The following extemporaneous remarks were shared in Lexington, KY on Saturday March 26, 2022, as part of the “Hear and Trust the Lord in the Storm” general conference.
I have to do in two trips what I once could do in one because I broke my right arm, ironically, by slipping and falling on a handicap ramp. It was covered with ice, and I couldn’t tell that in the dark. And when I landed, my feet went out from under. When I landed, it sounded like someone broke a carrot; it just snapped. And I thought, “Well, maybe I’ve just dislocated something. Maybe we can shove it back in place.” But a more calm-headed nurse practitioner son-in-law of mine said, “Nah, we might want to get that x-rayed before we decide how we’re gonna manipulate that thing.” As for my part, there was a president of the LDS Church whose name was Spencer Kimball who said swearing was “an attempt of a weak mind to express itself forcefully,” and I broke out all my old golfing language and distributed it liberally to the ramp and the parking lot and the…anyone within earshot.
I really appreciate the music that’s gone on here. When Joe Alexander informed me that he’d made arrangements to bring those sisters aboard to provide music for this, I have to confess I looked them up on the Internet, and I listened a little. And they’re actually better in person, I think—because there’s something that distances you from the performer when all you have is the sound that they make. And we’ve got their presence; there’s something about that.
I hope that some of you who are here today are Christians. If not, then I hope that those that listen to the talk that’s given today are among those who are Christian.
A friend of mine (scholar, member of the faculty at Brigham Young University) attended a theological convention attended primarily by the ministers of Christian faiths. And he was invited to present a paper. He presented a paper, and one of those who was there at the time said to him (in kind of incredulous tone), “You talk as if you believe this stuff really happened!”—meaning the events of the New Testament. And he was surprised. And in the convention, the question was put to those in attendance: How many of them believed, literally, in the New Testament description of events? And somewhere between 10 and 20% raised their hands. And then it was turned on its side to make sure: How many of you think that these events did not literally occur? And over 80% of the audience raised their hand. And these are ministers! These are people who preach and serve. For them, the ministerial position is an occupation that they earn a living through. But faith and belief may belong to the congregants but does not necessarily belong to the minister.
One of the fellows who I’ve read and have some respect for is a scholar teaching a New Testament studies. He’s a theologian, and he’s an agnostic. He’s written a book; one of his books, the first part of the title is: The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, and then colon, and then there’s a lengthy secondary title which I don’t recall. It’s something like: “How the Christological Debates of the Second and Third Century Resulted in Alteration of the New Testament Text” [The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament], in which he shows that the text was to the New Testament was changed in order to support one side of the argument that was being made (over the nature of who Jesus Christ was) during the debates that went on in the second and third century after Christ had died.
What Christ left behind were apostles with messages that went out and that taught about their experience in having been with Jesus during His lifetime, witnessing His ministry, seeing Him crucified, and then being taught by Him in the resurrection and getting commissioned by Him to go unto all the world and to preach about this—which they did. But they didn’t have social media, and they didn’t have the Internet, and they didn’t have phone lines. And as a consequence of that, how Thomas taught (in isolation on his mission) and how Matthew taught (in isolation in his mission) and how Peter taught gave rise to a variety of Christian forms that survived the deaths of the various apostles. But they were non-homogenous; they weren’t the same thing. There was an extraordinary amount of variety in that first generation of Christianity, which is one of the reasons why a New Testament scholar can turn into an agnostic.
We want to impose upon Christ and upon the Father an obligation for the kind of perfect symmetry that we expect TRUTH to have. And yet, God has gone to the trouble of making every maple leaf on every maple tree unique. Every snowflake is individualized and unique. There isn’t one person in this room whose fingerprints match the fingerprints of someone else. And your eyes are so differentiated from one another that I can get through the security screening at the airport by letting him scan one of my eyes. That’s how unique you are.
God catches Ezekiel up into Heaven. And Ezekiel comes and gives a report, and he says, “Wheels within wheels; it was all in motion.” The majesty of the creation that he beheld defied his ability to put it into words, and so he uses analogy. The testimonies that are given by those who have seen beyond the veil reflect their limited ability/limited vocabulary/limited capacity to take what is vast and beyond human understanding and try to put it into words. I don’t talk much about what it is that goes on on the other side of the veil. But believe me, there is so much more to the truths that God has yet to make public, that every one of us ought to be humble about what little we are able to share and how limited our capacities are.
Christianity was diverse, divergent—and it came to a single focus in the recognition that Jesus Christ came as the Son of God and paid a terrible price in order to make grace possible. All Christians believe that they are going to be saved—somehow and in some way—as a consequence of what Jesus Christ did. If you were to ask a Catholic to give you a theological explanation of how that would happen, they would point to the tradition that the keys of the kingdom were given to Peter, and that those keys have been passed down, and that they have the ability to open or shut the gate of Heaven, and therefore, if you attend confession, the priest (vicariously—going all the way back to Peter) has the capacity to open that gate and to let you in. So it’s important that you keep your fidelity to the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church separated from the Eastern Orthodox Church at about 1000 AD. And in the eastern half of the Christian world, they wouldn’t tell you that you can go to the Catholics and be saved. They have their own tradition; they have their own set of beliefs. And they preserve some things that the Catholics let go of. One of the things that the Eastern Orthodox Church kept on is the belief in the deification of man—that man may eventually become God. That’s not believed in the Catholic side.
Now, all of you who are Protestant or Evangelical, your form of Christianity did not even exist AT ALL until about 500 years ago. If we transport you back in time to some time before Martin Luther’s era you’d be killed as a heretic because preaching and believing what you preach and believe today was not only not considered Christian, it was considered heretical and dangerous. So, Christians ought to approach their Christian faith with a modicum of humility about what it is they think they have in their belief system that can secure for them salvation into eternity.
Here’s a problem for all of you Christians: If you are an Evangelical, you proclaim loudly, By grace you are saved, …not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 1:5) (All citations in this talk are to the Restoration Edition of Scripture.) Now, there’s a statement from Paul that includes both grace and works. So, you’re saved by grace. Then Paul poses the question in the book of Romans, “What shall we say then? Shall we let sin abound” (see Romans 1) meaning, should you now be licentious? And his answer to that question is, “God forbid; you may be saved or rescued by grace, but by your works, you shall be judged” (ibid.). When you get to the book of Revelation and you read the criteria upon which the final judgment is gonna be executed, your judgment will be based upon your works. Well, there’s a dilemma for you. So you’re saved by grace. Okay. The Lord can erase all those mistakes. Now, what do you have to show for yourself? Why, I got a blank slate. The board’s been erased. See, there’s the grace; see that whiteboard over there? That’s my saved Christian friends. Well, how the hell are we gonna judge you by your works if that’s what you’ve got? (And I use the word “hell” advisedly because that’s pretty much what we’re left with.) We have NOTHING we can do for you. You merit NOTHING. Jesus’ grace is intended to make it possible for you to free yourself from the slavery of sin. Now, what are you gonna do that you are freed from the slavery of sin? Christ tells you in the Sermon on the Mount what you ought to do:
- Don’t be angry with your brother.
