Once again, there is a new sect within the LDS church receiving some attention in the media, inspired by the teachings and revelations of a man named Denver Snuffer Jr. Like most apostate leaders, Denver Snuffer has many grievances against the LDS church, which include its pride, its financial investments, its violent history, and its corporate leadership.
Snuffer makes the following assertions against the current LDS Church (the articles referenced can be found at http://www.denversnuffer.com):
- The “church” should not have a hierarchical organization of priesthood authority who command its members. There is no single prophet or leader of Christ’s church.
- The church should not be a single institution, but rather a collection of small groups whose members have local autonomy over doctrines and principles.
- All members of the church should be equal in their ability to receive revelation or teach. We do not look to authoritative prophets or priests to command us what to preach or believe.
- The church should not build chapels or temples or try to assemble large groups of people in a single location. It should instead follow the model of the early Christian church where small groups met in members’ homes.
- An evidence of the LDS Church’s wickedness is its wealth and corporate efficiency. Christ’s church should be poor.
- All members of the church should come together and participate in writing or proposing new doctrines and scriptures.
Snuffer justifies many of his arguments by appealing to the Book of Mormon. He suggests that the Book of Mormon “gives a blueprint of the necessary steps for the gentiles to take for them to become numbered with the remnant and entitled to possess the promised land as their inheritance” (Things to Keep us Awake at Night, p. 28). According to Snuffer, the Lord agrees, stating “The Book of Mormon was given as my covenant for this day and contains my gospel, which came forth to allow people to understand my work and then obtain my salvation” (Answer to the Prayer for Covenant, p. 3)
For this reason I will refer to the Book of Mormon to respond to Snuffer’s assertions:
SNUFFER ARGUMENT #1: The “church” should not be a single institution, but rather small groups of members who are only bound spiritually. These fellowships should be unique to meet the individual needs of their members.
- “We don’t need to create yet another institutional opportunity to abuse one another. We don’t need to repeat the terrible mistakes that hijacked the opportunity offered by the Lord through Joseph Smith. We should learn from the corrupt institutions claiming Joseph as their founder. I don’t care who thinks they are awake to our awful situation, or how soft their heart is, or how inclined they are to follow God, the Mormon institutions are the perfect mouse trap” (Things to Keep us Awake at Night, p. 27)
- “We seek to belong to that spiritual body, not an institution created by men on earth, subject to the laws of man, and capable of interfering with faith in God. The presiding leader of that congregation is Christ. Seek for a spiritual “Church” as defined by the Lord in the revelations. (D&C 10:67) We want to find that group of believers who will accept and abide covenants from God. Those who are spiritually connected, not institutionally connected. “Church” as defined by the Lord in the revelations (D&C 10:67), not “church” as defined by filing with the corporate Secretary of State creating an institution that owns property” (Things to Keep us Awake at Night, p. 27)
ANSWER: Christ’s church is a single entity. Even though all members meet in different places, they are all subject to a single church organization and all follow the same doctrine.
- “King Mosiah granted unto Alma that he might establish churches throughout all the land of Zarahemla; and gave him power to ordain priests and teachers over every church. Now this was done because there were so many people that they could not all be governed by one teacher; neither could they all hear the word of God in one assembly; Therefore they did assemble themselves together in different bodies, being called churches; every church having their priests and their teachers, and every priest preaching the word according as it was delivered to him by the mouth of Alma. And thus, notwithstanding there being many churches they were all one church, yea, even the church of God; for there was nothing preached in all the churches except it were repentance and faith in God” (Mosiah 25:19-22)
SNUFFER ARGUMENT #2: We can all receive revelation, prophecy, authority, etc. Therefore, anyone should be able to teach or preach doctrines in the church.
- “While I claim no right to control, manage or command any other person, I do claim the right to teach. Like any other person who believes in something greater than him or herself, we all have the right to teach what is important to us and have others consider” (Things to Keep us Awake at Night, p. 23)
- “But I require a statement of principles to be adopted by the mutual agreement of my people, for if you cannot do so you will be unable to accomplish other works that I will require at your hands. When you have an agreed statement of principles I require it to also be added as a guide and standard for my people to follow” (Answer to a Prayer for Covenant, p. 8)
ANSWER: Alma, when he established the church of Christ, specifically ordained people to teach and preach. No one else had authority to teach the doctrines of the church.
