Sunday, July 8, 2018

The Church Ain't The Kingdom, Part Four

This is the concluding entry in my series on the Kingdom of God. Please click on the following links to read  the previous entries: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.

When Joseph and Hyrum Smith were unexpectedly murdered on June 27th, 1844, the church lost the one man who held the highest office in the church -Joseph's brother, Hyrum. The Lord had previously appointed Hyrum Smith to be prophet, seer, and revelator, and Hyrum already held the office of patriarch, which Joseph declared was the highest office in the church. It was certainly more important than the office of president, which was the office Joseph held.

Had Hyrum not been killed the same time Joseph was, there is little question that the patriarch would have been elected president by the people to replace Joseph, and had their brother Samuel not died mysteriously[1] the following month, the mantle of patriarch would have fallen on Samuel, who also would have certainly been elected to preside.
[1]There were many in the church at the time who believed to their dying day that Samuel Smith had been deliberately poisoned to prevent him from succeeding his brothers in office. See "Brigham Young's Hostile Takeover."

All of this was moot, however, because in Joseph's opinion the church no longer needed a leader. We now had the Book of Mormon and modern revelations; members ought to be able to govern themselves from here on out with the help of those tools, as long as they did not forget to seek continuous, personal revelation from the Lord.

Joseph Smith had been trying to step back from governing of the church ever since Hyrum was appointed patriarch, since that was really the only office of the priesthood necessary now that there was sufficient scripture to guide the church. If additional revelations were necessary, Hyrum had been anointed to receive them. Still, the people wouldn't leave Joseph alone. They couldn't seem to help looking to him for leadership, even when he told them that their dependence on the prophet was keeping them darkened in their minds. Once he was gone, his assertion that he wasn't really needed was actually proven by the experience of those members who chose to stay behind after Brigham and the others removed themselves to the Rockies.

Of the estimated twenty thousand members of the church in 1844, only about half of them chose to move to the Rockies.  It was too dangerous for any Mormons to remain in Nauvoo, so they scattered and settled elsewhere; some relocated to other parts of Illinois, others to Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and around the Great Lakes area.

With a few exceptions [2], these "Plains Mormons" as they came to be known, didn't have a particular leader, nor did they feel they needed one. Most did not think of themselves as a break-off of the main body of the church the way we who are descended from the Utah Church tend to think of them; they saw themselves as separate branches of the same church, and they thought of the church in Utah as just another branch of the church they all belonged to. When missionaries from Utah came through on their way to serve missions in the British Isles, they were welcomed, fed, and put up by these plains Mormons just as though they were all of the same denomination.
[2] Most notably the Cutlerites in Iowa, the Strangites in Michigan, and the Wightites in Texas.

The schism between the Utah Mormons and the Plains Mormons did not really take hold until years later, when Joseph's son and Hyrum's son rose to adulthood and began feuding with each other over which of them held the proper "authority" from God to lead. That was also about the time most of these plains Mormons incorporated under the umbrella of the newly formed Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which I think was a mistake. The "Josephite" church was now no more legitimate than the "Brighamite" wing. Both had become incorporated entities, the members of both churches subjugating their dependence upon the Lord in exchange for dependence upon their respective "churches" instead.

Joseph Steps Away
Earlier, during the Kirtland/Missouri/Nauvoo period, Mormons did not think of the church as a monolithic institution as we do today. When Joseph spoke of the church, he was referring to the members, not to an organized hierarchy the way we think of "The Church" in modern times. The Lord defined His church as "whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me," and that is the definition understood by the early saints. The church was the members. It existed independent of any leader or group of leaders.

What leadership bodies the Lord had formed in Joseph's day were strictly delineated in their roles so that each would be a check against the other in the event one body might attempt to arrogate authority that rightly belonged to another.  Each quorum was equal in authority; there was no top-down hierarchy as we have today with the president at the top of the pecking order. The First Presidency had very limited authority to preside (over the priesthood, not over the members), the High Council existed to settle disputes between members, The Seventy were independent of the Quorum of the Twelve, and the Quorum of the Twelve's authority existed only outside the existing church boundaries. The Twelve Apostles had no authority whatsoever to govern in any capacity within the church.

There were two other bodies, but neither had governing authority within the church, either. One was the Quorum of the Anointed, which was presided over by both Joseph and his wife, Emma who had authority equal to her husband. This was not an administrative body of any kind, it was more of a place where spiritual and religious matters were discussed between those who were interested in discussing such matters.

