Elder Ballard’s talk in the Sunday afternoon session of General Conference caused an immediate stir on social media feeds. Besides his denunciations of racism, sexism, and nationalism, tweets were flying on Ballard’s “take-down” of MLMs, herbal supplements, and all sorts of medical quackery. On Monday, Geoff B. at The Millennial Star wrote a thoughtful post on Ballard’s warning about nationalism, offering some useful context via statements from other general authorities. I seek to do the same for the central portion of Ballard’s talk, his rapid-fire list of warnings after cautioning, “We must be careful where our footsteps in life take us.”[7:06]
But first, you’ve seen the so-called Enemies List slide, right? If not, read up here. For Ballard’s current talk, we only need to focus on the green bubbles to the right. Those green bubbles are major areas of concern the Brethren were talking about in December 2015 pertaining to right-wing fringe movements. Placing them on the right side of the spectrum can be taken in a somewhat political sense, but it also has to do with fundamentalist leanings. That means, a lot of these concerns involve embracing viewpoints common in earlier periods of modern church history, but current leaders have since distanced themselves from. Several green bubble ideas pop up in aspects of this central section of Ballard’s talk.
End of World Predictions
Ballard began his series of warnings with,
[7:11] We must be watchful and heed the counsel of Jesus to his disciples as he answered these questions: “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man (and I add, woman) deceive you.” (Matt. 24:3-4)
This relates to the green bubble, “Last days/end of world predictions.” Two years ago there was enough anxiety over the imminent arrival of the Second Coming (and accompanying devastation) that the Brethren issued a public statement:
The Church encourages our members to be spiritually and physically prepared for life’s ups and downs. For many decades, Church leaders have counseled members that, where possible, they should gradually build a supply of food, water and financial resources to ensure they are self-reliant during disasters and the normal hardships that are part of life, including illness, injury or unemployment.
This teaching to be self-reliant has been accompanied by the counsel of Church leaders to avoid being caught up in extreme efforts to anticipate catastrophic events.
The writings and speculations of individual Church members, some of which have gained currency recently, should be considered as personal accounts or positions that do not reflect Church doctrine.
One of the “individual members” inspiring concern with end times visions was Julie Rowe. A month before this statement, the Church put a 2014 publication by Rowe on a “Spurious Materials in Circulation” memo sent to CES instructors. It warned although she was an active member of the Church, her personal experiences “do not necessarily reflect Church doctrine or they may distort Church doctrine.”
With recent natural disasters and unusual astronomical events, like the solar eclipse and astrological “Revelation 12 sign,” a lot of people are paying closer attention to Second Coming predictions and end times visionaries. Julie Rowe never left. Earlier this year she started a YouTube channel associated with a new podcast series, and the first podcast garnered over 14k views. But it’s not just Rowe. The popular apocalyptic book Visions of Glory, published almost five years ago, was never officially denounced (in spite of doctrinal issues) and sways a lot of Second Coming thinking. Other influential visionaries include Sarah Menet, Hector Soza, and many more.
Keeping the Doctrine Pure
[7:42] Today I repeat earlier counsel from church leaders. Brothers and sisters, keep the doctrine of Christ pure, and never be deceived by those who tamper with the doctrine.
You won’t find the exact phrase “keep the doctrine of Christ pure” on lds.org, but you will find related admonitions like “keep the doctrine pure.” It’s where you find these phrases that helps clarify Ballard’s statement. Keeping the doctrine pure is the ultimate responsibility of church leaders, but that responsibility is also extended to anyone in a position to teach the gospel. From Teaching, No Greater Call,
President Gordon B. Hinckley stated: “I have spoken before about the importance of keeping the doctrine of the Church pure, and seeing that it is taught in all of our meetings. I worry about this. Small aberrations in doctrinal teaching can lead to large and evil falsehoods” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley , 620).
