Thoughts on the Holy Ghost (John 17)

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. (John 16: 13-14)
Who or what glorified Christ? If the Spirit of Truth guides into all truth and glorifies, are these two equivalent statements? (in other words, being glorified = led into all truth?)
I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. (John 17: 9-11)
Is there a difference between being “glorified in [his disciples]” and being “glorified [by the Spirit of Truth]”? What enables Christ to be “glorified in [his disciples]”? Is it that he has already been “glorified [by the Spirit of Truth]”?
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17: 20-23)

Christ connects giving the disciples the same glory as he received from his Father with becoming one with them. Again, what medium or being is this glory received from? Who glorifies?

Mysteriously absent in the great intercessory prayer (chapter 17) are direct references to the Comforter or the Spirit of Truth (which reappear time and again throughout chapters 13 through 16 in Christ’s private conversations with his disciples). It seems to involve the Father, Son, and those that receive the same glory as Christ becoming one.

I’d suggest that careful reading shows the idea of “Holy Ghost” permeates the entire intercessory prayer. Try reading this chapter again in this light.

Sealing Power in Matthew 16: 13-20

One of my favorite editions of the New Testament is the Williams New Testament (1936). It’s not something you can easily pick up anywhere and if you want a copy, you’ll have to order it online (most likely used). A while ago I read his rendition of Matthew 16; it is remarkably different! I think this scene is worth reproducing here.


 

Matthew 16: 13-20

13 When Jesus reached the district of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

14 They answered, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 He said to them, “Who do you yourselves say that I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

17 Then Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for it is not man that made this known to you, but my Father in heaven.

18 And I, yes I, tell you, your name from now on is to be Peter, Rock, and on a massive rock like this I will build my church, and the powers of the underworld shall never overthrow it.

19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you forbid on earth must be what is already forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth must be what is already permitted in heaven.”

20 Then He admonished the disciples not to tell anyone that He was the Christ.


 

There is a significant change. What is “bound” and “sealed” is not given for man to decide. Rather it must have its origin in heaven.

The way Charles Williams rendered this concept is echoed in the Book of Mormon and I believe it is true.

Following the Prophets: A True Doctrine

On January 30, 2015, Denver Snuffer posted Follow and Receive. You should familiarize yourself with his argument and the scriptures he uses as his proof text.

I’ll propose an alternative view: “Follow the Prophets” is a true doctrine.

I’ll use 2 scriptures my proof text:

1 Corinthians 11: 1

Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

Matthew 15: 14

Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

There you have it, Paul told the Corinthians to follow him. QED. The church is true. Of course, as fun as scripture wresting is and how much it is encouraged in all circles, that was obviously misrepresenting Paul.

Bait and Switch

Follow the prophet, if it is a true doctrine, is a qualified doctrine. Paul doesn’t expect anyone to just follow him in all cases. He wants us to follow him as he is a follower of Christ. Where their examples meet, we are in safe territory. Where they diverge, Paul would obviously tell you to follow Christ. Later in the epistle he says, “. . . I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God” (1 Cor 15:9). He’s not exactly tooting his own horn.

Jesus doesn’t say following a man is necessarily a bad idea. But you’ll probably end up in a ditch (or bottomless pit), if the person you decide to follow is blind. So you need to make sure that person you are following is able to see!

But here is the problem. If you are blind, how will you know whether the person you are following can see? Visualize it for a moment. You can’t see. Someone tells you to follow them. What if they can’t see either (they’re in the same boat as you)? How would you know? Would you ask them? “Hey, you can see, right?” What if the answer came back: “Yes, I can see, I can guide you! Trust me!”? Would that be any evidence?

You see, if you are blind, then there is really no way to tell who you are following. The only way to truly know if you are on the right track is if you can see. If you can see, do you need to follow another man?

So again “follow the prophets” is a true, but qualified doctrine. As long as you are only following them as far as they follow the example of Christ and you are like maybe sorta 100% sure they are not blind. Of course, I guess if you just followed Christ directly and could see for yourself, you could cut out the middle man and all the uncertainty.

 

What Denver Didn’t Say

In response to the rhetoric employed by the various “remnant” groups (by the way, remnant is a poor title choice for these groups in my estimation), I’ll aim to briefly explore a couple avenues that have been neglected in regards to what Denver said (and didn’t say) in his tenth lecture.


 

When Christ came the first time, God took down a previously established hierarchy using an orderly process, informing us about His house of order. He ordained John to bring it to an end, which put him on a collision course with the hierarchy. John the Baptist was “ordained by the angel of God at the time he was eight days old unto this power, to overthrow the kingdom of the Jews, and to make straight the way of the Lord before the face of his people, to prepare them for the coming of the Lord…” Joseph Smith elaborated, “The son of Zacharias wrested the keys, the kingdom, the power, the glory from the Jews, by the holy anointing and decree of heaven.”

