In these two episodes we explore from 30,000 feet key milestones in LDS Church history, much of which is little known or taught in the LDS Church. This includes the restoration of the fulness of the Gospel, followed by the downgrading of the Church to the Dispensation of the Gospel of Abraham that took place at the Kirtland Temple. We also discuss the second chance that the Saints were granted in Nauvoo and their failure to be obedient resulting in their ultimate expulsion. We find hope in the fact that the Twelve Apostles still hold the keys to their ministry which we interpret to mean the sharing with the world the knowledge of the fulness which is found in the Book of Mormon and Bible during this little season of chastisement we find ourselves in.
Mormons have been taught for many generations that God the Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s. But is this really supported by Scripture, including the Lectures on Faith? What is the basis for our belief in this God? Does our belief withstand the test of multiple Scriptural witnesses. In this episode we explore the nature and character of God as described in the Lectures on Faith and corroborated by other Scripture. We also discuss the history behind how we came to believe the unscriptural God described in D&C 130:22.
The Lectures on Faith were at one time the “Doctrine” portion of the Doctrine and Covenants. However, they were removed by a church committee in 1921 and cast aside. In this episode we discuss the doctrine taught in the Lectures on Faith, especially about the nature of God and the Godhead. We conclude that it is true doctrine that has been replaced by a false notion of God.
Little known to the LDS membership is the idea that God can use prophets to test and try people to see if they will be true to the pure gospel. In this week’s episode we discuss in depth examples from the OT and history that provide clear evidence that blindly following a prophet is a dangerous proposition. We also review the falsehood’s currently taught that lead us to believe there is safety in following men.
In this installment we introduce MD’s Reformatted Scriptures Project which allows for easier reading, as well as documenting the changes that have occurred over time to the D&C and the Book of Mormon. We also discuss several significant changes made between the Book of Commandments published in 1833 and the Doctrine & Covenants which was first published in 1835.
In this installment we discuss some of the resources and methods we use for searching Scripture and also share some of the discoveries we have found along the way.
My two collaborators, Watcher and MD, have already posted our first installment of the Iron Rod Podcast. Many of my readers (those who are still around after I have been largely absent in order to focus on my forthcoming book) are also familiar with their two blogs.
The three of us decided recently to join forces to discuss Scripture, church history and promote searching the Word of God. While we don’t always agree on the details, the three of us share a love and respect for Scripture, placing it in primacy over the philosophies of men.
I have been on a hiatus for a while, focusing all of my writing efforts on completing my book about the hidden secret of Joseph’s prophetic ministry. Given that this weekend is general conference for the LDS church, I thought it appropriate to share one chapter of my book regarding the situation we find ourselves in today—a time of no revelation even though we have 15 who claim that prophetic mantle. Note that I am not tech savvy enough to get all the footnotes that are in the book over into this post without a herculean effort, so I have taken the easy way out and omitted most of them. A quick scripture search should give you the references, at least to the scriptures. Enjoy.
It is an article of faith to Mormons today that there is a living prophet standing at the head of the church to receive revelations from the Lord himself. The words of the First Presidency and Twelve Apostles given at general conference every six months are promoted as being the word of the Lord, and are even perceived by some as the equivalent of scripture. The Church today sustains these fifteen men “prophets, seers and revelators.” It wasn’t always so.
When Brigham Young made his case before the Saints in Nauvoo on August 8, 1844, he didn’t maintain that he was the rightful successor to Joseph, nor did he advance any claim that he had received an ordination as prophet, seer and revelator. No. He only argued that the Twelve should lead the church. That line of reasoning probably carried the day with the majority of the Saints in Nauvoo because many were converts from foreign lands who were most familiar with the missionaries who taught them—the members of the Quorum of Twelve. New to the gospel, these converts were still largely unschooled in the revelations canonized in the Doctrine and Covenants. A week later, Brigham Young published in the Times and Seasons the declaration presented in the previous chapter telling the Saints that they “are now without a prophet present with you in the flesh to guide you.” (Times and Seasons, 15 August 1844)
So, the question naturally follows: When did Brigham Young suddenly become a prophet, seer and revelator? Who laid hands on Brigham to give him that authority? According to the order of the Church, it had to be someone who was himself a prophet, seer and revelator. One cannot convey authority that they don’t already possess. And yet, Brigham was responsible for running the only man out of town who we can positively identify as having that prophetic authority when he excommunicated Sidney. Not only is it necessary to be ordained by a prophet, seer and revelator, the revelations teach that members of the First Presidency are to be comprised of men who have been ordained as high priests. By his own admission, Brigham was never ordained a high priest. (Journal of Discourses 1:136)
Apologists point to what has come to be known as Joseph’s “last charge” as the basis for some authority conveyed to the Twelve to lead the Church. This “charge” was given in late March 1844 to the Council of Fifty, a council comprised of up to 50 individuals, including women and several non-members. It also included members of the Quorum of Twelve. Orson Hyde claimed that it was at that particular meeting “when president Joseph Smith laid the responsibility of leading the church on the Twelve.” (See the Council of Fifty Minutes, p. 66) However, the historical record is devoid of any ordinations or ordinances accompanying the alleged statement by Joseph. Hyde went on to say that Smith “did declare that he had conferred upon the Twelve every key and every power that he ever held himself before God.” This claim, made nearly a year after the fact, is curious because it was never advanced as a reason to support the Twelve during the succession crisis. One would have thought that if indeed Joseph had conveyed “every key and every power” to the Twelve they would have presented that fact as the centerpiece of their case for leading the church—something that never happened. Instead, history was conveniently rewritten over time to support the claims of the Twelve. It is worth noting that Orson Hyde was a prolific prevaricator and embellisher of history. Van Wagoner describes him as “the quorum’s de facto agent of disinformation.” Any of his claims that are unverified through multiple other sources should be taken with extreme skepticism and caution.
