Sunday, October 22, 2017

Brigham Young's Hostile Takeover

Previously: How Jesus Christ Was Ousted As Head Of The Church Of Jesus Christ

Today I present Part Two of Apostolic Coup d'etat, the first of which I presented last month on this blog. Both podcasts appeared originally on the website of Radio Free Mormon. I have taken the opportunity to not only link to both podcasts on this blog, but also to provide a written transcript for both chapters. I recommend you first READ OR LISTEN TO PART ONE HERE if you have not already done so, as it contains important background to this one.

I should note that the section subheadings in both transcripts were placed here by me, Rock Waterman, and not by the author. I am also responsible for any captions, illustrations, and links to outside sources.

Here, then, is the transcript:

Apostolic Coup d’etat, 
Part Two

How the Twelve Apostles, in a Breathtaking Power Grab, Assumed Absolute and Complete Control of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints                                                                                                                                                          -By Radio Free Mormon

                             (Listen To the Audio Podcast here.)

In the last episode, we talked about when Joseph Smith was murdered in June of 1844, the problem was not that there was nobody who could lay claim to being the next leader of the church; the problem was that there was an overabundance of people and groups who could feasibly lay claim to being the next leader of the church.

We talked about how Brigham Young, who on behalf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was able to convince a majority of the Latter-Day Saints to accept the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as the leaders of the church in place of Joseph Smith and the First Presidency. We also talked about how three and a half years later at Winter Quarters, Brigham Young, over substantial pushback from five of the other apostles, managed to win acceptance for his proposal to reorganize the First Presidency with himself as president, and apostles Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards as his counselors.

We also talked about how miracles appeared to have been created and then retroactively inserted into the historical narrative to show that Brigham Young had been transfigured into Joseph Smith at the August 8, 1844 meeting in which he spoke to the saints and argued that the apostles should lead the church. We also talked about the retroactive "miracle" at Winter Quarters on December 5th, 1847 at the meeting with the apostles.

Actually, only eight of the twelve apostles were present for this meeting when Brigham Young said that there was an earthquake and Orson Hyde amplified on that, saying not only was there an earthquake, but also the voice of God was heard by the apostles, saying it was time for Brigham Young to step forward and become president of the church.

These stories, however, surfaced many, many years after the events they allege to portray. And in fact, in both instances, people who were present at the time and made contemporaneous records mention nothing unusual or miraculous occurring. So both of these stories appear to be late fabrications that were inserted into the historical record in order to buttress the claims of leadership. The purpose of the stories is to show that God sanctions, God approves, God commands these changes in leadership; God approved of Brigham Young and the apostles leading the church. That’s why Brigham Young was transfigured into Joseph Smith. Later on, God ordered, by his own voice from heaven, that Brigham Young should become president of the church and reorganize the First Presidency.

The purpose of these "miracle stories" is to confirm that this is the way God wanted things to happen. And it’s also interesting to note that the only reason for creating miracle stories and applying them backward in history at these critical junctures of leadership transition is because the people who created them felt their claims needed buttressing. In other words, they felt their claims were not strong enough to stand on their own, and therefore needed an extra miracle in order to solidify their case.

We delved a bit into Section 107, given in 1835, which describes the different quorums of leadership in the church: the Quorum of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, which is said to be equal in power and authority to the First Presidency. We talked about the Quorum of Seventy, which is described in the revelation as being equal in power and authority to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. We talked about the fact that this revelation does not say two things that modern-day Latter-Day Saints like to ascribe to it.

The first thing it does not say is that any quorum has the power to reconstitute a higher quorum. Specifically, it does not say that the Quorum of the Twelve has the power to reconstitute the First Presidency. The second thing this revelation does not say is that one quorum is above another in power and authority. That’s the way it’s become to be interpreted nowadays. And we quoted from Joseph F. Smith in 1906 to that effect in the last episode, instead of a strict hierarchy at the top, First Presidency, next Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, next Quorum of the Seventy, as we have it today.

Section 107 is extremely clear and repetitive on the point that each of these quorums are equal in power and authority one to the other. Going on with a little bit more study in the Doctrine and Covenants, there is only one section in the Doctrine and Covenants that appears to contemplate the appointment of a successor to Joseph Smith and the way in which that would be done. That is Section 43 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which says in verses 2-4:
"For behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye have received a commandment for a law unto my church, through him (that’s Joseph Smith) whom I have appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations from my hand. 
"And this ye shall know assuredly—that there is none other appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations until he be taken, if he abide in me. 
Verse four is the critical verse here:
"But verily, verily, I say unto you, that none else shall be appointed unto this gift except it be through him; for if it be taken from him he shall not have power except to appoint another in his stead."
So here is the reference in the Doctrine and Covenants, in the published revelations of the church, to how a successor to Joseph Smith will arise and that is through direct appointment. That is the word used here, "appointed" -direct appointment by Joseph Smith- which would presumably be prior to his death. He would have to appoint somebody.

And what we are going to see as we touch on this part of the history of the church is that there were a number of people coming forward who claim to have appointments by Joseph Smith. And they even use that word - appointments - by Joseph Smith to be the next president.

For example, Brigham Young himself in this August 8, 1844 meeting expressed his belief that if Hyrum Smith had lived and not died at the same time as Joseph Smith, that Hyrum Smith would have been the next leader of the church. In other words, he had the idea that Hyrum Smith had this appointment. Here’s the quote: “If Hyrum had lived he would not have stood between Joseph and the Twelve but he would have stood for Joseph.-Did Joseph ordain any man to take his place? He did. Who was it? It was Hyrum. But Hyrum fell a martyr before Joseph did." (Conference Minutes, Times & Seasons, Oct 15, 1844, pg 683.) 

So here’s this expression by Brigham Young that he knew of this idea, that a person had to be appointed by Joseph Smith in order to be the next president. Not only does this quote show Brigham Young understood this principle, it also indicates that Brigham Young understood that the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles did not have this specific appointment. Brigham Young himself did not have this specific appointment. There was no basis that Brigham Young could claim, based upon Section 43, that he or the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles should become the leaders of the church. He argued it on different grounds and ultimately won the day with the majority of the Latter-Day Saints.

But to give you an idea, there was another fellow named James Strang who you may have heard of. And he came forward with a letter that he claimed was mailed to him prior to Joseph Smith’s death, written by Joseph Smith, in which Joseph Smith appointed William Strang to become the next president of the church when Joseph Smith died. And it was generally understood even by Brigham Young that Joseph Smith’s son, Joseph Smith III, was appointed by Joseph Smith to become the next president of the church. Joseph Smith III was very young when Joseph Smith died, and Brigham Young held open the idea that the apostles would lead the church until Joseph Smith III was old enough to become its rightful president.

Joseph Smith III, however, had no intention of joining with the church in Utah. He was a member of the church to which his mother belonged. That would be Emma Smith, that would be Joseph Smith’s wife. And ultimately, Joseph Smith III became president of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which ended up putting him out of contention for being president as far as Brigham Young was concerned.

And not only did Hyrum Smith and Joseph Smith III have appointment claims along with James Strang; Samuel Smith, Joseph Smith’s brother, appears in Nauvoo in July, a couple of weeks after Joseph Smith is murdered and he claims Joseph Smith appointed him to be the president of the church in case Joseph and Hyrum were killed at the same time. We'll talk more about Samuel Smith later because he came to a tragic -and somewhat suspicious- end.

One more example of Joseph Smith acting on Section 43’s instructions is the ordination of David Whitmer on July 7, 1834. So that's pretty early on. But David Whitmer left the church a few years later. He was no longer a member of the church in 1844 when Joseph Smith died. But on July 7, 1834 Joseph Smith ordained David Whitmer “to be a leader or a prophet to the church, which ordination was on condition that he, Joseph Smith, did not live to God himself.”

So, the idea there being, that if Joseph Smith fell away, David Whitmer now, by this ordination, would become the leader or prophet of the church. I mention all these examples to show that this was a commonly understood idea in the early church, in Joseph Smith’s time, that for a person to become the leader of the church, they had to be appointed to that office by Joseph Smith. And as I have indicated there were a number of people who came forward to claim that appointment upon Joseph Smith’s death. It was a little like in the 1970’s when Howard Hughes died, and people started coming out of the woodwork claiming to have wills written by him that gave them all of Howard Hughes' money. The same sort of thing happened in Nauvoo shortly after Joseph Smith’s death.

The Highest Authority In The Church Is Not The Prophet
Now let’s go back and talk about how Brigham Young solidified the position of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as the leaders of the church. First under this heading we are going to talk about the office of the presiding patriarch, the Church Patriarch. Now Joseph Smith’s father, Joseph Smith Sr. was the first Church Patriarch. After Joseph Smith Sr. passed away the office went to Hyrum Smith, Joseph Smith’s brother.
This is an office that no longer exists in the LDS Church. And that’s interesting to me because I was baptized in 1978 and we're all perhaps familiar with the centerfold in the General Conference issues of the Ensign. And by centerfold, I mean the middle section that opens up and there's all the different pictures of all the different general authorities: they have the First Presidency pictures at the top and the Quorum of the Twelve next and all the hierarchy is spelled out with names and little photographs off all the different people who occupy those positions. Well, way back when I joined the church in 1978, when the church Ensign came out, there was a picture in that centerfold that no longer exists, and that was the picture of the church patriarch.

Yes, the church patriarch appeared on the church centerfold. His name was Eldred G. Smith, and he had his own picture up there, though I can’t quite recall at this point where he fell on this chart. I can guarantee you, however, his picture was not above the First Presidency. And that might have been a surprise to Joseph Smith. Because Joseph Smith clearly thought, at least as of the time of his death, that the patriarch was the highest office in the church.

Let’s look at Doctrine and Covenants, Section 124. Section 124 was given January 19, 1841; so that is about three and a half years before Joseph Smith dies. And here we have, starting in verse 91, the Lord talking about Hyrum Smith being appointed to the office of Patriarch. Verse 91:
Joseph Smith, Senior
"And again, verily I say unto you, let my servant William (that’s William Law) be appointed, ordained, and anointed, as counselor unto my servant Joseph, in the room of my servant Hyrum, that my servant Hyrum may take the office of Priesthood and Patriarch, (now that’s an interesting expression, the office of Priesthood and Patriarch) which was appointed unto him by his father (that’s Joseph Smith, Sr.), by blessing and also by right;
This was a hereditary office; nobody got to ordain anybody to be the patriarch. That was theirs by blessing and also by right. The blessing being from the patriarch before you, which would be your father if you were the patriarch. It goes on in verse 92 to talk about this office:
"That from henceforth he shall hold the keys of the patriarchal blessings upon the heads of all my people,"
Now today, when we think of patriarchal blessings, we think of a nice older man, usually, who we make an appointment with; we fast 24 hours before we go, we have a once in a lifetime, generally, appointment to get a patriarchal blessing. He lays his hands upon our head, he pronounces some very nice things about us, tells us how wonderful we were in the pre-mortal existence. Admonishes us to obey the commandments and follow the prophet, and then promises us eternal blessings and rewards based upon our obedience to the commandments. So, based upon what stake patriarchs do today, it’s possible to get a wrong idea about what the church patriarch used to do in Joseph Smith’s day. Not only did the church patriarch give patriarchal blessings "upon the heads of all my people," going to verse 93,
"That whoever he blesses shall be blessed, and whoever he curses shall be cursed; that whatsoever he shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever he shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
Hyrum Smith
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is the sealing power. This is why the church patriarch was a big freaking deal in Joseph Smith’s day. It was the church patriarch who had the power to seal people up to eternal life. But we will see, of course, that over time that power was taken over by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as well, who exercise it today. There is no revelation giving them that power to my knowledge. They simply took it over once they got rid of the Church Patriarch. Verse 94 goes on about Hyrum as the patriarch:
"And from this time forth I appoint unto him that he may be (that’s Hyrum) a prophet, and a seer, and a revelator unto my church, as well as my servant Joseph;
Now there are only two individuals and two positions in the entire Doctrine and Covenants that are referred to by the title Prophet, Seer and Revelator. One of them is Joseph Smith, the other one is Hyrum Smith. Now, skipping to verse 123 in Section 124, the Lord now introduces the different offices and the different positions in the leadership of His church, quoting from Section 124.
"First, I give unto you..."
Now, who's going to come there? Who’s going to come first in this list that the Lord is giving of his priesthood offices in the church? Well, naturally we would think Joseph Smith is president of the church, possibly the First Presidency; but it’s got to be somebody at the very top because the Lord is saying first I give unto you. The surprise is that the answer is not Joseph Smith and it’s not the First Presidency. Section 124 verse 124 (an easy reference to remember), says this:
"First, I give unto you Hyrum Smith to be a patriarch unto you, to hold the sealing blessings of my church, even the Holy Spirit of promise…"
See, I wasn’t kidding when I said earlier that the patriarch had the sealing keys, the Holy Spirit of Promise. The power to seal people up to eternal life, to have their calling and election made sure, was the power of the Patriarch. That’s why he comes first in the list. Once again from the revelation:
"First, I give unto you Hyrum Smith to be a patriarch unto you, to hold the sealing blessings of my church, even the Holy Spirit of promise whereby ye are sealed up unto the day of redemption, that ye may not fall notwithstanding the hour of temptation that may come upon you."
I’m going to stop reading Section 124 at this point, and I want to make another note. It appears from this revelation that the office of Church Patriarch is the highest in the church because it comes first in the Lord, and the Lord says it’s first in the revelation. But I want to add additional evidence to that.

On May 27, 1843, Joseph Smith said “the patriarchal office is the highest office in the church. And Father Smith conferred this office on Hyrum Smith on his deathbed.”

The context of this quote by Joseph Smith saying that the patriarchal office is the highest office in the church arose because Joseph Smith and some of the other brethren were sitting in judgment on a wayward Mormon whose last name was Winchester. We don’t hear about him much in the church, but Winchester was having problems with the church. He was making certain claims, and one of the claims he made was that there was a conflict between the Patriarch and the Quorum of the Twelve. Joseph Smith is saying, no there’s no conflict. The patriarchal office is the highest office in the church. It’s over the Twelve. No conflict.

This little-known episode with Winchester is found in the 
History of the Church, Vol 5, pp. 411. But the History of the Church omits the statement that Joseph Smith made about Hyrum’s patriarchal office being the highest in the church. That statement is found in the minutes of the meeting that Joseph Smith had with Hyrum Smith, James Adams, Newell K. Whitney, and others in Nauvoo on May 27, 1843 in the LDS Archives. This is found in D. Michael Quinn’s The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, pp. 306, footnote 70. It is in the minutes of the meeting, but when those minutes got reproduced and published in the History of the Church, that line was taken out.

Once again, the 
History of the Church is a multi-volume production that was created after Joseph Smith’s death, after the apostles took over leadership, after Brigham Young became president. And even though it was based upon the original minutes of certain meetings, the apostles who had to give approval for the History of the Church to be published made sure that there was nothing in the History of the Church that could compromise their claims to leadership.

This is an example. 
Joseph Smith said the patriarchal office is the highest office in the church. Sorry, that's not going to make it into the History of the Church. We are going to delete that. We’ll still have the story about Winchester, only it’s going to be missing this critical passage.

Get Back In Line, Brigham
So now I would like to go back to something I mentioned at the beginning of the last episode, which was the anointing of the different offices and quorums in the church in the Kirtland Temple January 21, 1836. I mentioned in the last episode that the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was not first, was not second, was not third, fourth, or fifth. The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was sixth in the list.

The important thing for purposes of this subject is that Number One leading the list was presiding Patriarch, Joseph Smith, Senior. He was anointed first in the Kirtland Temple. After that, the First Presidency, and then down number six, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

For those of you who want to know the rest, I will state them quickly: Number three were the regional bishops of Kirtland and Zion (or Missouri) with their counselors; number four was the Stake President in Kirtland where the temple was then located; number five was the stake president in Zion (Missouri); six was the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, as I said; number seven was the presidency of the Seventy; and number eight was the president of the High Priests Quorum.

So you can see where the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles ranked when the anointing of the officers occurred 21st of January, 1836 in the Kirtland Temple:

No. 1:  Presiding Patriarch 
No. 6: Quorum of the Twelve 
But after Joseph Smith died and Hyrum died along with him, there was some controversy over who would be the next patriarch. I don’t have the time to go into it now, but there is an excellent book on the subject. That book is called Lost Legacy: The Mormon Office of Presiding Patriarch. If you are interested in the subject you can get that book and read through it; we are just going to touch on a couple of points.

The first point is that immediately after Hyrum Smith died, the church patriarch was no longer the highest office in the church. As you can imagine, Brigham Young did not have anybody above the apostles. The apostles were top dog in the New Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. But the office of Church Patriarch was allowed to continue. And over time, and over decades, and after the church got into Utah, more and more responsibility and authority and power was taken away from the office of the Church Patriarch until eventually he was just a figurehead who had his picture printed with the other officers of the church in the General Conference Ensign.

The church grew, and as part of the church growth, patriarchs were called in every stake to administer the patriarchal blessings. The apostles at some point took away from the patriarch the power to seal up unto eternal life, the power to make one's calling and election sure. And once that power was taken away, the Church Patriarch largely became a figurehead.

Ultimately, Eldred G. Smith, the last patriarch of the church, was put on emeritus status in 1979. What that means is, he was put out to pasture. That happened in the October General Conference 1979. On October 4th, Eldred G. Smith was put on emeritus status. Up to that point he had been sustained as Prophet, Seer and Revelator, as he is 
denominated in Doctrine and Covenants, Section 124.

However, after he was put on emeritus status he was no longer called that. And most importantly, no new Church Patriarch was called, which would have been his eldest faithful male child. But because no new Church Patriarch was called to take his place and Eldred G. Smith was simply put on emeritus status, he continued to live for many more years until he passed away on April 4, 2013.

Eldred Smith with Thomas Monson. Guess which one got to stay in office?
Once he passed away, the office of Church Patriarch, the office that Joseph Smith called "the highest office in the church," went out of existence. And with the removal of the Church Patriarch from the church hierarchy, the apostle’s coup d’état was complete. So in summary, the Quorum of the Twelve have now taken over the First Presidency and ultimately eliminated the highest office in the church, that of Church Patriarch.

Not With A Bang But With A Whimper
Let me try to express this in an analogy. Most of us are familiar with how the United States government is constructed. There are three bodies, the Legislative, the Executive, and the Judiciary. Suppose with me that the President and the Vice President were assassinated at the same time. And further suppose with me that the Constitution makes no provision for who should become president in that eventuality; that the President and the Vice President are gone in one blow.

Now in my analogy, the Legislature picks a new President and a new Vice President and the Legislature picks them out of the Senators. So now two Senators become the President and the Vice President. In that way, the Legislative branch has taken over the Executive branch. But then they want to take care of the Supreme Court, too. Well somebody gets a good idea: we don’t have to fire all nine of the justices on the Supreme Court. All we have to do is fail to appoint new ones when the old ones die out. And eventually all nine of the Supreme Court justices die and there is no more Supreme Court. This is similar to what the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles did in taking control over the LDS Church.

In my analogy let me ask a couple of questions: What allegiance would an American citizen have to the Federal Government if such a usurpation of power occurred?

Here’s the Legislative branch; they’ve taken over the Executive branch. They’ve appointed of their own number a President and a Vice President, so they’ve got control of that. Now they’ve done away with the Judicial branch by letting the Supreme Court die out. The Legislative branch has assumed complete control of the entire government of the Executive and the Legislative. They have all the power. What allegiance would an American have to a federal government if such a usurpation of power occurred?

And similarly, I’ve got to ask the question: what allegiance does a Mormon have to a church government if such a usurpation of power occurred? That is a question that every Mormon must answer for him or herself.

So that’s how Brigham Young and the apostles took control of the leadership of the LDS Church.

But that’s not the end of it. Brigham Young also took control over the entire church. He took control over the stakes of Zion, and that is a place where the apostles never had authority until Brigham Young seized it in contravention and contradiction to the revelations that God gave to Joseph Smith.

We touched on this earlier; we’ll go more in-depth on it here in a second. But now I've got to use another analogy. If we want to understand what the church was like in Joseph Smith’s day we have to get rid of our presuppositions about the way the church is now. It was not First Presidency over the entire church at the top, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles over the entire church next, Seventy over the entire church next. It wasn't this type of General Authority Hierarchy in Joseph Smith’s day.

Instead, let me use this analogy: I’m going to compare this to a county prosecutor’s office. Now in a county prosecutor’s office there are two divisions of prosecutors. Usually when we think of it, we think of the criminal division of the prosecutor’s office, with the criminal deputies. There are deputy prosecutors in the criminal division; they prosecute cases. They get most of the news stories. That’s how we tend to think of them first.

But there is another equally important division in the county prosecutor’s office, and that is called the civil division. They don’t prosecute crimes; that’s the other division. In the civil division they have deputy prosecutors who represent the county against claims and lawsuits made by other people against the county. So that’s why it’s the civil division. The civil division is a completely separate division from the criminal division, but they're all part of the same prosecutor's office. The elected prosecutor, the guy that gets voted into office, is the head of the office and he is over both the criminal division and the civil division. So that’s how a county prosecutors office is set up.

Now, going back to the church in Joseph Smith’s day, there were two completely separate divisions of the church. There was one division where Stakes of Zion were organized. Wherever there is a stake, there is a Stake President and a Stake High Council that was part of the organization. In places where there was a Stake High Council, the Stake High Council had authority for governing what happened inside the Stake. That's why they're there, that's what they do.

Now everywhere there isn't a Stake, that's the mission field. That's outside the Stakes of Zion. And outside the Stakes of Zion, that's where the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the Seventy have authority. That's where they go. That’s where they go out and preach the gospel; that's why they're the Traveling High Council, because they travel. That's why the Stake High Councils are Standing High Councils, because they stay in one place in their Stake and govern there.

Now, going back to Section 107, we talked about how it says the First Presidency is a quorum, and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is equal in power and authority to the First Presidency, and the Seventy is equal in power and authority to the Quorum of the Twelve.

But it goes on. When we hear about it in church, that's where the speaker stops. Like the talk from President Hinckley that I quoted in the last episode; he gave a General Conference talk, but that's where he stops. He talks about the First Presidency. He talks about the Quorum of the Twelve. He talks about the Quorum of the Seventy, that they're all equal in power and authority, but he stops there. He doesn't go on any further in Section 107. 

And there's good reason for that. Because Section 107 goes on to say that not only those three quorums have equal power and authority but also the Stake High Councils are equal in power and authority to the Seventy, to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and also to the First Presidency.

So you can understand why that doesn't get mentioned very often in church.

Ignoring God's Clear Instruction 
Let's go to section 107 starting with verse 33, where once again the Twelve are referred to as a Traveling Presiding High Council.
"The Twelve are a Traveling Presiding High Council, to officiate in the name of the Lord, under the direction of the Presidency of the Church, agreeable to the institution of heaven; to build up the church, and regulate all the affairs of the same in all nations, first unto the Gentiles and secondly unto the Jews."
There’s that missionary aspect of their calling. Next,
"The Seventy are to act in the name of the Lord, under the direction of the Twelve or the traveling high council, in building up the church and regulating all the affairs of the same in all nations, first unto the Gentiles and then to the Jews—
It’s the same calling as the Twelve.
"The Twelve being sent out, holding the keys, to open the door by the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ,
See how this makes so much more sense when you understand the Twelve are not over the entire church, but they’re over the missionary effort outside the places where Stakes of Zion have been organized.
"The Twelve being sent out, holding the keys, to open the door by the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, first unto the Gentiles and then unto the Jews."
Now we get to the money quote about the high Councils. Verse 36,
"The standing high councils, at the stakes of Zion, form a quorum equal in authority in the affairs of the church, in all their decisions, to the quorum of the presidency, or to the traveling high council."
They are equal in authority to the First Presidency and to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Then verse 37 says the high council in Zion, that's in Missouri, this is 1835 remember, when the Mormons were still in Missouri:
"The high council in Zion form a quorum equal in authority in the affairs of the church, in all their decisions, to the councils of the Twelve at the stakes of Zion."
Now, when it talks about the councils of the Twelve at the Stakes of Zion, that's talking about the additional Stakes other than the Stakes that were formed In Zion. There's a High Council in the Stake of Zion Missouri; there's also a high Council in Kirtland at the time this is being written, and there are other High Councils that are anticipated that will be created in the future, and that indeed were created in the future in Nauvoo as the church expanded and more Stakes were organized.