The remaining body was the Council of Fifty. Most members of the church had no idea this council even existed, as its very existence was a closely kept secret, for reasons discussed in part two of this series. Joseph Smith assembled this council, gave the men their instructions, then handed it off to them to accomplish the purposes to which the council was established. He fully expected them to follow through with the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth. Whether Joseph knew he was not long for this earth or not, it's clear he wanted no presiding role in the kingdom, as the kingdom was to have no leaders of any kind.

Benjamin Franklin Johnson, at age 24 one of the youngest members of that council, left us a description of Joseph's hand-off to the council in his autobiography:
"At one of the last meetings of the Council of Fifty after all had been completed and the keys of power committed, and in the presence of the Quorum of the Twelve and others who were encircled around him, he [Joseph Smith] arose, gave a review of his life and sufferings, and of the testimonies he had borne, and said that the Lord had now accepted his labors and sacrifices, and did not require him longer to carry the responsibilities and burden and bearing of this kingdom, and turning to those around him, including the 12, he said "And in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I now place it upon you my brethren of this council, and I shake my skirts[3] clear of all responsibility from this time forth,' springing from the floor and shaking his skirt at the same time." (Benjamin F. Johnson, My Life's Review, pg 89, as quoted in Rogers, The Council of Fifty: A Documentary History, pg 41, emphasis mine.)
[3] This was a fairly common idiom in 19th century America. Joseph's "Skirts" would have been a reference to the lower and loose part of his coat that hung below his waist, and to clear one's skirts meant "to avoid any blame; to absolve (someone) from taint or suspicion; to wash one's hands." (See A Dictionary of American English, Vol IV pg 2135, University of Chicago Press, 1942)

Johnson's description of that event is important, because as we shall see, in the retelling of this incident by others over time, small but important details were changed or omitted in order to give the impression that this event took place within a meeting of the Quorum of the Twelve apostles and not during a meeting of the Council of Fifty. As discussed in part one of this series, the Council of Fifty was separate and distinct from the church, as was the proposed Kingdom of God, and Joseph Smith was adamant in making that distinction stick. Where the Quorum of the Twelve consisted exclusively of men who were members of the church, the Council of Fifty was made up of both members and non-members. It was decidedly not an organ of the LDS church, but was to operate independent of and separate from the church.

B.F. Johnson died in 1905, and it would appear that his autobiography was not published until 1947, long after his passing.  Historian Michael Quinn notes that the published version dropped Johnson's references to the Council of Fifty, "thus giving the impression that Joseph Smith gave the instructions exclusively to the Quorum of the Twelve." (Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, pg 412, note 33) Quinn also observes:
A recent publication of Johnson's manuscript statement subtly reverses his emphasis that smith spoke to "one of the last meetings of the Council of the presence of the Quorum of the Twelve." E Dale Lebaron, "Benjamin Franklin Johnson in Nauvoo: Friend, Confidant, and Defender of the Prophet," Brigham Young University Studies 32 (Winter/Spring 1992):186, deletes that phrase and substitutes this introduction: "Joseph made an unusual presentation to the Quorum of the Twelve and some of the Council of Fifty." That magnifies the role of the apostles and reverses the priority Johnson's original quote gave to the Fifty. 
If you're wondering why these Church sources found it necessary to alter Johnson's wording in order to change the reader's perception about who was being addressed, we need to recall the turmoil taking place in Nauvoo immediately following the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum.

I have little doubt that at the time, Brigham Young felt the immediate need to step up the program Joseph had charged the Council with initiating. The enemies of the Mormons did not seem to have their bloodlust palliated by the murders of the president and the patriarch; they wanted to drive all the Mormons out of the state for good. And although Brigham's later actions in Utah proved him to be an autocratic ruler, in August of 1844 he displayed no such characteristics. He did not propose himself as president at that time, but suggested the Twelve as a body would be better candidates than Sidney Rigdon to help organize the saints to prepare to leave Nauvoo. That was really the extent of the controversy in the weeks following Joseph's assassination. It had little to do with who would replace Joseph Smith as ecclesiastical leader, but more to do with who was better fit to help organize the saints to prepare to leave Nauvoo.

