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Denver Snuffer

Denver SnufferIn 1973, I was in the Air Force, stationed at Pease AFB in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Although I came from Idaho, I was at that moment a New Englander. While attending a University of New Hampshire night class taught on base, visiting Professor Cal Colby from Brandeis University, began an unrelated discussion about Mormonism and the corruptions of all organizations, including that one. “Odd,” I thought, “that a college professor would trouble to mention Mormonism all the way out here in New Hampshire.”

To my surprise, a student raised his hand and confronted the professor about his criticism of Mormonism. He mounted a defense against the professor that displayed either courage or bad judgment or both. It was a noble enough effort to attack the professor, evoking my admiration of the fellow-student in spite of myself.

After class, I made the mistake of complimenting the fellow on his courage. This he confused with interest in “The Church,” as I later learned it is called by the Mormons. He then proceeded over the following months to pamphleteer, film-strip and testify to me with such vigor I was at a loss to know how to disabuse him from the notion I was a candidate for his faith.

Even when I showed up drunk for missionary discussions, my inebriation seemed to have little effect on the enthusiasm he and his missionary friends had about explaining their religion to me. When they finally got to the lesson on the “Word of Wisdom,” I was surprised to learn they wanted me not to drink any more and realized why they hadn’t allowed cigars to be lit during discussions.

For six months I tolerated this process with no genuine interest in what was being said. I was a polite skeptic. They confused politeness for interest and regarded me as a “golden contact.” Their persistence probably had much more to do with the slim interest in Mormonism in New England than it did with any of my outward signs of interest.

After a while I was asked to read a few passages in the Book of Mormon and tell the missionaries what I thought. I agreed and finished the assignment before the next “lesson.” When they later asked what I thought of the passages, I responded: “It must be scripture. It’s every bit as boring as the Bible.” The response did nothing to curb their enthusiasm.

Eventually, I was invited to a campout at the birth place of Joseph Smith in Sharon, Vermont. I stayed overnight there with Mormons from all over New England. During the evening I happened across a book in the Visitor’s Center containing what were supposed to be revelations given to Joseph Smith. I asked if I could buy a copy, and the elderly lady offered me one free of charge.

While glancing through the volume I chanced across Section 76. As I read it for the first time I was taken by the depth of the material. Here in majestic simplicity was a vision of things which had never been revealed about the afterlife and the definition of “many mansions” which was both clear and soul stirring. It startled me. “If Joseph Smith wrote this, then perhaps there is more to him,” I thought to myself.

My real investigation of Mormonism finally began that moment, at the birthplace of the Mormon prophet, whose birth was 200 years prior to the date of this writing. [2005] (The Second Comforter, pages 1-3)

I sat alone in the barracks at Pease Air Force Base, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, reading the journal given to me by Steve Klaproth, himself a recent Mormon convert. Steve had been the one who defended the Church in the UNH night class. He had gained his testimony of the Mormon Church while on guard duty in Southeast Asia, where the Vietnam War was still raging. As I read his journal, I began a debate with myself: “Joseph Smith could not be a prophet because there are no prophets anymore.”

How do you know that?

“Because there haven’t been prophets for nearly two thousand years.”

Just because it has not occurred for a time, does that make it impossible to happen again?

“Well, no. But the scriptures do not say further prophets should be expected.”

What about Christ’s test: ‘By their fruits ye shall know them.’ If there is a test, does it not imply a test is needed? And if a test is needed, then doesn’t that suggest more prophets will come?

“I suppose so. But Joseph Smith couldn’t be a prophet. After all, he was a fraud, wasn’t he? He had multiple wives, and started a religion that is more ‘corporate’ than religious.”

Shouldn’t you apply Christ’s test? Wasn’t that what it was given for?

“Well, what then were Joseph’s ‘fruits?’ I suppose the way to answer that would be to look at these Mormons I am dealing with here. They seem happy enough. They seem to avoid alcohol and drugs, have happy marriages, and live clean lives. They seem to actually enjoy Church as opposed to treating it as an unwelcome obligation. They have large families, and seem to love their children. If these people are the measure of the ‘fruits’ then I suppose Joseph might be a prophet. But, even assuming Joseph had good fruits, what about the problems of new scripture? There wasn’t supposed to be any more scripture. Revelation says you shouldn’t add to the scriptures.”