What verse 37 says is the High Council in Zion form a quorum equal in authority in the affairs of the church to the councils of the Twelve at the Stakes of Zion. So in other words, the High Council in Zion is equal in authority to the other High Councils in the other Stakes of Zion.

Every place the church is organized into a Stake there is a High Council; the High Council is in charge of running the affairs in that Stake. The only person over the High Council is the First Presidency. The Quorum of the Twelve is over here outside the Stakes, running the missionary work. Under them is the Seventy. And the only person over the apostles is the First Presidency, but that is solely and exclusively in the mission field, not in any Stake where the church is organized. Verse 98 kind of sums it up after talking about all the other different officers in the church and how they are standing quorums and standing high councils. Verse 98 of Section 107 states:
"Whereas other officers of the church, who belong not unto the Twelve, neither to the Seventy, are not under the responsibility to travel among all nations, but are to travel as their circumstances shall allow, notwithstanding they may hold as high and responsible offices in the church.
So, it's only the Twelve and the Seventy who are under the responsibility to travel among all nations. The reason they are under that responsibility is because their responsibility is to preach the Gospel and open the door to the proclamation of the gospel in all the nations.

This 1835 revelation about the High Council having equal authority to the Quorum of the Twelve was reinforced when Joseph Smith told the High Council after he organized them, "If he should now be taken away, that he had accomplished the great work which the Lord had laid before him, and that which he had desired of the Lord.” Joseph Smith added "he now had done his duty in organizing the High Council through which counsel the will of the Lord might be known on all important occasions in the building up of Zion and establishing truth in the earth."

It appears from this that the central High Council may have had the succession right to Joseph Smith if he should now be "taken away," as he put it in the quote. Not only do the revelations indicate strongly that the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have jurisdiction in the mission field, whereas the Stake High Councils have jurisdiction in the Stakes; at a meeting on May 2, 1835, Joseph Smith instructed the Twelve that they had "no right to go into Zion or any of its Stakes and there undertake to regulate the affairs thereof where there is a standing High Council.”

That's how clear it was. Let me read that again. "Joseph Smith told the Twelve in 1835, May 2nd, that they had no right to go into Zion or any of its Stakes and there undertake to regulate the affairs thereof where there is a standing High Council.” Instead, their jurisdiction extended only to the areas outside Zion (the church's center place in Missouri), or any of its Stakes.

In another instance of the apostles monkeying with the history of the church, a meeting was held February 27, 1835 at which Joseph Smith proposed the following question: "What importance is there attached to the calling of these twelve apostles different from the other callings or officers of the church?"

This was a huge question at the time. There was already a high council of twelve individuals which was very high up in the church. What was the difference between the calling of the Twelve Apostles and other callings or officers in the church?

After this question was discussed by several present, Joseph Smith, Jr. gave the following decision: "they are the twelve apostles who are called to the office of the Traveling High Council, who are to preside over the churches of the saints among the Gentiles where there is a presidency established."

Now pay attention to that quote, because that's where the history of the church changes it from the original minutes. Once again it says "who are to preside over the churches of the saints among the Gentiles (that's the apostles), where there is a presidency established."

So, it sounds from this quote in church history that the apostles are to preside over the church where there is a presidency established. In other words, where there is a stake

presidency established, they are to preside. If that were correct that would mean the apostles were over the Stake Presidencies, because it says they preside over the churches of the Saints among the gentiles, where there is a Presidency established.

Now the problem is when you look at the actual Kirtland Council Minute Book,
one word in this quote was changed. And instead of the Church History version where it says "where there is a presidency established," it actually said "where there is no presidency established."

The minutes in the Kirtland minute book make it clear just what I've been saying all along, which is that the apostles have no authority to preside where there is a presidency established. In other words, where there is a stake presidency established, they have no authority in the Stakes of Zion.

But this was considered damning enough that when the History of the Church was published, this language was changed so it did not challenge the authority of the apostles over the Stake Presidents. And again, this language had to be changed by the apostles in order not to completely undercut the authority they had already assumed over the Stakes of Zion.

Interestingly, this incorrect quote from the minutes of the meeting is perpetuated in the MormonWiki link on the subject of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. They use the language from the History of the Church "where there is a presidency established.” We wouldn't want MormonWiki undercutting the authority of the Twelve Apostles by accurately quoting the church documents.

Now, the quotes we have been using from Joseph Smith regarding the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles having authority outside the stakes of Zion versus the Stake High Council's having authority inside the Stakes of Zion have come from 1835. So it's important to note that as late as 1843- May 27, 1843, that is a year before Joseph Smith died- Joseph Smith is quoted as making the same point. What he said was "the High Council was to try cases that belonged to the Stake and the Twelve to regulate the churches and elders abroad in all the world."

Now that last expression he says, "in all the world," is the phrase that Joseph Smith used to talk about the fact that the apostles had authority outside the stakes of Zion. When he says "in all the world" he means in all the world outside the Stakes of Zion where there is no Stake organized. Let me repeat that quote once again "the High Council was to try cases that belonged to the Stake, and the Twelve to regulate the churches and elders abroad in all the world."

That is significant because in Section 107 we frequently hear the verse cited regarding the apostles being special witnesses of Christ and, more specifically, "special witnesses of the name of Christ." What we tend to focus on today is the fact that they are special witnesses. Does that mean that they have seen Jesus? Or does that mean that they are special witnesses of the name of Jesus as the verse states?

But the verse in Section 107 says the Twelve are to be special witnesses of the name of Jesus, in all the world. And I think that at the time it was written, the emphasis there was in all the world equal to, if not more so, than emphasis on their being special witnesses of the name of Jesus, because it is followed up immediately by saying the Quorum of the Seventy are also to be especial witnesses of the name of Jesus in all the world.

Those expressions "in all the world" in their historical context, and comparing it with other usages by Joseph Smith, means in all the world in places where there are not Stakes organized. 

So, when Section 107 says the apostles are to be special witnesses of Jesus in all the world, it means their witness is to be limited to places where the Stakes are not organized. They are missionaries in the mission field. That is their exclusive dominion. That is where they have authority, and that was repeated once again by Joseph Smith as late as one year before his death, May 27, 1843: "The High Council was to try cases that belonged to the Stake, and the Twelve to regulate the churches and elders abroad in all the world." That citation can be found in the History of the Church, Vol 5, pp. 410.

Eliminating The Competition
The stake president of Nauvoo at the time was a man named William Marks. That’s another name we don’t hear very often in Sunday School class. William Marks was the president of the Nauvoo Stake at the time of Joseph Smith’s assassination, and as such he had a major league claim to leadership of the church. But William Marks was not ambitious; he did not want to claim leadership of the church. So instead of making his own bid for leadership of the church, he backed Sidney Rigdon’s claim to leadership of the church.

Sidney Rigdon, as we talked about last episode, did not get very far in his bid to become leader -or in his words, "guardian"- of the church. But that was not so much because he didn’t have a good claim on it, being the sole remaining member of the First Presidency; but mainly because of his personality and his somewhat wishy-washy performance in the church for a number of years preceding that. So Sidney Rigdon was excommunicated by Brigham Young on September 8, 1844, mainly because Rigdon did not back Brigham Young.

We have to get used to this in Mormon history when we’re talking about the real history at the time of the succession crisis. Brigham Young brooked no opposition. And after the apostles took over leadership of the church, anybody who was not on board with the apostles was going to have to be taken care of in one way or another. So Sidney Rigdon was excommunicated on September 8, 1844. Within four weeks of Sidney Rigdon’s excommunication, Brigham Young took a number of steps to solidify his power and he did this by dismantling the other competing power structures.

Brigham Young first eliminated the potential threat of the Seventy. Yes, I said of the Seventy. Isn’t the Seventy beneath the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles? Well yes, they are in today’s church, and they were in some sense back then too. But remember Section 107 says what? That the Quorum of the Seventy is equal in power and authority to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

So Brigham Young, seeing the Quorum of the Seventy as a threat, or at least a competitor to the power and authority of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, took steps to dismantle them. How did he do that? Well really quite brilliantly if you think about it. What he did was this. First off, we have to review the organization of the Quorum of the Seventy. It was organized the same then as it is today: there are seven presidents of the Quorum of the Seventy. Those seven presidents are not in addition to the Seventy, they are part of the number of Seventy.

So, there are actually seven presidents of the Seventy who are members of the quorum of the Seventy themselves, and then there are beneath them in that Quorum sixty-three other members of the Seventy. There's 63, plus the 7 who are in leadership, which makes a total of 70 if I’m doing my math right.

What Brigham Young did on September 29th, was he took all the Seventy out of the Quorum of the Seventy except for the presidency of seven. So he took all sixty-three of the Seventy out of the Quorum of the Seventy. What did he do with them? Well, he decided that he would create nine more subordinate quorums of the Seventy; subordinate to the original First Quorum of the Seventy. Because it was this First Quorum of the Seventy that was seen as having power equal in authority to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Well, what does Brigham Young do about that? He takes all of them away except for their leadership, creates nine new subordinate Quorums of the Seventy, and he takes those 63 previous members of the First Quorum of the Seventy and he makes them the Presidents of nine new Quorums of Seventy. 63 divided by 9 is 7.

So that’s the division on how he created nine new presidencies for Quorums of the Seventy. What he did by this means was he took away sixty-three of the members of the original Quorum of the Seventy. So now that quorum could not come anywhere near to having a majority present, which was necessary in order for them to make any kind of a decision. He completely stripped them of all their power and authority.

Now, this part has to be emphasized: Why did Brigham Young do this? We have to look behind this and recognize the fact that Brigham Young would not have done this unless he saw the Quorum of the Seventy as a competitor. And the reason he saw the Quorum of the Seventy as a competitor is because he understood Section 107 as meaning what people back then thought it meant; which is that these Quorums are equal in power and authority one with another. He saw the revelation as saying what it means, and because of that, he felt he needed to get rid of the Quorum of the Seventy and denude it of its membership.

Now Brigham Young had to deal with the competition from the Stake High Council in Zion. Remember Section 107 says that they are also equal in power and authority to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. And not only that, Brigham Young knows that the Stake High Council has authority in the stakes of Zion; he does not. He's going to have to find a way to grab control over the Stake High Council.

And this is what he does: On October 8, 1844, Brigham Young ordained more than four hundred men to the office of Seventy. On that single day. Now remember, he's just created these nine subordinate Quorums of Seventy by creating their presidencies out of the original Quorum of Seventy; now he’s going to fill up those quorums. How is he going to do it? Well, basically he’s going to take all the priesthood holders he can that live in the Nauvoo Stake and he's going to call them as Seventies to fill up these additional Quorums of Seventy he has created. Why is he going to do this? So, he can strip virtually all priesthood holders out of Nauvoo Stake and diminish the power of the Stake High Council.

Again, the details are that on October 8, 1844, Brigham Young ordained more than 400 men to the office of Seventy. This included all deacons, teachers, and priests that existed in the Nauvoo Stake. It also included every elder under the age of 35. The Seventy had suddenly become the most numerous office in the church, accounting for about 80% of Nauvoo’s males who held priesthood office. So suddenly on October 8, 1844, 80% of Nauvoo’s males suddenly become Seventies. And they are in subordinate Quorums of Seventy.

The reason for this was the ambiguity of succession that Brigham Young was trying to overcome. This mass ordination of Nauvoo’s males to the office of Seventy removed them from the jurisdiction of the Stake High Council. The Stake High Council had authority over elders, and also the other Aaronic priesthood offices. So when Brigham Young took 400 of them and ordained them to the office of the Seventy, he took them out from under the jurisdiction of the Stake High Council and was stripping the Stake High Council of its priesthood membership.

Believe it or not, by the time of the exodus from Nauvoo -and that was early in 1846- guess how many quorums of Seventy Brigham Young had filled up? The answer is thirty-five. In less than a year and a half, Brigham Young had filled up thirty-five Quorums of Seventy. This accounted for most of the males who received the endowment in the Nauvoo Temple, and transferred nearly two-thousand and five hundred men out of the jurisdiction of the Stake High Council. This is how Brigham Young overwhelmed by sheer numbers the revealed equality of authority which Section 107 says the High Council at Nauvoo shared with the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.

Now in addition to this, Brigham Young used another administrative technique to remove most High Priests from the jurisdiction of the High Council. Remember, he’s gotten rid of most of the elders, the deacons, the teachers and the priests. Now he’s going to get rid of most of the high priests from the High Council.

Here’s how he does it: On the same day he depopulated the quorums of the Aaronic Priesthood and the elders through the mass ordination of Seventies, Brigham Young selected eighty-five of Nauvoo’s high priests. To do what? To go abroad in all the congressional districts of the United States to preside over the branches of the church.

He made them Branch Presidents.

He took eighty-five of the High Priests and made them Branch Presidents. And why did he do that? Who has authority in the mission field where there are not Stakes organized? If you remembered the answer is the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, you’re correct.

So this is another way Brigham Young took priesthood officers out of the Stake and put them under his jurisdiction. In addition to those eighty-five High Priests, three months later Brigham Young called another fifty High Priests as missionaries. Also outside the jurisdiction of the High Council and under the jurisdiction of the Quorum of the Twelve.

In this way Brigham Young completely circumvented the Nauvoo High Council, which only three years before had been given the revealed designation in D&C 124:131, as “the cornerstone of Zion.”

Well, what happened to William Marks, the President of the Stake? Here is what happened to William Marks: First, William Marks was released by Brigham as the Nauvoo Stake President. Then Brigham Young tried to have him excommunicated. But the High Council would not go for it. On December 7, 1844, Brigham Young accused William Marks of apostasy.

Some things never change, do they? His tactic was to accuse William Marks of apostasy because he refused to sign a statement repudiating Sidney Rigdon’s claims, and those were Sidney Rigdon’s claims that he should be the guardian of the church and not the Twelve Apostles.

William Marks barely preserved his membership in the church, and he did so by signing a statement on December 9th that condemned Sidney Rigdon and acknowledged the authority of the Quorum of the Twelve. So he kissed the Quorum of the Twelve’s ring and he was allowed to stay a member of the church. The apostles published his statement, but never bothered to take any further action against him.

For most Mormons, that was really not necessary. One Mormon even regarded the humiliating release of Marks as Stake President as the equivalent of excommunication. “President Marks has been cut off and Uncle John Smith is put in his place.” That’s from the Nauvoo High Council minutes, December 7, 1844. (See Dinger, Ed,. The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes, pg 535-536).

So really, he is pretty much out of the way. But that wasn’t quite good enough for Brigham Young. William Marks ended up leaving Nauvoo in the latter part of February 1845. Things were made very hot by Brigham Young for any dissenters. And by dissenters, I mean Mormons who did not support fully the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as the leaders of the church. Remember, there had just been a huge succession crisis; not everybody voted for Brigham Young and the apostles. Many voted for other people. There was Sidney Rigdon, there was James Strang, and there were several others to boot.

Getting Down and Dirty
So now that the majority voted for Brigham Young and the apostles, what to do with the people who would not get in line with Brigham Young and the apostles? And believe me, if you had voted against Brigham Young and the apostles back in August, it really didn’t make that much difference what you said. You were going to be under suspicion that you still did not support Brigham Young and the apostles.

As I say, things were made very hot for any dissenters. And things were made hot by various means, including the activities of a certain group of men called “the whittling and whistling brigade.”

Many of us in the church have heard of this whittling and whistling brigade. However, in church art and church stories this is typically represented as a bunch of young boys who wander around the streets of Nauvoo and they have pocket knives out and they whittle on sticks, and while they whittle they whistle. The idea being, that if they see a stranger in Nauvoo or someone who looks like they mean harm, then they are supposed to follow them and whittle and whistle; not only to annoy them, but also to notify others that there's a problem going on so that more boys will show up and eventually this person who's in town, this stranger who means no good, will get fed up and he’ll leave town just because it’s so annoying and bothersome that all these boys are whittling and whistling.

That, as I say, is the Church presentation of what the whittling and whistling brigade was. The reality was something completely different. The reality was much more threatening. The reality was that these were not young boys, but in fact they were young men and adults. Not only are they not little boys, they’re also not whittling with pocket knives. They're whittling with Bowie knives.

They were armed with knives from ten to fourteen inches long. And what would happen is, a dozen young men and adults would press close to a dissenter or a suspicious non-Mormon. And their incessant whittling with those large knives was enough to strike terror to the hearts of the victims, and they would get out of town as quick as their legs would carry them. 

Now you can understand there’s quite a difference between a bunch of kids with pocket knives whittling, and grown men with Bowie knives whittling and whistling and getting very close to you. One would be an annoyance; the other would be an implicit death threat. And that is how a number of dissenters were gotten rid of out of Nauvoo. Because they were no longer welcome in town and Brigham Young made sure that they knew they were not welcome in town so that they would leave as soon as possible.

One witness in Nauvoo saw a dissenter to Brigham Young going out of town "whittled" by about 20 men with long Bowie knives kicking him down and pushing him in the mud for three quarters of a mile. As to William Marks specifically, the humiliated and released former Stake President of Nauvoo? the hostile environment in the city and his place in the church now was enough to induce him to leave town voluntarily. In other words, William Marks spared himself the repressive tactics which the Twelve and their supporters were using against suspected dissenters. Brigham Young himself wryly observed that “Brother William Marks had gone without being whittled out.” This was the verb that was used for people who were run out of town by the whittling and whistling brigade: being "whittled" out.

Was A Third Smith Brother Assassinated?
Now we come to the sad and tragic tale of Samuel Smith. You will remember that Samuel Smith was Joseph Smith’s brother. Pretty much the only thing we hear about Samuel Smith in church is that he was the first missionary in the LDS Church. He was the one who took a bunch of newly printed copies of the Book of Mormon, put them in his knapsack, and traveled throughout the countryside handing them out to different people and different families. And sometimes we hear about the impact that missionary work had on members in the church and the new members that that missionary effort by Samuel Smith brought in.

What we don't hear in church about Samuel Smith is what happened to him after Joseph Smith died. And there’s probably good reason for that. 

Samuel Smith was in Nauvoo July 10, 1844. His brothers Hyrum and Joseph had just been killed on June 27, 1844, thirteen days before. But on July 10th Samuel Smith shows up, and he has a remarkable claim to make. Remember we talked about all the people who came forward saying they had appointments by Joseph Smith to be the President of the Church? And how, according to the Doctrine and Covenants, a specific and personal appointment by Joseph Smith to be the next president seems to be required in order to qualify for that office of President? Well, Samuel Smith had such a claim. Samuel Smith claimed he had an appointment by his brother Joseph Smith and that appointment was to become President of the Church if Joseph and Hyrum Smith both died.

Now that may sound a little convenient from this point of view, considering the fact that Joseph and Hyrum Smith had both died. But remember, Joseph was a Prophet, Seer and Revelator, so presumably his followers would believe that Joseph Smith could predict such an outcome. We find this fact in the diary of William Clayton for July 12, 1844. And in his July 12, 1844, entry he talks about the meeting that he had with Samuel Smith two days before on July 10, 1844. Also present at this meeting was Willard Richards, W.W Phelps, and John Smith. 

Now, Willard Richards was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He was also a cousin of Brigham Young, and Willard Richards wanted to put the brakes on Samuel Smith’s claim that he should now be President due to this appointment from Joseph Smith. And Willard Richards wanted to put the brakes on it until at least August, because the other apostles were out in different parts of the country. They had been sent there to stump for Joseph Smith’s candidacy for President. And they had to take time to get back to Nauvoo, that’s why it took till August for all the apostles to get back in Nauvoo. Willard Richards wanted to delay Samuel Smith’s claim until August.

There was enough talk about Samuel Smith’s succession claim that the newspaper in Springfield, Illinois reported "a son of Joe Smith," (apparently Joe Smith Sr.) -"a son of Joe Smith, it is said, had received the revelation that he was to be the successor of the Prophet." So apparently this news was getting bandied about to the point where the newspaper in Springfield, Illinois even reported on it. But after Samuel Smith made his claim to church leaders on July 10, but before the apostles all returned to Nauvoo in August, Samuel Smith died.

It is the circumstances of his death that are of interest. Samuel became violently ill and died on July 30, 1844. Now this seemed highly coincidental, and perhaps suspicious to a number of people that Samuel Smith should come into town, claim that he is the next successor to Joseph Smith by direct appointment, and then shortly after making that claim Samuel becomes violently ill and dies twenty days after making that claim. John M. Bernhisel, who is a physician and also a member of the Council of Fifty, told William Smith that his brother Samuel had somehow been poisoned by anti-Mormons.

So John Bernhisel may have thought it was poisoning, but he attributed it to anti-Mormons. Other people, however, thought it was poisoning, but not anti-Mormons who did it; but rather the most true and faithful Mormons -at least the most true and faithful Mormons to Brigham Young and the apostles.

Brigham's toady Willard Richards.
William Smith learned from Samuel’s widow that Hosea Stout had acted as his brother’s nurse while he was sick and given him “white powder” for medicine every day until Samuel Smith died. Now as I said, Samuel became ill within days of the discussion of his succession right; and by July 24, which was 14 days later, was already very sick. He would die six days after that, on July 30th.

William Smith eventually concluded that apostle Willard Richards -remember, Willard Richards was the one who wanted to delay the discussion of Samuel Smith’s appointment until all the apostles got back, including his cousin Brigham Young- William Smith eventually concluded that apostle Willard Richards asked Hosea Stout to murder Samuel Smith. The motive was to prevent Samuel from becoming Church President before the full Quorum of the Twelve arrived in Nauvoo.

William Smith had some basis for this belief. First, Hosea Stout was a Missouri Danite and a senior officer in the Nauvoo police. Additionally, you will remember that William Clayton was the scribe at the July 10, 1844, meeting at which Samuel Smith claimed he had the right of succession from Joseph Smith.

Well, later on, William Clayton believed that Hosea Stout was out to murder him. This is an amazing story. This is three years later; it’s 1847. You'll remember that it was in 1847 the first company of saints headed west from Winter Quarters. Well, before that happened, William Clayton went to Brigham Young and asked him for a special favor. William Clayton asked Brigham Young if William Clayton could be in the first company of saints to go West. The reason why he asked him this is reflected in William Clayton’s own journal. It was because William Clayton claimed that Hosea Stout -once again there’s Hosea Stout- William Clayton claimed that Hosea Stout had threatened to murder him as soon as the apostles left. So, it appears William Clayton at least regarded Hosea Stout as capable of murder. William Clayton in his diary did not record any attempt by Brigham Young to dispute this assessment. In other words, Brigham Young didn’t try and argue with him and say no Hosea Stout's not trying to murder you. Instead, Brigham Young granted William Clayton’s request to go west with the first company of saints.