- Don’t commit lust in your heart, because it will lead to adultery.
- Do good to those that despitefully use you.
- Be a peacemaker.
- Be among those who are going about (as Christ is described) doing good.
Then we have something upon which to judge you. Doesn’t mean you’re gonna live an error-free life, but the grace of God will help remove those errors. Just go on, and do something good.
Well, I hope all of you who have been here today have listened with the kind of precision that the talks have been given earlier today. Matt’s talk, Whitney’s talk, “Whitney’s husband’s” talk [laughter]. (We’re not used to saying “Vern.” We’re used to saying, “Whitney’s husband.”) They were all delivered with precision about the subject. Now, some of you are probably, in hindsight, thinking, “This sounds like there’s a lot of luggage being toted around as a consequence of Mormon history.” And that’s true enough. There’s a lot of stuff that got said today that is only necessary to be said in order to distinguish people who believe in the Lord’s Restoration of Truth from those that claim institutionally to OWN the truth.
The LDS Church is the best known—the Mormon church, headquartered in Salt Lake—is the best-known group of those who claim that they become established by Joseph Smith. But there are literally over a hundred different formal organizations that claim that they were founded by Joseph Smith. And part of what’s necessary in talking about the truth is to say “what we’re not.” And there’s been a whole lot of “what we’re not” that got said today. And that’s good and well. But the fact is that something happened in the spring of 1820, in which a long prelude led to the heavens opening again.
If it hadn’t been for Martin Luther and his rebellion against Catholicism, there could not have been Protestant churches. But the initial Protestant churches were just as beset with problems as was the Catholic mother from which their births came. Martin Luther participated in killing those who rejected Lutheranism and who defended papalism. John Knox was called the apostle of murder because of the violence and the killing that he engaged in. Enforcing religion at the edge of a sword was considered to be necessary as part of the early Protestant Christian movement, just as the Catholic religion had been plagued by the violence that it inflicted on people. It took the Protestant Reformation and it took hundreds of years of working through that before both the Protestants and the Catholics became more benign and more tolerant of one another—and THAT required the founding of a new nation that conceived of religious liberty as a venue in which religious pluralism was allowed to flourish, so that God could, in fact, call and start something new, under the Son, that resembles what went on before.
The reason why theologians become agnostic and faithless is because they study the minutiae of what the texts say without ever permitting the experiment of what the texts TEACH to become how they live their lives. We hear the idea that you have faith in something. But the idea of faith did not really get defined until Joseph Smith sought, through the heavens, to ordain on Earth a form of priestly authority that hadn’t been here since Old Testament times and with Christ and His apostles. And he got a revelation that allowed him to confer that authority upon a limited group of people. He was rejoicing and celebrating the accomplishment—and to a man, every one of those who had been ordained failed to accomplish anything, apostatized, rebelled, wrote a series of letters denouncing Joseph. And everything that he had hoped that this achievement would reflect turned into nothing but a mess. I wrote about this in A Man Without Doubt.
What Joseph Smith did in response to that was to set about trying to fix the problem. Out of that came what’s called the Lectures on Faith. One of the Lectures on Faith was quoted earlier today in one of the talks. Well, Lectures on Faith defines faith as a principle of action. You can believe all you want to believe, but you do not have faith unless you act.
We don’t pay, hire, or support ministers. If you don’t sacrifice to minister to others, you cannot acquire faith. When Joe invited me to come and speak at this conference, and I agreed to do it, I understood we had to buy our own plane tickets for my wife and I to travel here, we had to rent our own car, we had to pay for our own hotel room. I didn’t expect and I would be insulted if they offered to compensate me for anything that gets done—because faith is a principle of action that requires that you engage in sacrifice.
When I got the opportunity to come here, I sat about writing a talk (despite the fact that we’re told to “take no thought beforehand”). And so, I had a great talk prepared to give, but I broke my arm, and I can’t hold the Scriptures with one hand, and I can’t turn the pages with one hand, and I can’t prepare a talk to read with one hand. And so, I was rather forced into the corner of just coming and talking spontaneously. And so, all the great thoughts that I had are sitting at home on a computer that are still unfinished. Sometimes we’re required to take things out of our own hands and to trust in what the Lord wants.
We don’t believe in an organization, because organizations can be compromised simply by capturing the control center. You are witnessing a concerted effort being made everywhere you look—churches, the military, the government, businesses, Disney… Everywhere you look, there is a concerted effort to acquire control over the control center of the organizations in order, then, to corrupt the entirety of the organization by gaining control of the center/of the top. If you never consolidate power into a single place but every person must stand on their own—and every person has their own volume of Scriptures, and everyone has the ability to get access to the heavens through prayer—then it doesn’t matter who you corrupt, you cannot corrupt the whole. And when she [Kathy Alexander] said (just before the last song and me getting up here) that she takes no one’s word for anything but she has to pray for and have her own assurance of the truth, what that means is no person’s corruption, no matter who they may be, stands in the way of her ability to discern and be faithful to the truth. There’s a resilience to a lack of hierarchy, a lack of position, a lack of control. There’s a vulnerability to any organization that, right now, is being exploited relentlessly no matter where you turn. The Disney organization is going to be getting into the adult-film business, probably using a different label—but they are clearly moving away from the “family-friendly” fare that Walt Disney founded it to become.
If you are a Christian, you should study what happened in the last 222  years since the heavens opened in 1820 and God spoke to Joseph Smith. If you are a Mormon and you want to try to understand what happened to Christianity, you should look at your own last 222  years and the marvelous transformation that your own religion has undergone to try and understand what happened in the early days of Christianity.
Christianity was such a divergent group that when Constantine decided to make Christianity the state religion of Rome, he thought he was getting a religious organization that he could subordinate to the interests of the Roman state, and it would be unifying and gratifying. What he found out was that Christians believe things so differently from one another that Christians were killing Christians over debates about Christianity and how it ought to be practiced. And so, in hindsight, it is now called (it’s a rather flattering sort of BS term, but nevertheless) it is called the “First GREAT Ecumenical Council,” the Council of Nicea, out of which comes the Nicene Creed, which was the attempt to standardize (under the direction of the Emperor) a definition for what the Christian faith minimally consisted of so that we could get our story straight! And they held votes, and they were literally sequestered by the Emperor until they came up with a definition—and even then, they still had a couple of holdouts who got exiled out of the Roman Empire. But voila, from the great ecumenical First Great Ecumenical Council, now we have a definition of Christianity that we can use.
And so, Christianity assumed a stable form. But that was at 324 AD, and the battle had been going on since the death of the apostles, and Scriptures were being revised. And Christian scholars who look into these things deeply enough wind up saying, “I don’t know how much of any of this stuff is reliable.” So if you go to the Mormon history and you check out what happened in the Mormon history, you will find out that there are extraordinary numbers of parallels that go on. Joseph Smith was not the character he was represented to be by Brigham Young and the cabal of interests that followed Brigham Young to the west.
