Criticism of Mormonism/Online documents/Denver Snuffer/Doctrinal claims

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A FairMormon Analysis of Denver Snuffer's Online Claims: Doctrinal claims

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Church has lost priesthood authority

Church has lost priesthood authority

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Accusing First Presidency of transgression

Church has lost priesthood authority

Priesthood authority not necessary

Priesthood authority not necessary

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Other doctrinal claims

"Deviated" from proper wording for baptism


Denver Snuffer claim:

"When I was baptized into the LDS Church, the baptismal prayer was, "Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father..." When I was rebaptized, I was rebaptized by one who had authority from Christ, therefore, in that baptisms the words were, "Having authority given me of Jesus Christ…" If all you are going to do is baptize someone again according to the LDS pattern, with the commission in the Church, do not bother doing it. But if you follow these principles, and if the Spirit empowers you to baptize, then baptize having authority from Christ and follow His words. We have deviated long enough. It is time to return."[1]

FairMormon Response


Question: Have Mormons deviated from proper wording for the baptismal prayer?

In the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, Joseph Smith changed the wording to the modern form we know well

Some excommunicated members claim the Church is in error, or is performing invalid baptisms, because the baptismal prayer in 3 Nephi is not used with precisely the same wording [2]:

Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen (3 Nephi 11:25, italics added).

Instead, the following wording is used:

Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen (D&C 20:73, italics added).

It is true that the wording differs slightly. In the 1833 Book of Commandments (a precursor to the Doctrine and Covenants) the wording given was:

Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.[3]

However, in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, Joseph Smith changed the wording to the modern form we know well.

Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.[4]

The Church has not, therefore, deviated from something taught by Joseph. Instead, Joseph made the change and the Church has followed it ever since. Those who claim that the Church has "forgotten" what God has commanded ignore the fact that Joseph was the prophet, and he was authorized to adjust the method by which ordinances are performed.

The Church has remained true to Joseph's instructions; fundamentalists ignore Joseph's teachings, demonstrating that they do not sustain a living prophet delivering on-going revelation to the Church.


Snuffer claims to sustain Joseph Smith, but claims that Joseph's instructions about the prayer were a "deviation" that he (Snuffer) is now to set right.

"Tithing is for the poor"


Denver Snuffer claim:

"Tithing is for the poor."[5]

FairMormon Response


Question: Why does the church spend so much money on temples when children are dying of starvation?

The Doctrine and Covenants teaches that tithing is commanded for the building of temples

Why does the church spend so much money on temples when children are dying of starvation in other parts of the world? Wouldn’t the money spent on these buildings be better used in feeding the hungry? [6] One critic of the Church states, "Tithing is for the poor."[7]

The Doctrine and Covenants teaches that tithing is commanded for the building of temples:

10 Verily I say unto you, that it is my will that a house should be built unto me in the land of Zion, like unto the pattern which I have given you.

11 Yea, let it be built speedily, by the tithing of my people. (D&C 97:10-11, italics added)

Likewise D&C 119:2-3 commands tithing for a variety of purposes:

2 For the building of mine house, and for the laying of the foundation of Zion and for the priesthood, and for the debts of the Presidency of my Church.

3 And this shall be the beginning of the tithing of my people.

Thus, tithing is properly used for temples and other activities consistent with building the kingdom of God ("laying the foundation of Zion and for the priesthood"). Joseph Smith used tithing for such purposes throughout his administration.

"The poor" are nowhere mentioned in these commands, since the scriptures have a different mechanism for providing for them—the fast (Isaiah 58:6-7).

Christ was anointed with expensive oils. The act was criticized by Judas who suggested that the items could have been sold to benefit the poor

Just prior to the crucifixion, Christ was anointed with expensive oils. The act was criticized by Judas who suggested that the items could have been sold to benefit the poor. Christ's response was telling. He said "for ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial" (Matt 26:11-12). Just as with this event that served to the preparation for the eternal sacrifice of Christ, even so Temples serve to the eternal blessing of the rest of us and make Christ's sacrifice effective to the exaltation of others. The reality is that eternal salvation is the point of this earth life. Poverty, while certainly tragic and deserving of our individual sacrifices and attention, will only pertain to this existence. In the gospel, we must seek to find the appropriate balance.