We should also keep in mind that this “charge” was given to the Council of Fifty, an organization whose members were required to take oaths of secrecy upon penalty of death, a hallmark of secret combinations which are roundly condemned by the Book of Mormon. Having no precedence in the revelations of the Lord, the Council of Fifty can be most closely compared to a political assembly, not an ecclesiastical one. Its initial efforts were focused on the establishment of a theocratic kingdom of god on the earth with Joseph as the patriarchal king. To that end, colonization possibilities were explored in various locations outside the boundaries of the United States, including Oregon, Vancouver Island, Upper California and Texas.
If Joseph actually told the Twelve and others what is reported, namely that: “Upon your shoulders the kingdom rests, and you must round up your shoulders, and bear it; for I have had to do it until now, but now the responsibility rests upon you” then it is entirely likely that he was referring to the theocratic political kingdom that the Council was looking to establish. Without ordinations and actual conferrals of authority via the established protocol of the laying on of hands, it’s difficult to draw any other conclusion. Unfortunately for the original claims of the Twelve, the historical record is utterly bereft of contemporary accounts of any ordinations—something we can verify in our day with access to original sources like the Council of Fifty Minutes and the entire Joseph Smith Papers Collection. Joseph said something on that occasion—that’s all. Without an ordination, there can be no transfer of keys or authority, especially in the case of a prophet, seer and revelator.
Lack of ordained authority, however, was no impediment to Brigham’s systematic efforts to create a Church hierarchy with him at the very top of the food chain. Three years after the Saints voted to be led by the Twelve, Brigham started lobbying his fellow apostles to reconstitute the First Presidency with Brigham as President. When asked about it, Wilford Woodruff indicated that he “thought it would require a revelation to change the order of that Quorum [the First Presidency].” Woodruff’s opposition probably speaks most loudly to the lack of any scriptural authority for the Twelve to select the First Presidency. (see Wilford Woodruff Journal, October 12, 1847)
Today we have become so accustomed to the idea that the Quorum of the Twelve selects the President, who then selects his counsellors, that we yawn every time the President dies, and he is succeeded like clockwork by the next most senior apostle. But back in Brigham’s day this was a radical idea. Brigham wanted the Twelve to appoint an apostle as an independent president who would then appoint two counsellors, something that was never authorized in any of Joseph’s teachings or the revelations. This is probably why Wilford Woodruff thought that any change of this magnitude would require a revelation from the Lord, presumably written and canonized. Not only was Woodruff skeptical, but Orson Pratt was also opposed. John Taylor, Parley P. Pratt and George A. Smith were also dissenting votes as minutes from the Quorum meetings indicate.
Orson Pratt was rightfully concerned about the concentration of power and autonomy that would rest with Brigham should he be able to create a quorum superior to the Twelve. Instead of garnering a majority of seven votes in the Twelve for any decision, Brigham would now be able to overrule anything the Twelve attempted to do by his new quorum of three, especially when he selected his best buddies, Willard Richards and Heber C. Kimball as counselors. After months of lobbying, Young was successful at wearing down the opposition to the point that they acquiesced. He was was now effectively king.
It’s A Miracle!
No contemporaneous accounts of the meeting at Elder Hyde’s house on December 5, 1847 record that any miracle occurred when the Twelve voted to reconstitute the First Presidency. When the change was announced in a Church conference later that month and put before the members for a vote there was no discussion of a revelation, a divine manifestation or any miracle to sanction what the Twelve were proposing.