So this appears to be the type of person that Hosea Stout was. Was he capable of murder? Well, he was certainly capable of threatening William Clayton with murder in 1847. And yet there seems to be more evidence along this line. Samuel’s daughter also believed her father was murdered. What she wrote was this: “My father was undoubtedly poisoned.” She also wrote that her uncle, who’s name is Arthur Milliken, was poisoned at the same time, and she notes that "the same doctors were treating my father" -that’s Samuel Smith- "the same doctors were treating my father and Uncle Arthur at the same time."

So you’ve got the same doctors treating them, they both have these same symptoms, they both get violently ill. Then she adds this: “Uncle Arthur discontinued the medicine” -you know, the medicine that was supposed to be making them get better- “Uncle Arthur discontinued the medicine without letting them know that he was doing so. Father continued taking it until the last dose.” And according to Samuel’s daughter, Samuel Smith spit it out and said he was poisoned. But it was too late. He died.

In what would be the modern-day equivalent of a death certificate, Nauvoo’s sexton recorded that Samuel Smith died of Bilious Fever. Now, Bilious Fever did cause the death of people from time to time, and in fact, Bilious Fever caused the death of two children that summer, the summer of 1844. But no other adults. So Samuel Smith is on record as being the only adult to die of Bilious Fever in the summer of 1844.

This troubling allegation, that Samuel Smith was poisoned because of his claim that Joseph Smith had appointed him to be the next President cannot be ignored, but also it cannot be verified. Nevertheless, William Clayton’s diary confirms the efforts of Willard Richards to avoid the appointment of a successor before his first cousin Brigham Young arrived in town. And it will be recalled that Willard Richards was put into the reorganized First Presidency as a counselor to Brigham Young in December of 1847.
Turning back to Hosea Stout’s own diary, Hosea Stout describes several occasions when Brigham Young and other apostles seriously discussed having Hosea Stout “rid ourselves of various church members considered dangerous to the church and the apostles.” Stout referred to this as, "cut him off behind the ears according to the law of God in such cases." Many years later Hosea Stout would be tried for attempted murder by the Salt Lake Municipal High Court. In that proceeding, Hosea Stout protested that “It has been my duty to hunt out the rotten spots in the kingdom.” He added that he had “tried not to handle a man’s case until it was right.”

Evidence does not exist to prove conclusively whether the Prophet’s brother, Samuel Smith, was such a case that Stout handled. So, although we cannot say with certainty that Samuel Smith was murdered, we can say that members of his family believe that he was murdered. That the allegation of Hosea Stout murdering him is not inconsistent with Hosea Stout’s known character and the circumstances surrounding Samuel Smith’s death are suspicious at best.
Hosea Stout. Clearly not the face of a psychopath.
So Here We Are Today
This is going to conclude part two of the podcast, Apostolic Coup d'état, wherein we have set forth the evidence of how it is that Brigham Young and the Twelve Apostles, in a breathtaking power grab, assumed absolute and complete control of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. First, Brigham Young got rid of all the competition for leadership of the Twelve. He got rid of the First Quorum of Seventy; he got rid of the Stake High Council; he got rid of the Stake President; he excommunicated Sidney Rigdon; and he made the office of Church Patriarch a mere figurehead. Brigham Young thereafter reconstituted the First Presidency with three apostles in it and took over control of the church.

George Q. Cannon was a later apostle in the church. He was a counselor to Brigham Young at the time of his death in 1877, and George Q. Cannon made a statement shortly after Brigham Young’s death which is of interest here and which we will use to conclude this podcast. He may have been alluding to Brigham Young’s autocratic usurpation of power when George Q. Cannon recorded in his journal this, after Brigham Young’s death:
“Some of my brethren, as I have learned since the death of President Brigham Young, did have feelings concerning his course. They did not approve of it, and felt oppressed; and yet they dared not exhibit their feelings to him. He ruled with so strong and stiff a hand, and they felt that it would be of no use. In a few words, the feeling seems to be that he transcended the bounds of the authority which he legitimately held.”
George Q. Cannon concludes his journal entry by saying “I have been greatly surprised to find so much dissatisfaction in such quarters.”

So everything that this podcast has been talking about, the way that Brigham Young transcended the bounds of his authority in order to do a coup d’état on the church -that feeling was held by other leaders of the church at the time of President Brigham Young. Only they dared not say it to him because they were scared of him.

That’s how much they didn’t want to cross him. That’s how much they just said, we’ll let it slide. But after he died they started talking to each other, as will happen when a person dies. And George Q. Cannon, though he was surprised to find so much dissatisfaction in such quarters, nevertheless made a notation of it in his journal entry so that we can have it today.


James Q. Muir said...

All this orchestration to set the church on the foundation of apostles and prophets is proven moot because Jesus testified to Peter that the ROCK he would build his church upon was.....the Father! Flesh and blood has not revealed the truth of who Jesus Christ was the Father....and upon this rock...not revelation but the one who gives revelation or more specifically, the Baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost. That is the foundation the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost which is only obtained....not by laying on of hands, which is only the sign, but by the visitation of the power of the Father in the actual baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost. When this fails to occur there is no church and they cannot be any Zion.

Unlike the old missionary discussion of taking the foundation of apostles and prophets to cause the collapse of the church it is in reality the failure to receive the actual baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost.

The only true church today is where a few actually have received of the Promise of the Father which is what Jesus commanded and coached among his disciples and apostles and the people of the Jews who believed on him. THAT IS THE CHURCH those who have been born into it and given the new heart from God.

Those who have truly received this of God can detect who are pretending and who are of the same spirit and power. No problem. The scarcity of true saints is utterly overshadowed and eclipsed by Babylon the Great, the whore of all the earth who is all about the money.

Underdog2 said...

Quick question, Rock. Or anybody can free to respond.

RFM said: "The minutes in the Kirtland minute book make it clear just what I've been saying all along, which is that the apostles have no authority to preside where there is a presidency established. In other words, where there is a stake presidency established, they have no authority in the Stakes of Zion."

Who calls a stake president? Back then, and now?

This is how it happens now, according to Handbook 2 Section 19:

The stake president is recommended by, approved by, and called and set apart by "an assigned GA or Area Seventy". He is sustained by "members in stake conference."

You see where I'm going?

How'd it happen back in Joseph's day? I assume a higher authority would call a SP. That would have been either a 70, apostle, the First Presidency, or the patriarch. Is this correct?

So if Brigham Young had complete control over the apostles, the First Presidency (which were comprised of apostles after Brigham's rise to power) and 70, then he could basically hand pick his stake presidents. In that way, he could assure control over the stakes.

Jared Livesey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jared Livesey said...

James Q. Muir,

Wouldn't you agree that telling others what specific actions they must do to obtain the visitation of fire and of the Holy Ghost, such that if they do these specific things, the Father will visit them with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they will receive a remission of their sins - is blessing one's fellow man?

matt lohrke said...

Rock - thank you for taking the time to transcribe this. I had previously listened to both hours, but it's nice to be able to take it at my own pace.

I appreciate it.

Robin Hood said...

Here we go again with this nonsense.
Rock must be running out of material, or just getting lazy. He used to write his own articles but increasingly posts other people's work these days.
It's a shame because he is a very accomplished writer and usually puts an argument together in a very measured and cohesive way. He's not always right of course, not by any means, but at least it's his own work.
This RFM stuff is just rubbish.

Radio Free Mormon said...

It must be nice to dismiss tons of documented evidence with a wave of the hand and a self-satisfied sniff.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

My pleasure, Matt Lohrke. I appreciate the fact that you appreciate it. There's so much great information in those podcasts that I felt it necessary to get it all typed out for easier reference so that others can grab something they heard on it by simply scanning the document, rather than having to try and listen repeatedly just to pick out the nugget they're searching for.

Kudos are due Brent Edward, who fed the initial podcasts into voice recognition software for me. Between the two of us, we cleaned it up and edited it proper, but it took us both many man hours to get it right and properly formatted.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I think you have it right, Underdog2; Brigham set up a system by where he and the apostles could handpick their stake presidents, a system which continues today. As for how it was done in the past, I don't know for sure, because the modern histories don't provide that information. But it's very likely, in my opinion, that a stake president was selected and elected by the people in his stake, or by the elders of the congregation. If the people do not elect the one who presides over them, where would a stake president get the authority? It never came from the top down.

Let's remember that the early church meetings were conducted by the elders, not by the bishop, who served a specific function similar to a quartermaster whose job it was to collect and disburse supplies, Today the bishop is selected from the top up, and he answers to his stake president. NOT the way things were supposed to be run. If a local congregation had any government at all, it came by way of the elders. They conducted the meetings "as directed by the spirit" not as directed by Salt Lake City, and they would likely be the ones who selected one to preside over the stake. Today church government operates the same way the federal government operates (unconstitutionally, I might point out), where the feds think it's their role to regulate within the states.

jstcommentary said...

Robin Hood,
When you want to stop being a coward and use your real name, people might take you seriously. When you and I meet, whether here or hereafter, know for certain that is was John Scott Peterson that call you out.

John Scott Peterson

ps- Thanks Rock for more of the truth.

matt lohrke said...

Please pass along my thanks to Brother Brent. :)

MC said...

Interesting podcast.

I have a couple of questions for RFM.

First, I'm curious why you refer to Brigham Young and the 12 leading the church following Joseph Smith's death as a coup de tat? Are you suggesting that the 12 instituted a conspiracy to murder Joseph Smith so they could seize power?

Second, who do you suggest should have been chosen by the saints to lead the church following Joseph's death? Sidney Rigdon, William Marks, James Strang, David Whitmer, Samuel H. Smith, William Law, Joseph III, who?

Third, select verses in the D&C not withstanding, do the scriptures not suggest that apostles can have authority within the church and not just in the mission field? It appears that the 12 Nephite Disciples had authority within the church and not just in the mission field. The New Testament suggests the same about the original 12 apostles. Originally Joseph and Oliver were called as apostles, as were David Whitmer and others, before a quorum of the 12 was organized. Did these men not have authority with the church?

Robin Hood said...

You make a good point. Many are only too willing to criticise Brigham & Co, but they are far less forthcoming with a viable alternative.

As Dale Carnegie so accurately observed, "Any fool can criticise, and most fools do".

Robin Hood said...

John Scott Peterson,
Interesting point.
I expect you'll be making similar comments to "Radio Free Mormon", "Log", "Underdog2" et al.
Or is it that you only disaprove of those who don't use their real name when they don't agree with your views?

Robin Hood said...

Radio Free Mormon,
The reason I am so dismissive is because this is all really old stuff. It's been done to death repeatedly over the years. It might be new to you, but for those of us who have made the succession issue a matter of consistent study for many years, it is all old hat I'm afraid.
You might think you've stumbled on something earth-shattering, but I can assure you you have not.

Your podcasts and the transcripts thereof are simply presentations of well-known information.
They are thoroughly under-whelming.

I would be happy to debate new information, or even new interpretations of previously known information, if you had presented such; but this is not the case.
You say I am dismissive and you're right. Present new information or evidence etc and I won't be. I promise.

Radio Free Mormon said...

This sounds like the old apologetic dodge we hear so often, Robin Hood.

"These claims have already been answered many times."

It makes it so you don't have to actually answer any of them claims.

Because they've already been answered.

Many times.

It's just another in a long line of tricks to avoid answering questions.

You seem to be really good at this!


Robin Hood said...

Thanks. It's nice to be good at something!
It's not a dodge though. Surely you must know that all this is old stuff. Seriously, you must.
Do you honestly believe any of this is new? Are you really so naive as to think these issues and questions lay dormant for decades until you came along?
The succession issue is not only well documented, but it has been presented here before... by Rock himself. This is why I find it extraordinary that he has seen fit to post your stuff.
Like I said before, perhaps he's running out of ideas now. It's understandable I suppose; it must be quite a challenge to keep things fresh.
I have somewhere, a booklet from the RLDS Church dated around 1913 I think, which makes many of the same claims as you do in your presentation. Like I said, it's old news my friend.

Radio Free Mormon said...

Old news or not, you are doing a poor job of refuting any of the claims.

In fact, you have done no job at all.

One might think that is your intent . . .

On another note, you posted elsewhere that you believe the current head of the LDS Church is a president but not a prophet.

Did I get that correct?

Would you say this is a position out of harmony with what church leaders tell us?

As recently as last General Conference?

I am thinking specifically of Elder Andersen's concluding talk here.

Matthias said...


Robin Hood is right. The vast majority of what you have presented is not new information. It might be new to some people. There's an article available online somewhere in a pdf that covers the succession crisis in great detail and addresses the issues and conflicts between what is written in people's journals and what they said later.

There does appear to be some embellishment in later versions of events. That's not to say that Brigham and others were liars. At the time it was considered to be an acceptable practice to tell tall tales, in which one spices up a true story to make it more exciting. I believe that those men were a product of their times and followed the generally accepted practices and norms of society at the time. We do the same thing. There are things we do today that are normal in society, even amongst true believers, that the early saints (and Victorian era people in general) would find appalling.

You still haven't attempted to answer my questions. You're pretty good attacking Brigham Young and the early apostles. It's not too hard considering they were flawed men, who have been dead for 150 years and can't defend themselves. Guess what, anti-Mormons can do virtually the same thing to Joseph Smith that you are doing to Brigham Young. You point out all of the issues, but conveniently fail to mention the positives, which overwhelm the negatives. That's the most common anti-Mormon tactic in the book.

Maybe most of Rock's readers are fooled into believing that your research is objective, but it isn't. You obviously had a bone to pick with Brigham and then when out to prove yourself right.

So I'll ask you again. If Brigham Young and the 12 were so evil and guilty of a conspiracy to overthrow Joseph Smith and steal control of the church, then who should have led the church? Rigdon was mentally unstable due to a severe head injury he had received several years earlier. He had also become disallusioned with Joseph Smith because of polygamy. James Strang was crazy too and ended up being murdered by one of his enstranged followers. He also practiced polygamy in case anyone actually believes Brigham made it up. David Whitmer was an apostate and had been excommunicated. He thought Joseph was a fallen prophet. There's zero evidence that Joseph actually told his brother Samuel that he was to succceed him, other than Samuels words. What about William Law who had just started a reformed version of Mormonism without polygamy and the endowment? Oh wait he actually was behind the murder of Joseph. William Marks supported the unstable Sidney Rigdon. Joseph III was eleven. Who do you like? Is anyone on this list better than the Quorum of the 12? Or maybe you can think of someone else who the saints should have pulled out of thin air to lead them?

SB said...

Robin, it's not "old stuff" or "well known". Sorry, but the standard narrative is Joseph gave keys to the brethren, Brigham turned into Joseph and off we go.

The details are essentially buried to the general membership.

MC, it's not so much a question of who is the leader, but the consolidation of power, the undermining of quorums equal in authority etc. it was indeed a power grab.

Matthias said...

SB, You are aware that there is a contradiction in the D&C when it comes to the relationship between the 12 apostles and the seventy right?

One verse makes it sound like they could be equal, but another makes it quite clear that the seventy are to work under the direction of the apostles, thus clearly putting the 12 in a higher authority than the seventy. Seventy are only briefly mentioned in the New Testament and not at all in the BOM, so it's hard to imaging that they have the same authority as the 12 apostles.

The BOM and New Testament are pretty clear that the Quorum of the 12 were the highest authority in the church anciently.

Maybe I'm in the minority, but the consolidation of power doesn't bother me all that much. God's house is a house of order, and if He wanted the 12 apostles to lead the church then their authority had to be established somehow.

For me the question is how they used their power once they got it. Were their abuses? Certainly, but overall they used their power to do good and to lead the saints in living the gospel and keeping the commandments.

It's clear that warts and all Brigham and the 12 were the best option to lead the church following the death of Joseph Smith. There's a reason no one (including RFM) has suggested anyone else should have led the church. There was no one else. It was clearly God's will for the 12 to lead the church.

Robin Hood said...

You twist my words.
I actually said that the current president of the church was not a prophet in the Joseph Smith mold, and that the church is under apostolic administration just as it was following Christ's ascension in both the old and new worlds.
The Book of Acts clearly records a major revelation, in the form of a dream (no "thus saith the Lord" take note) to the presiding apostle regarding the availability of the gospel to the Gentiles, but apparently nothing else. Should we dismiss the leadership claims of Peter and the apostles because they weren't constantly producing revelations?
And pray tell, who was the "prophet" after the ascension?

The president (the senior apostle) of the church sits in the judgement seat, so to speak, and is entitled to receive inspiration and revelation to govern the church as required, just as Peter did. I also pointed out that D&C 136 makes it clear that in terms of revelation there will be "no more at present". We are in the kingdom building era, as 136 also points out that we "have been given the kingdom".

With regard to your question about my refuting your points, it's already been done mate, and the articles, documents and books are in the public arena. But, given that you have researched all of this so thoroughly, you will know that... right?

MC makes an excellent point about who was best placed to lead the church following the martyrdom of the two prophets. All of the main protagonists led a faction of their own, and all have appeared to fail; some quite spectacularly.
Clearly, the Saints dodged a bullet!

SB said...

MC, the consolidation of power may not mean much to you, but to me, it is antithetical to the gospel, especially in the machiavellian way it was brought about.

R. Metz said...

What is called a breathtaking power grab, and a hostile takeover, was actually initiated long before the death of Joseph Smith, and it was initiated by the Prophet himself. Who else was/were better prepared, trained and instructed to lead the church after he was gone?
That's all there is to it.

Robin Hood said...

You're absolutely right; "that's all there is to it".
It's pretty straightforward when we set aside all of the speculation and the hyperbole, strip away the thin veneer of so-called scholarship, and consider the cold hard facts of the matter.
The Twelve were the only ones who were willing, able, and sanctioned by heaven to carry off the kingdom, just as happened in new testament times.
That precedent alone carries more weight than all of the assumptions, speculations and "research" in RFM's podcasts.
As the Twelve proclaimed when they arrived in England, "truth will prevail!"

Zebedee said...

Robin Hood,

You say, "The president (the senior apostle) of the church sits in the judgement seat, so to speak, and is entitled to receive inspiration and revelation to govern the church as required, just as Peter did."

If the president is the senior apostle then he and his counselors make 15 apostles. Jesus never appointed 15 apostles (or 15 disciples among the Nephites). Only 12. If Brigham Young and the Twelve were to lead the Church, fine, but they never should have created a First Presidency from among themselves. B.Y. promised the Saints in 1844 that the Twelve would lead. It wasn't until the Saints had been expelled from Nauvoo and starving on the plains that he claimed presidency (or more likely dictator).

Matthias said...

Zebedee, I think you're forgetting that Joseph Smith was called as an apostle, as were others, prior to the calling of the quorum of the 12 apostles. This means that at the time the quorum of the 12 was originally called in this dispension there were more than 12 apostles in the church. There is also the apostle Paul in the New Testament who quite possibly was a 13th apostle, as we have no record of him replacing another apostle who had died or had fallen away. It's clear that there can be more apostles than 12 on earth at a time, however only 12 can be part of the quorum of the 12 apostles.

There's no inherent problem with having 15 apostles (12 in the quorum and 3 in the first presidency).

As for whether or not Brigham Young had the authority to reconstitute the first presidency through the law of common consent, I believe D&C 107:22 provides the answer.

22 Of the Melchizedek Priesthood, three presiding officers, chosen by the body, appointed and ordained to that office, and upheld by the confidence, faith, and prayer of the church, form a quorum of the Presidency of the Church.

Looks to me that the first presidency can be reconstituted. They are to be "chosen by the body, appointed and ordained to that office." What is the body referring to? It's likely referring to the body of the church right? Or perhaps the body of the quorum of the 12 or a combination of the 12 and the seventy. Either way the notion that the first presidency could not be reconstituted from within the body of the church through common consent is false.

Underdog2 said...

Part 1 of 2

To all those who defend Brigham's rise to power and/or take offense to the observation there was in fact a coup d'etat:

Please navigate this quandary.

Undisputed fact: Brigham consolidated power. He very quickly created a top-down hierarchy with himself as the ruler. The organization he devised was centralized. Brigham's form of government follows precisely the model of every other despot and dictator in history, which is to place the despot at the top, to weaken the power of the people, and to instill fear to speak out against the despot. Brigham Young did ALL of these things. He set up a kingdom where people were NOT equals. The kingdom he set up was a kingdom of UNequals, where he specifically ruled with an iron fist, and those in the quorum of the 12 had all power, vs. the decentralized model set up by DC 107. Brigham's kingdom was characterized by fear, censorship, inequality, usurpation, centralization of power, racism, pride, threats, unrestrained sex with young women "sanctioned" by God, and all under the color of God's approbation.
Undisputed fact: Church history was rewritten. Fabrications were made by adding miracles years after the fact. Statements were altered. All with the intent to strengthen the apostles' claim to authority.
Undisputed fact: none of the apostles, including Brigham ever claimed to have been "sent" by Jesus. Brigham specifically said he was NOT a prophet but a "yankee guesser".

Probable fact: Samuel Smith was murdered, as was Joseph, by trusted Mormons (possibly and even likely including Brigham -- he had motive to support the killing of Joseph, Hyrum and Samuel). The

All of the undisputed facts above lead to a conclusion. What do these facts FORCE us to conclude?

That Brigham and his conspirators LOST any authority that they had. DC 121:37.

Underdog2 said...

Part 2 of 2

Defenders of the apostolic takeover wantonly ignore DC 121:37, which DESTROYS your position. I know it's inconvenient for you. But you cannot ignore it. I know that most people have the disposition to abuse their authority AS SOON AS THEY GET IT (DC 121:39). So I "get" your tendencies. It's part of being fallen man. But I call you out.

Obviously, any practitioners of unrighteous dominion ignore DC 121:37. Part of the reason is that before they are "aware, they're left to themselves, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God." But sometimes they WILLINGLY ignore DC 121:37. It's the job of the members to hold them accountable. Radio Free Mormon/ Rock are holding them accountable through exposure. You all find yourselves on the side of defending usurpers and abusers of power. Is that the side you want to be on?

The principles and truths taught in DC 121 PROVE beyond a shadow of a doubt that Brigham forfeited his power and authority that he had received from God through Joseph.

The point I wish you all to reckon with is not that Brigham at one time was given authority from God via Joseph's hands and that they MIGHT have a claim to authority, but that he lost it through abuse, as he "undertook to cover his sins, to gratify his pride, his vain ambition, and to exercise control or dominion or compulsion" upon church members. Brigham Young's heart was clearly "set so much on the things of this world." He "aspired to the honors of men" so much that he never learned the one lesson, which is that the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven.

You all are arguing for a man or group of men who abused their authority. If the question has been answered that they abused their authority, THEN THEY HAVE NONE! And it's moot to argue that they have it. The first question is, "Did they abuse it? Did they attempt to exercise compulsion on people?" The answer is clearly YES. So any further argument or justification from you all is pointless and a complete waste of your time. You cannot skip over the first question to argue your pet doctrine. Face the facts. Reconcile yourself to the truth and its effects. Move on to exploring other important questions instead of defending wickedness.

Robin Hood said...

Maybe it's just me, but I get the feeling you don't like Bro. Brigham. ;)

Underdog2 said...

Hi Robin,

Judging by his fruits, and by the fact that I'm wired up to resist bullies and my freedom being trampled, I'd say there's a good chance I wouldn't have liked the man.

Respect? Yes, he has my respect.

Heck, I wish he had been a true prophet. I wish what I believed for years was true. I wish he and subsequent presidents of the church were duly chosen and sent by the Lord.

Do you agree with my two comments above (parts 1 and 2), where the facts do prove he lost his way and had become corrupted, and therefore argument about the apostles having or not having "authority" from God is moot?

Robin Hood said...

