The Law of the Lord — Part 1

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In December 1830, the Lord commands the church to “assemble together at the Ohio” where he would “give unto you my law; and there you shall be endowed with power from on high. (D&C 37:3; D&C 38:32)  This, of course, meant that they were to undertake a journey of over 250 miles from New York to Ohio — quite a distance in the horse and buggy era.

Near Kirtland, Ohio, many of Sidney Rigdon’s congregants had accepted the message of the gospel and the Lord chose this place to reveal unto the saints HIS LAW.  We know today that The Law was canonized as section 42 of the Doctrine and Covenants and along with the Articles and Covenants of the Church (section 20) were copied and carried by missionaries of the time who went forth to spread the good news of the gospel.

Most distinctly within The Law which the Lord reveals were commandments to live the law of consecration and the law of monogamy:

“And behold, thou wilt remember the poor, and consecrate of thy properties for their support that which thou hast to impart unto them, with a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken.” (D&C 42:30)

“Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.” (D&C 42:22)

There are obviously many other parts of the law and I highly recommend a carefully study of the entire section.  Consecration and monogamy stand out most starkly because these two parts of The Law are the one’s the saints failed to obey.

Knowing the importance that the Lord places upon obedience to his law, I decided to do a word search and see what I could find in His other scriptures.  Mind you, the term “the law” is very generic and I got lots of hits, but chose to focus on Isaiah and Jeremiah because of what they have to say about the last days.  Here are a few samples:

“Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 5:24)

“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:20)

The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof: because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.” (Isaiah 24:5)

“This is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord:” (Isaiah 30:9)

“Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it…Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will lay stumbling blocks before this people…” (Jeremiah 6:19-21)

“…the land perisheth and is burned up like a wilderness…because they have forsaken my law which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, neither walked therein;” (Jeremiah 9:12-13)

This is just a small smattering of the scriptures regarding the warnings to the people who would break and reject the Holy Law of the Lord.  And indeed, it was the 1830 restored Church of Christ that had the law revealed and ultimately rejected the law.

This should be a very sobering thought to a latter-day people who believe today that they have the fulness of the gospel and yet do not seek to live the Law of the Lord regarding consecration as it was revealed from heaven.  We hardly ever hear about it over the pulpit except as it has been redefined by the precepts of men to be:

“…that you do consecrate yourselves, your time, talents, and everything with which the Lord has blessed you, or with which he may bless you, to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for the building up of the kingdom of God on the earth and for the establishment of Zion.”

So the law of consecration has been rewritten to mean that you give all you have to the corporate church so they can invest in land, buildings and stock portfolios as opposed to consecrating our properties for the support of the poor, which was the Lord’s primary stated reason for the law.

The corporate church does a masterful job of selling this fiction to the people. In the lesson manual for this year’s study of the Doctrine and Covenants there is a lesson entitled “The Law of Consecration (#14).”  Here are a few excerpts:

  • What is the law of consecration? (It is an organized way in which individuals consecrate their time, talents, and possessions to the Church to build the Lord’s kingdom and serve His children.)
  • Explain that the principles of the law of consecration have not changed since it was revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith.  However, the application of those principles changes from time to time.  The current prophet helps us understand how to apply these principles in our day.

The lesson goes on to explain the true nature of the Lord’s law of consecration and that it is an eternal law (kudos for that).  It then explains that we must be prepared and willing to live the law of consecration in its fulness, but that we do not need to wait for a future day to consecrate our lives to the Lord. “As we do all we can to live the law of consecration today, we will be better prepared to live the fulness of the law when the Lord asks us to do so.”

In other words, we are waiting for the Lord to tell us to live the law which he has already given us and condemned us for not living in the first place.  All the while we believe that we have the fulness of the gospel and all the blessings that are attendant thereto.  You can’t have it both ways people!  The law of the celestial kingdom requires equality in temporal and spiritual things.  We can’t have the fulness without living the true law of consecration. Period.

Rationalizations and the precepts of men have taken over the Law of the Lord which is plain, simple and clear.  In our next installment we will examine many of the ways in which the corporate church does not follow the scriptures even though the Lord says plainly in Section 42:59-60 that His Church is to be governed by the scriptures.

Keep Searching.

 

 

 

By the Hand of Elijah

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One of the earliest messages delivered from heaven to the prophet Joseph Smith was that the priesthood would be revealed “by the hand of Elijah the prophet”:

“Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and hearts of the children shall turn to the their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.” (D&C 2:1-3)

In this passage Moroni indicates that the Priesthood would be “revealed” through Elijah. A typical definition of “revealed” includes the idea of disclosing or bringing to light something that was previously unknown–in this case, the “Priesthood.” The verses don’t necessary spell out in any more specific detail what exact priesthood, but they do connect priesthood to the idea of planting in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers.

Ever since the 1850’s when Orson Pratt gave a talk on the Latter-day Mission of Elijah the Mormon church has linked the visitation of Elijah as recorded in Section 110 to sealing keys supposedly received by Joseph in the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836. This view permeates all that the church does with respect to teachings around eternal marriage, celestial polygamy and the sealing together of families for eternity. This despite the fact that Section 110 says nothing about Elijah conferring anything by hand upon Joseph and Oliver.

“After this vision had closed, another great and glorious vision burst upon us; for Elijah the prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, stood before us, and said:

Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi-testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come-

To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse-

Therefore the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands; and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors.” (D&C 110: 13-16)

Notice that Elijah only makes the declaration that “the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands.” There is no evidence here that he laid hands upon their heads to give the priesthood or to convey authority. Read it very carefully.