Thirteen years later, however, Orson (there he goes again) Hyde and Young started to talk about a miracle which happened on that day, implying that there was a divine manifestation. In the 1860 general conference, Brigham Young asserted that “the power came upon us, a shock that alarmed the neighborhood.” Six months later Orson Hyde further adorned the fiction by stating that the voice of God declared “let my servant Brigham step forth and receive the full power of the presiding priesthood in my church and kingdom.” An official account of this event today even speaks of an earthquake:
“Outside, people came to the Hyde’s door and knocked, worried because they felt houses shake and the ground tremble as though there had been an earthquake. It was the Lord speaking to his leaders, Elder Hyde assured them.”
No information is provided as to how the people who came running would actually know that Orson Hyde’s house was the epicenter of this miraculous exhibition of divine favor. Wilford Woodruff’s diary mentions nothing unusual about the December 5, 1847, meeting, and the minutes scream silence regarding a revelation or supposed miracle. We search in vain for any other motive except insecurity to explain why some members of the Twelve felt that they needed to fabricate a miracle to justify their actions. Obviously, they considered it imperative to shore up their claims to authority by creating a false narrative that remains part of our lore to this day.
Let’s suppose for a second that there actually was a miracle—the earth shook, the neighbors ran to the Hyde’s house, and the Twelve heard with their very ears a voice declaring that Brigham should step forward as president of the First Presidency. Should we believe something just because there is a miracle attached? What do the scriptures say? A careful reading indicates that Satan can deceive through the use of miracles—he can appear as an angel of light. The Pharaoh’s magicians were able to channel the dark side in mimicking some of the Lord’s miracles performed by Moses and Aaron. The Lord himself warns us that in the end times there will be false prophets who show great signs and wonders and deceive even the very elect. (Matthew 24:24)
Recall the debunked miracle of Brigham Young taking on the appearance, the voice and the mannerisms of Joseph in Nauvoo. We can’t overlook the fact that every major step of the seizure of power by the Twelve was accompanied by a “miracle”—manufactured after the fact—to supposedly signify God’s approbation of the steps taken. I would submit that building one’s faith in the rectitude of Church leadership on the basis of a miracle is building on a shaky foundation, especially in light of the historical evidence pointing to a pattern of fabrication, and the scriptural evidence granting no authority to the Twelve to reconstitute the First Presidency. It doesn’t matter how many times a lie is repeated…it is still a lie.
The Heavens are Closed
Once in power, Young ruled with an iron fist. He brooked no opposition, creating some strong feelings within the Twelve who did not dare cross him. He was extremely clever and ambitious—the strong leader that the Saints desired after Joseph’s death. But was he a prophet? A seer? A revelator? We are instructed by the Lord in the revelations that we are not to accept the teachings of anyone as revelations or commandments unless they have “come in at the gate” (D&C 43) and are properly ordained. If Brigham came in at the gate, it’s the world’s most closely guarded secret. Evidence that he was ever ordained to receive the oracles of God is conspicuously non-existent.
By extension, one must inevitably conclude that we have no basis to believe that any of the Presidents of the Church, their councilors or members of the Quorum of Twelve have since been prophets, seers or revelators either. The only way that changes is through a heavenly visitation to convey specific prophetic keys via an ordination—something that has never been claimed by the leadership that I am aware. Several past presidents have been asked if they are indeed prophets. The lawyered answer is typically that they are “sustained as such by the Church,” a very weak and unconvincing answer to a direct question.
(See for example, the testimony of Joseph F. Smith when questioned in front of Congress at the Reed Smoot hearings. United States Congress (1905). Testimony of Important Witnesses as Given in the Proceedings Before the Reed Smoot Hearings. P. 59. Salt Lake City: Salt Lake Tribune Publishing Company. President Gordon B. Hinckley gave a similar answer when asked in an interview by the San Francisco Chronicle that was published on April 13, 1997. Question: You are the president, prophet, seer and revelator of the Mormon Church? Answer: I am so sustained, yes.)
The obsessive focus on declaring the Twelve Apostles of the Church as prophets, seers and revelators commenced only relatively recently during the administration of David O. McKay in the 1950s and 1960s. Prior to that the Church was asked to sustain the top leader as merely “President of the Church” not as a prophet. What changed? Did the Fifteen suddenly receive—over a hundred years after Joseph’s death—more authority from on high than they previously had been granted?