Temples are built for the blessings of individuals and families into the eternities. Like the anointing of Christ, their existence serves an eternal cause and are in fact considered the House of the Lord. Just as the use of the oils were deserving of the expense, Latter-day Saints likewise consider constructing temples where sacred, eternal covenants pertaining to eternal exaltation are made, are deserving of our best efforts and sacrifices. Because the ordinances of the temple make all of the purposes of life complete and worthwhile, the temples command a level of attention like almost none other in the church.

Church members always have the choice of directing their cash donations to specific funds

It should be noted that, that according to some reports, Mormons donate more to charities than almost any other denomination. We have an extensive network of farms and canneries that are used to help feed individuals around the world. Our welfare system that is based on generous donations of the value of foregone meals from our monthly fast serve to benefit untold individuals. The church has programs to help build wells for safe drinking water and irrigation in Africa, and the church is constantly preparing to rush aid to disaster stricken areas. The truth is that Latter-day Saints are known to be extremely generous in their efforts to give and sacrifice for the benefit of others.

Church members always have the choice of directing their cash donations to specific funds. In addition to categories for tithing and fast offerings, there are also a temple fund, perpetual education fund and humanitarian aid. Tithing donations are dedicated to the establishment of the Kingdom of God on Earth, which includes financing the building of places of worship. Fast offerings are used to assist people in need, first for members of the Church, but second for all others. If one wants a temple built, one may pay into the temple fund. If one wants to help third-world countries, they may pay into the humanitarian aid fund. If one wishes to help people in poor countries obtain a better education, the perpetual education fund would be appropriate. It would be objectionable if the Church took money that was specifically donated for humanitarian aid in order to finance temple construction. Likewise, it would be objectionable if they took money that was donated for temples in order to finance humanitarian aid.

One must keep in mind that there is an element of personal responsibility that also must be weighed when considering what and how to donate to a person or group. As the saying goes, “It is better to teach how to fish and feed a man for life rather than to give a man a fish and feed him for a day.” The church expends considerable resources to this end with programs such as the perpetual education fund and other programs.

The Church and humanitarian aid

The primary focus of the Church is to help people to come unto Christ and be perfected in Him. To be perfected in Christ also means that we learn to lead an active life, where we use our agency and take responsibility for our own situation.

Tons of relief goods and huge amounts of funds have been transferred from the 1st world to the 3rd world, yet hunger still persists. For example, the "Granary of Africa", Ethiopia, has become a region of scarcity. People have ceased to be self-sufficient and instead have become reliant on that which is given to help them. Funds intended for humanitarian purposes are instead being used by warlords to purchase weapons. Relief goods intended for the people deteriorate on ports and airports, because warlords do not let them pass. In short, the situation in Africa, instead of getting better through European and American help, has been worsened.

Nevertheless, the Church sends humanitarian aid in goods to regions in need and is always among the first organizations to do this.

But the Church also takes another approach by sending welfare missionaries to the 3rd world, teaching the people how to become self-reliant again with a minimum of foreign capital. This, of course, is not a "cheap" solution, where you can send down money and stop worrying, but rather an "expensive" one, in that you need specially trained people for the job, people willing to fulfill such a mission. You do not need young men on those missions, but seasoned specialists, and there are only so many of them.

The blessings of having a temple nearby

On the other hand, it is still necessary to have chapels and temples that "do the job,” and it is the LORD who tells us how this is accomplished. If the Lord commands us to build a temple, then we build it without second guessing His reasoning.

It should be noted that there are practical benefits that result from families preparing to attend the temple. When great efforts are made by the Saints to attend the temple, they tend to become better people both before and after they attend. This effort generally results in an increase in faith and faithfulness for husbands and wives, and hopefully causes them to become more nurturing parents. This in turn impacts the children in these families, as they are raised knowing that they are loved and cherished. These children come forth into the world with less baggage and fewer "hang-ups" than a child who is neglected and not loved. The end result is another citizen who is ready to serve and contribute to the welfare of the poor and neglected rather than one who depends upon society to help them. In a sense, one could consider this our way of "teaching a man how to fish." As in all things there must be a balance, and aid to the poor cannot be neglected while we prepare future generations to go out and render such aid.

