Criticism of Mormonism/Online documents/Denver Snuffer/Doctrinal claims/Priesthood authority not necessary

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A FairMormon Analysis of Denver Snuffer's Online Claims: Doctrinal claims: Priesthood authority not necessary

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False claim: the Church claims to "control the Holy Ghost"


Denver Snuffer claim:

"There is no organization that controls the Holy Ghost....The practice of the missionaries demonstrates the ‘rubbish-ness’ of any such thought. This is because when the missionaries teach investigators about the Book of Mormon they use Moroni chapter 10, verse 4, and admonish they pray and ask God if these things are not true. Investigators are promised God will manifest the truth of it unto them “by the power of the Holy Ghost.” To the unbaptized, unwashed, uninitiated, missionaries extend the invitation to ask God, and then listen for the Holy Ghost speak to them. If they submit to this process, the Holy Ghost will speak to them. The Holy Ghost does, can, and will speak to anyone.[1]

FairMormon Response


Question: Do Mormons believe that the Church controls the Holy Ghost?

The Church does not claim to "control" the Holy Ghost, or claim that He cannot speak to anyone

Some claim that the Church arrogantly believes it can control the Holy Ghost.[2]

The Church does not claim to "control" the Holy Ghost, or claim that He cannot speak to anyone.

Those who make such claims mislead their audience by implying that the Church teaches this, when it does not.


"We must all find salvation for ourselves"


Denver Snuffer claim:

"Even if you give the most optimistic assessment of the restoration and current condition of the church it can do nothing for the individual Latter-day Saint. We must all find salvation for ourselves.[3]

FairMormon Response


Question: Is a Church not needed?

It is true that simply being a member or "going through the motions" will not save anyone

Some excommunicated members wish to dispense with the institutional Church while still claiming to follow the gospel and its doctrines.[4]

It is true that simply being a member or "going through the motions" will not save anyone. All must seek and be engaged for themselves.

The Church also certainly believes that the Holy Ghost can speak to anyone, in or out of the Church. As Snuffer notes, the Church depends on this fact when missionaries encourage those who investigate the Church to pray for a witness.

Holy Ghost versus The Gift of the Holy Ghost

Snuffer consistently ignores, however, that Joseph Smith taught that there was a difference between a witness of the Holy Ghost (which was open to all) and the "gift of the Holy Ghost" (which Joseph taught could come only by confirmation by the laying on of hands by one with priesthood authority.

Snuffer claims that receiving the ordinance of confirmation and the gift of the Holy Ghost makes no difference. But, Joseph Smith taught the opposite:

There is a difference between the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before he was baptized, which was the convincing power of God unto him of the truth of the Gospel, but he could not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after he was baptized. Had he not taken this sign or ordinance upon him, the Holy Ghost which convinced him of the truth of God, would have left him.[5]

Joseph Smith taught the Holy Ghost distinguished the Latter-day Saints from others

Snuffer claims:

"The Holy Ghost and the claim of owning a franchise over it is hollow. The idea the Holy Ghost can be controlled is false. The fact that LDS Mormons have some acquaintance with the Holy Ghost means very little. It does not distinguish Latter-day Saints, and it should not separate you from the Holy Ghost and its ministrations, whoever you are."[6]

Joseph Smith disagrees with Snuffer about the Holy Ghost and its relation to the Latter-day Saints. When asked how the Church differed from other religious groups, Joseph Smith replied that

we differed in...the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. We considered that all other considerations were contained in the gift of the Holy Ghost....[7]

According to Joseph, the gift of the Holy Ghost is the single greatest characteristic which differentiates the Church he restored from all others. That gift encompasses all other differences, in Joseph's view.

It is not something available to everyone, without priesthood, and without authority, as Snuffer pretends.

Snuffer is teaching false doctrine about the Restoration he claims to support.

"it does not matter whether there is an officiator with authority from God on the earth or not"


Denver Snuffer claim:

"[I]t would be good to have an authorized minister to perform the ordinance [of baptism, but] it does not matter whether there is an officiator with authority from God on the earth or not...."[8]

FairMormon Response


Question: Is priesthood authority not needed to perform baptisms?