In 2016, Elder Ballard gave a landmark address to CES instructors, The Opportunities and Responsibilities of CES Teachers in the 21st Century. He also cited President Hinckley,
In a General Authority training meeting, President Gordon B. Hinckley taught on the subject “keeping the doctrine pure and the Church on the right course.” He said, “We cannot be too careful. We must watch that we do not get off [course]. In our efforts to be original and fresh and different, we may teach things which may not be entirely in harmony with the basic doctrines of this the restored Church of Jesus Christ. … We had better be more alert. … We must be watchmen on the tower.”
In the Teaching, No Greater Call manual, teachers are warned that to keep doctrine pure, they must avoid certain practices: speculation, misquoting, gospel hobbies, sensational stories, reshaping church history, and private interpretations and unorthodox views. Similarly, Ballard warned CES instructors,
In teaching your students and in responding to their questions, let me warn you not to pass along faith-promoting or unsubstantiated rumors or outdated understandings and explanations of our doctrine and practices from the past… [E]nsure you do not teach things that are untrue, out of date, or odd and quirky.
One of the green bubbles on the Enemies List was a well-respected former CES instructor, Robert Norman. Seminary and institute teachers are spiritual mentors to rising generations, and their opinions and speculation carry tremendous weight. But in this democratic era where the internet makes the voice of any individual carry across the globe, a regular church member can easily become an influential gospel teacher. This suggests a measure of responsibility for that speaker (or writer) and caution for any listeners (or readers).
In a related vein, Ballard cautioned against spiritual leaders without institutional authority.
[7:58] The gospel of the Father and the Son was restored through Joseph Smith, the prophet of this last dispensation. Do not listen to those who have not been ordained or set apart to their church calling and are acknowledged by common consent of the members of the church. Be aware of organizations or groups or individuals claiming secret answers to doctrinal questions that they say today’s apostles and prophets do not have or understand.
In October 1992, Elder Boyd K. Packer issued a similar warning, though it included a lot more doomsday elements as well. This was likely in response to the Harmston group.
There are some among us now who have not been regularly ordained by the heads of the Church and who tell of impending political and economic chaos, the end of the world—something of the “sky is falling, chicken licken” of the fables. They are misleading members to gather to colonies or cults.
Those deceivers say that the Brethren do not know what is going on in the world or that the Brethren approve of their teaching but do not wish to speak of it over the pulpit. Neither is true. The Brethren, by virtue of traveling constantly everywhere on earth, certainly know what is going on, and by virtue of prophetic insight are able to read the signs of the times.
Do not be deceived by them—those deceivers. If there is to be any gathering, it will be announced by those who have been regularly ordained and who are known to the Church to have authority.
Come away from any others. Follow your leaders who have been duly ordained and have been publicly sustained, and you will not be led astray.
But we’ve also heard similar sentiments in recent years. In June 2015, Elder Oaks held a special three-stake meeting in Boise to address apostasy, sometimes dubbed the “Boise Rescue.” It was a tag-team presentation between Elder Oaks and then-assistant church historian, Richard Turley. In that presentation, the threat of false prophets was emphasized. “False prophets can be most threatening to those who already believe in prophets,” Oaks warned. Turley quoted scripture, “For all things must be done in order, and by common consent in the church” (D&C 28:13). He also taught among several principles of order, “No one is to preach or build up the church except he be regularly ordained by the head of the church.”
At the time it was widely understood the special Boise meeting (an Area Business Weekend) was in response to the rising influence of Denver Snuffer, who got his own green bubble on the Enemies List rather than being grouped with regular old False Prophets. For those not aware, Denver Snuffer (yes, that is his birth name) began to draw fans with the publication of The Second Comforter in 2006. In that book, he testified he’d had a personal visitation from Jesus Christ and described the process others could use to gain their own theophanies. He followed up the popular volume with several more books, but only drew the ire of church leaders with his 2011 book, Passing the Heavenly Gift. Church leadership found the book too critical (it suggested church leaders seriously dropped the ball after Joseph Smith), and Snuffer was excommunicated in 2013.
Since his excommunication, Denver Snuffer’s influence has not diminished. He declared the church in apostasy and has inspired a loose coalition of fellowships made up “of between 5,000 and 10,000 followers in 49 states and several countries — mostly former or current members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” In early September, this coalition voted to canonize a revised set of scriptures, including many of Snuffer’s prophecies.