The question about the appropriate balance between expenses for worship, instruction, and eternal ordinances and the temporary alleviation of hunger is one that, without a doubt, weighs heavily on church leaders. They no doubt consider that there is a need for these other items or else they would not have made such a choice. Just as one might have to chose to expend money and resources on a computer and internet connection, or a home and personal clothes, or a car and other personal items, the church likewise must consider all the expenses and choices. Bringing temples close to individuals in poverty stricken areas is one eternal blessing that the church feels is important to sacrifice for. Families in poor areas of the world have sold everything that they had so they could attend the temple to be sealed together as an eternal family. Building a temple close to people such as these makes such future sacrifices unnecessary and will bless tens of thousands. The faithful Saints in poverty stricken countries are willing to sacrifice greatly for the privilege of having a temple close to them, just as did the early Saints in Kirtland, Ohio who made substantial contributions in the midst of personal poverty to construct the first LDS temple in that city. The Kirtland Temple was one of the most expensive ever constructed if you consider the relative poverty and cost of living of those who built it. The point is that Temples are so sacred and valuable to Latter-day Saints that their temporary periods of poverty are not as critical to them as obtaining the blessings of eternity.


"If you knew what God was up to, you could prevent it"


Denver Snuffer claim:

"Prophecy is not given so you can anticipate the details beforehand. Prophecy is only given so that after the event takes place, you can then understand the scriptures’ meaning. Only after He has acted can you understand how the Lord intended to accomplish His will and fulfill His promise. Prophecy’s purpose is not to allow you beforehand to know the events with enough specificity so that God's will could be anticipated, prevented, and frustrated. If you knew what He was up to, you could prevent it. But because you do not, when the prophecies are fulfilled, then you know the Lord has acted. God can use any means He chooses to accomplish His promises. Everything God is doing is not disclosed at the time it is underway."[8]

FairMormon Response


Question: Is prophecy only available for "after the fact" confirmation that God has acted?

This claim fails on logical and scriptural grounds, and contradicts the teachings of Joseph Smith

Some who are excommunicated from the Church claim that prophecy is only given so we can understand "after the fact" that God has acted. God does not let anyone know what will come. [9]

It appears that this is simply one more tactic to encourage members of the Church to disregard prophets and assure them that no one can foretell the future with sufficient detail or clarity to be useful, except after the fact. It allows him to use his own interpretations of prophecy and insist that he should be heeded when he disagrees with the interpretation given by prophets.

It is a variant of a tactic described in the Book of Mormon from Korihor and Sherem, the two anti-Christs:

O ye that are bound down under a foolish and a vain hope, why do ye yoke yourselves with such foolish things? Why do ye look for a Christ? For no man can know of anything which is to come (Alma 30:13).

And now behold, I, Sherem, declare unto you that this is blasphemy; for no man knoweth of such things; for he cannot tell of things to come (Jacob 7:7).

The only difference is that in this case, the critic claims that "no man can know of anything which is to come" until it has already happened—which is functionally the same thing. If we cannot understand prophecies until they have come to pass, then prophets and the prophecies cannot guide our lives and choices. If they accept this, then members of his audience are vulnerable to accepting Snuffer's interpretation of prophecy.

This claim fails on logical and scriptural grounds, and contradicts the teachings of Joseph Smith, whom the author claims to sustain as a prophet.

"The grand rule of heaven was that nothing should ever be done on earth without revealing the secret to his [the Lord's] servants the prophets, agreeably to Amos 3:7."
—Joseph Smith, Jr.[10]

One excommunicated critic claims:

Prophecy is not given so you can anticipate the details beforehand. Prophecy is only given so that after the event takes place, you can then understand the scriptures’ meaning. Only after He has acted can you understand how the Lord intended to accomplish His will and fulfill His promise. Prophecy’s purpose is not to allow you beforehand to know the events with enough specificity so that God's will could be anticipated, prevented, and frustrated. If you knew what He was up to, you could prevent it. But because you do not, when the prophecies are fulfilled, then you know the Lord has acted. God can use any means He chooses to accomplish His promises. Everything God is doing is not disclosed at the time it is underway.[11]

Illogical

The author claims that if the future were foretold, "God's will could be anticipated, prevented, and frustrated." "If you knew what He was up to," he claims, "you could prevent it."

This is illogical. God's will—by definition—cannot be frustrated. No one can prevent God bringing to pass his purposes. God is all-powerful, and all-knowing. Mortals cannot thwart his purposes, save that they may use their moral agency to refuse to follow God's purposes for them. Thus, a mortal might thwart God's desire that he be saved, but he cannot thwart God's purposes in history, or God's desire to save others.

