Monday, May 16, 2016

#5: FLAGS*

▪ these seem to be the Last Days;
▪ errors and deceptions (sometimes unintended) often lie between or amongst proven truths;1
▪ we should never accept ALL a man or woman says just because some of what they say is or rings true;
thus, I wish to consider in this post two more concerns raised by my study of Denver Snuffer’s Preserving the Restoration, being: 1) “first principles;” and 2) a resurrection issue.

First Principles

Snuffer writes:
[Sidney Rigdon’s restorationist congregation in Mentor, Ohio] sidled up to Joseph Smith to bring him aboard their restorationist movement. This allowed them to become a prophet-led congregation with miracles as proof of authority. … The overthrow of Joseph Smith’s incipient faith by the Campbellite converts was not the work of Sidney Rigdon alone. The Kirtland convert aneurysm brought congregants aboard who saw the faith through Restorationist eyes.2

The “first principles of the gospel” were borrowed from the Campbellites and incorporated into Mormonism by those restorationist converts. Joseph Smith’s Wentworth Letter included the “first principles of the gospel” among Latter-day Saint beliefs. Joseph accepted his converts characterization and used their terminology. … This prior [Campbellite] orientation skewed Rigdon’s views, and Rigdon’s influence altered Joseph Smith’s religious trajectory.3
Snuffer recommends Daymon Smith’s writings on the Campbellite connection and the “borrowing” by Joseph Smith of “first principles.”4 I encountered Daymon’s “borrowing” idea two years ago and was so amazed at the allegation (and audacity in the face of scripture—especially the Savior’s teachings in Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 11, 12, 18, & 19) that I wrote two blog posts about it.
From Whence? (March 27, 2014)5 and
First, Last, In-between, Or ... ? (A Mormon Faux-Conundrum??) (January 31, 2014)6
Now Snuffer repeats the “borrowing” accusation, and I stand further amazed that anyone, even vaguely familiar with the Book of Mormon, could actually believe “the first principles of the gospel” were borrowed from the Campbellites. I remain stymied by the accusation and select just two passages from the many quoted in the above posts to illustrate:
Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost. ... And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save. (Book of Mormon | 2 Nephi 31:17-19)

And the first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins; And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God. (Book of Mormon | Moroni 8:25-26)
In addition, Snuffer believes that Joseph corrected his borrowed “first principles” shortly before his death with the “real first principles of the gospel.”7 To this, I say: What is to stop God from having more than one set of “first principles”? If we are meant to progress through various degrees, capacities, “estates”, stages, graces, exaltations, and so forth, why can there not be “first principles” marking each phase? Can an overarching truth be that we “transcend and include,” moving on to new levels of growth and progression, yet carrying all truth—including necessary compliance with “first principles”—from lower levels?

In any event, the “first principles” of Joseph Smith’s Article of Faith #4 have ample support in scripture, especially the Book of Mormon (published in March 1830, nine months before Sidney Rigdon even met Joseph Smith), as well as throughout Joseph’s own teachings.9


Snuffer writes:
The mortal bodies we temporarily occupy belong to Him. Ultimately He will take them back, convert them to dust, and use the dust to create something new. Nothing is lost. He will continue to use all the materials of creation. Someday He will resurrect us. But even then it will remain His. It will be a long time before we “attain to the resurrection of the dead.” Until then we only borrow from Him. The cycle will continue for as long as is needed to finally attain to the resurrection, as Christ has now done.10
Is Snuffer suggesting that we will be receiving new bodies rather than renewed ones? And is everyone going to be cycled and re-cycled through creation processes till ALL become like and do like the Savior—no matter how long it takes? till we can resurrect ourselves?11 And what of all those scriptures that state the power of redemption and resurrection is in Christ?12

To be frank, I find so many “new” things (tucked between scripture quotes) in Snuffer’s Preserving the Restoration that it feels more like Re-conceptualizing the Restoration. The challenge (for me) in understanding his resurrection and creation-cycling concepts is how our “first” resurrection13 is to mesh with the long-delayed resurrection power that he says must be attained by all who reach the “prototype of the saved man,” and thus, the power to resurrect themselves. (See the review in #4: FLAGS.14)

