Big Cottonwood Canyon Conference

The following discussion was recorded as Denver answered questions from various individuals on 20 September 2015.

Transcript

…They were gathered together in the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman, where, and it outlines the names of those who participated. This is a series of High Priests, one in each generation (because you can only have one in each generation) the total of seven generations from Adam being gathered together there in the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman with the residue of the posterity who were righteous, and the Lord came and administered comfort to Adam. Adam, being filled with the Holy Ghost, gets up and he predicts all things that are going to happen to his posterity down to the latest generations of time. That’s in the same section of the Doctrine and Covenants that describes the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve, and so on. In fact, what Joseph was doing was preparing and using the church as an incubator. The incubator was supposed to produce a product. The end product of that would literally graduate from the church, and it would be a King and a Queen, a Priest and a Priestess, the idea being that those would go off and they would establish their own kingdom. They might use “churches” to prepare and incubate their groups. But they would be fully equipped to go off and establish the Kingdom of God on earth. It never happened. 

They had one dry run. The one dry run occurred in the Counsel of Fifty in a meeting in which Joseph and Emma were made a King and a Queen, a Priest and a Priestess. It was not done in a way that systematized or regularized it and therefore it got lost. In the post martyrdom era of the church what has happened is we’ve adopted the phraseology of “King and Queen, Priest and Priestess” and have incorporated it into a temple endowment. We’ve said, “There it is.” It is owned by the Church and the Church administers it. When you’re done with that you’re supposed to be a good member of the Church, and that’s it. You never do graduate. 

But Joseph had turned the church over to Hyrum. He was moving on to be and do something different. Hyrum was the one who was taking over and running the church. Joseph got up and complained to the members that the members were not paying attention to Hyrum the way they ought to be paying attention to Hyrum because Hyrum had essentially taken over and was now running the thing, not him. But all of that has been lost. It never had a fulsome enough development while Joseph was still here for us to be able to reconstruct even what the objective was. We don’t have the capacity to complete that process. To the extent that there is any description of that, or any vocabulary that relates to that, everyone assumes that that has been adopted and is incorporated into the Church or the ordinances of the Church. 

So there is a lot of work left to be done, if the restoration is going to be completed.

We know that Joseph prophesied there would be another Adam-ondi-Ahman event. Except that one, instead of it being prospective with the history of the world yet to occur, and with it being reflected by prophecy from Adam filled with the Holy Ghost, in the next one it will be retrospective, in which what has happened returns, and keys and accountability for what has happened are the subject matter of the future meeting in which the term “Adam-ondi-Ahman” means “Adam in the presence of Ahman”, or in the presence of God. It is a description of an event. It is an occurrence. It’s like BYU/UCLA football game. BYU/UCLA football game happened yesterday in the colosseum in LA, but it also happened a few years ago in the LaVell Edwards stadium in Provo and it was still the BYU/UCLA football game. The fact is that if there was a flood or some other problem you could play that football game anywhere. You could even play that in a bowl game somewhere in Louisiana; it would still be the same event. Adam-ondi-Ahman is a description of an event, and it will happen at a location that is not owned by the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, because quite frankly they don’t belong in that meeting and they won’t belong in that meeting. When it occurs, it will occur on different criteria and on a different basis. 

How you get from where you are now to the point where it would be suitable and appropriate for an event like that to even be considered is a long, long effort, because we have a restoration to complete. We have prophecies to fulfil. We have things that need to be done and we have covenants that need to be renewed. 

All of that begins again in embryo at the very basic level of faith, repentance, baptism, fellowships, collecting tithing, assisting one another and acting like we are Christians, acting like we care about one another. In fact, stopping with the notion that climbing up and having authority over someone is a “good thing” and recognizing it for what it is: it’s an Evil thing. No power or influence can or ought to be exercised by one man over another. The only way that you should exercise influence is by meekness and gentleness and persuasion. If you know more than I do, then enlighten me. Persuade me. Teach me, that my heart will resonate with what you have to say. But don’t presume that you have the right to “call me” and afflict me and tell me that if I don’t bend my knee at this particular moment then you’re going to use some compulsory means in order to get from me exactly what you hope to extract from me. No one should be imposing upon anyone else. 

