By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them
What follows will be difficult to understand for some readers unless you’re familiar with Denver and the eight books he has published. I don’t want to identify him completely, I’m not interested in introducing him to those who are not already aware of him.
Denver’s last book PTHG (initial only) has resulted in his Stake President, convening a disciplinary Council unless Denver agrees to do three things outlined in a letter to Denver. Denver published the letter on his blog.
After reading his first book in 2007 I was excited. I talked with him a couple of times and prayed about his message, I was surprised when I began to feel uneasy, so I decided not to read any of his other books. I took a wait and see attitude. That’s the reason I haven’t read PTHG except for the first chapter. Over the years, I’ve kept up with him by reading others bloggers and reading his blog.
Even though I haven’t read all of his books I know enough about his message to offer a few thoughts on his work. Denver is a gifted researcher and writer. After reading his first book it was evident that he was going to become well known in Mormon circles.
His first book was written in April 2006. Today, Sept 6, 2013, he is on the verge of losing his church membership. Denver changed course from writing faith supporting books, where now, in his latest book he undermines the credibility of the church and its leaders. To use the words of his Stake President Denver denigrates LDS prophets from Joseph Smith to President Monson.
There are historical challenges in LDS history that fulfill the Lord’s warning that “there is an opposition in all things”. “All things” is an all encompassing statement and certainly includes church history and doctrine. Denver has plumbed church history and doctrine to find “opposition” and written a book that effectively plants seeds of doubt in the hearts of those who read it. His Stake President said Denver places the church in a negative light.
Denver’s Stake President has taken his time prayerfully considering PTHG, nearly 18 months to be exact. He told Denver he can’t deny the spirit’s influence in reaching the decision to hold a disciplinary council. Denver has a choice, I hope he will align himself with church leaders.
[Update: Denver decided to be excommunicated. He didn't want to follow the State Presidents offer to do three things to avoid excommunication.]
Likewise, those who have been sweep up by Denver’s teachings and feel the flame of faith flickering have a choice to make. I hope they will align themselves with the prophets and find a renewed determination to wrestle with the Lord in mighty prayer in their time of need and obtain the promised blessings as taught by the prophets, all of them. If you’re our of phase with the church, keep it to yourself. When you kneel in prayer supplicating the Lord to receive the First/Second Comforter it is between you and the Lord. My experience is that nearly all manifestations of the Spirit are given in private places away from all others.
Opposition in All Things
The Lord knowing the kinds of opposition the faithful would face in our day forewarned his followers and gave us means to deal with it, saying “Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived; and that ye may not be deceived seek ye earnestly the best gifts”.
Gifts of the Spirit increase and fortify faith for those followers of Christ who have earnestly sought and received them. They know firsthand that Heavenly Father is a God of miracles. Therefore, they are not overcome by plausible augments that attack their faith. Notice the word “plausible”. This means that some of the opposition facing the faithful is reasonable and even probable.
Each of us have a window to the world based on our beliefs and experiences. Robert F Bennett in his book Gaining Control described this window, “Out in front of every person in the world is a large window through which he or she views everything that goes on. Although it is invisible to the naked eye, it is very real. Not only do we see the world through it (looking out), but we also use it as a filter through which all of the world’s data is passed (coming in).” Those who have experienced the Holy Ghost and the attending gifts of the Spirit possess a window that can’t be broken or shattered by arguments that Denver brings to bare.
The Fruits of the Heavenly Gift Showing Forth in President Monson
One evening, after reading Denver’s blog and pondering his message, I did some other reading and came across an Ensign (Feb 1996) article about President Monson. Denver’s arguments juxtaposed next to the following account about President Monson was a telling experience for me.
After reading the following account, ask yourself if the heavenly gift was passed on to present day church leaders through the keys of succession provided by the Lord through the prophet Joseph Smith.
“One weekend in August 1974 an unexpected change of conference assignment came, sending Elder Monson to the Shreveport Louisiana Stake. The Saturday afternoon schedule was filled with a busy slate of meetings. Rather apologetically, the stake president asked Brother Monson if time would permit him to provide a blessing to ten-year-old Christal Methvin, who was afflicted with cancer. Brother Monson said he would be pleased to do so and then asked if she would be coming to the conference meetings or if she were confined to a Shreveport hospital. Almost reluctantly, the stake president said Christal was unable to leave her home many miles from Shreveport.
Elder Monson examined the meeting schedule and found that there simply was no available time. As an alternative, he suggested that she be remembered in the public prayers which would be offered throughout the conference. Surely, he consoled, the Lord would understand and bless the Methvin family accordingly.
Prior to the stake conference, and unbeknown to Brother Monson, Christal had lost her leg to surgery, only to discover later that the cancer had spread to her tiny lungs. A trip had been planned to Salt Lake City, where she might receive a blessing from one of the General Authorities. The Methvins knew none of the Brethren personally, so they placed before Christal a picture of all the Church leaders. She pointed to the photograph of Elder Thomas S. Monson and said, “I would like him to give me a blessing.”
But Christal’s condition had deteriorated so rapidly that the flight to Salt Lake City had to be cancelled. She was growing weaker in body but not in faith. She said, “Since a General Authority is coming to our stake conference, why not Brother Monson? If I can’t go to him, the Lord can send him to me.” At about the same time, Brother Monson received the unexpected change in his stake conference assignment which sent him to Shreveport.
As one final favor to Christal, the family agreed to kneel by her bedside and ask for just one more blessing; the chance to enjoy Brother Monson’s personal visit.
After receiving word from the stake president that Brother Monson would be unable to visit Christal because of the extremely tight meeting schedule, the Methvins were understandably very disappointed. They knelt again around Christal’s bedside, pleading for a final favor on her behalf: that somehow her desire for a blessing at the hands of Brother Monson would be realized.
At the very moment the Methvin family knelt around Christal’s bed, Elder Monson was shuffling his notes, preparing to speak at the concluding portion of the Saturday evening session. However, as he began his move to the pulpit, a voice whispered in near-audible tones a brief but very familiar message: “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”
His notes became a blur. He attempted to pursue the theme of the meeting as outlined, but the name and image of Christal Methvin would not leave his mind. Then, ever faithful to the precious gift so demonstrably his, he responded to the spiritual message. He instructed that changes in the next day’s conference schedule be made, whatever the cost in confusion and disruption. Then the meeting continued.
After a very early Sunday drive over many miles, Elder Monson gazed down upon a child too ill to rise, too weak to speak. Her illness had now rendered her sightless. Deeply touched by the scene and the Spirit of the Lord which was so prevalent, Brother Monson dropped to his knees and took the child’s frail hand in his own. “Christal,” he whispered, “I am here.”
With great effort she whispered back, “Brother Monson, I just knew you would come.”
A blessing was pronounced commending a sweet child’s body and spirit to the loving watchcare of her Heavenly Father, who surely must have been observing that tender scene. Her barely audible “Thank you” gave eloquent benediction to the blessing and to the sweet life of faith she had lived. The next Thursday, as she was being remembered in the prayer circle of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve where Elder Monson had placed her name, Christal Methvin’s pure spirit left its disease-ravaged body and entered the paradise of God.”
Click here to for the Oct. 1975 General Conference talk Elder Monson gave where he related this experience.