I think it is important to make clear that the Twelve have keys specific to their apostolic charge as missionaries—to preach the preparatory gospel to the world during this current dispensation—the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham. As such, they are entitled to inspiration in fulfilling their responsibility to minister to the world. I am sure there is available inspired direction in that process, including calling other missionaries to assist in the work of spreading the “knowledge of the fulness” to the world. But inspiration and revelation are two very different things. Receiving the word of the Lord directly from his mouth is not the same as receiving impressions and direction from the Holy Ghost. We often conflate the two, but they are not the same. Ever since the days of Brigham Young, the Twelve have gone far beyond their core missionary mandate; and today they rule over both the mission field AND the stakes of Zion, having created a hierarchy that the Lord never intended. They have become executives of a vast worldwide enterprise known as the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a “corporation sole” which means that all assets are owned by the President of the Church. The articles of incorporation even mandate that upon the death of the President, the most senior apostle becomes the next President who now owns all the assets. We aren’t even organized as a church.
The label “false prophet” sounds very harsh to our ears, conjuring up images of men or women who are actively trying to lead us astray. But to the extent that anyone claims prophetic privilege to speak for the Lord, without the ordained mantle of authority, they are creating a false impression in the minds of the people regardless of their intent. Whether their motives are notably nefarious or blindly benign makes no difference if the end result is deception. Thus, they are false prophets, even if they are well meaning in their intent. In the Old Testament the ancient prophet Jeremiah calls this prophetic privilege to receive direct revelation “the burden of the Lord.” In chapter 23, the Lord rails on the leaders of His people—the prophets who claim the burden of the Lord—by teaching us that “I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.“ Further, he seems to indicate displeasure at prophets who endlessly quote each other when he says: “Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues, and say, He saith.”
Whether it is explicitly stated, or implied, the impression left with members of the Church is that these fifteen men speak for the Lord—even to the extent that it is anathema to view them as anything other than direct spokesmen for the Lord who bear the burden of bringing forth His words to the people. They are living scripture who will brook no “evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed.” Entrance to temples is contingent upon holding fast to this belief. If you don’t sustain these men, then you are not worthy. Their words trump anything that has been taught in the past, including even scripture itself on occasion. This prophet worship has worsened with time as decades of institutional inertia have codified these beliefs into Mormon orthodoxy.
No doubt that many of their words are inspirational. But the real question is: Are they the words of the Lord directly from his mouth? The Lord provides us with a way to know. He actually tells us what to say to these so-called prophets. We are to ask them this question:
“What hath the Lord answered thee? And, What hath the Lord spoken?”
In other words, we are to challenge them to bring forth and present to us the actual words of the Lord, just like Joseph brought forth the revelations which were canonized and published. Inspirational stories are not the words of Christ. Changes in policy are not the words of the Lord. By this measure we have had a dearth of revelation for a very long time.
Historically, the role of prophets has been to call the people to repentance, not to rule over them as judges and administrators. Most telling to me are the messages we hear which tell us that we will have peace if we just stay on the Old Ship Zion, or if we just do our temple work and stick with the leadership of the Church. We are rarely admonished for our materialism or for failing to live the Law of the Lord. We are taught smooth things. Again, Jeremiah addresses the very situation we find ourselves in when the Lord says of the prophets:
“They say still unto them that despise me, The Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto everyone that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.”
Further, He states:
“But if they [the prophets] had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.”
They are also admonished for causing
“…my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them; therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord.”
While it is easy to dismiss the words of ancient prophets as not applicable today, Jeremiah specifically states in this chapter that “in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly.” He’s talking to us. In subsequent chapters we will explore in depth the falsehoods that we embrace and our evil doings, even though we believe them to be good.
Isaiah’s Song of the Vineyard
In Isaiah 5, we have a song about the Lord’s vineyard comprising the first seven verses of the chapter. In the mind of the Book of Mormon prophet, Nephi, this information from Isaiah was of sufficient importance to us in the last days that he included it in his book. There we learn that the Lord planted a beautiful vineyard:
“…in a very fruitful hill. And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.”
So what does this parable have to do with the latter-day saints? I would submit that it describes what happened when the Lord brought forth His Church and restored the fulness of the priesthood at the Morley Farm in 1831 as we have extensively chronicled in Part 1 of this book. Think of the tower in the midst of the vineyard as the Kirtland Temple. It was there in Kirtland that the Lord brought forth His Law to a blessed people in a choice land. He had every right to believe that His efforts would be rewarded with a bounteous harvest of delicious fruit. But alas, the vineyard brought forth wild grapes when the people collectively broke the covenant and rejected the Lord’s holy laws. On seeing the yield of wild grapes, the Lord of the vineyard laments: “What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?”
