Several lights went on in my head as I read the following excerpt from a blog:
“On why I continually say "I'm nothing and nobody" there are doctrinal reasons. Those who are religious, and follow a converted disciple of Christ, are still damned if they substitute a man in the place that belongs only to Christ. Sincere, but deluded people who claim they are disciples of Paul, Apollos, Peter, Moses, Isaiah, even Thomas Monson, but who do not receive a testimony of Christ, are damned. They suffer the vengeance of eternal fire. (D&C 76: 99-106.) They are consigned to hell, and are resurrected as Telestial beings. This is because they followed a man. It is a grave mistake and salvation is lost when that mistake is made. Those who invite people to follow them, and deliberately seek devotees are anti-Christ and bringing souls to destruction. These religious Pied Pipers will incur the greater damnation. If someone is going to make that mistake by claiming they are following me, they will not do so without being told by me unequivocally and with some frequency that they are mistaken. I am nothing, and I have not ever attempted to become an anti-Christ. I point to Christ, for He alone can rescue you from the pains of hell and eternal torment. Those who put themselves up for adoration and worship are mistaken, are practicing priestcraft, are anti-Christ, and in the employ of the enemy to our souls.” From the desk of Denver Snuffer
While reading the post, I remembered two distinct occasions when I have felt like a complete idiot for trying to look to another mortal as a source of divine enlightenment. In both situations I was treated kindly, but my efforts to put a mortal on a pedestal were completely rejected. The first time I had this feeling was with an institute teacher who I highly respect for his knowledge of the gospel. The second time I had this feeling was with Denver Snuffer.
Other men seem to accept my idolatry and praises with open arms, but not these two. I doubt either one of them knew what was going on in my heart. I was feeling God's reprimand. I knew I had done something that was not appropriate. I didn’t understand my mistake, but I felt it. I was embarrassed and didn’t want to make that kind of mistake again.
I'm a little slow, but I finally get it. Both of these men understood something I did not. They were more interested in my eternal exaltation than in being honored, praised, adored, and put up on a pedestal. Both of them have powerful testimonies of Jesus Christ. I desire the same kind of testimony, so I attempted to follow them. That's when they quickly corrected me. I will be damned even if I follow a converted disciple of Christ. If I want to have a testimony of Christ, I need to follow Christ.
I have been so deeply indoctrinated with the false belief that I should follow somebody, who is superior to me in gospel knowledge and privilege, that I have acted foolishly. I have found it is very easy to get caught up in: Who is the most admired among us? Having a calling from God gives us status. I’m important because I know so and so. Look at me, aren’t I great? etc.
Those who led the church of God in the days of Christ did not understand their damning influence upon the Jewish people, and if they did, they intentionally rebelled against God. Christ wisely counseled his followers.
“Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.” Even though the church belongs to God, Christ does not try to supplant the Scribes and Pharisees in their callings. It is important that we follow Christ’s example when we see hypocrisy among us?
“For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,” Why do they toot their own horns? Why are they the heroes in their own stories? Why do they love the best seats? Does it make them feel superior to their fellow mortals? Does it hide their insecurities?
“And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.” Why do they want others to call them Rabbi, Lord, and Master? Do they really think they have a superior status to other men?
“But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”
What advice does Christ give His followers? What happens in the heart of the abased servant? If we are abased, should we despise the experience? Do we need recognition for our service, like the Jewish church leadership who so desperately demanded it?
“But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” How does the perverse doctrine of the scribes and Pharisees prevent mankind from entering the kingdom of heaven? Can we find Christ when we're worshiping men? Did Jesus receive any fruit from His vineyard when religious people bowed to other humans? Matthew 21:41
After seeing the Jews blindly and foolishly follow church leaders, are we going to make the same mistake? Is there a difference between respecting the order that is established in the church and following the hierarchy? How would you describe the difference? Matt. 23:1-13
Did the Pharisees realize they were causing the people to violate the first two commandments? “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;” Exodus 20:3-5
Have God's commandments been rewritten to say, “Don’t worship anything except God and church leaders who represent God?” Why, in our right mind, would we look to another human for divine guidance? Prophets come with a message, but that’s it! They don’t want to be worshiped. “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:10 True prophets will forbid others to worship them because they know of its damning consequences.
Satan wants to be worshiped. “And now, when Moses had said these words, Satan cried with a loud voice, and ranted upon the earth, and commanded, saying: I am the Only Begotten, worship me” Moses 1:19. Do we want to follow Satan in his desire to be worshiped? Do we want to be disciples of humans who want to be worshiped and followed? Should we follow anyone except the Lord?
Claiming “the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience” may require great sacrifice Articles of Faith 1:11.
Daniel was cast into the den of lions for refusing to put his good friend, King Darius, above the true and living God Daniel 6.
When the lives of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were threatened because they refused to bow down to the King’s golden image, they “answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” The King didn’t like their answer and disciplined them Daniel 3.
These stories have been an inspiration to me. They are more than just Bible stories; they have become my living reality. Do I have the same kind of courage as Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego?
Last September, some friends reported me to church leaders because of my beliefs. I believe church leaders can make mistakes and are human just like the rest of us. This created no small stir. I was promptly called in for an interview. During the course of the conversation, I let my interviewer know that I am willing to support, sustain, and help others do the best they can in the calling that has been assigned to them, but I am not willing to follow and worship anyone except God. If someone claims to speak for God, I will take the message to the Lord and ask for a witness from the Holy Ghost.
My interviewer was also concerned about my quest to receive the Second Comforter. He told me that it was not right to seek for such a thing. I was informed that I am out of line and need to change my attitude. Well, I'm still only going to worship God. It's taken me a long time to discover my abomination before the Lord. I've been a human follower most of my life, and I'm not going back to my idolatry.
My belief in worshiping only God and seeking His face is perceived as dangerous. I was told that I was not to ask questions and make comments during church meetings. I asked if I could say something if the comments and questions are based in the scriptures. The answer was no. I am only allowed to quote the manual or the opinion of my local leader. I’ve honored this request. I just keep my mouth shut.
I would have had a hard time believing my experience if it wasn’t happening to me. Is this for real? You mean the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints allows church members to be condemned for only worshiping God and seeking His face? I do not despise my experiences because they have been so good for my heart, but I do have great concern about the path we are taking.
We have serious problems in the church. Compelling people to worship the hierarchy is wrong. It damns people and is the doctrine of the anti-Christ. This doctrine is polluting the Holy Church of God. “O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God? Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? Why do ye not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that misery which never dies—because of the praise of the world?” Mormon 8:38
A few weeks ago, a friend asked if she could send me something in the mail. I said sure. When I opened the package, I discovered that it was anti-Mormon literature. I've never read anything like this before and probably wouldn't spend much time with it, except my friend seemed really concerned about my Mormon beliefs. I wanted to understand her worries. After spending several hours reading and watching everything that was sent to me, I said to myself, “That’s it? People leave the Mormon Church over this? I was expecting something shocking and alarming. Haven't these people inquired of God and obtained their own witness?”
I know the church has problems; some of the problems are big problems. I am not naive to what many of those problems are, but we still have the greatest collection of written revelations from God. Joseph Smith saw God face to face and invited us to do the same. We are to teach the principles of Christ’s gospel, which are in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, in the which is the fulness of the gospel D&C 42:12. We have also been given the Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, and the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. So many truths to study, ponder, and pray about.
The heavens are open to anyone who is willing to come. God is asking us to come. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matt 11:28-30