I read a post today on a forum I go to probably far too often. There was a note of sadness in it. There was a feeling of, "This is serious stuff. I've made my choice, and the choosing was not easy."
I feel the need to post my reply here, as well as on that thread:
I feel your pain, MegaManToo. It is a rough road. A painful thing. Any who are aware of what Denver teaches seems to be put in a position of choosing, of discerning if he is a liar and a charlatan or if he is bona fide.
One thing that is certain is that if Denver is a liar (about seeing the Lord, and about saying what the Lord wants Him to say), he certainly should be ignored and he will surely be damned to hell.
If, however, he is telling the truth, it behooves us to know that, even if what he says is painful.
Pruning out false beliefs can be excruciatingly painful. Attempting to discern who is telling the truth can be frustrating or confusing.
Following our trusted traditions is probably what most will do who hear of Denver. Doing otherwise puts a person in peril of their standing in the church. It may create cognitive dissonance. It most surely will put us at odds with family, friends, and our wards and stakes. It will, no doubt, lead to the sacrifice of all things.
PtHG was a painful book, but Denver makes very little in the way of damning comment (if any). Mostly, he quotes from original sources. His conclusions, as I understood them, were that Christ's hand was still over the church, that the Gentiles were (and have been since BY's time) fulfilling what was said and prophesied in the Book of Mormon.
But if Denver was/is a true prophet, a true messenger, what will happen to those who have figuratively "shot the messenger"? Is Christ's hand still over the Church in that case? Or just over the church (the humble followers who seek Him still, who do not know there is a true messenger around)?
If "by mine own voice or the voice of my servants, it is the same" is true and Denver is a true messenger boy, is it not a serious and grave thing to have cast him out?
All of this is serious. Dead serious. Not that Denver is important in and of himself. He is not. It is the message. The message offends. It divides. It causes anguish of spirit. It creates "bad feelings" (remember Laman and Lemuel? They had bad feelings about what Nephi taught them, also).
And if Denver is lying. If he is a messenger from the devil, from darkness, he ought to be ignored. He ought to be cast out.
Our eternal salvation lies in the balance when it comes to anyone professing to have a message from our Lord. We ought to take it seriously, just like your post above mine did. I can tell that you feel the import, the weight of knowing if he is a liar or not.
End of my post.
Is it not true that we have eternal decisions to make here? Is it not true that Christ said he came to divide? To bring a sword? Is it not true that He will require the sacrifice of all things? Is it not true that most true messengers where not men in authority, but ordinary men outside of established hierarchies?
Discerning true messengers from false ones is vital to the next plane of existence. From my understanding it changes our projectory for the rest of eternity.
So, how do we do it when it is so painful? How do we know we are not following a "Harmston" or a "Jeffs" or "Korihor"?
I would submit this:
The Book of Mormon was one long run-on sentence when it was given to the printer. E.B. Grandin's assistant was saddled with the task of typesetting the book. He had no idea where God wanted the punctuation, but he had to do something. And he did the best he could.
Putting a colon after "these are the words of my father" when it was obvious that the words of the father preceded that sentence is one example of where he didn't quite get it right. But he made the text make a whole lot more sense than it would have otherwise.
So, I would recommend reading the book with the understanding that the punctuation may be different than what you see there.
Who are the Gentiles?
I suggest reading the book as if you, the reader are a Gentile because, in most cases, it is true. If you have been told that you are of Ephraim in a patriarchal blessing, remember that Isaiah (and it is quoted in the Book of Mormon) prophesied that "Ephraim will be broken that it be not a people" (see Isaiah 7:8 and 2 Nephi 17:8). That would explain why we can be both.
Pride, knowledge, and all that stuff.
I would recommend putting away all that you think you know. Read the book, and pray, as if you were brand new to it all. Put away all you have been taught. Trust that the Lord loves you and would not lead you away into darkness and hell if are are humble and sincere. Be humble enough and brave enough to recognize that it is possible that you don't know it all.
Warm fuzzies versus "bad feelings"
If we read something or hear something and get a "bad feeling" - maybe anger, maybe shock or discombobulation, maybe fear, maybe revulsion - it might be useful to search for the root of that.
Contrary to what we are taught, the Spirit does not give us warm fuzzies if something is from God and "bad feelings" if it is from the devil. A whole lot of people didn't have warm fuzzies when Jesus was preaching - or Stephen (remember him? He was the guy who was stoned while Saul held the coats of those who were doing the murder) - or Abinadi - or Nephi - or Lehi - or Isaiah - or Noah - and on and on we could go.
Joseph Smith said that the Spirit communicated with us by giving us pure knowledge. That is not the same as warm fuzzies or feelings of darkness, as far as I can tell. Those nice feelings and bad feelings are telling us something. It may or may not be what we think.
Prayer, prayer, and more prayer
I would suggest being honest as well as humbling oneself to the dirt. "This scares the hell out of me. Help me understand what's true," is actually an appropriate prayer if you're really feeling that way.
God said He would send a great division among the people. Well, He has done it and is still doing it. There is a tremendous division in regards to what truth might be. And the division seems to be splitting along the lines of "follow the brethren/prophet, they/he can never lead you astray" (this fits all the offshoots from Joseph's day) versus, follow Christ only. If you follow a man, you will be damned because men are not perfect, no matter how true of a prophet they may be.
And the crack, as it enlarges, includes those who are not pleased with the LDS Church building malls, owning thousands upon thousands of acres of lands, leaders driving nice cars and getting great perks, mission presidents having a pretty dang high standard of living, among other things.
The time is shortening for those who are part of the restored church. Truly, the Lord has set His hand a second time to give us a second chance after blowing it in regards to building the Nauvoo temple and encouraging a prophet of God to go to his death (haranguing him into destroying a printing press that he knew would cause his demise, then guilting him into turning himself over to those who would end up killing him).
Whatever you decide, whoever you decide to give heed to, I would recommend serious and ponderous thought. And I wish you well. I pray for you. Not that you will believe as I do, but that God will lead you in the paths of righteousness, and that you will be found at the last day to be on the right hand of the Father.