The following scriptures and Joseph Smith quotes might be considered when trying to “prove all things” that have thus far been revealed about the resurrection (bold emphases added) :
... for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world. (Book of Mormon | Alma 34:34)

They who are of a celestial spirit shall receive the same body which was a natural body; even ye shall receive your bodies, and your glory shall be that glory by which your bodies are quickened. (Doctrine and Covenants 88:28)

Now I understand by this quotation [Pearl of Great Price | Moses 7:62], that God clearly manifested to Enoch the redemption which He prepared, by offering the Messiah as a Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world; and by virtue of the same, the glorious resurrection of the Savior, and the resurrection of all the human family, even a resurrection of their corporeal bodies, is brought to pass; (TPJS, 84; footnote references omitted.)

If our souls and our bodies are not looking forth for the coming of the Son of Man; and after we are dead, if we are not looking forth, we shall be among those who are calling for the rocks to fall upon them. (TPJS, 160; footnote references omitted.)

How doth [Abel] yet speak? Why he magnified the Priesthood which was conferred upon him, and died a righteous man, and therefore has become an angel of God by receiving his body from the dead, holding still the keys of his dispensation; and was sent down from heaven unto Paul to minister consoling words, and to commit unto him a knowledge of the mysteries of godliness. (TPJS, 169; footnote references omitted.)

We came to this earth that we might have a body and present it pure before God in the celestial kingdom. (TPJS, 181; footnote reference omitted.)

[The spirit] existed before the body, can exist in the body; and will exist separate from the body, when the body will be mouldering in the dust; and will in the resurrection be again united with it. (TPJS, 207, footnote references omitted.)

I would esteem it one of the greatest blessings, if I am to be afflicted in this world, to have my lot cast where I can find brothers and friends all around me. But this is not the thing I referred to: it is to have the privilege of having our dead buried on the land where God has appointed to gather His Saints together, and where there will be none but Saints, where they may have the privilege of laying their bodies where the Son of Man will make His appearance, and where they may hear the sound of the trump that shall call them forth to behold Him, that in the morn of the resurrection they may come forth in a body, and come up out of their graves and strike hands immediately in eternal glory and felicity, rather than be scattered thousands of miles apart. There is something good and sacred to me in this thing. The place where a man is buried is sacred to me. This subject is made mention of in the Book of Mormon and other scriptures. Even to the aborigines of this land, the burying places of their fathers are more sacred than anything else. (TPJS, 294; footnote references omitted.)

I have said, Father, I desire to die here among the Saints. But if this is not Thy will, and I go hence and die, wilt Thou find some kind friend to bring my body back, and gather my friends who have fallen in foreign lands, and bring them up hither, that we may all lie together. I will tell you what I want. If tomorrow I shall be called to lie in yonder tomb, in the morning of the resurrection let me strike hands with my father, and cry, “My father,” and he will say, “My son, my son,” as soon as the rock rends and before we come out of our graves. (TPJS, 295; footnote references omitted.)

The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is co-equal, with God himself. I know that my testimony is true; hence, when I talk to these mourners, what have they lost? Their relatives and friends are only separated from their bodies for a short season: their spirits which existed with God have left the tabernacle of clay only for a little moment, as it were; and they now exist in a place where they converse together the same as we do on the earth. (TPJS, 353; footnote reference omitted; bold emphasis added.)

All things whatsoever God in his infinite wisdom has seen fit and proper to reveal to us, while we are dwelling in mortality, in regard to our mortal bodies, are revealed to us in the abstract, and independent of affinity of this mortal tabernacle, but are revealed to our spirits precisely as though we had no bodies at all; and those revelations which will save our spirits will save our bodies. (TPJS, 355; footnote references omitted.)