A little history regarding Section 110 is in order. Many assume today that Joseph and Oliver shared this sacred experience with others after having it on April 3, 1836. This is simply not the case. This vision did not come to light until after Joseph, Oliver, and his brother, Warren were all deceased. The record we have was penned by Warren in the third person (D&C 110 is in the first person) in Joseph Smith’s journal. Following this event Joseph doesn’t make another journal entry until two years later in 1838! When he does it is in a completely new book-the previous journal being closed despite having additional pages left over. What gives? Joseph has just seen the Lord and 3 Old Testament prophets and he doesn’t tell anyone. How strange. You can read the original account here in the Joseph Smith papers.

When Brigham Young and his cohorts discovered the journal they published the account of the vision in the Deseret News on November 6, 1852. They must have realized that this event needed to be spun to support the “dispensation of the fulness of times” narrative which we have today. Section 110 (changed to the first person) was published in the 1876 version of the D&C, one year before Brigham’s death.

So where in Section 110 does it say that Elijah conveyed the keys of the dispensation of the fulness of times or laid hands on Joseph and Oliver?

The answer is nowhere. Read it carefully.

Elijah only says that the keys of THIS DISPENSATION are committed into your hands. To find out what “this” refers to you must read earlier verses 11 and 12:

“After this vision closed, the heavens were again opened unto us; and Moses appeared before us, and committed unto us the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north.

After this, Elias appeared, and committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham, saying that in us and our seed all generations after us should be blessed.”

Bingo. The keys being transferred are of the gathering of Israel and the Dispensation of the Gospel of Abraham. There is no other specific reference to keys being transferred or priesthood being conferred except for those two. We have previously explored the fact that the church was under condemnation for rejecting the covenant of consecration and that they had lost the fulness. What Section 110 is really telling us is that they had been downgraded to the preparatory Gospel of Abraham and that those keys were being committed into the hands of Joseph and Oliver, not the keys of the dispensation of the fulness of times as is commonly taught.

When you understand the downgrade, it is very easy to see why Joseph wanted to keep it a secret from the saints (I suspect the Lord commanded him to “seal up the vision” and not talk about it during his lifetime) and why he didn’t write in his journal for 2 years following the events of April 3, 1836.

Anciently, God made a covenant with Abraham that through him and his posterity all the nations of the earth would be blessed with the blessings of the gospel. Abraham was an evangelist (patriarch) who preached the preparatory gospel of repentance and baptism and that was what was re-instituted at the Kirtland Temple.

So the real mystery is WHEN DID ELIJAH CONVEY THE PRIESTHOOD BY HAND? What I am about to share was hard for me to believe at first. I had to dig into the scriptural evidence and cast off previous traditions of my fathers. I suggest you do the same by examining closely every evidence I am about to lay out for you that brought me to the following conclusion:

The Priesthood was conveyed to Joseph and Oliver by the hand of Elijah when they were ordained to the Priesthood that Aaron (Patriarchal Priesthood) by John the Baptist. The reason we can conclude it was the Patriarchal Priesthood is because of the all the spiritual blessings Joseph and Oliver received after being ordained — something that would not have attended an ordination under the Levitical (Aaronic) Priesthood which Joseph taught was only to administer cursings and not blessings.

In other words, John the Baptist is the reincarnation (transmigration) of Elijah the Tishbite.

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Now before you start to throw rocks let’s look at the evidence. Joseph made some startling changes to the Bible in his Inspired Version that clearly teach that John is Elijah.

In John 1:19-21 it is recorded that the Jews sent priests and Levites to inquire of John the Baptist as to who he was.  The King James Version records:

“And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? and he answered, No.” 

The Jews were asking whether or not John was Elijah (Elias is the Greek form of the Hebrew Elijah) and the Jews were sufficiently grounded in scripture to understand that Elijah would be returning. According to the account in the King James Version and other versions of the Bible, John the Baptist denies that he is Elijah. However, Joseph changes that in the Inspired Version:

“And this is the record of John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed and denied not that he was Elias, but confessed, saying, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, saying, How then art thou Elias? and he said, I am not that Elias who was to restore all things. And they asked him, saying, Art thou that prophet? and he answered, No.” (Inspired Version, John 1:20-22)

So according to Joseph Smith’s version, John confesses and denies not that he is Elijah (the preparer) but disclaims that he is that Elijah who should restore all things. A discussion of the two Elijahs (the Preparer and the Restorer) is beyond the scope of this blogpost but I will tease you with the idea that Elijah the Preparer passed the keys to Elijah the Restorer.

There is another change made be Joseph that points to John being Elijah. It is found in Mark 9 where Jesus goes up to the mountain with Peter, James and John to be transfigured. The King James Version records:

“And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.” (Mark 9:4) 

Joseph clarifies:

“And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses, or in other words, John the Baptist and Moses; and they were talking with Jesus.” (Inspired Version Mark 9:3)

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The LDS version of the bible dictionary tries to explain this away with the following:

“The curious wording of JST Mark 9:3 does not imply that the Elias at the Transfiguration was John the Baptist, but that in addition to Elijah the prophet, John the Baptist was present.”

To which I would respond: It is not an implication, rather the wording is a direct statement. How many ways can you parse “or in other words?” But these are not the only evidences. Let’s examine John’s calling more closely from the scriptures. When Zacharias was visited by an angel he was told about his future son. He was informed that:

“…he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.” (Luke 1:15)

The original manuscript version of D&C 84:28 informs us that John was baptized “while yet in the womb.” This has subsequently been changed to while in “his childhood” by an unknown hand. Both of these scriptures strongly suggest that John was previously baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost prior to his birth. That would certainly make sense if he were the reincarnation of Elijah the Tishbite.

Continuing in Luke we receive further clues about John.