- “And now, Alma was their high priest, he being the founder of their church. And it came to pass that none received authority to preach or to teach except it were by him from God. Therefore he consecrated all their priests and all their teachers, and none were consecrated except they were just men” (Mosiah 23:16-17)
- “every church having their priests and their teachers, and every priest preaching the word according as it was delivered to him by the mouth of Alma” (Mosiah 25:21)
SNUFFER ARGUMENT #3: There should be no hierarchical order in the church. There should be no prophet who claims to have power to command the church and pass that authority down to others. Local groups of saints should have autonomy to deal with their own issues.
- “I would ask that we not be required to provide a statement of principles, but the people be left to govern themselves according to their varying circumstances, needs and desires” (Prayer for Covenant, p. 5)
- “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” (Other Sheep Indeed, p. 1)
- “But even the concept of “continuing revelation” has been institutionally curtailed. The only institutionally authorized source for revelation is a single leader. When he is not gifted with that capacity, the concept of “continuing revelation” is given lip service without any substantive proof” (Other Sheep Indeed, p. 1)
ANSWER #1: Alma and Alma the younger were given authority over the entire church in all its many locations.
- “Now king Mosiah had given Alma the authority over the church” (Mosiah 26:7-8)
- “And it came to pass that Alma did regulate all the affairs of the church; and they began again to have peace and to prosper exceedingly in the affairs of the church” (Mosiah 26:37)
- “And it came to pass that Alma was appointed to be the first chief judge, he being also the high priest, his father having conferred the office upon him, and having given him the charge concerning all the affairs of the church” (Mosiah 29:42)
- “And they began to establish the church more fully; yea, and many were baptized in the waters of Sidon and were joined to the church or God; yea, they were baptized by the hand of Alma, who had been consecrated the high priest over the people of the church, by the hand of his father Alma” (Alma 4:4)
- “I, Alma, having been consecrated by my father, Alma, to be a high priest over the church of God, he having power and authority from God to do these things, behold, I say unto you that he began to establish a church in the land which was in the borders of Nephi” (Alma 5:3)
- “And now it came to pass that when Alma had made these regulations he departed from them, yea, from the church which was in the city of Zarahemla…and Alma went and began to declare the word of God unto the church which was established in the valley of Gideon” (Alma 6:7-8)
- “And now it came to pass that Alma returned from the land of Gideon, after having taught the people of Gideon many things which cannot be written, having established the order of the church, according as he had before done in the land of Zarahemla…And he began to teach the people in the land of Melek according to the holy order of God, by which he had been called” (Alma 8:1, 4)
- “I am Alma, and am the high priest over the church of God throughout the land” (Alma 8:23)
ANSWER #2: Alma and Alma the younger gave commandments to the church for what they could preach and who could be baptized.
- “And he commanded them that they should teach nothing save it were the things which he had taught, and which had been spoken by the mouth of the holy prophets. Yea, even he commanded them that they should preach nothing save it were repentance and faith on the Lord…And he commanded them that there should be no contention…And thus he commanded them to preach…And he commanded them that they should observe the Sabbath day…And he also commanded them that the priests he had ordained should labor with their own hands…And again Alma commanded that the people of the church should impart of their substance…And this he said unto them, having been commanded by God…” (Mosiah 18:19-24, 27, 29)
- “Now there was a strict law among the people of the church, that there should not any man belonging to the church, arise and persecute those that did not belong to the church…” (Alma 1:21)
- “I speak by way of command unto you that belong to the church; and unto those who do not belong to the church I speak by way of invitation, saying: Come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye also may be partakers of the fruit of the tree of life” (Alma 5:62)
- “And now we know that because we are not of thy church we know that thou has no power over us; and thou hast delivered up the judgment seat unto Nephihah; therefore thou art not the chief judge over us” (Alma 8:12)
ANSWER #3: There was a hierarchical organization of priesthood power in the Book of Mormon churches. If there were disputes among members, they appealed to the higher authorities in the church, with the high priest having the final say. Teachers reported to priests, and priests reported to the high priest or king (Alma, Alma the younger, and Mosiah).