The Lord has done all he can; he has spared no effort in trying to get the people to bring forth the precious fruit (results) that would come by living His Law, but His efforts have been in vain. Therefore:
“I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down:”
Kirtland had been declared a “stronghold” by the Lord on September 11, 1831, a protection that was to last for 5 years until September 11, 1836. This hedge of priesthood protection was put in place for the express purpose of saving some souls. But once the 1836 date passed, that hedge was gone, and all hell broke loose. The temple was defiled, the Kirtland Safety Society debacle materialized, and Joseph and Sidney were forced to flee Kirtland in the middle of the night for fear of their lives. The change occurred almost overnight. One day the hedge was there and the next it was gone—from the transcendent light of the heavenly visitations at the Kirtland Temple to utter darkness.
“And I will lay it [the vineyard] waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.”
In other words, the Lord is not going to be working the vineyard; He is going to let it devolve and deteriorate to a state where the briers and thorns of false doctrines, false prophets and the precepts of men flourish. And what of the heavenly rains? They will cease. There will be no revelations from above. The heavens are closed by divine decree.
Knowing that the Lord called his latter-day saints “the children of Israel” puts a whole new spin on the next verse, providing a critical clue that the Lord is talking about us in the last days.
“For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.”
Later we will explore in detail how the Lord’s people are being oppressed by their leaders. Suffice it to say that we have a tremendous blind spot regarding the prophecies and warnings of the last days—we don’t think they apply to us in the Mormon Church. Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, addresses this very fact when he teaches:
“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”
In other words, the children of Israel are going to be blinded to their own situation, until the fulness of the Gentiles comes in. The next chapter will address the marvelous work that coincides with the fulness of the Gentiles—something that most modern Mormons believe has already happened. However, we will document how it is really a future work that is about to come forth.
Two different books of scriptures use the term “hidden darkness” as a descriptor for our day. It is rich with meaning, suggesting a darkness that is not even understood or recognized because it is hidden from view. The people are completely blind to it. Both JST Genesis 50 and 2 Nephi 3 talk of a servant from the lineage of Joseph who would do a great work in the last days to bring the Lord’s people “out of darkness into light: out of hidden darkness, and out of captivity unto freedom.” Not only are the people blind while they think they see, they are in captivity. This servant will bring them out of this hidden darkness and liberate them from the oppressors.
The parable of the vineyard is not the only scriptural evidence that the Lord ceases to speak to His people on occasion. Isaiah also talks of the Lord hiding his face from his people:
“And I will wait upon the Lord, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.”
Waiting on the Lord? Looking for Him? As the scripture implies, the Lord is not around—He is hiding his face for whatever reason—thus the need to wait and watch for Him.
The Old Testament prophet, Hosea, speaks of Ephraim as being “oppressed and broken in judgment, because he willingly walked after the commandment.” We are left to speculate what “commandment” the house of Ephraim willingly followed, but it was clearly a false commandment that falls into the category of contracting a “spirit of whoredoms.” As a result, the Lord has “withdrawn himself from them.” He also makes it clear that they must recognize their sins, and seek the Lord before He will return to them:
“I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.”
It won’t be until we recognize the hidden darkness, acknowledge our offences towards God, and fully repent that we will be able to once again enjoy the bright shining light of revelation from the Lord.
Put on Thy Strength, O Zion
Section 113 of the Doctrine & Covenants is a question and answer session in the which a few obscure passages from the Book of Isaiah are brought before the Lord for clarification. These inquiries took place in 1838, several years after the Saints had rejected the covenant. Elias Higbee asked a couple of key questions from Isaiah, chapter 52:
“Questions by Elias Higbee: What is meant by the command in Isaiah, 52d chapter, 1st verse, which saith: Put on thy strength, O Zion—and what people had Isaiah reference to?
He had reference to those whom God should call in the last days, who should hold the power of priesthood to bring again Zion, and the redemption of Israel; and to put on her strength is to put on the authority of the priesthood, which she, Zion, has a right to by lineage; also to return to that power which she had lost.”
BRING AGAIN ZION. The Lord is going to call men with the power of priesthood to bring again Zion. Putting on her strength means to obtain that authority of the priesthood which was lost unto them! This reminds us of the Lord’s word in 1841 to Joseph:
“For there is not a place found on earth that he may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood.”
When Brother Higbee asked these questions of the Lord, the Saints had already been downgraded and lost the fulness of the priesthood. Therefore, the Lord’s answer clearly indicates that this restoration of priesthood power is to be a future event. Mormons will argue that the temple related ordinances introduced in Nauvoo represent that restoration of the fulness. I would only point out here (a whole subsequent chapter deals with this) that what was introduced in Nauvoo was completely new and novel and had nothing to do with redeeming Zion.