“And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias (Elijah), to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:17)

Holy Smokes! There is the link to Elijah and turning the hearts of the fathers to the children staring at us in plain sight. Think about John having the spirit and power of Elijah, because he was Elijah in another body with the calling to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. This is exactly what he did when he appeared to Joseph and revealed the priesthood BY HAND which would help turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, etc.  Joseph also taught that translated beings are designed for future missions (HC 4:425). What is to prevent that from being via reincarnation after being taken up to heaven without tasting death?

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It is pretty amazing how clear the doctrine is when you actually believe the scriptures instead of the interpretations that men have placed upon them. If the fact that John the Baptist is the transmigrated Elijah is still unbelievable to you I invite you to search diligently because the puzzle really does fit together when you cast off the blinders.

As you dig deeper in the scriptures you will also discover other instances where the phrase “turn the heart” is used (I suggest you do a word search on ‘turn the heart’) which provide additional clarity:

“Therefore, renounce war and proclaim peace, and seek diligently to turn the hearts of the children to the fathers, and the hearts of the fathers to the children; And again, the hearts of the Jews unto the prophets, and the prophets unto the Jews; lest I come and smite the whole earth with a curse, and all flesh be consumed before me” (D&C 98:16)

“And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and hearts of the children shall turn to the their fathers.” (D&C 2:2)

It is my contention that the promises to the fathers spoken of are associated with the Abrahamic covenant (the great Patriarchal father) whereby the gospel would be made available to the children and that through the ordinances of baptism for the dead, those who had passed on could also receive the blessings of the gospel. Joseph elaborates on this in a letter he wrote that is canonized as D&C Section 128 which links the concept of turning the hearts to the subject of baptism for the dead. After citing Malachi 4:5-6 he explains:

“I might have rendered a plainer translation to this, but it is sufficiently plain to suit my purpose as it stands.  It is sufficient to know, in this case, that the earth will be smitten with a curse unless there is a welding link of some kind or other between the fathers and the children, upon some subject or other–and behold what is that subject? It is the baptism for the dead. For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect.” (D&C 128:18)

It all comes back to the simplicity of the baptismal covenant of the gospel. The turning that takes place is to the gospel covenant preached by the patriarchs (fathers) of old. When Elijah (John the Baptist) appeared to Joseph and Oliver on the banks of the Susquehanna River he revealed the Patriarchal Priesthood BY HAND which would unlock the key allowing for the preaching of the gospel and of turning the heart of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers in preparation for the return of the Lord in the last days.

What is plainly taught in the scriptures has been tortured into another interpretation by men to justify abominations. Cursed is he who puts his trust in the arm of flesh. Don’t trust me either. Trust the scriptures and truly believe them.  John the Baptist is the reincarnated Elijah the Tishbite.

Keep Searching

The Great Priesthood Inversion

On the 27th of August 1843, Joseph Smith gave a sermon on the Three Grand Orders of the Priesthood.  In that sermon, he ordered them as follows from the lowest to the highest:

Aaronic (Levitical)

Patriarchal (Evangelical)

Melchizedek

Despite the clarity with which he taught this doctrine, the corporate LDS church and others continue to essentially teach that the highest form of the priesthood is the patriarchal priesthood — associated with the sealing ordinances in the temples and their connection to celestial polygamy. In other words, patriarchs such as Abraham received an even higher form of priesthood than the Melchizedek priesthood when they entered into what the church calls the “new and everlasting covenant” of marriage. Denver Snuffer also makes this argument in his talk given in Orem, Utah on priesthood on Novemeber 2, 2013.

The reason it was so important to debunk Section 132 of the D&C as a true revelation in my last post was because the justification for this great inversion rests primarily on the doctrines taught in that section.

The great patriarchs of olden times, including Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and many others were evangelists (meaning “missionaries”) of the simple gospel of Jesus Christ. Joseph himself said that “an evangelist is a patriarch” (TPJS pg 38-39) which the church has interpreted to mean the man ordained in each stake to give patriarchal blessing.  This has caused confusion in the minds of many.

Instead the scriptures describe an evangelist as one who has the priesthood to minister the gospel unto the inhabitants of the earth.  It is a lineal priesthood that is passed down from father to son, and thus inferior to the Melchizedek priesthood that is confirmed upon those who are called by God’s voice out of heaven and is “without father and mother” (in other words, not a lineal priesthood).  This is not to say that the great patriarch / evangelists did not ultimately receive the Melchizedek Priesthood.  The distinction is that they first had the patriarchal priesthood by lineal descent and right, and may later have received the highest priesthood of Melchizedek.

Regarding the patriarchal priesthood, D&C 107:39-41 explains:

“It is the duty of the Twelve, in all large branches of the church, to ordain evangelical ministers, as they shall be designated unto them by revelation–The order of this priesthood was confirmed to be handed down from father to son, and rightly belongs to the literal descendants of the chosen seed, to whom the promises were made.  This order was instituted inthe days of Adam, and came down by lineage…”

This scripture also makes clear that not every male member in the church should be ordained unto this priesthood, only those of the chosen seed as revealed to the Twelve by revelation.

The use of the term “evangelist” to refer to a ministry is very consistent with the New Testament in which Philip is referred to as an evangelist (Acts 21:8) and Timothy is exhorted by Paul to do the work of an evangelist and make full proof of thy ministry (2 Tim 3:5).  Additionally, Ephesians 4:11-12, refers to the Lord giving the church “some evangelists” for the “work of the ministry.”