But it’s not just about Denver Snuffer. “Secret answers” and mystical doctrinal knowledge are attractive to members wherever the information comes from. In an August 2015 FairMormon address, Cassandra Hedelius shared many points from the Boise Rescue in her discussion of emerging “Mormon Gnosticism.” In the Q&A section, Hedelius summarized her warning, “[I]f you are seeking for something deeper, and more spiritually awesome, then you are on dangerous ground.” A Salt Lake Tribune article described many of those who followed Snuffer out of the LDS church, and the characteristics might be surprising to some:
They were mostly super-Mormons, zealots who gave their all to the faith. They taught in the LDS Church Educational System or worked at church-owned Brigham Young University. They served in temples. They dissected the scriptures looking for potent but hidden clues to Jesus’ Second Coming or keys to salvation. Some devotees delved into holistic healing, piled up excessive food storage or launched apocalyptic preparations. Others found mainstream Mormon services too boring, too shallow to feed their spiritual hungering. They ached for more celestial manifestations, more holy works, more Holy Writ.
Ballard then switched gears to secular matters,
[8:36] Do not listen to those who entice you with get-rich schemes. Our members have lost far too much money, so be careful.
Many members assume Ballard was referring to multi-level-marketing ventures, but past statements suggest Ballard was targeting affinity fraud. In the April 1987 general conference Ballard said,
There are no shortcuts to financial security. There are no get-rich-quick schemes that work… Do not trust your money to others without a thorough evaluation of any proposed investment. Our people have lost far too much money by trusting their assets to others.
In 2008, the First Presidency issued a letter to be read in all ward congregations stating, “Reports of fraud schemes and unwise investments prompt us to again counsel members with respect to prudence in managing one’s financial affairs.” In 2012, Michael Otterson of the church’s public affairs department spoke at a fraud conference. He noted, “As the threat of affinity and other fraud has surfaced in recent years, the Church has increased its efforts to teach its members and to encourage them to live by sound financial principles, as well as to avoid the dangers of financial predators.” And, early in 2016, Utah earned the dubious honor of becoming the first state in the U.S. to have an online registry for white-collar criminals due to it’s high “financial vulnerability” to affinity fraud.
In the final point of Ballard’s central section, he issued warnings about certain health practices:
[8:48] In some places, too many of our people are looking beyond the mark and seeking secret knowledge and expensive and questionable practices to provide healing and support. An official church statement issued one year ago states, “We urge Church members to be cautious about participating in any group that promises-in exchange for money-miraculous healings or that claims to have special methods for accessing healing power outside of properly ordained priesthood holders.”
The Church handbook counsels, “Members should not use medical or health practices that are ethically or legally questionable. Local leaders should advise members who have health problems to consult with competent professional practitioners who are licensed in the countries where they practice.” (21.3.6)
Brothers and sisters, be wise and aware that such practices may be emotionally appealing, but may ultimately prove to be spiritually and physically harmful.
The key here is that “official” church statement. The 2016 statement was only issued to a single local news station; it never appeared in the Mormon Newsroom or anywhere else on LDS.org. The statement was in response to a media query on the church’s position concerning Christ-centered energy healing. According to an official statement by the subject of that news article, Tammy Ward, Christ-centered energy healing is not a specific technique itself, but a recognition of various holistic practices where practitioners profess “personal faith in Jesus Christ and recognize Him as the true source of all healing.” Ward’s company created the Christ-centered Energy Healing Conference, and explained that several types of holistic practices involved are referred to as energy healing modalities “because they utilize various energy systems in the body, such as meridians, chakras, auras, etc.”
Our 2-day conference provides an opportunity for individuals to be introduced to and instructed by professionals in a variety of complimentary and holistic health modalities including: The Emotion Code, The Healer’s BluePrint, Foot Zonology, Kinesiology, and Reiki among many others.
Many assume Ballard was talking about essential oils or herbal supplements, both of which are very popular along the Mormon Corridor. I’ve also seen people suggest Ballard was referring to medical marijuana. In my opinion, it’s more likely he was only speaking of the “emotionally appealing” varieties of energy healing. (Which is a little hard to admit, because I’m really not a fan of essential oils and herbal supplements.)