Elias then goes on to ask a question regarding the next verse:
“What are we to understand by Zion loosing herself from the bands of her neck: 2d vers?
We are to understand that the scattered remnants are exhorted to return to the Lord from whence they have fallen; which if they do, the promise of the Lord is that he will speak to them, or give them revelation. See the 6th, 7th, and 8th verses. The bands of her neck are the curses of God upon her, or the remnants of Israel in their scattered condition among the Gentiles.”
The scattered remnants in their fallen state are strongly urged to repent and return to the Lord. If they do, they are promised that the Lord will speak to them and provide the rains of revelation. The fact that we, in our scattered condition among the gentiles, are currently under a curse is verified towards the end of the Lord’s answer. Why is this not clear to everyone? Because we are in a state of hidden darkness. Although living in a state of darkness is a curse, in one sense it may actually be a blessing in that ignorance tends to lessens the severity of the consequences of any offense in the eyes of the law. Sinning against the Lord in ignorance is less of a crime than knowledgeable open rebellion.
Into the Wilderness
While the stories of many pioneering latter-day saints who followed Brigham Young and made the trek west are truly heroic and inspiring, nevertheless, the fact remains that they ended up in Utah. Both metaphorically and literally a portion of God’s people were led off into the wilderness. Church headquarters puts a noble spin on it, painting the exodus west as the result of both internal dissent and external persecution—the Saints were victims. Discussions rarely occurs around their own rejection of God’s laws because that would require an admission of guilt—it would mean acknowledging that we don’t have the fulness and are under a curse. It would mean going against nearly two centuries of institutional indoctrination to the contrary.
Recall again what the Lord said in Nauvoo about how the Saints “would not be moved out of their place” if they would hearken unto the Lord. Yet they find themselves in the dry and dusty deserts of Utah where there is no revelatory rain from on high. I have found it highly interesting to observe that the city of Salt Lake in relation to the Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake is in the same approximate location as the city of Jerusalem is in relation to the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee, EXCEPT that they are exactly 180 degree off. The religious world is turned upside down! Flip a map of Salt Lake City top to bottom and you can see that it sits in the same general location as Jerusalem does relative to the salty lake and the fresh water lake. Whether this has prophetic significance or not is hard to say definitively, but it makes sense when you consider how the Brighamite Church has essentially become the equivalent of the ancient Jews, with their highly educated lawyers running the show, perpetuating rules and looking beyond the mark for exaltation outside the core gospel. Blind to their situation, they do not recognize that they have become like the scribes and the pharisees of old.
For a Small Moment
The wilderness that we find ourselves in today as a people is a temporary condition that the Lord promises will be reversed. In numerous passages of scripture he affirms that curses extend only to the third and fourth generations of them that “hate me”. As of this writing, nearly two hundred years after Joseph’s first vision, we are definitely nearing the end, if not past the end, of the fourth generation from those who rejected the Lord’s Law and his everlasting covenant—and is not that rejection the equivalent of “hating” the Lord? Perhaps this is why some are starting to open their eyes to the reality of our situation. The blinders are being removed for those who are willing to search these things out.
Fortunately in his infinite loving kindness and mercy, the Lord affirms that his anger is temporary; His back is only turned against us for a relatively short period of time:
“For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. 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…For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.”
Although this passage from Isaiah verifies that we will be forsaken for a period of time, it also provides tremendous hope in a future gathering which is orchestrated by the Lord himself in mercy and kindness. Despite His divine wrath at being rejected, yet still his “bowels are filled with compassion” towards us and He will indeed “remember mercy.”
Fully understanding the fact that we are currently in a state of apostasy as a people is extremely important to recognizing what comes next. The clues and prophecies are hidden in plain sight for all to see and observe. The Lord is about to commence what He calls His “strange act.” The marvelous work will soon begin.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to give a talk in sacrament meeting in our local ward. I told the bishopric that I was willing to speak, but that I wanted the freedom to pick the topic according to my own inspiration of the Spirit. They agreed, and so the week before Christmas I spoke of having “even now” faith in Jesus Christ, just as Martha did when Jesus arrived after her brother Lazarus was already dead.
“Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.” (John 11:22)
Martha’s great faith opened the door which allowed the great miracle of Lazarus’ resurrection to occur. The Lord’s delay in arriving was divinely appointed to demonstrate his great power unto his disciples that they may more fully believe in His heavenly mission. One cannot argue with a miracle of such magnitude, for Lazarus had been in the grave four days. In fact, the leaders of the Jews sought to kill Lazarus to eliminate the living proof of Christ’s great power.
