To Know the LORD – Part 2

In Part 1 of this series we explored what it truly means to know the Lord. We discovered through scripture that doing things in His name does not necessarily mean that any one of us knows His character–that the only way to know Him is to do the works which He did, especially with regards to the poor and the needy among us. This is His pure religion.

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.  (James 1:27)

We also learned that condemnation rests upon those who profess his name and yet fail to know Him. Continuing with that theme there are many scriptures which condemn the leaders of God’s people for actually stealing from the poor.

O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err and destroy the way of thy paths. The Lord standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people. The Lord will enter into judgment with the ancients of his people, and the princes thereof; for ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses. What mean ye that ye beat the people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor saith the Lord God of hosts.  (Isaiah 3:12-15, 2 Nephi 13:12-15)

Because of pride, and because of false teachers, and false doctrine, their churches have become corrupted, and their churches are lifted up; because of pride they are puffed up. They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing; and they persecute the meek and the poor in heart, because in their pride they are puffed up. They wear stiff necks and high heads: yea and because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations, and whoredoms, they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men. (2 Nephi 28:12-14)

The ancient prophet, Moroni, was shown in vision our day and had this to say:

Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing. And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts. (Mormon 8:35-36)

He then goes on to list their sins:

For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.

I used to think that these scriptures only applied to other churches. Certainly, Moroni was not talking about the LDS church, right? Through my study of scripture and the historical record I have come to know otherwise. It is hard to avoid the descriptors “all gone astray” and “even every one have become polluted”.

When the Lord brought forth His law of consecration in Section 42 it was a perfect economic law under which those who were in need received consecrated (tithed) donations from those who had a surplus. These properties were placed in the Lord’s storehouse for distribution under the direction of the bishop. This allowed the disadvantaged the basic necessities of life and the ability to develop their talents and abilities without worrying about the constant imperative to put food on the table or provide shelter.

Under the Lord’s law there was never the requirement to pay one tenth of one’s income if means were insufficient to cover basic living expenses. The poor were never called upon to show their faith by paying tithes and offerings in anticipation of the Lord stepping up and blessing them directly. Rather it was up to the leaders of the people to bless them by “bringing all the tithes into the storehouse.” In fact, Malachi 3:10 can be read as a rebuke of the priests for not placing the tithes in the storehouse for the poor. It is a rebuke for the people not living the law of consecration — they have “gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them.” They have rejected the Law of the Lord which requires consecration and are therefore robbing God by not living his sacred laws which provide generously for the poor.

What few understand is that the Law of Tithing found in D&C Section 119 is really just a restatement of the Law of Consecration. After consecrating surplus properties, you are required to continue year-by-year to cast one-tenth of your SURPLUS into the treasury of the Lord. No surplus means no need to contribute. If you can’t put food on the table you don’t go into debt in hopes of blessings from the Lord.

And after that, those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually, and this shall be a standing law unto them forever, for my holy priesthood, saith the Lord. (D&C 119:4)

Websters 1828 dictionary defines interest as “surplus advantage” and “personal profit”. This was the understanding of the word in Joseph’s day. Nowhere in the definition is “income” the equivalent of interest.

Yet that is exactly how this scripture has been interpreted by those who rule over us. We are led to believe that we should tithe one-tenth of our gross income without regards to taxes, or basic living expenses.  By interpreting the scripture in that way the poor are deprived of the means to support themselves. They are being robbed and spoiled.

Instead of placing money in the storehouse for the poor, tithes are used to adorn our churches and temples with the finest of materials and workmanship. The gold leaf, the fancy designs, the expensive marble are all testament to the fact that we don’t recognize what the Lord truly sees as important.

Do we “know” the Lord more by participating in a masonic-based temple endowment ceremony in over-the-top ornate buildings or by easing the burdens of the poor and needy among us? Does the Lord really require us to build all these impressive structures in order to worship him? The greatest spiritual blessings since the restoration were poured out in the relatively plain Kirtland Temple. Those spiritual blessings haven’t been matched in subsequent generations. Does anybody not wonder why?

Our fine sanctuaries and our fine clothing testify against us. Our system of tithing has become wholly corrupt with spiritual blessings withheld from those who do not “pay” the required price in cold, hard cash.There are reports of baptisms being denied until an investigator actually pays tithes and offerings. The spoil of the poor is in our houses (temples). The priests have eaten up the vineyard and they grind upon the faces of the poor by how they their appropriate tithing funds. In Part 3 we will examine how the authorities are violating the Lord’s directives in the scriptures by withholding financial information from church members.

Keep Searching.

 

 

To Know the LORD – Part 1

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Scripture makes it clear that at the day of judgment there will be those who have prophesied and done many other wonderful works in the name of the Lord, and yet who will still not truly “know” Him:

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:22-23, 3 Nephi 14: 22-23)

In the foregoing, the Lord says that he never knew these people, but the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible reverses this to “Ye never knew me.”  This subtle change was also made to the parable of the ten virgins wherein the Lord says “Ye know me not” (JST Matthew 25:11).

The Doctrine and Covenants also teaches the same concept when the Lord states categorically that members of his own house never really knew him.

Behold, vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth, a day of wrath, a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; and as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth, saith the Lord.

And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord;

First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord. (Doctrine and Covenants 112: 24-26)

It’s pretty clear that the Lord is not happy with those of his people who are claiming to know  Him, yet have not truly known him.  The beginnings of the wrath that will be poured out prior to his coming start with a whirlwind at the head of the wicked who profess his name but do not his works (see Jeremiah 23:19 and Jeremiah 30:23. Note: the keyword “whirlwind” neatly ties these Jeremiah references to the D&C 112)

SO WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO KNOW THE LORD?

In searching this out, I came across a very interesting scripture in Jeremiah that provides a strong clue to what it means to know the Lord.  As context, the Lord is chastising a king of Judah and then refers to the works of this king’s father:

…did not thy father eat and drink, and do judgment and justice, and then it was well with him?  He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well with him; was not this to know me? saith the LORD.

When I first read that passage it hit me like a ton of bricks.  To truly know the Lord is to do the things that he did, especially with respect to those who are poor and needy.

I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and the right of the poor. (Psalms 140:12)

As I further searched this out I came across numerous scriptures along these same lines.

For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land. (Deuteronomy 15:11)

Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble. (Psalms 41:1)

…he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he. (Proverbs 14:21)

He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse (Proverbs 28:27)

The poor will ever be with us and we are commanded to be generous!  If we do the Lord promises:

  • He will deliver us from trouble
  • We will be happy
  • We will have enough (not lack)

The flip side is a curse if we hide our eyes from the poor and ignore their plight.  Job 20:19-29 chronicles a litany of bad things that happen to those who oppress and forsake the poor.  It’s a long passage which I won’t include here that can be summarized by saying that for those people there is no peace and much sorrow.

The Lord God of Israel, even Jesus Christ, spent his time with publicans and sinners, and was criticized by the Pharisees for doing so.  His works were among the downtrodden, the oppressed, the widows and the fatherless.  Is not this to truly know the Lord?

In part 2 we will examine how we are robbing the poor, all the while believing with great piety that we are doing the Lord’s work.

Keep searching.

 

Under Falsehood Have We Hid Ourselves

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The title to this post comes from Isaiah 28:15

Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves.

Ancient and modern scripture contain references to the fact that God’s people would believe lies and be under strong delusion in the last days.  Here is one example:

And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie (2 Thessalonians 2:11)

While it is difficult for faithful mormons to contemplate the possibility that we are deluded or believe lies, an honest assessment of scripture and the historical record should be enough to convince us otherwise.  This is especially true of one of the beliefs that latter-day saints hold most sacred — the temple endowment ceremony.  Because of the high regard that many hold for this ritual, I want to be careful to treat it with respect and not divulge anything which might be offensive to a modern temple-going member.  However, I believe it is important to analyze the ceremony — to determine whether or not it represents an eternal principal and ordinance necessary to return to the celestial kingdom, or if it represents what the Lord promised he would do to his people who had rejected his gospel law (D&C 42) and broken the covenant of consecration in the latter days.

And thus, if the people of this generation harden not their hearts, I will work a reformation among  them, and I will put down all lyings, and deceivings, and priestcrafts, and envyings, and strifes, and  idolatries, and sorceries, and all manner of iniquities, and I will establish my church, like unto the  church which was taught by my disciples in the days of old.

And now if this generation do harden their hearts against my word, behold I will deliver them  up unto satan, (Book of Commandments 4:5-6)

The foregoing conditional promise and warning was given in 1829, before the church was officially established and before the fulness of the priesthood was restored at the Morley Farm in June 1831. By the end of 1834, the saints had rejected the covenant and the fulness was lost as I have blogged about previously.  It was not until 1842 in Nauvoo that Joseph became a Master Mason and shortly thereafter introduced the beginnings of the temple endowment ritual.

MORE OR LESS

In 3 Nephi 11: 32-40, the Lord declares his doctrine.  It is the baptism of water, and of fire, and of the Holy Ghost.  He then goes on to say:

And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.

In other words, at it’s core, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is very simple.  This simple gospel of Jesus Christ was sufficient for Joseph Smith and others to receive the promise of eternal life in 1832 as recorded in D&C Section 88.  This was over 9 years previous to the masonic-based temple endowment ceremony.  So one  has to ask the question: Is the temple endowment ritual not adding more to what is required to enter the celestial kingdom?  Has it not been established as doctrine by the LDS church and even a central part of our theology with every effort being made to get people to the temple to engage in this ordinance and the ordinance of sealing?

If the Lord means what he says, and I believe that he does, then does not the masonic endowment represent the equivalent of “another gospel” as warned about by Paul in his letter to the Galatians 1:6-8?

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

Interesting that Paul warns against an angel from heaven preaching another gospel.  Only those who realize that God sometimes uses prophets to test his people to see if they will be true to his gospel can comprehend how Joseph Smith could act as God’s right arm in turning the latter-day saints over to Satan for a period of chastisement as the Lord had warned about in the Book of Commandments.

So let’s examine all the various reasons why the masonic-based temple endowment ceremony is inconsistent with the purity of the gospel and the scriptures:

1 – The True Endowment is a Spiritual Endowment

In Kirtland, the elders were awaiting a great spiritual outpouring which Joseph consistently referred to as “an endowment” in order to go forth and preach the gospel with power for the last time.  It consisted of washings, anointings and ordinations, followed by solemn prayer and waiting upon the Lord in the temple for the promised spiritual blessings.  It never had anything to do with signs, tokens or passwords.  In fact, one can find NOTHING, I repeat, NOTHING, in the scriptures to even remotely suggest that you need a secret handshake, a secret name, word or phrase to gain entry into the celestial kingdom.  Again, Joseph and others received the promise of eternal life long before the masonic-based temple endowment was introduced.