As the earlier Tribune article quote about Snuffer supporters attests, several of the warnings Ballard raised appeal to similar demographics. Last March, MormonLeaks released a letter from a concerned stake president documenting apostate practices of members in his stake and others. The president noted that all subjects “were involved, to some extent, in holistic healing, energy treatments, foot zoning, etc.” It was his opinion that “holistic healing and energy treatments seem to be the ‘gateway drug’ used to find recruits.” The members were heavily influenced by Denver Snuffer’s books, The Second Comforter and Passing the Heavenly Gift. They participated in activities common among those who follow Snuffer’s teachings, re-baptism and at-home sacrament meetings with wine. They relied on the book Visions of Glory which, at the time, was sold at Seagull Book, and also listened to other end times visionaries.
- What do you think of these interpretations of Elder Ballard’s talk? Do you agree with them?
- What else do you think Ballard might have been referring to?
 If you really are aching for something against multi-level-marketing, the closest I can give you is Elder Oaks mentioning pyramid schemes. In August 2016, LDS Living published a lengthy quote from a decades-old book by Oaks. It said, “For at least a decade there have been a succession of frauds worked by predominantly Mormon entrepreneurs upon predominately Mormon victims. Stock manipulations; residential mortgage financings; gold, silver, diamonds, uranium, and document investments; pyramid schemes—all have taken their toll upon the faithful and gullible.”
This was a great overview and made the talk much more interesting to me. I think the mainstream church is going to have a constant battle on their hands when it comes to splinter groups. I honestly can understand the pull for the ‘snufferites’. They’re drawn by the exact same things that attracted the early members of the church. Just sit through a few sacrament meetings today and you can see how bland correlation has made us.
Also, my first thought about the alternate healing sources was definitely medical marijuana, of course I was unaware of the other activities going on (though I’m not surprised).
Perhaps encouraging members to think more for themselves, instead of constantly pushing ‘obedience, obedience, obedience’, people might be better prepared to use critical analysis when faced with new questionable schools of thought. Of course that just moves us to the orange bubbles.
I would have mentioned this to Geoff, but he has become a serial abuser of the moderation tools over there. He managed to be somewhat restrained this time, but he is essentially putting words in the prohpet’s mouth with this parenthetical thought: “an aggressive nationalism that includes military force.”
I agree that aggressive nationalism is a problem especially when it includes the use of military force, but he and others like him tend to go further and argue against most and even all wars. After I questioned his rampant use of warmongering as a perjorative he defined the term as any support for war. According to that definition from Geoff, every war of American history would be unjust, everybody who even tacitly supported them would be a war monger, and he is arguing in that parenthetical thought that Ballard took that position. In contrast, I tend to agree much more with Micheal and Taylor in the comments, who caution against thinking that the nation state is the supreme good in society and that patriotism, sexuality, and gospel pursuits should be healthy ones. I would extend that to say that wars can be proper and just as well. That isn’t a popular position with anti war proponents on the left and extreme libertarian isolationists, yet the Yedizi women trapped in sexual slavery and Jews liberated from concentration camps would disagree and so many more would disagree.
I thought your summary of the dangers of various right wing bubbles to which Ballard was responding was a much better analysis of the talk. Thanks.
I agree with your analysis Mary Ann. Do you think that the Church is just as concerned with progressive Mormons or do you think they’ve kind of given up on us and are concerned about these movements taking away the workhorses of the Church?
Felix, I think they’re definitely still concerned with progressive members. It’s just the green bubble activity has gotten particularly bad in the last few years. When you hear warnings from church leaders, it’s usually blue bubble activity (behavioral). Outside threats mentioned by leaders are almost exclusively progressive/secular (orange bubbles). That’s what makes these *public* green bubble warnings, like Ballard’s talk, so fascinating. They are relatively rare compared to warnings about secularism. I think over the years the brethren have developed a policy of not publicly acknowledging fundamentalist-leaning threats, preferring to deal with it quietly at local levels. Fundamentalist/green bubble activity can usually be backed up with statements from prior church leaders, so openly confronting these guys means publicly acknowledging the stark contrast between past and current teachings. It’s an uncomfortable position for them.
