Sunday, February 12, 2017

Misquoting God

Although in the past I have presented guest posts in this space, I decided a while back that from here on out this blog should represent my voice alone; no one else should suffer guilt by associating with a miscreant like me.

But today I'm breaking that resolve in order to present a point of view that I'm incapable of composing myself.

But first, a bit of background:

There is a vexing verse of scripture, D&C 1, verse 30, that never really made sense to me. This is the verse that appears to assure us that we Mormons belong to the only true church on the face of the earth.

What made this verse seem like such an anomaly is that it doesn't gel with the rest of the revealed word of God. In the first place, the Lord never defined the church as an organized entity the way we think of it today, so how can any earthly church be "true"? According to Jesus, His "church" means nothing like the organized structure we think of these days when we use that term. In D&C 10:67 He defines His church as those who repent and come unto Him; and in verse 68 He forbids us from describing it in any other terms. (verse 68). So why would he be endorsing any single religious denomination as the only true church?

Secondly, if the Lord declared the church true and living in 1831, how come he reversed his opinion of it less than a year later? He is God after all; didn't he see that coming? And why would he offer up scripture that could be cited nearly two hundred years later to assure the Pharisees among us that all was well in the church, when a simple comparison of scriptures to our behavior should be enough to convince anyone how far off track we've slid?

Well, I finally did what I often forget to do, which is to take my question to the Lord.

Lo and behold, the answer I got regarding that scripture verse was "It doesn't mean what they think it does."

And here's the kicker, I went back and re-read the entire chapter, but this time I read it from a replica of the original Book of Commandments, because that version flows better; it hasn't been chopped up into tiny sentence fragments by whoever later edited it into verses in our Doctrine and Covenants.

 And guess what? When I read the thing in context, the meaning was crystal clear. That verse really doesn't mean what most members think it means!  (If you don't have access to the original in the Book of Commandments, this version of the entire chapter laid out in parallel form is a helpful aid.)

Only problem is, I seemed completely incapable of explaining my new understanding of it to anyone else. I was able to grasp the answer somehow through spiritual eyes, but I was incapable of articulating my discovery to another person.

It was not until recently that I figured out why I was such a dunderhead about it: it has everything to do with my lack of understanding of fundamental English Grammar. I simply don't know the names of most parts of speech, and a description of the salient part of speech contained in that section of the Doctrine and Covenants is essential to understanding its meaning. What I lack is a grasp of the mechanics of English. I simply don't have the chops to pass it on.

So I'm bringing in the big guns in the person of my friend Mckay Platt, an expert in English grammar who's got the chops to clear it all up in a brilliant and entertaining way. So I'll now turn the time over to Brother McKay:

The Only True And Living Church: Are We Misquoting God?
By McKay Platt, MD

Let me say from the outset: in this post we are going to review some things that may have put you to sleep in high school, namely English grammar. But here we will be looking at grammar as contained in a revelation from God, so hopefully this won't be as dry as some of the stuff you had to sit through in school. You may find the title of this piece provocative, but I promise I haven't oversold the subject.

We're going to look at something God said in a form known as the "Subjunctive Mood," and if you're not familiar with that term I would advise you not to look it up on Wikipedia, unless you want to be scared away completely. Although the subjunctive today is considered archaic, it's really an interesting mode of speaking. But you wouldn't know it from the dry and nearly indecipherable Wikipedia description:
"The subjunctive mood is a flexible grammatical instrument for expressing different gradients in thought when referring to events that are not stated as fact. It is still used frequently in such languages as French, German and Spanish, and also in languages outside the Indo-European branch such as Turkish and Hungarian. In modern English only remnants of a once complex system of separate conjugations exist. What once could be expressed succinctly with the mere change of a conjugation is now only expressible, more often than not, by using word-laden modal constructions."
Still with me? Well that's a miracle, because that explanation put me to sleep, and I actually understood it.

The only thing you really need to know about the Subjunctive Mood is that bit about it being flexible when referring to events not stated as fact. Bear with me and I'll explain. You're going to feel smarter in no time.

Because most of us don't understand the subjunctive mood, we often misinterpret God when He uses this unfamiliar verb form. Does the Lord care about grammar, verb forms, and so on? It's my contention that he does. You'll have to decide for yourself. Let's see if we can ease the pain a little as we slug through what has been called "a damned difficult verse."

The preface to the Book of Commandments, what we now call Section One of the Doctrine and Covenants, contains these words, "...the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased..." (Doctrine and Covenants, 1:30).

Today that phrase is quoted repeatedly by members and leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who say that "the Lord declared this to be 'the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth...' " Unfortunately, that is not a declaration from The Lord; it is more of a wish. D&C 1:30 is worded not as an indicative statement (of fact) but a subjunctive statement (a hope or possibility). What The Lord was saying here is that a true and living church was a possibility.

From the wording of the revelation, we cannot conclude the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true and living. Neither can we conclude that it is false or dead. Either would be an argument from fallacy – assuming that if an argument for some conclusion is fallacious, then the conclusion is false.

My purpose in exploring this revelation is not to determine if the modern Mormon church is true; rather, to examine whether we wrest the words of Christ when we say the Lord declared this to be "the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth..."

If one wishes to show that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living church, it must be done by some other way than quoting this revelation, since this revelation makes no such conclusion.

The Subjunctive Mood-A Quick Refresher
The stuff of Glenn Miller's nightmares.

In English and many other languages, the subjunctive refers to a grammatical mood used to express hopes, wishes, possibilities, judgments, necessities or future actions.

It's not necessarily describing a fact, or something that already is. It's describing something that may become.

Remember how Wikipedia used the word "flexible"? That's the subjunctive mood; it refers to what could be any sort of possible outcome.

It is important to recognize when the subjunctive is used in scripture, because much of scripture is forward looking. The subjunctive does not express reality in the moment. Not all hopes are realized, not all possibilities come to pass, and not all plans for the future come about. The subjunctive mood is used when a certain situation or action is not known to have happened as the speaker is talking.

"Excuse me sir. Could you please tell me what day is Game day?"
We are accustomed to statements in English most often appearing in the indicative form. For example, "Mormon men spend more time with sports than with the scriptures." That's indicative, or an announcement that indicates fact. Contrast that with "if the scriptures were as exciting as sports, I'd read them more. That's subjunctive  -a possibility, albeit not a very likely possibility for the fan.

The subjunctive mood is expressed most often in subordinate clauses, often clauses that begin with the word "that."

For example, "I hope that our children will listen to the babysitter" or "I pray that you stay awake through this entire blog post." Neither sentence expresses a reality as the children may not listen to the babysitter and you may have already walked away from this blog and turned on ESPN.

The subjunctive mood has long been waning in English; dying, by many estimations. English speakers are not very familiar with the subjunctive mood which is more in use in the Romance languages. And because in our day we are mostly unfamiliar with the subtle nuances of scriptural syntax, it is easy to mistake a subjunctive statement for an indicative statement, as this question will illustrate:

When The Lord prayed, "our father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name," what was being said?

If you believe The Lord is making a statement of fact, then you understand The Lord to be saying, "Father in heaven, your name is holy!" -probably not new information to the Father.

But the prayer is made in the subjunctive mood. The Lord is stating what should be or what He hopes may happen, not what is. In effect, He says, "Father in heaven, I pray that men may hallow your name." We know that the expression "hallowed be thy name" is subjunctive because it is conjugated differently than the indicative.
"Hallowed is thy name"=indicative mood

"Hallowed be thy name"=subjunctive mood
The subjunctive mood in D&C section 1
In verse 11,  and from verses 18 through 30 of the revelation being scrutinized, there are 15 statements in the Lord's voice in the subjunctive mood. In verse 18, the auxiliary verb should is used to indicate duty, propriety, or expediency and "might" is used to indicate possibilities -both subjunctive mood verbs:
"And also [I the Lord] gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world; and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets—"(D&C 1:18)
Verses 18 thru 30 are a list of outcomes that might happen because The Lord knew "the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth." Because of His love and concern for us He...
"...also gave commandments to others, that ..."
What follows is what should and might happen as a consequence of the Lord's commandments. More than a dozen great and marvelous outcomes might follow because The Lord called a servant and gave commandments to men.

These possibilities include:
-men speaking in the Lord's name
-an increase in faith in the earth
-the establishment of Christ's everlasting covenant
-the fulness of the gospel preached before kings and rulers
-understanding, wisdom, repentance, etc.
The last of these possibilities is "a true and living church".
"And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to...
1- lay the foundation of this church, and,
2- to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth (D&C 1:30)
"May," "might," and "must" are modal verbs that express a speaker’s attitude and the strength of that attitude. The two modal verbs used by the Lord in this revelation do not reflect a great deal of certainty. The same verb, might, was used to reflect the probability that "all men might repent and come unto him." We all have a pretty fair idea how long the odds are on that wager.

The sentence is a difficult one. The original document, as recorded by the church historian John Whitmer, contained no punctuation. The original Book of Commandments lumped all of verses 24-30 (of the modern D&C) into a single verse. Even today, after numerous editors have had a hundred and eighty plus years and half a dozen editions to clarify the punctuation, the revelation isn't punctuated using standard rules. A dozen verses begin with "and," and several sentences end with a dash, including the verse in question, and parentheticals interrupt the flow of thought. However, the Lord brings us back again and again to the theme: the commandments he gave raise hopes and possibilities.

What is clear, to me at least, is that verses 17-30 explain why the Lord called a prophet and gave commandments to men. The subjunctive mood is heard with His use of ''should," "may," "might" and "inasmuch." It "should" happen,"may" happen; it "might" happen; "inasmuch" as you keep my word, it will happen.

As grammatically structured in verse 30, the hopeful outcome of "a true and living church" is an appositive. An appositive is a noun or phrase used to rename another noun, or in this case a pronoun. In the sentence below the appositive, the word "figure" renames the subject of the sentence, the "commander."

The phrase "the only true and living church" is a delayed appositive, renaming the direct object "it," nine words earlier. When the delayed appositive is substituted for the direct object, the subjunctive nature of the statement is clearer.
"And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power bring the only true and living church forth out of obscurity and out of darkness..."(D&C 1:30)
Misquoting-Why Do We Do It?
This particular verse has been uniformly interpreted as an indicative statement of what is, not what might be. Church presidents, apostles, seventies and many other commentators have referenced this subjunctive statement of The Lord and quoted it as an indicative statement of fact. No commenter on this verse that I have found has recognized it as a subjunctive statement. That is true for many reasons. One reason we are confused by the mood is the change in mood from subjunctive to indicative in a single verse:
"...with which I, the Lord, am well pleased..." (D&C 1:30)
This part of verse 30 is spoken in the indicative mood, otherwise He might have said "with which I, The Lord, be well pleased."

The first half of verse 30 is in the subjunctive mood:
"And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth..."
The second half is in the indicative mood:
"...with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually."
A single sentence may contain both subjunctive, indicative, imperative (command) and interrogative (questions) moods or any combination. Here, for example, is an April 1829 revelation. It contains the indicative, subjunctive and interrogative moods in a single verse.
"And for this cause the Lord said unto Peter: If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" (D&C 7:4
"..The Lord said unto Peter..." is indicative, a statement of fact.

"..If I will that he tarry till I come..." is subjunctive. In the indicative mood the third person singular "he" is conjugated "he tarries" but this part of the verse is subjunctive, not indicative. Because the phrase begins with "if", "he tarry" is proper conjugation.

"...what is that to thee?" is obviously a question and as an interrogative ends with a question mark.

But The Lord Was Pleased!
Near the end of verse 30, within a dependent clause, the revelation says, "...I, The Lord am well pleased..." This part of the revelation is in indicative mood. Something pleased him. The most natural reading of this verse, requiring the least mental gymnastics, is to interpret the prepositional phrase modifying the last noun in the verse, namely, the church. If this interpretation is correct, and I believe it is, then The Lord was well pleased with the collective body of men and women who were the church of 1831, consisting of a couple of hundred newly converted souls.

Remember, the Lord has never referred to his church as we do today, as an organized, structural institution. He was adamant in defining His church as only those individuals who had repented and come unto him. (D&C 10:67) What He was talking about when he said he was pleased was this very small group of converts who at the time had dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to following Him. He has nothing to say about an organized Christian denomination complete with headquarters and a top-down hierarchy.