2- Section 76

The vision of the three degrees of glory received by Joseph and Sidney as recorded in D&C 76 outlines the requirements for entry into the celestial kingdom:

50 And again we bear record—for we saw and heard, and this is the testimony of the gospel of Christ concerning them who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just—

51 They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he has given—

52 That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power;

53 And who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.

54 They are they who are the church of the Firstborn.

Nothing there about needing to experience a temple endowment-like ceremony, only the simplicity of the 3-part baptismal covenant and overcoming by faith.  Again, another witness of the simplicity of the gospel.

3- The Fulness of the gospel is in the Book of Mormon

We are told by the Lord in several places that the fulness of His gospel is contained in the the Book of Mormon.

And again, the elders, priests and teachers of this church shall teach the principles of my gospel, which are in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, in the which is the fulness of the gospel. (D&C 42:12)

While there are references to temples being built in the Book of Mormon, there is nothing to suggest an endowment-like ceremony or needing to know secret information in order to return to God.  In fact, when it was first published the Book of Mormon was seen as very anti-masonic because of the its warnings against secret societies with their secret signs and secret words.  So if the Book of Mormon contains the fulness of the gospel and yet does not even hint at an endowment ceremony what does that tell us about this so-called ordinance?

4- The Lord gives us the purpose of temples in the Doctrine and Covenants 124:39:

Therefore, verily I say unto you, that your anointings, and your washings, and your baptisms for the dead, and your solemn assemblies, and your memorials for your sacrifices by the sons of Levi, and for your oracles in your most holy places wherein you receive conversations, and your statutes and judgments, for the beginning of the revelations and foundation of Zion, and for the glory, honor, and endowment of all her municipals, are ordained by the ordinance of my holy house, which my people are always commanded to build unto my holy name.

So here is a list of all the ordinances associated with the Lord’s house.  It includes cleansing rituals prior to receiving spiritual blessings and endowments of power. Interesting that there is no reference to marriages or sealings.

Yes, there is a reference to “endowment of all her municipals”.  What does this mean? The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary defines “municipal” as one who enjoys the rights of a free citizen.  In other words, one who enjoys the rights of belonging to the Lord’s church. Clearly, however, the above scripture refers to an endowment of spiritual gifts and does not remotely suggest a ritualistic ceremony with names, signs or tokens that one must learn to gain entry to God’s kingdom.  Also note that this scripture was given in 1841, prior to the introduction of the masonic-based endowment.

5- Covenant with Death

Those who have gone through the modern endowment prior to 1990 will understand that there were penalties ritualistically enacted that represented ways of taking life should one reveal the secrets of the temple.  One needs to realize that it is only Satan who requires people to swear oaths of death and blood.

And Satan said unto Cain: Swear unto me by thy throat, and if thou tell it thou shalt die; and swear thy brethren by their heads, and by the living God, that they tell it not; for if they tell it, they shall surely die; and this that thy father may not know it; and this day I will deliver thy brother Abel into thine hands. (Moses 5:29)

Contrast this with the Lord’s teachings to “Swear not at all” (Matt. 5:34-37)

34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne:

35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.

36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.

37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

Again, we have the Lord warning us that “more” than this cometh of evil.

Isaiah has much to say about us in the latter-days if we will only open our eyes and consider the fact that we are in a state of blindness and apostasy.  With regards to the temple endowment he references a “covenant with death” which will not save the people from the scourge to come.

Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves:

16 ¶Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.

17 Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.

18 ¶And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.

19 From the time that it goeth forth it shall take you: for morning by morning shall it pass over, by day and by night: and it shall be a vexation only to understand the report. (Isaiah 28:15-19)

In other words, the people think that this covenant that they have entered into will save them, when in fact it won’t.  The only thing that will save them will be reliance upon the sure foundation of Christ, not some temple endowment ceremony.

6- The Implied Threat of the Endowment

Anyone who has gone through the endowment will understand that there is an implied threat made by Satan during the ceremony.  Obey all your covenants or you will be in his power.  One would think that the endowment would be focused on the mercy and grace of the Lord in redeeming us from sin unto salvation and endowing us with spiritual gifts, not some threat to become subject to Satan if we did not perform everything to the letter.  The New Testament describes Satan as being in the temple of God:

Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,

That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

 Joseph said that the “man of sin” was revealed at the Morley Farm in June 1831 in fulfillment of the above prophecy.  Since Mormons are the only people on the earth currently who teach a robust temple theology and build numerous temples, one can see how this prophecy relates to the current endowment and Satan representing himself as God.

7- The Keeper of the Gate

In 2 Nephi 9:41, Nephi informs us that “the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there.”

OK.  About now you should be going over in your head the endowment teaching that you need the signs, key words and tokens to pass the angels who stand as sentinels as you walk back to the presence of God.  Problem is, this is wholly inconsistent with Nephi’s teaching about the keeper of the gate being Christ himself, not some other servant or series of servants to whom the secret information must be given in order to pass.

8- The True Order of Prayer

The endowment teaches a method of prayer that requires a prayer circle of multiple patrons, the re-enacting of certain signs and tokens, followed by prayer as the way to get answers from God.  Trouble is that the Lord in scripture never says anything about some secret way to receive revelation from Him.  Rather he teaches us to “ask, and ye shall receive” prolifically throughout the New Testament, Book of Mormon and Doctrine & Covenants.  I won’t even bother to include scriptures on this point as they are everywhere.  Recall that he “upbraideth not” meaning he doesn’t find fault or scold those who venture forth to inquire of him.  All the early revelations given to Joseph were based upon him simply asking in sincere, humble prayer.  There was no need for anything other than that and those prayers were answered–sometimes in amazing fashion.  So who are we really conjuring when we petition using the the secret signs and tokens?

9- Touch Not the Evil Gift

In the final chapter of the Book of Mormon, Moroni exhorts us to:

“Come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing.” (Moroni 10:30)

While I don’t know exactly what was going through Moroni’s mind when he inscribed that passage, could he not be referring to the masonic-based temple endowment?  A definition of “endowment” is “gift” so with everything we have discussed thus far, it would not be a stretch to read this as saying that we should not participate in that “ordinance” as it comes of evil, not of light and good.

10- God’s True Ordinances Don’t Change

The endowment has changed many times over the years.  LDS apologists argue that it is only the “presentation” of the endowment that has changed, not the endowment itself.  Assuming the endowment is a true ordinance, which parts are everlasting and which parts are just teachings?  Brigham Young taught in the first endowments that Adam was the same man as God the Father, a teaching the church now rejects.  In 1990 the penalties were removed along with the five points fellowship, both of which had become uncomfortable to many attendees.  There have been many other changes over the years.  If the core of the endowment is really only the signs, tokens and key words then nearly anyone with an internet connection can access that information and presumably walk back into the presence of God.

11- True Masonry?

One of the claims made about the endowment is that it represents the restoration of a true ordinance that originated at the time of the Temple of Solomon.  Over the years it had become corrupted, yet still maintained by the Masons.  When Joseph came to know of it, he recognized what needed to be changed to restore the true ordinance.  Unfortunately, masonry cannot be traced any further back than medieval times, much less all the way back to Solomon.  At the risk of repeating my self, where is the scriptural evidence that remotely supports the need for the secret information?

12- Mysteries

Another argument is that the endowment represents the mysteries spoken of in the scriptures.  There are many mysteries associated with God and His kingdom, that by definition we don’t know anything about.  Joseph referred many times to things he wanted to share, but couldn’t because of wickedness and unbelief.  There is nothing to say that the mysteries of God encompass the teachings of the endowment.  The mysteries are vast, and certainly not limited to signs, key words and tokens (assuming these are at all necessary to return to God).

13- A Simple Question

Would the Lord introduce an even higher law (the endowment and sealings) when the saints had already rejected the Law of the Celestial Kingdom brought forth in D&C 42?  I believe it is that simple.  Of course, He wouldn’t.  Line upon line is how He has worked in the past, and how He works now.

Joseph once said that the secret of masonry was to keep a secret.  When you understand that the other abomination that was being perpetuated at the time (spiritual polygamy) required secrecy on the part of the participants, it is easy to see how the endowment was introduced as part of the Lord’s plan to turn His people over to “strong delusion” for a period of time due to their disobedience as a people to his simple gospel.  Emma said that it was “secret things” which resulted in Joseph’s death.

Given everything enumerated above, it should not now be too hard to discern what the Lord meant when he said the following through his  prophet, Isaiah:

5 Now therefore, what have I here, saith the Lord, that my people is taken away for nought? they that rule over them make them to howl, saith the Lord; and my name continually every day is blasphemed. (Isaiah 52:5)

Are we not blaspheming the name of the Lord when in His holy name we participate in lies and falsehoods daily in houses dedicated to Him.  The book of Ether testifies that we won’t receive the sealed part of the Book of Mormon until we repent of our wickedness and abominations.  I believe one of the greatest abominations that we are completely blind to, yet are in dire need of repenting of is the masonic-based temple endowment that blasphemes the name of the Lord on a daily basis in temples that dot the world.

So much of the efforts of us Mormons centers around the temple, diverting our attention from being Christians in the truest sense of the word.  Truly it can be said that:

Israel hath forgotten his maker, and buildeth temples. (Hosea 8:14)

Keep Searching.

King Follett Discourse: Redefining God in our Own Image

Of all the sermons preached by Joseph Smith, perhaps no other sermon has been more instrumental in reshaping the doctrines of Mormonism than what is commonly known as the King Follett Discourse.  Given only a few short months prior to Joseph’s murder, this talk fundamentally changed how Mormons view the Godhead and each of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  In it, Joseph, introduces the notion that God the Father was once a man as we are who lived upon an earth similar to ours.  Over time He was able to attain to Godhood under the direction of some other God in one eternal round of multiple Gods. This discourse introduced to the members the idea that they too could become Gods under the direction of our Father and His Son.

Following Joseph’s death, the temple theology that supports this doctrine was implemented under the direction of Brigham Young and continues in the church today. When one understands that by this time the church had already “been rejected as a church with [their] dead” (D&C 124:32) and that Joseph was providing an intercessory offering on behalf of the saints who had rejected the fulness, it is easier to understand how the Lord could use Joseph to test his people and fulfill his words in The Book of Commandments, chapter 4:

  5 And thus, if the people of this generation harden not their hearts, I will work a reformation among them, and I will put down all lyings, and deceivings, and priestcrafts, and envying, and strifes, and idolatries, and sorceries, and all manner of iniquities, and I will establish my church, like unto the church which was taught by my disciples in the days of old.