The telling of Mormon history, just like the telling of Christian history, can be analogized to this: You set off from Europe in a wooden sailboat. And the winds are pushing you in one direction, and the current is pulling you in another direction, and you’re headed to India because you want to get cinnamon and pepper and spices to bring back and become a wealthy person. And en route, you manage, at some point, promiscuously sailing first one way and then another, with the winds blowing you in every which direction, but you’re trying to hold your course west at San Salvador. And you say, “We made it to India.” And no one’s speaking Punjabi (it’s a real problem). So, the story over time turns into something a little different and a little more heroic. And it’s the contention that the possibility exists that there’s another trade route on a globe, and “I’m inspired by God, and we’re headed in the right direction, and God’s leading us all about,” and we get the story—the heroic story—of Columbus and his persistence, and the sailors getting ready to rebel the night before, and him saying, “Just one more day,” and sure enough, they find the land—and we’ve turned it into something heroic.
Mormonism has taken mess after mess. mistake after mistake, wicked purveyor after wicked purveyor, and they’ve dressed it up into something that is a great story of triumph. Brigham Young could not conceive that God wouldn’t vindicate him ‘cuz he had the keys and the kingdom was with him. So when he sent all the cattle up to Cache county (and the winter in Cache county is ever so much worse than it would have been if he’d kept them down in the Salt Lake valley), and the entire herd of cattle dies from the winter, Brigham Young doesn’t blame his own stupidity; he blames the Mormons for not being sufficiently faithful to the leadership. And so, he launches the Mormon Reformation.
There’s something… Well, it doesn’t exist anymore. But there’s something called the Home Teaching program—where members visited one another to encourage them in faith every month. The predecessor to that was the Home Missionary program. The missionary program came to members’ houses and asked you a series of questions. The series of questions were designed to determine whether or not you should be “blood atoned,” because Brigham Young believed in a principle which was that “some of your sins are so bad that Jesus won’t suffer for them; your own blood has to be shed for that particular sin.” So, if you committed a blood atonement sin and the home missionaries visiting discerned that, then you needed to shed your blood in order to atone for your own shortcoming so you could be saved. (And by the way, the person who got killed in this manner would later thank you because you made it possible for them to enter into the kingdom.) This is the kind of nonsense that went on when the Mormons were isolated from the larger American community.
Johnson’s Army came out and dispossessed Brigham Young of the governorship. The railroad came through and made it possible for transportation. The year after Johnson’s Army arrived in Salt Lake to dispossess Brigham Young of the governorship, over 3,200 families fled out of Utah going east to get away from Brigham Young because they were afraid of him. We have good numbers on those that went east. We do not have numbers for those that went west. By that time, the forty-niners had been out there, Sutter’s Mill and the gold had been found, and there was plenty of land—valuable, useful land—in California to go to. And so it’s thought that multiples of the number that when east fled to the west, out of Utah, to escape from Brigham Young’s reign of terror.
He believed (when Johnson’s Army was coming to Utah) that the Indians would rise up and defend his claim to be governor and that (he called the Indians “the battle-ax of the Lord”), he believed that that would secure for him his continued governance, and he could declare his independence from the nation, and he could found this theological institution that he would reign over as king. It didn’t happen—and the talks that Brigham Young gave (that are now available—they weren’t for a long time, but they got published about 2005), the talks that Brigham Young gave during that time period of emotional crisis lead me to believe that the man literally lost his mind. There’s an example that’s drawn out of Mormon history from the LDS perspective to discredit Joseph Smith’s counselor, Sidney Rigdon, who claimed that he should be the custodian over the church after Joseph was dead. He gave a talk that is pointed to as evidence that he was a nutcase. Brigham Young (after Johnson’s Army arrived) sounds very much like Sidney Rigdon in his campaign to be the church president after Joseph’s death. They’re BOTH nutty.
Mormon history is fraught with embarrassing, outrageous, violent, unfortunate events. If your faith requires that you have a church that doesn’t bear any of the mars or failures, then it becomes intolerable for you to hear anyone reciting the events that occurred in your church. Mormons’ faith is largely predicated upon the notion that the Mormon church has survived intact. Christians’ faith is predicated upon the notion that Christianity has survived sufficiently intact so that you can secure for yourself salvation in the kingdom of God in the afterlife if you follow the form of Christianity you believe to have saving power today.
I have good news for everyone, and I have bad news for everyone. But first, the bad news: None of your churches are gonna save you. None of your current Christian forms are gonna save you. None of your Mormon forms are going to save you. If you intend to secure for yourself hope in Christ, then it is requisite, it is mandatory, it is absolutely essential that you hear the voice of God when it speaks to you in YOUR generation. It is necessary that someone be sent with a message from Him—just like Joseph Smith was sent with a message from God to tell you about how you can extract yourself from sin and error. And Joseph secured (for those who were willing) the possibility of their own salvation by obedience to the ordinances of the gospel which he could authoritatively declare. Paul says, “How can you believe if you don’t have someone who is sent, and how can you be sent if not being sent by God?” Joseph met the criteria: He was sent. He did bring a message. It did have the power of salvation. It IS possible to secure salvation once Joseph’s voice gets raised. And that voice and those ordinances remained authoritative until they get broken.
Study Christian history and you’ll begin to realize that the Christian message got broken, certainly by 324 AD. Study the Mormon church. I mean, she [Kathy Alexander] joked that I got baptized in 1973, and it’s true enough. But I gotta tell you, the church that I got baptized into in 1973 has nothing in common with the church that exists calling itself… Well, it doesn’t even acknowledge itself as “the Mormons”; they were kind of proud of that back then. Now, it’s “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” because “the devil is happy every time you use the word ‘Mormon.'” Ohmmmm…
I’m not sure how that worked. Which is another thing, I don’t have a clock, so… [ooking at the time]. Okay, I can keep going.
So we have to have—it’s an essential ingredient of Christianity; it’s an essential ingredient of salvation—we have to have God talk to us in our generation. The words of an old book—which is how Joseph Smith described the Bible—the words of an old book and the salvation that took place in their day does not do anything for us! We can come along and pick up the old book and imitate what it’s saying there, but unless that religion lives in you, their religion belonged to them. Their feats, their acts, their sacrifices secured for them salvation in their day. What does God want of you now in your day? I mean, pick up the book, read it, and imitate it, but the LDS Church is largely left in the same position as the Christians were after 222  years: They pick up an old book, and they imitate it. Where’s God’s voice to them today?
Well, something got alluded to in passing, and I don’t know how many picked up on it. But in 2017, again at a time when there were alignments in the heavens (because the heavens often testify to what the Lord is doing on Earth, just as the heavens testified when Christ was born—and there was an alignment in the heavens, and wise men came to the east in order to find who it was that had been born “the King of the Jews”)… Well, in 2017, God spoke again and offered to this generation/those living today/you people who are within the sound of my voice (whether you’re here in this hall today or you listen to the recording) offered to you—today—the possibility of salvation through a new covenant. (See T&C 156, 157, and 158. See also www.receivethecovenant.com.) And part of what He’s telling you in that new covenant is that He has some things that He expects to accomplish before He returns in glory to judge the world. You think Christ is coming again, and that is true enough; He’s coming to judge the world. But before that time, He expects to establish a covenant people so that the religion that was once here at the time of Adam is here again. Paul wrote about how the gospel had been fore declared unto Abraham, and Paul’s exactly right: Abraham knew the gospel. But so did Adam. So did Enoch. So did Noah. And so now can we too, not as part of the words of an old book, but as part of a living community of people that believe, have accepted a covenant today, and have sacrificed in order to bring forth the works of salvation today.