Hi Underdog2,
No I don't agree with your comments.
But if that's really the way you feel... what now?

Can Brigham be all the things you claim but John Taylor be ok? If not, then presumably Brigham broke the chain. So where do you go from here?

Underdog2 said...

Hello Robin,

What specific "undisputed facts" do you disagree with? If you don't object to those facts, then the next and final question is, do you disagree with DC 121 which says that such abuse forfeits any priesthood or authority the abuser had been given?

You're wanting to jump ahead to John Taylor and change the subject, but right and here and now, why not go on record with what you object to? Simple facts were given, and the scripture (DC 121) which states abusers of authority lose their authority. Specify what you disagree with please. Stay on track. Don't digress.

As to your question: "where do we go from here?"

Sacred history makes that easy to predict. Since the time of Adam, down to the present time, we see this pattern: Restoration >> Apostasy >> then repeat. Over and over.

Joseph = restoration
Apostasy of individuals around a living Joseph were rampant! Joseph's murder (and Hyrum's and Samuel Smith's) allowed the apostasy to take over.

The step is easy: another restoration through another prophet (who will be hated and reviled by the very people the prophet is sent to. Those people will be the mainstream Mormons. The mainstream Jews hated Jesus. The mainstream Mormons will reject WHOMEVER the Lord sends.)

Underdog2 said...

Meant to say:

The NEXT step is easy to predict: another restoration through another prophet (who will be hated and reviled by the very people that prophet is sent to. Those people will be the mainstream Mormons. The mainstream Jews hated Jesus. The mainstream Mormons will reject WHOMEVER the Lord sends.)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I happen to know that Radio Free Mormon, who is an attorney, is very busy with work right now, and likely has not had the opportunity to see your questions to him or address your challenges. But I'm here, and I think I'll take a crack at responding to your queries.

Your argument, if I understand you correctly, is embodied in your assertion that "Warts and all, Brigham and the Twelve were the best option to lead the church following the death of Joseph Smith."

But you appear to be disregarding the gist of the matter by throwing out irrelevant non sequiters as if they have any meaning. You may argue from pragmatism all you wish (that argument fails, by the way, when all one has to do is witness, assuming a church is expected to be a spiritual institution, that the LDS Church today has become lifeless, stagnant, and innefective), but the gist of the matter, as Underdog2 aptly addresses above, is this: Brigham and company obviously abused whatever authority they had originally been given under Joseph Smith, and thus, according to the clear word of God, that abuse nullified their priesthood. More to the point, as we see documented in RFM's presentations, Brigham Young KNEW he did did not have unassailable authority to change the church to suit his will.

By grossly abusing their authority, Brigham and the early Mormon apostles lost all claims to authority. It's gone. No rationalizing or twisting of scripture can overcome the reality that Brigham and Company grossly overstepped their bounds. I find it telling that neither you nor any other person in this comment section have challenged the accuracy of RFM's narrative. Indeed, you yourself claim all this "is not new information."

Well, you're right. It isn't new information to some. I've been writing about these issues for some time myself, and so have many others. But I would wager that to the vast majority of believing members of the church, this kind of news is a bombshell. If their testimony centers around the leaders, as yours appears to, this information can be devastating. Fortunately, The Lord does not ask us to have a testimony of the Church, so those whose testimonies are firmly grounded in Him and His gospel will not be affected by this old news.

It's old news, yes, so why do you object to it being trotted out once again? Your bland dismissal reminds me of Daniel Peterson's reaction when news leaked out that general authorities in the Church receive a generous salary. He said, "that's old news," which was meant to imply we don't need to pay it any mind.

Well, it was old news to Daniel Peterson, but absolutely new to most members, who had been taught that ALL Church officers labor without pay. If you asked the typical member how a GA manages to feed his family, given the Church has no paid clergy (that is the official term, by the way, "NO paid clergy") they would tell you that these men had been so successful in their earlier careers that they had plenty to live on when they accepted callings to lead the Church. That's what I was told, and that's what I believed.

(Continued Below)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

MC, (Continued)

Here's a more recent -and laughable- example of dismissing "old news" as if it doesn't matter:

During Hillary Clinton's recent book tour, in an interview with BBC's Andrew Marr, Mrs Clinton tried to position herself as being appalled at the behavior of Harvey Weinstein, adding, "after all, we have someone admitting to being a sexual assaulter in the Oval Office. There has to be a recognition that we must stand against this kind of action that is so sexist and misogynistic."

Marr Responded, "And this depends upon women coming forward, and are encouraged to come forward."


Marr: "Yet in your book, the three women brought onto stage by Trump, attacking your husband, and you kind of dismissed them. Is that the right thing to do? Are you sure about that?"

Hillary: "Well yes, because that had all been litigated...and that was clearly in the past."

Old news, you see.

You'll forgive me, MC, but that reminds me of your attitude toward Brigham Young's usurpations because, well, everybody knows about it so it's not a good idea to keep mentioning it.

(Continued Below)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

MC (Continued)

But I wanted to address this red herring you threw out there, where you insisted RFM tell you who he thinks SHOULD have led the Church instead of Brigham Young.

That question is a distraction for a couple of reasons.

First, there was simply no candidate in 1844 campaigning for the right to lead the Church. Let me emphasize that: No one with a claim to appointment was seeking to be the church's new leader. Not even Brigham Young, who did not claim to have an appointment, but campaigned on the grounds that the Twelve Apostles AS A BODY presented a sensible alternative to one individual being elected to preside. Brigham, Rigdon, Strang, and everyone else vying for election was not seeking to become the new church leader, but only the "guardian" of the church until such time as Joseph Smith's eldest son came of age.

Brigham repeatedly made clear in the speech he gave that day in August 1844 that the people lost their prophet, and would now have to live to walk by faith. He was not proposing to take Joseph's place. You can find that, and other assurances by Brigham that he had no intention of taking things over in "The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young." Not one person in the congregation would have considered Brigham Young qualified to lead the church had he proposed to take charge, anyway. The entire membership fully expected that Joseph III (who was then only eleven years old) would eventually take the reins of church leadership when he became an adult, because it was widely held that he was the only one thought to have that right. Brigham Young, who admitted to not being Joseph Smith, Jr's legal succesor, shared that expectation from the very beginning, and years later Brigham reiterated his view:

"What of Joseph Smith's family? What of his boys? I have prayed from the beginning for sister Emma and for the whole family. There is not a man in this Church that has entertained better feelings towards them. Joseph said to me, 'God will take care of my children when I am taken.' They are in the hands of God, and when they make their appearance before this people, full of his power, there are none but what will say—“AMEN! WE ARE READY TO RECEIVE YOU."-Journal of Discourses Vol 8, pg 69.

You can judge for yourself if Brigham was being disingenous by that time, because he said that was in 1860, and Joseph Smith the Third was 27 years old and had already denounced Brigham Young and the Utah branch of the church as in apostasy. It would be difficult to argue with that, given Brigham's blatant usurpations.

(Continued Below)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

MC (Continued)

The second question I want to address is this: You ask, "I'm curious why you refer to Brigham Young and the 12 leading the church following Joseph Smith's death as a coup de tat? Are you suggesting that the 12 instituted a conspiracy to murder Joseph Smith so they could seize power?"

That's an odd assumption. Are you suggesting that a coup d'etat can only occur as a result of a murder? The OED defines coup d'etat as "a violent or illegal change in government."

Brigham did not need to usurp power from Joseph Smith through violent means; Joseph was already dead. Brigham took control of the church illegally. Of course he did it legally at first, by obtaining the vote of the people on behalf of the Quorum of the Twelve to act as placeholder for the time being. He subsequently took control illegally, by violating Church law and ignoring the clear instructions God gave for the governing of His church.

That is a coup d'etat, my friend, and it's the reason I inferred by the title of last month's blog post that Jesus Christ had been ousted as leader of His own church. It was an illegal usurpation, masterminded by Brigham Young. Had Rigdon, Strang, Cutler, or any of the other contenders for guardianship of the church acted as Brigham Young had, they would have been just as guilty of acting illegally as Brigham had. It makes a dandy parlor game trying to guess who would have been a better leader than Brigham Young (my vote would probably go to William Marks), but any such conjecture detracts from the what is pertinent: Brigham Young went against God's revealed will and altered the form of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and that is a primary cause for the problems the LDS Church is facing today. It lacks the LAWFULL authority it claims to have.

(Continued Below)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

MC Continued)

Finally, MC, you point out that the Twelve Apostles were authorized to lead the church because "Originally Joseph and Oliver were called as apostles, as were David Whitmer and others, before a quorum of the 12 was organized. Did these men not have authority with the church?"

You undercut your own argument with the admission that Joseph and Oliver were appointed to be apostles BEFORE the Twelve was organized. It was five years before, by my reckoning, and apparently you missed the part in church history where the those in this newly created QUORUM were specifically set apart to be apostles with a completely separate role. They were assigned exclusive jurisdiction OUTSIDE the existing church. Remember, they went variously by the names of "The Traveling High Council", "The Traveling Elders" and "The Traveling Apostles." perhaps were reading too fast and missed that important qualifier, "traveling."

As TRAVELING apostles, the early Mormon apostles operated very much like the apostles in the New Testament. You suggest those apostles were leaders of the primitive church, when a basic knowledge of the first century Christian church suggests no such role. We have some of their letters "to the church" in such locations as Ephesus, Corinth, and others, but these were letters of advice and counsel from the missionaries who had initially converted the small groups of people in those cities, and then moved on. It should be remembered that the "churches" in those locations bore no resemblance to the way we think of churches today. They were small groups of converts who met in each other's homes to worship and socialize with others of like mind. They were not institutional churches as we think of them today. We have no evidence of Peter, James, Paul, or any other apostles convening a conference of the church and speaking to the people in person, or otherwise "leading" them. They came, they taught, they moved on.

And that's because they understood their role as apostles was not to govern the churches. They knew their place was to "go out into all the world and preach the gospel." They may have kept in touch with their previous converts by writing letters now and then, but it's quite a stretch to assume they were the leaders of the primitive Christian church just because they were apostles.

I think you're engaging in backwards thinking here, MC. Because the LDS Church today is led by putative apostles, you presume the ancient church operated the same way, and you therefore argue your proposition in circles. Where I come from we call that sophistry.

MC said...

Well Rock it seems I struck a nerve. I don’t recall you ever making such aggressive comments before. I mean shoot your flat out accusing me of making up fallacious arguments with the intent to deceive people.

It looks like you’re trying to discredit me so that you don’t have to deal with the fact that I have shown quite clearly that your argument that Brigham Young and the 12 led a conspiracy to overthrow Joseph Smith and seize power of the church via a coup d’état doesn’t hold water.

I get it, it’s easier to redirect that deal with the facts. I’m completely comfortable with the truth in its entirety, but I don’t think you, RFM, Underdog2, and others are.
Quite frankly I’m a little confused as to what you guys believe about Brigham Young. In your recent comments you said:

“No one with a claim to appointment was seeking to be the church's new leader. Not even Brigham Young, who did not claim to have an appointment, but campaigned on the grounds that the Twelve Apostles AS A BODY presented a sensible alternative to one individual being elected to preside. Brigham, Rigdon, Strang, and everyone else vying for election was not seeking to become the new church leader, but only the "guardian" of the church until such time as Joseph Smith's eldest son came of age.

Brigham repeatedly made clear in the speech he gave that day in August 1844 that the people lost their prophet, and would now have to live to walk by faith. He was not proposing to take Joseph's place. You can find that, and other assurances by Brigham that he had no intention of taking things over in "The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young."

I’m failing to see a coup d’état or conspiracy here, unless you believe Brigham Young and the 12 where lying and had a secret master plan to overthrow the church. I’m assuming this is what you believe, based on RFM’s suggestion that they had Samuel H. Smith murdered.
I suppose this is a small issue but there is no way in hell that Brigham Young and the 12 where staging a coup d’état unless they were involved in a secret conspiracy to overthrow Joseph Smith (which cannot in anyway be defended by history by the way).

Let’s look at the definition of coup d’état real quick and see if it fits with what you guys are suggesting about Brigham Young methodically taking control of the church over several years as part of some master plan.

Coup d’état: a sudden and decisive action in politics, especially one resulting in a change of government illegally or by force.

Or a sudden violent or illegal seizure of government

A coup has to be sudden and decisive and in most cases it is violent. In fact the synonyms for a Coup d’état are overthrow, rebellion, revolution, uprising.

None of this fits what happened at all. Once Brigham and the 12 were legally elected to the lead the church by the common consent of the saints they consolidated power. That is not a Coup d’état.

Honestly the terminology doesn’t really matter. You guys believe that the Brigham and the 12 consolidated power because of some sinister plot to gain power. A counter argument would be that they consolidated power in order to keep the church together. If you take the blinders off you would realize that the counter argument better fits their actions as a whole. The D&C doesn’t set forth the procedures for how the twelve should lead the church without a first presidency. I believe they did they best they could and had good intentions, though it seems they had a “the end justifies the means the means” attitude at times. (Cont below)

MC said...

On a different note, I’m not really sure how asking RFM to tell us who he believes should have led the church instead of the 12 is a red herring? He keeps going on and on about how Brigham Young and the 12 illegally took over the church and deceived everyone at the time of the succession crisis. It’s not reasonable to keep saying that the saints were duped by Brigham Young without offering up a reasonable alternative. Seriously, who should have led the church following the death of Joseph Smith? You guys all say that Brigham and the 12 were the wrong choice, so who would have been the right choice? There is no one else, and William Marks wasn’t an option because he backed Rigdon.

I’m not sure I follow you on how my pointing out that there were apostles appointed before the calling of the 12 undermines my position.

Yes the 12 were called to go and preach to all the world as a travelling council. However it does not appear that this is how Joseph Smith used them the last couple of years in Nauvoo. He even received a revelation in 1841 that Brigham Young was no longer required to go out and travel as his offering was acceptable to the Lord, yet Brigham was retained as president of the quorum of the 12. Strange isn’t it?

Seems to me that regardless of what the D&C says, Joseph Smith or the Lord (take your pick) was not sending them out to preach like before. In fact they were made part of the council of 50 which was to govern the political kingdom of God on earth. When Joseph was killed the 12 were out campaigning for his presidency not preaching the gospel.

My point about there being more apostles than just the quorum of 12 during Joseph’s lifetime completely refutes RFM’s claim that the church can’t have 15 apostles at one time and you know it.

Now as to your claim that based on D&C 121 the 12 would have lost any authority they had because they abused their power, I think you are over simplifying things.
First off, please show me the proof that the 12 actually were FORCING people into doing what they said. They may have used fiery rhetoric and told people that God’s judgements would come upon them if they didn’t listen to them, but what is wrong with that? The scriptures are full of accounts of prophets and apostles preaching hellfire and damnation.
Using your logic that if a man uses any force or compulsion he loses any all authority he has, Captain Moroni would have lost his authority the moment he compelled or tried to compel the rebellious Nephites to take up arms in the defense of their country. He should have just used love and gentle persuasion right?

Furthermore D&C 121 does not say that taking liberties with their power would cause the 12 to lose any and all authority they were given, especially if they truly believed they were doing what was best. The Lord works with imperfect people. How many times did the Lord rebuke Joseph for his various sins without taking away his authority?

I’m sure we could debate D&C 121 endlessly without a consensus.

MC said...

You also said: “I find it telling that neither you nor any other person in this comment section have challenged the accuracy of RFM's narrative.”

Actually, I am challenging RFM’s narrative. Not sure why how that isn’t clear. When I said that most of what he has said is not new information does not mean that it is accurate. I’m not challenging that there are discrepancies between contemporary accounts and later reminisces. Nor am I challenging that the narrative taught at church is not misleading and fails to tell the whole story. What I’m challenging is RFM’s claims based on his select compilation of facts. He has basically put together a bunch of facts and then spun them in a way that makes Brigham Young out to be a monster. He points out the negatives, but conveniently leaves out all of the positive things Brigham Young did, which overwhelm the negatives. This is an anti-Mormon tactic and the same one used to make Joseph Smith out to be a monster.

One last thing. I’m fully aware that the church is currently in a state of apostasy, and that the true gifts of the spirit appear to be absent. I’m not at all suggesting that Brigham Young was perfect, but I don’t believe that he was the wicked monster that you and RFM are making him out to be. I believe he did his best. I believe that the Lord wanted him to lead the church along with the 12 apostles. The church has wrought a great work since relocating to Utah. Unfortunately it has also gradually fallen into apostasy over the years (as all previous gospel dispensations have). I believe the evidence is clear that the apostasy in the church was setting in during the years Brigham Young was leading the church and he was at least partially to blame for that with some of the things he did. He did fight the apostasy to the best of his ability though.

You all are entitled to your opinion. If you wish to keeping speaking evil of Brother Brigham that is your right. I look at him objectively. He was a flawed man, through whom the Lord was still able to work a great work in establishing the church in the Rocky Mountains.

Radio Free Mormon said...

MC refers to Rock's "argument that Brigham Young and the 12 led a conspiracy to overthrow Joseph Smith."

Neither Rock Waterman nor I have ever maintained Brigham Young or any other member of the church led a conspiracy to overthrow Joseph Smith.

Just wanted to make that point clear.

Underdog2 said...


You said: Please show me the proof that the 12 actually were FORCING people into doing what they said.

1) Whistling and whittling brigades.
2) Censorship and death threats.
3) Eternal death by excommunicating people (Brigham and the Twelve's real perceived power was in excommunication (just as the Twelve do today to people they perceive as threats) even more than killing people physically).
4) Fake news: rewriting history.
5) Conspiracy to commit murder (Esp of direct proof. But commonsense is there; and motive was there. Brigham's actions after Samuel's death show he aspired to rule. Samuel stood in the way. Brigham had an alibi and yet was connected via Willard Richards, his cousin and an apostle who lobbied to keep Samuel from assuming leadership.

Which of these besides #5 do you object to or can rebut?

You said: Using your logic that if a man uses any force or compulsion he loses any all authority he has, Captain Moroni would have lost his authority the moment he compelled or tried to compel the rebellious Nephites to take up arms in the defense of their country. He should have just used love and gentle persuasion right?

I concede your point about General Moroni - in appearance. But Moroni wasn't the high priest, and Mormon DID describe him as a great man of Christ and champion of Liberty. The case that Moroni wasn't out of line was that this was a time of war. Could God endorse and even command a righteous people - General (appointed by the people, mind you), to execute those seeking to kill them? This is called self defense. And as a merciful intermediate act, it seems entirely Christlike to offer them a chance at redemption (draft them as soldiers--honestly that's a terrible idea--can you imagine thousands of trailers serving in the ranks of your army?) rather than swiftly kill them. They were worthy of death. But he spared them by giving them a chance. Administered by sacred oath.

You said: I’m not really sure how asking RFM to tell us who he believes should have led the church instead of the 12 is a red herring?

In my view, it's because that is a distraction from the main point. The main point is that a true, authorized, appointed servant, one who communed with God was absent on the earth. The only hope would have been the patriarchal line, where you see so clearly the patriarchal priesthood being handed down from father to son, even to wicked sons. They had the right by lineage, but even then the true power connected to heaven would have been dormant during their times of wickedness (refer to Omni's confession of his personal wickedness). Joseph Smith III, it appears, would have been next in line, but he was too young. Thus the guardianship argument makes sense, until Joseph III came of age.

In any event, MC, it seems you are acknowledging apostasy even in Brigham's day (though you are remarkably claiming he fought AGAINST it, when he is the main perpetrator at the very top). And you are acknowledging full-blown apostasy in the Church today.

So what is your main point, may I ask? I'm certain you've said it before, but could you state it in a nutshell? I gather from your refusal to condemn and disavow centralization of power into the top hierarchy of the Church that your world view allows for the Church (and another hierarchy of unequals) to rise again in an unapostate form?

Underdog2 said...

He may be referring to me. I'm not aware of irrefutable evidence of that conspiracy but if I were a betting man, the odds are that's how it played out.

But it is true that question is irrelevant to what your two podcasts discuss.

Underdog2 said...


You said:

Coup d’état: a sudden and decisive action in politics, especially one resulting in a change of government illegally or by force.

Or a sudden violent or illegal seizure of government

A coup has to be sudden and decisive and in most cases it is violent. In fact the synonyms for a Coup d’état are overthrow, rebellion, revolution, uprising.

None of this fits what happened at all. Once Brigham and the 12 were legally elected to the lead the church by the common consent of the saints they consolidated power. That is not a Coup d’état.

Honestly the terminology doesn’t really matter. You guys believe that Brigham and the 12 consolidated power because of some sinister plot to gain power. A counter argument would be that they consolidated power in order to keep the church together.

The motive and intent can be debated. But the question can be decided by asking if the END justified the means.

I don't see how the defenders of Brigham can justify his "means". The very same argument is used to defend last Friday's announcement (on Oct 20) that the First Presidency is requiring innocent members (those who've previously broken the law of chastity, confessed to their bishop and to the Lord, and then been cleared by the bishop and forgiven by the Lord) to RE-CONFESS their same sins (which had been forgotten by the Lord/ DC 58:42) TWO MORE TIMES (to their current bishop AND stake president) as a requirement for serving a mission.

See and for a discussion with TBM's who defend this abuse.

Those who defend and support the First Presidency for this "how to abuse the innocent training" and the bishop/stake president for asking these invasive questions say, "But we want to avoid missionaries getting sent home early because some will confess for the first time in the field," but even they acknowledge that liars will still get through the process. In other words, the invasive, abusive questions won't accomplish the goal, but the First Presidency still requires them to be asked.

MC, you bring up one question I want to study more by reviewing the podcasts:
1) The timeline. Was the corruption and apostasy AFTER a common consent vote of the members? For your point to be valid, there would have to be no corrupt or apostate actions BEFORE the common consent vote.

And there's the dropped question you raised regarding terminology. Were the actions of Brigham and the apostles properly termed a coup d'etat? The definition: a sudden and decisive action in politics, especially one resulting in a change of government illegally or by force.

There could be some quibbling about how long "sudden" is. In the case of JFK, that was sudden. In the case of Richard Nixon, that was a coup d'etat that took a lot of time. It wasn't "sudden", but the result was the same. He was removed under the color of law. Just as there are real plans underway to remove Trump via the 25th Amendment. That will be another "legal" attempt to remove a man who is not playing ball with the globalists. If they can't murder the president (as they did with JFK and attempted with Reagan), they go the "legal" route unless the president stands down (as Reagan did after the assassination attempt). It's always selective enforcement.

At any rate, you are dropping your objection to the use of the term, and I think that's wise.

To be clear are you saying that if force, trickery, intrigue, corruption can be proven BEFORE a common consent vote that you will concede Brigham's rise to power was illegitimate?

Craig Morris said...

I have to agree with both RFM and MC. Brigham consolidated power under himself and ruled with a heavy hand and tolerated no opposition. He undermined the Seventies and High Council and took control of the First Presidency. Whether the correct word for what he did was "coup d'etat" or not doesn't matter; It was contrary to D&C 107 and D&C 121. Was Brigham purposely evil? I don't think he was. I read his biography recently and he had talents and abilities I can only dream of. His loyalty to Joseph and his sacrifices for the church were second to none. It appears that Brigham believed he did what he did for the good of the church. As MC says he consolidated power to keep the church from falling apart. Few men could have accomplished what he did and it is possible that the church owes its continued existence to him. Do I like how he did it? No, I don't. Did he damage the church in the process? Yes, he did but it may have been worse if either Sidney Rigdon or James Strang had taken control. What should have happened instead? My guess is that there was no possible really good outcome after Joseph died. As James Muir says the true church requires saints that have truly been born again. Lacking a body in that state Zion could not be established then and Zion cannot be established today. The church to its credit has spread the Book of Mormon over the earth. It would be nice if we did what the Book of Mormon says but making it available is a step in the right direction. In my experience leaders and members of the church are trying their best given their situation and understanding, a lot like Brigham in his day. They have good intentions for whatever that is worth. As Paul said, we are all sinners of which I am the chief.