 6 And now if this generation do harden their hearts against my word, behold I will deliver them up unto satan…

What could be more apropos than for the Lord to fulfill his promise to turn them over to satan for a period of chastisement than to introduce a concept of God that is inconsistent with the scriptures and which recreates God in the image of man?

A FUNDAMENTAL SHIFT

To fully comprehend just how earth shattering this doctrinal shift was you have to go back to the “doctrine” portion of the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, which we know today as the Lectures on Faith (“Lectures”). Despite being accepted as scripture by the church in 1835, the Lectures were removed from the canon in 1921 by a church committee without any vote of the membership.  The reason the Lectures had to be removed was because they taught doctrine inconsistent and incompatible with the view of the Godhead taught by Joseph in the King Follett Discourse and which had made it into the canonized revelations as Section 130 of the Doctrine and Covenants:

 22 The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit.  Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us. (D&C 130:22)

Of note is that this section (130) was placed in the D&C in 1877 under the direction of Brigham Young and it does not purport to be a revelation, rather just instruction given by Joseph in 1843.

Consider some of the teachings found in the Lectures:

  1. There are 2 personages in the Godhead, not 3.
  2. God, the Father, is a personage of spirit, glory and power.
  3. Jesus Christ, the Son, is in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle in the form and likeness of man and after the image of his Father.  He is called the Son because of the Flesh, possessing the mind with the Father.
  4. The Holy Spirit is the mind of God.

If these concepts sound alien to you, it is because the Lectures describe a concept of God completely different from how you were raised in the church. However, this was what was taught in the School of the Prophets to men who had been ordained to the highest priesthood. It is an almost trinitarian view that is surprisingly consistent with the Book of Mormon (see Mosiah 15).

The Lectures are also very clear that one must know the true character of God in order to exercise faith in Him unto salvation.

19 An acquaintance with these attributes in the divine character, is essentially necessary, in order that the faith of any rational being can center in him for life and salvation. For if he did not, in the first instance, believe him to be God, that is, the creator and upholder of all things, he could not center his faith in him for life and salvation, for fear there should be a greater than he, who would thwart all his plans, and he, like the gods of the heathen, would be unable to fulfill his promises; but seeing he is God over all, from everlasting to everlasting, the creator and upholder of all things, no such fear can exist in the minds of those who put their trust in him, so that in this respect their faith can be without wavering.

20 But secondly: Unless he was merciful, and gracious, slow to anger, long suffering, and full of goodness, such is the weakness of human nature, and so great the frailties and imperfections of men, that unless they believed that these excellencies existed in the divine character, the faith necessary to salvation could not exist; for doubt would take the place of faith, and those who know their weakness and liability to sin, would be in constant doubt of salvation, if it were not for the idea which they have of the excellency of the character of God, that he is slow to anger, and long suffering, and of a forgiving disposition, and does forgive iniquity, transgression and sin. An idea of these facts does away doubt, and makes faith exceedingly strong.

21 But it is equally as necessary that men should have the idea that he is a God who changes not, in order to have faith in him, as it is to have the idea that he is gracious and long suffering. For without the idea of unchangeableness in the character if the Deity, doubt would take the place of faith. But with the idea that he changes not, faith lays hold upon the excellencies in his character with unshaken confidence, believing he is the same yesterday, to-day and forever, and that his course is one eternal round. (Lecture 3:19-21)

FLIMSY GROUNDS

When Joseph introduced the concept of God once being a man, he was doing so on very flimsy scriptural grounds during a time when his eyes were being covered because of the iniquity of the people (2 Nephi 27:5).  This doesn’t mean that we dismiss everything he said. Rather, greater scriptural scrutiny is required to determine whether or not he is acting as the Lord’s right arm to “test” the people to see whether they will be true to His gospel or whether he is acting in the capacity of a prophet teaching a true principle.  Unrealized by many is the fact that there is precedent in the Old Testament for the Lord to use prophets to test his people.

 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 13:1-3)

A reading of the discourse reveals a somewhat defiant Joseph who at one point says: “Mark it, Elder Rigdon!” with reference to the scripture Joseph is using to justify his position. Considering the fact that one of Sidney’s roles was to “call upon the holy prophets to prove his words” (D&C 35:23) and that Sidney had largely ceased to act in that capacity for many years, Joseph appears to be expressing frustration that he is not getting that support.

I wish I was in a suitable place to tell it, and that I had the trump of an archangel, so that I could tell the story in such a manner that persecution would cease forever. What did Jesus say? (Mark it, Elder Rigdon!) The scriptures inform us that Jesus said, as the Father hath power in himself, even so hath the Son power—to do what? Why, what the Father did. The answer is obvious—in a manner to lay down his body and take it up again. Jesus, what are you going to do? To lay down my life as my Father did, and take it up again. Do you believe it? If you do not believe it you do not believe the Bible. The scriptures say it, and I defy all the learning and wisdom and all the combined powers of earth and hell together to refute it. Here, then, is eternal life—to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power. And I want you to know that God, in the last days, while certain individuals are proclaiming His name, is not trifling with you or me.

What did Jesus do? Why, I do the things I saw my Father do when worlds came rolling into existence. My Father worked out His kingdom with fear and trembling, and I must do the same; and when I get my kingdom, I shall present it to My Father, so that He may obtain kingdom upon kingdom, and it will exalt Him in glory. He will then take a higher exaltation, and I will take His place, and thereby become exalted myself. So that Jesus treads in the tracks of His Father, and inherits what God did before; and God is thus glorified and exalted in the salvation and exaltation of all His children. It is plain beyond disputation, and you thus learn some of the first principles of the gospel, about which so much hath been said.

Although Joseph doesn’t quote the reference to the scripture he is using to draw his conclusions it appears that he is talking about John 5:

 v 19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

 v 21 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.

 v 26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;

The problem is that while somewhat logical, Joseph’s reasoning is not consistent with numerous other scriptures. Also, if you think about it, his logic implies that to ascend the ladder to godhood one must become a savior, such as Jesus Christ, of another world sometime down the line because if Jesus had to do what he had seen his father do to become a god, then we must tread that same path.

Interestingly, the editors of the Nauvoo Expositor cite the plurality of Gods doctrine as one of the “many items of false doctrine” in the church:

Among the many items of false doctrine that are taught the Church, is the doctrine of many Gods, one of the most direful in its effects that has characterized the world for many centuries. We know not what to call it other than blasphemy, for it is most unquestionably , speaking of God in an impious and irreverent manner. It is contended that there are innumerable gods as much above the God that presides over this universe, as he is above us; and if he varies from the law unto which he is subjected, he, with all his creatures, will be cast down as was Lucifer: thus holding forth a doctrine which is effectually calculated to sap the very foundation of our faith, and now, O Lord! shall we set still and be silent, while thy name is thus blasphemed, and thine Honor, power and glory , brought into disrepute? See Isaiah c 43, v 10; 44, 6-8; 45, 5,6, 21, 22; and book of Covenants, page 26 and 39. (Nauvoo Expositor, June 7, 1844)

Notice how the Expositor identifies the fact that the false doctrine of multiple Gods ultimately undermines and enervates faith in God, because as the Lectures clearly demonstrate, we have to believe in his true character as an unchangeable being from everlasting to everlasting in order to have confidence and faith in him.  There are a plethora of scriptures supporting the view of God described in the Lectures.

2 Nephi 27:23 For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith.

Mormon 8:8  For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.

Moroni 9:9 For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing?

D&C 20:12 Thereby showing that he is the same God yesterday, today, and forever.

D&C 35:1 Listen to the voice of the Lord your God, even Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, whose course is one eternal round, the same today as yesterday, and forever.

Deuteronomy 4:35 …the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him.

Isaiah 46:9 For I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me.

Mark 12:29-34  And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.

This is an extremely small sample to verify the point — there are literally pages more if you look for them. Elder Bruce R. McConkie had this to say about the lectures:

In my judgment, it is the most comprehensive, inspired utterance that now exists in the English language–that exists in one place defining, interpreting, expounding, announcing, and testifying what kind of being God is. It was written by the power of the Holy Ghost, by the the spirit of inspiration. It is, in effect, eternal scripture; it is true. (Bruce R. McConkie, “The Lord God of Joseph Smith,” January 4, 1972, in Speeches of the Year (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1972).

How Elder McConkie reconciles the above statement about the Lectures on Faith with the doctrines from the King Follett Discourse that have fully infiltrated the Church I have not a clue. You cannot, in my humble opinion, believe both simultaneously. They are mutual exclusive doctrines. Either you believe one or you believe the other. No amount of tortured logic gets you to a place where they are compatible.

What I believe we have done in modern Mormonism is bring God down to our level by believing in a God who was once a man. In the process we have downgraded Jesus Christ to our “elder brother” — a term never used in the scriptures and which was introduced by Joseph in the sermon.  Instead we should be focused on the fact that Jesus is God in the flesh and understand the fact that “God himself [came] down among the children of men, and [redeemed] his people” (Mosiah 15:1)  This is a God who condescended through His Son to take on flesh in order to save us from the effects of sin on condition of repentance. Christ is in the bosom of the Father. These things were all taught in the Lectures on Faith, belief in the God taught there was good enough for the high priests who received their calling and election — the promise of eternal life — long before a single brick was laid in the city of Nauvoo where Joseph gave the discourse.

We need to repent of changing “the glory of the incorruptible God into an image like to corruptible men.” (Romans 1:23)  Reading and understanding the true doctrine as contained in the Lectures is a first step which I highly recommend. You can access a copy online here.  May the Holy Spirit (the mind of God) guide you along the way.

Keep Searching

 

Blind and Deaf

Many times in holy writ the Lord applies the metaphor of blindness and deafness to those who would not seek to understand his teachings, including those of his chosen people:

“That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.” (Mark 4:12)

The implication is that the opportunity to be truly converted is being rejected because of an unwillingness to “see” and “hear” the true message from the Lord.  Isaiah is full of the same imagery regarding the last days:

“And in that day [referring to the time when the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon shall come forth] shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness.” (Isaiah 29:18)

“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.” (Isaiah 35:5)

“I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.” (Isaiah 42:7)

One of the most compelling scriptures along these lines, however, is in the Joseph Smith Translation of Isaiah 42:19-23:

“For I will send my servant unto you who are blind; yea, a messenger to open the eyes of the blind, and unstop the ears of the deaf; And they shall be made perfect notwithstanding their blindness, if they will hearken unto the messenger, the Lord’s servant.  Thou art a people, seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears to hear, but thou hearest not.  The Lord is not well pleased with such a people, but for his righteousness’ sake he will magnify the law and make it honorable.  Thou art a people robbed and spoiled; thine enemies, all of them have snared thee in holes, and they have hid thee in prison houses; they have taken thee for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore.”