Well done, Mary Ann, as always.
And what the hell is foot zoning? I guess you can tell I don’t live on the Wasatch Front, as I’ve never heard of such a thing.
I believe J.golden Kimball had something to say about the green bubbles. During one sermon he announced that he was going to reveal the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon. That woke people up and got their attention. Then he asked by show of hands how many people had never read all the way through the Book of Mormon as it is now constituted, holding a missionary copy up? Many hands were raised in the audience. Then in a high screeching voice he shouted: I present to you the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon! And he threw the book at them.
What I find so interesting about this discussion is the bubble in which so many Mormons find themselves. Protestant congregations split and join together all the time for relatively insignificant reasons in comparison. And we are no longer that isolated from them, we can study this right under our noses. We could learn from their experiences and stop pretending that it won’t apply to us. (One obvious lesson, ax Snuffer and it will radicalize him and strengthen his following).
I suggest If people want to go in another direction we have nothing to worry about, if our religion is sound. Perhaps God is working in their lives leading them down another path that may come around to benefit us in some unpredictable way. But what disturbs me most is that it appears our leaders do not believe our religion is fundamentally sound enough to withstand competition or scrutiny on its own. They are afraid that if many people learn and compare the mainstream teachings against whatever fringe, the fringe will win.
The best way to keep the religion strong is not to constantly keep every teaching pure and white (even if it needs white washing) The way to keep the religion strong is by teaching critical thinking skills which will require proving contraries and raising difficult questions. If we want to keep our religion weak, keep feeding everyone nothing but a constant diet of correlated milky oatmeal and pablum. Some will prefer sour grapes and rotten tomatoes to that.
Looking at the colored bubbles, the thought occurred to me that “Need something more” should be all 4 colors. Sometimes church is so dreadfully boring that I need something more, and I’m hardly on the right side of the spectrum. (Or maybe I’m so far right that I’m on the left.)
It’s also funny to me that John Dehlin has a smaller bubble than Ordain Women. Is that a recognition of threat and is John really smaller than Ordain Women in the brethren’s eyes?
MH, I see the Ordain Women bubble as shorthand for feminism, not just women’s ordination. In that sense, yes, I see it as bigger than John Dehlin.
In the same sense, I see the Secularism bubble as intellectualism. The “Disagree with current policies” I see as LGBT issues. (The slide was created a month after the exclusion policy.)
Fantastic article, even if an apologetic for MLMs, magic juices and oils.
It is not my role to critique Elder Ballard’s talk. But Christ-centered energy healing is helping me heal from some traumatic trials. In a roundabout way, it has even enabled me to remain active in the LDS Church. There are so many different healing modalities. Chinese use acupuncture. Native Americans use dance, sweat lodges and peyote. The Nephites used herbs (Alma 46:40). Others benefit from prayer, meditation, yoga, etc. What is effective for one person or culture may be ineffective for another. I thus respect healing modalities including including alternative therapies.
Jpv, I know, right?!!
Its a hobby horse of mine, but the “Lack of Righteousness” bubble gets me steamed more than any of them. I keep hoping someone was just trying to shorthand, “Lack of faith in the Atonement of our Lord Jesus: The only source of true righteousness” but I could think of better ways to do it.
That the Special Witnesses of Christ on earth can’t grasp this delicate but important distinction in language shakes my testimony more than history or cultural conservatism.
Llewelynn, I don’t think it was the Q12 who put it together, even though it was presented to them. A MormonLeaks release of minutes from one Area seventy meeting (Utah area) in November 2015 said that reports of apostate movements under each seventy’s jurisdiction needed to be submitted to a certain member of the Q70 presidency by November 17th. The PowerPoint was presented to the Q12 December 8th. It sounds like it was likely someone assisting that Q70 presidency trying to make sense of all the different reports and assigning them to specific categories. Honestly, I could see some lower leaders just reporting up the chain “lack of righteousness” rather than going into specifics. I suspect that’s why the categories aren’t super clear cut or some seem redundant.
