Sunday, January 12, 2020

Joseph Smith and Polygamy: Persistence of a Myth

Something tells me this photo has been doctored.
I've been reluctant to address this topic because I don't like to publicly criticize people I genuinely like. In fact, my one and only new year's resolution was to stop giving a hard time to people who disagree with me.  The impetus for that resolve was when I noticed I was getting cantankerous and impatient with certain commenters on Facebook who attacked my views while failing to provide a reasoned argument in return. I don't mind people disagreeing with me, but what annoys me is when someone disagrees with me but refuses to provide a reasoned argument as to why.

I knew I had reached bottom meanie when, in my frustration, I called someone on Facebook "a low IQ moron." Reacting like that is not only unkind, it's possibly impolite. So I resolved that in the new year, Facebook would see a kinder, gentler Rock Waterman; I will no longer make fun of anyone's intelligence -not even the really dumb ones.

So that's my one and only new year's resolution: to refrain from calling anyone a low IQ moron.

That doesn't mean I shouldn't be critical of others when the need arises; I should just make sure my criticism is couched in kindness the best I can. So that brings us to my current topic, which necessitates my criticizing the work of someone I genuinely like for other reasons: Lindsay Hansen Park.

Lindsay Park is known for a phenomenal work of cultural anthropology in which she spent considerable time documenting the world of Mormon Fundamentalists and others who practice plural marriage today. She took time to immerse herself in that world, and over time came to know and love many of its practitioners. I doff my hat to Lindsay Park for her accomplishments in this arena; she may well be our foremost expert on modern fundamentalism and is probably more familiar than most about the lives of these people, their belief systems, and generally what it is that makes them tick.  I consider her an expert on the topic of polygamy as it has been practiced since 1844.

What I don't consider her an expert on is the question of polygamy as it was practiced in the church prior to 1844.  Yes, spiritual wifery was a problem in Nauvoo, because some members of the Twelve were seducing young women and clandestinely taking on extra wives. But Joseph Smith was vigorously denouncing the practice and doing everything in his power to stamp it out. Lindsay Park, however, is firmly convinced that Joseph Smith was the the secret originator of the practice.  This is where Lindsay and I part ways, because there is now an abundance of evidence that would cause any reasonable person to recognize that the question is far from settled.

But Lindsay Park remains fully on board with the "Joseph Smith Did Practice Polygamy" train. She appears to be unaware of the research that would call her assertions into question. In fact, I'll go further: Lindsay Park seems to have gone out of her way to remain willfully ignorant of the mountains of evidence that tend to cast serious doubt on the common assumption that Joseph Smith practiced plural marriage. She simply doesn't want to hear about it.

Now, in case you are not aware, there are two schools of thought regarding polygamy as it pertains to Joseph Smith. The conventional view (which is the one promoted by the LDS Church) is that the doctrine originated in secret with Smith and was continued by Brigham Young. Those advocating this view acknowledge that Joseph publicly denounced the practice, but they insist he secretly practiced it just the same. They believe the historical record supports that view and anyone who can't recognize that reality just isn't paying attention.

The other view, and the one I subscribe to, is that Joseph Smith adamantly and vigorously fought against polygamy until the day he died, and that those stories that he married anyone other than his wife Emma were falsehoods promoted by Brigham Young and others. They fabricated lies about Joseph for the purpose of lending legitimacy to their own participation in the practice.  Those who adhere to this view believe the historical record exonerates Joseph Smith, and anyone who can't recognize that reality simply isn't paying attention.

So Lindsay Park is firmly in the Joseph-was-a-polygamist camp. In fact, she admits to being constantly frustrated when encountering people who don't share her opinion on this matter. So two years ago she put together a two-part podcast with the purpose of putting this matter to rest once and for all. This podcast, she claimed, would address the concerns of any doubters and convince everyone listening once and for all that Joseph Smith did indeed practice plural marriage - no ifs, ands, or buts.  You can find those episodes here, titled Joseph Smith Did Not Fight Polygamy.  Part two can be found by clicking here. 

Listeners to these two podcasts soon discovered why this "final word on the subject" failed to deliver as promised. First, the panel was decidedly one-sided. Every person on that panel was dedicated to offering their views as to why it's an undeniable fact that Joseph Smith was a polygamist and anyone who believes otherwise must have something wrong with them. No one with an opposing view was asked to be on the panel, and nothing that would contradict the preferred narrative was mentioned.