If the Lord was well pleased with the church in November of 1831, less than a year later he was anything but. In September 1832 he declared the whole church to be under condemnation. They were no longer "true" to what He had given them but "treated lightly the things [they had] received." (D&C 84:54) He warned them "whoso receiveth not my voice is not acquainted with my voice, and is not of me" and those who "come not unto me" are "under the bondage of sin" (verse 51). This tiny group of converts were no longer "living." They were not connected to the true vine.  In less than a year the tiny church of 200 souls was now neither "true" nor "living."

Summing Up
In November 1831, The Lord told the incipient church He was well pleased, but did not declare they were then a true and living church. The wording chosen in this revelation has The Lord saying that He called a servant and gave commandments from heaven that many things might happen, including the bringing forth of a true and living church. By September 1832 The Lord judged them neither "true" to the things He had given, nor "living," abiding in Him. More than a hundred years later, speaking in general conference, President Benson told the congregation that the condemnation had never been lifted; it continued to rest over the modern LDS Church to that day.

That was in 1986, 31 years ago. No revelation has been received since to indicate the Lord has changed His mind.

The revelations Joseph Smith received during the 1830s anticipated the creation of Zion and the Church of the Firstborn. But none of that happened. The saints blew it, and after they were cast out of Jackson County, licking their wounds and wondering what the heck just happened, the Lord told them exactly how they had blown it: by means of their own selfish conduct they had polluted their inheritance. (D&C 101:6)

All was not lost, however; they could still pull it together and hearken to the voice of He who is the true vine. For how could they ever be the true church without being connected to the true vine?  In 1841 The Lord warned them not to let him down again, for if they did so, they would be moved out of their place once more, and instead of blessings, they would bring cursings, wrath, indignation, and judgments upon their heads. (D&C 124)

The Lord described the meaning of our condemnation as not being received by Him (D&C 105:5). It was the saint's failure to live the "law of the celestial kingdom" (verse 4) that prevented The Lord from receiving the nascent community of believers unto Himself. If we are to believe the Lord's words, then the condemnation will continue until the Latter-day Saints are received unto the Lord. Being "received of the Lord" then ends the condemnation. When we as a people are true to the laws of the celestial kingdom, we will be received of God and we will finally be a living church, connected to the True Vine.

But as long as we confuse an invitation from God as a divine endorsement of our present state, we will most likely remain content with the present state and never attempt to bring again Zion. That is the danger inherent in misquoting God. Zion awaits some few who treasure God's word and keep it with exactness and honor, rather than assuming a divine endorsement of our present state that was never given us by heaven.

-McKay Platt, February 2017


Unknown said...

Thank you Rock and especially McKay! How beautifully explained! I especially liked the last part where you stated that we need to keep our covenants with exactness and honor! Otherwise how can Zion be brought about. What it really means to me is that we need to delve into the scriptures and discover anew the commandments that the Lord has given us and then apply them into our hearts and minds.
3 Nephi chapters 11&12 is a good place to start!

John Crane said...

Nowhere, to my knowledge, did the Lord ever command Joseph Smith in a revelation to organize a church as a legal entity. He did recognize the church after the fact. The Lord "suffered" Joseph Smith to establish a legal entity, just as he "suffered", against his better judgment, the Israelites to have a king.

This verse is often cited as evidence and justification for the existence of the church, as stated in the article, but this not true, as the article points out.

Once you see this, it is impossible to un-see it. Thanks for posting.

Irven said...

Thanks for this Rock and McKay. Even being somewhat familiar with the terms, I had never thought about it in this way. I always used the argument that there's no way that the meaning of the verse could extend forever, unless choices and actions have no consequences; which they surely do.

Well written. Point well made.

Ryan Nickel said...

Once a person understands that the fourteen year ministry of the prophet Joseph Smith had to do primarily with laying the FOUNDATION (1:30 18:4, 21:2, 64:33, 101:47) of a future marvelous work (4:1, 6:1, 8:8, 10:61, 11:1, 12:1, 14:1, 38:33, 64:33 ) and they learn about the doctrine of the three watches ( and how to use these interpretive keys in reading scripture, it becomes apparent that the testimony God gives of His true and living church was emphasizing the following four points:

1- The “foundation” of the restored church had been laid by the time this revelation was given and it needed to include the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood.

2- The “true and living church” would eventually come forth out of “obscurity and darkness” at a later time in the 3rd watch.

3- In order for God to be pleased with his church it needs to be both TRUE and FAITHFUL to the COMMANDMENTS and LIVING the LAW and MANIFESTING the SPIRITUAL FRUITS

4- When the true and living church does come forth out of obscurity and darkness, the Lord will be pleased with the church collectively, not necessarily with every individual member.

Sam said...

I think someone could do a similar analysis of verse 38, especially this phrase which is pulled out of context: "whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same." This gets used to indicate that whether the Lord says something, or President Monson says something, it is the same. However, one can only draw this conclusion by removing that phrase from its context starting with verse 37:

37 Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled.

38 What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.

In this instance, the Lord is clearly talking about the prophecies and promises contained in the Doctrine and Covenants being fulfilled by His voice or the voice of His servants. This is why he invites us to search the prophecies and promises. His words shall be fulfilled, whether by his voice or the voice of his servants, it mattereth not, his words shall not pass away.

How we ever concluded that whatever a church leader says is the same as what the Lord word say is a mystery. a basic understanding of the English language in these verses quickly destroys that notion.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Funny you should mention that, Sam, because I did do a post addressing just that: It's titled "Not Quite The Same" and you can find it here:

Hypno-Dude said...

The word 'might' was not subjunctive in 1828, it was a preterit or perfect noun.

Unknown said...

It is interesting that the Lord in verses 14-15 speaks of those that "will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles."
Verse 15: points out that they have strayed from mine ordinances, and broke the covenant. We have always been taught that this is referencing the those outside the Church. My question is: How can you stray from an ordinance and break a covenant if you don't know or have received them?
This to me is referencing the already existing members and a prophetic utterance by the Lord. In context of the blog, in 1832 the Lord condemns the members in D&C 84:54-57 for not remembering the new covenant.
Thanks for the insightful blog!!

Mc Kay said...


Might is an auxiliary verb used with another verb, for example D&C 1:18 "might" is used with the verb "be fulfilled". In D&C 1:20 might is used as an auxiliary verb with "speak". D&C 1:21, 22, & 23 might is used as auxiliary to "increase", "be established", & "be proclaimed".

The word might is still used in the preterit which describes tense, past present and future for example, but that has nothing to do with the mood. The mood has to do with whether the speaker is stating something as true (indicative) or as a hope, wish or posssibility (subjunctive), a question (interrogative), or command (imperative).

Here is a verse translated from the Latin into English in 1611. The Bible is full of similar verses where might is used in the subjunctive mood.

Matt 22:15 Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. It was their hope. It failed.

I doubt you could find an indicative statement in the Bible where "might" is used as a verb.

Hope that helps


Mc Kay said...

No idea why my name goes in as Mr. Ebenezer Rider but that's me, McKay

Brother Wayne said...

There are a few articles that actually act like a Urim and Thummin and this is one of them. For now we see through a NEW glass but we do not see "darkly". We see clearly. Now we take every single verse of scripture and we look to see if the verse speaks in the indicative way, the subjunctive way or the interrogatory way. Is the LORD speaking of a FACT or is it an invitation to repent or is He asking a question to spur our thinking? I LOVE this. I LOVE what McKay Platt has written for I shall never read scripture the SAME again in my life. Thank you for this precious kernel of Truth!!!

Hypno-Dude said...

Joseph had already completed the translation of the BOM when the verse immediately preceding also uses 'might' translate. Is your position that 'might' was preterit/perfect in one verse and subjunctive in the very next verse?

29 And after having received the record of the Nephites, yea, even my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., might have power to translate through the mercy of God, by the power of God, the Book of Mormon.

This revelation was received in 1831 a year after the 1830 June conference where God by his own voice instructed the ordination of High Priests. Thus the church had already received the commandment and Priesthood ordination to lay the foundation... (preterit past perfect form of might)

30 And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually—

aprilsix said...

A really pretty 19-year old girl once told me the following: "if you were to get a job this summer, we could be married this fall." I chose to go on an extended road trip instead of working and no one, including myself, was surprised when she cancelled the nuptials. Why do we imagine that the Lord is incapable of subtleties of language that we ourselves employ on a daily basis?

Furthermore, since the Lord cannot lie, any statement He makes in the indicative regarding individuals being "true and living" before they have actually accomplished being reconnected to the "true vine" robs them of their agency: since He has spoken it, they cannot fail. Therefore, the subjunctive mood is not merely a grammatical nicety, it is absolutely required when an agency respecting Diety speaks of future human activities.

Very nice article; very well explained.

jstcommentary said...

Fabulous post. By the mouth of Rock or one of his friends it is the same. Makes me excited about Denver's version of the Testimony of John, which I believe to actual revelation from GOD to his servant, Denver. I have already make a couple of comments about this new, improved Gospel of John at my blog

Thanks Rock, and thank McKay!

Mc Kay said...


I see your point.

Preterit (or preterite) is a tense, a verb form which donates past.
Subjunctive is a mood. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Subjunctive, Indicative, Impertive and Interrogative moods can be used in past, present or future tenses.

The subjunctive can be past, present or future. I'll use three examples.

E.g. 1-Dad, why did you make me work so hard as a kid? I did it so that might learn the value of hard work. (Past tense -subjunctive mood) Maybe the kid learned the value of hard work or maybe he didn't but the reason the father made the kid work so hard is to teach him the value of hard work. This is how the Lord speaks in verse 29.

Eg. 2- So, Dad, is my brother John working hard right now. He might be. (Present tense- subjunctive mood)

Eg 3- when I grow up I might become President of the US. (Future tense - subjunctive mood)

You might conclude that by 1831 the Saints had succeeded in becoming the True and Living church just as Joseph had succeeded in translating the Book of Mormon but whether they did or whether they didn't, the statement is in the subjunctive mood, and there is nothing in the subjunctive statement to indicate if they succeeded. That would require an indicative statement. There is no getting around it. The Lord did not say in the indicative mood, you are the true and living church.


Mc Kay said...

Hypno Dude

Maybe this will help. Every verb has a tense and a mood just as Utah street addresses have two coordinates, a N-S and an E-W coordinate. The two descriptors are independent of each other. If you know how far East you are, that doesn't help you know how far North or South you are. If you know the tense,(past, present or future) that gives you no information about the mood of the speaker.

If you have come to believe that the church of 1831 had become the only true and living church, and you figured that out from your study of history, inspiration of the Spirit or personal revelation, I have no arguement from you and you are in good company. ( You just can't prove if from a subjunctive statement. Remember, my major conclusion from the paper is that we have been misquoting God, saying that "The Lord said, we are the only true and living church". He made no such indicative statement in this verse.


Unknown said...

Answered one of my main lingering questions after my "paradigm shift" in the church. That verse kind of stuck out like a sore thumb, probably because I never truly read the whole thing without focusing on that one line. Thanks again.

Thomas said...

I liked the article and agree with it. For those who do not, consider this: I once had a true and living father He died some years ago. That is one the properties of living things in this world is that they die. If the "church" was once true and living, it died some years age too. Likely the day Joseph died.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

As the guy who is supposedly in control of this blog, I have no idea either how the name Mr. Ebenezer Rider latched onto you without your knowledge.

But I like it anyway. Just hope the real Ebenezer Rider doesn't come looking for it.

Thanks for your input on this Preterit business, Ebenezer.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Your point is a good one, but it contains too much reason, logic, and common sense for most modern Brethrenites.

After I wrote my piece called "My Testimony of the Church" in which I pointed out that regardless of how things were in Joseph Smith's day, it seemed clear that the modern LDS Church had drifted from its moorings, a Brethrenite member of my ward pointed out the "true and living church" verse from D&C 1 as "proof" that the Church today continued to be the same as it ever was.

When I pointed out that the next year the Lord had placed that same church under condemnation, it was as if it mattered not to him. In his mind, the Lord's feelings toward his church in one instance somehow HAD to hold true even today. He could not be swayed in his opinion even when I pointed out President Benson's statement that the condemnation had not been lifted. Did he not recognize the Lord had been displeased with the church AFTER he had supposedly endorsed it?