The main point of my talk was that in order to have this great faith, we need to elevate Christ in our thinking, WE NEED TO SEE HIM AS GOD, NOT AS OUR ELDER BROTHER. How many times have you heard him characterized as our elder brother in the Mormon Church? I believe this characterization tends to downgrade him to a demigod who is somewhere between God the Father and us mortals. Instead we need to think of Him as the physical embodiment of God the Father. I know this sounds trinitarian, but it fully supported by the very scriptures we claim to believe.
Take, for example, Abinadi’s teachings in Mosiah 15, where he explains that “God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people.” This is powerful and bold doctrine. Christ is God, who deigned to lower himself to come to this earth. The angel who was teaching Nephi asked the pointed questions: “Knowest thou the condescension of God?” (1 Nephi 11:16, 26)
Websters 1828 dictionary defines “condescension” as “voluntary descent from rank,” pointing to the fact that God voluntarily chose to come down among us to atone for our sins.
Abinadi goes on to explain why Christ is called the Son of God:
And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son—The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son—And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and earth. (Mosiah 15:2-4)
In other words, Jesus Christ is only called the Son of God because he took upon himself a body and came to this earth. In all other respects we should think of Him as God, completely one with the Father, for they are ONE GOD, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth.
In the Gospel of John, Chapter 14, Philip implores the Lord to show unto the disciples the Father. Jesus’ reply is very telling when he says:
“Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.”
The Father dwelleth in the Son—they are one and the same. Few people are aware of the subtle, but significant change that Joseph Smith made to Luke 10:22 in his New Translation of the Bible (also known as the Joseph Smith Translation). Joseph’s version reads:
“All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth that the Son is the Father, and the Father is the Son, but him to whom the Son will reveal it.”
Whoa! I can tell you that the Son has not revealed this great mystery to me personally, but I do know what the definition of “is” is. This is an incredible testimony of oneness of the Father and the Son. We need to think of them that way. It will energize our faith in Christ as we do so.
I believe we tend to focus on the Father, to the downgrading and exclusion of Christ in our worship. We should elevate Christ. He is God. The Book of Mormon teaches that we must worship Christ:
“And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and you whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out.” (2 Nephi 25:29)
Unfortunately, we hear too much of the philosophies of men in the Mormon Church. The new curriculum for this year focuses on teachings of the leadership of the Church, not on Christ or the scriptures. This is a tragedy. We should hear much more of Christ every week. Go upstream people! Go to the pure source which is unfiltered through men who claim prophetic mantle.
We can’t cast off the curse until we “begin to believe in Christ.” (2 Nephi 30:7)
Knowing that He is God who came down among us in the flesh is a necessary first step.
P.S. The Lectures on Faith also teach this trinitarian notion of the Godhead in which there are two personages, God the Father as a personage of spirit, and Jesus Christ as a personage of tabernacle. The Holy Ghost is the mind of God. See Lecture 5.
Occasionally, I take the opportunity to check up on the movement that is Snuffer, just to see how far afield they have wandered. I know some of the people who follow him–believing him to be a prophet of God–and view them as good, sincere people who want to follow Christ. The Jesus-less vacuum that has been created by modern Mormon church and their prophet worship is the environment that has led to people to seek out satisfying alternatives. Unfortunately, their ignorance of the scriptures and their willingness to follow a man who professes audience with Christ, leaves them open to deception that is easily detected when one truly understands the scriptures.
It is, therefore, triply unfortunate that the Snufferite movement is in the process (under the guise of restoring true scripture) of actually taking out plain and precious parts that explain exactly why Denver couldn’t possibly be the privileged one he claims to be, even though he cleverly hides behind a cloak of false modesty. It is no secret that earlier in his “prophetic” career, Denver summarily dismissed Section 110 of the Doctrine & Covenants which is the vision Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery received of the LORD and the prophets Moses, Elias and Elijah. He claimed that there was no corroborating evidence that it was true because Joseph and Oliver never spoke openly about it for the rest of their lives. Recall that the third person account written by Warren Cowdery (Oliver’s brother) was written in Joseph’s journal of 1836 and then there was nothing written after it. Inexplicably, Joseph stopped writing after the vision for an extended period of time. The journals found their way to SLC with Brigham Young and were discovered in the 1850’s. To Brigham’s credit, the vision was published (this time in 1st person) in the 1876 version of the D&C.
