by J.J. Dewey(To start from the beginning of this series, click here.)
Governor Thomas Ford gave an interesting description of the early Saints. He said:
“His (Joseph’s) followers were divided into the leaders and the led: the first division embraced a numerous class of broken down, unprincipled men of talents, to be found in every country, who, bankrupt in character and fortune, had nothing to lose by deserting the known religions and carving out a new one for their own. They were mostly infidels, who holding all religions in derision, believed that they had as good a right as Christ or Mohammed, or any of the founders of former systems, to create one for themselves; and if they could impose it upon mankind, to live upon the labor of their dupes. Those of the second division were the credulous wondering part of men, whose easy belief and admiring natures, are always the victims of novelty in whatever shape it may come, who have a capacity to believe any strange and wonderful matter, if only it be new, whilst the wonders of former ages command neither faith nor reverence.” (DHC 7:36-37)
Although the above was written by an enemy to the LDS Church, it gives an interesting insight from the point of an outsider as to the character of the early Mormons. It sounds amazingly like the way the present LDS authorities describe some of the people they excommunicate or condemn today as well as the humble seekers within the Church.
If Ford were alive today, how do you think he would describe the people of the Church? Do you think it would be different? Yes, it would. The leaders are no longer called “unprincipled men of talents”, but men of great ability by the world. The followers are no longer called “dupes” who are “always victims of novelty,” but are called sound citizens who obey all the laws and are good examples.
Why is there such a different opinion of the Mormons today? Is it because they are known better? No. On the contrary, it is because they are different. They are different because they are not going forth with the independence of heaven as they were then. Members of the Church are no threat to the Babylon of today; for they have been totally disarmed and are as soldiers without weapons marching in the face of the enemy. The enemy smiles and encourages them to march on until it is safe for them to bind the unsuspecting with strong cords. Thus do the LDS receive the praise and encouragement of the world.
Let us examine Wilford Woodruff’s statement again. Is it correct?
It is, and it isn’t. For instance, he said, “The Lord will never permit me nor any other man who stands as president of this Church to lead you astray…”
All members believe this literally, yet they ignore the latter part of the statement: “If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from doing their duty.”
Here President Woodruff qualifies his statement. He tells us that God would remove “any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God” in the same manner that God would remove the President of the Church out of his place if he leads the church astray.
The feeling in the church seems to be that if the Prophet were to lead the church astray that God would strike him dead or magically remove him somehow. So because he is still there in position this means that the church is in good shape and not astray in any way.
But there are many individuals who teach doctrines contrary to standard Mormonism and the same quotation tells us they will be removed also. I notice that all of them seem to be standing their ground without being removed by any divine power. Because they are not removed, does this mean that all the fundamentalist critics are correct?
Of course not. But neither does it mean the church is not astray because the prophet is not removed.
Was David of old removed when he committed murder?
Was Solomon removed when he displeased God by having many wives and concubines? (Jacob 2:24)
Have any of the LDS leaders been removed when they have abandoned core doctrines such as a “literal gathering,” democratic elections for church leadership, or the principle of free agency to speak your mind on church doctrine?
There are many individuals who have truly and successfully led the children of men astray from the oracles of God for their entire long natural life, and they have not been removed. God allowed them their free agency to be just as wicked as they wanted.
On the other hand, it is the righteous who are trying to lead men correctly that are often removed from the scene. Joseph, Hyrum, Jesus, His apostles, and many other good people have been removed by death for teaching the truth. When such righteous men are removed, the wicked rejoice and believe that God punished them for their sins.
Even if we then take Wilford Woodruff’s statement at face value, we must accept the fact that God would not remove the president of the Church if he went astray any more than he would you or me. As we follow the scriptures, we see that God does periodically remove the wicked, but first He allows them to become ripened for destruction.
When Wilford Woodruff said that the Lord would not allow the president of the Church to lead them astray, he made a statement which is true as long as the majority of the Church are not astray themselves.
If the majority are full of faith, then the power of that faith will stop any efforts of their leaders to lead them astray. On the other hand, when the majority desire and even pray for that which is wrong, then God who “granteth unto men according to their desire” (Alma 29:4) will let them have their way even if it leads to destruction. This is all according to the free agency of man.
