On February 14th, podcaster Mike Stroud dropped a bombshell. After bearing a heartfelt testimony of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Russell M. Nelson, and deity, Brother Stroud announced he’d been excommunicated for apostasy.
I first wrote about Mike Stroud in September 2017, several months after I’d been introduced to his podcasts by a wardmember. My view was that Brother Stroud’s longtime service in the Church Educational System (27 years as a seminary teacher) gave him significant institutional credibility, but he was pushing more fringe teachings of latter-day gnostics (like Denver Snuffer) and end-times visionaries (like Spencer from the book Visions of Glory). It was a problematic combination.
Stroud’s initial run of podcasts began in February 2016 and ended in November 2017. He was never under any threat of disciplinary action as far as I can tell, but priesthood leaders found several of his teachings “inappropriate.” To his credit, Stroud clearly identified those teachings in his final podcast, published November 5th.
[2:16] The doctrines of the Second Comforter, calling and election made sure, translation, and the calling of the 144,000 are among those specific sacred concepts that should have been spoken with more care and by constraint of the Spirit….
[3:00] It was inappropriate for me to teach that persons should seek to be translate or to receive an ordinance of translation and become members of the 144,000 spoken of in scripture.
It was inappropriate for me to teach that temple ordinances, specifically the use of altars, should be practiced outside of the temple.
It was inappropriate for me to teach that that the Church of Latter-day Saints is Aaronic in nature and preparatory to the Melchizedek priesthood institution referred to in scripture as the Church of the Firstborn.
It was inappropriate to teach that people should seek to receive priesthood ordinations outside of the ordained channels found within the Church, and that priesthood healings and ordinances should be practiced using a prescribed format and that they can be performed over the phone.
For this, I humbly apologize and ask for your forgiveness.Mike Stroud, Podcast 062: Epilogue
But something changed.
During 2018, Stroud experienced more intense spiritual experiences and was regularly visited by heavenly beings (Heavenly Father, Heavenly Mother, Jesus Christ, and others). He gave an address at an end-times conference in Arizona last November on “Accessing the Fullness of the Atonement of Jesus Christ through Personal Revelation.” At the end of the presentation, he announced that he would be starting a new podcast series on the Book of Mormon, and the Lord wanted the podcasts translated into Spanish.
Book of Mormon Podcasts
Brother Stroud views the Book of Mormon as a road map to achieving a Second Comforter experience. According to the Church, “When someone obtains the Second Comforter, Jesus Christ will appear to him from time to time, will reveal the Father, and will teach him face to face (D&C 130:3).” For Stroud, the Book of Mormon brings people closer to Christ and the heavenly hosts, literally. “[A]t this point in time, in the day of the gathering of Israel, there has never been a more appropriate time for us to obtain the power and knowledge, wisdom and understanding from the Book of Mormon through revelation and angelic ministry than right now. I believe that’s why the Lord wanted these podcasts to be done…” (Podcast 08: 1 Nephi 5-7, abt 41:23)
So what did Brother Stroud teach? He only got through 1 Nephi before his church discipline, but the vast majority of what he said is what you’d expect from a longtime seminary teacher: pointing out Hebraisms, thinking more deeply about each verse and the motives of each character, emphasizing tribal lineages in the gathering of Israel, etc. It seems like he worked really hard to avoid overt mention of the “inappropriate” teachings from his first series. What might’ve gotten him in trouble this time?
First, Stroud got specific when describing a process to commune with heavenly beings. He suggested spending at least one hour every day between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. with the Lord. During that time, “express your gratitude, your love, your adoration, and give praise to Them for all that They have given to you and for all that you are.” (Podcast 05: Spending Sacred Holy Time With The Lord Jesus Christ, abt 13:16) “Them” and “They” refer to Heavenly Father, Heavenly Mother, and Jesus Christ. In a later podcast, he promised, “You spending time with the Lord every day is designed to bring you to this place where you too can say, ‘I did look unto my God and did praise him all the day long.” (Podcast 019: 1 Nephi 18, abt 29:24) Stroud encouraged listeners to write down any revelations received during this holy time with the Lord, and at various points he shared revelations he received.
But it’s not just about spending time with deity. Stroud also recommended asking for visitations from specific Book of Mormon individuals. “As you read the chapters in the Book of Mormon, identify beforehand the characters that you will be reading about. As you kneel down in prayer before reading the book, ask the Lord to send these men and these women to you to teach, instruct, give greater understanding, and even visions and manifestations to you…” (Podcast 023: 1 Nephi 22, abt 4:14) I’ve seen one critic use the word “conjuring” to describe what Brother Stroud recommended. It’s a bit strong (evoking images of the occult), but the idea of requesting a specific heavenly messengers by name does seem unusual.