Few members of the church own a book by Fred C. Collier entitled “Unpublished Revelations of the Prophets and Presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It is not cheap to purchase but has some real gems therein including the following two excerpts related to patriarchal priesthood:

“Therefore, verily thus sayeth the Lord you God, I appoint these Twelve that they should be equal in their ministry and in their portion, and in their evangelical rights...” (November 3, 1835 pg 79)

“…in his [Joseph Smith] hands shall the Urim and Thummim remain and the holy ministry and the keys of the evangelical priesthood, also for an everlasting priesthood forever, even the patriarchal: for behold, he is the first patriarch in the last days.  He shall sit in the great assembly and general council of patriarchs, and execute the will and commandment under the direction of the Ancient of Days…” (September 22, 1835 pg 77, from a revelatory patriarchal blessing given by Oliver Cowdery)

In both of these revelations you can see a direct link between the patriarchal priesthood and a ministry.  This same connection is made in the Book of Abraham relating to his priesthood and ministry.

I have puposed to make of thee [Abraham] a minister to bear my name in a strage land which I will give unto thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession, when they hearken to my voice. (Abr 2:6)

And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee above measure, and make thy name great among all nations, and thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations; And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee , as their father; And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee (that is, in thy Priesthood) and in thy seed (that is, thy Priesthood), for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed, or the seed of the body) shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal. (Abr 2:9-11)

Wow!  This was quite an epiphany for me.  The Abrahamic Covenant is all about the seed of Abraham who bear this ministry (the tidings of the gospel) and thus are instrumental in providing the blessings of the gospel to the inhabitants of the earth who hearken to their voice.

I suggest that anyone who is serious about understanding about the three priesthoods invest 75 mins. to watch the video produced by Watcher entitled

The “Priesthood of Aaron” is not synonymous with the “Aaronic Priesthood”

He brings great insight to a very confusing subject, and does it with scripture and historical record.  Do yourself a favor and watch it if you haven’t already.

Understanding the patriarchal priesthood provides a key to knowledge about the our current state and the meaning of the phrase from Malachi “turn the heart of the fathers to the children and the heart of the children to the fathers.” We will address that in greater depth in our next installment.

Keep Searching

 

 

 

Section 132 – Standing Alone to Change the Simple Doctrine of Christ

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Section 132 of the Doctrine & Covenants has become the centerpiece for the church’s teachings on celestial marriage. It stands as the sole basis for connecting the idea of sealing to a marriage covenant. I have also blogged about this topic in “What it Means to be Sealed” which uses multiple scriptures to prove that the sealing has nothing to do with marriage.  Rather it is always used (with the exception of section 132) in the context of being sealed up unto eternal life and having one’s calling and election made sure.

Because section 132 stands as the lone pillar supporting the entire structure of the celestial marriage doctrine, it is important for any student of the gospel to understand the inconsistencies and challenges this section presents in light of other scripture. We will discuss the historical context of it being placed in the LDS canon, how it redefines previously clear and unambiguous terms in the LDS lexicon (creating confusion and uncertainty in the minds of the saints as to the true meaning), as well as point out other problematic and contradictory doctrines taught therein. At the end I believe it will be easy to conclude that this is not sound doctrine, but rather represents the Lord turning over the brethren to their own lustful and covetous desires for a period of chastisement.

So here goes.

1 – Historical Context. The revelation known as section 132 was first published in the Deseret News in August of 1852.  This was a full 8 years after the martyrdom and represented Brigham Young and his cohorts in the Twelve coming out of the closet to openly preach celestial polygamy as church doctrine. Subsequently it was placed in the 1876 edition of the D&C one year prior to Brigham Young’s death. Simultaneously, the “Article on Marriage” which previously was Section 101 was removed. It stated as follows:

Inasmuch as this Church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication and polygamy, we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife, and one woman but one husband, except in the case of death when either is at liberty to marry again.

This declaration was written by Oliver Cowdery and approved by a general assembly of the church on August 17, 1835. It was essentially scripture that was now being superseded by a teaching in direct contradiction.

There are many aspects of how section 132 came about that raise serious questions and cast doubt on its authenticity. We will not explore those in this posting except to say that the prophet Joseph Smith had ample opportunity to publish the “revelation” and have it canonized as scripture. He never did. Also, we don’t have the original manuscript, only a “copy” supposedly made by an avowed polygamist, Joseph Kingsbury and the corroborating testimony of other polygamists like William Clayton.  There is also evidence to suggest that the authorship of Section 132 can be most closely attributed to Brigham’s writing style as opposed to Joseph’s. This link will take you to that study.

Trying to valid or disprove the revelation based upon how it came about comes down largely to who you believe. More salient, in my view, is whether it passes the scriptural smell-test.

2 – Sidney Rigdon never “Proved” this doctrine.

One of Rigdon’s primary responsibilities as enunciated in Section 35:23 was to “call on the holy prophets to prove his [Joseph’s] words, as they shall be given him.” Don’t forget that this is the Lord giving Sidney this responsibility to use the scriptures to prove that Joseph was restoring truth that always existed and revealed to the holy prophets, thus already had in the scriptures.

As I have commented on previously in Latter-day Scapegoat, Sidney Rigdon’s reputation among the LDS people has suffered serious violence at the hands of Brigham Young and the Twelve to this very day. Given the fact that more revelations were given to Sidney than any other person besides Joseph we should not so lightly dismiss Sidney’s unwillingness to sanction spiritual wifery and polygamy. In fact, the very reason he had to be excommunicated by Brigham was his opposition to the practice. Considering how deeply entrenched it was among the Twelve at the time, Sidney’s being led off into the wilderness like a scapegoat (via excommunication) is not at all surprising.

3 – Section 132 violates the Law of Witnesses.

The law of witnesses states that “in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Corinthians 13:1). When it comes to church doctrine this means that there are multiple scriptural sources for any doctrine being taught. Unfortunately, you will not find anything on celestial marriage or celestial polygamy in the Bible or the Book of Mormon. Plain and simple, it just isn’t there anywhere.