Does God not have the right to add or take away? The commandment to not add or detract is addressed to man. Why would that limit God?

“Hadn’t thought of it like that….”

And, I thought, how was I ever to come to some certainty about these matters? The “truth” had been a raging and elusive subject since the dawn of man. If Pilate got nothing else right, he certainly asked the right question: “What is truth?”

Came the thought: Truth is the knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to become.

“How can a religion claim to be the only truth?”

I thought: Christ made similar claims. If He made such claims in His day, shouldn’t His Church (if it is His Church) be making similar claims, today?

“Well, I suppose so. But couldn’t any Church just assert that? How can this Church be authentic?”

From the New Testament until now there has not been a single Church calling itself The Church of Jesus Christ. There has not been a single Church which claims to have divinely restored authority. There has not been a single Church with the offices found in the New Testament, including Apostles, Prophets, Seventies, Elders, Bishops, Deacons, Priests and Teachers. If you look to the New Testament as a model, only one Church fits that model.

After two hours of raising questions and considering answers alone in the barracks, I reached this final question:

“But how do I know there even is a God? After all, there may not even be a God, and life may not have any real meaning.” In response to which came this final thought:

Who do you think you have been talking to these last two hours?

It was that last thought which alarmed me. Had I really been in a conversation with God? The thoughts had come more quickly and easily than I’d experienced before, and came with a quiet feeling of certitude and calm. Perhaps this was what it meant to talk with God. Perhaps I had an answer. Perhaps this was the stuff from which faith flows. If so, then I must then have a testimony, for I had an answer from God. The answer was so subtle, however, that it was nothing more than a still, small feeling. Was that really how God answered prayer? (The Second Comforter, pages 46-47, 62-63)

That response meant God was even willing to talk to an obscure guy, sitting in a barracks in New Hampshire, a long way from where he grew up, on the question of whether Joseph Smith was a prophet, and therefore Mormonism was true.

Reflecting on the response I realized if I acted on it, becoming a Mormon would cost me every childhood friend I had, and every friend I had in the military at the time. About the only thing my friends and I had in common were beer and pizza. It was going to require my life to change. However, if I had not acted on the answer, I don't think any of the good that followed could have happened.

At the moment I had an answer from God, only the thinnest of threads existed for me to believe in the restoration of the Gospel, in the Book of Mormon, and in God's willingness to speak. It had all of the substance of a spider’s web, easily broken. The only way I could hold onto that was to have faith and to trust it. And so I did. (40 Years of Mormonism, Lecture 7, page 7)

On September 10, 1973, I was baptized in the Atlantic Ocean at Kittery Point, on the southern coast of Maine. It was a cool, sunny day. I was confirmed a member while kneeling on the beach, with a small gathering of local Saints who had come to the service.

Kneeling on the beach, as I was given the Gift of the Holy Ghost, I felt a presence from head to toe unlike anything before. I was electrified by this presence and felt a joy unlike anything before. It was palpable. Cold from the water of the North Atlantic, wet and kneeling in the cool Atlantic sand, I felt warmth which transformed me. Life began anew that day on the beach in the south of Maine as I was ‘born again.’ (The Second Comforter, page 88)

 The Following from Lecture 10 of the 40 Years of Mormonism Lectures.

At the time I was excommunicated, I was in good standing with the Lord. I had nothing amiss in my personal life. There was no sin warranting church discipline. As a former member of the High Council for years, every church disciplinary proceeding I attended that resulted in excommunication, always involved serious moral transgression, betrayal of marriage covenants, and in some cases criminal wrongdoing. In contrast, the reason for my discipline was a book I had written about church history, in which I attempted to align the events of the Restoration to the prophecies of the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. The stake president admitted to me and my wife before the Council began, that I was then worthy of a temple recommend.19 By any standard of moral conduct, I was an innocent man, whose only offense was believing the scriptures revealed our condition before God. On the evening of May 1, 2014, the Lord gave me further light and knowledge about His work in His vineyard. The Lord is in control over the church, men, and all things. When He undertakes to accomplish something, “there is nothing that the Lord God shall take in His heart to do, but what He will do it.” (Abr. 3: 17.) Often the means used by the Lord to accomplish His “strange act,” and to perform His “strange work”(D&C 101: 95), are very small indeed. "Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise. And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls." (Alma 37: 6-7.)

