to a select group of professional clergy. Their jealousy and envy keep them out of the kingdom, and those under their control are prevented from entering God’s kingdom. What an odd outcome this is for institutional Mormonism when the religion was founded on the relentless search for truth, anywhere it may be found.”

Response: The LDS church/religion is not “founded upon the relentless search for truth, anywhere it may be found.” Nowhere does the Book of Mormon say this. Yes, it is important for us to learn as much as we can about the world. If we find truth in other places, then yes, we should accept it. The LDS religion is founded upon the gospel of Jesus Christ; not on the aimless searching for other truths when the plainness of the gospel of Christ is right in front of you.

  • “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. 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…Therefore, go forth unto this people, and declare the words which I have spoken, unto the ends of the earth” (3 Nephi 11:39-41)
  • “But if it be called by my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel” (3 Nephi 27:8)

The Lesser Portion of the Word

Snuffer criticizes members of the LDS church for being prideful because they do not learn from other religions to see what hidden truths they hold that we do not have. He bases this on scriptures that say there are other books written that will eventually come forth (1 Nephi 13:39-42/2 Nephi 29:11-13/3 Nephi 16:1-3). The fact that they haven’t yet come forth must mean that the LDS church is wicked.

Snuffer likens the LDS church to the people of Ammonihah when Alma said:

  • he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full. And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil…” (Alma 12:10-11).

Snuffer makes a false equivalency between the people of Ammonihah not obeying the commandments and the LDS church not adopting Buddhist texts as canon. Alma is not advocating that the people of Ammonihah travel to the ends of the earth to read all other sacred texts and try to piece together all the lost truths of the gospel. He is advocating that they follow the commandments of God as found in the Holy Scriptures.

Snuffer compares the LDS church to the people of Ammonihah, but I think a more accurate comparison is to liken Snuffer to the Jews in Jerusalem, whom Jacob criticizes in Jacob 4:13-14:

  • These things are manifested unto us plainly, for the salvation of our souls. But behold, we are not witnesses alone in these things; for God also spake them unto prophets of old. But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble”

Snuffer and his followers are not satisfied with the revelations and scriptures they have been given. They want God to give them more and they want to receive these promised scriptures on their own time table. Because they cannot see the plainness of the gospel in front of them, they are looking beyond the mark and will receive the lesser portion of the word.

 

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