Secondly, Lindsay herself admitted that she got frequently annoyed, frustrated, and even angry when she found herself engaging with people who did not share her views, and that's the reason she put on this  podcast: to set the record straight once and for all. I would suggest that coming at this from a place of emotional frustration is an odd approach if what you're launching is an attempt at historical inquiry. I would think one would want to approach the topic intellectually rather than emotionally.

If the idea is to embark on an academic investigation, you don't go in with your mind already made up and no dissenters allowed. You certainly shouldn't admit to being mad at people who don't share your opinions. The question of whether or not Joseph Smith was a polygamist is a controversy that is far from settled in the minds of many, so I find it odd that the person launching this inquiry admits to being fully biased from the get-go. Starting from a place of annoyance and anger means you're arguing from emotion rather than from intellect.  The first rule should have been "let's look at this thing dispassionately and see where it takes us."

But then this podcast was Lindsay's baby, so she gets to make the rules. I don't think she claimed it was going to be an academic exercise; that's just me saying it would have been more effective if it had been.

Thirdly, there's the sin of omission: at no time did anyone on this panel bring up or attempt to refute the findings of those researchers who held opposing views. No one in the full two-hour-plus duration of this thing is ever heard arguing substance; they just repeat the same rumors and hearsay that have already been discredited by others who are known to have done their homework. If the goal was to arrive at any semblance of historical truth, this podcast took a curious path to getting there. This is not the way one goes about demonstrating critical thinking. And that, I think, is why it failed.

How About A Little Thought Experiment?
By way of illustration, suppose all you've ever heard about the causes of the second world war is the gradeschool version that states Hitler started the war because he wanted to conquer the world. And then suppose you come across a little booklet with the provocative title "How Britain Initiated Both World Wars." 

Well, you know that thesis is ridiculous because as far as you've ever heard, everybody knows the Germans were the ones who started the first and second world wars. So you decide you're going to refute that thesis. How would you go about refuting it? Would you ignore that book, or would you read it with an eye toward debunking every ridiculous assertion contained wihin it?

Well, you would read it, of course. But then having read it, you realize the book is well-documented and you're surprised to discover you don't know how to debunk the information it holds. Worse, that little book leads you to another, larger and more heavily documented volume that proves  Hitler never would have been a threat if he had not had the support of America and Great Britain in the build-up to WW II. And as much of a monster as Hitler turned out to be, Winston Churchill is proven to have also been such a cold-blooded killer of innocents that he could right now be sharing a cell in hell with Hitler and Stalin and no one who knew him would be surprised to see him there.

And as if all that isn't enough to shake your faith, you learn from the thoroughly documented research of Professor Antony Sutton that while Americans were scrambling to catch up by collecting scrap metal to help in the war effort, American financiers on Wall Street had been helping put Hitler in power and keeping him in power by providing the Third Reich with all the money and armaments it would ever need.

Plenty of professional historians are well aware of the complicated causes of the two world wars, but you are completely blindsided because you never heard any of this stuff before.

So now what do you do? If asked for your opinion on the causes of World War II, you can either reveal some of the anomalies you have discovered from examining the historical record, or, if you want to cling to your fantasies, you wisely keep your mouth shut and don't opine about it at all.

There is a third option, of course. You could decide never to pick up that little booklet -or any other book on the causes of World War II- and blissfully cling to your fixed beliefs. That way you don't have to overcome contrary arguments; you don't have to refute or debunk anything. You merely put forth your own opinions and pretend the discussion is over.

This is the course chosen by the panel in that two-part podcast on polygamy. These presenters are clearly not aware that there exist plenty of actual, legitimate reasons to question the official narrative on polygamy. Did Joseph Smith actually wed multiple women? Could be.  But there are plenty of compelling reasons to suggest he did not. The members of this panel -the panel that is going to put this controversy to rest once and for all, don't forget- never bother to address these reasons because they obviously didn't think those reasons were important enough to look into. They are not familiar with the arguments. How do we know that? Because in the space of two hours and twenty-two minutes, no one on that panel ever brings any of those substantive arguments up. Not even to refute them.

Meet The Panel
The panelists Lindsay chose to weigh in on that podcast with her include John Dinger, John Hatch, and Bryan Buchanan. John Dinger is somebody else I personally like. I've never met him, but I liked him enough to buy his book when it came out nine years ago. The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes has been a boon to my research on the Nauvoo era, so I appreciate the work Dinger put into that book.

But I learned long ago that just because someone has expertise in one area, it doesn't necessarily translate to expertise in another. John's contributions to the podcast consist mainly of repeating the same dubious hearsay that most Mormons have been taught about Joseph being the originator of polygamy. Do I blame John Dinger? Well, he doesn't appear to be a hostile witness, so I'm willing to give him a pass. After all, he isn't repeating rumors that aren't already held by 90 percent of all Mormons. Could he have examined the issue from all sides before agreeing to appear on this forum? Certainly. Maybe next time he will.