Didn't matter to him. Apparently something the Lord recognized as once alive could never be killed, destroyed, crippled, or corrupted. It would stand forever. You know, like the primitive Christian Church.

I suggested he look for a MODERN revelation in which the Lord asserted this was still His church and that it remained "true and living." He didn't seem to need modern revelation. When you remind someone like that of our claim to continuous revelation, they fall back on the canard that "we already have enough revelation."

Some folks you just can't reason with. They require their idols and can't see past them.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thanks for the link to your blog, John Scott Peterson. I've added it to the notorious Pure Mormonism Blogroll.

Mc Kay said...

Below, I quote a blogger who thinks the church of 1831 was the true and living church. But he doesn't use the subjunctive statement of the Lord as the evidence for his conclusion. Instead he offers three proofs. I have no beef with that kind of logic. What I am trying to show in this paper is that a statement of the Lord in the subjunctive mood can't fairly be used as evidence for the idea that the church is true and living then or now. That must be done by other proofs, other evidence.


The Lord’s reference to the Church in a revelation received on November 1, 1831 as “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth” (D&C 1: 30) was true for the following reasons:

First, the Church was established by revelation, visitations from angels, and delegation of authority.

Second, it was “living” because the authority and gifts were present and unfolding; and new scripture and revelations were being received.

Third, it would continue to grow in knowledge, light and truth as further ordinances and rites were restored.
Finally, it was “true” because it taught the doctrines which gave converts the tools with which they could grow in light and knowledge until the perfect day. (D&C 50: 24.)

The Lord’s description in 1831 is what we should aspire to have said about us still, today. But, of course, that would require us to also be “true” and “living” in the same way as the Church in 1831.

Jared Livesey said...

What grieves me is this.

D&C 10
67 Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church.
68 Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.

What does it mean to "come unto" Christ? None are his church who have not come unto him. I take this literally. Maybe Joseph, then, was of his church; Oliver, perhaps, and perhaps Sidney, but who else? Not me; not yet.

So whence cometh this?

D&C 115:4 For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

McKay (Excuse me, I mean Ebenezer),
Denver's argument is just the kind of reason and logic even the most devoted Brethrenite should be able to contemplate. I think some of the readers may have overlooked your statement near the beginning of the piece where you said this:

"My purpose in exploring this revelation is not to determine if the modern Mormon church is true; rather, to examine whether we wrest the words of Christ when we say the Lord declared this to be "the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth..."

"If one wishes to show that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living church, it must be done by some other way than quoting this revelation, since this revelation makes no such conclusion."

In other words, you were making no attempt to "prove" the church is today, or was then, either true or false. Your argument was isolated as to what the Lord was ACTUALLY saying AT THE TIME. And I believe your position is solid and indisputable.

And so is Denver's. I think there is no question that in November of 1831 the nascent church was on its way to "becoming" true and living. However, once we have determined that the Lord was not giving an indicative statement, but offering an invitation, and that at least SOME of the members of the early Church of Christ were on their way to becoming true and living, it's important for us to shift the question to ask 1. Whether that journey to becoming lasted very long, and 2. if that "becoming" succeeded and we have in modern times reached the goal of actually being the true and living church.

In other words, the only question left is this: assuming the Lord actually did make an indicative statement declaring the church in 1831 was indeed "true and living," (and I assert he did not) would that declaration still apply to us today?

The answer is clear and obvious. At least it should be clear and obvious to anyone whose mind is not clouded by leader worship.

The position of the mainstream Mormon is "God said the church was true and living and therefore it still is and always will be."

That is foolishness. I can look at the founding history of our nation, and particularly at the U.S. constitution and see that our government had LOADS of promise at the beginning, but within the very first years that promise began to unravel. I can look around today and plainly see that constituion is being twisted, misinterpreted, and outright ignored, and easily conclude that the once great experiment in liberty that God himself set forth by his own hands has failed miserably; not because God failed to keep his part, but because the people failed to keep theirs.

The question for us today regarding the church is whether that "becoming" has continued to our day, or was it strangled in the crib.

As Denver aptly demonstrated through the use of evidence, the church in that day was definitely in the process of becoming. But we would be hard-pressed to find similar evidence to prove the same today. It is the insistence of some modern members and leaders that because God invited the church to become true and living a hundred and eighty six years ago, that the end game of that invitation has arrived and been carried through up to our time. One has to almost laugh at the idea that the church today is true and living. You'd have to ignore countless evidences to the contrary, beginning with the Lord's own stern rebuking and condemning given in 1832.

It's clear most members simply ignore that incident. They write it off, I guess, to a moment when the Lord lost his temper and said things he didn't mean, but everything's all right now.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I always interpreted his invitation to "come unto me" to mean being baptized and taking upon us his name and promising to follow Him. I think you are suggesting it's necessary to actually meet him in person, which is an intriguing possibility. But if only those who had "come unto him" in the flesh were those he recognized as his church, then what about all those times he referenced his "church"? There would have been very few members even then. Like you say, Joseph, maybe Oliver and a handful of others.

I have to think "Come unto me" represented a requirement to follow him, but not necessarily be those few who had experienced the Second Comforter.

Jared Livesey said...

These scary possibilities pop out once we lay down our self-interest in the question, just as McKay's explanation of the subjunctive mood helps us see that the words of D&C 1 do not support the self-interested interpretation foisted upon us by the paid ministers and their followers.

As Joseph said, what is the rule of interpretation? No interpretation at all; understand it precisely as it reads. Therefore, I have to consider these things even if it devalues me in mine own eyes; hence the requirement to humble oneself so as to be able to receive and obey the truth.

Jared Livesey said...

Cognitive dissonance is, as always, the problem - scales of darkness covering our eyes, chains of darkness binding down our souls, gulping down propositional camels while contending or disputing over the trivial details of gnats. We think we know something the text does not say and does not necessarily support.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, it isn't what a man knows that gets him into trouble; it's what he thinks he knows that just ain't so. We've been indoctrinated into interpretations and philosophies by our parents or our teachers that we cast off only with great difficulty. Our indoctrination makes it difficult to see the words that are actually in the text, for our minds go immediately to the teachings of our instructors as to what the things mean (chapter headings are pernicious, as are footnotes).

By keeping the commandments of Jesus Christ, that we may always have his spirit to be with us, and by departing from the dogmatic doctrinal training of our youth, we can more clearly see what is in the word of God.

Unknown said...

The true and living church was on the face of the earth--

God was speaking collectively about it.

But it needed to be brought forth out of obscurity and darkness.

When will this happens?

When the Lord makes bare his holy arm.

This is a future event.

What is the arm of the Lord?

Joseph Smith.

He will return to the earth and perform the marvelous work and a wonder amongst the Gentiles.


Hypno-Dude said...

McKay I don't intend to co-op the thread. I have separate questions... how do we actually receive the name of Christ? How do we actually receive the baptism of fire?

Jared Livesey said...


1 Nephi 15:11 Do ye not remember the thing which the Lord hath said?—If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you.

The shortest list of the commandments of Jesus Christ is in Luke 6:20-49.

Will said...

Rock (and McKay),

Thanks for this post. I guess the scriptures can sometimes be a frustrating Hansel-Gretel bread crumb trail. Some passages seem to be intentionally layered or prone to being misinterpreted. Since God could have worded things differently in order to avoid this, I suppose it would be fair to say that he is running a test on us, to see if we will be careful, and seek to obtain the codex from him before we assume we know what something means?

Along those lines, one scripture that kind of bothers me is 2 Nephi 26:33--

"he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him"

This doesn't seem to be entirely accurate to me. Wouldn't it be more correct to say that God says and does many things that are NOT plain unto the children of men?

I suppose the one over-riding rule, however, is that those who make it their ultimate priority to know God (Jeremiah 29:13) will eventually come to know him. To the rest, God remains mysterious, contradictory, or misunderstood.

Or maybe another way of saying it is that the opening rules of the test are very easy and plain to understand -- the Sermon on the Mount, the Golden Rule, etc. If we follow those easily understood rules with real intent, the finer points of the test will become clear to us over time, something like this:

"And when they shall have received this, which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them." (3 Nephi 26:9).

This brings me to the unhappy conclusion that the current officers, despite all of their efforts, are not living the Golden Rule. They are not doing unto others as they would have done unto themselves. Instead, they are doing unto others as they think is appropriate for high and mighty officers to do unto commoners -- supporting themselves on capital gains from investments that were made with widows mites, outlawing public criticism of themselves, and being secretive about policy and operations. And they think this behavior is approved by God.

To the First Presidency and the Twelve:

If the roles were reversed, would you really want leaders who behave the way that you are behaving? Please look at it from the perspective of the common member, assess your mistakes, and start to recognize the exercise of unrighteous dominion that you are perpetuating. The behavior your are exhibiting is not Christlike.

Please wake up and repent. In some areas of your lives, the devil has you in his grasp, and you don't even know it. It would be better if you were homeless vagrant alcoholics. At least then you would know you were being disobedient and you would recognize the curse you are under. But the curse and the deception you are under, you don't even understand it, and you think you are righteous to the point that you are going to be exalted in the next life -- what a fearsome slavery that is.

And I suppose that I am also under various curses and deceptions that I'm not aware of -- but at least I allow the possibility that I am in that kind of trouble, and I'm open to being called to repentance, and I'm looking for instruction and guidance.

Meanwhile, within mainstream Mormonism it is by definition impossible to be wrong in any matter of salvation, because supposedly God destroys the agency of the leaders (or will kill them if they step out of line), and so you can't lead us astray. I call bullsh*t on that doctrine. Whatever scriptures you are using to teach that nonsense, you are not interpreting the words correctly. You are the blind leading the blind, and I'm done with you.

I hope that someday you will wake up and smell the napalm, and hopefully it will be before you meet our Maker at the judgement bar, but I don't have much hope that you will repent. You seem very hardened and set in your ways. May God have mercy on your souls.

Linda Gale said...

I like grammar, but I don't excel at it, so have I the correct reading of the following paragraph?

"Remember how Wikipedia used the word "flexible"? That's the subjective mood; it refers to what could be any sort of possible outcome."

Does it truly mean "that's the subjective mood"? or does it mean "that's the subjunctive mood"? I am just learning about this subject, so please don't consider this question to be an attempt to correct anyone's grammar, for it surely is not.

Mc Kay said...

I thought I would be able to restrict my comments to the subjunctive mood and D&C 1 but I can't resist. I'll comment a little here on whether I think (not that my opinion matters much) the church of 1831 was true.

In D&C 23:verse 6 the Lord told Joseph Knight that it was his duty to "unite with the true church". I accept that revelation as genuine and accept that as the word of the Lord that the church of April 1830 was "true". "True and living church" may be a step away from "true church".

So I agree with, Rock when he says, "I think there is no question that in November of 1831 the nascent church was on its way to "becoming" true and living."

"True" I take to mean true to his word.This could mean nothing more than willing and ably following the word of the Lord through Joseph.

"Living" I take to mean connected to the true vine, abiding in him. This means getting the word of the Lord more directly through the Lord, perhaps. That's the meaning I take, anyway.


R. Metz said...

Is this D&C 10: 67 not merely the expression of a principle, an idea, than a Gospel law?; are we to assume the Church and the Kingdom are to be set up without any kind of formal organisation?
Then what about D&C 107? Since ancient times divine rule resulted in organisational structure of some kind. We know what Moses set up under divine instruction; the Lord had a council of 12 Apostels and one or more councils of Seventy.
As this LDS church would become very big, for sure it had to be organised, also according to common law as a legal entity, in order to be able to perform any valid legal activity, to own property, to establish buildings, etc. The Lord would agree, but not always interfere with the chosen concept.
However, what Heber J. Grant and his accomplices undertook in their day with the church as an organisation (not to speak of procedural and theological changes) was quite something else and must have been absolutely unacceptable for the Lord, as it put the church as an institution in bondage both temporally and spiritually.
Of course the Lord ended His communication with this abominable church from then on, including the withdrawal of any priesthood keys the Brethren were possibly still in possession of.
D&C Section 1 vers 30 was not given for this abomination. Anyway, as the Lord may now reject the church as an organisation, He will not abandon us as a people. He may have taken away the keys of the priesthood from the institution, but He still acknowledges us as His covenant people. He always did, and remembers us even as individuals also, as long as we keep trying as humble followers of Christ.
The Lord is still leading: us, His people. And He will send His messenger to set us straight one day, is what He has promised.