Scriptural claims

Scriptural examples of foretelling are numerous.

  • Jesus warned the Christians of the impending destruction of Jerusalem (Matthew 24:)., with the result that many Christians escaped the Roman destruction of AD 70.
  • Detailed prophecies of Christ's birth were available, anticipated, and were not able to be thwarted. The Book of Mormon—which the critic claims to believe is scripture—is simply brimming with examples. (For a few, see: 2 Nephi 25:19; Helaman 14:2,12; 3 Nephi 1:4-9).
  • God promises that he will tell prophets before-hand of his plans and intent—"Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7).
  • The Book of Mormon begins with a testimony that Jerusalem will be destroyed—and it was. The captive Jews were also prophesied to return, and they did (1 Nephi 1:4,13; 2:13; 3:17; 10:3; 2 Nephi 1:4); 25:10).
  • The name of Joseph Smith and his father were announced (2 Nephi 3:15).

Readers can doubtless think of many other examples.

Joseph Smith

Joseph said:

It is only a handful of priesthood you see here tonight, but this church will fill North and South America it will fill the world.[12]

Joseph gives an account of making a prophecy and having the wicked desire to thwart it, but they could not:

Esquire Butterfield asked me "to prophesy how many inhabitants would come to Nauvoo." I said, I will not tell how many inhabitants will come to Nauvoo; but when I went to Commerce, I told the people I would build up a city, and the old inhabitants replied "We will be damned if you can." So I prophesied that I would build up a city, and the inhabitants prophesied that I could not; and we have now about 12,000 inhabitants. I will prophesy that we will build up a great city; for we have the stakes and have only to fill up the interstices.[13]

Brigham Young likewise did so during Joseph's lifetime, for the benefit of the Prophet:

About January 16, 1838, being destitute of money to pursue my journey, I [Joseph] said to Brother Brigham Young: "You are one of the Twelve who have charge of the kingdom in all the world; I believe I shall throw myself upon you, and look to you for counsel in this case." Brother Young thought I was not earnest, but I told him I was. Brother Brigham then said, "If you will take my counsel it will be that you rest yourself, and be assured you shall have money in plenty to pursue your journey."[14]

Parley P. Pratt reported:

As we arose and commenced our march on the morning of the 3d of November, Joseph Smith spoke to me and the other prisoners, in a low, but cheerful and confidential tone; said he: "Be of good cheer, brethren; the word of the Lord came to me last night that our lives should be given us, and that whatever we may suffer during this captivity, not one of our lives should be taken." Of this prophecy I testify in the name of the Lord, and, though spoken in secret, its public fulfilment and the miraculous escape of each one of us is too notorious to need my testimony.[15]

Another likewise sought to disprove a prophecy:

John Darby came in and said he was going to California with Brewster. I told him I would say, as the Prophet said to Hezekiah, "Go, and prosper; but ye shall not return in peace." Brewster may set out for California, but he will not get there unless somebody shall pick him up by the way, feed him and help him along. Brewster showed me the manuscript he had been writing. I inquired of the Lord, and the Lord told me the book was not true—it was not of Him. If God ever called me, or spake by my mouth, or gave me a revelation, he never gave revelations to that Brewster boy or any of the Brewster race. [16]

Even minor matters could be foretold, and in precise detail, according to Joseph:

When I was playing in the yard of the Mansion, in Nauvoo, with Joseph and Frederick, two of the Prophet's sons, a gentleman drove to the gate and asked if Joseph Smith was at home. The Prophet came forward, and the gentleman drove his horse up to a tie post and left the lines lying loose.

When he was about half way to the house, Joseph said, "Mr., I think you would do well to tie your horse; he might get a scare and run away and break your carriage."

The gentleman replied, "I have driven that horse for some years and never tie him. I am a doctor and cannot afford to tie up at every place I call."

Joseph repeated, "You had better tie, all the same. Your horse might get a scare and run away."

The doctor replied, "No fear."

Joseph seemed quite uneasy, and got up several times from his chair on the porch. Suddenly the horse started up the street and struck a wheel against a post and scattered the pieces for a block or more. The doctor sprang to his feet, and looking after the horse, cried out to Joseph, "I'll be d—Prophetsd if you ain't a prophet!"[17] </blockquote

It would be hard to be more specific than this.


"You should ordain no one to an office" in the priesthood

Question: Should there be no offices in the priesthood?

Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the Bible all taught that there are ranks in the priesthood

Some who are excommunicated from the Church claim that one should just be ordained to the priesthood—they insist that no priesthood offices should be used.[18]

Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the Bible all taught that there are ranks in the priesthood—some priesthood holders are given different authority than others.

Denver Snuffer instructed his followers:

When you ordain someone to serve in these fellowships you should ordain no one to an office, only confer the priesthood. Have no offices. Let everyone be equal. Be without ranks.[19]:14

All members of the Church are equal in the sight of God. Snuffer claims to support Joseph Smith and the Restoration, yet it was Joseph Smith who established the various priesthood offices and ranks.

Book of Mormon ranks

 Contradicts Book of Mormon—The Book of Mormon likewise has a variety of offices:

Furthermore, some officers (elders and priests) are able to administer the sacrament, where as others (teachers) are not (compare Moroni 3:3 with Moroni 4:1).

There would be no point to giving different names to such people if they did not have different duties, responsibilities, and powers.

Doctrine and Covenants

 Contradicts D&C—From the very beginning of the restoration, there were a variety of priesthood ranks (D&C 20:38-60):

  • elders/apostles
  • priests
  • teachers
  • deacons

 Contradicts Joseph Smith—With time, Joseph revealed other offices and ranks (D&C 20:67):

The Bible

In the Bible, authority and rank in the priesthood is also present. For example, Phillip could baptize (Acts 8:13), but the apostles were required to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 8:14-17).


Notes

  1. Denver Snuffer, "Preserving The Restoration," Lecture 10, Mesa, Arizona (9 September 2014), 16.http://www.scribd.com/doc/239760895/10-Phoenix-Transcript-Preserving-the-Restoration#download
  2. Denver Snuffer, "Preserving The Restoration," Lecture 10, Mesa, Arizona (9 September 2014), 16.http://www.scribd.com/doc/239760895/10-Phoenix-Transcript-Preserving-the-Restoration#download
  3. Book of Commandments (Zion: W.W. Phelps & Co., 1833), 24:53.
  4. Doctrine and Covenants (Kirtland, Ohio: F.G. Williams & Co., 1835), 2:22.
  5. Denver Snuffer, "Preserving The Restoration," Lecture 10, Mesa, Arizona (9 September 2014), 30.http://www.scribd.com/doc/239760895/10-Phoenix-Transcript-Preserving-the-Restoration#download
  6. John Dehlin, "Questions and Answers," Mormon Stories Podcast (25 June 2014).
  7. Denver Snuffer, "Preserving The Restoration," Lecture 10, Mesa, Arizona (9 September 2014), 30.http://www.scribd.com/doc/239760895/10-Phoenix-Transcript-Preserving-the-Restoration#download
  8. Denver Snuffer, "Preserving The Restoration," Lecture 10, Mesa, Arizona (9 September 2014), 11.http://www.scribd.com/doc/239760895/10-Phoenix-Transcript-Preserving-the-Restoration#download
  9. Denver Snuffer, "Preserving The Restoration," Lecture 10, Mesa, Arizona (9 September 2014), 11.http://www.scribd.com/doc/239760895/10-Phoenix-Transcript-Preserving-the-Restoration#download
  10. Joseph Smith, Times and Seasons 3, 905. off-site GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  11. Denver Snuffer, "Preserving The Restoration," Lecture 10, Mesa, Arizona (9 September 2014), 11.http://www.scribd.com/doc/239760895/10-Phoenix-Transcript-Preserving-the-Restoration#download
  12. Cited by Wilford Woodruff, Conference Report (April 1898), 57.
  13. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 5:232. Volume 5 link
  14. History of the Church, 3:2. Volume 3 link
  15. Parley P. Pratt, The Autobiography of Parley Parker Pratt (Salt Lake City, Deseret Book Company, 1985), 164.
  16. History of the Church, 5:214. Volume 5 link
  17. Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet, 146
  18. Denver Snuffer, "Preserving The Restoration," Lecture 10, Mesa, Arizona (9 September 2014), 14.http://www.scribd.com/doc/239760895/10-Phoenix-Transcript-Preserving-the-Restoration#download
  19. Denver Snuffer, "Preserving The Restoration," Lecture 10, Mesa, Arizona (9 September 2014).http://www.scribd.com/doc/239760895/10-Phoenix-Transcript-Preserving-the-Restoration#download