I am a big picture kind of guy. As I embarked on my journey of searching the scriptures and historical narrative of mormon history I often wished I had a general road map, a working hypothesis, so to speak to help answer three major questions:
- What really happened in church history
- Where are we now and what should we be doing today.
- What is about to happen prior to the coming of the Savior
Today I am going to attempt to provide just that in generalized terms and without a great deal of references because I don’t want this one post to balloon into a book. Many of the blogposts I have already written constitute a piece in the overall puzzle with supporting documentation and references. More is one its way. I am also indebted to others who have diligently searched and been willing to share their research.
The reason I believe understanding the big picture is important stems from the fact that many lose faith when they come across information that challenges what they have been taught regarding the “Lord’s church.” When confronted with information that is not congruent with their existing “map” that has been spoon-fed to them by the institutional church they have a tendency to “fly to pieces,” to use Joseph’s words. They are not sufficiently grounded in the scriptures to withstand the challenge to their faith. My purpose is not to destroy faith, but build it up upon a sure foundation. My contention and experience has been that when you understand the truth about our history and the prophecies in the scriptures that your faith will be strengthened and grow. The faith that results will not be in the church per se, but in the Lord and his purposes. You should not continue reading this blog unless you are committed to searching these things out for yourselves and receive a witness from the holy spirit that they are true!
I am not arrogant enough to think that every interpretation, opinion, or speculation I have provided in my posts is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. However, I believe the evidence of the scriptures coupled with the historical record stands on its own. You should rely on those two sources only as definitive in your searching and not rely on any arm of flesh, especially not mine. With that disclaimer here is my working hypothesis of the big picture.
Most Mormons are very familiar with the founding events of the faith. As there may those not familiar who read this blog I will quickly rehearse them.
- Joseph Smith’s “first vision” of the Father and the Son around 1820.
- Multiple visits from the Angel Moroni commencing in 1823, wherein Joseph is informed of the existence of an ancient record, and prepared over the space of 4+ years to receive the record and transmit to us as the Book of Mormon.
- A visit from the resurrected John the Baptist to receive the Aaronic Priesthood.
- A visit from Peter, James and John to receive the patriarchal priesthood (note that the church sees this visit as restoring the highest level of the Melchizedek Priesthood despite much evidence to the contrary).
- The printing of the Book of Mormon and the preaching of the gospel.
THE CHURCH ESTABLISHED — 1830 to 1831
The church is established on April 6, 1830 with 6 initial members as per New York state law. The Lord calls his church the “Church of Christ.” The Lord promises that if the saints harden not their hearts he will work a reformation among them and establish his church “like unto the church which was taught by my disciples in the days of old.” He also warns that if they do harden their hearts he will deliver them up unto satan (Book of Commandments, chapter 4). The “law” is brought forth (D&C 42) which the saints must follow to establish Zion. It includes the law of consecration and the law of monogamy. Many revelations from the Lord are received during this time period and their are many spiritual experiences.
THE FULNESS RESTORED — JUNE 1831
Mormons are generally not familiar with the events of the special conference held at the Morley farm in Kirtland in June of 1831. It was there that the fulness of the Melchizedek priesthood was restored to the earth, High Priests were called by the voice of God out of heaven, and the man of sin was revealed in fulfillment of 2 Thessalonians 2. There are numerous contemporary journal entries from participants that attest to these facts. High Priests went forth to Zion from this conference preaching along the way. Following the conference The Lord starts referring to the “Church of God.” This is a time of many pentecostal outpourings and a prolific number of revelations from the Lord. The saints seek to establish Zion. Joseph and Sydney see a vision of the Savior and chronicle what is required to return to God’s presence. It is the everlasting covenant of baptism by water, baptism by fire and baptism of the holy ghost.
THE FULNESS REJECTED — DECEMBER 1834
By 1834 the saints had broken their covenant of consecration in the gathering place for Zion. Despite the Lord telling them that they would never cease to prevail against their enemies if they were obedient to his counsels, they are ultimately expelled from Missouri. Things really go south when they start relying on the strength of their own arms instead of relying on the Lord. Despite receiving a commandment to “gather up the strength of my house” to redeem Zion, and giving September 11, 1836 as the designated date Zion was to be redeemed, no attempt is made to do so. December 1834 was the date an unpublished revelation was received from the Lord stating that condemnation rested upon the leaders of the church. This was exactly three and a half years to the day from when the fulness was restored at the Morley farm in fulfillment of ancient prophecy. At a general conference of the church in 1834 the name of Christ is taken out of the Church. It is now the “Church of the Latter-day Saints” because they broke the covenant. This name can be seen on the Kirtland Temple even to this day.
