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.

 

Arguments against Denver Snuffer Jr. according to the Book of Mormon (Part I)

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):

  1. 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.
  2. The church should not be a single institution, but rather a collection of small groups whose members have local autonomy over doctrines and principles.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. An evidence of the LDS Church’s wickedness is its wealth and corporate efficiency. Christ’s church should be poor.
  6. 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.

  1. “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)
  2. “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.

  1. “(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)
  2. “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)
  3. “the disciples bare record that he gave them power to give the Holy Ghost” (3 Nephi 18:37)
  4. “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)