I heard someone comment about how all these fellowships that are gathered here are remarkably diverse. That is because people are diverse. God went to the trouble of making every tree here absolutely unique. There isn’t one that is like the other. There isn’t a snowflake that is like another. I would venture to say that when we finally get the mechanism with which to measure and recognize we will realize there isn’t an atom that is the same. We are all humans. There is not one of you that are the same. Should a fellowship be put together with a cookie cutter that says, this is what you must do, and this is what you must not do, when in fact the needs are so diverse from one to another? There ought to be diversity. There ought to be uniqueness, there ought to be recognition of what each group has in terms of contributions and what each group has in terms of needs. It ought to be flexible enough to do that. 

I was reading in the Times and Seasons a bunch of conference minutes of conferences that were held in the early church. This was in 1841, so we’re quite a ways into the restoration at this point. They were still ordaining elders by the voice of the congregation. In other words, there wasn’t this concept of marrying together priesthood and priesthood lines of authority. The office of elder was filled pretty much the way the office of relief society president is fulfilled. “Can we all agree to support her as the next relief society president?” And we all raise our hands and she just became that. We’ve ordained her just by that act. Well someone set her apart. But she’s already been ordained and the congregation did that. They ordained them to offices. Offices were not priesthood. We’ve conflated priesthood and office together in such a way that we don’t even appreciate the rudiments of priestly authority. Priestly authority comes down in a line by men, but it isn’t empowered until the man connects with heaven. If you go to the scriptures and you look at what I’ve written, I point it out. It’s in there, over and over again. 

The ordinations had two features, had two facets: The laying on of hands by someone that is in that tradition, and then secondly connecting to heaven and God empowering you. And so here we have this long standing tradition. There’s probably not a guy here, including someone as young as 12 years old – there’s probably not a male here that hasn’t had someone lay hands on their head and give them some form of priesthood. The second part of that, that is connecting to heaven and having heaven animate that, is not considered necessary by those who don’t understand priesthood but is considered vital by those who do, and when God is the one that completes that process. 

I saw an article. The church is now building a memorial where they are claiming Peter, James and John came and restored “Melchizedek priesthood” which had to happen before the Church was organized. Except that as I point out, citing Joseph Smith’s own history, his ordination to the priesthood did not happen until June of 1831, when the voice of God as Genesis chapter 14 that he translated in the Joseph Smith version, that’s when then got permission to do the ordination. Peter, James and John are referred to by Joseph only – not in Section 27, that was added by a committee, that wasn’t Joseph’s work. All of that additional language was added by them. He refers to Peter, James and John in his letter that’s in [Section] 128. There he says, Peter, James and John who came and “declared themselves as possessing the keys of the dispensation of the fullness of times.” I am in possession of keys to my office [Denver shows keys in his hand]. Do you have the keys to my office? Do you have the keys to my office? I declared myself as possessing the keys to my office. Oh, cool. Great for Peter. Great for James. Great for John. 

I will tell you what that means, and I will tell you it only means this: It does not confer upon Joseph or Oliver authority. But it does connect them in a line of patriarchs to the fathers. If you’re doing a genealogy chart and you’re asking, unto whom then would Joseph have been connected? He would not be connected to Joseph Smith, Sr. Joseph Smith, Sr. if he’s going to be connected in, would be connected in as a son of Joseph. That connection was not something that having been established was even appreciated during Joseph Smith’s lifetime. Still isn’t appreciated. There is so much more to the restoration that still has to be put on the ground that the restoration has hardly begun. Joseph laid the ground work and in order to take the very next step you have to return to the point of the beginning at which it ended. You have to gather back together everything that happened before, in order to be able take the next step in that line. It does not matter if you’re over there if the destiny is up there. Develop all you want out there, but you’re never going to find yourself back into that final gathering at Adam-ondi-Ahman in which Adam will be present, and Adam will be present in the presence of Ahman, or Son Ahman, and a meeting will take place. 

But there’s a lot left to be done. We tend to think as soon as we’ve got something that that means we’ve got everything. And when we’ve got something, what we’ve got is something. But everything is a lot further down the road with a lot more diligence, heed, effort and study. I’m constantly amazed at our arrogance. I said it, and I don’t think it’s in the book but it’s on the recording, I said there’s absolutely nothing special about us – yet! And the fact is that there can be. There can be, if we are diligent.

All of that came out of the discussion that was going on up there. Someone said, ah, people are feeling left out, but all of that was provoked by some questions and stuff. Are there any questions that someone’s wanted to ask?

Question — Comment on how disjointed or “octopoid,” that is having eight separate folks vying for primacy, how disjointed the fellowships can be.