We tend to think that following the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum, the saints in Nauvoo packed up and left almost immediately. They did not. They didn't leave until the winter of 1846, a year and a half later. And even then they just crossed the river into Iowa and built another settlement of tents and log cabins where they remained for another year.  Brigham Young and most of the members of the Council of Fifty continued to meet regularly, and they seem to have had every intention of building up the kingdom of God once they got to their destination. Unfortunately they lacked one essential element. They forgot what Joseph had told them was necessary in order for the kingdom of God to exist: oracles. Said Joseph,
"Where there is a prophet, a priest, or a righteous man unto whom God gives his oracles, there is the kingdom of God; and where the oracles are not, there the kingdom of God is not." (Documentary History of the Church, Volume V, pg 257)
As pointed out previously in "Where Did The Oracles Go?" we learn that the word oracle as understood by Joseph Smith was not the same as we often think of an oracle in modern times. These days when we think of an oracle we often have in mind a person or a prophet, whereas when Joseph Smith used that term, he was referring to the message that was conveyed through a prophet. The word refers to the message; an oracle is the communicated message that comes from the Lord, through His prophet. The prophet is not the oracle. The message is the oracle.

Hence, without communication from the king, there can be no kingdom. Where the oracles (messages) are not, there the kingdom of God is not. That makes perfect sense, because it would not be an easy thing to reside in a kingdom where you never had any communication from your king.

I think it's a pretty simple thing to figure out why God withheld his oracles from the Mormons following the deaths of his servants Joseph and Hyrum. In order for revelation to flow from God to man, man has to be obedient to God. By the time the apostles fully took over the church, the saints were anything but obedient.

Whatever reasons Brigham Young had for ignoring God's commandments, whether he did so out of blind ambition or simply because he felt it would be more expedient under the circumstances, there is no denying that Brigham and the Twelve consistently flouted the very protocols set up by God for the governing of His people, instead instituting their own ways of doing things.  And most of these usurpations took place before the saints ever left Nauvoo. These arrogations of authority are documented on the Radio Free Mormon site, as a two-part audio presentation titled "Apostolic Coup d'etat: How the Twelve Apostles, in a Breathtaking Power Grab, Assumed Absolute and Complete Control Over the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." You can read the transcripts of both episodes by clicking here, and here.

The Kingdom Of God Slips Into Second Place
After the saints had been in Utah for awhile, this whole idea of establishing a kingdom of God on earth was put on the back burner, until it was eventually forgotten entirely. By the time of Brigham Young's death in 1877, he had become the richest man west of the Mississippi, richer than any baron in San Francisco, and his riches were obtained in no small part from trafficking in liquor and tobacco.

The Mormon "kingdom of God" had become Brigham's personal fiefdom, more comparable to that of the Book of Mormon's wicked King Noah than the Kingdom of God. Rather than a kingdom where the people ruled themselves under God's perfect law of liberty, the Emperor of Deseret  had come to rule his people with an iron hand while many below him suffered immensely.

Joseph Smith's grand vision given him by God to lay the foundation of the kingdom of God on earth was abandoned by the very men he had entrusted to establish it. In time it was dead and all but forgotten by succeeding generations.

But there was a problem that kept this idea of a kingdom from expiring fully. During the 1970s, historians were given freer access to the Church archives. They began combing through diaries, documents, and other sources no one had seen for generations. Hyrum L. Andrus is said to have  opened crates of records that had been nailed shut since the pioneers loaded them on wagons before leaving Nauvoo. Rumors and brief mentions were scattered among these documents that hinted of an unknown episode in church history when Joseph Smith hand-selected a group of fifty trusted men with the object of launching something that would exist entirely separate from the church; something these scattered documents were calling "The Kingdom of God." How to reconcile these rumors of an unfulfilled kingdom of God on earth with the already established church that existed in the here and now?

Well, one way is to spin the narrative -change the story so the curious are convinced that the kingdom of God Joseph Smith spoke of establishing was the church itself, and not something separate and distinct from the church. And also change the story so this mysterious "Council of Fifty" isn't even in the picture when you have this church/kingdom thing being spoken of by Joseph; you make it appear to be all about Joseph Smith passing on his authority to the Twelve Apostles, giving the Twelve authority to run the church after he was gone.