- “the church began to murmur, and complain to their leaders concerning the matter; and they did complain to Alma. And Alma laid the case before the king, Mosiah. And Mosiah consulted with his priests” (Mosiah 27:1)
- “For it came to pass that they did deceive many with their flattering words, who were in the church, and did cause them to commit many sins; therefore it became expedient that those who committed sin, that were in the church, should be admonished by the church. And it came to pass that they were brought before the priests, and delivered up unto the priests by the teachers; and the priests brought them before Alma, who was the high priest. Now king Mosiah had given Alma the authority over the church” (Mosiah 26:6-9)
ANSWER #4: The church organization as described previously is approved by the Lord himself.
- “And blessed art thou because thou hast established a church among this people; and they shall be established, and they shall be my people” (Mosiah 26:17)
- “For behold, this is my church; whosoever is baptized shall be baptized unto repentance…” (Mosiah 26:22)
ANSWER #5: Even Jesus Christ, after his resurrection, organized a church with twelve disciples who were given special authority according to their calling. The calling of Priests and Elders continued until the days of Moroni.
- “(now the number of them who had been called, and received power and authority to baptize, was twelve) and behold, he stretched forth his hand unto the multitude, and cried unto them, saying: Blessed are ye if ye shall give heed unto the words of these twelve whom I have chosen from among you to minister unto you, and to be your servants; and unto them I have given power that they may baptize you with water; and after that ye are baptized with water, behold, I will baptize you with fire and with the Holy Ghost” (3 Nephi 12:1)
- “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” (3 Nephi 18:5)
- “the disciples bare record that he gave them power to give the Holy Ghost” (3 Nephi 18:37)
- “The manner which the disciples, who were called the elders of the church, ordained priests and teachers” (Moroni 3:1)
SNUFFER ARGUMENT #4: If we really want to create a unified society like those of Enoch and Melchizedek, then all members of the church should be “equal.” This means there are no prophets or high priests, just people of one heart and one mind.
- “The only examples we have of Zion are the two I have by-passed. Those two, Enoch and Melchizedek, did not follow the pattern of the others. They did one thing that escapes most people’s notice. They took disorganized people and assembled them into a unified body that was equal, of one heart and one mind, without any poor among them. There is no mention anywhere in scripture of a structure or hierarchy among either of these people. It is clear these two were both ranked among history’s most towering spiritual figures. But they led two communities of equals. They assumed no authority other than that of a teacher and preacher of repentance” (Things to Keep us Awake at Night, p. 27)
ANSWER: Having a hierarchy of priesthood authority within the church and being equal in the eyes of God are not mutually exclusive.
- “And they were called the church of God, or the church of Christ, from that time forward. And it came to pass that whosoever was baptized by the power and authority of God was added to his church. And it came to pass that Alma, having authority from God, ordained priests, even one priest to every fifty of their number did he ordain to preach unto them, and to teach them concerning the things pertaining to the kingdom of God…And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another” (Mosiah 18:17-18, 21)
- “And when the priests left their labor to impart the word of God unto the people, the people also left their labors to hear the word of God. And when the priest had imparted unto them the word of God they all returned again diligently unto their labors; and the priest, not esteeming himself above his hearers…and thus they were all equal, every man according to his strength” (Alma 1:26)
SNUFFER ARGUMENT #5: The LDS Church is wicked because it has money, land investments, and nice corporate office buildings. The true church of God should be poor.
- “Mormonism has been a dismal underachiever. Its most wealthy sect is riddled with errors, controlled by an oligarchy of priestcraft, jealous of their power, wealth and influence. It has a criminal past, an unstable present, and an insecure future. That empire is diversifying its portfolio into land development, banking and business enterprises to replace the now diminishing tithing cashstream upon which the empire was built” (Things to Keep us Awake at Night, p. 8)
ANSWER: In the Book of Mormon, the righteous saints are blessed with riches AND they impart of their substance to the needy and poor.
- “And thus they did established the affairs of the church; and thus they began to have continual peace again, notwithstanding all their persecutions. And now, because of the steadiness of the church they began to be exceedingly rich, having abundance of all things whatsoever they stood in need—an abundance of flocks and herds, and fatlings of every kind, and also abundance of grain, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious things, and abundance of silk and fine-twined linen, and all manner of good homely cloth. And thus, in their prosperous circumstances, they did not send away any who were naked, or that were hungry, or that were athirst, or that were sick, or that had not been nourished; and they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, whether out of the church or in the church, having no respect to persons as to those who stood in need. And thus they did prosper and become far more wealthy than those who did not belong to their church” (Alma 1:28-31)