Answer – Disjointed and ill organized. The fact of the matter is that the freedom… That is not a bad thing. That is a normal thing. Try to envision yourselves as a temporary family. A temporary gathering together of members of a family. If you don’t have some wonky aunts and some curious uncles, in fact maybe an uncle or two that you want to keep the kids away from. Every family has some strange folks in it. Consider the fellowships nothing more than an extension of that and try and love one another. The fact is that there are going to be those who through their behavior in fellowships are going to disqualify themselves from being able to be gathered because they are just not the kind of people that can live in peace one with another. That also is a good thing. Then there are others who come to the fellowships and their primary interest is in what they can take and what they can get. There are others who come with the only idea in their heart being what can I give, how can I serve. And even through they may not be able to give or serve much that’s what’s in their heart. And you all recognize that, you can all see that in people. Those are the kinds of people from which the Lord is going to gather and build Zion. 

No one in Zion is going to be a threat to someone else. It can’t be. It defeats the purpose of it all. To be able to live in peace with one another means that you literally are harmless to one another. The diversity in which you find yourselves and the ability to bump the corners off one another in fellowships, those are healthy, good, normal things. Hopefully they run their course and eventually result in people becoming smoother and becoming easier with one another. There are some people I admire immensely and they’re tough personalities and they are difficult to deal with. And there are other people who are hard to deal with because they are too easy going and they really need to speak up more. They have more to add but they won’t do it until you coax it patiently out of them. If you don’t figure out that you have to coax it patiently out of them, you’re missing the treasure that this person represents. In your fellowships think of one another as members of a family and then work out your issues, because that is how you grow into being a community. You may really prize the more difficult members if you take that approach. 

Question –…I know everything is orchestrated in the hand of God…This lack of family. What I’m leading to is, it’s frustrating to me, but it’s all meant to be, I guess. It seems to be difficult out there to find… On the front of Tim Malone’s page he has… I get deluged and I’m sure he does, about …how to meet. He gives you a link to a site. You go to it, and yes, it’s got the one… Our’s isn’t on it. There does not seem to be a way …to find a group. 

Answer – They are working on that right now. There is work on several things. There will be a site… in which anyone worldwide who wants to be baptized can submit a request and anyone who has the ability to perform the baptism can check worldwide and if they are able to perform it they can connect up. That site will become live. It has security features built in to it, it has anonymity built into it, it has confidentiality built in to it. That’s going to come live within the next two weeks. 

There will be another site that is in the preliminary development stages in which you can click on a map anywhere in the world and find out if there is a fellowship anywhere in there. My suspicion is that there may be, for example, in Indiana and Ohio, people who may not live close enough to fellowship with one another face to face, but people who can get together in a conference from time to time. Eventually the numbers will grow.

There is another phase of the work that is going to launch in the next year that has nothing to do with the Mormon corridor and has everything to do with going out to try and find other people who may be interested in the Doctrine of Christ, the Restoration, and in learning about more than their typical Christian view of Joseph Smith and the Restoration and Mormonism.  

Joseph Smith has been maligned by the church that claims itself to have been established by him. If you take Joseph Smith’s words, if you take Joseph Smith’s sermons and conversations and you stand them on one side, and then you take the [LDS] essays, they [the LDS Church] sold Rough Stone Rolling in Desert Book. You take the typical history that is told by the Latter-day Saints. Joseph Smith was required to undergo a metamorphosis in order to make what Brigham Young claimed to have any defensible position to it. Joseph had to change. In the preface to the book that just came out [Preserving the Restoration] I quote from one of the fellows that worked in the Church historian’s office, watching them alter the history that the Church was maintaining precisely to accommodate the claims that the Church was making. So although the Joseph Smith Papers have proven to be extremely useful, they are useful because the Church doesn’t know what to edit out. They don’t know what to change. So in their ignorance they have published things that I have extensively footnoted that demonstrate exactly what Joseph was and was working on. The restoration was not complete. The manner in which it was taken over and it was managed thereafter has altered the view and has altered the trajectory. It has substantially altered the view that you would take of Joseph Smith and that’s a project I’m taking on. We will be going out into the Christian world and doing a great deal more there to try and reintroduce Joseph Smith to the evangelicals, even the Catholics. 

The Catholics have had people in their history that stood exactly in the same position as Joseph did in introducing a new religious insight. You take St. Francis and the struggles that St. Francis had. You take Martin Luther, and although Catholics hated him at the time they respect him now. You take John Wesley. You take religious reformers throughout history and Joseph Smith stacks up favorably in a comparison with any one of them. He said and he did magnificent things in the struggle to perpetuate faith. The most remarkable thing about Joseph is that he never doubted and it didn’t matter how big a mess the people made of it.  