KIRTLAND TEMPLE — ATONEMENT STATUTE — 1836
As commanded, the saints build the Kirtland Temple. Joseph tells the people that they will see the Lord in the solemn assembly if the are worthy. Although there are spiritual outpourings, no one sees the Lord except Joseph and Oliver. The sequence of events during the week of the temple dedication and subsequent visitations of Christ, Moses, Elias and Elijah is consistent with the atonement statute under the law of Moses found in Leviticus 16. Elias restores the keys of the dispensation of the Gospel of Abraham, a preparatory gospel of repentance and baptism. The saints have been effectively downgraded! They had been anticipating the commencement of the dispensation of the fulness of times, but instead received the preparatory gospel. Joseph hides this fact from the saints (probably because the Lord commanded him to) and never speaks of it during his lifetime that we know, neither does Oliver. It is recorded in a journal and comes to light after his death, canonized as D&C 110.
Joseph is one like unto Moses in many different ways, but particularly by becoming an offering and “atonement” for the people to lengthen out their days after they have rejected the higher law. He ultimately becomes the “sin” offering and is killed. Others participate in this drama including Sidney Rigdon who becomes the “scapegoat.”
Joseph says that something new has to be done for the salvation of the church. He calls the Twelve to go on foreign missions and take the gospel to the house of Israel. The Gentiles have rejected the fulness and now the Lord is grafting in the house of Israel to preserve the roots of the olive tree as prophesied in 3 Nephi 16.
Things start to fall apart in Kirtland. The Kirtland Safety Society is a financial debacle and many members apostatize from the church. Joseph’s personal behavior starts to deteriorate as he takes upon himself the sins of the people and starts to act them out. The heavens begin to close and his eyes are covered because of the iniquity of the people.
NAUVOO — SECOND CHANCE FOR THE SAINTS
The Lord gives the saints three commandments in Nauvoo and promises that if they are obedient they “will not be moved out of their place.” The commandments are to build the Nauvoo Temple, build the Nauvoo House, and publish the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. The Lord grants unto them a “sufficient time” to accomplish the building projects, after which they will be rejected as a church with their dead (D&C 124). The saints fail to complete the Temple in Joseph’s lifetime. They never publish the JST version of the Bible. Their second chance has been squandered and they are rejected.
Joseph secretly introduces polygamy and the doctrine of spiritual wives to leading men in the church. He himself is married to many women, including some as young as 14. He also becomes a mason and introduces the masonic-based temple endowment despite the Book of Mormon warning about “secret combinations” and secret societies. The ritual includes oaths of secrecy upon penalty of death. Joseph presents the concept of eternal marriage (with multiple wives) and the masonic temple endowment as a “higher law” even though the saints had previously received the law of the celestial kingdom and rejected it. The Lord was turning the saints over to satan for a “little season” of chastisement as he had earlier promised. Joseph introduces false doctrines regarding the nature of God.
Hyrum is made a prophet co-equal with Joseph. When this is announced to the saints in conference in 1843, some complain and reject him. The fact that Hyrum is appointed proves that Joseph did not abide in the Lord (D&C 43). Hyrum has the sealing keys. Sydney Rigdon is also ordained a prophet, seer and revelator and that fact is announced to the church via the Times and Seasons.
William Law, counselor to Joseph Smith, tries to persuade him to renounce polygamy publicly. Joseph refuses. William and others are also appalled by his personal behavior and recent teaching of false doctrines. They publish the Nauvoo Expositor to make public their grievances. The destruction of the printing press sets in motion the events that lead to Joseph and Hyrum’s murder at Carthage in June 1844.
THE SUCCESSION CRISIS
Despite Sydney being the only survivor of the First Presidency, and the only person remaining on earth who had been properly ordained a “prophet,” Brigham Young organizes the effort to expel Sydney from the church. Although unspoken at the trial, the real bone of contention was the fact that Sydney did not support the secret abominations of polygamy or the spiritual wife doctrine being practiced by the Twelve.