Mc Kay said...

Linda, please restate the question. I'm afraid I don't quite understand.

What we hope for, wish, want, imagine, attempt, etc. is flexible and may not happen. We fail at much of what we attempt. Because we don't know the future, often don't know the present and even the past we have these words in the English language, if, perhaps, peradventure, inasmuch, to the extent that, hope, wish, desire, need, etc.

I'll respond to the question if I can understand it.


Mc Kay said...

Rock, is there a post where we might continue the discussion of Hypno-dude regarding
"how do we actually receive the name of Christ? How do we actually receive the baptism of fire?" I loved Log's answer but if you'd like to discuss it further, I'd prefer it on a baptism by fire post. Rock, you know your site best. What would you say?

Jared Livesey said...

I think she's asking if you misspelled subjunctive.

Mc Kay said...

Yes, that's a typo. Sorry. Rock can correct that even after the post comes out so hopefully he will. Log, thanks for picking it up.

Liberty Ghost said...

Terrific post and some great comments as well!

Dale B.

Linda Gale said...


You came through for me again. Thank you for being able to decipher the meaning of my comment; you were exactly correct.

Being unfamiliar with the word "subjunctive" caused me to wonder if what I was reading meant what the actual words (subjective) said. Thank you McKay for your concern and doing your best to define subjunctive. I do appreciate your kindness.

Thank you gentlemen.

Vaughn Hughes said...

Great post. Another way of seeing what is discussed in this post:

Underdog2 said...

DC 84:
49 And the whole world lieth in sin, and groaneth under darkness and under the bondage of sin.
50 And by this you may know they are under the bondage of sin, because they come not unto me.
51 For whoso cometh not unto me is under the bondage of sin.
52 And whoso receiveth not my voice is not acquainted with my voice, and is not of me.

I imagine literal bands around us, binding us. With baptism, which Denver has been heavily preaching like a John the Baptist, we break one of the bands as we try to go to Christ. Baptism is the beginning, a gate through which we pass onto the path to Christ.

In Mosiah 25:21-24 we get an idea of how "church" is used which appears to refer to those who've at least entered through the gate of baptism.

Salty said...

Rock, just an FYI the link to the DyC 101:6 scripture actually links to DyC 106.

Also this was a fascinating post. The use of language in the context of God communicating with humans is a topic not often explored. Daymon Smith has done some fascinating work on the subject as well. Reading this post has made me wonder, how many other passages of scripture have I been misinterpreting and misunderstanding because of my lack of understanding of the language?

The dissection of that verse and its meaning in contrast to what I always thought it meant was clear, very logical, and just plain brilliant. A thought came to me as I read the line about modern general authorities (incorrectly) quoting the verse today as an indicative statement: seeing that none of the GAs are linguistic experts I will give them a pass on coming to the wrong conclusion from that verse, however, if they actually had the Spirit and were truly guided from Above would they still come to that same conclusion? I hesitate to think that they would.

Thanks for breaking your rule and allowing this excellent guest post. I am going to have fun discovering the true meaning of other passages.

Mc Kay said...


Here's a verse to get you started.

In the title page of the book of Mormon, the Oliver Cowdery notes and the Printer's manuscript, both state:

"And now if there be fault, it be the mistake of men"

Notice the absolutely proper subjunctive conjugation of the "to be" verb. Someone didn't like the way it sounded and so your current Book of Mormon reads:

"now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men"

Doctrinally, there is little or no change in meaning but the editors "corrected" the text to make it read better to their ear and in doing so incorrectly conjugated the verb "to be", making it "they are" instead of "they be".

Joseph, was poor in his use of the subjunctive mood except in fomulaic expressions like "God forbid" and "God save the king". This is further proof that the Book of Mormon was produced, not from the mind of Joseph, but as a word by word transmission.


John Crane said...

Joseph Smith said, "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly." This is true, but if you go back to see the original Greek or Hebrew words used in the Bible, and you can easily do this using the online Strong's Concordance at, you find that many words are deliberately mistranslated in to English. These are just minor words. They are major words like love, faith, sin, perfection, judgment, condemnation, confession, etc. If Salty wished to discover the true meanings of words in the scriptures, this is a good place to start. Also check out

When you look up these words, you will discover that in most cases, Joseph Smith actually taught the true meanings of these words, not the modern translations, which have been mistranslated to conform to some sectarian agenda.

Jared Livesey said...

A thing to remember: the concordances and dictionaries are likewise written by sinners, and thus the definitions of words that they give are often going to reflect their self-interest in the meanings thereof.

The originals are apparently long gone.

There must needs be revelation to unlock the meaning of things, or to restore the originals as they were when they were given, or else what's left to us save it be like the Endowments of old with paid ministers who have studied the old languages preaching to us their philosophies at the behest of Satan which we would be unaware of because of our trust in their expertise, thus cursing ourselves by our reliance upon men, as it is written.

Hell, I went looking up the 10 commandments in the Hebrew of the Masoretic Text only to realize that they say far more interesting things than I've ever seen explicated anywhere, in particular commandments 2 and 10, which combined end nearly everything we do in this world.

Robin Hood said...

Just read McKay's essay.
In my view it is one of the very best examples of a perfect pile of poo.

So now, apparently, one must have a PhD in English literary structure and proper grammar to understand what the Lord says to us.
What nonsense!

John Crane said...


We are all sinners, but we are all entitled to revelation. I think we can agree that Joseph Smith received revelation. As I said, Joseph Smith taught the true principles behind the true meaning of the words. But, I strongly suggest you look up some of those words for yourself, rather than condemn them without reading them, and see what these words mean to you. See if your heart, mind, and soul is not expanded.

Jared Livesey said...


Are we all sinners? Doesn't that mean that there are no saints, and thus none are saved, and all men remain as though there had been no atonement made? Can you truly make that judgement against all mankind, and, if so, on what grounds?

I suggest that rather than responding off-the-cuff to whatever it is you think I said, you might consider that I may not have said what you think I said, for if you think I have condemened anything, you have read amiss.

Dox said...

Haha Robin Hood! That's hilarious. Awesome satire. Well done.

Yeah, we're pretty much reliant on all sorts of scholars to be able to read the word of the Lord. Thank goodness we have them, since I don't read Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, etc. And sometimes I don't understand archaic English, so its nice to have explanations of words and phrasings we don't use much anymore. Not even mentioning the fact that since we only have the Book of Mormon and D&C in English, learning how to parse English grammar properly to understand it is necessary.

Yeah, thank goodness for language scholars. The whole "scripture" thing would be nonsense otherwise.

Craig Morris said...

"So now, apparently, one must have a PhD in English literary structure and proper grammar to understand what the Lord says to us."

My guess is that everyone in Joseph Smith's day intuitively understood the subjunctive and how to use it. We are not their betters as far as the English language is concerned. Similarly they understood that thee and thou were familiar and intimate forms and not formal and more respectful as we are now taught. The example of thee and thou is instructive because to not understand that they are familiar distances us from God when we use them in prayer. We are not talking to a parent, we are talking to an overseer. Even so when one does not understand the Lord's use of the subjunctive something is lost in the meaning of the scriptures and we are poorer for it. McKay graciously explains this to us non PhD's allowing us to better understand the scriptures and I thank him for it. Of course, the things which some men esteem to be of great worth others set at naught and trample under their feet.

R. Metz said...

Finally some light seems to get shining through among the comments. In addition to what Robin Hood stated I would like to add that we don't need any textual critics to understand the Doctrine and Covenants (and in particular the real substance of places like Section 1: 30) if we know the detailed history of the church from reliable sources, the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and have some inspiration from the Holy Spirit.
Admitted, it takes a long time and effort to get to that point.

Mc Kay said...

I agree with your second conclusion. We don't need textual critics to understand D&C 1:30. Until this post, there have been no commentators (that I'm aware of) who has looked at D&C 1:30 as a hopeful forward-looking subjunctive statement. Every previous textual critic and commenter I have found has misinterpreted it as a report card, a judgement from God. Rocks insights and my own came after pondering the verse, asking for inspiration and receiving it when it came. Even now the hard hearted will reject the logic and analysis of this article to the statements of more accepted commentators.

What do you require to believe a thing? Answers vary widely. The statements of "experts" is inferior to personal revelation as the Pharisees learned.


R. Metz said...

Hello Brother McKay, thanks for the reply. About the first conclusion, don't underestimate the power of inspiration from the Holy Ghost. Being a simple Dutchman I have found out the Holy Ghost can speak Dutch too.
Something else; in my file with quotes and comments I found a comment that is probably yours: "McKay Platt on October 29, 2013 at 10.55 pm"
That must be you. I found it so interesting and striking that I copied it and put it in that file to look at it again sometimes. I just don't know on which web blog I found it; maybe you are still able to locate it (onewhoiswatching?). The content would really fit in the context of this discussion. It was about accepted vs rejected, in relation to Section 124 and goes into the several points of interest in this section: not be moved; reveal unto my church; perform the oath; deliver a promise; bless and crown you; restore again the fullness of the priesthood; He come to the Nauvoo temple.
I hope you can find it. It would contribute to the discussion. Best regards. HFM

Mc Kay said...

I agreed with your second conclusion about the Holy Ghost, it was your first conclusion "finally some light", that I ignored.

If you'll provide me a email address, I'll send you a lengthier analysis of the D&C 124 accepted/rejected discussion.


R. Metz said...

Thank you,I'll send my email adress to Brother Rock. I look forward to the analysis. It's good you still got it.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Ah, Linda Gale, indeed you caught me in a typo. My fingers typed "subjective" when it should have read "subjunctive."

That happened several times while I was laying McKay's essay out; Because of formatting issues I had to retype some of his paragraphs, and that was one of them. Thanks for catching it; the correction has been made.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

And for the record, Linda, those mispellings were mine; not Mckay's.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Salty, thanks for catching that typo. That too was my error, and it has been corrected.

Robin Hood said...

Language scholars are useful, you're right.
McKay is not a language scholar.
Apparently he is a medical doctor.

Jared Livesey said...

"And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?"

OneWhoIsWatching said...

"Until this post, there have been no commentators (that I'm aware of) who has looked at D&C 1:30 as a hopeful forward-looking subjunctive statement."

Actually there have been posts that interpreted the passage to be forward-looking.

Other posts have pointed out that one of the great evidences that it is a forward-looking prophecy is the Book of Mormon.

a keyword search of "out of obscurity and darkness" fron that passage in D&C 1, takes you to a great prophecy in the book of Mormon in 1 Nephi 22 that very likely is describing the literal future event and provides prophetic markers for identifying it when it occurs

According to 1 Nephi 22 the designated time is when the Lord God proceeds to make bare his arm in the eyes of all nations, and brings the house of Israel, who have been scattered upon all the face of the earth among all nations, out of captivity and gathers them to their lands of inheritance in North America.

It takes place at the time when the blood of that great and abominable church, which is the whore of all the earth, shall turn upon their own heads; for they shall war among themselves

It is the beginning event for the establishment of Zion and those that war against Zion shall be destroyed

14 And every nation which shall war against thee, O house of Israel, shall be turned one against another, and they shall fall into the pit which they digged to ensnare the people of the Lord. And all that fight against Zion shall be destroyed, and that great whore, who hath perverted the right ways of the Lord, yea, that great and abominable church, shall tumble to the dust and great shall be the fall of it.

There are at least four or five specific keywords in Section one of the D&C that also show up in 1 Nephi 22.


Mc Kay said...

Thanks for pointing out the overlap in several key words between D&C 1 and 1 Nephi 22. I'll take a close look at that.

I'm glad you've weighed in. I recognize you as a superb critic and I really want to see if these ideas stand up to criticism and analysis. There was quite a while there when I questioned whether I had this correct, whether it really was a subjunctive statement and whether I could show it. I still wonder if a person trained in linguistics would read it as I do, whether it would pass the peer review of a journal. Nuances in language can easily be misunderstood. The second phrase in Lord's Prayer that I quoted is a very good example.

I still maintain that until this post, there have been no commentators (that I'm aware of) who have looked at the phrase "the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth" as part of a hopeful forward-looking subjunctive statement. If I'm wrong I very much want to be corrected. I can see that there are other phrases within D&C 1:30 that people have used in forward looking statements like "out of obscurity and out of darkness" but not "the true church".