The scriptures and Joseph Smith repeatedly teach that an authorized priesthood holder is necessary for ordinances, including baptism

Some excommunicated members claim that "[I]t would be good to have an authorized minister to perform the ordinance [of baptism, but] it does not matter whether there is an officiator with authority from God on the earth or not...."[9]

Joseph Smith said,

[There is] no salvation between the two lids of the bible without a legal administrator.
—Joseph Smith[10]

The scriptures and Joseph Smith repeatedly teach that an authorized priesthood holder is necessary for ordinances, including baptism:

  • Jesus in 3 Nephi 11:21-22: "I give unto you power that ye shall baptize this people when I am again ascended into heaven.And again the Lord called others, and said unto them likewise; and he gave unto them power to baptize."
  • Articles of Faith: "We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof" (A+of+F 1:5).
  • Book of Mormon: "...king Limhi and many of his people were desirous to be baptized; but there was none in the land that had authority from God....Therefore they did not at that time form themselves into a church, waiting upon the Spirit of the Lord....They were desirous to be baptized as a witness and a testimony that they were willing to serve God with all their hearts; nevertheless they did prolong the time; and an account of their baptism shall be given hereafter" (Mosiah 21:33-35).

Snuffer also contradicts Joseph Smith, who said, "Why send Elijah? Because he holds the keys of the authority to administer in all the ordinances of the Priesthood; and without the authority is given, the ordinances could not be administered in righteousness."[11]

Snuffer claims anyone can baptize without authority, but the Doctrine and Covenants teaches that not even all priesthood offices can baptize:

But neither teachers nor deacons have authority to baptize, administer the sacrament, or lay on hands.... (D&C 20:58).

The scripture tells us precisely who may baptize:

an Apostle is an Elder & it is his calling to Baptize & to ordain other Elders, Priests, Teachers & Deacons…The Priests duty is to…baptize…& ordain other Priests, Teaches & Deacons....[12]

Joseph Smith also denied that one could be saved without ordinances from a legal priesthood holder:

Whenever men can find out the will of God and find an administrator legally authorized from God, there is the kingdom of God; but where these are not, the kingdom of God is not. All the ordinances, systems, and administrations on the earth are of no use to the children of men, unless they are ordained and authorized of God; for nothing will save a man but a legal administrator; for none others will be acknowledged either by God or angels.[13]

A man can do nothing for himself unless God direct him in the right way; and the priesthood is for that purpose.[14]


"the responsibility to live so as to invite the Spirit is all you need"


Denver Snuffer claim:

" If the Holy Ghost will visit you even without an authoritative ordinance then the responsibility to live so as to invite the Spirit is all you need to have that same companionship the ordinance could confer...."[15]

FairMormon Response


Joseph Smith taught a different doctrine than Snuffer:

Whenever men can find out the will of God and find an administrator legally authorized from God, there is the kingdom of God; but where these are not, the kingdom of God is not. All the ordinances, systems, and administrations on the earth are of no use to the children of men, unless they are ordained and authorized of God; for nothing will save a man but a legal administrator; for none others will be acknowledged either by God or angels.[16]

Joseph insists that "a legal administer" in priesthood ordinances is necessary for salvation.

Snuffer contradicts the prophet he claims to sustain.

"the required priestly authority is still available through the veil"


Denver Snuffer claim:

Ordinances do not need to be performed by one with legitimate Church authority, since "the required priestly authority is still available through the veil."[17]

FairMormon Response


Question: Can the priesthood authority be re-conferred by heavenly messengers?

Joseph Smith made it very clear that no ordinances would be performed by divine messengers once the authority had been conferred on mortals

Those excommunicated members who still claim to follow the gospel outside the Church claim that ordinances do not need to be performed by one with legitimate Church authority, since "the required priestly authority is still available through the veil."[18]

Thus, they believe divine messengers have come or will come to give them authority independent of the institutional Church.

To see citations to the critical sources for these claims, click here

Snuffer again contradicts Joseph Smith, who made it very clear that no ordinances would be performed by divine messengers once the authority had been conferred on mortals:

The angel told… Cornelius that he must send for Peter to learn how to be saved: Peter could baptize, and angels could not, so long as there were legal officers in the flesh holding the keys of the kingdom, or the authority of the priesthood. There is one evidence still further on this point, and that is that Jesus himself when he appeared to Paul on his way to Damascus, did not inform him how he could be saved. He had set in the church firstly Apostles, and secondly prophets for the work of the ministry… and as the grand rule of heaven was that nothing should ever be done on earth without revealing the secret to his servants the prophets…. [S]o Paul could not learn so much from the [Page 196]Lord relative to his duty in the common salvation of man, as he could from one of Christ’s ambassadors called with the same heavenly calling of the Lord, and endowed with the same power from on high—so that what they loosed on earth, should be loosed in heaven; and what they bound on earth should be bound in heaven.[19]

Snuffer's view is also contradicted by the Doctrine and Covenants:

28 But purify your hearts before me; and then go ye into all the world, and preach my gospel unto every creature who has not received it; And he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not, and is not baptized, shall be damned. For unto you, the Twelve, and those, the First Presidency, who are appointed with you to be your counselors and your leaders, is the power of this priesthood given, for the last days and for the last time, in the which is the dispensation of the fulness of times. Which power you hold, in connection with all those who have received a dispensation at any time from the beginning of the creation; For verily I say unto you, the keys of the dispensation, which ye have received, have come down from the fathers, and last of all, being sent down from heaven unto you (D&C 112:28-32, emphasis added).