This should be a BIG RED FLAG to modern Mormons considering that the doctrine of celestial marriage consumes so much of LDS theology and practice in our temples today. I haven’t yet written about what the scriptures plainly teach about celestial union of the sexes which shall become the subject of a future post. But as currently taught and practiced, the celestial marriage doctrine is justified based solely upon the shaky foundation of Section 132.

Interestingly, Joseph himself warned the saints 2 months prior to his death not to accept any doctrine that was contrary to the scriptures:

If any man writes to you, or preaches to you, doctrines contrary to the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, set him down as an imposter.

Here I should comment that there is a distinction to be made between the doctrines of celestial polygamy (or spiritual wifey) and temporal polygamy. I believe the Lord can sanction anything He wants for His own purposes, including polygamy to “raise up seed unto me” (Jacob 2:30). This is different, however, than the doctrine taught in 132 which essentially states that if you are not a celestial polygamist you will not be “exalted” in God’s kingdom. You will not attain to the “highest level” of the celestial kingdom of God. Section 132 is all about the celestial polygamy which again, has no second witness anywhere in the scriptures.

4- Introduces a New Concept of “Exaltation”

Having heard the word extensively within the Mormon culture you might actually believe that “exaltation” is found throughout the scriptures. It is NOT. Besides Section 132 it is only found in one other place in the D&C and that reference is to the lifting up of Zion and has nothing to do with entering the highest level of the celestial kingdom (D&C 124:9). What I have learned by conducting many word searches is that various passages and doctrines are linked by common words across the books. The lack of corroborating scriptural references is telling.

5 – Redefines the “Everlasting Covenant” and “Fulness”

Ask most Mormons what the meaning of the everlasting covenant is and they will likely reply the covenant of celestial marriage. Unfortunately, they fail to understand that the everlasting covenant refers to the covenant of baptism as clearly taught in D&C 22:1:

Behold, I say unto you that all old covenants have I caused to be done away in this thing; and this (referring to baptism) is a new and an everlasting covenant, even that which was from the beginning.

Note that this section was given in April of 1830. A year later the Lord says this:

Verily I say unto you, blessed are you for receiving mine everlasting covenant, even the fulness of my gospel, sent forth unto the children of men, that they might have lifeand be made partakers of the glories which are to be revealed in the last days, as it was written by the prophets and apostles in days of old (D&C 66:2).

And a month later this:

And for this cause, that men might be made partakers of the glories which were to be revealed, the Lord sent forth the fulness of his gospel, his everlasting covenant, reasoning in plainness and simplicity (D&C 133:57).

The foregoing two scriptures which reference the fulness were given after the Melchizedek priesthood was restored at the Morley Farm conference of June 1831. From that time the church had the fulness of the priesthood until it was lost (D&C 124:28) through transgressing the laws, changing the ordinance and breaking the covenant (Isaiah 24:5).

Section 132 completely changes the meaning of the new and everlasting covenant. It promises even more of the fulness, which by definition is impossible. If you are full, you are full. There is no more to be had. The Lord defined everlasting covenant and fulness long before Section 132 made it’s shaky appearance on the scriptural stage.

6 – Heavy Handed Appeal to Authority

No less than 10 times in Section 132 do we come across the phrase “I am the Lord thy God” or some minor variation. In no other chapter or section within scripture do we run across this over-the-top emphasis on who is delivering the revelation. The threatening tone of much of the revelation is also a clue as to its origins. Whatever happened to long-suffering  and gentle persuasion? (D&C 121:41)

7 – Holy Spirit of Promise

Verse 7 of Section 132 teaches us:

All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred) 

The problem is that BOTH Joseph and his brother, Hyrum had this authority as per D&C 124:124 because they were co-presidents of the church for a time:

First, I give unto you Hyrum Smith to be a patriarch unto you, to hold the sealing blessings of my church, even the Holy Spirit of promise…

It is also worthy to note that Section 132 seems to suggest that the Holy Spirit of Promise is dispensed purely by a man who holds the proper priesthood authority. This contradicts other scriptures which teach that the Holy Spirit of Promise is sent forth from the Father (D&C 76:53) and also the Son (D&C 88:3).

8 – The Book of Mormon condemns polygamy

Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord (Jacob 2:24, see also Mosiah 11:2)

Jacob’s entire discourse is worth a careful read. His teachings are in direct conflict with D&C 132:1 regarding the Lord justifying Abraham, Issac (who never had a plural wife. oops!), Jacob, Moses, David and Solomon in their taking multiple wives.

9 – The Law of the Celestial Kingdom is monogamy

The Law of the Lord as contained in Section 42 says this with respect to marriage:

Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else (D&C 42:22).

This was further reiterated in D&C 49:16

Wherefore, it is lawful that he should have one wife, and they twain shall be one flesh, and all this that the earth might answer the end of its creation;

Pretty clear what the celestial standard is from those two verses. Are we now to believe that after the Gentile saints broke the Lord’s celestial law He is giving them an even higher law of celestial marriage? Would that not be wholly inconsistent with the way the Lord deals with his people? Would it not be much more probable that a cursing would be in order for rejecting His holy laws?

10 – The Threats to Emma

Section 132 is not kind to Joseph’s wife, Emma Smith. Whereas, in an earlier revelation she is referred to by the Lord as “my daughter” (see D&C 25:1), she is now referred to as “mine handmaid” which is essentially a female servant. The Lord calls Joseph his servant many times so that is not such a huge deal, but the threats that she will be destroyed if she does not comply and receive polygamy as a true doctrine are troubling.

And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and cleave unto my servant Joseph, and to none else. But if she will not abide this commandment she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord; for I am the Lord thy God (there we go again), and will destroy her if she abide not in my law. (D&C 132:54)

11 – Howlers

In the interest of not making this post too long (it’s already over 2000 words) I will just throw down a list of blunders that should tip off any thinking person to the fact that this “revelation” is the construct of men. We’ve already touched on the reference to Isaac being justified as a polygamist even though he was only married to one wife, Rebekah.