So I ask you, are you aware of anyone who has seen the Lords words about "the true and living church" as anything more than a report card, a judgement of success, an indicative statement of fact?


OneWhoIsWatching said...

I don't claim to be a linguistics expert. In fact I have a hard time writing a sentence without misspelling words and misusing punctuation.

I agree with those who think that the Lord speaks to the common un-highly-educated man through the spirit.

Nevertheless, I think that 1 Nephi 22 proves that your interpretation is correct, regardless of whether you got the technicalities of words and grammar correct.

I think that if you do a deep keyword and topic search, you can easily prove that the literal, final coming out of darkness and obscurity og the only true and living church that is mentioned in Section One, is the same one spoken of in 1 nephi 22.

And that proves the point you are making.

I agree with the observations shared by Ryan and Gaselem .

"are you aware of anyone who has seen the Lords words about "the true and living church" as anything more than a report card, a judgement of success, an indicative statement of fact?"

I am not aware of the exact words being used, but I don't think it is necessary for the exact words to be used. It simply takes a few more steps in putting the pieces of the puzzle together in establishing the same point.

the fact that

*wrath of God
*arm of the Lord revealed
*wicked "cut off"
+"obscurity and darkness"

and probably other exact and similar keyswords are in both sections of scripture, provides compelling evidence that 1 Nephi 22 is speaking of the time when the only true and living church comes forth.


I think it is easy to also prove that the true and living church did briefly come out of the wilderness at the time period that section one was written as well.

The prophecy in question has a dual fulfillment of prophecy with a shadow fulfillment being followed by a literal fulfillment IMO

Great article.. thanks for sharing your method of interpreting it.

R. Metz said...

The style by which section 1 was given/written is the style of many of the revelations from the Lord and the way He would speak to people. The way He confronted his followers and attackers as recorded in the NT could serve as the example by which to measure, especially as is recorded in the Book of John. In that perspective, for me there is no doubt that this section is truly revelatory.
And the interpretation of verse 30? That is of no private interpretation, no scholarly approach. It is the Holy Ghost who reveals the truth. So we have to read it twenty times, then study it, then ponder and pray. That's all there is to it, I am sorry.
Looking at the facts and circumstances under which section 1 was given I have no doubt that this was not forward looking prophecy at all. If it would have said “the only true and living church and kingdom” it would have been different. The restoration of all things was'nt completed yet at that time; but the church was, as a living church, with living members, the body of Christ, Paul would say.

OneWhoIsWatching said...


I agree with you that the passage in question did pertain (at least in part) to the present situation.

The church had been restored and, as of that date that section 1 was given, it was the true and living church that the Lord was pleased with collectively, even though there were no individuals that the Lord was completely pleased with.

Mckay is correct in stating that the term "only true and living church" does not show up in other passages, HOWEVER, doing extensive studying and searching of the scriptures provides compelling evidence to show that the only true and living church had been established by November of 1831.

The arrival of the only true and living church had taken place over the process of time with one event building upon another.

For instance, in March 1829 the Lord notified the saints that his church was coming out of the wilderness:

"And to none else will I grant this power, to receive this same testimony among this generation, in this the beginning of the rising up and the coming forth of my church out of the wilderness—clear as the moon, and fair as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners." D&C 5:14

Then in April of 1830, the Lord acknowledged by revelation that his church had been established and was on the earth and he proceeded to give direction regarding the organization and government pertaining to it:

"The rise of the Church of Christ in these last days, being one thousand eight hundred and thirty years since the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the flesh, it being regularly organized and established agreeable to the laws of our country, by the will and commandments of God, in the fourth month, and on the sixth day of the month which is called April—

 Which commandments were given to Joseph Smith, Jun., who was called of God, and ordained an apostle of Jesus Christ, to be the first elder of this church...

therefore let the church take heed and pray always, lest they fall into temptation, yea, even let those that are sanctified take heed also...

And again, by way of commandment to the church concerning the manner of baptism—All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church." (D&C 1:1-2,33-34, 37)

The revelation in section 20 continues to provide more specifics as to how Christs church is to be administered with various priesthood offices and officers.

Then, in October 1830, as if to clarify that section one was not just a revelation about the future restoration and organization of his church, the Lord clearly proclaimed that His church had come forth out of the wilderness (past tense) :

"And my vineyard has become corrupted every whit; and there is none which doeth good save it be a few; and they err in many instances because of priestcrafts, all having corrupt minds.
 And verily, verily, I say unto you, that this church have I established and called forth out of the wilderness." D&C 33:4-5

One year after declaring that His Church had come out of the wilderness, the Lord makes reference to the "only true and living church" (D&C 1:30)

To be continued..

OneWhoIsWatching said...

Continuing on..

It appears as if McKay does not believe that the "Church of Christ" that had been previously restored to the earth through the instrumentality of Joseph Smith, is synonymous with the "only true and living church" that is being spoken of just one year after the Lord declared that His church had come forth out of the wilderness.

I agree with him.

The scriptures seem to indicate that there is a difference between the "Church of Christ" that was established by the authority of the priesthood keys restored by John the Baptist in May of 1829, and the "only true and living church" that is spoken of in Section One.

This begs the question, is there anything significant that happened between the declaration that the Church of Christ had come forth out of the wilderness in October of 1830, and the declaration about the "only true and living church" that was made a year later?


In June of 1831, a priesthood endowment of power from on high that had been foretold in section 44, had been given. according to Joseph Smith and others, that event represented the first time that the Melchizedek Priesthood had been restored during Joseph Smith's ministry.

That means that the existing "church of Christ" that was administered with the priesthood keys of Aaron, now had the priesthood of Melchizedek in it.

A careful key word search in modern revelation shows that after the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood, the Lord designates the newly ordained High Priests as the presiding elders of the church over all of the existing elders who had not been ordained as High Priests.

Furthermore, following that endowment, the Lord begins to use other terms besides the "church of Christ" to describe his church:

"true and living church" 1:30
"church of God" 84:17, 107:80
"church of the living God" 70:10, 82:18
"Church of the first born" 76:67,71,94,102, 93:22, 107:19

I believe a contextual reading of those passages indicates that those terms are synonymous with each other. Therefore, it is not necessary to find other places in scripture that use the term "true and living church" in order to provide additional context and prove that the true and living church had been fully restored, even though it was only pleasing to the Lord collectively.

There are numerous other evidences to demonstrate that the "true and living church" in section one represented a church with greater priesthood power and authority than the "Church of Christ" that had previously been spoken of.

There is also a great deal of evidence to show that the true and living church fled back into the wilderness shortly after it came forth out of the wilderness and that it will once again come forth out of the wilderness at the designated time detailed in 1 Nephi 22

R. Metz said...

OneWhoIsWatching; this priesthood endowment, as you call it, of june 1831, that must be the Morley farm incident. Now if that event should represent the first time the Melchizedek Priesthood had been restored, I wonder what Peter, James and John came doing at the banks of the Susquehanna river in 1829.

OneWhoIsWatching said...

Great question.

It is odd that the Lord would have Joseph Smith document every detail about the restoration of priesthood keys from John the Baptist including who where, when and the exact language used by the messenger, etc., and yet only have a few obscure and conflicting statements about something having to do with Peter, James and John.

Nevertheless, the documentation for the real restoration of the Melchizedek priesthood at the Morley Farm in June of 1831 is just as clear clear and compelling as the event mentioned in Section 13.

Here is what Joseph Smith said about the June 1831 event.

“…the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood was manifested and conferred for the first time upon several of the Elders. It was clearly evident that the Lord gave us power in proportion to the work to be done, and strength according to the race set before us, and grace and help as our needs required.” History of The Church, 1:175-177

Many other contemporaries of the time made similar statements.

John Whitmer the church historian noted that;

“The Lord made manifest to Joseph that it was necessary that such of the elders as were considered worthy, should be ordained to the high priesthood.”

Lyman Wight's testimony was consistent with Joseph SMith's in declaring it the first time that the Melchizedek priesthood had been restored.

Here is Lyman’s reminiscence of the event;

“On the 4th of June 1831, a conference was held at Kirtland, represented by all the above mamed [named] branches; Joseph Smith our modern Prophet presided; and here I again saw the visible manifestations of the power of God as plain as could have been on the day of pentecost and here for the first time I saw the Melchisedec priesthood introduced into the church of Jesus Christ as anciently; whereunto I was ordained under the hands of Joseph Smith, and I then ordainded Joseph and Sidney and sixteen others such as he chose unto the same priesthood. The spirit of God was made manifest to the heeling of the sick, cast out devils, speaking in unknown tongues, discerning of spirits, and prophesying with mighty power, After the two days the conference broke up receiving the revelation which appointed 28 elders their Mission to Missouri”

John Corrill referred to the priesthood bestowal as an ENDOWMENT and testified that the event represented the first time the Melchizedek priesthood had been bestowed:

“… there was a revelation received, requiring the prophet to call the elders together, that they might receive an endowment. This was done, and the meeting took place some time in June.

About fifty elders met, which was about all the elders that then belonged to the church. The meeting was conducted by Smith. Some curious things took place. The same visionary and marvellous spirits spoken of before, got hold of some of the elders;

it threw one from his seat to the floor; it bound another, so that for some time he could not use his limbs nor speak; and some other curious effects were experienced, but, by a mighty exertion, in the name of the Lord, it was exposed and shown to be from an evil source.

The Melchizedek priesthood was then for the first time introduced, and conferred on several of the elders. In this chiefly consisted the endowment—it being a new order—and bestowed authority.

However, some doubting took place among the elders, and considerable conversation was held on the subject. The elders not fairly understanding the nature of the endowments, it took some time to reconcile all their feelings.”

To be continued

OneWhoIsWatching said...


The event that took place is consistent with JST Gen 14:25-40 which says that the highest priesthood must be delivered by the calling of Gods voice out of heaven:

“And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will..” (see href=”″>JST Gen. 14: 25-40 )

The manifestations relating to this priesthood endowment was described as many things by those involved including the beginning of the “great and mighty work” and a “work of miracles“.

Levi Hancock and others called it an ENDOWMENT just like John Corrill did

“… About this time Solomon Came to see me and brought Zebedee Coltrin along he held some metings and wanted I should go to Kirtland with him we started the latter part of May got there by the Last of the month I lerned that on the fourth of June there was to be an indowment of some Elders” Levi Hancock

So yes.

The Melchizedek priesthood was restored in June of 1831 and it was referred to as an endowment by several of the participants.

OneWhoIsWatching said...


I think that compelling evidence has been provided to show the following-:

1- That the Melchizedek priesthood was restored between the documented coming out of the wilderness of the "Church of Christ" and the emergeance of the "only true and living church that is mentioned in Section 0ne

2- The restoration of the Melchizedek priesthood was referred to as an "ENDOWMENT"

3- After the restoration of the Melchizedek priesthood, the Lord begins referring to the "Church of God" and other names that appear to by synonymous with "the only true and living church"

I would now suggest that if you study the use of the term "Church of God" as it pertains to the saints during Joseph Smith's ministry, you will realize that it has to do with the saints who are

a) High Priests or whose presiding Elders are High Priests
b) living in the designated places in the land of Zion or established stakes of Zion
c) actively attempting to live the law of God including the law of consecration

One the saints failed to attempt living the law of consecration, the church of God is no longer mentioned.

I think that is a very significant differentiation from branches being referred to as the church of Christ that were outside of Zion or a stake of Zion.

The other thing I would point out is that there is a prophecy in the Book of Mormon that used the term "church of God" to demonstrate that in fact the "church of God" (ie, "only true and living church [of God]") was established during the early part of Joseph ministry AND that it became "polluted".

Notice the wording in the following prophecy contained in Mormon 8:35-38

35 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.

 36 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.

 37 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.

 38 O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God? Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? Why do ye not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that misery which never dies—because of the praise of the world?

That prophecy is quite remarkable because the Book of Mormon stresses that Christ's church needs to be called by his name and it expressly used the term "Church of Christ" at least 7 times and yet, when referring to the apostasy of the saints of the restoration, it expressly used the term "holy church of God".

I would suggest that the term "holy church of God" in that passage is synonymous with "church of God" AND "true and living church" in modern revelation.