The scriptures say that the authority regarding baptism and the associated keys have been given to the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve for the last time.

Snuffer's claim that they have been lost, or that others will potentially need to receive them again from a divine messenger contradicts scripture. He argues against the Restoration that he claims to support.

Joseph Smith also taught directly against Snuffer's scenario:

An angel, said Joseph, may administer the word of the Lord unto men, and bring intelligence to them from heaven upon various subjects; but no true angel from God will ever come to ordain any man, because they have once been sent to establish the priesthood by ordaining me thereunto; and the priesthood being once established on earth, with power to ordain others, no heavenly messenger will ever come to interfere with that power by ordaining any more…You may therefore know, from this time forward, that if any man comes to you professing to be ordained by an angel, he is either a liar or has been imposed upon in consequence of transgression by an angel of the devil, for this priesthood shall never be taken away from this church.[20]

Joseph Smith said that the Church would never lack priesthood authority, and that if someone claimed a heavenly messenger had brought them authority, they were either:

  1. deceived by Satan; or
  2. a liar.


Notes

  1. Denver Snuffer, "Preserving The Restoration," Lecture 10, Mesa, Arizona (9 September 2014), 3-4.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), 3-4.http://www.scribd.com/doc/239760895/10-Phoenix-Transcript-Preserving-the-Restoration#download
  3. Denver C. Snuffer, Jr., Passing the Heavenly Gift (Salt Lake City: Mill Creek Press, 2011), 305.
  4. Denver C. Snuffer, Jr., Passing the Heavenly Gift (Salt Lake City: Mill Creek Press, 2011), 305.
  5. Joseph Smith, "For the Times and Seasons. SABBATH SCENE IN NAUVOO; March 20th 1842," Times and Seasons 3 no. 12 (15 April 1842), 752. off-site GospeLink (requires subscrip.) See also Joseph Smith, Jr, Manuscript History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Documentary History). 7 vols. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1978, 4:555.
  6. Denver Snuffer, "Preserving The Restoration," Lecture 10, Mesa, Arizona (9 September 2014), 4.http://www.scribd.com/doc/239760895/10-Phoenix-Transcript-Preserving-the-Restoration#download
  7. 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), 4:42, citing letter from Joseph Smith and Elias Higbee, 5 December 1839.. Volume 4 link
  8. Denver C. Snuffer, Jr., Passing the Heavenly Gift (Salt Lake City: Mill Creek Press, 2011), 418.
  9. Denver C. Snuffer, Jr., Passing the Heavenly Gift (Salt Lake City: Mill Creek Press, 2011), 418.
  10. Joseph Smith Diary (23 July 1843); cited in Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of Joseph Smith, 2nd Edition, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996), 235..
  11. 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), 3:211, read in general conference October 1840, emphasis added. Volume 3 link
  12. Dean Jessee (editor), Revelations and Translations: Manuscript Revelation Books, The Joseph Smith Papers, Facsimile ed. (Salt Lake City, Utah: Church Historian’s Press, 2009), 85; see D&C 20:38–60.
  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), 5:256-59. Volume 5 link
  14. 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), 6:363. Volume 6 link
  15. Denver C. Snuffer, Jr., Passing the Heavenly Gift (Salt Lake City: Mill Creek Press, 2011), 460, compare also page 33.
  16. 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), 5:256-59. Volume 5 link
  17. Denver C. Snuffer, Jr., Passing the Heavenly Gift (Salt Lake City: Mill Creek Press, 2011), 468.
  18. Denver C. Snuffer, Jr., Passing the Heavenly Gift (Salt Lake City: Mill Creek Press, 2011), 468.
  19. Joseph Smith, "Baptism," Times and Seasons 3 no. 21 (1 September 1842), 905. off-site GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  20. Orson Hyde, "Although Dead, Yet He Speaketh: Joseph Smith’s testimony concerning men being ordained by angels, delivered in the school of the prophets, in Kirtland, Ohio, in the Winter of 1832–3," Millennial Star 8 no. 9 (20 November 1846), 138–139, emphasis added.