Two things about Joseph that I’m hoping will become clear, (and I’m working on it): The first is, Joseph Smith never doubted, never turned back, never relented, never said, “is what I’m doing really what God wants done?” That was never the question. The doubts he had were about his ability to get others to recognize it, his ability to preach it, his ability to teach it, and his ability to get others to practice it. That was what he doubted. That is the first point.  

The second point is: From the beginning, after his childhood ended, Joseph Smith’s biggest enemies, his biggest opposition and his greatest detractors were those who were one-time members of the Church. Members of the Church were the ones who drove him out of Kirtland. Members of the Church were the ones who betrayed in Missouri and wound up getting them driven out of Jackson County. Members of the Church were responsible, in the Salt Sermon and in the wake of the Salt Sermon, in stirring up literally… The extermination order issued by Governor Lilburn Boggs, is a concept drawn from Sidney Rigdon’s 4th of July Salt Sermon. “A war of extermination…” Sidney Rigdon preached it first. Lilburn Boggs took the Mormons at their word. In Nauvoo, if it were not for Mormons betraying Joseph Smith he would never have been martyred. A mob may have killed him, but he was surrendered to the mob by members of his own church.  

Sixty days before his death he got up and he said, “You don’t know me, you never knew my heart…” talking to the people that were subsequently entrusted to preserve and teach the legacy of Joseph Smith and who he was. So we have borrowed a history that has been relayed to us from people that Joseph said never knew him. One of the things about getting back to the starting point necessarily therefore is we’ve got to do a better job of carving our way through the fog and getting back to a point of departure, so that the work can resume.

So far as I can tell Joseph Smith greatly respected women, in what he said, and what he taught, and how he taught it. I know all the arguments. I’ve read all the histories. I’ve read what the people say. I’ve read what the accusations are. The fact of the matter is that they are not accurate. The histories that they are based upon and much of the information was ginned up in consequence of litigation, in which Joseph F. Smith went around gathering affidavits in the two affidavit books from which we draw most of the information to redefine what Joseph Smith was doing in Nauvoo and earlier with plural marriage.  

Plural marriage was denounced by him as an abomination. He got up and said before a crowd, “I hear all the time that I have wives, I’ve got seven wives. I’m looking out in the audience and can only see one.” (Meaning Emma.) If you read the letters that Joseph sent to Emma and you read the letters that Emma sent back to Joseph, and they are preserved in the correspondence and the documents of the Joseph Smith History, you realize that those two, whatever else was going on around them, those two were in love with one another. Joseph relied on her, respected her, and she loved him. They had a fabulous relationship between the two of them. I don’t care what In Sacred Loneliness wants to portray otherwise. A fair reading of Joseph’s life was that he was a man who was faithful to his wife. 

I’m off on a tangent now. Was there something else we ought to talk about?   

Question – I’ve been hearing of some other groups and even some of the people in the group I meet with. They talk about receiving revelations that it’s time to flee Babylon and prepare a place of refuge. So people are actually leaving their jobs, selling their homes, buying up remote properties, and deciding to live together and live the law of consecration. As I’ve prayed and fasted about this I’ve felt concerned about that, I don’t know we’re anywhere near that. So the question is: Does the Lord actually want us to do physically something to prepare or is it all spiritual preparation at this point? Are we anywhere near the law of consecration?  

Answer – I don’t think it is useful for people to argue over the revelations that they have received in contrast to the revelations someone else has received. I think that we should give allowances for the possibility that someone has received for themselves some communication that for themselves they ought to act on. Therefore, I don’t want to be dismissive of someone’s revelation that says they ought to be doing something. But, I was reading out loud to my wife’s amusement, a letter written in 1841 by Wilford Woodruff in England in which he was writing back back to the saints in Nauvoo about how obvious it was that we are right now at the end of all time. The poverty in England that he was seeing, and the abuse of people, the great pollutions that were on the land, and all of the signs, the cholera that was going on in India, the earthquakes that they read about from South America; it’s really clear that we are now at the culmination of the final distress, and that God is coming soon. The plagues have been opened, the angels have been released, and the end is upon us. That was, I think it was in the March edition of the Times and Seasons for 1841. 

The apostle Paul writes about the times of distress are upon us. Everyone in every generation sees that. 