Wilford Woodruff Mis-Remembers
In 1897, when Wilford Woodruff was 90 years old, and believed he had outlived every other person who had been present that day in the council who might contradict his version of the story, he told it one more time, leaving out for the umpteenth telling anything that would indicate the meeting involved anyone other than just the Twelve Apostles. Woodruff's testimony differs a bit from the first person account in B.F. Johnson's autobiography, but Woodruff throws in a supernatural bonus about the color of Joseph's glowing face, which is kind of a nice touch no one else ever thought to mention about that experience:
"I bear my testimony that in the early spring of 1844, in Nauvoo, the Prophet Joseph Smith called the Twelve Apostles together and he delivered unto them the ordinances of the church and kingdom of God; and all the keys and powers that God had bestowed upon him, he sealed upon our heads, and he told us that we must round up our shoulders and bear off this kingdom, or we would be damned. I am the only man now living in the flesh who heard that testimony from his mouth, and I know that it was true by the power of God manifest to him. At that meeting he stood on his feet for about three hours and taught us the things of the kingdom. His face was as clear as amber, and he was covered with a power that I had never seen in any man in the flesh before."
But there was someone else still living who recalled being in that room the same day as Wilford Woodruff. President Woodruff must have forgotten Benjamin F. Johnson was still alive and that he had also been in attendance at that meeting long ago. Johnson happened to recall things a little differently than Woodruff had. For one thing, there had been at least 38 other men at that meeting in addition to those twelve apostles. Johnson outlived Wilford Woodruff by seven years, and in 1903 he wrote a letter to George Gibbs that was consistent with the account in his autobiography, with the added benefit of some details Woodruff had neglected to mention in his account:
"It was at Nauvoo early in 1844 in an assembly room common to the meeting of a Council or Select Circle of the prophet's most trusted friends, including all the Twelve, but not all the constituted authorities of the church, for Presidents Rigdon, Law, or Marks, the High Council, nor President of quorums were not members of that council, which at times would exceed fifty in number. Its sittings were always strictly private, and all its rules were carefully & promptly observed and although its meetings were at times oftener than monthly and my home at Ramus [Illinois] over twenty miles distant, I was present at every session, and being about the youngest member of the council, I was deeply impressed with all that transpired, or was taught by the Prophet....
"And now returning to the council and the 'last charge.' Let us remember that by revelation he had reorganized the Holy Priesthood, and by command of the Lord had taken from the First Presidency his brother Hyrum to hold a patriarch...All these keys he held, and under these then existing conditions he stood before that association of his select friends including all of the Twelve, and with great feeling and animation he graphically reviewed his life of persecution, labor and sacrifice for the church and kingdom of God, both of which he declared were now organized upon the earth. The burden of which had become too great for him longer to carry; that he was weary and tired with the weight he so long had borne and then he said, with great vehemence: "And in the name of the Lord, I now shake from my shoulders the responsibilities of bearing off the Kingdom of God to all the world, and here and now I place that responsibility, with all the keys, powers and privileges pertaining thereto, upon the shoulders of you the Twelve Apostles, in connection with this council; and if you will accept this, to do it, God shall bless you mightily and shall open your way; and if you do it not you will be damned. I am henceforth free from this responsibility and I now shake my garments clear and free from the blood of this generation and of all men," and shaking his skirt with great vehemence he raised himself from the floor while the spirit that accompanied his words thrilled every heart as with a feeling that boded bereavement and sorrow.
"And now, my dear brother, after 60 years have passed, at 85 years in age, I bear to you and to all the world a solemn testimony of the truth and veracity of what I have written above, for although so many years have intervened, they are still in my mind, as fresh as when they occurred; no doubt as a part of fulfillment of a prediction by the prophet relating 'testimonies I should bear of his teachings, after I had become hoary with age.' " (Benjamin F. Johnson Letter To George F. Gibbs, quoted in Rogers, The Council of Fifty, ibid. Emphasis mine.)
Regardless of how Johnson's biography was later doctored by others prior to publication so it would fall more in line with President Woodruff's recollections, we can see from Johnson's letter to George Gibbs that his memory of the events remained essentially the same as in his earlier manuscript. The notable difference between Johnson's version of the event and Woodruffs is that Johnson recalled that the entire Council of Fifty were present at the time, whereas Woodruff's recollection mentions only the Twelve Apostles, of which he himself was a member. And although Woodruff makes mention of "the church and kingdom of God," only Johnson bothers to point out that Joseph had drawn a clear distinction between the the two as separate and distinct entities. (see Rogers, ibid, footnote pg 43.)