Second, Stroud suggested that the Lord inspired this podcast series for a specific audience, and he asked for help reaching that audience. In his initial announcement, he stated that the Lord wanted the podcasts translated into Spanish. He believed that it was to benefit the modern-day descendants of Lehi, who are assigned to the tribe of Manasseh: “I believe that the majority of the tribe of Manasseh are Spanish speakers.” (Podcast 08: 1 Nephi 5-7, abt 41:51) In January, Stroud asked listeners for help to get translated Spanish (and Portuguese) podcasts into the hands of those who could benefit from them. “I would like to invite all who have served missions in Spanish-speaking or Portuguese-speaking countries, if you can, to refer these podcast lessons to those men and women that you worked with in the mission field and put them in touch with the Spanish translation of these Book of Mormon lessons and… we’ll soon have the first lessons in Portuguese.” (Podcast 012: 1 Nephi 12, abt 20:19)
The reason I suspect this was an issue is that in Stroud’s podcast where he announces his excommunication, he notes that he is only continuing the series at the encouragement of his children. Further episodes will be created solely for the benefit of his posterity, though other people may listen in if they want. There is no indication that translations into other languages will continue. (But the few Spanish and Portuguese podcasts are still up, so who knows.)
Third, Stroud continued to espouse ideas that appear to be influenced by the end-times book Visions of Glory. One item I recognized in his new podcasts was something Stroud talked about in his original series, that the 144,000 talked about in the Book of Revelation were a group of men and women who used portals to move through time and space to gather the elect.
[56:02] There is in our day, and in the day to come, the formation of a rescue brigade. This rescue brigade, to liberate and deliver the captive House of Israel throughout the nations of the world, are referred to in scripture as the 144,000. These men and women called to this ministry have an assignment in a future day when hopelessness and despair, destruction and death rule the day to go into these nations and through priesthood power and the gifts of the Spirit find these lost ones who have no hope of deliverance and bring them through miraculous ways superseding time and space and deliver them to places of safety and refuge set up by the Lord in his wisdom throughout the world…
[57:26] Many of them will be translated in the flesh, as in ancient times, so as to be able to fulfill this mission successfully to bring these redeemed of the Lord to Zion…Mike Stroud, Podcast 022: 1 Nephi 21
So if Stroud was declared apostate for teaching questionable doctrine, those are the obvious trouble spots.
It should also be noted that opposition quickly mobilized when Stroud began his podcasts last November. Several people put together an open letter (a Google doc) citing new questionable teachings from his conference address onward. A Facebook page was put up in December called “Mike Stroud Podcast Exposed,” modeled after another “Exposed” page. (It even had my 2017 W&T post on Mike Stroud.) After the excommunication was announced, those behind the Google doc and “Mike Stroud Podcast Exposed” Facebook page were blamed for the disciplinary action and received public backlash. The Facebook page was taken down temporarily for safety concerns.
Something’s been gnawing at me as I’ve listened to Stroud’s podcasts during the last week or so. (I wasn’t aware he’d started podcasting again until after his excommunication, so there was a lot to catch up on.) He mentioned a shift in tone and messaging from church leaders since Russell M. Nelson became president of the Church. This seems to have made Stroud more comfortable speaking out again. Thing is, he’s right. There has been a shift.
Referring to the changes in priesthood quorums and ministering announced at the April general conference, Elder Holland quipped that he wasn’t sure how many more “rushes” of revelation members of the Church could handle from President Nelson. Less than two weeks later, Sister Wendy Nelson declared that “the frequency and abundance of messages from heaven have increased exponentially” since her husband became the president. In June, she elaborated on the process of President Nelson writing impressions down on a yellow note pad and how she has been prompted at times to leave the room. A member in Cardston observed, “She testified of how real and true the concept of modern revelation from the Lord to His prophet really is.”
But the shift isn’t just talking about revelation to church leaders. For example, President Nelson counseled in April,
I urge you to stretch beyond your current spiritual ability to receive personal revelation, for the Lord has promised that “if thou shalt [seek], thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.”12
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!”13President Russell M. Nelson, “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” April 2018 General Conference
And there are other examples from the past year. The doctrine of personal revelation has definitely gotten a boost lately.
Funny enough, the Church released a new resource for seminary and institute instructors last August on false revelation. In a new “Helps by Topic” page, there is a link to “False Revelation and Gospel Extremism.” In that category, there are a couple scriptures, several talks by apostles, and even church history resources. It seems if we are going to seek out heavenly mysteries and secrets of the universe, we may need to exercise more caution along the way. Wish us luck.
 There were a few other moments in the podcasts where I cringed, but I doubt they would’ve played into any discipline. I want to flag one because it relates to a recent post. Stroud told a family story about his grandparents in Payson, Utah. The grandparents shared a pie with some local American Indian friends, and they were later given a “crude type of pie” in return. When his grandparents cut the pie open, it was filled with black Mormon crickets. “Cricket pie. These Indians ate insects, had degraded down to such a state that truly, with the loss of the Spirit of the Lord, they had ‘become a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations.'” (Podcast 012: 1 Nephi 12, abt 47:25) This is a perfect example of why people have mixed feelings about Lamanite identification. “Unfortunately, some Church members have viewed groups they considered to be Lamanites with condescension or contempt,…” (“Lamanite Identity,” Church History Topic)