Here we have the Lord promising to send a servant to His people who are blind, and who will regain their spiritual eyes and ears if they will hearken to the servant.  In their current condition they see and hear many things, but don’t understand.  To me, this is a very clear reference to the marvelous work that will commence during the third watch when the “first laborers in the last kingdom” return to finish the mission they failed to complete in the second watch.  It is a future event, which highlights the uncomfortable fact that “those who call themselves after my [the Lord’s] name” are the blind and the deaf.

Fortunately, the Lord is still in charge and will not forsake his people:

“And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight.  These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them. They shall be turned back, they shall be greatly ashamed, that trust in graven images, that say to the molten images, Ye are our gods. Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see.” (Isaiah 42:16-18)

When one realizes the simplicity of the fulness of the gospel and the fact that we have changed the ordinances, and added additional ornamentation well beyond the baptism of water, fire and the Holy Ghost, will we not as a people be “ashamed” for trusting in our idols of brethren worship and extraneous temple ritual?  Will we not be ashamed at our materialism and lack of understanding of the celestial law of consecration?  Isaiah speaks prolifically about the children of Israel, and yet we still don’t see ourselves reflected in his words.

Isaiah has some harsh things to say about the watchmen who are also blind.  I am hesitant myself to use such strong language against the leaders of the church because I believe that what is going on in the modern LDS church is largely the result of institutional inertia over many generations.  As a pilot myself I can totally relate to President Uchtdorf’s analogy to getting off course by small degrees, leading to significant deviations over time.  I often ask myself if they are actively trying to deceive, or are they just blind to the realities of the scriptures and church history that is the primary subject of this blog.  My conclusion today is that they are blind — believing that they have the fulness of the priesthood and truly speak for the Lord when in fact there is much evidence to the contrary.

Just the other day I commenced writing down all the evidences I could think of that the modern Mormon church is in a state of apostasy.  As of today, I am up to 20 and will publish my list at some point down the line.  My only hesitation to publishing my list right now is that I am sure there are many more evidences to add to it, and my purpose is not to destroy faith.  Without a proper understanding of the Joseph’s intercessory offering and the fact that the Lord has not forsaken his people despite their blindness, it is very easy for people to pull the ripcord and lose all faith entirely.  Spiritual maturity and a willingness to search the scriptures are required for true understanding.  In my experience, few people are willing to pay the price in the form of time and effort, leaving them vulnerable to easy answers provided prolifically by doubters and skeptics.

So let’s conclude with Isaiah’s description of the blind watchmen with a few of my comments interspersed:

“His watchmen are blind; they are all ignorant (they don’t understand the true history), they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark (they are not warning the people to repent and prepare for Zion as they should); sleeping, lying down loving to slumber.  Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough (they need to keep building church portfolios and investments, while neglecting the poor and even oppressing the poor through a corrupt tithing system), and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every on for his gain, from his quarter (they rely upon the wisdom of men to build up their view of Zion while fully embracing the economy of Babylon).  Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and tomorrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant (we continue to stumble along teaching that all is well if we just do our missionary work, pay tithing and build temples and meetinghouses throughout the world–this kingdom we are building will get bigger and bigger until it fills the whole earth).

As I am writing this another scripture comes to mind from 2 Nephi 28: 13-14:

“They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries (temples); they rob the poor because of their fine clothing (suits, white shirts and ties — the “uniform” of the priesthood); and they persecute the meek and poor in heart, because in their pride they are puffed up (it’s all about self reliance and the gospel of success — we are righteous if we are blessed with material possessions).  They wear stiff necks and high heads; yea, and because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations (celestial polygamy, masonic temple endowment), they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ (note that it doesn’t say followers of the brethren); nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.

So there you have it.  We are institutionally blind and deaf.  Individually we can choose to open our eyes and ears to the simple truths of the fulness of the gospel.  The choice is yours.

Keep Searching.

 

 

 

Vengence is Mine Saith the Lord

For those who are wondering, I have been somewhat absence from blogging recently because I have been engaged in writing a book about the intercessory offering and atonement of Joseph Smith.  This project has taken much of my time and energy because I believe an understanding of Joseph’s atonement is essential to comprehending true LDS history and what is about to transpire prior to Christ’s return in glory to the earth.  My goal is to write something that is accessible to the average reader and takes them through the various historical facts and scriptural evidences in a logical and readable format.  The challenge in taking up this project is that much effort must be expended to clear the ground of the traditions of men that impede the average latter-day saint from seeing what is so very clear to those who have taken up the charge to search diligently. Imparting years of searching into a book that can be read in 2 hours is a daunting task.  Ultimately, I believe, only those who are willing to search under the influence of the Holy Ghost will actually “get it” in the end.  Regardless, I feel compelled to proceed.

One falsehood encumbering the ground of Mormon history revolves around the Nauvoo Expositor and the “lies” that were supposedly perpetuated by the one and only edition of that publication.  As we know, the destruction of the press set in motion a series of events ultimately resulting in Joseph’s death at Carthage.  I recently read a blog which quoted the primary manual for teaching children in church as saying “Some enemies of the church believed that if they got rid of Joseph Smith, the church would fall apart.  These men started a newspaper in which they told many vicious lies about Joseph.  (Primary Manual 5, Lesson 37).

This is quite a bold assertion by the church, and so this blogger challenged readers to expose the vicious lies of the Nauvoo Expositor with the promise of $50 to anyone who could clearly demonstrate something asserted in the paper was a lie.  Several people came forward with assertions of lies, all of which were easily rebutted from historical evidence.

I recently spent considerable time reading and studying that document.  I made a point to pick up a reproduction of the original print copy at Joseph’s red brick store (owned and operated by the Community of Christ, formerly the RLDS) when I visited Nauvoo some months back.  Praise the Lord that he entrusted some of those key historical sites to the CoC for preservation over the years, including the Joseph Smith translation of the Bible which sheds incredible light on important doctrines relative to our day, including the doctrine of the three watches.

As an aside, the Masonic Hall, owned and operated by the LDS church in Nauvoo has been renamed the “Cultural Hall” and presented as a place for cultural entertainment.  Upstairs where masonic temple rituals were enacted, the church has placed quilts, furniture and clothing appropriate for the time period.  Having heard that there was a worn circle in the floor in the center of the room from the masonic ritual, I looked to see if it was there only to discover that a heavy rug had been tacked to the floor.  I tried to lift the rug when beyond the gaze of the tour guide sister missionaries but was disappointed in my attempts although I could feel what appeared to be an indented worn surface as I stepped on the floor, but I couldn’t be sure.  Amazing how subtle changes over time in our history become articles of faith to future generations.

In my opinion, the Nauvoo Expositor is required reading for all who seek to know what was going on in Nauvoo as opposed to blindly accepting the LDS narrative of enemies perpetuating vicious lies.  On the contrary, when you understand the motives of the publishers it was to effect a reformation in the church — a return to the true doctrines originally taught when the saints had the fulness and were seeking to establish Zion.  William Law, former member of the First Presidency, was the principal actor in the Nauvoo Expositor drama, but was also assisted by his brother, Wilson, a Brigadier General in the Nauvoo Legion, Francis Higbee, Chauncey Higbee, Charles Foster and Robert Foster among others.

William Law, whose photo you see above, was a late-comer to the restoration movement.  He joined the church in 1836, some years after the rejection of the fulness by the Gentiles, and following the pentecostal experiences in Kirtland.  He also missed the turmoil in Kirtland with the Safety Society debacle as he was in Canada, finally moving to Nauvoo with a group of Canadian converts in 1839.  He was called to the First Presidency in 1841.

Over time, he became troubled by certain teachings and practices of Smith, most prominently celestial polygamy, which ultimately lead to his being dropped as a counselor to Joseph in proceedings that he considered did not comport with proper and legal procedure within the church.  It is clear from the Expositor that William had sought to get Joseph to admit publicly that he had erred with regards to the polygamy doctrine, something Joseph was unwilling to do.

I am only going to include here a few excerpts from the Expositor to whet your appetite.  You can see a full transcription of the text here.

We all verily believe, and many of us know of a surety, that the religion of the Latter Day Saints, as originally taught by Joseph Smith, which is contained in the Old and New Testaments, Book of Covenants, and Book of Mormon, is verily true; and that the pure principles set forth in those books, are the immutable and eternal principles of Heaven, and speaks a language which, when spoken in truth and virtue, sinks deep into the heart of every honest man.–Its precepts are invigorating, and in every sense of the word, tend to dignify and ennoble man’s conceptions of God and his atributes [sic].

We are earnestly seeking to explode the vicious principles of Joseph Smith, and those who practice the same abominations and whoredoms; which we verily know are not accordant and consonant with the principles of Jesus Christ and the Apostles; and for that purpose, and with that end in view, with an eye single to the glory of God, we have dared to gird on the armor, and with God at our head, we most solemnly and sincerely declare that the sword of truth shall not depart from the thigh, nor the buckler from the arm, until we can enjoy those glorious privileges which nature’s God and our country’s laws have guarantied to us-freedom of speech, the liberty of the press, and the right to worship God as seemeth us good.-We are aware, however, that we are hazarding every earthly blessing, particularly property,and probably life itself, in striking this blow at tyranny and oppression: yet notwithstanding we most solemnly declare that no man, or set of men combined, shall, with impunity, violate obligations as sacred as many which have been violated unless reason, justice and virtue have become ashamed and sought the haunts of the grave, though our lives be the forfeiture. 

Many of us have sought a reformation in the church, without a public exposition of the enormities of crimes practiced by its leaders, thinking that if they would hearken to counsel, and shew fruit meet for repentance, it would be as acceptable with God, as though they were exposed to public gaze, “For the private path, the secret acts of men, If noble, for the noblest of their lives,” but our petitions were treated with contempt; and in many cases the petitioner spurned from their presence and particularly by Joseph, who would state that if he had sinned, and was guilty of the charges we would charge him with, he would not make acknowledgment, but would rather be damned; for it would detract from his dignity, and would consequently ruin and prove the overthrow of the Church. We would ask him on the other hand, if the overthrow of the Church was not inevitable, to which he often replied, that we would all go to Hell together, and convert it into a heaven, by casting the Devil out; and says lie, Hell is by not means the place this world of fools suppose it to be, but on the contrary, it is quite an agreeable place: to which we would now reply, he can enjoy it he is determined not to desist from his evil ways; but as for us, and ours, we will serve the Lord our God! 