Benjamin Johnson's memory was by no means flawless. He seems to have forgotten that Sidney Rigdon and William Marks were indeed members of the Council of Fifty, but given he was describing a body that had ceased to exist for more than half a century, we can forgive him that oversight. Those small details are insignificant compared to Wilford Woodruff's selective memory of the event, which has contributed over time to the myth that Joseph Smith had ordained, and set apart the Twelve Apostles prior to his passing and given them authority to govern the Church in his absence.

The problem with Woodruff's interpretation is that if Joseph had done any such thing, it would have been in direct contradiction to the Lord's instructions given by revelation to the Twelve outlining their specific and very limited responsibilities. It would also constitute a complete reversal of the warnings Joseph had given to the Twelve on multiple occasions where he reminded them they were to have no role whatsoever in governing the Church. Now that we finally have access to the minutes of the Council of Fifty, we can see that Joseph gave the Twelve no such charge. If he addressed the Twelve specifically in that meeting, it was to emphasize they had been given the responsibility for "bearing off the kingdom to all the world," which would have been consistent with their duty to go into all the world and preach the gospel. That instruction is quite different from "I hereby authorize you to stay home and manage the Church from your comfy executive chairs at Church headquarters."

Wilford Woodruff was not the first to get it wrong. Less than a year after that memorable meeting with Joseph Smith before the Council of Fifty, Orson Pratt had somehow got it in his head that Joseph had been talking exclusively to him and the other eleven apostles. Pratt was corrected in that mistaken assumption by, of all people, Brigham Young.

I reported on this incident in greater detail in a prior post I titled "Did The Lord Choose Not To Anoint The Lord's Anointed?" I hope you'll go back and review that one because it contains essential excerpts from the minutes which effectively put this controversy to bed.  However, I'll briefly summarize that episode here.

The Rigdon Rivalry Results In Revilement
Seven months after the prophet's death, there was still a bit of controversy over who should be leading the church. The controversy eventually shook out to a choice between the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles. One faction favored Sidney Rigdon, since he was the only remaining member of the First Presidency. Rigdon proposed to direct the saints to leave Nauvoo and remove themselves to Pennsylvania.

Those opposing Rigdon were led by the Twelve apostles, who proposed that rather than being led by one man, the church was better served in the hands of twelve men operating as a body. The proposal of the Twelve was that the saints leave Nauvoo and remove themselves far away from the United States, over the Rocky Mountains, to settle either in Oregon or California.

As part of an effort to discredit Sidney Rigdon, apostle Orson Pratt was preparing to publish a pamphlet he titled "A Farewell to Rigdonism" in which Pratt planned to describe how Joseph had met with the Twelve prior to his death and appointed the Twelve to take responsibility for leading the church.  So at a meeting of the Council of Fifty on March 25th, 1845, Orson Pratt wants to know how many apostles would be willing to sign on as witnesses that Joseph had anointed the apostles with authority to lead the church.

Brigham Young, chairman of the Council, gently reminded Elder Pratt that no such ordination of authority had ever taken place. He told Pratt to go ahead with his pamphlet if he wanted, but to leave the Twelve out of it, and reminded Pratt that Joseph had not been speaking to a meeting of the Twelve at the time Pratt was thinking of, but he was speaking to this body, the one they were meeting with right now, the Council of Fifty.[4]
[4] You can read the record of the actual exchange between Orson and Brigham in the Joseph Smith Papers: Administrative Records, Council of Fifty, Minutes pages 378-380. See also my earlier piece featuring this subject, "Did The Lord Choose Not Anoint the Lord's Anointed?" for excerpts.

That put the matter to rest, and Orson Pratt dropped it. We don't know whether he ever published that pamphlet or not, because no copies seem to have survived. But what we learn from the minutes of the Council of Fifty on March 25th of 1845 is that Brigham Young reminded Pratt that there was no “anointing” of the Twelve by Joseph Smith in any earlier meeting, and the “keys of the kingdom” had not been given to the Twelve.  Instead it was, as Brigham reminded those present, “this council of fifty which had to bear the responsibility,” meaning that there was nothing uniquely given by Joseph Smith to the Twelve, that Joseph was addressing the entire council, Mormon and non-Mormon alike. Elder Pratt seems to have forgotten that non-Mormons were present, so Joseph was not likely to ordain everyone in the room to be a servant to the Church. Pratt was mistaken if he thought Joseph Smith had passed his ecclesiastical authority on to that body.