For His return, we should expect something similar to His first coming. That is, an orderly take down of a competing hierarchy using someone ordained to accomplish that end that is put by God on a collision course with the targeted power structure. John’s mission required them to reject the truth and testimony he offered. It was orderly, public and required a conflict followed by rejection. In any modern take down of the LDS hierarchy the Lord will allow those involved to act freely. The hierarchy must voluntarily and clearly violate God’s standard. It must be orderly, public and the result of a conflict ordained by God’s will. This is how a house of order operates anciently and again today. (p.5-6)

If Denver is claiming to accomplish a similar work to John the Baptist, we should look to what followed in his day. After John the Baptist, Christ continued to minister within a Jewish context, despite “wrested keys” or whatnot. He didn’t seem to care that much, but continued to preach repentance. He did set up and ordain a competing structure, which continued to run in tangent with the Jewish religion. We can read of the apostles worshiping within the temple of this key-wrested people even after their rejection of Christ. Roughly 40 years after the death of John the Baptist came the destruction of the temple, and marked a more distinct split between Jewish and Christian worship.

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. They have not practiced what He requires. (p.7-8)

The Lord ended the “claim it is led by the priesthood”, “meaning the leaders who exercised control, compulsion and dominion, and not the powerless who had no part in the affair (footnote 21 ).” It is possible that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had already lost the priesthood before that point, but the Lord allowed the claims of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for whatever reason up until that point.

We distinguish between priesthood power and authority, but should we also distinguish priesthood claims as a category. Did the church loose the power in Joseph’s day? Loose the authority at some point after that? Loose its claims in 2014? Maybe there are degrees we don’t appreciate, but should explore.

If the church’s leaders continue to be upheld by the prayers of members, prayer has power and can give strength. However the action taken by the Lord frees His hand to do something further now. (p.8)

So the leadership might still have strength granted by God in response to the prayer of members. This doesn’t sound like much has changed in how the church functions and will continue to function. But God decided to move his hand in a direction independent of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, therefore He created a situation where truth could be rejected publicly by the hierarchy. In this public act, they lost the right to claim they are led by the priesthood.

Priesthood, of course, is a fellowship. If Denver is in fellowship with Jesus Christ and God the Father, as he claims, he possesses that priesthood. Before his excommunication he also maintained fellowship with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The leadership chose to reject their fellowship with him. Therefore they chose to cut that priesthood or fellowship away from the body. This is very different than the common interpretation that:

  1. Denver = good.
  2. General Authorities did something bad and mean to Denver.
  3. Therefore God got mad at them and took away their special priesthood (even if it is just Aaronic) authority.

Although an orderly process fills offices in His house, God can, has and will still speak up through whomever He chooses. Just because He says something to one, we should not conclude He is prevented from speaking with another. (p.10-11)

God can still speak to the LDS leadership. If he can speak to Cain, he can surely talk to Thomas Monson or whoever he chooses. We can argue about likelihood, but it seems odd for a movement claiming God is independent of hierarchy and denomination, to then go on even further to claim He is exclusive of hierarchy and denomination. It seems like just taking the LDS exclusive authority model that separates “us” from “thems”, and turning the “us”es into “thems”. A false paradigm is still a false paradigm.

It is not God’s purpose to abandon the Restoration, but it is His purpose to preserve the Restoration, which at this moment is in terrible jeopardy. (p.11)

God’s act is not a reactionary event (the church = bad, therefore a new thing is needed). God’s act is in anticipation future changes. The restoration is in jeopardy because of the things that the church will do, not because of their current state. Admittedly, it is in disrepair, but (at least at the time this talk was given) it was not beyond repair.

Even Denver admits a highly unlikely case of recovering the church through a completely new hierarchy, but he admits is impractical.

What about ordinations that occurred before April 2014? As I said previously, I would respect them and keep them in place. God did not do anything until April of this year, and then only with the LDS Church leadership. (p. 19)

As a reminder, those involved are responsible. Your local bishop likely is ignorant of any of this, and nothing has really changed on a local scale. If future ordinances to the priesthood are invalid (or at least not sufficient, as Denver said you could get your son ordained LDS and in a fellowship), then we should expect a “slow death” of authority church wide (this generation of priesthood would need to die off, excluding the possibility that God’s act accelerates).

There are changes presently underway that are going to jar the LDS community more and more in the coming years. If you are not prepared to preserve what has been given, everything will be lost in what will soon happen. It is necessary there be some few who seek for a community that tries to preserve the essential elements of the Restoration in their purity. (p.19)

 

The Restoration has to be preserved. Every one of you has some issue that you would say to yourself, “if this,” then I would no longer follow. All those “if this’s” are in the wings. Inexorably, they are coming. The Restoration has to be preserved. (p.20)

The changes which will come will threaten the restoration. Everything would be lost in the future, if steps weren’t taken in preparation now. Again this act is not reactionary.


 

Conclusion: Overall the rhetoric among people that have accepted the Denver Snuffer’s message seems to paint a picture which:

  1. neglects the historical parallels to John the Baptist beyond a superficial level
  2. maintains an exclusionary LDS God model
  3. reflects current LDS priesthood models
  4. judges the LDS church to be in a deeper state of disrepair than it currently is
  5. attributes God’s act to the current state of the LDS church, rather than to future changes it will undergo

Do I believe everything I wrote? Does it matter? Truth should be sought independent of the group-think. Questions need to be asked; concerns need to be raised. Is accepting a message the same as understanding it? (For example, could you accept the Book of Mormon, without a pure understanding of what it is teaching?)

We should be advocates (as Christ) of the LDS church, not accusers, regardless of their priesthood status.

Thank you for your time.