This proves that the true and living church was established AND that it became polluted AND that it will need to be restored again

Robin Hood said...

Because he was the Son of God.
McKay isn't.

R. Metz said...

OneWhoIsWatching; That is all very well, but my question was not yet answered. "something having to do with Peter, James and John" (see first sentence on your comment above).
Is'nt it obvious that this something must be something quite significant? Why else would they show up all three of them together? Is'nt that noteworthy, having something to do in connection with D&C 7: 7 and 27: 12, 13?

OneWhoIsWatching said...

Peter James and John is not the topic of the post.

The topic of the post has to do with whether or not the "only true and living church" that is mentioned in section 1 was referring to

1- a church that was currently in existence

2- a church that would come forth at a later time

3- both

Mckay and I are in agreement that the passage has a prophetic application to a future event. We arrived at our conclusions in different ways but came to the same conclusion.

I also believe that the true and living church of God had briefly come out of the wilderness and was on the earth when the revelation was given, although the church was placed under condemnation shortly thereafter and eventually rejected as a church with their dead. Hence, the true and living church did not stay on the earth for very long.

I have provided a few reasons why I believe that and could provide many more.

Regarding your interest in Peter James and John, and what involvement they may have had in priesthood restoration, I have a few theories but don't want to get side tracked from the topic of this post. It is also a topic that is not highly interesting to me at this time.

Perhaps you could get Rock to do an article on the topic and open it up to anyone who has information to share on the topic.

Jared Livesey said...

Here I thought the topic of the post was "what does the plain English of D&C 1 actually say?" And I thought, to myself, that the post made a complete and correct case for a specific reading given the meanings of the words involved; obviously true and correct on its face, with no room for kvetching.

Because if that was the topic, then there's nothing else to discuss.

OneWhoIsWatching said...

That is another way of characterizing the topic Jared but the author of the article made the following statement and I was simply responding to it.

"Until this post, there have been no commentators (that I'm aware of) who has looked at D&C 1:30 as a hopeful forward-looking subjunctive statement."

I actually did a post years ago wherein I showed why I thought the language as well as keywords did in fact appear to be a hopeful forward-looking statement about a future fulfillment. So I was addressing his comment.

I realize you just want to distract from a meaningful doctrinal conversation and create contention so I will not be responding to you further.

Jared Livesey said...

"A meaningful doctrinal conversation" wasn't the subject, either. McKay can correct me, but from the post, the discussion was about the words the Lord used.

After all, as you yourself admit, McKay said there was nobody who looked at D&C 1:30 as a forward-looking subjunctive statement. Subjunctive was, of course, McKay's qualifier to "forward-looking." You're not talking about the use of the subjunctive, and, to my eye, are as off-topic as Robin Hood's utterly irrelevant kvetching about McKay's lack of credentials.

Jared Livesey said...

What I like about posts like this is that they are complete, comprehensive, and not only do not depart from the text, but follows without adding to or subtracting from the text, helping us to see more clearly what is actually there. Entities are not multiplied, epicycles of "fulfillments" are not added, and it has application beyond the verse at hand.

It enlightens, in other words, and is truth.

Mc Kay said...

Log, Watcher etc

The big topic of this post is "Do we Misquote God" when we say "God said we are the only true church", as Log points out.

A spin off topic for this post, of obvious interest to all who care about the Word of the Lord is who is "the only true and living church" referred to by God.

The second topic is important, very important, but not addressed in the post. If we are not now true and living then we best get on the stick. If the 1831 church was true and living (as Watcher and I suppose) that doesn't do us much good if we are not now true to God's Word and living, abiding in Him. If the 1831 church was true and living that did them little good if by 1832 if they were under condemnation for failing to be true to the Lords words to them and not following his voice.

Not much to argue about here, right?


OneWhoIsWatching said...


I feel that you and I are in total agreement on most of those points that you just brought up.

*We do misquote God regarding that passage and many others

*It appears that the true and living church was on the earth when the revelation was given

*The only true and living church spoken of at that time is clearly not on the earth now

I think the passage in question and your interpretation about the futuristic implications are absolutely correct and they represent a very important and timely topic that people should be pondering.

Obviously the sixty four dollar question that you bring up has to do with how he "get on the stick"

I realize that you, Log, Rock and most of the people that frequent this forum have chosen a different way of getting on the stick and correcting the situation than I have chosen.

I respect the fact that this is a forum has largely become a forum for those that have chosen rebaptism and the revelations of Mr. Snuffer as the solution to the dilemma.

It was not and is not my intention or desire to come into one of the Internet gathering places for those who are affiliated with the remnant movement or whatever the appropriate descriptive is, and rain on the parade of anyone.

I simply found your article to be very timely and important and wanted to share my thoughts on it.

McKay I really appreciate the time and effort you spent on the article.

I feel that it is something that people who have concerns about the modern corporate church need to ponder.

Thanks to you and Rock for sharing the article and giving people the opportunity to ponder the implications of how that passage should be interpreted.

iterry said...

Interesting discussion - quite a bit of analysis for this one little verse. So, what does the Lord mean, then? He says that he gives these servants power to lay the foundation of the Church and to bring it out of obscurity and darkness. The coming out of obscurity is the coming into existence. It was not around, at least in the visible world, and while it existed in heaven, it had to be restored on earth. When the foundation of the Church was laid by Joseph and his associates, that was the moment when the Church came out of obscurity and darkness.

Since the apostasy of the Church was complete in 1978 when the blacks were given the priesthood the Church has been driven back into obscurity and darkness. It is not visible now as the Lord’s true Church. All the doctrines and ordinances of the Church have been changed. The Church today is nothing but an apostate remnant of the former doctrines and ordinances much the same as the Catholic Church. The Catholics and LDS have a large population but that does not equal truth.

During the Millennium all the doctrines and ordinances will be restored as some have indicated here. When the Arm of the Lord is revealed these things will be restored and the Church again will appear and come back out of obscurity. So this prophesy or statement of the Lord has a dual fulfillment. In fact, if you look at it this has been the case throughout the history of the Church when the Lord restores the Church. It only lasts a short time before lapsing into apostasy again and then it is no longer visible as is the case today.

Good discussion Rock and McKay. Thanks

Jared Livesey said...

Over at The Remnant of Jacob Forum, as well as on my primary blog, I have been trying to get across a simple message to correct the situation, for there is no other way nor path nor name spoken by which the situation can be corrected.

All we were asked to do is to keep the commandments of God, therefore keep the commandments of God.

Christ's complaint against the Scribes and Pharisees, as also Abinadi's complaint against the priests of Noah, was that they neither kept nor taught the commandments of God. Hence this saying by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: "Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments and shall teach men so to do, he shall in no wise be saved in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach these commandments of the law until it be fulfilled, the same shall be called great and shall be saved in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, except your righteousness shall exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven (JST Matthew 5:21-22)."

And again, to the people at Bountiful: "And behold, I have given you the law and the commandments of my Father, that ye shall believe in me, and that ye shall repent of your sins, and come unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Behold, ye have the commandments before you, and the law is fulfilled. Therefore come unto me and be ye saved; for verily I say unto you, that except ye shall keep my commandments, which I have commanded you at this time, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven (3 Nephi 12:19-20)."

That the Sermon is repeated thrice in scripture ought to give all pause.

There is no need to deal with claims to authority except insofar as those claims hinder men from keeping the commandments of God. There is no need to deal with historical narratives except insofar as those historical narratives hinder men from keeping the commandments of God. There is no need to deal with interpretations of scripture or pretended mysteries except insofar as those interpretations or pretended mysteries hinder men from keeping the commandments of God.

Therefore, how do we "get on the stick?" The answer is by both keeping and teaching the commandments of Jesus Christ delivered in the Sermon on the Mount.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 ¶Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

Abraham 3:25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them[.]

"If you continually do what I have said to do then you really are my disciples." - Jesus Christ, John 8:31

"Whoever loves me will continually do what I have said to do." - Jesus Christ, John 14:23

"Whoever does not love me will not continually do what I have said to do." - Jesus Christ, John 14:24

Salty said...


Have you posted this lengthier analysis of the DyC 124 accepted/rejected discussion anywhere? I would be very interested in reading it.

Michael said...

I've enjoyed this blog over the years, but...with regard to this particular post:

If I understand correctly, the God of the universe, who likely is able to speak clear
English, regardless of the time-period referenced, would know ahead of time that the subjunctive mood would fall out of favor.

Yet, he refuses to speak clearly enough back in the 19th century to make this (the whole "true and living church" thing) understood, even 180+ years later?

I'm always baffled that an omnipotent, omniscient being is so willing to let people flop around in darkness. It's almost as though he really doesn't care.

And, at the same time, he claims that he is NOT a "God of confusion".

iterry said...


I think what this essay is getting at is the fact that there are multiple levels of interpretations of scripture. Yes, as you mention God is eternal, omniscient on and on and He does indeed see the all things from the beginning to the end. But what is being taught to you is the way the Lord speaks. He speaks in metaphor and uses language that most cannot understand because they have not been taught His language. Or as in the case of this scripture are unwilling to look closer at the words that are being said to them. Case in point the Church today has co-opted this scripture to refer to them and yet they do not resemble the Church at the time of Joseph Smith in any possible way. God spoke to the leaders of the Church in those early days and we have their writings. We don’t have any revelation from God today and our leaders confirm that at every Conference. They either quote each other or in limited case what the earlier prophets have said but they never say Verily Thus Saith the Lord! In fact they don’t even keep the most basic commandments of God and yet the members and leaders today still stand and testify that this is the only true and living Church on the face of the earth. How absurd!

The language is clear to be sure and this analysis is right on target. What should be done as this essay points out is compare the scripture to condition of the people and Church at any given period of time. If you do that you will find that today the Church has indeed lapsed into apostasy and is not the true and living Church any longer. The next question is of course when did it change, but that is another subject.

Soon when God has had enough and the cup of iniquity of the leaders is full He will destroy them and correct the current situation. The next phase will be the bringing forth of the Church of the First-Born. Then at that day you will be able to say that the Church is the True and Living Church on the face of the earth. For now that certainly is not case it. The terms used in this little scripture certainly is indeed the subjection mood.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

As iterry points out above, the evidence that the LDS church is no longer "true and living" should be obvious to anyone with eyes to see. Modern Church leaders have shamelessy co-opted the "true and living" phrase to refer to themselves and yet, as iterry observes, this church does not resemble the Church at the time of Joseph Smith in any possible way. "God spoke to the leaders of the Church in those early days and we have their writings. We don’t have any revelation from God today and our leaders confirm that at every Conference" via their inability to convey any oracles from God.

In the place of living oracles, which everyone in Joseph Smith's day understood to mean "ongoing communication from the Divine," today's Church leaders craftily redefined the word "oracles" so that today the word no longer means a communication or a message from God. No Siree, "oracles" now refer to the leadership themselves. Against every historical use of the word going back thousands of years, and contrary to every dictionary definition, they have now labeled themselves the "living oracles." A nifty trick indeed.

Both scripture and the teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith insist that the true and living church must exhibit living oracles, else it cannot claim legitimacy. (See my post "Where Did The Oracles Go?" )

No problem. Modern Church leadership simply twisted the meaning of the words "living oracles," and voila! They can still make the claim.

These men are alive, aren't they? Then THEY must be the oracles of which the scripture speaks! Nevermind none of these men have EVER conveyed a message directly from God as Joseph Smith frequently did. They just change the definition of "continuous revelation" to mean the twice annual drivel spoken at general conference instead of actual revelations spoken from the mouth of God.

And there you have it: the true and living church, complete with "living" oracles.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Anyone still clinging, against all evidence, to the notion that the modern Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints is the true and living church spoken of in D&C 1:30 should be reminded that THAT church, the one organized by Joseph Smith in 1830 under the principles of American common law, no longer even exists on the earth.

It has been replaced, through corporate charter, with a newly organized entity that operates differently from the original, and so has been given a new name,"The Corporation of the PRESIDENT of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

That has been the actual, legally recognized name of the LDS church since 1925. That was the year President Heber J. Grant officially changed the name of the church, AND the rules by which it would henceforth operate. (Rules, incidentally, that contradict those instituted by Jesus Christ when the church was originally founded.)