In producing their revision of the scriptures (they use the term restoration) Denver instructed his followers to leave out Section 110. However, in a reversal, Denver just recently received a supposed revelation from the Lord that reveals the “true” version of the vision. Here is Denver’s new version, the entire “revelation” can be seen HERE:
I instruct my people to add to their records the following writings:
You have eliminated the account of the revelation of April 3, 1836. Therefore add the following account to your record:
On the third day of April 1836 Joseph and Oliver were in the temple in Kirtland, Ohio, The veil was taken from their minds, and the eyes of their understanding were opened. They saw the Lord in his glory standing above them and the breastwork of the pulpit; and under his feet appeared as it were a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber. His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:
I am the Alpha and the Omega; I am he who was slain, I am he who lives; I am your advocate with the Father. Behold, your sins are forgiven you; you are clean before me; therefore, lift up your heads and rejoice. Let the hearts of your brethren also rejoice, and let the hearts of all my people rejoice, who have, with their might, built this house to my name. For behold, I have accepted this house, and my name shall be here; and I will manifest myself to my people in mercy in this house. Yea, I will appear unto my servants, and speak unto them with mine own voice, if my people will keep my commandments, and do not pollute this holy house.
Behold and see: the hearts of thousands and tens of thousands shall greatly rejoice in consequence of theblessingsthat shall be poured out, and the endowment with which my servants will be endowed in this house. Behold: the fame of this house shall spread to foreign lands; and this is the beginning of the blessings I shall pour out upon my people.
Even so. Amen.
As this vision closed, the heavens were again opened to their view, and they saw and beheld, and were endowed with knowledge from the beginning of this creation to the ends thereof. And they were shown unspeakable things from the sealed record of Heaven which man is not capable of making known but must be revealed by the Powers of Heaven.
They beheld Michael, the archangel; Gabriel and Raphael, and divers angels, from Michael or Adam down to the end of time, showing in turns their dispensations, their rights, their keys, their honors, their majesty and glory, and the Powers of their Priesthood; giving line upon line, precept upon precept; endowing them with knowledge, even here a little, and there a little; holding forth hope for the work God was yet to perform, even the revelation of all things which are to come upon the earth until the return of the Lord in glory with His holy angels—to pour out judgment upon the world, and to reward the righteous.
And they were unable to take it in; therefore they were commanded to pray and ask to comprehend by the power of the Spirit, to bring all things to their remembrance, even the Record of Heaven which would abide in them. Amen and Amen.
The first half of the “revelation” up to the first “Amen” is very close to the original with very minor changes. However, the subterfuge starts in the second half which completely eliminates the visits of Moses (to deliver the keys of the gathering of Israel), Elias (to deliver the keys of the Dispensation of the Gospel of Abraham) and Elijah (to declare that the time has fully come as spoken of by Malachi).
The reason, I believe, that Denver wanted to eliminate these passages revolves around his claim that the LDS Church held the priesthood up until the time that he, Denver Snuffer, was excommunicated several years ago. What Section 110 is actually teaching is that the LDS Church was downgraded long before Denver was kicked out. That is the secret and the blindness that are up the restorationist churches, especially the Mormons. The Dispensation of the Gospel of Abraham is a preparatory gospel, not the fulness that Denver claimed to be part of prior to his being EXed. This explains why the Mormons are off in the “wilderness” where the Lord is not speaking to them for a period of time until they repent and accept the true servants who will return with the Melchizedek Priesthood prior to the return of the Savior. Additionally, the scriptures plainly testify that Zion will be redeemed WITH POWER, not through some organic process that is promoted by Snuffer.
The sophistry here is staggering, folks. Section 110 is a true vision and revelation that conveys very important information that has been eliminated by Snuffer. Now he says there was actually a vision but he has eviscerated the true substance and meaning of the visit of the ancient patriarchs by writing their message out of the script. Unbelievable.
Denver also claims to have been given the new name of “David” by the Lord, a clear reference to the Davidic Servant who is to work a great work in the latter-days. I can guarantee you that Denver is NOT the Davidic Servant. He is not the one mighty and strong. He is not going to lead us to Zion. That is the purview of Joseph Smith and him alone (see D&C 101 and 103). The marvelous work and a wonder is a future event, that will happen when the “first laborers” return to fulfill the mission they failed to complete the first time around. The Snufferite movement is doomed to ultimate failure as it seeks ever more to re-write the word of the Lord to suit their own ends. You will also notice, if you follow the link above that he has re-written the revelation that we know as Section 132 on marriage.
I have to hand it to Denver. The hubris and temerity to try to get away with what he is attempting is mind-boggling. By changing scripture he will further lead people away from the truth. I understand the desire for fellowship among those who just want to serve Christ. I applaud the attempts to take care of the poor and be Christians in the truest sense. But PLEASE do not let that desire for community blind you to what is going on.
Snuffer’s sleight of hand smacks of what he really is — a very clever lawyer and an excellent deceiver.