FairMormon is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing well-documented answers to criticisms of the doctrine, practice, and history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Question: Is a Church not needed?
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.
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.
Joseph Smith taught the Holy Ghost distinguished the Latter-day Saints from others
"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."
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....
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.
- Denver C. Snuffer, Jr., Passing the Heavenly Gift (Salt Lake City: Mill Creek Press, 2011), 305.
- 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.
- Denver Snuffer, "Preserving The Restoration," Lecture 10, Mesa, Arizona (9 September 2014), 4.https://www.scribd.com/doc/239760895/10-Phoenix-Transcript-Preserving-the-Restoration
- 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