Liberty Ghost said...

I think the term coup de'etat is correct. It was a sudden thing. As I recall, Brigham announced the change to the Quorum of Seventy on a Monday, the day after dumping Willam Marks as Stake President. The mass ordination of all the Elders, Deacons and Priests began on Wednesday, the same day he called all the High priests to be branch presidents. This means that over the course of a few days, the Nauvoo Stake was gutted. The new stake president likely didn't know what hit him. I don't think he had had a single meeting before he was left with nobody to preside over. (Notice that today, nobody seems to think that a Stake President has the same authority as the twelve, even if the scripture says they do. We re-write scripture in the handbook.)

It's true that the other stakes took a bit longer, but due to the slow spread of news, I doubt that anyone had time to think about it and propose calling a council to try the twelve for abuse of power. Most likely, in every case the first thing a stake president would hear about it would be when his stake was steamrolled in the same way that the Nauvoo Stake was. In any case, I'm not aware that any councils of that sort were ever had again, since the twelve had usurped all authority. The swiftness of the attack and the physical isolation insured success.

Since Brigham campaigned on the idea of the 12 being a steadying influence, how do you account for such radical changes so soon, except for the purpose of stripping power from the organization of the church? Were they trying to fix some egregious flaw that Joseph overlooked? Was it because the twelve desperately needed missionaries? (the scriptural purpose of the twelve's need to direct the Seventy) No. It was simply a mechanism to grab (consolidate is too nice of a word) power.

When we look down on Warren Jeffs methods of controlling his membership, we must remember that Brigham was guilty of almost all of these same techniques, whether in 1844 by whittling those who had voted their conscience, or later in Utah where worse abuses occurred. It was this climate of absolute dictatorial power that directly led to Mountain Meadows, even if Brigham didn't order it directly. What would we think today if Jeffs through his counselors had whipped up fervor demanding absolute loyalty to the point that his followers murdered people passing through? Would we excuse Jeffs? Or, would we rightly see that as the spiritual fruits of religious despotism?

We wink at the sins of Brigham because he did so many 'good things', which has been alluded to by several commenters above. The Lord didn't allow Moses over Jordan, even if he did many 'good things', He has a different standard.

Dale B.

Liberty Ghost said...

The argument that "who else would you pick" seems pretty Catholic to me. I mean, who else would you pick above Constantine? By claiming that only a political struggle which allows for ruthless power plays and strong-arming of opponents is the only way that Christ can lead His church, denies the power of Christ to call leaders as He did with Saul and David and Joseph. Instead we follow Jesuit methodology, aka the ideas of educated men mingled with scripture.

Perhaps there was to be no leadership on the Earth until the Lord sends a true prophet. The Lord went about 1700 years with a corrupt church administration once before, so there is precedent. Maybe this is the Mormon Reformation? It may not leave us with an authoritative prophet, but if it humbles us and prepares us spiritually to recognize a true one when He shows up, it may be worth it.

Dale B.

Matthias said...

My apologies RFM. I must have gotten mixed up with Underdog2's claims. I did get the vibe you were hinting at a Brigham led conspiracy to overthrow Joseph Smith with the constant coup d etat and conspiracy ranting, not to mention the insinuation that the 12 murdered Samuel H. Smith.

As for Rock, if my memory serves me I seem to recall him hinting at such a conspiracy, or at least stating that he thought it was a possibility at some point.

I do know that I have heard that claim on quite a few occasions from those who consider themselves part of the Denver Snuffer led remnant movement. It's been proposed quite a few times in comments on Rock's blog and I don't recall him ever refuting it. He certainly didn't poo poo Underdog2 and neither did you.

matt lohrke said...

I think Dale B. hits it right on the head.

Be watchful. I believe this person is out there, probably right now. And if I understand my Book of Mormon correctly, he'll spring up out the remnant of Lehi, a descendant of Nephi's little brother Joseph.

The problem is that most people, especially most Mormons, will reject him because they've been trained to only look to SLC. If the pattern holds, he'll come from the outside.

Interesting days ahead, for sure.

I hope we can all be sufficiently humble, kind, patient and long-suffering so we don't miss any opportunities.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I didn't realize it was my job to refute other people's theories. For the record, I've never heard anything you say you have heard stated by those who consider themselves part of what you call "the Denver Snuffer led remnant movement." And also for the record I would remind you that Denver Snuffer is not the "leader" of any movement, and never was.

I will acknowledge that there has been, since time immemorial, conjecture about whether Brigham Young had any part in the assassination of Joseph and Hyrum, but there's no evidence that he did, and I see no reason why he would feel the need to. It is known that some disaffected Mormons at the time either participated in or encouraged the mob's actions, but Brigham's name has never come up in the histories that I know of. I think it would have been mentioned at the trial of the perpetrators had there been anything to these rumors; rumors which I don't believe began circulating until modern times.

The mob is believed by some scholars to have been instigated by two primary overlapping factions: First, Freemasons angry at the fact that the Masonic Lodge built in Nauvoo had not been authorized. We can blame John C. Bennett for convincing the citizens of Nauvoo that they ought to have their own lodge, but the end game was that legitimate Masons in the surrounding area felt themselves obligated by oath to kill anyone who gave Masonic secrets to others. Second, the mob was instigated by powerful interests in Illinois politics who saw the Mormons as a threat to their own power base. (For an analysis of both views, see Foister and Wicks, "Junius And Joseph: The Assasination of A Mormon Prophet."

So I would appreciate your not putting words in my mouth that I did not say. "If my memory serves me I seem to recall [Rock] hinting at such a conspiracy" doesn't justify spreading rumors about what I do or do not personally believe. There are more than enough conspiracies for which there is documented proof; I don't traffic in conjecture, other than to acknowledge now and then that such conjecture occurs.

I would also appreciate your not accusing me of evil speaking of the Lord's anointed, as you did above, unless you can point out specifically the evil speaking I engaged in. (You might read my post entitled "Evil Speaking of the Lord's Anointed" before you accuse anyone of that sin without providing specific examples. That way you'll have a better idea exactly what the term "evil speaking" means.)

But let's move on, because your latest responses deserve answering.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

MC, (Continued)
You suggest that your previous responses struck a nerve in me, the implication being that I must have been angry with you when I responded. On the contrary. I respected your concerns enough to devote considerable time to addressing them thoroughly. Clearly though, I was not thorough enough, because those responses do not seem to have had any effect. By which I mean you continue to quibble about everything but the issue at hand.

You wonder why I felt you were focused on red herrings: If you can't see that your demand that RFM give you an answer as to who should have led the Church other than Brigham Young, you're missing the point of the entire presentation. This is not a "choose your own adventure story" where it does any good to decide who could have done better. The focus of RFM's presentation was soley on what actually happened. The takeaway, in my mind, is that things in the church are still off kilter, because the leadership of the Church still neglects to follow the laws of God as given through revelation. In other words, until the institutional Church rights the ship by repenting and correcting the unauthorized changes, and begins governing according to the will of the Lord, the ship will continue to take on water. If we don't first acknowledge something went wrong, we'll see no reason to insist on corrections.

(Continued Below)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

MC, (Continued)
On the subject of quibbling, I can't help but marvel at how you stubbornly cling to your opinion that Radio Free Mormon's title, referring to a coup d'etat, is innacurate, and therefore presumably the entire essay is invalid. First, it's only a TITLE, for heaven's sake.

What would you prefer, that the words "power-grab" be front and center? "power-grab" is an accurate description of what the piece is about, but so is "Coup d'etat," and in my opinion "Apostolic Coup d'etat" is a suitable and provacative title. Look around on my blog; most of the titles I give my pieces are provacative, some hyperbolic. My titles are chosen to provoke the reader's curiosity so the piece will be read.

There are indeed academic pieces that cover much the same ground, as you point out when you say "this is not new information," but this piece was intended to be read by a mass audience; which is one reason I introduced them both with provacative titles of my own. My intent was to draw the reader's curiosity, and I'm sure RFM's intent was to do the same by using the term "Coup d'etat" in the title.

I can hardly believe we're going over this ground again, as Liberty Ghost reminded you in his comment above that Brigham's coup did indeed take place suddenly, as fits the dictionary definition. But I would add one thing that you seem to have overlooked. You object to the title on the grounds that what Brigham Young did fails to obtain to the level of a coup d'tat because, as you assert, it was not a violent overthrow. You spend quite a bit of time challenging RFM and me with a straw man argument that neither of us put forward. As I showed above, the OED defines a coup d'etat as "a sudden violent or illegal change in government."

You appear to want to ignore that word "illegal." Or perhaps you are interpreting it as "a violent AND Illegal change in government." If so, I would remind you that the word "or" in that clause is not conjuctive. It is not saying a coup d'etat is violent AND illegal; It's telling us a coup d'etat can be violent OR illegal. The word "illegal" would have been superfluous if the clause was conjunctive, because ALL violent coups are illegal.

By way of illustration, Joseph Stalin's coup was a violent one; there was a bloody revolution and the Tsar was overthrown. By contrast, Adolph Hitler was legally voted into office by the German people. It was not until Germany's government was changed illegally and Hitler became the Fuhrer that a coup d'etat occured. And that coup was relatively gradual; the German people barely noticed what was happening, and most of them approved.

(Continued Below)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

MC, (Continued)
You express puzzlement at my charge that you have done everything but challenge the narrative; you say you HAVE challenged the narrative. So let me clarify: I meant that you have not challenged the facts of the narrative. Certainly you have challenged the validity of RFM's entire presentation, as your position appears to me to have two prongs: 1) That it's not new information, and 2) that it really doesn't matter because Brigham Young's positives outweigh the negatives.

Yet those negatives consist of completely changing the government of the Church, which just happened to put Brigham and some of his closest pals into power; and all done quickly, subversively, and antithetical to God's clear instructions for the government of His church. On top of that, as Underdog2 reminds you above, Brigham ruled with an iron hand that resulted in real harm done to real people.

I could add several more items to Underdog2's list, such as Brigham's penchant for ordering people to leave their home and friends and move to far, deserted outposts in every desert area of the territory in order to establish a claim to the borders of his intended state of Deseret. Any lawful claim to an expanded territory would require that there be people -often just single, lonely families out there all alone-living in those remote areas. All so that Brigham could have a viable border to his fiefdom.

Another little-known -and unforgivable act in my view- was when Brigham ordered Lot Smith to bypass the stranded party of handcart immigrants without stopping to help them, in order to retrive several wagon loads of liqour and tobacco belonging to Brigham that had been abandoned at Fort Bridger.

What Brigham engaged in during his reign is known in the Book of Mormon as "Iniquity." The word is related to "inequality," and it means the unequal burden imposed by those in power over those in rank below them. Take a Look at the blog post referenced above by Steven Retz in his comment of Oct 24 for a side-by-side comparison of iniquity in the Book of Mormon compared with iniquity under Brigham Young.

(Continued Below)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

MC, (Continued)
In your responses above you continually mischaracterize the information in these two podcasts, insisting that the author argues that "Brigham Young and the 12 led a conspiracy to overthrow Joseph Smith and seize power." You harp on this straw man argument continually, using terms such as "a secret master plan to overthrow the church," "a secret conspiracy to overthrow Joseph Smith,"some sinister plot to gain power," and so on. You even say "He keeps going on and on about how Brigham Young and the 12 illegally took over the church and deceived everyone at the time of the succession crisis.

Yet there is no evidence or suggestion that the Twelve conspired with Brigham Young to overthrow Joseph Smith, put Brigham into power, or any such collusion. I've listened to these podcasts over and over while I was editing the transcripts, and I recall no instance where the author implied any such thing. Certainly there is not so much as a suggestion that Brigham's deception was instigated at the time of the succession crisis, as you maintain.

There's not even any evidence that Brigham intended to take over anything at the time of the succession crisis. He didn't take his first major step in that direction until three years later, after the first party of Saints had arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. And even then it took a lot of harangeing to get even one member of the Twelve to go along with his plan.

I don't think any members of the Twelve had a clue what Brigham Young had planned, and I'm not sure Brigham had any nefarious plans at the time either. On many occasions Brigham Young was scrupulously honest about his lack of pretensions. At his speech at the grove in August 1844, he did not so much as hint at himself as Joseph's replacement; on other occasions he stated publicly that he was not a prophet as was Joseph Smith, that he was not Joseph Smith's legal Successor, and that he believed one day Joseph's son would take his rightful place as his father's successor. He even corrected Orson Hyde at a meeting of the Council of Fifty seven months after Joseph Smith's death, when Hyde was soliciting other members of the Twelve to affirm that Joseph Smith had appointed the Twelve "to take responsibility for leading the church." Brigham Young made it clear to Hyde that Joseph had done no such thing. You can read about that incident on this blog in my piece titled "Did The Lord Choose Not To Anoint The Lord's Anointed?"

Did Brigham even need the cooperation of the Twelve when he dismantled the Seventy and the High Council? I'm not aware that he checked with them; he may have just taken it upon himself to rearrange things preparatory to leading the church west, and that coup happened so suddenly that within a day or two there was no high council left to object.

(Continued Below)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

MC, (Continued)
It was AFTER Brigham returned to Winter Quarters after his first trip to the Rockies that the next major usurpation took place, and he came up with that idea himself without any participation from any of the Twelve, at least initially. Only half (around 10,000) of the Saints in Nauvoo elected to follow Brigham Young to the territories. Those ten thousand or so left Nauvoo and settled in surrunding states. The majority of the others had settled at Winter Quarters, across the Mississippi in Iowa, which is where they were when Brigham returned.

When Brigham got back to Winter Quarters he took Wilford Woodruff aside and asked Woodruff to propose to the Saints there at Winter Quarters that the First Presidency be reconstituted with Brigham himself as president. Woodruff refused at first, telling Brigham that he believed it would take a revelation from God to do that. But Brigham kept hammering at Woodruff for two days, not allowing woodruff to get any sleep, until finally Woodruff relented. Wilford nominated Brigham, the people voted, and that was that.

Once the new First Presidency was in office with Brigham at the head, the remaining members at Winter Quarters eventually made the trek to Utah territory, where the apostles already in Utah learned the people had elected Brigham Young their new president of the church. Who was going to object?

Since you continue to demand, MC, that if not Brigham, SOMEONE should be named as leader of the church in Joseph's absence, I have a suggestion: why not nobody?

Remember, only about half the members in Nauvoo at the time followed Brigham Young to the Rockies. The other ten thousand or so left Nauvoo, but settled in other parts of Illinois, as well as Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Texas, Wisconsin, New York, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. They all considered themselves legitimate branches of the LDS church. They simply looked at the saints in Utah as members of a separate branch, a huge chunk of their fellow saints, most of them British converts, who had opted to move very far away. These "Plains Mormons" as these stay-behinds called themselvesd, continued to proselyte, meet, worship, and gather converts through the Book of Mormon, even as the Utah Saints were neglecting the Book of Mormon entirely. (As documented in Daymon Smith's Five Volume "Cultural History of the Book of Mormon.)

While it's true that a handful out of this ten thousand followed Strang to Wisconsin, or Rigdon to Pennsylvania, and Wight to Texas, all considered themselves as belonging to the same church. The difference being the Plains Mormons did not believe they needed a centralized leadership. They had the Book of Mormon and the revelations from God to Joseph Smith, and they fared just fine.

In fact, in my view, everything was going swimmingly until they were persuaded to coalese under one umbrella denomination, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ, which quickly incorporated itself and, in my view, killed the momentum of a promising movement.

But that's a story I'll leave for another day, other than to point out what most people miss as the obvious: when you choose ANY man to lead the church of Jesus Christ who has not been personally anointed by Jesus Christ, don't be surprised when things start to go wrong.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Two final thoughts before I wrap this up: 1st, I don't think you can find any place in these posts where either I or RFM painted Brigham Young as "A wicked monster," as you claim we have. I feel that Brigham was a sly fox, an accurate impression I would wager most readers would take from these transcripts. I don't think the author would disagree with that assessment,either.

Secondly, you say "I believe the Lord wanted him [Brigham] to lead the church along with the Twelve apostles."

Yeah, and I "believe" the Lord wanted the Pope to lead the Catholic church. But what does my belief have to do with the will of God? If the Lord wanted Brigham and the Twelve to lead the LDS church, he could have given a revelation to any one of them, and they could have conveyed that revelation to the church for a sustaining vote.

If your belief about this has any merit, why didn't Brigham Young at least FAKE a revelation? Why didn't he, at the very least, LIE to the people and tell them he had received a revelation from God informing him that he was to be the head honcho?

The fact that Brigham Young did not even PRETEND to have the Lord's approval to run the Church should be enough to make you question your shaky belief. You'll forgive me for being so blunt, but your belief is entirely unwarranted. The Lord doesn't traffic in wishful thinking.

Matthias said...


It's obvious that you and RFM are so hung up with digging up every negative thing you can about Brigham Young that you can no longer see the hand of God in him leading the saints west to the Rocky mountain and laying a foundation for the church to flourish for generations to come.

You ask why didn't Brigham Young pretend to receive a revelation at the time of the succession crisis? Well, the fact that he didn't shows he didn't have a diabolical plan to take power.

And of course you have to ignore D&C 136 as a revelation, because if that is a true revelation then your entire position about the Lord not wanting Brigham Young and the 12 to lead the saints crumbles to dust.

So you'll have to forgive me for believing that the Lord wanted Brigham and the 12 to lead the church, when He gave him a revelation giving him instructions on how He wanted the exodus west to be carried out.

You talk about illegal actions by Brigham to seize power, but you have to admit that the he and the 12 had the authority to ordain anyone they wanted a seventy or move them from the aaronic to the Melchizedek priesthood. You can cry foul, but that act was not illegal.

You keep harping on how the governing structure of the church was radically altered by Brigham Young, but then you suggest that no one should have led the church, which would have destroyed the church and its government completely.

As I pointed out, the D&C does not stipulate how the church is suppose to be run if led by the 12 apostles, who again were legally appointed by the voice of the people.

I find it suprising, but quite telling, that you cling to every negative claim against Brigham, but ignore or deflect most of the negative things Joseph Smith is accused of.

Joseph Smith is accused of some pretty sinister things, like trying to have someone murdered, rewritting previous revelations, being supported by the people and not laboring with his own hands (priestcraft), having sex with teenage girls, producing false revelations, and on and on. You ignore or deflect these things, but hang on to everything bad you kind find about Brigham Young and every church leader since like it's the gospel truth and outweighs any and all positive things that person may have accomplished.

I have completely destroyed RFM's claim that there can't be more than 12 apostles. I don't expect that will be acknowledged any time soon, nor will it be acknowledged that the 12 were not being used as strictly a travelling council of missionaries the last few years of Joseph's life. He was obviously grooming them for a different calling.

I doubt it will be acknowledged that I have shown that the D&C allows for the first presidency to be reconstituted by common consent, again destroying RFM's position.

I'll leave it alone. Feel free to keep your head in the sand and ignore any and all evidence that counters your views.

Underdog2 said...

Part 1 of 3


(I quote you below, and offer my comments in bold).

It's obvious that you and RFM are so hung up with digging up every negative thing you can about Brigham Young that you can no longer see the hand of God in him leading the saints west to the Rocky mountain and laying a foundation for the church to flourish for generations to come.

You have still ignored the 800-pound gorilla in the room. DC 121 says that "the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man. Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God."

You are rejecting evidence of documentable corruption of Brigham Young in favor of your belief that the hand of God was guiding him. How can the hand of God be leading him when the heavens have withdrawn from him and he's fighting against God, even though you may be correct that he's in a state of unawareness and may be sincerely trying to follow God?

The only thing that apologists for Brigham can say is that his degree of corruption didn't cut him off completely. They might argue that "All of us sin. So does that mean we're all cut off"? True, we all individually sin, and there's an ebb and flow to our own spirituality. But we must not forget the pattern of God's dealings with man on earth: After apostasy, He continues to be longsuffering and eventually calls another true servant to deliver a message.

You ask why didn't Brigham Young pretend to receive a revelation at the time of the succession crisis? Well, the fact that he didn't shows he didn't have a diabolical plan to take power.

And of course you have to ignore D&C 136 as a revelation, because if that is a true revelation then your entire position about the Lord not wanting Brigham Young and the 12 to lead the saints crumbles to dust.

Good point you make. I am wondering...Could DC 136 be the "pretend revelation" that was later used to show some legitimacy to the Utah LDS trying to gain converts? It was "received" in Jan. 1847 but then added to the official cannon almost 30 years later in 1876. There's a good case that this is another Exhibit in the evidence of "pretend" quotes.

So you'll have to forgive me for believing that the Lord wanted Brigham and the 12 to lead the church, when He gave him a revelation giving him instructions on how He wanted the exodus west to be carried out.

This is where I suggest you should submit to the evidence. You put so much weight into DC 136 it appears. Again, it was added 29 years after the supposed year of receipt and still at that point no leader had said they were a prophet like Joseph. The Church leadership (from a marketing and missionary standpoint) was hungry for some miracles to gain converts and to guard against their members from getting restless, much like the "recent' Proclamation to the World on Families.

Underdog2 said...

Part 2 of 3

You talk about illegal actions by Brigham to seize power, but you have to admit that he and the 12 had the authority to ordain anyone they wanted a seventy or move them from the aaronic to the Melchizedek priesthood. You can cry foul, but that act was not illegal.

That's called "color of law". It seems to me you're right. But the motive of doing that on such a massive scale is obvious too. RFM deserves our thanks for asking the right questions and letting the facts speak for themselves. You justify an evil motive by rationalizing "but he had the authority to do so." A parent has the right to discipline their child, but does that make it right to beat them viciously causing bodily harm? So you're right, but you cover up the unrighteous dominion he was committing. You look the other way.

You keep harping on how the governing structure of the church was radically altered by Brigham Young, but then you suggest that no one should have led the church, which would have destroyed the church and its government completely.

Let me ask you: how much does it matter if church government was destroyed if there was no prophet, seer, or revelator among its ranks? Isn't that the very definition of the blind leading the blind? You appear to value the blind leading the blind over knowing and reconciling yourself to the truth of what happened.

I find it surprising, but quite telling, that you cling to every negative claim against Brigham, but ignore or deflect most of the negative things Joseph Smith is accused of.

Joseph Smith is accused of some pretty sinister things, like trying to have someone murdered, rewriting previous revelations, being supported by the people and not laboring with his own hands (priestcraft), having sex with teenage girls, producing false revelations, and on and on. You ignore or deflect these things, but hang on to everything bad you kind find about Brigham Young and every church leader since like it's the gospel truth and outweighs any and all positive things that person may have accomplished.

What you're saying has some truth to it, I believe. This is where a choice has to be made. Lots of evil stuff is said about Jesus too, right? We must draw the line somewhere and then argue the evidence accordingly. There are more lies told about Joseph Smith than any other man who has ever lived on earth. I believe that, second to Jesus Christ, there are more books written about Joseph than anybody else. LOTS and LOTS of lies and misinformation about him. Rock nor anybody has time to respond to all the lies, agreed? Discernment is key. Getting the correct worldview is paramount. The correct worldview is that apostasy follows restoration. Apostasy should be expected after Joseph died. That's Mormonism 101. And Mormonism 101 dictates that another servant will eventually be called. Whether that's Denver or not is the imperative question of the day.