Verse 3: “for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same.” This means that I must obey this law because it has been revealed. If not I am damned. What about all the prophets and patriarchs who did not abide this law? People such as Joseph of Egypt, David Patten, Edward Partridge, Joseph Smith Sr. and many, many others. Are we to believe that they too will not be “exhalted”.

Verse 29: “Abraham received all things, whatsoever he received, by revelation and commandment, by my word, saith the Lord, and hath entered into his exaltation and sitteth upon his throne.” The scriptures make clear that the inheritance of being with God doesn’t take place until after the Zion from above unites with the Zion down below. Also, they (the patriarchal fathers) cannot be made perfect without the work that must yet take place. Thus it would be impossible for Abraham to have already received his exaltation and currently be sitting upon his throne. (See D&C 88:107 and D&C 128:15)

Verse 34: “God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife.” This statement is inconsistent with the record in the Old Testament. It was Sarah who lost faith and wanted Abraham to take Hagar. There is no record of Abraham being commanded by the Lord, nor did Joseph make any changes regarding this in the Inspired Version of the Bible.

12 – Joseph’s Stumbling Block

So after all that you are still inclined to believe in Section 132 then it most probably is on the basis that it came from Joseph. Well, we don’t know exactly what the revelation was that was read to the Nauvoo High Council. Hyrum presented it to them without Joseph at his side. The high council as a body rejected the revelation. By some accounts it was much shorter than what we have in 132. There is no doubt in my mind that Joseph introduced and practiced polygamy.

So the real question becomes: Was it from God or was it a means to test the people to see if they could be seduced into following a doctrine that was “more or less” than the simplicity of the Lord’s gospel after they had already rejected the celestial law? (See Deuteronomy chapters 13 and 18). Was Joseph acting as a means to turn the people over to a period of chastisement and cursing for their disobedience? I highly recommend reading the second chapter of Malachi which describes a prophet who brings forth the Lord’s law and then causes the people to stumble. His major mistake was “leaving the wife of his youth.” 

According to William Marks, Stake President in Nauvoo, Joseph realized before he was killed that he had been deceived regarding polygamy.

When the doctrine of polygamy was introduced into the church as a principle of exaltation, I took a decided stand against it; which stand rendered me quite unpopular with many of the leading ones of the church…Joseph, however, became convinced before his death that he had done wrong: for about three weeks before his death, I met him one morning in the street, and he said to me, “Brother Marks…we are a ruined people.” I asked, how so? He said: “This doctrine of polygamy, or spiritual-wife system, that has been taught and practiced among us, will prove our destruction and overthrow. I have been deceived,” said he, “in reference to its practice; it is wrong; it is a curse to mankind, and we shall have to leave the United States soon, unless it can be put down and its practice stopped in the church. (William Marks, “Epistle,” Zions Harbinger and Baneemy’s Organ 3 July 1853: 52-54)

When you truly understand the concept of an intercessory offering on behalf of the saints that was performed by Joseph and others then the answer to whether Section 132 is a true revelation or not is really quite simple. Unfortunately, we have 4 generations of traditions that teach us otherwise, despite the fact that Section 132 stands alone in changing the simple doctrine of Christ.  Don’t take my word for it.  But if you don’t believe me then I would suggest that you haven’t delved deeply enough into the scriptures and history. It is not enough to believe the pronouncements of men, no matter how well meaning or intelligent they may be.

Keep Searching

Who’s Afraid of Section 77?

Earlier this week I was doing one of my typical word searches in the scriptures, in this case on lds.org, and discovered something unbelievable. Something that suggests the LDS church is filtering scriptural searches on their website so that certain references don’t come up. It suggests active attempts to prevent the casual searcher from coming across information that does not reflect kindly on the claims of the modern church.

Here’s what I did. In the search bar on lds.org I inserted the word “restoration.”  Ten scriptures came up in the D&C. As I looked through the list I could not find a reference to D&C 77:15, a scripture I have known about for some time which refers to the two prophets who would preach to the Jews “at the time of the restoration.” Why on earth would this scripture be excluded? I checked my spelling to make sure I hadn’t made a typing mistake. I went to section 77 (which can be accessed on lds.org if you just go directly to it) and typed the exact phrase from verse 15 in the search bar “at the time of the restoration.” Nothing came up with that phrase! Now I am really curious. How about a search on any number of other key words and phrases from section 77?

I proceeded to do a search on the following terms all of which are embedded in D&C 77: sea of glass; sanctified; four beasts; figurative; felicity; seven seals; hidden; four angels; Elias; trumpets; and, two prophets.

SECTION 77 NEVER COMES UP!

Let that sink in for a minute. It NEVER EVER comes up. Someone has decided to exclude section 77 from the results of all scriptural searches on the LDS church’s official website. I wanted to think that this could just have been a coincidence, but the evidence was overwhelming for a deliberate exclusion by someone in church headquarters.

As another blogger is known to say (shout out to you Watcher):

Un-FREAKING-believable!

Why? What is contained in Section 77 that is so dangerous to the narrative of the LDS church? What’s in there that would potentially provoke a decision to try to hide information that is plainly manifest in the scriptures.

Section 77 is a bit different than most revelations in the D&C. What makes it unique is that the entire section is a question and answer session between Joseph and the Lord about various verses in the Book of Revelation in the New Testament. The only other example of this question and answer format in the D&C is section 113. As a test, I also ran searches on key words in section 113 and discovered that indeed, they did show up. The church is not blocking search results for section 113.

In section 77, verse 8 is the first area that could cause serious indigestion for the modern corporate church.