““False prophets can be most threatening to those who already believe in prophets,”
From my experience as a missionary in southern Utah (99-2001), I can see why the green bubbles why this might be a potent concern for the brethren. Its standard to attribute the “left” bubbles as “of the world” or something in the DNA of Mormonism to be wary of. Threats from the right can be disguised and more enticing to active members.
In Utah, it seems, prophets and polygamy are in the air and in the water. Just a few examples I personally experienced:
1. Besides the well-known break off polygamy groups (Colorado City, Manti, Nephi etc.) , I personally knew of more than one individual who simply starting practicing polygamy (with willing adults) on their own. Usually a personally revelation was given. The were threatened with excommuncation, but persisted and left the church.
2. As missionaries, we stuck out like a sore thumb and were targeted by individuals who had something to say “to the church” or the FP/Q12. We ran into more than one (seemingly sane) individual who either claimed to be a new Mormon prophet or a John the Baptist type figure “preparing the way” for the new Mormon prophet.
3. Especially in places like Vernal and Delta (outside Utah County) I often heard hard core politically conservative Mormons disparage GA’s who had past ties to the Democratic party (Faust, Jensen), usually citing some loose prophecy about “even the leadership will be deceived in the last days. Or, disparaging the Church because of not doing being more explicitly in support of the Republican party line. Of course liberals disparage GA’s online all the time. But when you come from the Right, its harder to dismiss it as “of the world” or “of the liberal/cultural elite that we despise”.
I think the main lesson I drew from this nice summary is that Mormons are among the most gullible people on earth.
I think the brethren aren’t so concerned that the faith is vulnerable in some absolute sense as against competitors (it’s true, and they’re not), but are rather concerned that with limited, fallible human knowledge, significant numbers of the faithful might be deceived. Open and honest debate among beings with limited reasoning ability does not always arrive at truth. I think the brethren see themselves as literal watchmen, who (by virtue of more careful thought, or inspiration, or revelation, or all of those) can see more clearly than the rank and file, and are thus obligated to use their authority to protect them from deception.
I wish Elder Ballard had been explicit calling out conspiracy theorists, New World Order which connects with anti-semitism. Most Mormons are unaware of that. I wonder what it is about our culture that makes us so prone to deception.
P.S. And wish he’d said more about people getting their news from sources other than the mainstream
legitimate news. It’s dangerous when people veer off from the norm.
Did the Church say anything about the “Rev. 12 sign ” ?
I agree. I thought it was pretty clear he was aiming at the far right of the Church.
I enjoyed Elder Ballard’s talk- I usually like what he has to say, anyway, but it’s nice for us progressives to get a break as the Church Punching Bag every so often. Now I’m off to weaponize this talk against my loved ones in the form of passive aggressive memes with poor font choices. Tah!
Can anyone give me a rough idea of the numbers involved in some of these movements, and their geographical distribution? I find all this fascinating, but never run into it in my corner of California. On the other hand (re: Mormon gullibility), I do see educated, secular people falling for all kinds of pseudoscientific nonsense with a “natural “ label slapped on it. There’s one born every minute.
Thanks for a well-written essay!
I was interested by: “Many assume Ballard was talking about _____ or _____, both of which are very popular along the Mormon Corridor. I’ve also seen people suggest Ballard was referring to _____. In my opinion, it’s more likely he was only speaking of _____.”
Mem, I haven’t heard any leaders mention the Revelation 12 sign.
Moss, that comment made my day. LOL.
Nicely done, Mary Ann. I can only hope that next year when all our lessons are taken from GC talks, your post will help enlighten some of our teachers on the message behind the message.
Most of the stuff that was elaborated on here in this article was unknown to me. I may have heard the names of some of the people listed and some of the people named in the bubbles, but I really didn’t know much, if any, of the details. I will admit that it was very interesting to read about them in all of the linked articles. Question: Why would I want to learn about all of these details? How does it benefit me to spend my time learning about let’s say “Robert Norman” or “Denver Snuffer”? I’m not being critical of those who have the time and enjoy doing this, it’s just an honest question. Let’s say I have 7 hours per week that I have allocated to personal study (an hour a day – very generous in my case). What benefit is there for me in spending some of this study time to know this information? How has it benefited any of you? Again, not being critical, just looking for your honest feedback. Thanks.