Underdog2 said...

Part 3 of 3

I have completely destroyed RFM's claim that there can't be more than 12 apostles. I don't expect that will be acknowledged any time soon, nor will it be acknowledged that the 12 were not being used as strictly a travelling council of missionaries the last few years of Joseph's life. He was obviously grooming them for a different calling.

Not so fast. I've done my best to review the transcripts. I don't see the claim by RFM that "there can't be more than 12 apostles". Can you quote it? You are correct that there were more than 12 apostles, and RFM I don't believe will disagree with you. Apostles were called in the early 1830's, predating the Q of the 12. RFM did say having 15 apostles populating the 12 and FP was an odd situation from a "power structure" context. The entire point of his podcasts is to analyze the power structure, and to let the evidence speak for itself that there was in fact a power grab by the apostles, led by Brigham Young. One key point is that the First Presidency itself had been organized several years BEFORE the Q of 12. So obviously the First Presidency was not composed of apostles. The apostles were appointed by a greater authority than themselves, and that authority was the Three Witnesses. Interesting, huh? Joseph Smith wasn't a top-down dictator. He very much favored a church that was decentralized and he built-in checks and balances. On the other hand, Brigham was obsessed with creating a top-down org chart where he was at the top, and you shouldn't dare challenge him. Every Mormon today is taught that "there are 15 apostles, who fill the ranks of the Q of 12 and FP." They aren't taught how this came to be. And it came to be this way because there was a coup d'etat by Brigham and associates.

I doubt it will be acknowledged that I have shown that the D&C allows for the first presidency to be reconstituted by common consent, again destroying RFM's position.

It seems you're partially right on this point but you've neglected to state the full picture (probably by accident). DC 107:22 indicates, to me, that the FP can be reconstituted by common consent, but that scriptures says the FP is to be comprised of three high priests. No mention is made of them being apostles (which again, would indicate Joseph's attempt at separation of powers).

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I appreciate Underdog2's responses to MC, because I have to admit this nonsense is beginning to weary me. Underdog, you are on point on the subject of apostles becoming members of the First Presidency; that NEVER happened under Joseph Smith's presidency. There were several times when a member of the First Presidency had to be replaced, and Joseph never, ever chose a member of the Quorum of the Twelve to take take that office. They were each and every one set apart to operate in a different sphere.

Our friend MC does not want to accept that the apostles that had been appointed years before the Quorum of the Twelve had different callings from those later called to be a Quorum. The word apostle means one "sent out." In the beginning, Joseph and Oliver were the first men "sent out" by the Lord to preach the gospel. Not long after, once a church had been established in Kirtland, more apostles were called; this time it was a full Quorum of Twelve "Traveling" apostles whose mission was specifically to go OUTSIDE from where the church was now established, and seek to build up new branches elsewhere. They were very sternly warned that they were prohibited from interfering in Church government within the boundaries of the existing church or stakes. I do not see an expiration date on that prohibition, or an addendum that says when the president dies the revelations become null and void.

I hate having to rehash this stuff again, but there is one new point MC brings up in triumphant declaration as though he has discovered the magic bullet that will shet mah mouf once't an' fer all, and it's this:

"And of course you [meaning me] have to ignore D&C 136 as a revelation, because if that is a true revelation then your entire position about the Lord not wanting Brigham Young and the 12 to lead the saints crumbles to dust."

OF COURSE I ignore D&C 136 as a true revelation! Because it wasn't a revelation from the Lord. It was a revelation by committee! It took that committee of seven men two lengthy meetings and nine hours to hammer out, and in the end they resorted to copying most of it from something Joseph Smith had put on paper some years previous.

Speaking of "information that is not new," I think most of us have come to learn that not everything that is labeled a "revelation" in the D&C is actually a revelation from God. And not everything the saints canonized is the word of the Lord, either. D&C 20 is one example that comes to mind. While labeled "a revelation from the Lord" in the introduction to that section, the editors of the Joseph Smith papers call it a last minute hodgepodge hurriedly written by at least six separate persons in a rush to get it included before the book went to press. Other examples of non-revelations are The Articles of Faith, the Manifestos, and the Proclamation on the Family.)

Some readers discussed the provenance of section 136 in the comment section of one of my blog posts some time ago -I don't recall where or when- but here is a brief history of how section 136 came to be:

The Lord works through imperfect men, it is true, but his patience grows thin for those who continually flaunt his commandments. God will not be mocked, and he won't remain silent forever. I invite MC to do as I have done: recognize, as I finally did, that he has been putting his trust in the arm of flesh all his life, and repent and seek God's will instead.

If anything is on the verge of "crumbling to dust," it is the LDS Church, which still clings to an unlawful form of government. At the rate Church membership growth is declining at this stage, I give it twenty years before the religious aspect of the Corporation of the President is seen as only one effete subsidiary in a larger conglomerate of investment interests.

R. Metz said...

Too bad the topic including the dicussion are irrelevant, I'm sorry; the real coup d'état was under Heber J. Grant. I saw some good comments though.

R. Metz said...

O wait, I did'nt see the last one, by Brother Waterman himself. That's better, let's face the future instead of the question how bad was Brigham. Let us prepare for a setting in order, which was promised to come.

Matthias said...

I agree with MrHFMetz, we should stop focusing on the sins of Brother Brigham and instead worry about preparing ourselves for the setting in order of God's house (which I sincerely hope comes soon).

The reason why I take such exception to Brigham Young bashing, is because I believe it destroyes people's faith and testimonies of the restoration. I'll explain why.

Many of the things that people don't like about Brigham Young can be directly traced back to Joseph Smith. In fact from what I have investigated, practically everything Brigham taught had its origin with something Joseph Smith taught. (Though Brigham may have understood it differently). By tearing down Brigham one is also tearing down the true Joseph Smith.

In my opinion this is one of the most damning things that Denver Snuffer is doing.

If you don't believe me go read some of the bios of the authors of the anti-Mormon site Zelph on a shelf. Several of them started going down the Denver Snuffer route, and then realized that Joseph was "guilty" of many of the same things they didn't like about Brigham. Needless to say their testimonies of the restored gospel are lost, likely forever. It's a sad tale.

Rock, I sincerely appreciate your advice to admit to myself that I have being putting my trust in the arm of flesh all my life, and that I need to repent. You are 100% right. I did blindly put my trust in the arm of flesh for all my life. I noticed problems here and there in the church, but was still more or less a blind follower. A couple of years ago I started doing a real investigation into some of my questions and concerns and discovered that the church was in a severe state of apostasy. I have been trying to repent of my blindness ever since, but I know I still have a long way to go.

I hope there are no hard feelings. I know I can get a bit contentious when I feel strongly about something. It's one of my weaknesses.

Zebedee said...

Apostasy like a cancer grows. It starts small, perhaps with someone's "good intentions" or new idea. Soon those ideas become traditions, then dogma, then doctrine. Within time what once was pure and true is corrupted and laced with falsehoods. Yet they are accepted because they have been institutionalized by those in authority. The flaxen cords become chains. That's why Nephi pleaded with us when he said, "Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost."

The question of who should have led the Church after Joseph and Hyrum were murdered is simple... Jesus Christ.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

No hard feelings at all. You and I have been friends here for quite some time. Let's put this disagreement to bed. There is plenty more that unites us than there is that divides us. I fully agree with you and MrHMfMETZ that Heber Grant made an incredibly bad decision to incorporate the church. THAT is when Jesus Christ was truly ousted from the Church of Jesus Christ

Best to you, my friend,



Alan Rock Waterman said...

Oh, and MC: I take full blame for my part in escalating the unnecessary vitriol. I should learn to refrain from writing when I'm tired and cranky.

Mea Culpa.

Matthias said...

Thanks Rock. I too need to learn not write when I'm tired and cranky. Glad there's no hard feelings.

Robin Hood said...

RFM is an attorney.
Snuffy is an attorney.
I find this coincidence interesting.

Underdog2 said...

Snuffer is an attorney.
Saul/Paul was an attorney.

I find this coincidence interesting.

I find it interesting that Denver has spent most of the last year heavily studying Christian history including ALL the major and semi major figures in the development of Christianity down to the present day.

And that he's given two of three talks to the Christians so far where's he's first declared the doctrine of Christ and repentance/baptism, that's he's been "sent" as Noah, and lastly that we should carefully contemplate fully consecrating/ sacrificing our temporal substance to the Lord by relieving the poor of their affliction.

His message is an invitation to turn toward God and full discipleship.

As a trained lawyer and self-declared "sent" servant of God his message is precisely preached, with the timing of his preaching to the American Christians coinciding with the birth of the kingdom of God (Sept 23 Rev 12:1-2 sign) and the sign of Jonah (day of grace ending the times of the gentiles) on Aug 21st (solar eclipse, same sign given to the people of Nineveh).

The timing of his preaching is so "lawyerly" precise (in harmony with the sermon preached by the stars in the heavens), that I find that very interesting.

Robin Hood said...

Lawyers generally get a very bad press in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, and not without good reason.
In my view both RFM and Snuffy are doing an excellent job of continuimg that tradition.

Liberty Ghost said...

Are there no attorneys in the current fifteen? I don't keep track of this stuff, but it seems that I have heard that bandied about. Was McKonkie a lawyer? I know there is a firm that the church uses: Kirton & McKonkie, and my guess is that he was part of that firm before becoming an apaostle, but I have no direct knowledge.

Also, as I recall, Paul the apostle was an attorney, although I believe he came to regret some of the positions that he argued.

Dale B.

Zebedee said...

I believe there are three of the current Twelve who are lawyers: Oaks, Cook, and Christofferson. Howard Hunter was also a lawyer and so was McConkie, but I'm not sure the connection the Church's law firm. Other than that I don't know off hand which other apostles in year's past were lawyers. Perhaps with a little more digging I can find out.

Paul was a Pharisee, but not sure he was a lawyer in the typical sense. I think he was a tent maker.

Zebedee said...

Anthony W. Ivins (1907-1921)
Stephen L Richards (1917-1951)
Charles A. Callis (1933-1947)
J. Rueben Clark (1934-1961)
Albert E. Bowen (1937-1953)
Matthew Cowley (1945-1953)
Henry D. Moyle (1947-1959)
Marion G. Romney (1951-1972; 1985-1988)
Hugh B. Brown (1958-1961; 1970-1975)
Howard W. Hunter (1959-1994)
Bruce R. McConkie (1972-1985)
James E. Faust (1978-1995)
Dallin H. Oaks (1984-)
Quentin L. Cook (2007 -)
D. Todd Christofferson (2008 -)

Ryan Nickel said...

I think what might be lost on everyone is that the Church was rejected along with it's dead according to section 124 at the time of Joseph's dead.

So all authority claims are moot.

Vincent said...

Many of Dallin H. Oaks's General Conference talks carry the imprint of lawyer's pen.
There is no place to hide.

Matthias said...

That's what Lyman Wight believed and there is a growing faction who believe that today.

There is one glaring problem with that theory. D&C 124 says nothing about the church being rejected upon Joseph's death.

What it says is that the saints were commanded to build a temple and move their baptisms for the dead into the temple or they would be rejected as a church along with their dead.

The saints did build the temple and they did move their baptisms for the dead into the temple.

The baptismal font was completed and dedicated in the basement of the unfinished temple. Joseph Smith dedicated it himself.

After Joseph's death the saints worked with recklace abandon to finish the temple. The interior wasn't completely finished but the exterior was. The interior was finished enough to perform the washing and annointings and the endowment before the saints were forced to flee west.

Jared Livesey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bro. B said...

One must ask, was the Temple presented and accepted by the Lord as His dwelling place on the earth. We have a historical pattern that was fulfilled at the Kirtland dedication but not Nauvoo.

We also see in 124 that the Lord gave a covenant promise if the completed the temple in the given timeframe:

124:45 And if my people will hearken unto my voice, and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed to lead my people, behold, verily I say unto you, they shall not be moved out of their place.

If not completed he also gave a covenant curse in which he would not fulfill the blessing.

My understanding of history is that the saints were moved out of their place. Hense a fulfillment of the curse rather than the blessing.

The Lord seems to have a specific way things are to be done. The ordinances to be performed and the endowments to be bestowed were to happen after He had accepted His house.

Underdog2 said...

Part 1

Ryan above said (correctly in my view) that "all authority claims are moot" because of DC 124 (which said the clock was ticking with regards to getting the temple completed by a certain deadline, known to the Lord).

MC counters with a strawman about DC 124 not saying anything about Joseph dying being the trigger point to the Lord rejecting the Church. He's correct, but that's not the point. The point was that the temple had to be completed in time. It's best to just let the words speak for themselves:

31 But I command you, all ye my saints, to build a house unto me; and I grant unto you a sufficient time to build a house unto me; and during this time your baptisms shall be acceptable unto me.

32 But behold, at the end of this appointment your baptisms for your dead shall not be acceptable unto me; and if you do not these things at the end of the appointment ye shall be rejected as a church, with your dead, saith the Lord your God.

33 For verily I say unto you, that after you have had sufficient time to build a house to me, wherein the ordinance of baptizing for the dead belongeth, and for which the same was instituted from before the foundation of the world, your baptisms for your dead cannot be acceptable unto me;

But then MC's point about "building a temple and moving their baptisms for the dead into the temple" seems at first glance to have validity. Maybe there's a debate? But then if you read the actual words, you discover that it was more than JUST baptisms for the dead:

Verse 37 brings "washings" into the commandment. So it's not JUST about moving baptisms for the dead into a completed temple. It's about washings too. But wait, there's more.

Verse 38 says the house should be built for a specified purpose: "that those ordinances might be revealed which had been hid from before the world was."

Then verse 39 expands even further what the Lord intends to reveal: "39 Therefore, verily I say unto you, that your anointings, and your washings, and your baptisms for the dead, and your solemn assemblies, and your memorials for your sacrifices by the sons of Levi, and for your oracles in your most holy places wherein you receive conversations, and your statutes and judgments, for the beginning of the revelations and foundation of Zion, and for the glory, honor, and endowment of all her municipals, are ordained by the ordinance of my holy house, which my people are always commanded to build unto my holy name."

Then the Lord repeats Himself in verse 40-42: ...let this house be built unto my name, that I may reveal mine ordinances therein unto my people;

41 For I deign to reveal unto my church things which have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world, things that pertain to the dispensation of the fulness of times.

42 And I will show unto my servant Joseph all things pertaining to this house, and the priesthood thereof, and the place whereon it shall be built.

Underdog2 said...

Part II

MC, surprise surprise. There ironically IS actually a reference to Joseph here, and my assumption would be the Lord is referring to a LIVING Joseph. In other words, a dead Joseph would be problematic,according to verse 42, to "showing all things pertaining to this house, and the priesthood thereof..."

I believe objective people would look at DC 124 and Mormon history at that time as clear evidence the Lord rejected the Church. Mainstream LDS clearly acknowledge they were moved out of their place. Verse 45 promises they would NOT be moved out!

And if my people will hearken unto my voice, and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed to lead my people, behold, verily I say unto you, they shall not be moved out of their place.

Mainstream Mormon history is that they were persecuted by mobs and driven out, and they suffered much affliction.

Then when non mainstream Mormons pinpoint THE cause of the affliction (as verse 45 says) as not hearkening to Joseph and getting the temple completed in the appointed time, then the mainstream Mormons get all up and arms and say that DC 124 doesn't mean what it says, the mental gymnastics kick in, and somehow LDS sufferings (and getting "moved out of their place") weren't the result of the Lord's condemnation for rejecting the Lord's commandments through His servant, Joseph.

The Lord is CRYSTAL CLEAR of the consequences for disobedience in verse 48: "For instead of blessings, ye, by your own works, bring cursings, wrath, indignation, and judgments upon your own heads, by your follies, and by all your abominations, which you practice before me, saith the Lord."

Mainstream Mormons acknowledge they suffered greatly, but don't acknowledge cause. Why? The motive is clear. It would mean the Church has to repent and seek God. It would mean the Church is still under condemnation, and in need of sore repentance. It would set up the need for another RESTORATION, just as LDS missionaries teach!

But the stiffnecked do not want to repent. Their stiffness of necks doesn't allow their heads be turned to look at Christ, because they KNOW they are right and are marching the "right" direction. They look beyond the mark.

Underdog2 said...

A previous entry was deleted, that had shared this link:

Elder Cannon made these statements in Spring General Conference of 1871. He was an apostle (for about 11 years by then) and was serving as the Managing Editor of Deseret News in 1871.

It's very interesting to see Brother Cannon's spin, or adopted view of what happened in Nauvoo, with the temple.

He says in that talk: "...the completion of the temple at Nauvoo brought many blessings; that is, so far as it was completed, for the enemies of God's kingdom did not permit us to complete it entirely; but so far as it was completed God accepted the labor of the hands of his servants and people, and great and precious blessings were bestowed upon the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the faithfulness and diligence of its members in rearing that house.

Notice in one sentence he goes from indicating the temple was completed to saying it was partially completed, to admitting it wasn't "entirely" completed!

He acknowledged in the next paragraph there WERE requirements imposed by God upon the people. He said they labored hard to work on the Nauvoo temple to "fulfil the word of God and the requirements He made of us as a people, that we and our dead might not be rejected." So his belief or the apostolic narrative he was advocating was that they DID fulfill the requirements imposed by God.

But then he confessed that, "...we were not permitted to enjoy that house, we were not permitted to continue receiving blessings there; the enemies of God's kingdom were upon us, and we were compelled to abandon it and our homes, and it fell a sacrifice to the wickedness of the wicked and it was burned with fire—probably a better fate than to have it stand and be defiled by the wicked."

His confession contradicts the promise they would not be moved out of their place.

45 And if my people will hearken unto my voice, and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed to lead my people, behold, verily I say unto you, they shall not be moved out of their place.

46 But if they will not hearken to my voice, nor unto the voice of these men whom I have appointed, they shall not be blest, because they pollute mine holy grounds, and mine holy ordinances, and charters, and my holy words which I give unto them.

47 And it shall come to pass that if you build a house unto my name, and do not do the things that I say, I will not perform the oath which I make unto you, neither fulfil the promises which ye expect at my hands, saith the Lord.

And yet, LDS Utah history is written as if these warnings were never uttered by the Lord. According to Elder Cannon and official LDS history to this day, the Lord's blessing and approbation rests upon the Church, in stunning defiance of DC 124.

Matthias said...

It's important to point out that even if the saints failed to completely fulfill the Lord's requirement (which is certainly possible), D&C does not say that they would be instantly rejected and have all authority taken away. Another possibility is that they would now be on the path to eventually completely apostasizing and be rejected at some point. It's hard to say.

I can clearly see the Lord's hand guiding the church in the decades after Joseph's death. In fact I can still see the hand of the Lord in the church today. I don't believe he has completely forsaken us. I don't think he's pleased with a lot of what is going on in the church these days, but I don't believe he has abandoned us.

Even with all of the problems the church is still spreading the gospel and the truths of the restoration. The fruit of the gospel in the church is not completely rotten. Converts to the church can testify to good fruits in the church that are not found elsewhere. There have been many powerful interactions with people from the other side of the veil within the temples, too. No other branch of Mormonism has accomplished much of anything. The Lord clearly had a purpose for the church which went west after Joseph Smith died.

Bro. B said...

It is hard to say.

I think what is important is to recognize that we are subject to the iniquity of our forefathers (Using Isaiah's definition iniquity = consequences of sin) Once we recognize and admit that all is not well in "Zion", that it is not God's fault (rather it is our own or or progenitors), and that we can't fix the problem, then God is able to work with us. We have to be willing to set aside any untruth or false doctrine to know God.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Hey, it's Halloween night! Go spend some time with the kids!

But if you're still here, Man, O Man, I just got finished listening to Radio Free Mormon's latest: a report on the recent General Conference. You guys gotta hear this, it's Dynamite:

Matthias said...

I just listened to the first 30 minutes of his October 2017 general conference podcast. I had to turn it off, because it was just outrageous.

It seems RFM doesn't believe in the scriptures, which 100% condemn homosexual relations. RFM thinks this is okay and that same-sex marriage is okay. On this point alone he has lost all credibility in my book.

He also says that sinning is okay. Yes we all sin and cannot become perfected without Christ, but the Lord is very clear that He cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowence. The BOM is clear that God cannot save us in our sins, but only from our sins on conditions of repentence.

Hate to say it, but RFM is an apostate. He rejects the word of God in favor of the philosophies of men.

How anyone who claims to be a Mormon and believe in the restoration can take him seriously is beyond me.

R. Metz said...

I'm still here, but I think it is getting time for you to take back your own web blog.

Dave P. said...

I was able to listen to Parts 1 and 2 of the Conference podcast but don't recall anything where he said that homosexuality isn't a sin but rather the church's big problem right now is lording over gay members and preventing their children from being baptized.

Here's the other thing:
Is homosexuality a sin? Yes.
Do the scriptures make that clear? Yes.
Am I the committing it? No.

We have been tasked with warning our neighbors but it is not our job to save them. This life is the time to repent but only those who are engaged in that particular sin can do so. If they choose to continue, that is how they opt to exercise their agency. That is why I personally say gay marriage should be allowed for any two adults who consent to do so primarily because the state has no right to legislate any type of morality. At the same time, it wouldn't be able to force the church to perform gay marriages via threat of violence or force.

The other problem is so many people are outright convinced that homosexuality is not a choice that they have and are too busy playing the victim cards to be held to any kind of accountability. If the corporation was actually run by prophets, seers, and revelators, they would be ones called and tasked to preach repentance to the world and speak the Lord's position on the whole thing rather than dig themselves deeper into a pit by violating the BOM and forbidding anyone from coming to Christ.

Matthias said...

I don't see the church as Lording over gays. If anything the church has gone soft on homosexuality. It's an abomination plain and simple. A person who is steeped in homosexuality cannot come unto Christ without first repenting and forsaking their sins. The BOM is clear that those who are in open rebellion against God's laws should have their names blotted out by the church.

I'm not going to waste my time listening to RFM's nonsense again, but if he didn't outright say that homosexual relations are not a sin, he certainly implied it very strongly. He kept pointing out that there are gay members of the church and didn't in anyway suggest that this was wrong or a problem.

Like you, I reject the idea of someone being gay or having a homosexual sexual orientation. This idea is contrary to the scriptures. People thinking they are gay and born a certain way is just another one of Satan's tricks. It seems RFM believes they are born this way and can't help it. The church teaches this now too, but at least they still say that it is wrong. For now anyway. Give it 10 or 20 more years and I could see that change.

Linda Gale said...

Dear, dear MC,

You know the problem with so many rules is that it makes people mean. I felt like RFM was abiding by the Royal Law of loving fellow man and loving the God who created those fellow beings.

If you had gay tendencies, or someone you love dearly had gay tendencies, I think you would be more charitable towards gays.

The very beautiful Sermon on the Mount says that we are to live by higher, yet spiritual laws now that the Law of Moses has been fulfilled, and that includes to condemn only our own sins. We have a real tendency to see motes everywhere, but beams are difficult to discern.

May your life be blessed with many homosexual friends and acquaintances so that you can temper your judgmental attitudes.

Wishing you more blessings than you can possibly contain,
Linda Gale

Matthias said...

Thanks Linda,

I actually think I'm pretty charitable towards those who identify themselves as gay. I have several gay acquaintances. I get along fine with them. I still love them and am kind to them, but at the end of the day if they are engaging in homosexaul relations then they are committing a very grievous sin, one the Lord does not take lightly.