And they [inhabitants of the telestial world] shall be servants of the Most High; but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end. (Doctrine and Covenants 76:112)

He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death. (Book of Mormon | Mosiah 16:9; bold emphasis added.)
*This is number five in a FLAG series intended to encourage us in these last days to apply these words of wisdom and warning:

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
(New Testament | 1 Thessalonians 5:21) 
▪ Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye shall continue in the Son, and also in the Father. … These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. (New Testament | JST 1 John 2: 24, 26)
▪ False prophets[] always arise to oppose the true prophets[]and they will prophesy so very near the truth that they will deceive almost the very chosen ones” (Joseph Smith, TPJS, p. 365);

[] Note: I am not purporting to know for a surety who is false or true in this latter-day, because, as the Lord told Joseph: “you cannot always judge the righteous, or as you cannot always tell the wicked from the righteous, therefore I say unto you, hold your peace until I shall see fit to make all things known unto the world concerning the matter” (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 10:37). And since my peace comes in writing and in trying to “prove ALL things,” I share in these FLAGS things that concern me, hoping that they might help others who are also seeking for the discerning spirit. And since we have been repeatedly warned about the “arm of flesh,” I try to measure ALL latter-day voices and traditions against the Word of God, as best I can.

1. The thought has been expressed in various ways by others.
2. Denver C. Snuffer, Jr., Preserving the Restoration, © 2015, p. 280-281
3. Ibid, p. 307 (Last sentence in the above quote is from footnote 802; footnote references have been omitted in the quotes above.)
4. Ibid, p. 307, footnote 802.
So, if the Savior’s very first teachings to the surviving Nephites / Lamanites (recorded in Book of Mormon 3 Nephi, chapters 11 & 12) were of faith, repentance, baptism, and receipt of the Holy Ghost, could we not consider these as “first principles of the Gospel”?
7. Snuffer, p. 306-309 (The corrected first principles being: “attaining to the resurrection from the dead, becoming Gods, and walking the same path as our Lord walked” (p. 308).
8. Snuffer, p. 124 (footnote #s replaced with the footnote citation).
9. (e.g., TPJS, 88, 148, 188, 198, 328.)
10. Snuffer, p. 338-339; see also his discussions on the cyclings of creation at p. 322, or pursue the entire chapter on the “Prototype of the Saved Man,” pp. 295-348.
11. From Preserving the Restoration at p. 304: For us “to attain the resurrection of the dead” requires us to have the power to resurrect, not only ourselves, but also those who are dependent on us. This is what the prototype of the saved man did. This is Who we worship. This is who and what we must precisely and exactly become. (Bold emphasis added.)
12. A small sampling:
Book of Mormon | 2 Nephi 2:8 ~ Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.
Book of Mormon | Mosiah 18:2 ~ Yea, concerning that which was to come, and also concerning the resurrection of the dead, and the redemption of the people, which was to be brought to pass through the power, and sufferings, and death of Christ, and his resurrection and ascension into heaven.
Book of Mormon | Alma 4:14 ~ Looking forward to that day, thus retaining a remission of their sins; being filled with great joy because of the resurrection of the dead, according to the will and power and deliverance of Jesus Christ from the bands of death.
Book of Mormon | Alma 21:9 ~ Now Aaron began to open the scriptures unto them concerning the coming of Christ, and also concerning the resurrection of the dead, and that there could be no redemption for mankind save it were through the death and sufferings of Christ, and the atonement of his blood.
Book of Mormon | Helaman 14:15 ~ For behold, he surely must die that salvation may come; yea, it behooveth him and becometh expedient that he dieth, to bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, that thereby men may be brought into the presence of the Lord.
Book of Mormon | Helaman 14:17 ~ But behold, the resurrection of Christ redeemeth mankind, yea, even all mankind, and bringeth them back into the presence of the Lord.
Book of Mormon | Mormon 7:6 ~ And he bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead, whereby man must be raised to stand before his judgment-seat.
Book of Mormon | Mormon 9:13 ~ And because of the redemption of man, which came by Jesus Christ, they are brought back into the presence of the Lord; yea, this is wherein all men are redeemed, because the death of Christ bringeth to pass the resurrection, which bringeth to pass a redemption from an endless sleep, from which sleep all men shall be awakened by the power of God when the trump shall sound; and they shall come forth, both small and great, and all shall stand before his bar, being redeemed and loosed from this eternal band of death, which death is a temporal death.
13. Book of Mormon | Alma 11:45 ~ Now, behold, I have spoken unto you concerning the death of the mortal body, and also concerning the resurrection of the mortal body. I say unto you that this mortal body is raised to an immortal body, that is from death, even from the first death unto life, that they can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided; thus the whole becoming spiritual and immortal, that they can no more see corruption.