It is absurd for men to assert that all is well, while wicked and corrupt men are seeking our destruction, by a perversion of sacred things; for all is not well, while whordoms and all manner of abominations are practiced under the cloak of religion. Lo! the wolf is in the fold, arrayed in sheep’s clothing, and is spreading death and devastation among the saints: and we say to the watchmen standing upon the walls, cry aloud and spare not, for the day of the Lord is at hand-a day cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate. 

It is a notorious fact, that many females in foreign climes, and in countries to us unknown, even in the most distant regions of the Eastern hemisphere, have been induced, by the sound of the gospel, to forsake friends, and embark upon a voyage across waters that lie stretched over the greater portion of the globe, as they supposed, to glorify God, that they might thereby stand acquitted in the great day of God Almighty. But what is taught them on their arrival at this place?- They are visited by some of the Strikers, for we know not what else to call them, and are requested to hold on and be faithful, for there are great blessings awaiting the righteous; and that God has great mysteries in store for those who love the lord, and cling to brother Joseph. They are also notified that Brother Joseph will see them soon, and reveal the mysteries of Heaven to their full understanding, which seldom fails to inspire them with new confidence in the Prophet, as well as a great anxiety to know what God has laid up in store for them, in return for the great sacrifice of father of mother, of gold and silver, which they gladly left far behind, that they might be gathered into the fold, and numbered among the chosen of God.–They are visited again, and what is the result? They are requested to meet brother Joseph, or some of the Twelve, at some insulated point, or at some particularly described place on the bank of the Mississippi, or at some room, which wears upon its front–Positively NO Admittance. The harmless, inoffensive, and unsuspecting creatures, are so devoted to the Prophet, and the cause of Jesus Christ, that they do not dream of the deep laid and fatal scheme which prostrates happiness, and renders death itself desirable; but they meet him, expecting to receive through him a blessing, and learn the will of the Lord concerning them, and what awaits the faithful follower of Joseph, the Apostle and Prophet of God, When in the stead thereof, they are told, after having been sworn in one of the most solemn manners, to never divulge what is revealed to them, with a penalty of death attached that God Almighty has revealed it to him, that she should be his (Joseph’s) Spiritual wife; for it was right anciently,and God will tolerate it again: but we must keep those pleasures and blessings form the world, for until there is a change in the government, we will endanger ourselves by practicing it-but we can enjoy the blessings of Jacob, David, and others, as well as to be deprived of them, if we do not expose ourselves to the law of the land. She is thunder-struck, faints recovers, and refuses. The Prophet damns her if she rejects. She thinks of the great sacrifice and of the many thousand miles she has traveled over sea and land, that she might save her soul from pending ruin, and replies, God’s will be done and not mine. The Prophet and his devotees in this way are gratified. 

Our hearts have mourned and bled at the wretched and miserable condition of females in this place; many orphans have been the victims of misery and wretchedness, through the influence, that has been exerted over them, under the cloak of religion and afterwards, in consequence of that jealous disposition which predominates over the minds of some, have been turned upon a wide world, fatherless and motherless, destitute of friends and fortune; and robbed of that which nothing but death can restore. 

It is difficult–perhaps impossible–to describe the wretchedness of females in this place, without wounding the feelings of the benevolent, or shocking the delicacy of the refined; but the truth shall come to the world. The remedy can never be applied, unless the disease is known. The sympathy, ever anxious to relieve, cannot be felt before the misery is seen.–The charity that kindles at the tale of woe, can never act with adequate efficiency, till it is made to see the pollution and guilt of men, now buried in the death-shades of heathenism.–Shall we then, however painful the sight, shrink from the contemplation of their real state? We answer, we will not, if permitted to live. As we have before stated, it is the vicious principles of men we are determined to explode. It is not that we have any private feelings to gratify, or any private pique to settle, that has induced us to be thus plain; for we can respect and love the criminal, if there is any hope of reformation: but there is a point beyond which forbearance ceases to be a virtue. 

The next important item which presents itself for our consideration, is the attempt at Political power and influence, which we verity believe to be preposterous and absurd. We believe, it is inconsistent, and not in accordance with the christian religion. We do not believe that God ever raised up a Prophet to christianize a world by political schemes and intrigue. It is not the way God captivates the heart of the unbeliever; but on the contrary, by preaching truth in its own native simplicity, and in its own original purity, unadorned with anything except its own indigenous beauties. Joseph may plead he has been injured, abused, and his petitions treated with contempt by the general government, and that he only desires an influence of a political character that will warrant him redress of grievances; but we care not-the faithful followers of Jesus must bear in this age as well as Christ and the Apostles did anciently; although a frowning world may have crushed him to the dust; although unpitying friends may have passed him by; although hope, the great comforter in affliction, may have burst forth and fled from his troubled bosom; yet, in Jesus there is a balsom for every wound, and a cordial to assuage an agonized mind. 

Among the many items of false doctrine that are taught the Church, is the doctrine of many Gods, one of the most direful in its effects that has characterized the world for many centuries. We know not what to call it other than blasphemy, for it is most unquestionably, speaking of God in an impious and irreverent manner. It is contended that there are innumerable gods as much above the God that presides over this universe, as he is above us; and if he varies from the law unto which he is subjected, he, with all his creatures, will be cast down as was Lucifer: thus holding forth a doctrine which is effectually calculated to sap the very foundation of our faith, and now, O Lord! shall we set still and be silent, while thy name is thus blasphemed, and thine Honor, power and glory, brought into disrepute? See Isaiah c 43, v 10; 44, 6-8; 45, 5,6, 21, 22; and book of Covenants, page 26 and 39. 

It was in Rome, and about the twelfth century, when Pope Innocent III, ordered father Dominic to excite the Catholic princes and people to extirpate heretics. But it is in this enlightened and intelligent nineteenth century, and in Nauvoo–a place professing to be the nucleus o the world, that Joseph Smith has established an inquisition, which, if it is suffered to exist, will prove more formidable and terrible to those who are found opposing the iniquities of Joseph and his associates, than ever the Spanish inquisiton did to heretics as they termed them. 

You get the idea.  William has a way with words and he doesn’t mince them! It appears that the publication of the Expositor was a last resort after having attempted to get Joseph to return to the purity of the gospel of Jesus Christ as taught in the scriptures, cease his teachings on polygamy and refrain from the abuses of power he was perpetuating. Of course, Joseph declined to do so, even though there is evidence he recognized that he had been deceived with respect to polygamy and sought to move away from those practices during the waning months of his life, including very compelling evidence by William Marks, Stake President in Nauvoo.  Following Joseph’s death, Brigham vilified those responsible for the press, branding them as enemies and traitors.  Additionally, Brigham introduced into the Masonic-based temple endowment an “Oath of Vengeance” which obligated inductees as follows:

“You and each of you do covenant and promise that you will pray and never cease to pray to Almighty God to avenge the blood of the prophets upon this nation, and that you will teach the same to your children and to your children’s children unto the third and fourth generation.”

All of which takes us to the title of this post.  How on earth does this  oath comport with the gospel of Jesus Christ?  The Book of Mormon clearly teaches that vengeance is the purview of the Lord ONLY, not of men.

Behold what the scripture says—man shall not smite, neither shall he judge; for judgment is mine, saith the Lord, and vengeance is mine also, and I will repay. (Mormon 8:20)

The Nephites in the Book of Mormon always lost when they took vengeance into their own hands. It is a recurring theme throughout the book.  Likewise, John Corrill and Ebenezer Robinson, both of whom have written contemporary accounts of the saints in Missouri, observe that conditions materially worsened for the saints when they ceased to turn the other cheek and live the pure gospel.  When they start to take matters into their own hands and retaliate (Danites anyone?) things go downhill quickly, ultimately resulting in their expulsion from Missouri.  It appears as no coincidence to me that the rejection of the covenant of consecration coincides with their challenges, including the spirit of vengeance and retaliation which infiltrated the saints.

The Lord told the saints in Missouri that they would “never cease to prevail” if they would hearken to observe all the words which the Lord their God would speak to them. This is not a story of the old settlers in Missouri kicking the saints out, but rather the story of a people who break the covenant of consecration and reap the consequences.

If as a people for generations we have sworn an oath to take vengeance on our “perceived” enemies then we don’t really believe the scriptures or the gospel.  Satan is run rampant among us as he “opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:4)

One day we will understand that William Law, in publishing the Nauvoo Expositor, was acting in his place as a counselor to Joseph to work a reformation.  One day we will realize that he has a divine calling to be accomplished in the Third Watch.  Read what the Lord has to say about William in Section 124.

97 Let my servant William Law also receive the keys by which he may ask and receive blessings; let him beahumble before me, and be without bguile, and he shall receive of my Spirit, even the cComforter, which shall manifest unto him the truth of all things, and shall give him, in the very hour, what he shall say.

98 And these asigns shall follow him—he shall heal thebsick, he shall cast out devils, and shall be delivered from those who would administer unto him deadly poison;

99 And he shall be led in paths where the poisonous serpent acannot lay hold upon his heel, and he shall mount up in the bimagination of his thoughts as upon eagles’ wings.

100 And what if I will that he should araise the dead, let him not withhold his voice.

101 Therefore, let my servant William cry aloud and spare not, with joy and rejoicing, and with hosannas to him that sitteth upon the throne forever and ever, saith the Lord your God.

102 Behold, I say unto you, I have a mission in store for my servant William, and my servant Hyrum, and for them alone; and let my servant Joseph tarry at home, for he is needed. The remainder I will show unto you hereafter. Even so. Amen.

Healing the sick…Poisonous serpents…Raising the dead…A special mission with Hyrum. The Lord never spoke like this about Brigham Young, and yet untold thousands were taught to hate this man, because he had the temerity to listen to the spirit and seek for a reformation–a reformation that even Joseph acknowledged was necessary when he said the following on July 16, 1843:

“…Hyrum held the office of prophet to the church by birth-right & he was going to have a REFORMATION and the saints must regard Hyrum for he has authority”

William Law and Hyrum were the one’s called to reform the church.  Their mission in the Second Watch was a failure.  They will return again to fulfill what has been prophecied by the Lord.  It will all be fulfilled.  As an institution we must repent of the vicious lies we have told about the likes of William Law.  We must repent of the false oaths we have sworn under the guise of piety in holy houses of the Lord.  Only then will we be able to see clearly the purposes of the Lord in our history, and fully understand what is shortly to come.