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" is NOT the name of the organization most members think of when they reference the modern "true and living church." The name given to the church in 1830 remains only as a trademark owned by the church's modern incarnation, the Corporation of the President.

We should remember that the Lord himself directed, through revelation, what the name of HIS church should be. (D&C 115) And he was very clear that any deviation from the name HE gave the church would negate its legitimacy.

"How be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or IF IT BE CALLED IN THE NAME OF A MAN ["the President"] THEN IT BE THE CHURCH OF A MAN; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel." (3 Nephi 27:8)

Is the church today called in the name of a man?
No question about it. We even stand and sing praises to this man when he enters a room.

Is the church "built upon my gospel"?
Read Rob Smith's "Teaching For Doctrines the Commandments of Men: Traditions In Modern Mormonism," which you can either buy through Amazon or read for free here:

Then decide for yourself.

Vaughn Hughes said...

Funny, I just posted a visualization of that heavenly silence among us LDSs a short time ago.

matt lohrke said...

I was doing a little study this morning came across D&C 65. I think the subjunctive probably applies to it as well. These declarations, in light of new understanding, all seem conditional rather than absolute:

"Call upon the Lord, that his kingdom may go forth upon the earth, that the inhabitants thereof may receive it, and be prepared for the days to come, in the which the Son of Man shall come down in heaven, clothed in the brightness of his glory, to meet the kingdom of God which is set up on the earth.

Wherefore, may the kingdom of God go forth, that the kingdom of heaven may come, that thou, O God, mayest be glorified in heaven so on earth, that thine enemies may be subdued; for thine is the honor, power and glory, forever and ever. Amen."

The Church emphatically declares on its website that it IS the kingdom of God, despite Joseph's statement that the without the oracles, the kingdom doesn't exist. Good times!

matt lohrke said...

Hi, Michael:

One thing I've come to realize and understand lately is that the Lord gives us whatever we want, either to salvation or damnation. If we want to flop around in darkness, he lets us. He won't force anything on us, ever. Jacob told the Nephites that the Lord "hath taken away his plainness from [the Jews], and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble." (Jacob 4:14.)

Just last night I was reading about the Jared and his brother gathering their posterity around in their old age and asking them what they wanted after they were gone. Turns out they wanted a king. The brother of Jared, a prophet and righteous man, counseled against it. Jared, also a righteous man, said, "let them have what they want, even if it ends in captivity," which it did.

What do we want in our church in 2017? Cultural events, endless meetings, a hierarchy, memes, inspirational messages, and sharable quotes. Forget doctrinal exposition, interpreting scriptures, new revelations, miracles and the fruits of the spirit. Ain't nobody got time for that.

We have exactly what we want.

iterry said...

Hi Matt,

I wanted to mention something to you about your reference to the oracles of the Church. I've seen a number of others reference them too on this and other Blogs. Most believe that the Oracles are revelation. Actually the Oracles come from the root word for oral. These are things that are transmitted orally to the recipient. They are none other than the temple ordinances because those are the things that are transmitted to the Saints orally. They are not written down or at least anciently they were not. Not so sure about today. They are not revelation given to the prophet nor are they the prophet himself. I've heard members call the president of the Church an oracle. In section 90:4-5 the Lord warns those who receive the oracles of God to beware how they hold them. This is not a light thing.

As you and others here likely know the oracles have all been changed now. Hinckley changed the oracles of the Church. He was given command of them starting with Pres. McKay. He was the one who recommended they be changed and also made drastic changes to them when he was president that rendered them invalid as it says in Isaiah 24:5.

Mc Kay said...

Very interesting comments about "oracles". I've tried to do some research on that word and not found what you just reported. Can you give a source for your conclusions on the meaning of the word?


Alan Rock Waterman said...

iterry, I have to both agree with you and disagree slightly.

You are correct of course that the modern interpretation of "Oracle" is Not a person. You are also correct that the root of "oracle" is "oral." So temple ordinances can be oracles, in that they are conveyed orally. But the word is not limited to only its root meaning. As I showed in my piece "Where Did The Oracles Go?" the meaning of the word means not just "from the mouth" but from the mouth of a deity. In Greek legend the oracles of Delphi were messages transmitted from a greek deity, THROUGH an intermediary. The old testament oracles were revelations "from the mouth of God" (or in God's words) transmitted THROUGH intermediaries we call prophets, men like Isaiah, Jremiah, and Ezekial. The prophets themselves were not the oracles, the words they spoke were the oracles.

If it is your position that oracles are not the same as revelations because revelations are written and not strictly oral, I would have to disagree with you. Joseph Smith received the oracles from the God's mouth, then he wrote them down. Those are still oracles. They don't cease to be the word of God simply because they have been published. They are still messages or communications from the mouth of God, and most importantly, Joseph relayed them in God's words, or in God's voice.

Those are the oracles Joseph Smith referred to when he said if we have not the oracles, we have not the kingdom. Though today it is common to refer to the First Presidency as "living oracles" we won't find Joseph using that word to refer to himself.

As Matt suggests above, if we are not currently receiving decrees from the king, who then is governing the kingdom? No one. The kingdom cannot be found on the earth at this time. A church, yes. That will exist wherever people repent and come unto Christ, though even today most members think the church is the organization ruled by the GAs. Regardless, as Joseph himself declared, (indeed, as even the primitive Christians understood), the kingdom is perceptually distinct from the church, no matter what one thinks the church is.

So while I agree with you that the verbally conveyed ordinances are indeed oracles, written revelations are oracles also. Any communication from the mouth of God, in God's words or in His voice, qualifies as an oracle.

Which would exclude everything spoken at general conference, which is largely drivel. So at least we're in agreement with that.

Mc Kay said...

Your comment that you "think the subjunctive probably applies" to section 65 is absolutely correct. But it need not be a matter of supposition, you can show from the text that it is subjunctive without any question, I'll show you how.

"Call upon the Lord, (imperative mood) that (this conjunction signals the subjunctive mood) his kingdom may (auxiliary verb) go forth upon the earth, that (this conjunction signals the subjunctive mood) the inhabitants thereof may receive it, and (that they may is implied) be prepared for the days to come, in the which the Son of Man shall come down in heaven (indicative mood), clothed in the brightness of his glory, to meet the kingdom of God which is set up on the earth.

Now comes the sentence which is conjugated correctly for the subjunctive mood but incorrectly for the indicative mood. When you see this, you have incontrovertible evidence of the subjunctive mood.

Wherefore, may the kingdom (third person singular)of God go ( should read goes if in the indicative mood) forth, that the kingdom of heaven may come, that thou, O God you, mayest be glorified in heaven so on earth, that thine enemies may be subdued; for thine is the honor, power and glory, forever and ever.

Nice pick up


iterry said...

Thanks for that explanation Rock. The idea that the oracles are the leaders is the great lie of the last days. Lucifer has chained the members to the lie "Follow The Prophet" for which they cannot extract themselves. We certainly do agree that the leaders today are both deaf and dumb.

matt lohrke said...

Hi, McKay - thanks for confirming my suspicions. Having served a mission in Spain, the subjunctive was a familiar concept which made your post easier to understand (thanks for writing it!). It has its own conjugation in which masculine and feminine verbs swap endings.

For kicks and giggles I pulled up my Spanish scriptures and read D&C 65 - the verbs in those same verses are conjugated in the subjunctive, signifying an hopes, wishes, or desires. Anyone reading this in Spanish should know simply by the conjugation that these are hopes and not absolutes.

Verbs conjugated in the subjunctive are in bold, as well as the indicators:

Implorad (command) al Señor, a fin de que ("so that," "in order to," "with the final result being" -- a subjunctive indicator) su reino se extienda sobre la faz de la tierra, para que ("so that" - subjunctive indicator) sus habitantes lo reciban y estén preparados para los días que han de venir, en los cuales el Hijo del Hombre descenderá en el cielo, revestido del resplandor de su gloria, para recibir el reino de Dios establecido sobre la tierra.

Por tanto, extiéndase el reino de Dios, para que ("so that" -subjunctive indicator) venga el reino de los cielos, a fin de que tú, oh Dios, seas glorificado en los cielos así como en la tierra, para que tus enemigos sean vencidos; porque tuya es la honra, el poder, y la gloria, para siempre jamás. Amén.

R. Metz said...

In response to Matt Lohrke's comment dated 27 february 2.40 PM, saying “We have exactly what we want”, I could add that this is all in the Book of Mormon:
“For the Lord has said: This is my church, and I will establish it ; and nothing shall overthrow it, save it is the transgression of my people”. That is from Mosiah 27: 13. Mark the words “save it is the transgression of my people”.
No wonder outsiders call this church a cult.

Mc Kay said...

Interesante. Gracias para ensename. comprendo su puntos, malo menos.
McKay-el carnicero de espanol

Linda Gale said...

So sorry for being off-topic. Please forgive me. Just can't contain myself here.

I guess I am just a dopey member of the church, because I really enjoy attending Sunday School. I frequently make comments that others will counter with their opinions, and that is just fine with me. Hopefully we will all consider things which we hadn’t considered before and we will all grow from the experience of further exploring the gospel. I know I do.

This past Sunday a comment was made by a visitor to our ward, that she was told by her bishop that she should partake of the sacrament each week unless the bishop prohibited her from doing so.

I was quite surprised by this bit of counsel. I commented that he was mistaken for saying such a thing, and that the Holy Ghost, being a god, was the one we should listen to in such matters, not a mere mortal. I mean, I couldn’t just allow such a comment to not be challenged because others may think that is the correct procedure.

My concern is that personal agency and personal inspiration is being quietly subverted to where some leaders would like to micro-manage our spiritual lives for us. I was truly taken aback by this good sister’s comment.

Following Sunday school, it was my turn to teach the 4th Sunday lesson in RS. As soon as I got up to lead the discussion, this sister and her friend left the room and didn’t return. Oops!

Linda Gale said...

So......where is the kingdom of God,if not on the earth today?

Luke 17:21

King James Bible
Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

People like her would have left the room if Joseph Smith himself had got up to teach, Linda, because the simple truths he taught would sound strange and foreign to her.

"If any man preaches to you doctrines contrary to the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or the Book of Doctrine & Covenants, set him down as an imposter...Try them by the principles contained in the acknowledged word of God; if they preach, or teach, or practice contrary to that, disfellowship them; cut them off from among you as useless and dangerous branches."
(Joseph Smith, Times & Seasons, 5:490-491, April, 1, 1844.)

Sadly, in our day it is the members who take seriously Joseph Smith's teachings who are being cut off, because they dare to place the teachings of Joseph and Jesus above the ignorant prattlings of a bishop or stake president. The Savior instructed us in 3 Nephi 18 regarding the partaking of the sacrament, teaching that it was a commandment to all who had come unto him and been baptized. There is nothing in there giving a ward bishop authority to decide the matter for us.

If our founding prophet were to disguise himself in modern clothing and plop himself down in any LDS ward's Gospel Doctrine class and participate in the discussion, how long do you think it would be before his views were considered outside the pale?

I'd wager he'd be called in by the bishop the very next Sunday.

Linda Gale said...

Thank you Rock, for your views of Gospel Doctrine class. I totally agree that Joseph would be astounded.

I usually stir the pot in that class, for which I get lots of dissenting comments. Last Sunday it was that the word of wisdom was a commandment. When I commented that it wasn't a commandment, well .........Boy Howdy!!

I will email the former bishop, who gave me the reference he got off his iPhone during class of B.Y. 1859 GC. I'll be meek and explain about the pattern JS set out of publishing all new revelations for the entire church to pray and receive confirmation, because Jesus's house is a house of order, and also because Jesus is no respecter of persons, so he wants each of us to be able to read that revelation which changed a non-commandment into a commandment. That should be a good and gentle start for a conversation about revelations for the entire church.

Thanks again for your comments. Also, your blog is where I gleaned much of the material I base my SS class comments upon and also my RS lesson material upon. Your blog is a vast storehouse of historical info. Love it!.

Linda Gale said...

Sorry for another post so soon, but since last Sunday's GD class and the word of wisdom thing, I have been revisiting some of your earlier essays. I've read 2 or three on the word of wisdom, etc and now I'm reading all of the comments on the post about Willy's pants being on fire, hehe! Anyway these are good to revisit from time to time to refresh my memory.