It is almost always the case that the Lord uses simple things to confound the mighty. I can think of nothing smaller or simpler or less important than myself. Inside the great church to which I once belonged, I was obscure. However, I lived my religion, attended faithfully, served to the best of my ability, upheld church leaders with my prayers, paid tithes, fasted, observed the Word of Wisdom, and helped answer questions for those needing assistance with troubling issues. There was no reason to regard me as a rebel who should be singled out for discipline. Nevertheless, the Lord chose to use a faithful and believing member to accomplish His design. Only someone who is devoted to His will could accomplish what the Lord had in His heart. Now He has accomplished it.

The Church has Doctrine and Covenants 121, verses 36 to 40, to warn it about abusing His authority. There is an "amen" or end to authority when control, compulsion, and dominion are exercised in any degree of unrighteousness. Therefore, when using authority, great care must be taken. In any case, the church was careless. Therefore, those involved, are now left to kick against the pricks, to persecute the Saints and to fight against God.

Section 121 is a warning to church leaders. It is addressing the powerful, not the powerless. It is addressing those who occupy the seats of authority over others. Only those who claim the right to control, compel, and exercise dominion, are warned against persecuting the saints, who believe the religion and practice it as I did from the time of my conversion. My excommunication was an abuse of authority. Therefore, as soon as the decision was made, the Lord terminated the priesthood authority of the stake presidency and every member of the High Council who sustained this decision, which was unanimous. Thereafter, I appealed to the First Presidency, outlining the involvement of the 12 and the 70. The appeal gave notice to them all.20 The appeal was summarily denied.

Last general conference, the entire First Presidency, the 12, the 70, and all other general authorities and auxiliaries, voted to sustain those who abused their authority in casting me out of the church. At that moment, the Lord ended all claims of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to claim it is led by the priesthood.21 They have not practiced what He requires. The Lord has brought about His purposes. This has been in His heart all along. He has chosen to use small means to accomplish it, but He always uses the smallest of means to fulfill His purposes.

None of this was my doing. The Lord's strange act, was not, could not, be planned by me. Was not, could not, have been controlled by me. It was not anticipated by me, or even understood by me, until after the Lord had accomplished His will, and made it apparent to me on the evening of May 1, 2014. He alone has done this. He is the author of all of this. (Transcribed from Journal of Denver Snuffer, Vol. 8, entry of May 2, 2014, pp. 29-33)

Denver Snuffer talks about the reason he wrote “The Second Comforter”

"If the author had not been asked to write this work, the author's own experience would have remained a private matter, as it was for years before writing of this book." (The Second Comforter, page 396)

"He is the Second Comforter. I know He lives, for I have seen Him. He has ministered to me" A footnote is included with this testimony: "The full content of these things are of course personal, never intended for public display, and not needed as a part of this text. This is about bearing testimony of the process itself and the already declared doctrines. I am adding my weak voice to those of others who proclaim this to be true. This is not about personal matters, the revelation of which would amount to improperly profaning the sacred, nor is it about preaching any new doctrines, which is altogether inappropriate." (The Second Comforter, p. 405)

I want to be perfectly clear right now about something which has not, and will not ever change about me. I am unwilling to give you commandments. When have I ever commanded you? I am unwilling to lead. When have I ever said, “Follow me?” I am unwilling to organize you. When have I ever said, “I want to lead an organization?” I am unwilling to accept money. When have I ever said, “Pay me?” We have enough Gentile leaders. We have good enough churches already. When those churches err, they suffer the consequences. We do not need another church or churches. We do not need a king. We do not need more priestcraft. We do not need a “Strongman.”

I read earlier from Doctrine and Covenants 76. "They are they who are the church of the firstborn, they are they into whose hands the Father has given all things, they are they who are priests and kings who have received of His fullness and of His glory." If I could pray, if I could beg, if I could entreat for you to have one thing, it would be His fullness, it would be His glory, nothing from me, something from Him. He's the one who is mighty to save.

Changing the leader will not fix our problem. The problem is the people. The problem is that we need to rise up individually, and having risen up individually then we have the potential for having a gathering. But changing the leader will not accomplish a thing. It's just another delay, another stall, another perversion. (40 Years of Mormonism, Lecture 6 – Zion, pages 9-10)

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