Keep Searching

For a Small Moment Have I Forsaken Thee

One of the profound results of understanding the doctrine of the three watches is that I read the scriptures from a whole new paradigm. Things that I had never really noticed before take on new meaning. It is like a treasure hunt with new and fascinating discoveries all along the way.

For those of you unfamiliar with the doctrine of the three watches, it is taken from JST Luke 12:41-57 in the which the Lord visits the earth 3 times prior to his coming in glory. Here are a few excerpts:

For, behold, he cometh in the first watch of the night, and he shall also come in the second watch, and again he shall come in the third watch.

And verily I say unto you, He hath already come, as it is written of him; and again when he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, blessed are those servants when he cometh, that he shall find so doing;

And they said, Who then is that faithful and wise servant?

And the Lord said unto them, It is that servant who watcheth, to impart his portion of meat in due season.

Blessed be that servant whom his Lord shall find, when he cometh, so doing.

Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.

But the evil servant is he who is not found watching. And if that servant is not found watching, he will say in his heart, My Lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants, and the maidens, and to eat, and drink, and to be drunken.

The Lord of that servant will come in a day he looketh not for, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him down, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.

And that servant who knew his Lord’s will, and prepared not for his Lord’s coming, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

But he that knew not his Lord’s will, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required; and to whom the Lord has committed much, of him will men ask the more.

We are currently living in the time of the second watch just prior to the opening of the third watch which will usher in the dispensation of the fulness of times and the marvelous work and a wonder.  See my previous post here for evidence that the marvelous work is a future event.

So as I was reading the other day in 3 Nephi 22 I ran across this little gem that the Lord specifically left for us to read in the latter-days.

v7. For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee.

v8. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer.

Boom! It hit me like a ton of red Nauvoo bricks. He is talking about us today and the 4 generations when the saints will be scattered after they break the covenant, prior to the final gathering. Unbelievable! Right there in front of our faces the Lord is quoting Isaiah (see Isaiah 54) to tell us of his mercy and love, but also that he has indeed forsaken (chastened) us for a “small moment.”

These golden nuggets are all over in the scriptures.

“Send you AGAIN”

“Laying the FOUNDATION of a great work”

Joseph’s use of the future tense when referring to the return of Elijah, etc. etc.

It’s there if we look for it.

Praise the Lord for his kindness and mercy. Praise the Lord for his wisdom in informing us regarding the latter days for all those who have eyes to see and ears to listen. The information is right there in plain sight for all those who are willing to follow the Lord’s commandment to search.

Rowe v. Scriptures

Recently, the mainstream press has reported on “Mormon Preppers” and their various beliefs and preparations for what they see as imminent earthquakes, tribulations, destructions, etc.

You can read one such article here:

http://www.sltrib.com/home/2935776-155/some-mormons-stocking-up-amid-fears

While not diminishing the need to be prepared, I am struck by how naively latter-day saints fall for the so-called “visions” that others have had and interpret them to be authoritative in some way. Several books have recently been published about visionary experiences had by certain members including Spencer’s “Visions of Glory” in 2012 and more recently two books by Julie Rowe entitled “The Time is Now” and “A Greater Tomorrow.”

LDS communities have always been a hotbed of revelatory “rumor” about the last days and how it is going to go down. These books, along with facebook posts and conference calls have recently fanned the flames into an inferno, causing many to rush out, stock up and even cash out 401k accounts and buy gold — because, of course, we all know that salvation is found in the shiny metal.

Why are we so susceptible to these voices? I would suggest two reasons. The first is that despite being constantly told to follow the Brethren, the Brethren are not providing the revelatory direction people desire in troubled times. Instead we get the same old tired instruction spoken of in Isaiah 28:20

For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it.

BTW Isaiah 28 is a great chapter about the “Drunkards of Ephraim” that is worthy of a complete post in and of itself someday.

In other words, the doctrine taught by the church is not satisfying to the members and is insufficient. We are not being led to Zion or to live the celestial law. Instead we are fed counterfeit doctrines that lead us to believe all is well in Zion if we just do our missionary work and attend the temple.

For Israel hath forgotten his Maker, and buildeth temples (Hosea 8:14)

I challenge anyone to come up with with another people for which that scripture could reasonably apply.

The narrative that I have heard many times from the Brethren is that the church will continue to grow until one day the Lord will say “enough” and make His appearance. This was the final message from Elder Holland at a recent stake conference I attended. See “Don’t Conflate the Church with the Gospel” for more details on his talk. Unfortunately, that narrative has no support in the scriptures which leads to the second and most fundamental reason we are seduced by these voices:

WE ARE NOT SUFFICIENTLY GROUNDED IN THE SCRIPTURES!

If we were we wouldn’t be tossed to and fro by every latter-day rumor regarding the last days.

We wouldn’t believe that “energy healing” as promoted and sold (priestcraft anyone?) by Julie Rowe et al is a method from God to heal us and will be practiced under the direction of Christ during the millenium and in tent cities prior.

We wouldn’t believe that the current brethren are going to lead us to Zion. Instead, we would understand from D&C 101 and 103 that it is in fact Joseph who will redeem Zion with power. We would understand that will take place only after the priesthood which we have lost (See D&C 124:28 and 3 Ne 16:10) is restored again to the earth (See D&C 113: 7-10).

We would know that Joseph continues to hold the keys whether in this world or in the world to come. (See D&C 90:3)

We would comprehend that Zion will not be established “with haste nor by flight” (See D&C 101:68, 3 Nephi 20:42, D&C 58:56, etc)

We would understand that the most pressing need among the saints is to repent of their idolatry, including their worship of the Brethren, before the Lord sends one “mighty and strong” to set in order the house of God (See D&C 85:7) and that vengeance will begin “upon my house” and shall go forth “from my house” (See D&C 112: 25).  Those are reasons enough to be prepared, but the real preparation needs to be a spiritual awakening from the slumber of complacency.

Our blindspots are legion. We would understand that cursed is he who puts his or her trust in the arm of flesh (See 2 Ne 4:34) whoever they may be. As we have chronicled here before, the only way to avoid deception in the last days is to treasure up the words of Christ and take the Holy Spirit as our guide. Those who trust only in their feelings and are not conversant with the holy word of God are setting themselves up to be tossed to and fro. They will be deceived.

There is hope. The restoration will commence and the marvelous work go forth. Click here for evidences that the marvelous work is a future event. The Lord has also promised in JST Isaiah 42:

19 For I will send my servant unto you who are blind; yea, a messenger to open the eyes of the blind, and unstop the ears of the deaf;
20  And they shall be made perfect notwithstanding their blindness, IF they will hearken unto the messenger, the Lord’s servant.
21  Thou art a people, seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears to hear, but thou hearest not.
22  The Lord is not well pleased with such a people, but for his righteousness’ sake he will magnify the law and make it honorable.
23  Thou art a people robbed and spoiled; thine enemies, all of them, have snared thee in holes, and they have hid thee in prison houses; they have taken thee for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore.

The scriptures testify that blindness will be removed from those of us who sit in darkness if we hearken to the messenger who will be sent to complete his mission. In the meantime we MUST become conversant with God’s word by SEARCHING the scriptures. Many false voices have arisen to fill the void left when we don’t search. We must not hearken to them, except and to the extent that their message is wholly and completely consistent with the words of Christ AND the whisperings of the Holy Spirit. The day is close at hand for the return of the servants. For that we should all be prepared.

Searcher

Latter-day Road Map

I am a big picture kind of guy. As I embarked on my journey of searching the scriptures and historical narrative of mormon history I often wished I had a general road map, a working hypothesis, so to speak to help answer three major questions:

  1. What really happened in church history
  2. Where are we now and what should we be doing today.
  3. What is about to happen prior to the coming of the Savior

Today I am going to attempt to provide just that in generalized terms and without a great deal of references because I don’t want this one post to balloon into a book. Many of the blogposts I have already written constitute a piece in the overall puzzle with supporting documentation and references. More is one its way. I am also indebted to others who have diligently searched and been willing to share their research.

The reason I believe understanding the big picture is important stems from the fact that many lose faith when they come across information that challenges what they have been taught regarding the “Lord’s church.” When confronted with information that is not congruent with their existing “map” that has been spoon-fed to them by the institutional church they have a tendency to “fly to pieces,” to use Joseph’s words. They are not sufficiently grounded in the scriptures to withstand the challenge to their faith. My purpose is not to destroy faith, but build it up upon a sure foundation. My contention and experience has been that when you understand the truth about our history and the prophecies in the scriptures that your faith will be strengthened and grow. The faith that results will not be in the church per se, but in the Lord and his purposes. You should not continue reading this blog unless you are committed to searching these things out for yourselves and receive a witness from the holy spirit that they are true!

I am not arrogant enough to think that every interpretation, opinion, or speculation I have provided in my posts is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. However, I believe the evidence of the scriptures coupled with the historical record stands on its own. You should rely on those two sources only as definitive in your searching and not rely on any arm of flesh, especially not mine. With that disclaimer here is my working hypothesis of the big picture.

PRELIMINARY EVENTS

Most Mormons are very familiar with the founding events of the faith. As there may those not familiar who read this blog I will quickly rehearse them.

  1. Joseph Smith’s “first vision” of the Father and the Son around 1820.
  2. Multiple visits from the Angel Moroni commencing in 1823, wherein Joseph is informed of the existence of an ancient record, and prepared over the space of 4+ years to receive the record and transmit to us as the Book of Mormon.
  3. A visit from the resurrected John the Baptist to receive the Aaronic Priesthood.
  4. A visit from Peter, James and John to receive the patriarchal priesthood (note that the church sees this visit as restoring the highest level of the Melchizedek Priesthood despite much evidence to the contrary).
  5. The printing of the Book of Mormon and the preaching of the gospel.

THE CHURCH ESTABLISHED — 1830 to 1831

The church is established on April 6, 1830 with 6 initial members as per New York state law. The Lord calls his church the “Church of Christ.” The Lord promises that if the saints harden not their hearts he will work a reformation among them and establish his church “like unto the church which was taught by my disciples in the days of old.” He also warns that if they do harden their hearts he will deliver them up unto satan (Book of Commandments, chapter 4). The “law” is brought forth (D&C 42) which the saints must follow to establish Zion. It includes the law of consecration and the law of monogamy. Many revelations from the Lord are received during this time period and their are many spiritual experiences.