We believe in paying tithes. But we don’t use them to buy buildings, and we don’t use them to pay clergy. We use them to help the poor among us. The tithes that are gathered among the people who believe this message are used in fellowship meetings to help their neighbors or anyone within their community who are in need. Money doesn’t go to invest. Money doesn’t go to compensate people whose sacrifice in serving the Lord is required as part of their faith. Money goes to help those who stand in need: food, clothing, shelter, transportation, medical care, dental care. These are the things that the tithes are supposed to be used for. These are the things that we DO use tithes for. A conference gets organized, as this one has, and it requires the people who are going to organize it to rent the facilities, to gather the funds necessary in order to take care of everything that goes on during the course of the conference. And since housing isn’t always free, if they can arrange to get someone to provide housing and make that available for people to purchase, they do that. But everything about our faith is intended to be sustained at every moment by acts of faith so that unless our faith remains vibrant, ongoing, active, and producing sacrifice, it will disappear from the earth. Because the last thing we want to do is to leave behind another hollow shell to become corrupted and to be used by evil and designing men to achieve their ends instead of God’s ends.
It was mentioned that there are periods of restoration and periods of apostasy; those two things are intertwined. As soon as restoration ends, apostasy begins; you cannot sustain it. It MUST have a life of its own. Blow out the candle, and then enjoy its light—because that’s how it works: You’ve got to keep the flame alive. There are people who have written me emails and letters saying I’ve got to institutionalize this or it’s going to die out. Well, may it die out if the candle ever gets extinguished. IF it is to continue, it must continue solely on the basis of the sustaining light that comes from Heaven and not because we’ve created an institution that can be co-opted and turned into something like the rest of the world.
I have spent—I was gonna say “hours,” but it would be much more accurate to say “many days” conversing with…well, it’s not just the Lord; it’s the Heavenly Council—about the management of a dispensation of the gospel. Past dispensations have failed. A dispensation of the gospel is very vulnerable, delicate thing. It’s as delicate as gossamer or a cobweb, and it can be torn by inadvertence and neglect. It has to be attended to with care. The resilience of the dispensation of Moses consisted in a bunch of rites and practices and observances that could make people slavishly repetitious in what they did, and so it could go on generation after generation very durably.
The Christian dispensation went into, rather, freefall but stabilized at about 324 AD and assumed a form with enough resilience that Catholicism today has more than a billion adherents, and as long as Catholicism is around to remind us of Jesus and the apostles and the keys of the kingdom, then at least we know THAT much about Christianity.
Joseph Smith organized a church with a series of co-equal groups: a First Presidency (3), a Quorum of Twelve Apostles (12), a Quorum of Seventy (70), and then Stake High Councils (that were 12 members in as many stakes as existed geographically throughout Mormonism). Every one of those was equal to one another until Brigham Young got his hands on the reign of authority. And then Brigham Young used a verse that says, “Where the Twelve can’t go, they can call upon the Seventy to go fulfill an assignment.” And he said, “No longer are they equal in authority. I get to boss the Seventy; I’m the head of the Twelve,” and they became subordinate, and ultimately, he got tired of power-sharing with the other members of the Twelve, and within three years, he wants to be the First Presidency again. And today, in the LDS form of governance, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints consists literally—absolutely literally—of one person. The president of the corporation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints owns every building, every university, every business venture, all of the acreage that consists of over 2% of the landmass of the state of Florida, all of the Hawaiian farms, all of the radio and television networks, all the motion picture production stuff, all the newspapers—ONE Mormon, and he owns it all. And that one Mormon is a “corporation sole.” And when he dies, then the senior-most member of the Quorum of the Twelve becomes the member of the corporation sole, and then HE owns it all. That’s what Mormonism has turned into today. It is a vast financial empire, so much so that the religion that Mormons claim to believe in is really one of the smaller “side projects” of the Corporation of the President. There is a lot of money in religion. It’s one of the two oldest professions in the world. And it’s slightly more profitable than the other but not at all dissimilar.
That’s the problem with religion. And so, when people hopeful of salvation and anxious about their eternal state come to the ministers of the various denominations and they hear the good news in Jesus, they’re hearing something that grossly misstates the obligations that devolve upon you. An adulterer cannot enter into the kingdom of Heaven. A penitent adulterer can enter into the kingdom of Heaven so long as they confess and forsake their sins. You don’t get there by continuing to entertain the vile lusts which the Apostle Paul said need to come to an end once that grace has been bestowed upon you. Look at Paul’s example:
He’s holding the coat of those that are throwing the stones that kill Steven. And Paul was probably responsible for having gotten Stephen into that predicament in the first place. He went about persecuting the Christians. He was a strict Pharisee. I mean, under his religious definition of righteousness at the time that he was practicing these things, he (the Apostle Paul) was a righteous Pharisee, vindicated by all that he knew, believing himself in good standing before God. And yet, when he awakened to his awful circumstance, he realized that he was a vile sinner. So what did the Apostle Paul do once that he recognized the ENORMITY of what it was that he had done that was wrong? He spent the rest of his days pursuing the exact opposite. He went on mission after mission proclaiming the righteousness to be found in living a life according to Jesus’ sermons, Jesus’ principles, the gospel of Christ.
Mormons have no hope in Christ because they belong to a church that gave them “authoritative ordinances.” Without faith in Christ and a change to your heart and a willingness to obey the teachings that come from Christ (the latest of which is the covenant that instructs us what we are to do), then it doesn’t matter what organization you do or don’t belong to. Salvation is to be found by following the words of a living God—and that God is not only living, He is speaking. And what He has to say is remarkably profound. We’ve brushed up only against a small part of it in the talks that have been given today. But a lot of what has been said presumes that you know something in the background of Mormonism and the Restoration in Joseph Smith.
I’m here to tell you that the tattered history of early Christianity and the tattered history of Mormonism over the last 222  years are directly analogous. You will understand your Christian faith better by understanding what has happened to Mormonism than you will by listening to preachers in the pulpit. And you Mormons will better come to reconcile an understanding of what’s happened to your Restoration when you candidly look at how Christianity conducted itself over the first two and a quarter centuries.
It is HARD to hold onto the truth. It is HARD to have the Lord walk with you. But that’s only because this world wears on you and asks that you compromise a little here and that you give up a little there and that you indulge a little here. And everywhere you turn in our society today—entertainment, the news, the political voices—they’re all urging you to sin. And the bad news is we become victimized by that. We become inoculated to it. I mean, you only wade through and sit in raw sewage so long before you lose the scent, and you don’t realize the mess that you’re living in. This world intends to drag you down. And at the same time in that same covenant, the Lord says, The tares are ripening. …What of the wheat? (T&C 157:64). We have to become wheat, something worthy of being laid up in-store by the Lord for preservation into eternity.