The Lord finally yielded to Martin Harris’ desires and let him have the 116 pages of manuscript of the Book of Mormon, even though he knew it would spell disaster. If anyone would have risen up and told him he shouldn’t have taken them, he could have said he had the Lord’s permission. On the other hand, Joseph Smith was punished for allowing Martin Harris to have the manuscript even though he was given permission. The Lord said, “You have delivered them up, yea, that which was sacred, unto wickedness ... Now, behold, I say unto you that because you delivered up those writings which you had power given unto you to translate by the means of the Urim and Thummim, into the hands of a wicked man, you have lost them. And you have lost your gift at the same time, and your mind became darkened. (D&C 10:9 & 10:1-2)
Why was Joseph punished with a lost gift for allowing something which the Lord permitted? It was because the Lord had already refused him twice and Joseph would not listen.
The situation of the Manifesto to eliminate plural marriage is similar. Instead of the church taking the initiative to change the doctrine by revelation the change occurred because of demands made by the government. In other words, the kingdoms of the world determined church doctrine rather than the church itself.
By yielding to the government instead of standing their ground for their freedom of religion, they allowed the kingdoms of the world to overcome them.
Instead of prevailing against the kingdoms of the world, a negative prophecy against the Church is being fulfilled:
“But verily I say unto you, that I have decreed a decree which my people shall realize, inasmuch as they hearken from this very hour unto the counsel which I, the Lord their God, shall give unto them. Behold they shall, for I have decreed it, begin to prevail against mine enemies from this very hour. And by hearkening to observe all the words which I the Lord their God shall speak unto them, they shall never cease to prevail until the kingdoms of the world are subdued under my feet, and the earth is given to the saints, to possess it forever and ever.
“But inasmuch as they keep not my commandments, and hearken not to observe all my words, the kingdoms of the world shall prevail against them. For they were set to be a light unto the world, and to be the savior of men; and inasmuch as they are not the saviors of men, they are as salt that has lost its savor and is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under the foot of men. ’ "(D&C 103:5-10)Church members often hear the teaching in the Church that from that revelation until today the Church has prevailed against its enemies. But has it?
What does the revelation say would happen when the saints prevail? It says that “The kingdoms of the world are subdued under my feet, and the earth is given to the saints.” Has the Church indeed prevailed over the kingdoms of the world? Do they have power over the governments of the earth?
No. Do the governments of the earth have power over them? Yes.
It is written that Zion shall have power to “rebuke strong nations afar off.” (Micah 4:3) Does the church have that power or any foreseeable aspect of gaining that power? No. Not unless there is a strong cleansing and a setting in order of the house of God. Furthermore it was prophesied, “I beheld, and the same horn (the kingdoms of the world) made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” (Dan. 7:21-22)
Here we see that the world will prevail against the saints until Adam comes to give judgment to the saints, which believers think will happen at the meeting of Adam-Ondi-Ahman. Has this meeting yet occurred? No. Therefore, if the prophecy is true, the kingdoms of the world must be presently prevailing against the church. Who can deny it and yet claim to believe the scriptures?
“But,” says a pillar in the Church, “The Church is growing as never before and we are prospering and we are no longer persecuted. Surely it is us that are prevailing. In other words, “Surely all is well in Zion.”
This is excellent thinking to keep those who are asleep feeling secure, but it is not true. What does truly happen when one kingdom prevails against another? After the victory does the victor continue to battle? Of course not; instead he tries to make the conquered useful to him by aligning his thinking with his own and putting the subdued under his subjection so he can be a useful part of the kingdom.
The kingdoms of the world have indeed overcome to the extent that the church had to abandon some major doctrines which were:
(1) The gathering of the saints into stakes which were originally designed to be communities of about 20,000 each for the protection of the saints;
(2) The establishment of an independent government and nation.
(3) Plural marriage. Right or wrong, it was the government who forced the church to abandon it and not revelation.
(4) The doctrine of man becoming God and the concept of many gods is now minimized into obscurity because of pressure from outside as well as inside the church.
(5) The living of the law of consecration which members have already covenanted to do in the temple. Why make the covenant if you cannot live it?
Speaking of our day as well as the past, John wrote, “And it was given unto him (Satan and his kingdoms) to make war with the Saints and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues and nations.” (Rev. 13:7)
Where is there a place on the earth where the saints have dominion?
It is not to be found. There is not even a hamlet of 100 saints of all the kingdoms of the earth. Truly other forces have dominion over all nations and the LDS members are presently overcome. Just because the Church grows in numbers and gather to hear sermons doesn't mean they are overcoming. What on earth do they think they are overcoming? They are certainly no threat to the kingdoms of the world.
Why do you think the kingdoms of the world are now leaving the Church alone and have ceased in their persecutions? The answer is simple. It is because the church is no longer an instrument of positive change which is resisted by the status quo. The church is basically at one with the kingdoms of the world.
The question should be: Is the church at one with the kingdom of heaven?
Copyright J.J. Dewey, used with permission.
(To continue to chapter three, click here.)
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