It may or may not be personally relevant to you, Brian, but I think this is interesting because it is something that is causing church leadership concern. That suggests there’s enough activity happening for it to hit their radar.
I personally find it very interesting to see the development of new religious movements within the Mormon tradition in real time
Thanks Andrew. Yes I agree with you that it is interesting. I found it all very interesting as well.Aside from being interesting though, I’m wondering how I can benefit from it all. How could I use this information in my family, community, church? How have others used it to benefit themselves or others in their family, community, church?
I suspect that there are bishops and stake presidents for example in the Boise area that have, of necessity, been exposed to and been obligated to learn some of these details to help shepherd some members under their stewardship. I’m sure there are other pockets of church membership that are in similar circumstances where detailed knowledge of one or more of these bubble ideas has been beneficial. Is there a general need among church members to learn of these things and attempt to stay current on them?
Brian, it’s definitely a valid question. For me, awareness is the motivation behind writing this stuff.
1) The Brethren are fighting challenges on many fronts, not just the ones I see in my neck of the woods. So if I’m confused or irritated by something that was done, it might behoove me to dig and figure out if something else might’ve been behind it rather than jumping to conclusions.
2) I can make some questionable assumptions about what the brethren mean when they warn about something if I don’t grasp the context. With scriptures we call that prooftexting, when we take something out of context to justify our preferred position. It’d be the same way if I tried to use Ballard’s words to argue against essential oils & MLMs.
3) I can be blindsided when this stuff comes up among family members, wardmembers, or in the media if I don’t have a minimal awareness. I was grateful that I knew who Denver Snuffer was when a wardmember came up to me in my last ward saying she was having trouble with the church because of Snuffer’s books. In my current ward, a friend asked me about a podcaster who was recommended in Gospel Doctrine, and after doing some digging I was able to give her a better view and some potential red flags to watch out for among the sisters. In that case, I shared the idea of Robert Norman to her, to explain why caution is warranted even with a charismatic, highly respected former CES instructor.
Most of the stuff in Ballard’s talk is most prevalent among the Mormon Corridor, but it’s also stuff that tends to fly under the radar. If people in the ward are getting caught up in it, often local leadership is oblivious.
I like digging into this stuff, but I don’t expect others to spend near as much time with it. I mean, everyone’s got a life. But when I write an informational post like this, it’s more than just, “Hey, I think this is interesting.” Usually there’s a reason why I think there’s value in people being aware.
Thanks Mary Ann. I appreciate the time it took to create this post and answer people’s questions like mine. As I understand it, the value of learning and knowing about the details behind Elder Ballards’ talk would be to have a general awareness so that I don’t:
1. Misinterpret what he said
2. Make incorrect/questionable assumptions about the talk
3. Get blindsided and so I can be prepared to potentially help others who come across some of these details and have questions.
Brother Stroud has been silenced
The issues surrounding “apostates,” “fringe beliefs,” “end-time prophecies,” and more, is actually quite simple to resolve. If you come in with an attitude similar to that of Abraham, one who had a desire for greater knowledge coupled with a strong resolve to incorporate what you already know to be true, you avoid and are far from everything that Elder Ballard is alluding to. It is impossible to be spoon fed all truth from the apostles and it is an erroneous idea to project or imply such a notion. In one’s pursuit to find Christ one is going to have “peculiar” experiences that not even those of your own faith would ever accept as “pure doctrine” or real experiences. I am the first to admit that there is deception everywhere and no one is immune to being deceived or being the testifier of old wives’ tales. I agree that there are members of the LDS faith who deceive and go astray, HOWEVER, we shouldn’t close our minds and shut the doors to truths simply because it doesn’t have the “Church Seal.” It is the integration of all truth that makes one the most Christ-like, not the segregation and limited mindset of outside beliefs. There is a distinct pattern with apostates that is very easy to spot, they are narrow-minded individuals who seek to change rather than incorporate, integrate, and search for ALL aspects of truth. There is always going to be deception while the hearts of men follow the devil, but there are pure hearts following Christ in the midst of us who don’t carry the title “Elder” before their name and that we should be listening to these individuals and seeking the confirmations through the Holy Ghost to know the TRUTH of ALL things.