Now, I need to let you know one other thing before I finish, and that is: We made our reservations to come out here at the time Joe invited us (months ago), and we bought our tickets—and just a few days ago, in going through and confirming and locking everything down, we found out that we didn’t have the rental car after all; they knew we’d expressed interest; we had to take care of that again. We found out that Southwest—on their own—decided they were changing our return flight, as a consequence of which we are gonna have to leave to get back to Louisville early enough that I’m not gonna be here and talk tomorrow. And so, I told Joe, “Don’t you announce that. I’ll just tell ’em as part of my talk,” and then you can throw your shoes at me instead of at him. I’ve got to be out of here. And so, in the Q&A, it’s the last you’ll hear of me in this conference.
This presentation is continued in the “Hear and Trust the Lord Q&A.”
This is a continuation of the “Hear and Trust the Lord” talk that Denver gave at the “Hear and Trust the Lord in the Storm” Conference.
So, having said that, I’ve already gotten one question that the answer’s, “No, I would not advocate using marijuana to get close to Jesus.” Nor peyote, nor… Gah, we got off the plane in Louisville, and like the first 50 signs—I didn’t realize there were even this many varieties—the first 50 signs were different kinds of bourbon. I mean, I finally saw these bourbon signs enough that I asked my wife, “Who do we know I could buy some bourbon for? ‘Cuz clearly it’s a thing down here.” And it’s a big thing, and it must be great. I’m not a bourbon drinker, but wow.
Okay, so do the Thomas Sisters have any questions? ‘Cuz they’ve been here listening to all this weird stuff. And it just occurs to me you’re kind of favoring us by showing up. You’ve been listening in on this stuff. Do you guys have any questions?
Thomas Sisters: We’re good.
Denver Snuffer: You’re good? Okay. Are there any CHRISTIANS who have questions? (‘Cuz
your Mormon questions are just…) Do we have a Christian who’s got a…? Okay, we can go! Oh, what? Okay. Yeah.
Question #1: First of all, your shirt, where did you get it?
DS: Oh, I saw this, and I went online, and I said, “I gotta wear that!” So we bought it. Yeah. “Normal isn’t coming back. Jesus is.” I think we got it on Amazon. Yeah, on Amazon. And I think if you just search for “T-shirt normal isn’t coming back,” I think you’ll find it.
Question #2: Can I ask another one? I had a whole page of ‘em, but the Vern and…
DS: Yeah, they answered them all. So…
[Question #2 regarding cremation]
Cremation? Well, cremation will not prevent a resurrection, because if you read the account that John gives in the book of Revelation about the dead coming forth, one of the places that will surrender their dead is the sea/the ocean. Once you drop a body into the ocean, it’s pretty well gone in fairly short order (even if you don’t drop it in a crab field in the Deadliest Catch terrain). And the bones will dissolve, everything will resolve back. So it doesn’t present an impediment to resurrection.
However, you’ve also got the example of the Lord who, upon being resurrected, they rolled the stone away from the tomb where He had been laid, and He literally came forth, and He was in the garden; He was still there at the site that morning when Mary and others came to the tomb. And when He appeared later, He asked them to handle His hands and His side and His feet and to see that, you know, He bore the same wounds and the same physical body. And so, the argument is that if the body has not decomposed into nothing, that then the very same body that you lay down will rise again from the grave.
One of the ambitions that Joseph Smith failed to achieve in his lifetime was to build a mausoleum in Nauvoo, in which his parents and his wife and his children could all be buried so that in the resurrection, they would come out of the grave at the same location and then be able to, you know, hug and embrace and kiss one another upon coming out of the grave—which suggests his belief in the literal coming forth of the actual physical body that you lay down in the grave. And if that be the case, then, of course, burning it up and turning it into ash is kind of a desecration of something that is the image of God. And there’s that theological argument.
I’ve learned of one fellow who intends to have his body cremated and then to send the ash off to have it crushed into a diamond—and then to have the diamond be the property of his widow after his passing, which is, you know, kind of cool. Yeah. Yeah. But, you know, in the end, I think no matter what you do, you… Everyone’s gonna come forth out of the grave. And some may want to create as many impediments to that as possible ‘cuz they’re not proud of how they lived, and so they’d like to delay the coming forth. But I don’t think it’s gonna stop things.
It was an early teaching of both, well, of Christianity, generally. It was an early teaching that you did not suddenly flare into existence as a spirit and a body at the time of your conception in the womb of your mother but that your spirit preceded your coming into this world—that you have a long history before you ever got here. Okay? That idea is very comfortable inside the Restoration because of the book of Abraham and the book of Moses (the revision of Genesis) makes it clear that we have a long, long history before we ever enter into this world as having been YOU, having been a separate sentient spirit-being. And from the book of Abraham, it becomes clear that some of the people who are here now (in the flesh) lived and had a physical body in another cycle of creation in an earlier round and that they didn’t just exist as spirits before they ever got here. So you have to ask yourself if it is possible to have a body, resurrect the body, and then have that body somehow get integrated—more as spirit than body—into another body and another cycle of creation, what exactly is the resurrection? And what exactly happens with the body? Okay?
We view ourselves as incredibly solid because we can’t put ourselves through walls; can’t do that because the atoms and the movement of the molecules and the charge between the electrons is such that it has a form of solidity that makes it impossible to pass through. AND YET, Jesus came forth out of the grave with the very same body, and He entered into the room with the door locked. (How’d He get through that wall?) And He ate! He ate fish that He cooked with coals on the… I mean, He’s moving physical matter. He’s consuming physical stuff. He’s walking into physical rooms, and yet He also has the ability to do something which physically we are unable to do, which ought to tell you something about the resurrection. All spirit is matter, but it is more refined and pure. So if all spirit is matter but more refined and pure, can you not take that spirit and reduce it to a more solid form?
Right now we have temperatures that exist in our neck of the Milky Way that go up to 20 million degrees. The difference between cold matter and hot matter is the vibrational speed at which it is moving. If it is at 20 million degrees, it is almost impossible to describe it as anything other than a gas. Okay? But we also have temperatures that go all the way down to absolute zero. And when you get down, you know (what is it? It’s less than 400 degrees below zero in Fahrenheit), the it just stops moving altogether; you freeze even the molecules. Everything’s slowed down. So it’s possible that “quickening” (it’s the word used in Scripture) is not just quickening meaning “turning something cool, neat; it’s quickened; it’s like Nestle’s Quik, except better.” Quickening might actually be a description of the physical state of the being, that it is sped up/it exists at an energetic level that is far above the energetic level at which we are functioning here. And therefore, it assumes a form that is, you know, “spirit” matter, which is quickened and refined and lacks the kind of solidity that your physical body exists in here and now. And my conjecture is based on limited observation, but I think that’s what I saw.