Bryan Buchanan is listed as the book buyer at Benchmark Books and a lover of history. What he mostly contributed to the podcast was a lot of irrelevant information about Richard and Pamela Price, authors of Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy. This would have been a good place in the podcast to address some of the findings of the Prices, and even show where Richard and Pamela might have been in error. But Bryan gives us no indication he has ever read any of the Price's extensive research. What he does instead is give us background on Richard Price's disaffection from the RLDS tradition. There is no reason to go into all this immaterial background on the man, unless the intent was to paint Price as some kind of dissenting loner who lacks credibility. That's the only reason I could see for wasting all that time on a whole bunch of nothing.

The third guest panelist, and the one we hear from on the podcast first, is John Hatch, who is (I'm struggling to find a polite descriptor here) a low IQ moron.*

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*Dang. Only twelve days into the new year and I've already blown it.
   I should have gone for weight loss.


You think I'm being harsh? You won't once you listen to the twaddling gibberish Hatch comes up with. Lindsay had this guy on the podcast for the specific reason of explaining to the listener "why people go to such extreme lengths to believe Joseph Smith did not practice polygamy." (a completely  unbiased assumption if there ever was one, am I right?)

Hatch doesn't really know anything about the people he is asked to weigh in on. In fact he's actually kind of slow to the wind-up, coming off at first as if he's been asked a question on a topic he never considered before. But that's not going to stop him from psychoanalyzing me and everybody else who doesn't share his unassailable views.  Having never spoken with anyone who holds an opinion on this topic contrary to his own, John Hatch falls back on a guess. And what a guess it is. Watch him pull a rabbit out of his butt.

Do you want to know what motivates people to go to such extreme lengths to believe Joseph Smith did not practice polygamy? "It's mostly naivete," Hatch declares knowingly.

Ah, naivete. I didn't know that.

Hatch continues, "But there's also a conspiratorial aspect which I find fascinating."

Oh gee, here we go. Whenever somebody can't come up with a reasoned argument to explain something he doesn't understand (or something he hasn't bothered to look into) he simply dismisses his opponents as conspiracy theorists who, as John puts it, "aren't familiar with any of it."

It is abundantly clear that John Hatch is the one not familiar with the topic under discussion. He clearly has no knowledge of the people he is dismissing with a callous wave of the hand. I almost feel sorry for this poor sap because he is clearly in way over his head. Not to worry, though, because he's clearly up to the challenge. John is going to just wing it. Not having any facts at his disposal, he falls back on his imagination. And boy, does it show.

John Hatch apparently has decided that scholars who have written entire books on the topic must not have spent any time engaged in historical inquiry. Obviously they've never delved deeply into the hoary artifacts to discover what those artifacts are telling us. According to John Hatch, people like me and the authors of the many books and papers on early Mormon history and polygamy haven't investigated anything about this topic.  We're just dumb, unthinking sheep, and when faced with the threatening reality that our dear prophet may not always have been perfect, we've adopted coping mechanisms to help us deal with the fallout.  That's the funniest part of his rambling screed: that upon discovering that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy, many of us simply couldn't cope, and had to come up with "explanations" that would enable us to cling to our testimonies of Joseph Smith by denying reality.

I've got news for Brother Hatch. I grew up being taught that polygamy originated with Joseph Smith, and I was fine with it. I was also taught that "one day the Lord will bring back polygamy and we'll all be required to practice it again." And I was fine with that too. I was never surprised to learn Joseph Smith practiced polygamy; knowledge of that was part and parcel of the religion I grew up in, and everyone I've talked to about this tells me it wasn't news to them either. No one I know was thrown for a loop over the possibility that polygamy originated with Joseph Smith. That's what we all believed coming out of the gate. And we were all perfectly willing to accept it.

What did surprise us was learning that the polygamy narrative had some serious holes in it and therefore that narrative warranted closer scrutiny. That's the part that surprised me; not that Joseph might have been involved with polygamy, but that he might not have been involved.

Throughout the entire two hour podcast, John Hatch returns to this same tired theme of desperate Mormons trying to hold onto their tattered faith: Blah blah blah "...conspiracy..." blah blah blah "...feel like they have no control over their lives..." blah blah blah "...conspiracy theory gives them a sense of belonging..." blah blah blah "...don't deal in the same facts and truths the rest of us do..." blah blah blah "...conspiracy theorists..."

It's all very tiring. But if John Hatch can find a conspiracy "theory" in anything I write, I hope he'll let me know what that theory is.