Print The Legend
Largely because the minutes of the Council of Fifty have been locked away in the vault of the Church for so long, the myth promoted by Wilford Woodruff and others has gained prominence for the past century and a half, along with the false teaching that the Church and the Kingdom of God were one and the same. There are at least two tragedies that have resulted from this misunderstanding. First, we have all been raised to believe that it's perfectly normal for the apostles to govern the Church, even though they were specifically prohibited from doing so by revelation from the Lord, as well as by repeated warnings from Joseph Smith.

The second tragedy is that all efforts to establish the kingdom of God on earth were ultimately abandoned because, let's face it, the apostles found it much easier to stay close to home and build up the Church than it would have been for them to go out into the world and bear off the kingdom. As Denver Snuffer wrote,
"They neglected the 'kingdom of God' because they were preoccupied with acquiring complete, unfettered control to dictate over the church and hold at defiance any who dared to challenge them. They reign over the Seventies and stake high councils with impunity. Their autocratic control holds the approximate 30% of those who remain nominally active in the church in complete submission. [4]
"They have the 'keys of the kingdom'–which kingdom has lapsed into complete oblivion. But they’ve parlayed that into dictatorship over the other organization, the Church."
[4]According to a recent estimate I have seen, total number of members who remain in attendance are now down to 25%.

Paul Toscano reminds us how much better things would be for the church if the apostles were to take seriously the duties assigned them by the Lord:
"I have said this directly to at least two of the Twelve, and I will say it here again: The apostles need to get out of town, permanently. 
They need to travel somewhere like China and preach the gospel that Jesus preached and perhaps become martyrs there for Christ's sake -since some of them are so keen to make martyrs of others. At least they need to stop inducing comas with their conference addresses. And, they need to get out of the real estate business. They need to think much less about the temporal and much more about the eternal -they really do- not because I say so, but because Mormon scripture says so." (Mormonism In Crisis: A Critique and a Defense, pg 10.)
A constant drumbeat of mine on this forum is that we Mormons, as a people, have neglected to accomplish the purposes God put us here for. And why have we neglected those purposes?  Primarily because we have been waiting on the leaders of the Church to do it for us.

Well, how is that working out so far? How far along are we in accomplishing the purpose of the Lord?  We were supposed to have established a Zion refuge long before this, but that never happened because we were waiting on the leaders to tell us how to set it up. The kingdom of God never materialized because the leaders have insisted it's already here, in the very organization they happen to have taken over management of.  As far as they're concerned, this Church they manage is the kingdom of God, so what more needs to be done besides getting your friends to take the missionary lessons?

All this in spite of the fact that our founding prophet made it very clear that the church is decidedly not the kingdom, and that our efforts should be focused on building up the kingdom, not in building up the Church.

Daniel's prophecy of the kingdom of God remains unfulfilled, largely because we have no oracles. And why are there no oracles? Because members of the Church keep waiting on their leaders to convey those oracles to them, instead of seeking personal oracles from God for themselves.

Church leaders tell us we should keep our eyes riveted on them, that our salvation depends upon our obedience to their decrees. Yet how much closer to Zion have we gotten by waiting on them to receive revelations to guide us? Joseph Smith told the Saints in his day that they were becoming darkened in their minds because they were depending too much on the prophet and not on their own ability to receive personal revelation from God in their lives. He said that every man should stand for himself and depend on no man or men in that inevitable state of corruption that religions always devolve into.

Do you recall not long ago when church membership was growing literally by the millions? Church leaders were quick to point to that as proof that the Church is the Kingdom of God on earth, rapidly fulfilling their warped interpretation of the prophecy of Daniel in the belief that this "Church" would grow and grow until it soon filled all the earth. Remember that?  We don't hear that boast anymore now that convert baptisms have shrunk to almost nothing, do we? 

When are we going to see the kingdom of God established on the earth? Are we supposed to just wait for the leaders to figure out that the kingdom is something distinctly different from the Church? How long do you think that will take? When are the leaders of the Church going to put the establishment of the kingdom back on their list of priorities?  How is Zion ever going to come to pass if the leaders don't get started on it? Who the heck is in charge here, anyway?

You are.


Related Sources
The Church Ain't The Kingdom (Part One)

The Church Ain't The Kingdom, Part Two

The Church Ain't The Kingdom, Part Three

Did The Lord Choose Not To Anoint The Lord's Anointed?

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

Brigham Young's Hostile Takeover

King Brigham

Where Did The Oracles Go?

Joseph Smith's Last Dream (Whiteboard Presentation)