So I think there’s something to… You know, read your Scriptures, and look into that, and study a little bit of physics, and see if you don’t see it converging at some point in something that kind of makes that view look…
So I wouldn’t burn something that’s gonna dwell in everlasting burnings. I would wait for that to arrive on its own. Yeah, you gotta…
Question #3: As a child, was Christ tutored by the brass plates?
DS: See, now there’s a bit of interesting speculation because now you’re gonna have to have converging social interaction that so far the Scriptures have not let us comment on. So, it’s a great question! Great question. Okay. Anyone else? Yeah?
Question #4: I’m trying to figure out how to phrase the question, but in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father in Heaven,” and we know from Scripture that He’s known as the Father and the Son. And we also know that He becomes our Father as we become a child of Christ. So when I pray or when we pray, “Dear Heavenly Father,” also keeping in mind that in Third Nephi that the people were praying to Him, and He said, “It’s okay.” But when WE pray, we pray, “Our Heavenly Father.” Are we supposed to be praying to our Heavenly Father or to Christ as our new Father as we become His children? That’s my question. I hope that made sense.
DS: Yeah, okay. First, the idea of the Father and the Son as a theological issue has created a marriage between scriptural language and philosophy that turns God into an unknowable, incomprehensible being in which He is three-in-one—and yet, He’s not three, He’s one—without dividing the substance. “The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, the Holy Ghost uncreate; and yet, there is not three uncreates, there is one uncreate. The Father incomprehensible…” (see Athanasian Creed vs. 8-12). This… I’m reciting a Christian creed, by the way. All of you believe this if you’re a Christian or a Catholic or a Protestant, “The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, the Holy Ghost incomprehensible, and yet, there are not three incomprehensibles. There is one.” (This is Athanasian Creed? Which one is that? No, no it’s not Nicene; it’s a later… Athanasius, yeah, okay, yeah.
Okay, so the point is you touch up against the oneness of God, you touch up against the Father and the Son, you wind up in the middle of a theological mess. Jesus (in the New Testament, King James Version or New Revised Standard Version or whatever) offering the intercessory prayer (in the chapter 17 of the gospel of John) prays that the apostles and His disciples “may be one, as thou Father and I are one, that they may be one in us” (see John 9:21). See, He’s not talking about turning Matthew and Peter and the others into one and then, you know, morphing like something out of Matrix into single “whatever.” He’s talking about this unity that exists in the conviction, the belief, the purpose, the understanding, sharing in the same mind, okay? That’s what He’s talking about. So when you say, “Christ taught us in the Sermon on the Mount to pray, ‘Our Father who art in heaven,’ and Jesus is becoming the Father, are we praying to Jesus or are we praying to the Father?” And the answer is yes. Because there is no difference between…
I mean, I could tell you things about how prayers get answered, and it’s not what we sometimes think it is. There’s a lot going on on the other side of the veil that is left out of the story—and for good reason, because it isn’t necessary. But there is no prayer that gets answered, at any level at which the prayer does get answered, in which the information that’s conveyed/the message that is granted is not approved, ultimately, all the way to the Father. But the Father resides in a place in which ALL THINGS past, present, and future are manifest before Him continuously so that there isn’t a past and a present and a future; it’s all one in His presence. Okay?
(I don’t know if I should even be telling people this, but…) In order for those who reside in the presence of God to come and actually connect to this physical creation, just like we have to undergo some profound transfiguration in order to be caught up into Heaven, there is a similar process that’s required in order to descend from Heaven. And it is not pleasant for those who are used to a higher order of things to condescend here. And therefore, there’s actually… I mean, one of the phrases that gets used is that there are sentinels who guard the path. There’s a Cherubim and a flaming sword sent to guard the way to the Tree of Life. And, you know, analogy though that may be, it’s referring to actual things. There are those who…
Well, if you look at the vision of the Three Degrees of Glory, an angel who was in a position of authority in the presence of God fell and became Lucifer. So we know that turned out badly, and he’s a ne’er-do-well, and we don’t like him, and he doesn’t like us, and he’s aiming to disrupt the purposes of God. But the phrase that you ought to pick out of that is that he was “in a position of authority in the presence of God,” which as a description ought to suggest that if that was the case in the instance of an angel who fell, it only makes sense that it would be true also of angels who have not fallen. And if there be angels who are not fallen who are in a position of authority in the presence of God, then meditate on that idea for a notion of, you know, prayers and answers and who we’re praying to, which is always… EVERYTHING is always done in the name of the Father. Everything is always ordained at the outset by the authority of the Father, and the glory and the praise and the honor be the Father’s. But there are those who are moving along in a process that if they’re “trusted” are trusted and if they’re “true and faithful,” they’re true and faithful—and if they’re given a position of authority in the presence of God and you lost your keys and you’re praying to find your keys, do you really need God the Father? Can a local angel who’s looking around saying, “This guy’s an idiot. ‘Look behind the sofa there!'” There, I used my angel voice: “They’re behind the sofa.” Actually, that’s more like the king in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. “Joseph!”
Question #5: I have a question. In the Testimony of St. John (in chapter one and throughout the Testimony of St. John), it refers to the “cosmos,” such as, “the creation of the cosmos was organized by a messenger,” by Christ. Does this refer, that use of the word cosmos, can you comment on whether that refers to a galaxy, this creation specifically, or the entire universe?
DS: Oh. Christ created more than this world. The testimony of the afterlife says that the worlds are…and were created [by him], and the inhabitants thereof are the…sons and daughters of God (T&C 69:5). Okay? (I didn’t bring my Scriptures, but I remember some of them.) That tells you that Jesus, personally, was responsible for more than the creation of this world. That tells you that when a creation is made of a world on which there is a divine purpose involved, that it is inhabited by people that are children of God. And if they be children of God, then they’re gonna be redeemed.
I just think… There is something in the additions to the Scriptures that describe a vision of the Lord returning in His glory, the language for which was prescribed specifically, and those are the words that have to be used and the only words that can be used. But there’s stuff in the new Scriptures—if you look at them and you ask yourself that question—that will really help you get your hands around some of that. But I don’t think it’s right when you’re told to “color within the lines” to color outside the lines. So, just look carefully at the Scriptures with that question in mind. You might be surprised how much stuff there is in there about that.
Question 6: Yeah, the theme of the conference is “Hear and Trust in the Lord in the Storm,” so when you’re lying at the bottom of an icy ramp, and your life has just changed, what do you do to stay in tune with that voice and to trust in what’s coming next?
DS: I don’t, I don’t…
Audience Member: Can you repeat the question? DS: Oh, yeah. He said, When I fall and I’m laying at the bottom of an icy ramp with a broken arm, what do I do in that circumstance to, you know, stay in tune? And there really is an answer, except I don’t… I hate being emotional… 22nd Psalm.