Several years ago, when I was serving as an Elder's Quorum president, I home taught two different gay guys. Both of them had previously been sexually active, but were now celibate. One of them was HIV positive because of his past lifestyle. Anyway I had no problem spending time with either of them, even one on one in their homes. I treated them the same as anyone else and encouraged them to live the gospel like anyone else.

I think the church's position that we should love the sinner, but hate the sin is correct. We shouldn't minimize or tolerate grievous sin, no matter how charitable we are.

Charity is the pure love of Christ, and how did Christ show his love? By telling people to repent, to forsake every worldy lust or desire and follow Him.

Turning a blind eye to homosexuality, or any grievous sin for that matter, is not being charitable. It is condoning sin, and allowing people to damn themselves. I don't believe that the Lord will hold us blaimless if we don't stand up for what is right. We who know the truth have the duty to sound the warning voice.

The Lord does not tolerate sin plain and simple. What manner of men (or women) aught we to be? As the Lord is.

Linda Gale said...

Dear MC,

Thank you for your kind response; I greatly appreciate your generosity towards me, especially since you could have taken a less than charitable stance to my comments.

The Bible says that if we break any part of the law, then we are guilty of the entire law. It follows then, that if we are guilty of 'judge not', then we are guilty of homosexuality or murder or any other grievous sin. The Law was made impossible to keep, so that we would recognize our unworthiness before God, and in humility accept that we can never be perfect and therefore not require others to keep the law 100%, because we can't meet the requirements ourselves.

If I, or anyone else, thinks impure thoughts, then I am just as guilty under the law as someone who acts out on those impure thoughts. So acting out on homosexuality is no different than someone being prideful in how well they keep the commandments. We currently don't impose harsh penalties on prideful people, or gluttons,etc., so why should we condemn those who sin differently?

Please give me reason to believe otherwise, as it is through others challenging my beliefs that I can refine my thinking. Thank you in advance.


Linda Gale

Robin Hood said...

I find I agree with MC on more occasions than I disagree with him.
His comments regarding homosexuality are no exception. It's practice is an abomination and is condemned in both the old and new testaments. There is no wigggle room on this issue.

Personally, I object to the hijacking of the word "gay". The scriptures refer to homosexuals as sodomites, wnich is a lot more accurate.
Gay means cheerful or happy. I have been to many gay weddings; in fact I've yet to go to a miserable one.

Radio Free Mormon said...

I did not say sinning is okay, MC.

I said sinning is inevitable.

God seems to have set it up that way.

Now if we can get past the false notion that we can obey the commandments by sheer will power, we may be able to understand why it is God set it up this way.

Why does God want us to sin?

That is the question, I think.

Radio Free Mormon said...

If there is no wiggle room on the issue of homosexuality because it is condemned in the Bible, I suppose we should say the same thing about stoning children who disrespect their parents.

I mean, fair is fair.

Radio Free Mormon said...

Oh, and by the way, the Lord does tolerate sin.

He tolerates it all the time.

From everybody. Me included. You included.

What God does not tolerate is judging ourselves better than others.

Linda Gale said...

Proverbs 12:22

22 Lying lips are abomination to the Lord: but they that deal truly are his delight.

Alma 39:5

5 Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost?

Proverbs 11:1,20

1 A false balance is abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight.

Proverbs 29:27

27 An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked.

Ezekiel 18:12-13,24

12 Hath oppressed the poor and needy, hath spoiled by violence, hath not restored the pledge, and hath lifted up his eyes to the idols, hath committed abomination,

Proverbs 16:5,12

5 Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.


So here we have several entirely different categories of things which are an abomination. Which one is more abominable than all the others? Mistreating others and thinking that we are more righteous because of outward appearances.

Radio Free Mormon said...

"Don't judge me because I sin differently than you."

--President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Robin Hood said...

Perhaps you would be good enough to reference a scripture which requires disrespectful children to be stoned.

Linda Gale said...

Used to be people were stoned to death for not keeping the Sabbath day holy. Want to go there? I've taken a sick child to the hospital, pharmacy, etc on Sunday.

James 2:10 says that if you don't abide by every jot and tittle of the law, then you are condemned of every bit of the law. We all deserved to be killed for breaking even the tiniest point of the law. If you are not perfectly without sin in the least amount, then how can you call out others for their sin? You are condemned by the same amount you condemn others.

Have you ever stood when a visiting general authority enters the room? Woops! Guilty of the entire law. Check out James 2:9.

The place to lay blame for any sin is with ourselves. We don't need to point out others' sins. The light of Christ was given to all men. Our own sins require all of our attention.

Radio Free Mormon said...

Amen! And the power of Christ will set us free!

Vincent said...

Why is it that we are so easily willing to judge others when our every judgement is a judgement of ourselves only. We see the world only through the filter of our own creation.Anytime I judge a person as good or evil, it is only me that I'm judging. Therefore I'm literally judged by the very judgement with which I judge "others." That is why what bothers me most in other people is what bothers me most about myself. Judgment is always about "me" stuck inside my head as an alienated, isolated, alone ego.
The first commandment resolves all the above in the most profound way. Only when we are willing to let go of our moral schemata, with love as the only motivating factor of our actions,only then we encounter God and his children as they are truly are.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Vincent said, "What bothers me most in other people is what bothers me most about myself."

I've sure found that to be true. In the years I've been writing this blog I have found myself frustrated with people who can't seem to awaken to their false beliefs. Invariably those falsehoods are the very same ones I clung to tenaciously when I embraced those false traditions during my years growing up in the church. It's like I want to go back in time and confront "Younger Me," shake him, and say "Wake UP!Not everything you believe comes from God, you idiot!"

I still find I tend to be hardest on those who are just like me. It is indeed like looking in a mirror and wishing "Younger Me" could see the obvious.

What I should learn from such experiences is patience. But that's the challenge we all face, isn't it?

Matthias said...


I haven't had a chance to reply to your question from the other day. You said:

"The Bible says that if we break any part of the law, then we are guilty of the entire law. It follows then, that if we are guilty of 'judge not', then we are guilty of homosexuality or murder or any other grievous sin. The Law was made impossible to keep, so that we would recognize our unworthiness before God, and in humility accept that we can never be perfect and therefore not require others to keep the law 100%, because we can't meet the requirements ourselves.

If I, or anyone else, thinks impure thoughts, then I am just as guilty under the law as someone who acts out on those impure thoughts. So acting out on homosexuality is no different than someone being prideful in how well they keep the commandments. We currently don't impose harsh penalties on prideful people, or gluttons,etc., so why should we condemn those who sin differently?"

I think you are getting a couple of things confused.

First, I disagree that someone who entertains impure thoughts is as guilty as someone who acts out on them. I don't believe the scriptures support this at all. Christ did say that if a man is angry with his brother he is in danger of judgement and that if a man looks upon a woman to lust after her he has committed adultery with her in his heart. He did not say that if a man is angry with his brother he is guilty of premeditated murder, nor did he say that if a man lusts after another woman besides his wife, he is an actual adulterer. What he was saying is that both lusting and being angry are sins, and need to be repented of even if they weren't acted out upon.

There is no way that a man being attracted to his neighbors wife and having lustful desires towards her is as bad as a man actually sleeping with his neighbor's wife. It's still bad and needs to be repented of, but it's not the same thing. In fact the one sin leads to the other. Just like unbridled anger can lead to violence and even murder. They are all sins, but they are not equal.

So what is James 2:10 mean then? Well it seems it means that if we break any commandments we have broken the law and are not justified before God. This goes back to Christ's words from the D&C, where he says that he can not look upon sin with least degree of allowance. We must repent of all of our sins not just most of them. James goes on to say that if we commit murder, it really doesn't matter that we did not commit adultery. We are guilty and must repent.

You make a good point about the seriousness of pride and other sins that are often overlooked. We need to cross ourselves of these things, too.

You make another good point about not condemning others who sin differently than we do. I completely agree. We should not condemn others, only God can do that. We are however commanded to admonish and reprove one another sins. Here are the definitions of admonish and reprove from the 1828 Webster's dictionary:


1. To warn or notify of a fault; to reprove with mildness

2. To counsel against wrong practices; to caution or advise.

3. To instruct or direct.

4. In ecclesiastical affairs, to reprove a member of the church for a fault, either publicly or privately; the first step of church discipline. It is followed by of, or against; as, to admonish of a fault committed, or against committing a fault.


1. To blame; to censure.

2. To charge with a fault to the face; to chide; to reprehend. Luke 3:19.

3. To blame for; with of; as, to reprove one of laziness.

4. To convince of a fault, or to make it manifest. John 16:8.

5. To refute; to disprove.

6. To excite a sense of guilt. The heart or conscience reproves us.

7. To manifest silent disapprobation or blame.

Matthias said...

Linda continued...

There are a number of places in the scriptures where we are commanded admonish or reprove the sins of others. Here's a couple of examples:

2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;


11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.


87 Behold, I send you out to reprove the world of all their unrighteous deeds, and to teach them of a judgment which is to come.


43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;


14 And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.


16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.


14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.

15 Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.


6 For it came to pass that they did deceive many with their flattering words, who were in the church, and did cause them to commit many sins; therefore it became expedient that those who committed sin, that were in the church, should be admonished by the church.

One final thought. Just because I feel it necessary to speak out against the wicked dark practice of homosexuality, that doesn't mean I don't consider myself to be a sinner and in need of Christ. I'm guilty of many sins. Right now the homosexual movement is sweeping through the U.S. and much of the world. Gender is being redefined. Did you know that there is now a name for people who "identify" with the gender they were born with? It's called cisgender. The fact that this is even a term, shows how great Satan's deception has become in these matters. Anyone who speaks out against this evil and dares to call a spade a spade, is considered a bigot, judgmental, intolerant, etc. The scriptures really are true when then warn that in the last days people will call good evil and evil good.

Unknown said...

"Perhaps you would be good enough to reference a scripture which requires disrespectful children to be stoned"

Deuteronomy 21:18–21

If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father and mother, who does not heed them when they discipline him, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his town at the gate of that place. They shall say to the elders of his town, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” Then all the men of the town shall stone him to death.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Although sexual sin is a serious sin that requires repentance, Alma never said it was the sin next to murder. We deserve to take a closer look at What Alma is saying to his son in verse 39.

First, let's think this through. A couple close to me some years ago were engaged to be married, and three days before the temple wedding took place, they couldn't help themselves; they slipped up and had intercourse. They went through with the sealing anyway, saying nothing to anyone but me, and that was several years after the marriage had ended. The enormity of the sin weighed so heavily on the wife that their "secret" kept her from giving herself wholly to her husband once they were wed. She was unable to forgive herself; after all, she had been taught all her life that what she had done was commit "the sin next to murder." Having intercourse with her future husband three days before the wedding, she knew, was very close in seriousness to killing someone in cold blood.

As you may have guessed, a marriage with such a cloud over it did not last. They divorced after their fourth child, there troubles tracable to that shadow of over their marriage for committing such an enormous sin.

Let's ask ourselves: if any sin is so serious that it is comparable to murder, how is it that God can tolerate the majority of people on this earth who have engaged in that practice? Why would God give us instincts that are so difficult to control that nearly everybody is in danger of committing a sin that is so egregious that only murder itself is worse? Put another way, the only crime that one can commit that is almost as bad as killing an innocent person is sexual intercourse. How can that be? I this how a loving an forgiving God works? Deliberately setting us up for almost certain failure from puberty onward?

If you ignore MConkie's summary at the top of the page in your scriptures (which was NOT in the original text), a closer reading of Alma 39 shows us that Alma is severely chastising his son for a number of things, which collectively caused the spiritual death of the people he had been sent to teach, because "when they saw your conduct they would not believe in my words."

(Continued Below)

Alan Rock Waterman said...


Corianton did more than merely go after a harlot. He was supposed to be on a mission to the Zoramites, but instead, as Alma enumerated, Corianton committed several offenses: he forsook the ministry; he did not heed his father's words; he boasted in his own strength and wisdom; he went after a harlot; and he "went after" the lusts of his eyes.

That's six offenses he commited, ostensibly as a minister of the gospel. That latter sin, if we are to believe what Alma says later, tells us that Corianton, purportedly on a mission for God, instead spent his time going after riches and the vain things of this world. All under the watchful eyes of the people who looked to him for guidance. Not a very good example, I'd say.

It's also possible that Corianton was married, in which case he would have been guilty of adultery if lying with a harlot. The consequences of Corianton's actions had the potential to cause the spiritual death of the people who had been looking up to him as a minister of the gospel. Notice Alma tells him "these THINGS (plural) are an abomination in the sight of the Lord."

Corianton was clearly at risk of being the cause of people losing their testimonies of the coming Christ, of committing "spiritual murder" by destroying other people's testimonies. That would logically constitute something just a hair less serious than physical murder in the eyes of God.

I don't wish to downplay the seriousness of the sin of casual sex, but this idea we have that any couple who may have engaged in sexual intercourse absent a marriage license from the government, has surely committed a sin so egregious that it is next to murder in seriousness, is a belief that we ought to question. Alma was lecturing his son, and including that sin of going after the harlot as one among several much more serious sins.

Alma was severely chastising his son in this passage, but Alma never taught anything like that to the church at large. Indeed, nowhere else in latter-day scripture can we find the teaching that engaging in sex outside of marriage is the sin next to murder. It exists only in that one tiny passage, tucked away among other sins that carry more serious consequences. Yet we Mormons have allowed it to take precedence over almost every other human flaw condemned anywhere else in scripture.

Linda Gale said...

Dear MC,

I am so sad that you are required to call out the sins of others.
And very pleased to report that I am female and will never have the responsibility of being a 'judge in Israel". Missed the bullet on that one, so I don't need to do any thing but love on my fellow humans and their Creator.

Here is one of the very reasons why I refuse to point out to anyone else their sins, (which I am sure each person is fully aware of their own transgressions)

Utah youth suicide now leading cause of death for Utah kids ages 11 to 17

The above headline is from a KUTV online page dated more than a year ago. If my statements caused anyone to feel hopeless enough to even think about harming themselves, it would be hell to live with that knowledge.

How sad that you must be the one to point out the obvious to people who are probably hurting more than you can even imagine.

Linda Gale said...

Dear MC,

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus states that we have already done the sin if we contemplated it. I don't understand how you can say that He didn't mean what He said.

Alma 45:16 says it all.
"....for the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance."

So if you had lustful thoughts, or anything else spoken of by the Savior, then you are guilty, and therefore kept out of the presence of God.

Also consider Alma 11:37
"37 And I say unto you again that he cannot save them in their sins; for I cannot deny his word, and he hath said that no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore, how can ye be saved, except ye inherit the kingdom of heaven? Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins."

Sounds like we are all going to hell regardless of the severity of our sins. I'm not saying that there is anyone who does not sin. The point I am trying to make is that regardless of which sin it is that afflicts me, ANY AND ALL sin will keep me out of God's presence. I can't just be better than someone else whose sins I abhor, I must be perfect-- without spot. Who fits into that category of sinlessness? No one that I know, and truthfully no one that you know either.

That is why I made my original statements to you. You don't qualify for God's kingdom any more than the man who acts out his homosexuality. All fall short, see Romans 3.23.

Matthias said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matthias said...


I missed your first comment, so my reply above didn't make any sense. If you feel like you should strictly focus on your own sins and not judge others, then that is what you should do.

For me I feel the need to stand firm for the truth and denounce sin, while working on repenting of my own.

Radio Free Mormon said...

As long as you continue to denounce the sins of others, you will never run out of things to repent of.


Matthias said...

I guess the same could be said for Nephi when he would call his brothers to repentance. He probably should have just kept his mouth shut and worried about his own sins.

Gideon should have kept his mouth shut instead of contending against the wickedness of Nehor, too.

And the people of Ammon should have let Korihor teach whatever he wanted and not judge. After all even one impure thought is every bit as bad as priestcraft and even murder right?

It seems that people here think that denouncing sin is worse than committing the sin.

Somehow if someone has the gaul to boldly denounce sin instead of excusing it they are wicked.

Apparently it doesn't matter to people what the scriptures actually say. I presented quite a few scriptures that clearly show that we are to admonish and reprove the sins of others. This is laid out in all four standard works.

But hey who cares what the scriptures say. Let's all just get along and tell everyone that they can do whatever they want, because the commandments are too hard and Christ will save us in your sins without repentance.

Anonymous said...


"I guess the same could be said for Nephi when he would call his brothers to repentance. He probably should have just kept his mouth shut and worried about his own sins."

Nephi was chosen by the Lord to rule over his brethren.

"Gideon should have kept his mouth shut instead of contending against the wickedness of Nehor, too."

Gideon was a teacher in the church, so it was his duty.

"And the people of Ammon should have let Korihor teach whatever he wanted and not judge. After all even one impure thought is every bit as bad as priestcraft and even murder right?"

It is debatable if they did right. Mormon says they were wiser, but I find no evidence Korihor were actually persecuting the church members. Maybe the narrative is lacked in details. If Korihor was actually persecuting church members, then Ammon's people were acting according the law. Otherwise, Ammon's people acted contrary to the law.

"I presented quite a few scriptures that clearly show that we are to admonish and reprove the sins of others"

We can reprove the sins of others. What we can not do is call them to repentance, unless we are commanded by the Lord to do so. As you have said earlier: His house is a house of order.

Matthias said...


So if we are to reprove and admonish the sins of others what does that mean?

Does it not mean telling them that the sin is wrong and warning them to stop lest God's judgments come upon them and the church?

Also I'm an ordained elder in the church which makes it my responsibility to see that there is no iniquity in the church. Or should I leave that up to the 14 year old boys who are told to watch over the church?

Elder's also to teach nothing but repentance and warn of the day of judgement for those who don't. This is all in the scriptures.

The church is very much out of order. However the fact that the church tells people to repent is not one of the problems. Liberal disaffected Mormons can cry foul all they want, but the scriptures are very clear that we are to warn our neighbors to repent and to admonish all sin.

Anonymous said...


"So if we are to reprove and admonish the sins of others what does that mean?"

I never said we ARE TO reprove the sins of others, I said we CAN do it, or to be clearer, we are free to judge other people behavior and chose to emulate them or not.

"Does it not mean telling them that the sin is wrong and warning them to stop lest God's judgments come upon them and the church?"

We are not to call other people (with the exception of our children) to repentance, unless the Lord directly commands it to us. Otherwise, the House of the Lord would be chaotic.

"Also I'm an ordained elder in the church which makes it my responsibility to see that there is no iniquity in the church. Or should I leave that up to the 14 year old boys who are told to watch over the church?"

Are you sure you are an ordained elder? By the proper authority and by revelation?

"Elder's also to teach nothing but repentance and warn of the day of judgement for those who don't. This is all in the scriptures."

Agreed. But not every elder in the LDS church is an elder. They should have been ordained by revelation and by the proper authority.

"The church is very much out of order. However the fact that the church tells people to repent is not one of the problems. Liberal disaffected Mormons can cry foul all they want, but the scriptures are very clear that we are to warn our neighbors to repent and to admonish all sin."

We need revelation from God so we can avoid wrongly judging our neighbors.

Matthias said...


I do not believe that we need revelation to call a spade a spade.

If I have a friend who is cheating on his wife I don't need a revelation before I can tell him that he is on the highway to hell if he doesn't repent. All I have to do is open the scriptures and point to the verses were God has already said that.

What kind of friend would I be if I didn't reprove him of his son and encourage him to repent. I true friend would give it to him straight.

On the same note I don't need a revelation from God to say that same sex marriage is an abomination before God. The scriptures are crystal clear that same-sex relations are an abomination.

We shouldn't condemn people, but we are absolutely supposed to judge between good and evil and admonish our brothers and sisters because we love them.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, pal, I think we are not speaking the same language here. You're right in that we must admonish one another in sins like those you described (even when same sex marriage is not crystal clear in modern day scripture, only in the Bible, which we know is not entirely reliable by itself).
I am using the phrase "calling to repentance" in a more apocalyptical sense.

Matthias said...


Thanks for the clarification. I agree with you that it is not our place to go out and call the world to repentance in the apocalyptical sense unless we have been specifically called by God to do so by an angel or something.

All the best.

seeker said...

Hi, I'm new to this blog as of yesterday. I spent a good chunk of time reading a number of posts the other day. I'm very sympathetic with the things you are saying. I may not agree on everything but I enjoyed reading what I did read. Thanks for that.

I have the following thing to ask:

I'm wondering what either of you (Rock or Radio Free Mormon) think about the "last charge" claim made by a good number of the apostles. I find it compelling that it has the benefit of witnesses. What are your thoughts on that?

I have knowledge that Orson Hyde made a draft for a statement, to be presented before the Council of Fifty in 1845, for several people present to sign as witnesses to said "last charge" meeting. According to the statement, the following members of the Quorum of the Twelve were present: Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, Orson Hyde, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and Willard Richards. Amasa Lyman was also present. George A. Smith, John E. Page, Lyman Wight, and William Smith were not present. Several non-apostles appear to have been present, and available material suggests it included Erastus Snow, Charles C. Rich, Reynolds Cahoon, Orson Spencer, etc. The text and a historical introduction are available online on the Joseph Smith Papers website:

Three of the twelve did not support Brigham Young and split with him. The same three were apparently not present for the "last charge" gathering. All three later claimed that they were each to lead the Church instead of Brigham Young. Do you think their claims compare as well to the "last charge" claim, given its purported witnesses? I guess maybe William Smith's lineal succession has some measure of credibility but what about Lyman Wight? John E. Page? To my knowledge, all three dropped their claims eventually in favor of other claimants (James Strang, Joseph Smith III).

The "last charge" assertion claimed many witnesses. The Orson Hyde statement and the context really don't make it look suspect at all. It looks instead like Hyde really wanted an affidavits of people actually present, and ironically Brigham was the one who said not to bother. I would have to believe a majority of the apostles were all liars from the start, and a great number of associates, if this was all just fiction. I find that hard to do. We trust that the golden plates existed, because of the testimonies of about as many people as were involved here. And one could say they had motive to lie if we can say these people had motive to lie.

I'm wondering if either of you have anything to say about this specific Orson Hyde document, as well as the specific Joseph Smith Papers "Historical Introduction" (this especially, because I can't verify its claims and I'm relying on trust here) and more broadly about the claims of the "last charge" meeting, and why we should disbelieve eight of the twelve apostles, and also if we should do that, then where we are to look for succession.

- Seeker

Underdog2 said...


Good question. I look forward to reading the response and studying up on that myself.

Here's the supposed quote attributed to Joseph a year after his death:

Brethren, the Lord bids me hasten the work in which we are engaged. He will not suffer that you should wait for your endowments until the Temple is done. Some important scene is near to take place. It may be that my enemies will kill me, and in case they should, and the keys and power which rest on me not be imparted to you, they will be lost from the Earth; but if I can only succeed in placing them upon your heads, then let me fall a victim to murderous hands if God will suffer it, and I can go with all pleasure and satisfaction, knowing that my work is done, and the foundation laid on which the kingdom of God is to be reared in this dispensation of the fulness of times. Upon the shoulders of the Twelve must the responsibility of leading this church hence forth rest until you shall appoint others to succeed you. Your enemies cannot kill you all at once, and should any of you be killed, you can lay your hands upon others and fill up your quorum. Thus can this power and these keys be perpetuated in the Earth. Brethren, you have many storms to pass through, and many sore trials await you.

