Denver Snuffer and the Remnant Movement

Who is Denver Snuffer?

Denver Snuffer[BIO][1] is a Utah lawyer[2] and the religious leader[3] of “Remnant fellowships” (sometimes referred to as the Snufferites),[4] a break-off from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[5] Following his excommunication in 2013,[6] Snuffer claimed that God terminated the Church's authority[7] but sustained his own.[8]

Why was Denver Snuffer excommunicated in 2013?

For apostasy.[9] Snuffer refused to stop publishing his book,[10] Passing the Heavenly Gift,[11] which claimed the modern Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wasn’t legitimate.[12]

What is Passing the Heavenly Gift about?

The book is a revision of early Church history[13] written by Snuffer.[14] It argues that Joseph Smith was initially directed by God,[15] but by 1841, Joseph and the early Saints lost divine approval through faithlessness.[16]

The book asserts that since Joseph's death, the Church of Jesus Christ has continued under God's condemnation by yielding to social pressures and becoming more corporate.[17] The book's title refers to the "heavenly gift" of the Restoration, prophesied to pass to a faithful remnant of Church members.[18]

What is the “Remnants” movement all about?

The Remnant movement is about establishing a more grassroots experience of the Restoration[19] than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers. That means less leadership and organization[20] and a bigger emphasis on individual expressions of revelation.[21] Receiving personal visits from angels and Christ is an important part of Remnant beliefs.[22] The name "Remnant" refers to their idea of remaining in the full covenant, i.e., not the misled state they believe the Church of Jesus Christ is in.[23]

How many people are involved in the "Remnant" movement?

It was reported in 2017 that they have somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 people, but the Remnant Movement doesn't publish any official numbers,[24] so this is just a guess.

Do they believe in the Book of Mormon?

Broadly yes, but they use their own version. Their “Restoration Edition” of the Book of Mormon professes to be closer to what Joseph Smith intended.[25] The text they use comes from early Book of Mormon manuscripts as clarified by Remnant study groups and Denver Snuffer.[26]

What do they consider scripture?

Remnants have a modified,[27] rearranged,[28] and added-to[29] version of the Latter-day Saints standard works. Instead of the Doctrine and Covenants, they have the Teachings and Commandments.[30] The T&C has Joseph Smith’s Lectures on Faith and some revelations from Joseph Smith and Denver Snuffer.[31] Their other two volumes of scripture are the Old Covenants (which combines the Old Testament with the Book of Moses and Joseph Smith's translations[32]) and the New Covenants (which combines the Book of Mormon and the New Testament[33]).

Do they believe in everything Joseph Smith taught?

Sort of. To Remnants, Joseph Smith was a prophet,[34] but his ministry was a failed first attempt at the Restoration.[35] As such, they devalue revelations that are about the Church as an institution.[36]

Remnant theology disputes some teachings attributed to Smith.[37] For example, they remove Joseph Smith's instructions for distinguishing deceiving spirits.[38]

Snuffer's position on Joseph Smith's polygamy has also been non-committal[39] and inconsistent.[40]

What do they think about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

They believe it's apostate.[41] While individuals across Remnant groups vary in their beliefs,[42] they generally agree the Church of Jesus Christ is too worldly, corporate, concerned with wealth, regulated, and hierarchical.[43] To them, the Church represents a failed first attempt at restoration and is under the contempt of God.[44]

Is there anything to Snuffer's claims?

Yes, but mostly no. Snuffer is right that the Church of Jesus Christ has changed since Joseph Smith's day, [45] but Snuffer's historical interpretations[46] and claims[47] are incompatible with the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.[48]

Some People Say . . .

"When people stop following the modern prophet, they're given up to the buffetings of Satan."

— overheard in Sunday School

The Facts

  • Denver Snuffer was excommunicated in 2013 for apostasy.

  • The "Remnant Movement" or "Snufferites" is a splinter group lead by Denver Snuffer.

  • Denver Snuffer believes the Latter-day Saint Church is in a state of apostasy.

Our Take

Navigating the claims of splinter groups can be difficult, especially with modern groups. And Denver Snuffer’s claim—that the Church has been apostate since Joseph Smith’s time—is a big assertion that could evoke feelings of confusion, doubt, or even anger.

Snuffer also claims to have received a visit from heaven like Joseph, and that may leave some wondering about Joseph’s (or Snuffer’s) legitimacy. And if Snuffer’s position is that either the Church is right or he is, how do we make sense of that?

Though Snuffer’s teachings may sometimes be interesting, he dismisses the fundamentals of the Restoration: priesthood authority, ordinances, apostles, and a prophet. The Church teaches of a successful restoration that passed on priesthood keys and maintained the structure that Christ organized—which is supported by the historical record and scripture.

The Remnant community is built from religious, caring, sincere folk who want to follow Christ—but what they’ve built isn’t Christ’s Church. It's understandable to experience feelings of doubts or frustration with the Lord's Church, but The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the place God has designated for us to gather to and support.

What's Your Take?

280 characters remaining
These takes are curated for a general audience and may contain minor edits when posted.
  • Travis S
    Mr. Snuffer correctly identifies many inconsistencies in the corporate Church, but he fails to construct an adequate substitution. His "revelation" to change his name to David shows what he really thinks of himself and his movement.
  • Blake K
    I'll hear anybody out, and by their fruits ye shall know them. I've studied the theology of Denver Snuffer, and decided that my faith lies in a different direction. Mr. Snuffer does not give adequate attention to the nature of priesthood keys and office.
  • Deborah A.
    Snuffer seems a little weird to me. The Church sometimes feel too corporate, but I don't think Denver saw an angel. Seems like a Joseph Smith copycat. I think God make the Church more clear than Snuffer.
Footnotes