THE FULNESS RESTORED — JUNE 1831

Mormons are generally not familiar with the events of the special conference held at the Morley farm in Kirtland in June of 1831. It was there that the fulness of the Melchizedek priesthood was restored to the earth, High Priests were called by the voice of God out of heaven, and the man of sin was revealed in fulfillment of 2 Thessalonians 2. There are numerous contemporary journal entries from participants that attest to these facts. High Priests went forth to Zion from this conference preaching along the way. Following the conference The Lord starts referring to the “Church of God.” This is a time of many pentecostal outpourings and a prolific number of revelations from the Lord. The saints seek to establish Zion. Joseph and Sydney see a vision of the Savior and chronicle what is required to return to God’s presence. It is the everlasting covenant of baptism by water, baptism by fire and baptism of the holy ghost.

THE FULNESS REJECTED — DECEMBER 1834

By 1834 the saints had broken their covenant of consecration in the gathering place for Zion. Despite the Lord telling them that they would never cease to prevail against their enemies if they were obedient to his counsels, they are ultimately expelled from Missouri. Things really go south when they start relying on the strength of their own arms instead of relying on the Lord. Despite receiving a commandment to “gather up the strength of my house” to redeem Zion, and giving September 11, 1836 as the designated date Zion was to be redeemed, no attempt is made to do so. December 1834 was the date an unpublished revelation was received from the Lord stating that condemnation rested upon the leaders of the church. This was exactly three and a half years to the day from when the fulness was restored at the Morley farm in fulfillment of ancient prophecy. At a general conference of the church in 1834 the name of Christ is taken out of the Church. It is now the “Church of the Latter-day Saints” because they broke the covenant. This name can be seen on the Kirtland Temple even to this day.

KIRTLAND TEMPLE — ATONEMENT STATUTE — 1836

As commanded, the saints build the Kirtland Temple. Joseph tells the people that they will see the Lord in the solemn assembly if the are worthy. Although there are spiritual outpourings, no one sees the Lord except Joseph and Oliver. The sequence of events during the week of the temple dedication and subsequent visitations of Christ, Moses, Elias and Elijah is consistent with the atonement statute under the law of Moses found in Leviticus 16. Elias restores the keys of the dispensation of the Gospel of Abraham, a preparatory gospel of repentance and baptism. The saints have been effectively downgraded! They had been anticipating the commencement of the dispensation of the fulness of times, but instead received the preparatory gospel. Joseph hides this fact from the saints (probably because the Lord commanded him to) and never speaks of it during his lifetime that we know, neither does Oliver. It is recorded in a journal and comes to light after his death, canonized as D&C 110.

Joseph is one like unto Moses in many different ways, but particularly by becoming an offering and “atonement” for the people to lengthen out their days after they have rejected the higher law. He ultimately becomes the “sin” offering and is killed. Others participate in this drama including Sidney Rigdon who becomes the “scapegoat.”

Joseph says that something new has to be done for the salvation of the church. He calls the Twelve to go on foreign missions and take the gospel to the house of Israel. The Gentiles have rejected the fulness and now the Lord is grafting in the house of Israel to preserve the roots of the olive tree as prophesied in 3 Nephi 16.

Things start to fall apart in Kirtland. The Kirtland Safety Society is a financial debacle and many members apostatize from the church. Joseph’s personal behavior starts to deteriorate as he takes upon himself the sins of the people and starts to act them out.  The heavens begin to close and his eyes are covered because of the iniquity of the people.

NAUVOO — SECOND CHANCE FOR THE SAINTS

The Lord gives the saints three commandments in Nauvoo and promises that if they are obedient they “will not be moved out of their place.” The commandments are to build the Nauvoo Temple, build the Nauvoo House, and publish the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. The Lord grants unto them a “sufficient time” to accomplish the building projects, after which they will be rejected as a church with their dead (D&C 124). The saints fail to complete the Temple in Joseph’s lifetime. They never publish the JST version of the Bible. Their second chance has been squandered and they are rejected.

Joseph secretly introduces polygamy and the doctrine of spiritual wives to leading men in the church. He himself is married to many women, including some as young as 14. He also becomes a mason and introduces the masonic-based temple endowment despite the Book of Mormon warning about “secret combinations” and secret societies. The ritual includes oaths of secrecy upon penalty of death. Joseph presents the concept of eternal marriage (with multiple wives) and the masonic temple endowment as a “higher law” even though the saints had previously received the law of the celestial kingdom and rejected it. The Lord was turning the saints over to satan for a “little season” of chastisement as he had earlier promised. Joseph introduces false doctrines regarding the nature of God.

Hyrum is made a prophet co-equal with Joseph. When this is announced to the saints in conference in 1843, some complain and reject him. The fact that Hyrum is appointed proves that Joseph did not abide in the Lord (D&C 43). Hyrum has the sealing keys. Sydney Rigdon is also ordained a prophet, seer and revelator and that fact is announced to the church via the Times and Seasons.

William Law, counselor to Joseph Smith, tries to persuade him to renounce polygamy publicly. Joseph refuses. William and others are also appalled by his personal behavior and recent teaching of false doctrines. They publish the Nauvoo Expositor to make public their grievances. The destruction of the printing press sets in motion the events that lead to Joseph and Hyrum’s murder at Carthage in June 1844.   

THE SUCCESSION CRISIS

Despite Sydney being the only survivor of the First Presidency, and the only person remaining on earth who had been properly ordained a “prophet,” Brigham Young organizes the effort to expel Sydney from the church.  Although unspoken at the trial, the real bone of contention was the fact that Sydney did not support the secret abominations of polygamy or the spiritual wife doctrine being practiced by the Twelve.

Brigham Young is voted to lead the church along with the Twelve under the law of common consent. He never claims to be a prophet and brings forth no revelation. Several years later he re-organizes the First Presidency with himself as the president. The saints who follow him to Utah are dominated by those immigrants who were baptized by the Twelve in Europe representing remnants of the House of Israel. Many of the “Gentile” members do not follow Brigham to Utah and are scattered amongst various groups. One year before his death, Brigham adds Section 132 to the Doctrine and Covenants as re-written by William Clayton, justifying and institutionalizing the spiritual wife doctrine of higher glories for those men with multiple wives.

Those who follow Brigham believe that they have the fulness, even though the church is bereft of the signs of the fulness. Members are taught to blindly follow the prophet instead of becoming spiritually independent through “treasuring up the words of life” and “taking the holy spirit as their guide.”

THE MARVELOUS WORK AND WONDER

The initial work done by Joseph is referred to as ‘laying the foundation of a great work.” The so called “marvelous work and a wonder” is a future event which will commence sometime after 4 generations of chastisement have passed. This will be set in motion when the “first servants in the last kingdom” return to gather out the elect and establish a consecrated people in the designated location prior to the return of the Savior. These servants include Joseph (who we are told holds the keys whether in life or death) and many of his cohorts.

Zion will be redeemed with POWER. The fulness of the priesthood will allow for the gathering and also for many to receive their calling and election. I believe that the time for this to occur is very close. As in the parable of the ten virgins, many LDS will not be prepared, or willing to live the law of consecration and gather when the call comes. Those who are not watching will not be allowed into the wedding. How the institutional church will respond to the return of the servants will be very interesting to observe.

SO WHAT NOW?

By now your head is probably swimming. If you have bought the institutional line your whole life, the very idea that we could be in an inherited state of apostasy is a shock to the system. If you are comfortable with the fact that we are in apostasy then perhaps the narrative thus far gives you a broader perspective and areas you want to search out in greater detail. You may be asking yourself what you should be doing with the knowledge you have obtained or are in the process of obtaining.

The good news is that the Lord is still working with his people, although he has hidden his face from us for 4 generations. His hand is stretched out still. All of this was known in advance and prophesied by ancient prophets. We still have the influence of the holy ghost to guide us. When we study the scriptures he has promised to visit us with the “manifestations of his spirit.” We also have the preparatory gospel of repentance and baptism, although the church represents that it has much more than that, even to claims of having the sealing power and the fulness of the gospel.

Up until now in this blog I have not said anything about myself personally. Perhaps now is the time to shift gears a bit. I grew up in the LDS church in Utah Valley as a 5th generation Mormon on both sides of my family. I served a full-time mission, married in the temple and have 3 adult children. My wife and I choose to stay in the church for now. We have come to this decision after prayerfully considering what the Lord wants us to do. I am fortunate in that she also has had “blindness” removed from her eyes and she has been able to see through the “hidden darkness” that encompasses most saints.

I am fully aware that should I be exposed to church authorities as the author of this blog I would be subject to a church disciplinary council and expelled. I am not fearful of that eventuality, rather I am resigned and prepared for it. For now the Lord wants us where we are and we will continue to seek that spirit and follow it wherever it takes us. For that reason I have chosen to remain anonymous.

Joseph said that every man (woman) must stand for themselves in the last days. The scriptures testify that those who “rely on the arm of flesh” are cursed. If there was any time in history that we need to take that advice it is NOW. The scriptures and historical record are more easily accessed than ever before. We must be found watching and waiting.

That, my friends, is a summary of my working hypothesis. Documentation exists for every point made and will be detailed in other blogposts if it hasn’t been done already. I am ready and willing to change my conclusions with additional solid evidence and multiple witnesses. I am not going to be relying on the arm of flesh and their interpretations of what happened. Hope this helps some of you get the big picture as you continue to search and learn.

For those of you who are ready to really dive in, I highly recommend the following YouTube videos by a blogger I consider a friend and brother. He has done so much research that has assisted me in my searching. I am eternally grateful for the work he has done to lay the groundwork and shorten my learning curve. Hope you enjoy these as much as I have.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NRWs38Ux7A

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0HnqHsXDoY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDC5AQgNajg

Keep Searching and Watching!

Searcher

What It Means to Be Sealed

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One of the most cherished doctrines of the latter-day saints is the sealing ordinance whereby families can be sealed forever in the eternities.  As a missionary we would sometimes approach people asking them if they would want to be together with their family forever. I distinctly remember the one guy who said “No f***ing way!” Clearly he didn’t have a very happy family life.

As I have searched the scriptures and words of Joseph, however, I get a very different picture of this doctrine and what it truly means to be sealed. Let’s start with the scriptures that talk about sealing.

From the Bible:

John 6:27

Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22

Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

Ephesians 1:13

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

Ephesians 4:30

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Revelation 7:3,4

Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.