The 22nd Psalm has a phrase in it. Well, let me see if I can do this better. Okay. When Christ was being crucified on the cross, one of His final acts was to recite, My God, My God, why [hast thou] forsaken me? (Matthew 12:28). Everyone who was present knew He was reciting the opening words of a psalm. He was not asking God why He was forsaking Him; He was testifying that He was the Messiah—and a messianic psalm that had been composed about the VERY scene that was then unfolding was His testimony that all those that look at him “shoot the lip out and mock Him,” that He was “surrounded by dogs,” that “his garments were parted,” and that “they cast lots.” He’s reciting the messianic psalm about the very moment that all of those people who were skeptical about Him were living when He began to sing, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” He apparently, at that point, was so near death that He couldn’t do more than the first line. But if you read that psalm, it will slap you up in the face.
Okay, there’s a line in there about how His bones stare at Him because everything is disjointed. And this [the broken arm] hurt. And it hurt, you know, right up there with the greatest amount of agony I’ve encountered. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was… I went into shock: I was shivering and blacking out and all that from pain. And what I was thinking at the time is, “I don’t know how the Lord did it. I don’t know how He endured what He endured.” If you read that psalm and you realize… I mean, first of all, I COULDN’T do it. I would have blacked out, and they’d have been hauling around a limp body, nailing it up, and you know, it would have been sort of anti-climatic. You know, “Don’t stick a spear in him; you’ll wake him up!” It’s pathetic. But He hung right in there, and I… I just marveled at Him.
Anyway, there was another… Oh, way back there. Yeah?
Question #7: I was wondering… You probably never deal with this at all, but if you notice pride within yourself, what is something you do, or what do you think of, or how do you kind of…?
DS: Well, I’m… I came up here, and I was looking at his drums, and I was thinking, “If I just had my right hand, I could do something!” I got a set of drums in my basement, and I’m a little proud of some of the stuff I can do there.
But pride—when it comes to the things of God—makes no sense at all. I don’t think I’ve ever done an adequate job with anything that’s been entrusted to me, but somehow people are good enough to compensate for my own shortcomings. There have been phenomenal things/miraculous things that have been achieved as a consequence of the faith of people. I may have been able to facilitate a few things getting done, but GREAT things have been and are getting done—not by my efforts but by the efforts of other people. I rented and paid for and went to ten venues to begin things in the Ten Talks that got given, and after that, the conferences have been organized by people of faith. The facilities that have been arranged have been done by people of faith. The recording that’s been done… I wasn’t even responsible for recording any of the ten talks; a fellow volunteered, and you know, it was a good idea that he do that. But I just went to give talks; I didn’t give any thought at all to preserving them. And he began a practice of doing that and then making them available on CD—which, in turn, led (ultimately) to the Restoration Archives, in which a vast library of recorded material has been preserved. Well, I look at everything that has been done, and I admire a lot of the people, and I’m in awe of some of the successes that have been achieved. I don’t personally take any pride in that. I think what I’ve done, I’ve done inadequately, haltingly. But I’ve learned a lot! I’ve learned a lot. I have a better understanding…
When the Scripture project was approaching its completion and the idea was that we would take it to the Lord in prayer, my first thought was, “Something like that deserves the dignity, it has the solemnity, and it has the importance that the prayer ought to be written down.” Because when the Kirtland Temple was dedicated, the dedicatory prayer was written down, and then it was read. And so, while it’s really unusual in my life (it may be the only one I’ve ever written down), I sat down to write a prayer because I believed—I had this conviction—that that’s what needed to happen.
I sat down to write the prayer, and the prayer was given by revelation; the conviction was all that I brought to the party. That prayer more succinctly deals with the entire sweep of the history of the Restoration in just very few words—I mean, I’ve written volumes of history trying to explain things, and that prayer does it more clearly, more accurately, more succinctly than I ever did. So if I compare that prayer (which, literally, all I was, was the scribe that wrote it down) with what I’ve written, all that does is make me feel verbose and inadequate—’cuz I take a lot more words to say what the Lord can say in fewer words. Well, when the prayer got answered, the answer came with such clarity that I thought, “Oh, I’d better write this down!” And I was forbidden. “No.” And that just seemed odd. Why would you…? Why would you get so clear an answer if you’re not supposed to write it down? It’s got to be written down.
And then it changed—so that the words that would have been written down wouldn’t were not the same. And I thought, “Oh, that’s why I didn’t write it down, because it was a diff… There was a change; it needed a change to be made. So, now I can write it down. Now I can write that.” No, I was forbidden from writing it down—because the prayer changed again. And what it finally… This happened several times. And what it finally got through to me was: Heaven responds to what happens on Earth immediately, instantly; They see what’s going on. We are turbulent; we are in motion. And how we are in one moment doesn’t reflect the maturity that we acquire in a later moment in the give and take of abusing and misusing and misunderstanding one another and then being humiliated by that and then growing up a little bit and being a little better person. And so, the answer changed because the real world changed until, finally, it got to the… And I held off. I held off because, in my view, this could be different right up until the very end.
It finally stabilized because of the PEOPLE, not because of me. Because of the people, it stabilized, and then the command came, “Write it.” And so now, the whole thing came in one writing. And it wasn’t the same as it would have been a month earlier, a week earlier, or two weeks earlier, because there were still people that had to work some things out “as between one another” that hadn’t stabilized yet. And it was a fabulous education. The Lord’s invested a great deal in getting things done. I’m not the smartest, the best, or (I don’t even think) the most worthy—but I WILL follow direction. And I WILL limit what I say and do to what I’m told to say and do, and go no further. And I do think there’s a great deal of material yet to tumble out from Heaven. But Heaven alone is gonna control that, and I don’t take any pride in any of it. But I do think that I’ve been serviceable, and I’m glad at that. I just wish I had been more so; I wish I could persuade more people. I know there are people with probably legitimate complaints and criticisms of me that find that I create a barrier for them in connecting up with the Lord and what He’s doing now. That’s unfortunate. I wish I were not an impediment to anyone. I wish they would just read the material and forget about me because the material stands on its own. It will lead you to truth. It will lead you to light. You don’t need to say, “Oh, he’s this, or he’s that” or “He’s NOT this, and he’s NOT that.” And I’ll admit, I’m not THAT! But God IS something, and He’s working. And He’s working right now to achieve an end, and it’s going to be glorious.
There was another hand up here I thought. Yeah, yeah? Question #8: What’s the risk we’ll fail?
DS: Oh, man.
Audience Member: What’s the question?
DS: What’s the risk that we will fail? Zion and a city of God that got caught up to Heaven, in the history of the world, has been accomplished two times. There will be a third time, but this Zion will not be caught up; instead, Heaven will come down. It’s prophesied. It’s promised. It WILL happen, but the prior two—literally—one was antediluvian, and one was immediately post-deluge, and look at all the generations of people that have come and gone and have not seen Zion. I mean, the Lord’s lamentation is, “How oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you would not.” That lamentation is found in every volume of Scripture that we’ve got (including our new Scriptures; every volume of those). So the impediment isn’t God’s willingness to bring Zion; the impediment is always our end, not…
How can you have one of the most qualified New Testament scholars that exists in the world today be agnostic? I mean, how is that possible? It’s because “getting the information” doesn’t mean “living the religion.” It’s because “memorizing long passages of scripture” doesn’t mean “living the religion.” You can have all the theology and understanding that any man has ever attained to, but if it’s not alive in you—if that spark of the divine is not part of your experience and your life—then it’s still nothing more than an idea.