Here’s the reality: In order for the entire earth not to be smitten and utterly wasted at the Lord’s return it will be necessary for there to be a Zion. In fact, it’s almost a cause and effect. You have to have the reestablishment of what was in the beginning of the world in the end of the world also. That was a prophecy of Adam. He made it in the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman. Enoch was the one that preserves it, so it appears in the Enoch portion of the Book of Moses, where Enoch preserves Adam’s prophecy that that same priesthood which was in the beginning of the world shall at the end of the world be also. I have to tell you, that’s not your senior chief apostolic high and holy pontificate of the ninth order, it’s not that at all. It is reestablishing something about which we know very, very little and that has to occur only within an environment that has been insulated from the world and accepted by God. It has to be physically accepted by the Lord. That edifice has to be located in the place that is approved by the Lord. We don’t know the place, we haven’t built the edifice, we don’t have the right to proceed, but all of this must occur before the invitation is extended. Because God is not going to come to a planet that He utterly wastes at His coming. An invitation has to precede the return of our Lord, and that invitation needs to be done in His way, at a place of His choosing, in a manner that He ordains, that occurs according to His will; established as a consequence of Him returning what was once here back to the earth again. 

People are wildly enthusiastic about a lot of things and I don’t deny the possibility that their enthusiasm can be based upon something that is authentic, God talking to them. But as for wrapping up of the creation and the culmination of the ages, God’s direct involvement in that and the impressive nature of how that will roll forward, will not be some people deciding to flee and go farm somewhere. It’s going to be a little bit different kind of enterprise, culminating in a city of righteousness and a people of righteousness, and in that sense, righteousness includes a great deal of knowledge. The glory of God is intelligence or in other words light and truth. Knowledge and redemption, all of that go together.  

I don’t talk about any of the revelations or visitations I’ve received except to say they have happened. I will tell you, they have happened. The Lord in His wisdom… I did a little post on Nephi and constraining him, and how smart I thought that was in the long run. The Lord in His wisdom has asked that I talk using the scriptures and the things put on the ground by Joseph Smith and not anything else. I think that’s an important thing to do. 

Until we have first remembered and straightened out what it was that came to us through Joseph, we have no business going out and starting another experimentation. I’ve used this analogy and some of you have heard it and I apologize to those that have heard it, but I’m going to use it again. Edison tried iron, he tried copper, he tried aluminum. He tried a number of elements, all of which failed, until he finally used carbon as the filament and then he got light.  

Joseph Smith proceeded with the restoration as a come-as-you-are party. He believed that with the right kind of preaching you could take any people, convert them and turn them into Zion. There’s some reason to suspect that’s a possibility, because of what we learn about Melchizedek in the book of Mosiah, in which [Melchizedek’s] preaching resulted in people repenting from their wickedness and becoming righteous. So it’s not an irrational thought, it’s not an non-scriptural thought, because Joseph had translated the book of Mosiah and would be familiar with that. My conclusion however is that there’s no reason to try iron if Edison tried it and it didn’t work and there’s no reason to try copper if Edison tried it and it didn’t work. There is no reason to expect that you can take people and gather them and then try to produce Zion. It makes a whole lot more sense, as the scriptures seem to indicate, that first people are taught repentance and then some few repent. Then they are gathered, one of city, two of a family. Then they are gathered, and they are gathered by those who are the angels to whom the keys are entrusted to do that gathering. Then you put them together.  

We know what Joseph tried to do, failed. He did not produce Zion. Brigham Young doubled down on the model that he assumed Joseph was putting on the ground, and in doubling down on that model he didn’t produce Zion. We didn’t get it in Kirtland, we didn’t get it in Missouri, we didn’t get it in Nauvoo and we sure as hell don’t have it in Salt Lake City. Therefore, there is no reason for us to try and repeat exactly the same thing. It’s time to try something new, something other, something different.

I’m getting the signal from the one running the show it’s time to wrap this up. I wish I could have been with you here, it would have been more fun than some of the things I was doing. I’m pleased to see everyone who is here and to renew acquaintances with a number of you folks, some of whom I know came some distance in order to be here. God bless you all. God’s hand is moving again. This is going somewhere. It will eventually culminate in the fulfillment of the prophecies. The trouble is whether we do it or whether it is left for another generation depends on what we do. I don’t think religious enthusiasm or religious fanaticism produces it. It’s kindness to one another. It’s taking seriously the things that God asked us to do and then in a meaningful way being self sacrificing and trying to help and lift other people. Because at the end of the day, Christ summarized all the law and all the prophets in loving God and loving your fellow man, which goes back to the question that Lewis asked about all you quirky people liking one another. Well, that’s the challenge. If you want to see Zion get a little closer, then love one another.  

In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.  

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