From the Book of Mormon:

Mosiah 5:15

Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all. Amen.

Helaman 10:7

Behold, I give unto you power, that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and thus shall ye have power among this people.

I did this scripture dump to make a point. Where do any of these scriptures talk about a man and wife being sealed together for eternity?  Nowhere. And I did not just cherry pick these particular scriptures. Do your own word search on “seal, sealed, or sealing” and you will find the same thing. There is nothing in those two books that say anything about the sealing of a man and a wife together for eternity. They all reference the sealing of one up to eternal life through the holy spirit of promise. Think of this as joining God’s family for eternity. He has brought you permanently into his family and sealed you His through the instrumentality of the Holy Ghost.

Greater clarity as to how this happens can be found in the Doctrine and Covenants.

D&C 1:8

And verily I say unto you, that they who go forth, bearing these tidings unto the inhabitants of the earth, to them is power given to seal both on earth and in heaven, the unbelieving and rebellious;

D&C 68:12

And of as many as the Father shall bear record, to you shall be given power to seal them up unto eternal life.

Both of these scriptures were given in late 1831 after the special conference at the Morley Farm. As I have blogged about in my last post “I am not a High Priest,” at this conference high priests were called of God by His voice out of heaven and were granted power to go forth in the cause of Zion. Because of doubting and disputations, and the breaking of the covenant (consecration) they ultimately failed in their first commission.

These scriptures make it clear that when the fulness is on the earth those who are sent forth in priesthood power have the ability and responsibility to seal up unto eternal life worthy individuals identified by the Father. I believe when the “first servants in the last kingdom” return to fulfill their second commission that once again these sealing powers will be manifest.

Again notice that their is no mention of marriage.

D&C 76: 51-54 is very instructive on many levels. It tells us what is required to enter the celestial kingdom.

They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he has given—

That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power;

And who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.

They are they who are the church of the Firstborn.

So, according to this scripture, to enter the celestial realm several things have to happen.

  1. Receive the testimony of Jesus
  2. Believe on his name
  3. Be baptized by immersion after the manner of his burial
  4. Receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power.
  5. Overcome by faith and you will be sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise.

When I read and contemplate these verses I am struck by a couple of things. The first is that at my confirmation I never received the Holy Spirit by one who was sealed unto this power. Were you? I had hands laid upon me by one who was ordained to the priesthood through a patriarchal line, but he was not ever “sealed unto this power.” In the church when we are confirmed we are given the injunction to “receive the Holy Ghost.” This scripture suggests that someone with power will actually GIVE the Holy Ghost. Perhaps this is why we don’t experience the Pentecostal outpourings of spiritual experiences, including the gift of prophecy and tongues, at our baptisms.  Remember the story of Simon in Acts 8 when he sought to buy the gift to give the Holy Ghost?:

And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.

It would appear to me that there is a power to give the gift of the Holy Ghost which is missing today. Of course, we have the influence of the Holy Ghost and the light of Christ, but does anyone truly have the GIFT, meaning the constant, unwavering companionship, with the attendant signs? When the fulness was on the earth people would prophesy, speak in tongues and demonstrate all the fruits of having the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and of the fulness.

And these signs shall follow them that believe—in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover; Mormon 9:24

The other thing that is missing from the verses in Section 76 is any reference to many of the ordinances that we think are necessary for salvation. No marital sealing ordinance or temple ritual with secret handshakes and passwords. As another witness to the simplicity of the everlasting covenant of baptism of water, and of fire, and of the holy ghost, let’s turn to D&C 88: 3-4 where certain high priests are promised eternal life.

Wherefore, I now send upon you another Comforter, even upon you my friends, that it may abide in your hearts, even the Holy Spirit of promise; which other Comforter is the same that I promised unto my disciples, as is recorded in the testimony of John.

This Comforter is the promise which I give unto you of eternal life, even the glory of the celestial kingdom;

Note that this was given in December 1832 long before Joseph introduced the masonic temple endowment or started teaching the sealing doctrine within the context of polygamy and spiritual wives. Can we reasonably conclude that those ordinances are not necessary for entering the celestial kingdom?

In D&C 124:39, the Lord tells us what His House is for:

Therefore, verily I say unto you, that your anointings, and your washings, and your baptisms for the dead, and your solemn assemblies, and your memorials for your sacrifices by the sons of Levi, and for your oracles in your most holy places wherein you receive conversations, and your statutes and judgments, for the beginning of the revelations and foundation of Zion, and for the glory, honor, and endowment of all her municipals, are ordained by the ordinance of my holy house, which my people are always commanded to build unto my holy name.

I don’t see anything in that scripture pointing towards a sealing ordinance as currently practiced by modern mormons.  Further, the endowment referenced above is an endowment of power, a spiritual endowment in the way Joseph used the term prior to his introduction of the masonic-based ritual in Nauvoo.

Now, up to this point, I have not even addressed Section 132. Why? Because it stands alone in redefining the everlasting covenant, teaching that a man must have multiple wives to be exalted and other doctrines unsubstantiated anywhere else in scripture. Brigham Young placed it in the 1876 edition of the D&C at a time when it was politically expedient to justify polygamy. There are so many things wrong with that “revelation” that I will refer you to this link here for a thorough analysis.

Turning our attention now to the prophecies surrounding Elijah and the sealing powers, Joseph Smith gave a discourse on March 10, 1844 about Elias, Elijah and the Messiah (see History of the Church 6:251-255).

Regarding Elias, he said:

The spirit of Elias is to prepare the way for a greater revelation of God, which is the Priesthood of Elias, or the Priesthood that Aaron was ordained unto. And when God sends a man into the world to prepare for a greater work, holding the keys of the power of Elias, it was called the doctrine of Elias, even from the early ages of the world.

John’s mission was limited to preaching and baptizing: but what he did was legal; and when Jesus Christ came to any of John’s disciples, He baptized them with fire and the Holy Ghost.

Note that Elias was the messenger who restored the keys of the Dispensation of the Gospel of Abraham, or preparatory gospel in Section 110.

Regarding Elijah he said

Now for Elijah. The spirit, power, and calling of Elijah is, that ye have power to hold the key of the revelation, ordinances, oracles, powers and endowments of the fullness of the Melchizedek Priesthood and of the kingdom of God on the earth; and to receive, obtain, and perform all the ordinances belonging to the kingdom of God, even unto the turning of the hearts of the fathers unto the children, and the hearts of the children unto the fathers, even those who are in heaven.

Malachi says, “I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”

Can anyone truly claim that we have this authority today? As documented earlier in this blog here we are bereft of the fulness, and operating under the preparatory gospel, all the while thinking and believing that we have the fulness. Today I was reading in the LDS priesthood lesson manual on Teachings of Joseph Smith, chapter 26: Elijah and the Restoration of the Sealing Keys. The first quote is as follows:

“How shall God come to the rescue of this generation? He will send Elijah the prophet.” What the lesson manual fails to point out is that this was said by Joseph on August 18, 1843 in an address about priesthood, over 7 years after Elijah visited the Kirtland Temple! Joseph is speaking in the future tense and talking about a future event, not something that has already happened. He always refers to the coming of Elijah as a future event. After Joseph’s death someone changed it in our doctrine to an event that had already happened. Guess who.

When Elijah comes again to save this generation, it will be with the power to seal up unto eternal life and organize the family of God through the sealing keys at the commencement of the marvelous work yet to come.

From the Nauvoo period forward there was much confusion regarding sealing. Men were running around having women sealed to them in great numbers, chief among them was Wilford Woodruff who had hundreds of dead single women sealed to him, in addition to his 10 plural wives.

Brigham Young records a dream he had in 1847 in which Brother Joseph appeared to him. Brigham asks Joseph the question:

“The Brethren have a great anxiety to understand the law of adoption, or sealing principles; and if you have a word of council for me, I should be glad to receive it.”

Clearly, the fact that Brigham felt compelled to ask this particular question above all other questions he could ask speaks volumes to the confusion in his mind and the minds of his contemporary brethren on the subject of sealing. One would think that if Brigham were actually a prophet he could unlock the key to this mystery himself by asking the Lord and receiving an answer.

Joseph stepped towards me, and looking very earnestly, yet pleasantly said:

“Tell the people to be humble & faithful, and be sure to keep the Spirit of the Lord & it will lead them right. Be careful & not turn away the still small voice, it will teach you how to do & where to go, & it will yield the fruits of the Kingdom. Tell the brethren to keep their hearts open to conviction, so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them, their hearts will be ready to receive it.

They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other Spirits; it will whisper peace and joy to their Souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife, and all evil from their hearts; and their whole desire will be to do good, bring forth righteousness and build up the Kingdom of God.

Tell the Brethren if they will follow the Spirit of the Lord they will go right. Be sure to tell the people to keep the Spirit of the Lord; and if they will, they will find themselves just as they were organized by our Father in Heaven before they came into the world. Our Father in Heaven organized the human family, but they are all disorganized in great confusion.

Joseph then showed me the pattern, how they were in the beginning. This I cannot describe but I saw it, and saw when the Priesthood had been taken from the earth, and how it must be joined together, so that perfect chain from Father Adam to his latest posterity.

Joseph again said “Tell the people to be sure to keep the Spirit of the Lord and follow it and will lead them just right.”

This is a very interesting exchange on many levels, not the least of which is the fact that Joseph didn’t directly answer the question! He talked repeatedly about the Holy Spirit. Over and over again he reiterates this point. He doesn’t say go and seal yourself to everyone who has a pulse and build your own personal kingdom.

I had heard these quotes over the years about the spirit, but never was aware of the broader context of Brigham’s question. Now knowing from the scriptures that the sealing has to do with having one’s calling and election made sure through the Holy Spirit, this answer makes a lot of sense. It is through the instrumentality of the Holy Spirit that one is sealed up unto eternal life. That is what it means to be sealed. We are promised the privilege of being able to re-enter the family of God in his presence with all that implies.

We will all be together as families in the Father’s presence by following the simple precepts of the everlasting covenant–the baptism of water, of fire and of the holy ghost. Nothing “new” needs to be added.

The Lord himself proclaims that this is his doctrine in 3 Nephi 11:35-40:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost.

And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one.

And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things.

And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.

And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them. 

Paul gives us another witness that we should not be looking beyond the mark:

As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursedGalations 1:9

As you search, may you learn and recognize the true doctrine of sealing and be watching and waiting for the imminent return of the prophet Elijah who shall come with the sealing powers to save this generation.

Searcher

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