But I noticed that Steven Lester has not commented on any of your more recent essays, and he is such a delightful commenter that I wondered if he was still around. Do you know where this wonderful sage has been for the last couple of years? I miss his wry sense of humor.

Thanks for any info you may have on Steven.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I've wondered about our missing friend Steven myself, Linda. So I've emailed him to see if he's still among the living. Let you know if he answers. Better yet, I hope he responds here.

Regarding the resistance of members to follow the word of God instead of looking to their leaders, I always like to quote President Harold B. Lee, who was alarmed at what he called a dangerous trend in the church to look outside the scriptures. You're familiar with this, I'm sure, because I've quoted him at least twice previously. But here it is again. You might want to print it up and fold it into your scriptures so you can pull it out in church whenever someone claims the leaders' word is the final word:

"I say we need to teach our people to find their answers in the scriptures. If only each of us would be wise enough to say that we aren't able to answer any question unless we can find a doctrinal answer in the scriptures! And if we hear someone teaching something that is contrary to what is in the scriptures, each of us may know whether the things spoken are false -it is as simple as that. But the unfortunate thing is that so many of us are not reading the scriptures. We do not know what is in them, and therefore we speculate about the things that we ought to have found in the scriptures themselves. I think therein is one of our biggest dangers of today."

"The Lord has given us in the standard works the means by which we should measure truth and untruth. May we all heed His word: 'Thou shalt take the things which thou hast received, which have been given unto thee in my scriptures for a law, to be my law to govern my church.' " D&C 42:59 (First Presidency Message, Ensign, December 1972.)

Linda Gale said...

Thanks for the quote, I will print it out and keep it in my scripture bag. I'm not sure I've read that one before.

Someone said to me last Sunday, "oh yes, Brigham Young made the word of wisdom a commandment all those years ago."

I am so surprised at the number of "good, active" members of my ward who think that a mere mortal can over-ride Our Lord and Savior. sheeze louise! Can they even be counted among the Christians?

You are a great source for all things gospel-related. Thanks for having "an inquiring mind".

As for Steven Lester, I do hope he will respond to your request; I miss him.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

As you may recall from my post on the Word of Wisdom, when we read the account of Brigham Young that is supposedly the time when Brigham converted the Word of Wisdom into a commandment, we see he did nothing of the sort. Nor did he claim to, and neither did he intend to make it a commandment. This is one of the great myths of Mormonism.

For others following this thread, here's the link where you can see for yourselves what Brigham Young actually said that day:

Robin Hood said...

I have just re-read McKay's article.
I think I was a little hasty in my initial objections.
He makes an interesting point.

Linda Gale said...

Yes Rock, the article on beer is one I read, along with all of the comments.

It appears that Brigham was trying to do what I have seen done at Youth Conferences, and that is to get the immediate audience to commit to a principle of moral uprightness. As you pointed out in your article, 10-12 years later he was still trying to get people to adhere to the WofW, but he himself had a difficult time being 100% true to it.

Thank you, my friend. I hope you have a lovely day.

Mc Kay said...

Robin Hood
That's generous of you. I reached out to a linguist, the one working with Royal Skousen on the Book of Mormon project. Here are Stanford Carmack's comments.


Well, Mckay, you're partially correct. The conjunction that is the trigger of the subjunctive, used toward the end of verse 24 (its presence isn't noted after that verse, but should be assumed as continuing). It's a that of purpose, so that's why there are so many auxiliaries in the following verses (mostly might), which are archaic subjunctive markers. So the Lord gave commandments for various purposes -- in order that some things would occur. Here I use would as an anterior future auxiliary, substituting for archaic might. Human action determines whether the things do occur.

In verse 30, they were given commandments in order that they would have power to lay the foundation of a church, then the appositive phrase. Well, they did lay the foundation of a church, and it can be interpreted that at the time of the revelation it was the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth. This interpretation is the most likely one because of the following statement by the Lord that he is generally well pleased with the church. That statement is outside the scope of the subjunctive since indicative, present-tense am is used at the end of verse 30.

Best wishes

Jared Livesey said...

Well, sure; if things were different (speaking textually) then they wouldn't be the same (speaking of meaning).

Or, in other words, if you change the text, you change the meaning. "Would" and "might" are not the same.

matt lohrke said...

Anyone know any a-religious linguists without a dog in the fight? Would be nice to get an unbiased opinion...

Jared Livesey said...

All of us should be impartial seekers of truth.

Stan put his thumb on the scale when he transmuted the opening of a window of possiblity (may / might) into actual intent to execute (will / would). That's not kosher, since power and will are distinct categories. Men's desires make the difference whether a possibility is realized pertaining to the things of God. A deed done with love is qualitatively different than a deed done with fear, or hatred, or resentment, and on that invisible basis - the desires of the heart - are men's deeds judged of God.

And whenever you get someone talking about "most likely interpretations" and such, you're looking not at a impartial declaration of truth, but a statement of the speaker's bias, and possibly also an attempt to persuade to adopt his bias. The truth is simply this or that interpretation is possibly true on the words used, or this or that interpretation is not possibly true on the words used. If it's possibly true, then it is not known to be false.

Did they lay the foundation of the true and living church, the only church upon the face of the whole earth with which the Lord is well-pleased, and bring it (either the church or its foundation) forth out of obscurity and darkness? I cannot find an unambiguous statement that says they did so. Indeed, in at least one place where this true and living church should have appeared in the Book of Mormon, it does not unambiguously do so (see 1 Nephi 13:34-42, and note that in verse 37, he's speaking of those few who at the time of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon shall *seek* to bring forth his Zion).

Zach Loggins said...

Hi Rock! I have a suggestion for your next post. Maybe you could talk about Malachi 4:5-6 and what you think it means. You know what the church thinks it means. That it means genealogy work and temple sealings. That's not what I'm seeing when I read it.

Mc Kay said...

I appreciate your take. Seek the truth without bias and take the Word of the Lord as He gave it, not as you wish it were.

I didn't take Stan's comments quite the way you did, apparently. I felt he validated my paper, namely that the revelation is in the subjunctive mood. It appeared to Stan that I interpreted verses 18 through 30 as one long subjunctive statement and the true and living church is just one of 15 possible outcomes. He objects to that by saying "you are partially correct", "The conjunction "THAT" is the trigger of the subjunctive, used toward the end of verse 24".

24 Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, THAT they might come to understanding.

And then Stan adds this important statement, "Human action determines whether the things do occur."

Stan then, noting that the Lords language departs from the subjunctive when He says "with which I the Lord am well pleased", concludes "they did lay the foundation of a church" ..., and in 1831 "it was the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth." That is Stan's opinion. I happen to share that opinion. It can't be shown from the subjunctive statements but can be derived from our knowledge of history, in our opinions.

Something pleased Him. I believe the easiest reading of that verse is that the church pleased him, the body of men and women who were repenting and coming unto Him in 1831 pleased Him. Their actions and attitudes being true to his commandments through Joseph pleased him. The stood their watch and received directions from above, thereby making them "living". This pleased Him. Joseph's willingness to receive Gods Commandments pleased Him. Stan agrees.

We differ a little perhaps on our interpretation of history but not on the linguistics of the revelation. The Lord did what he did in order that the early saints would have power to do two things
1- lay the foundation (which I think we all believe they accomplished).
2-bring the only true and living church out of obscurity and out of darkness. (We may differ on that point)

All in all I was pleased with Stan's response. It validated that the linguistics is correct in the paper and taught me a little bit more about how "THAT" can signal the conjunctive mood and introduced me to the "anterior future auxiliaries" of which I knew nothing.

Thank you Stan.


Jared Livesey said...


If you need additional validation, I spoke with someone with a degree in rhetoric and they said that you were correct also. But since the argument from authority is always and everywhere invalid, take that for what it's worth.

I am, rather incompetently, perhaps, trying to say that substituting "would" for "might" constitutes a change in meaning; the Lord said he gave commands to merely make it possible for them to be fulfilled; the Lord did not say he gave these commands with the intent that they be fulfilled.

"I did X so that they might do Y" means X was done with intent to make doing Y possible.

"I did X so that they would do Y" means the intent of doing X was to impart intent or motivate them to do Y. There is a tone of prejudgement to this; if they failed to do Y, they were blameworthy, willing contrary to the Lord's will, but that tone is not supportable on the text as it is (and conflicts with 1 Nephi 13:37, where they are blessed for the effort with no mention of the result thereof).

We don't know what happened from D&C 1. All we know is potential was created. We have to go elsewhere for what was made of that potential.

The significance of your paper is as a formal demonstration that on the words used D&C 1 is not an unambiguous statement that the LDS Church was and is the one and only true and living Church upon the face of the whole earth with which the Lord cannot fail to be pleased.

Mc Kay said...

I like the way you think, friend.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Zachary Loggins,
I might write about Malachi 4 if I had a better idea what the prophet was talking about in those verses myself. But alas, I'm as ignorant on that topic as most latter-day saints. It's certainly true the Church in its present incarnation tends to spin scripture to conform with whatever it wishes to convey as doctrine.

Contact me privately; I'd like to hear your take.

Ryan Nickel said...

Section 65 was given as a prayer and future prophecy even though by this time (Oct. 1831) the Kingdom and fulness of the melchezidek priesthood had been restored.

OneWhoIsWatching had blogged about this in the past as well.

Anonymous said...

@ McKay - Wonderful analysis. I loved the post.
@ Rock. - Thanks for posting this. I have one quibble with your comments on oracles. Though I agree with you that the early leaders did think of "living oracles" as revelations rather than the men receiving them, I think you go to far when you say,

"In the place of living oracles, which everyone in Joseph Smith's day understood to mean "ongoing communication from the Divine," today's Church leaders craftily redefined the word "oracles" so that today the word no longer means a communication or a message from God. No Siree, "oracles" now refer to the leadership themselves. Against every historical use of the word going back thousands of years, and contrary to every dictionary definition, they have now labeled themselves the "living oracles." A nifty trick indeed."

If you look at the 1828 Websters dictionary, definitions 6 and 7 both refer to people, rather than their pronouncements:
6. Any person or place where certain decisions are obtained.
7. Any person reputed uncommonly wise, whose determinations are not disputed, or whose opinions are of great authority.

Again, I agree that going down to definition 6 or 7, and ignoring the context of the early leaders statements isn't ideal; but I think there is some wiggle room for someone to interpret "living oracles" as "living prophets" if they'd like. Now, it'd be nice if there was some evidence of prophecy to go along with it, but that's a whole 'nuther can of worms.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I agree that by the 1800's, the word "oracles" had begun to be assumed by some to refer to a person or being. In fact, I acknowledged that reality in my piece "Where Did The Oracles Go?", while noting that usage was innacurate. This is one of those instances where the use of language becomes fluid over time, and sometimes comes to have a meaning it did not originally have. Webster was correct in acknowledging the incorrect meaning of the word, even as he led with the definition of the correct one.

In tracking the use of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary and other sources I consulted, it's clear that this incorrect interpretation evolved from the mistaken notion that the Greek Oracle at Delphi referred to Pythia herself, the woman through whom the Deity communicated. That's an easy assumption to make, and many readers still make that mistake today. In fact, the modern interpretation has won the day, overshadowing the original meaning of the word. Today it is common to refer to Pythia herself as the oracle, but that identification is incorrect.

When Webster added that interpretation further down in his list of definitions, he was merely acknowledging that in SOME instances, "oracle" had come to mean something other than its true and proper meaning. Webster was simply doing his job as a lexicographer by showing, in essence: "Here is what the word means, but it's important to understand that the word has also evolved in some quarters to acquire an additional meaning."

I maintain that because Joseph AND Jesus used that word properly, the members at the time understood the word as the Lord defined it, even IF a few Americans in that day who misunderstood Greek fables might have misunderstood its proper meaning. What I find inexcusable is that modern leaders of the Church have chosen the improper use of "Oracles" over the way it was used by God and His prophet, merely because it makes it convenient to claim themselves to be something they are not. A simple reading of the words every time Jesus or Joseph use the term would easily persuade anyone that the "modern" use does not apply to what they are saying. When they talk about oracles, they are clearly referencing something OTHER than a person.

Makes you wonder why our leaders can't read the simple words of the Lord without putting their own spin on it. Because anyone reading it in modern revelation would -or should- instantly realize the meaning they had come to assume it meant doesn't fit in the way the Lord is using it.