When the Mormon missionaries came and taught me (and they taught me the Joseph Smith story), I literally thought all Mormons saw angels. I literally thought that was what the Mormon religion was. I got baptized, and it was some short while after that, that I get caught up to Heaven, and I’m in the presence of an angel—and it didn’t… It didn’t surprise me; it didn’t put me off; it didn’t… I thought, “Yeah, this is that new religion that I joined! This is the way this works! Yeah!” And so, I’m acting more like a tourist than anything else. I’m confident I was a disappointment. I mean, you’ve got all the solemnity of eternity in the countenance of this Being. I can quote him; I’ve done that before: “On the first day of the third month, your ministry will begin, and so, you must prepare”—that was his message. (You’ve heard that; I’ve said that a time or two.) But I didn’t ask anything. I didn’t… I thought, “Hey, I like this new religion! This is kind of nice. But this seems like such a humorless fellow, you know?—dressed in white and looking all like granite practically…” BOO! You know, he probably came back to return and report and said, “What the hell are you thinking with that guy? He’s not all that!” Yeah, there’s another story. I don’t tell that one, but maybe I should.
Question #9: I have a question about miracles.
Question #9 (continued): Yes, in Third Nephi, when the disciples were asking about what the church of Christ told them that if it is built upon my gospel then the works of the Father would be manifest in them. You read in Fourth Nephi about healing the sick and the lame walking. What is it that we lack, if we are one on the path of the gospel, to get those words of the Father manifested?
Audience Member: Can you repeat the question?
DS: Yeah, he’s saying that the works of the Father get shown forth in people of faith, and what is it we lack that we don’t have the miracles that they talk about in Fourth Nephi, and the obvious and the simple answer is: faith. I mean… I…
It’s a funny thing about faith and healings and miracles and signs, okay? On the one hand, signs do follow those who believe. And on the other hand, those who seek for a sign lack faith; very often, those who seek for a sign are adulterers because it’s a wicked and adulterous generation that seeketh after a sign. I have seen signs and miracles; there’s people in this room that could tell you about miracles that have occurred as a consequence of faith and obedience. And I don’t do that. I don’t talk about that. Because very often the people most interested in that are people that go from one titillating story to another titillating story. Christ would admonish those for whom miracles were performed to tell no one, to keep it quiet. And part of the reason for doing so is because those kinds of incidents inspire and attract a certain type of person—and those people are quick to convert, fickle, they have shallow roots, and they don’t go anywhere. They dry up in the heat of the day. So all it takes is a little opposition, and then those that flock in to that run away.
I have witnessed miracles. I have seen miracles. I don’t talk about them because I believe that, in the end, the more we focus on the search for finding and experiencing those, the less our search is for bending the knee and submitting to the will of the Father. And there may be more on that in the future—because I was pursuing that very specifically and recently learned that God has purposes behind who He heals and who He does not heal and why He does and why He does not. And I’m not sure that it would be of any use at this moment to talk about that, but God knows what He’s doing. And sometimes there’s a much, much bigger set of dynamics that are involved in what’s going on down here: who’s taken, who’s left, why someone is taken, and what purposes are achieved. But God literally is in charge of everything. And miracles do happen. Just because they’re not, you know, turned into a headline doesn’t mean that they haven’t and that they don’t occur. They do.
Question #10: I’ve got a question about baptism.
Question #10 (continued): It says you have to have six or seven women. And I only know two.
Question #10 (continued): So where do I get, if somebody wants to get baptized, where do I find six [seven] women that knows my…
DS: Well, you ought to get another four [five] women to talk to the two women that know you, and one of the places where that happens are at conferences, and this is a conference. I mean, some of you ladies need to get to know this fellow. (There—that sounds like an early pioneer Mormon Utah come on if I ever heard one!) No, we should/you should take care of that here at the conference, and if the two women who do know you can talk to other women who are present here and they can/the other women can ask you questions, you should be able to get that taken care of right here during this, before this is up.
Yeah, there’s an arm up back there…?
Question #11: Yeah, in Third Nephi, when the Lord… I’m going off of the Ten Talks when you made mention “their works not their book”, their works not their book with the remnant of Lehi [indecipherable]. Can you talk about that for a second, what he meant by that? I mean, if I understand right, we’re working a mighty change to bring a book to them, but what are the works more specifically that even the Lord said would be that sign?
DS: (Well, apparently my time is up.) Okay, so one of the ways in which John is described after his translation is that he became a ministering angel to “minister to those who are heirs of salvation.” The responsibility to work out salvation is the responsibility of mortals. If…
No generation is going to have an advantage over another generation by having a resurrected, visible, angelic ministrant walking around as the preacher. They minister to people whose responsibility it is to teach. And so, the works that they do behind the scenes are the works that angels do (hey, Steph, can you bring the sling up? I’m gonna put my arm back in), that the works that they do are behind the scene, and the same kind of thing that would be done by an angel (and not publicly), they (the ministers that… the translated three Nephites, John, and others) do, “holy men whom ye know not of” do are designed to fulfill and keep the covenants of the Fathers. But it’s all…
Everything that’s going on has been and is designed to achieve the fulfillment of the covenantal process in which God’s gonna keep faithful to the agenda that began with Father Adam and Mother Eve and is intended to culminate in a wrapping-up scene in which the world is judged, the wicked are destroyed, and there is a season of peace brought on the earth. And between the beginning and the end, there has always been a process in which angelic ministrants behind the veil educate and then send forth mortals to teach mortals so that the work of salvation gets done BY mortals, and the test is the same in every generation.
No generation gets to say, “Yeah, but they had THIS.” I mean, Christ is the closest thing we have to something that’s supernatural that walked on the earth, but look at how few people followed after Him. When He gave His bread of life sermon, practically everyone abandoned Him and went back the other way. And by the time He enters triumphant into Jerusalem—and they’re laying down their coats, and they’re laying down their palm trees, and they’re celebrating: “Hosanna, Hosanna”—well, a few days later, no one interferes when He’s marched up to Golgotha and nailed to the tree! And the few people that, you know, they trusted in Him, and look what a big disappointment He is. It takes the resurrection, and THAT was largely held to a private event of a handful of faithful people. And by the time you get to the book of Acts and you look at the numbers, there’s about 500 people that believed in Christ. That’s about it. So, you know, you can say you would have believed had you been there, but from all the thousands who WERE there, in the end, only about 500 of them believed. And as the sad story of Nauvoo was told today, how many of them believed? How many of those people that were contemporaneous with Joseph Smith ever realized just what an extraordinary blessing he was to have had around in their day? I mean, it was an utter… It was an utter failure.
Let me end ‘cuz I’ve…
(Oh no, I’ll tell that story some other time…)
Thanks for coming. I hope that people beyond this crowd listen to some of the comments that were made here today. I thank the organizers and the Thomas Sisters and everyone that’s participated or will participate, and I’m sorry that I won’t be around tomorrow. Thank you for coming.