Brigham Young is voted to lead the church along with the Twelve under the law of common consent. He never claims to be a prophet and brings forth no revelation. Several years later he re-organizes the First Presidency with himself as the president. The saints who follow him to Utah are dominated by those immigrants who were baptized by the Twelve in Europe representing remnants of the House of Israel. Many of the “Gentile” members do not follow Brigham to Utah and are scattered amongst various groups. One year before his death, Brigham adds Section 132 to the Doctrine and Covenants as re-written by William Clayton, justifying and institutionalizing the spiritual wife doctrine of higher glories for those men with multiple wives.
Those who follow Brigham believe that they have the fulness, even though the church is bereft of the signs of the fulness. Members are taught to blindly follow the prophet instead of becoming spiritually independent through “treasuring up the words of life” and “taking the holy spirit as their guide.”
THE MARVELOUS WORK AND WONDER
The initial work done by Joseph is referred to as ‘laying the foundation of a great work.” The so called “marvelous work and a wonder” is a future event which will commence sometime after 4 generations of chastisement have passed. This will be set in motion when the “first servants in the last kingdom” return to gather out the elect and establish a consecrated people in the designated location prior to the return of the Savior. These servants include Joseph (who we are told holds the keys whether in life or death) and many of his cohorts.
Zion will be redeemed with POWER. The fulness of the priesthood will allow for the gathering and also for many to receive their calling and election. I believe that the time for this to occur is very close. As in the parable of the ten virgins, many LDS will not be prepared, or willing to live the law of consecration and gather when the call comes. Those who are not watching will not be allowed into the wedding. How the institutional church will respond to the return of the servants will be very interesting to observe.
SO WHAT NOW?
By now your head is probably swimming. If you have bought the institutional line your whole life, the very idea that we could be in an inherited state of apostasy is a shock to the system. If you are comfortable with the fact that we are in apostasy then perhaps the narrative thus far gives you a broader perspective and areas you want to search out in greater detail. You may be asking yourself what you should be doing with the knowledge you have obtained or are in the process of obtaining.
The good news is that the Lord is still working with his people, although he has hidden his face from us for 4 generations. His hand is stretched out still. All of this was known in advance and prophesied by ancient prophets. We still have the influence of the holy ghost to guide us. When we study the scriptures he has promised to visit us with the “manifestations of his spirit.” We also have the preparatory gospel of repentance and baptism, although the church represents that it has much more than that, even to claims of having the sealing power and the fulness of the gospel.
Up until now in this blog I have not said anything about myself personally. Perhaps now is the time to shift gears a bit. I grew up in the LDS church in Utah Valley as a 5th generation Mormon on both sides of my family. I served a full-time mission, married in the temple and have 3 adult children. My wife and I choose to stay in the church for now. We have come to this decision after prayerfully considering what the Lord wants us to do. I am fortunate in that she also has had “blindness” removed from her eyes and she has been able to see through the “hidden darkness” that encompasses most saints.
I am fully aware that should I be exposed to church authorities as the author of this blog I would be subject to a church disciplinary council and expelled. I am not fearful of that eventuality, rather I am resigned and prepared for it. For now the Lord wants us where we are and we will continue to seek that spirit and follow it wherever it takes us. For that reason I have chosen to remain anonymous.
Joseph said that every man (woman) must stand for themselves in the last days. The scriptures testify that those who “rely on the arm of flesh” are cursed. If there was any time in history that we need to take that advice it is NOW. The scriptures and historical record are more easily accessed than ever before. We must be found watching and waiting.
That, my friends, is a summary of my working hypothesis. Documentation exists for every point made and will be detailed in other blogposts if it hasn’t been done already. I am ready and willing to change my conclusions with additional solid evidence and multiple witnesses. I am not going to be relying on the arm of flesh and their interpretations of what happened. Hope this helps some of you get the big picture as you continue to search and learn.
For those of you who are ready to really dive in, I highly recommend the following YouTube videos by a blogger I consider a friend and brother. He has done so much research that has assisted me in my searching. I am eternally grateful for the work he has done to lay the groundwork and shorten my learning curve. Hope you enjoy these as much as I have.
Keep Searching and Watching!