8. Q. What are we to understand by the four angels, spoken of in the 7th chapter and 1st verse of Revelation?

A. We are to understand that they are four angels sent forth from God, to whom is given power over the four parts of the earth, to save life and to destroy; these are they who have the everlasting gospel to commit to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people; having power to shut up the heavens, to seal up unto life, or to cast down to the regions of darkness.

As we can see, Revelation 7:1 is referring to four angels who commit the everlasting gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people in the last days. Importantly, they have the sealing power to seal up individuals unto eternal life, or to damn those who do not repent.

Contrast this with what is taught in the church that:

  1. The church has the everlasting gospel to commit to the world
  2. The church is spreading the everlasting gospel through it’s missionary program
  3. The church is the sole custodian of the sealing power via the chosen 15.
  4. Via the “2nd Endowment” selected members are sealed up unto eternal life and themselves given the sealing power. (This doctrine is not openly taught, but is reported to be taking place in temples under the personal administration of one of the Twelve).

What Revelation 7:1 and the explanation given by the Lord in section 77 DOES NOT say is that the current leaders of the Lord’s people will continue to grow the ranks of the elect and dispense the everlasting gospel and administer the sealing power prior to the Lord’s return in glory. The foregoing is largely the narrative taught by the corporate church. This scripture seriously calls that into doubt which is why it could be seen as a serious threat.

9. Q. What are we to understand by the angel ascending from the east, Revelation 7th chapter and 2nd verse?

A. We are to understand that the angel ascending from the east is he to whom is given the seal of the living God over the twelve tribes of Israel; wherefore, he crieth unto the four angels having the everlasting gospel, saying: Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And, if you will receive it, this is Elias which was to come to gather together the tribes of Israel and restore all things.

This verse refers to an angel (resurrected person) who is identified as Elias (Elijah) the restorer who will be instrumental in sealing the servants of God (making their calling and election sure) prior to Christ’s return. There are all sorts of heartburn-inducing truths taught in this verse. It confirms that:

  1. Elijah the restorer must return to gather the tribes of Israel. In other words, the modern church is not the one to gather the tribes of Israel.
  2. This Elijah will oversee the dispensing of the sealing power, not the chosen 15.
  3. The true purpose of sealing has nothing to do with marriage. Contrast this with church teachings that “families are forever” and that we need to seal families together via temple ordinances. I have addressed what the scriptures teach about sealing in a previous blog post accessible here.

Joseph taught “How shall God come to the rescue of this generation? He will send Elijah the prophet…”  Notice the future tense of “will send” as Joseph taught this long after the appearance of Elijah in the Kirtland Temple. Section 77 is another witness to the futurity of these events.

11. Q. What are we to understand by sealing the one hundred and forty-four thousand, out of all the tribes of Israel—twelve thousand out of every tribe?

A. We are to understand that those who are sealed are high priests, ordained unto the holy order of God, to administer the everlasting gospel; for they are they who are ordained out of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, by the angels to whom is given power over the nations of the earth, to bring as many as will come to the church of the Firstborn.

Verse 11 teaches that the angels previously mentioned will ordain 144,000 high priests to administer the everlasting gospel and bring people in the last days into Christ’s true church. The modern corporate church claims to have the fulness of the priesthood and routinely ordains high priests within its ranks. Instead, this scripture clarifies that the restoration of priesthood power will be from heaven-sent messengers, not from the current leaseholders of the Lord’s vineyard in SLC.

This doctrine is corroborated by D&C 113:7-8:

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.

Finally, the zinger and the beginning of my scripture search which sent me down this rabbit hole.

15. Q. What is to be understood by the two witnesses, in the eleventh chapter of Revelation?

A. They are two prophets that are to be raised up to the Jewish nation in the last days, at the time of the restoration, and to prophesy to the Jews after they are gathered and have built the city of Jerusalem in the land of their fathers.

Verse 15 clearly places the “restoration” in the future. No one I know in any sector of the religious community is arguing that this prophecy about the two prophets has been fulfilled. I have written in a previous blogpost about how the marvelous work is a future event. Those additional evidences can be accessed here.

One can see how troubling this could be to church leadership. It contradicts the story we have all been told about the restoration happening at the time of Joseph Smith. It directly challenges the timelines and narratives of the church. It challenges the authority claims of the church.

Further, this should be a cautionary warning to those who believe that we need to “preserve the restoration.” While I appreciate and love those who are seeking for Zion, the scriptures make it clear that it will not be rebuilt organically. Messengers are to return with true priesthood power to usher in the Lord’s “Strange Act” and “Marvelous Work.” Understanding these things will prevent you from being led astray by voices who would convince you otherwise.

Finally, I would be intensely curious to see if anyone else has a similar experience with the church website. Clearly the church wants to direct you to certain scriptures because they always sort by “relevance” rather than by “book” and you can’t change that default setting. You have to go in and change it every time you do a search. Very annoying! Do they really think they can get away with this?

Keep Searching.

 

To Know the LORD – Part 3

In the two previous parts of this series we have discovered that knowing the Lord involves dealing justice to the poor and the needy among us. We also reviewed from scripture the condemnations that rest upon the leaders of the Lord’s people who steal from the poor by requiring tithes of those who barely have means to support themselves. In this final installment we are going to explore the law of common consent and how church leaders set at defiance the word of the Lord by failing to disclose how church finances are allocated.

In D&C 26:2 (given July 1830) the Lord says:

And all things shall be done by common consent in the church, by much prayer and faith, for all things you shall receive by faith. Amen.

This principle is further reiterated nearly 4 years later when the laws concerning the operation of the United Order are set forth (D&C 104:71).  With regards to taking money out of the treasury the Lord states:

And there shall not any part of it be used, or taken out of the treasury, only by the voice and common consent of the order.