A few thoughts:

1) It was a year after the fact this quote was made (1845). Brigham's coup was in full swing by then. Revisionist history would have been in 5th gear.
2) DC 121 teaches us that you can't have power or influence by virtue of the priesthood (keys). Thus, the compulsion that BY and his cohorts engaged in disqualified them from having the priesthood.
3) The whole question is a moot point if nobody (and nobody has until the last few years in Denver Snuffer) testifies they've been sent and brought forth fruit meet for that claim. In other words, if nobody has met God and been ordained by His own hand and voice, then they have no claim to be the Lord's anointed and to being "sent."
4) Because BY and cohorts bore false witness against Joseph, the Lord's anointed, they and their generations after them have forfeited their right to any priesthood. The Lord said so here:

[C]ursed are all those that shall lift up the heal against mine anointed saith the Lord and cry they have sin[n]ed when they have not sined before me saith the Lord but have done that which was meat in mine eyes and which I commanded them but those who cry transgresion do it becaus they are the servants of sin and are the children of disobediance themselvs and those who swear false against my servants that they might bring them unto bondage and death. Wo unto them because they have offended my little ones they shall be severed from the ordinances of mine house their basket shall not be full their houses and their barnes shall famish and they themselvs shall be dispised by those that flattered them they shall not have right to the priesthood nor their posterity after them from generation to generation it had been better for them that a millstone had been hanged about their necks and they having drownd in the depth of the see…” (JSP, Documents Vol. 6, p. 366; all as in original.)

So if these men lied against Joseph Smith, then the so-called last charge means nothing. The question, regarding my point #4 above, is, "Did they swear falsely against Joseph or lift up their heal against him?"

The fact that DC 121 renders any such claim to authority moot, demonstrates how utterly apostate LDS Church apologists (their hearts are from removed from God) are who continue to attempt to argue that the LDS Church has any authority to speak of. Because of DC 121, NOBODY can speak in defense of the Church. All argument or defense is completely devoid of any merit because of the "Amen to the priesthood or authority of that man" who has engaged in unrighteous dominion.


seeker said...

Hi Underdog,

I will say, I do feel a little wary of being so quick in making a move like that. Generally, just as a rule, maybe because I'm too trusting I don't know, I tend to think that the more the witnesses, the less likely they're all liars. If they really are all liars, I start expecting evidence of eventual sedition of a certain sort (admitting the lie to the public) against the other conspirators because the number of "liars" is too great that it's just bound to happen. This is why when none of the witnesses of the golden plates deny having seen it, even after leaving Joseph Smith's church, we are justified thinking "Had they been lying, then they would have admitted it by that point!"

I also start expecting that their private correspondences won't look anything like casual correspondences do when they're had between people not in synchronous lying conspiracy mode. And I guess I don't get a vibe of that when I look into all that's available. At some point we have too many purported liars and it starts feeling weird. Note this is also why I believe Joseph Smith in the first place, and the earliest Christians. The critics say Joseph Smith was in on the lie with Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer and Martin Harris and all of them. But it's when I look to their private correspondences and their behaviors that I become convinced it couldn't be that all of them were lying. In their case, either the devil deceived them with visions and miracles or God worked his work through them.

Maybe I'm too trusting but one thing I can say is that what I'm doing here is consistent with how I treat Joseph Smith himself and early Mormonism's origins.

You mentioned Denver Snuffer and how certain proofs are needed before following some claimed prophet, namely that they must see God and bring forth "fruit" (new scripture). For me miracles in general have to follow them that believe; it's not sufficient if claims are made that God visited someone, appointed them, and gave them a book of revealed scripture. It's strange Brigham (if a liar and unjust coup instigator) didn't pretend visitations or revelations, especially since many other claimants at the time felt they needed to give the very exact "proofs" of their prophetic calling of which you speak (James Strang, Gladden Bishop, etc). It would have given him a very easy means to take over the church provided everything else stayed the same. And (correct me if I'm wrong here) you may be saying that eight or more men could easily lie about a fictitious "last charge" meeting and get away with it. So could they have lied about Brigham getting a visitation from God and bringing forth fruit in the form of new revealed books? That makes me very worried, as it puts Denver Snuffer himself in a tough spot, but also Joseph Smith. Moreover I'm led to think you would now be a Brighamite if he had lied just a little more, and every successor after him.

I remember once reading of a certain Marie Madeleine Cardon from Italy. She claimed (as a girl) to have had a visionary dream where three men came to her, in older years, to give her family a new message. Then her father many years later heard of three Mormon missionaries in Italy and remembered her dream and brought them to his home. One of them was Lorenzo Snow. Stories like this fascinate me. Dreams and visions like this brought people to the church even when Joseph Smith led it, from the very beginning (e.g. Solomon Chamberlin).

Maybe it's the devil, but when allegations that so-and-so event must be of the devil get made by interpreting accepted prophets or scripture, I become a little worried. That's because, on what basis do we prove any prophet without some divine signs to follow? The Jews reject Jesus on this basis and the Christians reject Joseph Smith on this basis and I would imagine some Mormon apologists do reject Denver Snuffer by citing some scripture or other.

- Seeker

Matthias said...


You make some excellent points. While there is no question that Brigham Young had his flaws, they idea that he was able to get all these people to lie for him and keep the lie straight just so he could be in power and chase women is a pipe dream. It is not reality. It's revisionist history at it's finest.

I don't know if the last charge happened the way that Wilford Woodruff later described it 50 years later where he said that Joseph face shown like amber, but clearly Joseph told those guys in the council of 50 or some other secret meeting that he was entrusting them to lead the church and giving them the keys of the kingdom.

People here will cry foul and say "but the 12 are only supposed to be missionaries and have no authority in the stakes." They can certainly build a case for this, but it won't change the fact that Joseph was grooming them for a leadership calling in Nauvoo and didn't send them out on missions.

These guys were not a bunch of liars. That's not say they didn't embellish from time to time.

I'm probably in the minority here, but I reject Denver Snuffer for a whole bunch of reasons. He's not the answer. Anyone who thinks he is is either not well versed in the scriptures, deceived, or hasn't really investigated Denver's story thoroughly. Way too many holes to be the real deal.

Underdog2 said...


I think you make well-reasoned points.

A few thoughts:

Perhaps most weren't nefarious liars? Meaning perhaps any truly evil ones were few in number, meaning that the vast majority were deceived but well meaning, down to the present.

I went through 25 years of some level of deception. I suspected apostasy or deception at the very top (speaking of some of the apostles in the last 30 years), but my confirmation bias ruled me, causing me to be deceived.

I was not evil but I 'knew' the Church was true. Many of the BY apostles likewise were probably just like me. Thus their private correspondence was sincere.

The few smart conspirators should be given credit. Why do you think Alma COMMANDED his son Helaman in Alma 36 to keep secret the oaths and covenants from the people? We should give the devil his due and not believe for a moment that conspirators can't keep a secret. To believe that premise is to fulfill the prophecy that men shall say there is no devil in the last days, i.e., be naive.

You said:

"It would have given [BY] a very easy means to take over the church provided everything else stayed the same."

The point has been made that BY / the apostles were to be caretakers or guardians until Joseph's son became of age.

As for Denver doing public miracles, the same was asked of Jesus. Often he refused. But when He did, His enemies said it was of the devil. And some prophets perform no miracles.

I think a miracle-performing Denver would be counter productive to Zion and just might earn Denver a bullet in the head. Prophets are typically murdered, you know.

Such a display of miracles would not produce faith but a cult following and create havoc within the Remnant in my view by adding countless voyeurs to the growing movement.

Underdog2 said...

There must needs be opposition in all things.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

The so-called "last Charge" is one of those myths that grew up over time, in spite of the fact that Brigham Young himself dispelled it when Orson Pratt was first trying to launch the idea.

You'll find Brigham's refutation of it in my piece "Did the Lord Choose Not To Anoint The Lord's Anointed?"

Whatever instruction Joseph Smith is said to have given, it was not to the Twelve, but to the Council of Fifty, which was an organization consisting of both members and non-members. At no time were the Twelve ever given authority, appointment, ordination, or anything of the sort to run the church. Joseph was in effect telling the Council of Fifty that they needed to get this other program launched. They failed.

seeker said...


Thanks for sharing that blog post.

I cannot tell if the pronoun "he" refers to Joseph Smith or Brigham Young in the minutes when it says:

"In regard to Joseph’s remarks, he did not mention anything about the anointing; he said it was this council of fifty which had to bear the responsibility of establishing the kingdom in all the world."

The Joseph Smith Papers seems to assume it refers to Joseph and gives its interpretation. You appear to follow them. I don't have the minutes in full context available like you do to judge for myself if there's anything more to illuminate me on this hermeneutical decision. But I think it possible "he" is Brigham. It actually looks less awkward to me that way, given the other sentences, though I'm well aware that people in 19th century church council meetings wrote rather awkwardly sometimes, so it could be Joseph.

Still, it doesn't seem an unreasonable possibility that "he" was Brigham, that Brigham was the one not mentioning anything about the "anointing" (which doesn't tell us that it didn't happen, in contradiction to Hyde), and that Brigham's focus was on clarifying that the Council of Fifty and not the twelve were in charge of the kingdom. But this being said, Hyde recalls Joseph saying that the twelve were in charge of the church and Brigham says nothing to contradict that claim (in this quote).

Orson Pratt's comments are consistent with Orson Hyde's if we grant that on Pratt's opinion the authority was had in virtue of being apostles, and not in virtue of this specific meeting. The value of the "last charge" meeting wouldn't be in the granting of specific authority so much as in giving a commission and confirmation thereof. The way Pratt and Brigham are conducting themselves here kind of just goes with what I said about private correspondence not looking like that of conspiring liars. We have here dissenting opinions about the significance of events that did happen, which should make an impact on any claim that they were actually conspirators intentionally cooking up a myth. Differences in interpretation of a purported historical event is very unlike what we should see if the event did not happen. Pratt did not say the twelve were not "charged" over the church at that meeting, but rather that the beginning of their authority preceded it. And if I'm right, Brigham did not deny that they were "charged" at that meeting over the church (not the theodemocratic Council of Fifty-run kingdom).

I'm also not sure what the confusion (in your other blog post) over the term "charge" is about (you said, and I quote: "How was he charging them? Was he warning them? Or was Joseph accusing them?") One existing definition of charge is "entrust (someone) with a task as a duty or responsibility." A Google search can readily provide that definition. That's what the "last charge" claims to be. That's also what I've always understood it to mean in this usage.

- Seeker

Matthias said...

If the scriptures are true then there will be false prophets and false Christs in the last days who will deceive many. False revelations like the Testimony of St John are one way we can tell if a prophet is false. Many good people will be deceived in spite of the evidence.

Denver is very subtle and his message sounds so good. I don't blaim anyone for accepting him. The church is a mess and he offers a very appealing alternative.

I've made my choice and it sounds like you have too. One of us will be damned for it unless we wake up. I'll put my trust in the word of God and not a Babylonian lawyer who please loose with the scriptures. If I'm wrong I deserve to be damned. Denver was right about that one. He's either the real deal or he isn't. I'm sure the truth will be shouted from the rooftops soon enough.

Shaun said...

I just taught this lesson to my 12-13 year-old Sunday School class, seriously abridged for obvious reasons. I am going to miss them when I leave.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

-Kudos to you, Shaun, for your bravery.

Truth will out.

Shaun said...

Aaaand I got released not five minutes after my last post, haha. Nothing to do with my lesson - they were planning on releasing me already. It's probably for the best. My "sure the Church(TM) is messed up now, but everything was fine before Joseph Smith died" phase is over now anyway. I wanted so much to be a good influence on those young people - to teach them to think for themselves, and not limit their agency by refusing to listen to anyone but "muh prophets, seers, and revelators."

It used to be that I could say, "we do x now, but in D&C the Lord said we should do y." Now I have very little confidence in anything Joseph Smith said or did. One thing I will always credit the LDS Church(TM) with is my desire to know and follow only what is absolutely true.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

The good news is you were able to plant the idea in the minds of those kids that the preferred narrative is filled with lies and wrongdoing. As Oliver Wendell Holmes observed,

"The mind, once expanded to a new idea, never will return to it's original size."

I salute you for your labors in the cause of truth, Shaun!

Shaun said...

Thanks, Rock. I owe a lot to you too. Thank you for your blog - I can't imagine the amount of work that's gone into it.

LoveRocks said...

LDS Church is a Jesuit creation to control mines & resources out West. David & others claimed Joseph named David Whitmer as his successor. I believe it: Brigham didn't have seer stones, aka shew-stones; David did. The whole polygamy thing was a Popery move of Brigham's, as well. Anyone who's read ANY of the trial records from the Inquisitions recognizes the written declarations re: Joseph's polygamy as unreliable. They're forced or manipulated confessions. I'm not finding one credible testimony of a "wife" of Joseph's but Emma who wasn't later married to a prominent man in the Church going forward - i.e., forced confessions. Anyone raised in the church should have discernment to see it clearly ... Jesuits have been systematically displacing native peoples with land claims that pre-date the Catholic "universal dominion." It's a blood cult - uses the name of Christ for control. It's beyond weird, ...

LoveRocks said...

No one really needs me to tell them that Brigham, the guy who presided over the law of communism, I mean, consecration yet died w/well over $2B in personal assets & who's children threw George Q. Cannon in jail for demanding some assets back for the Church before they settled to give SOME of the assets back to the LDS church, didn't tell us everything that was going on, ..... c'mon, lol, ....

Alfred Cyninga said...

I know I'm late to the party, but I'd like to thank Radio Free Mormon and Rock for their efforts. I can't afford the Joseph Smith Papers right now, but deeply appreciate that some of you out there have dedicated your time to studying them and comparing them to the "official" publications of the church. You're doing good work, and it has benefited me greatly. I have a great spiritual desire to help spread the truth, and I know my family will not listen to me unless I can point them to sources. You've helped me immensely in this regard. God bless.

Steven Retz said...

Brigham Young followed what King Noah did.

MusicManMJB said...

I'm really late to the party as well, and I just posted a comment at the end of the previous transcript, but I too thank RFM for these podcasts, and I thank you, Rock, for all the countless hours of study, preparation, and efforts you have made through your life to come to a point at which you can still work countless hours to post your insightful blog. I'm very grateful.

MusicManMJB said...

Based on everything presented in this and the previous post, I question whether I even hold Priesthood authority (mine came through Brigham!), or for that matter whether there is ANY Priesthood authority, let alone power, in the modern LDS church today. Clearly, Joseph knew that he could not confer "all the keys" to a group of 12 men (forbidden in Section 132:7 (assuming that Joseph was actually responsible for this particualar verse of 132 and that it's not part of Brigham's rewrite, which seems unlikely since the way it is worded clearly contradicts his claim of authority given to the quorum of 12):

"And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead."

I would really appreciate hearing your thoughts on this, Rock, and anyone else, for that matter, who might have some insights. I am working on rooting out all my unbeliefs that have their genesis in the false traditions of my fathers (born and raised Brighamite Mormon), and I am eternally grateful to you, Rock, for your countless hours of study, and for your willingness to share this information with any of us who are truth seekers.

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32. I feel like I have been set free. Thanks again!

Tece said...

Someone commented that this is all "old news". Well, it's "new" news to me. I have been blind to this information since I was a young child up until now, i. e., 63 years old. I am a mother and grandmother. Both my son in law and daughter served missions, as well as my first grandchild- she is currently serving a mission. I intend to research this information and pray about it, and get my own answers from the Lord, but now that President Nelson has changed the order of being ordained president of the church, (basically putting the cart before the horse), I don't see that things in the church are in order, anyway. I do agree with President Benson that all the children of Zion (including me) are still under condemnation, and the Lord won't lift the condemnation, until we repent, and remember the New Covenant (the Book of Mormon and the former commandments).

Truth & Precept said...

I found your blog searching for my own answers and found that we have found many of the same Precepts of Men. I created a YouTube channel to help separate those from the truths of God. Would love your feedback.

Good Will said...

You are assuming the "apostles" of Christ's day dealt with stake presidents, etc., and that the 12 "disciples" of Nephite lore had an "apostolic" obligation to minister "to all the world." The truthfulness of these assumptions has not been established and I would argue, rather, that you have erred. Where does Jesus charge the 12 disciples to "go into all the world and preach the gospel"? They seemingly ministered only exclusively to the Nephites, and -- for the three -- only until Nephite apostasy rendered that ministry unfruitful.

The LDS Church's organization today bares practically no resemblance to any church organization in the past -- if you don't look to the Catholics!

Good Will said...

The "correct" response was to leave things as they were and "wait on the Lord" for further instructions.

Brigham Young was apparently impatient.

Good Will said...

You dismiss this as "old information," but provide absolutely nothing to counter the argument that authority was usurped by Brigham Young and Company without the Lord's involvement. By all means, speak up!

Good Will said...

Okay, so...blah blah blah. But you actually haven't refuted anything or provided more material! Get on with it!

Good Will said...

One needn't resort to ANY of the "alternatives" you suggest. If the church were ruined by the machinations of evil and designing, disbelieving men, then the "proper" response would be to turn to the Lord and let HIM figure it out! He would perform his marvelous work and wonder the same way he brought forth Joseph Smith, with similar "fruits." Accepting a poor substitute like Brigham Young only damned the saints.

The same is true today as well. If anyone sets up ANY head other than Christ, they are headed for a downfall!

The Lord works with the weaknesses of men and their misconceptions and desires as best he can -- without damaging them by destroying their agency.

Good Will said...

You are absolutely right, SB. The LDS Church utterly confounds its membership by misleading them with false tales. I have read MUCH of church history and didn't know ANY of these things until I read Rock's blog here today.

Good Will said...

You are arguing from ignorance, the your assumptions are the "best" because you can't think of anything better! But that's not how it works. The principles are very well stated and what Brigham Young did was in violation of those principles.

Good Will said...

Your arguments are based upon assumptions you've made, not really upon the scriptures.

Good Will said...

Asking "who better" is not YOUR call to make! WHO DID THE LORD SEND OR IDENTIFY? I see no evidence that he sent anyone! The saints created an "idol" of their own while "Moses" was away!

Good Will said...

If that's how you're going to argue it, you might as well be a Catholic.

Good Will said...

Bam! I don't want to add any superfluous comments here, but you are exactly right, Underdog2!

Good Will said...

Love it! You nailed it, Underdog2. That focus -- on unrighteous dominion and loss of all priesthood authority -- is one that can easily get overlooked in this discussion. Your comment is an extraordinarily valuable addition to this discussion.

Good Will said...

RH, are you trying to be funny? Do not trifle with sacred things. The truths revealed here are of monumental importance.

Good Will said...

"Where do we go from here?" That's a good question! Where did Joseph go? To the grove! To the Lord! And what did he learn there? That all churches had become corrupted. What did the Lord do about it? He led Joseph Smith to the truth.

What can we do about it?


To trust in the arm of flesh and follow men dressed in white is a plan for certain death.

Good Will said...

Love you, Underdog2! You're on a roll!

Good Will said...

Oh, Rock, how'd you get to be so damn smart! Your history lesson is right on target. Frankly, while I know it's not the case, I would imagine that any Mormon who read this blog post would be convinced the church has gone astray and that they must look for salvation elsewhere. (But one can always hope!)

Good Will said...


I, like many here, probably including Rock and even RFM, have a lot of respect for Brigham Young. Despite whatever moral failings and missteps he had and took, the Mormon Church under his leadership (and those who followed him) has done many great works!

But let's not kid ourselves. The Lord condemns even those who work miracles in his name -- because of their iniquities. And MANY iniquities have been committed in the name of the Lord by those who call themselves Mormons.

It's NOT a matter of "weighing them in the balance." It's a matter of "have they taught and administered the gospel in its purity and its power, with the attendant fruits thereof?"

The answer is "No, they have not." You have already admitted the LDS Church is in apostasy.

Case closed.

Good Will said...

Outstanding observations, Dale B!

Good Will said...


Good Will said...


I find your penchant for calling Denver Snuffer "Snuffy" to be an indicator of your own snobbery, arrogance and dismissiveness. For what it's worth, you don't deserve to have the truth.

Good Will said...

I thought Paul was a rug maker. What mindless trivia we focus on!

Good Will said...

For what it's worth, Alma 39:5 does NOT explicitly reference sexual immorality. (We assume it is unlawful sex by inference.) The antecedent to Alma's condemnation was his son's boasting of his own strength and wisdom, his forsaking the ministry, and his going after a harlot. Alma condemned "these things," including his son's sexual immorality.

The real danger, Alma emphasized, was intentionally sinning of ANY kind!

"6 For behold, if ye deny the Holy Ghost when it once has had place in you, and ye know that ye deny it, behold, this is a sin which is unpardonable; yea, and whosoever murdereth against the light and knowledge of God, it is not easy for him to obtain forgiveness; yea, I say unto you, my son, that it is not easy for him to obtain a forgiveness." (Alma 39.)

Good Will said...

Thank you for the apropos reminder.

Good Will said...

Well said!

Good Will said...


Good Will said...

"There is no way that a man being attracted to his neighbors wife and having lustful desires towards her is as bad as a man actually sleeping with his neighbor's wife."

The net effect is the same inasmuch as both will keep you out of the kingdom of heaven. The first may be, somewhat, easier to repent of, while suffering fewer consequences. But both are still sin and, in that regard, damning.

I liked what someone pointed out earlier: we can't keep the commandments by willpower alone. It is only by the infusion of the Holy Spirit that we are spared sinning. The glory is therefore God's, and not ours.

Good Will said...

Man, Rock, I touched on this but you detonated and expanded it! Thank you. Well said!

It is silly to think that acting "in love" by hormones and instinct is somehow as malevolent as malicious murder! Doing so either downgrades the severity and consequences of murder or elevates the malignancy of unlawful sexual intercourse to malignant proportions.

That being said, chastity is a wonderful thing, to be safely guarded. As Jeff Holland pointed out, how we get into this world and we leave it are matters of great and divine import and acts of carnal passion, criminal and otherwise, have real and lasting consequences.

Good Will said...

How can one learn to avoid sin unless one identifies it? How can we help keep ourselves and others from sinning if we never hold anyone to account? Is merely pointing out sinful behavior sinfully "judging others"? If that's the case, then it's hopeless!

Good Will said...

That's a fascinating concept!

Good Will said...

The implication is that the mere act of denouncing the sins of others is itself a sin.

Good Will said...


I love your tenacious response and the righteous desires of your heart.

Good Will said...

Wow, Anonymous! Talk about mingling the philosophies of men with scripture!

How about " becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.
82 Therefore, they are left without excuse, and their sins are upon their own heads." (D&C 88.)

Good Will said...

"Otherwise, the House of the Lord would be chaotic."

I don't recall the Lord ever proscribing us from calling others to repentance "because "the House the Lord would be chaotic." He did, however command us to remove the beam from our own eye before we sought to remove the splinter from another's.

Good Will said...

You actually make a good point, Anonymous.

Before undertaking his ministry after being ordained by his brother, Nephi, Jacob first sought his errand from the Lord. You may interpret that as being guided by God, or receiving revelation and/or authorization to do the Lord's bidding, including calling people to repentance.

ANYTHING we do must have the imprimature of God's blessing, otherwise it is of none effect and wasted, if not sinful.

That's why God admonished us to pray over everything.

Good Will said...

The truth is, Matthias, what is sin for one may not be sin for another.

You never know what God has commanded someone to do.

Was Abraham a "sinner" for offering up his son as a sacrifice?

Is not murder unlawful?

But was not Nephi likewise commanded to chop off Laban's head?

Is capital punishment the right punishment for attempted murder?

What was Isaac's sin?

"Sin" is doing what you know or believe in your heart to be wrong. You seem quite certain that homosexuality is a sin under all circumstances.

Given the two above examples, would you make the same claim for human sacrifice and the extra-judicial administration of capital punishment, even upon someone in a drunken stupor?

Maybe we DO need God's permission to judge and condemn, even when it seems obvious to us that others are doing wrong.