There have been no comments since Dec 2017 when Pres Monson passed away. Since then Pres Nelson has been moving very fast to make changes. The tone and tenor of the messages has changed to not so subtly motivate us to prepare to meet the Savior, this implies that we go through the coming tribulatory time to do so.
His now famous quote from April 2018 when he gave this on Sunday morning:
“Oh, there is so much more that your Father in Heaven wants you to know. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught, “To those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, it is clear that the Father and the Son are giving away the secrets of the universe!”13
Nothing opens the heavens quite like the combination of increased purity, exact obedience, earnest seeking, daily feasting on the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon, and regular time committed to temple and family history work.
To be sure, there may be times when you feel as though the heavens are closed. But I promise that as you continue to be obedient, expressing gratitude for every blessing the Lord gives you, and as you patiently honor the Lord’s timetable, you will be given the knowledge and understanding you seek. Every blessing the Lord has for you—even miracles—will follow. That is what personal revelation will do for you.
I am optimistic about the future. It will be filled with opportunities for each of us to progress, contribute, and take the gospel to every corner of the earth. But I am also not naive about the days ahead. We live in a world that is complex and increasingly contentious. The constant availability of social media and a 24-hour news cycle bombard us with relentless messages. If we are to have any hope of sifting through the myriad of voices and the philosophies of men that attack truth, we must learn to receive revelation.
Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, will perform some of His mightiest works between now and when He comes again. We will see miraculous indications that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, preside over this Church in majesty and glory. But in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.
My beloved brothers and sisters, I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation. Let this Easter Sunday be a defining moment in your life. Choose to do the spiritual work required to enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost and hear the voice of the Spirit more frequently and more clearly.
With Moroni, I exhort you on this Easter Sabbath to “come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift,”15 beginning with the gift of the Holy Ghost, which gift can and will change your life.”
We are not to be spoon fed. Our prophet, Pres Nelson, has told us clearly that we must do to “open the heavens” and ” we must learn to receive revelation” and most astounding ” …in the coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost. My beloved brothers and sister, I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation.”.
Wow. Reread that again. Let it sink in.
When someone has questions, concerns, new teachings, promptings, guidance, or whatever come your way. You should take it to the Lord and ask. If you have done your work Pres Nelson out lined -“… increased purity, exact obedience, earnest seeking, daily feasting on the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon, and regular time committed to temple and family history work.” you will be qualified to get your own revelation about what is presented to you from where ever it may come. You will be able to determine for yourself if it be valid or not. Genius!
There is no need to go anywhere else for your source of Truth other than the source of all Truth. In fact if you aren’t able to keep the Holy Ghost as your companion you “it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost” ( Moroni 10:5). Wow – couldn’t be more clear. You now may apply the lesson and do as the prophet pleads. Let the personal revelation flow.
Simple – yes. Easy – no. Vital – yes.
I hope this post helps some one to hold fast to the good ship Zion and stay in the boat while we go through the coming changes that Pres Nelson says will be on their way in the coming years. Far to many are getting out of or not entering the good ship Zion at what appears to be a historic time when changes are coming in a fast paced manor as we are told to prepare to meet the Savior.
I know God lives, Jesus is the Christ, Pres Nelson is a prophet of God today. I know that as I have applied what Pres Nelson has taught about receiving revelation it has come to me as I do as he instructs. I share that witness with you in the name of Jesus Christ.
Excellent post Papa Louie! I typically never return to comments I make or follow threads for that matter, but there is a fascinating shift in this world going on right now that led me back here. Thank you for referring to this amazing conference talk! I read President Nelson’s talk before completing this reply and, WOW!, there are several components to discuss that make up receiving constant revelation…
Prohibit the exchange of money for energy healings and the energy healings will stop, or at least cease to be a cult fascination.