Here we have two witnesses from the Lord that financial affairs are not to be kept hidden from the church membership. Rather, the consent of the membership is required to appropriate moneys in the church.

In 1838 there was a proposal made to pay Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith salaries for their work on behalf of the church in the amount of $1,100 apiece which was the equivalent of three times the average workers salary at the time. Despite being approved by the high council, when it was noised abroad to the churches that such an arrangement had been made it caused such an uproar that the salary agreement was rescinded at the next high council meeting. (See Richard S. Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess, Chapter 17. See also D. Michael Quinn, LDS Church Finances from the 1830s to the 1990s, Sunstone, June 1996, p. 21).

Anyone who is familiar with my blog will look at the date this proposal took place and realize that it was many years after the people had rejected the covenant and that both Joseph and Sidney were under the burden of making an intercessory atonement for the people. Their desire for material comforts and wealth is consistent with their taking upon themselves the sins of the people and acting them out.

Since Joseph’s death the church has been very inconsistent and sporadic in sharing financial information with it’s members.  As documented by D. Michael Quinn in LDS Church Finances cited above, the definition of tithing has changed over the years as has the application of consequences for the non-payment of tithes.  More significant, however, is the lack of transparency that has hidden from public view the poor financial decisions that plagued the church up through the 1950s and the use of tithes for private gain by some church leaders.

For example, there are a number of church leaders who took personal loans from church funds and then had those notes cancelled without repayment to the church.

Three weeks before he died in 1877, Brigham Young obtained a cancellation of his debts to the church extending all the way back to 1849.

In 1879, John Taylor, as president of Zion’s Savings Bank and Trust, had two notes for $50,000 destroyed by the vice-president of the bank. He also convinced the Twelve to allow him a $10,000 claim for sugar machinery.

Quinn also documents:

“Wilford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow, and Joseph F. Smith did not use their office as Church president to cancel their personal indebtedness, yet they allowed tithing funds to serve as a loan pool for prominent Mormons.”

Among the debtors was Apostle Heber J. Grant for a cash loan of $34,000.”

As President of the Church, Heber J. Grant convinced his counselors to accept $30,000 worth of stock at face value (who knows what the true market value was) to cancel the loans.

“In 1930, First Counselor Anthony W. Ivins computed that the Church lost $900,000 in personal loans to Presiding Bishop Charles W. Nibley. Upon his appointment as second counselor in the First Presidency in 1925, Nibley had used stocks and bonds to repay his indebtedness to the Church.”

The point of sharing these vignettes is to highlight that there have indeed been abuses in the use of church funds that have been allowed to perpetuate largely because of the lack of transparency in the process in violation of the Lord’s stated law of common consent. Who knows what is going on today? I am not suggesting their are wholesale abuses. We just don’t know. We don’t know what amount of nepotism is reflected in the choice of contractors for building work and any number of the hundreds and thousands of contracts that the church enters into in their business dealings every year. We don’t know what the chosen 15 are paid, directly or indirectly. We don’t know how much goes to support the church bureaucracy, or how much goes to support BYU or any number of other endeavors.

What we do know is that since 1959 the church books have been completely and utterly closed to public view and scrutiny by the common membership. This was initially to disguise deficit spending to build meetinghouses under the theory that “if we build it they will come.” It took nearly a decade to recover under the leadership of financial wizard N. Eldon Tanner. The financial veil that was placed over church finances in 1959 was then firmly in place to disguise the financial successes that have been the hallmark of the church during the last 50 years.

Play video

Every general conference we are greeted by the church auditing department with an insipid non-disclosure that assures us that “in all material respects, contributions received, expenditures made, and assets of the Church for the year [insert latest year] have been recorded and administered in accordance with approved Church budgets, policies, and accounting practices.”

This is meaningless mumbo jumbo. It tells us nothing of substance about how our tithing dollars are being spent. We have no clue how much is spent on the poor which is the primary stated purpose of tithing as indicated by the Lord. When the saints rejected the covenant in 1834, Joseph and Oliver took a covenant of tithing FOR THE POOR and for the continuation of blessings.

As church members we should not sit idly by and allow our leaders to violate the law of common consent. We have been indoctrinated into believing that every change in policy or position or procedure is somehow a revelation from God. This is done subtly through implication without actually having to come out and say “Thus saith the Lord.”

Jeremiah has some choice words for those who take such liberties:

Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words every one from his neighbour [endlessly quoting one another]

Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues, and say, He saith [directly or by implication].

Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause 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.

Thus shalt thou say to the prophet, What hath the Lord answered thee? and, What hath the Lord spoken? (Jeremiah 23:30-32, 37)

My question is therefore identical to what the Lord instructs us to ask of our leaders. Exactly what has the Lord said to you? What has he answered? Did he tell you to close the books in contravention to an earlier revelation? If so, bring forth the new revelation. Let us see it and scrutinize it and decide for ourselves as a church whether it is indeed the Lord speaking or the precepts of men. It is really very simple.

There is an online petition that you can access here to petition the leaders of the church to open the books. I have very little hope that they will do so based on prophecies within the scriptures. For me, however, I believe it is important to make our voices heard in defense of the Lord’s word to us in the latter days.

In putting together this series it has become increasingly clear to me just how far afield we have traveled from what the Lord wants us to be doing with our tithes. His economic system is one of voluntary equality via covenant which allows each to fully develop their talents as documented in the parable of the talents. The systematic oppression of the poor via today’s tithing scheme in the name of the Lord can be labelled as none other than an abomination.

Finally, the following scripture is SO APROPOS today as so many are willing to hang on every word that comes from the pulpit of the conference center:

A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land;

The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means [church empire of businesses and wealth]; and my people love to have it so; and what will ye do in the end thereof? (Jeremiah 5:30-31)

Keep Searching.

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.

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