Lindsay and the Boys have some very interesting opinions on those rare instances when they do seem like they might be about to dance close to the fire of controversy. But then they dismiss it and back off. For instance, they admit that William Clayton's diaries are not available, having been kept locked in the vault of the First Presidency since, like, forever. But they think those who want to examine those diaries are -here it comes again- "conspiracy theorists" for thinking it might matter.

Well yeah, I'd say that evidence deliberately hidden away is a problem that matters for people trying to get at the truth of a historical controversy, because if we had access to the diaries we might be able to tell if and when an entry was inserted years after the fact. Did Clayton make an entry in his diary at the very time Joseph is said to have dictated what we know as section 132?  Or was it entered years later? Or never at all?

Most people, when they hear the word "diary," assume the owner of that diary made daily entries. But more often than not, a diary from the pioneer days is more of a memoir, written as far as 40 years after the events they describe took place.  This does not always result in accurate recollections being put into the record.

The modern First Presidency of the Church could put this matter to rest if they weren't constantly hiding historical artifacts from the members, but John Hatch and Lindsay Park only bring up the Clayton diaries in order to make a point about how those wacky conspiracy theorists spend way too much effort thinking it might be a good idea to get a look at the historical documents.

It should also be noted, As Ronald Karren has documented in his book, that we already know Brigham, Heber, and Richards often left large gaps in the pages of their diaries for the express purpose of adding entries after the fact if they needed to fudge facts, dates, and events.  And they often needed to. Karren can show you pictures of added entries written in a different handwriting.

There's a lot I could address about this podcast, including how cavalierly the panel dismissed the idea of the Cochranite influence on Brigham and others. Had there been a contrary voice on that panel, he might have reminded them that a dismissal is not the same as a refutation. Dismissing an argument out of hand only makes it clear that you don't want to deal with it.

How To Get To The Truth About Any Topic
What this panel is seriously lacking in is the capacity for critical thinking. No matter what the topic, it's very easy to become a critical thinker. All you have to do is be willing to ask yourself one question:

"Is there a possibility that I could be wrong?"

I've written over two hundred posts on this blog and it's very rare when someone has to point out any errors I've made in either doctrine or history.

I rarely have to make a correction of fact on these pages after it has been posted. And do you know why? It's because I don't like making a fool of myself. I would rather find out for myself that I'm wrong than to be made a fool of publicly by someone else. So whenever I find myself in a position where I'm completely sure of myself, I ask myself that simple question: "Is there a possibility that I could be wrong?"

I save myself a lot of embarrassment that way.

I wouldn't want to admit how many times I discovered I was wrong about something. I'm just glad all those errors were caught by me and not someone who would rag me about it incessantly over the interwebs.

Another important way of coming to the truth on matters of history is to start out remembering that a great deal of history prior to the beginning of the twentieth century is unreliable. Not just partly unreliable, but mostly unreliable. As Jeff Riggenbach revealed in his extremely important book, prior to the twentieth century we couldn't really rely on what people stated as fact because too often people recorded events as they wished they had happened and not necessarily as they actually occurred. Historians themselves were part of the problem, compiling these errors into books which were then repeated in other books.

When you're dealing with Mormon history, you should just assume that half of what you're reading in the early histories is hokum until shown otherwise, because the temptation for latter-day Saints to inject faith-promoting fables into their histories was so irresistible.

This plain reality somehow escaped the panel in this podcast because they tend to take every utterance from the pioneer practitioners of plural marriage as the gosh-awful truth.  If some woman said she was married to Joseph Smith, well doggone it, she must have been married to Joseph Smith. Never mind if she was careful to note she never lived under his roof, never shared his bed, and never played hide-the-salami with him. She said she was married to him, and that's good enough for Lindsay and the Boys.

The main problem we have with women who claimed to have been sealed to Joseph Smith is that we have come to believe that a sealing is the same as a wedding. It meant no such thing, at least not until Joseph was long dead and Brigham Young started using that word as a synonym for marriage. We really have little idea what was meant by a priesthood sealing when performed by Joseph Smith, other than it was some sort of ordinance by which both men and women were spiritually adopted by Joseph Smith in order to form a chain of connection going back to Adam. From best we can tell, it had something to do with everyone being part of one big happy connected family in the afterlife.

We don't really know because Joseph never recorded what it meant before he was unexpectedly murdered. That's how Joseph described a sealing: it was an ordinance, like being given a blessing or being set apart. For anyone in our day to apply Brigham's later use of the meaning of "sealing" to what Joseph Smith was trying to accomplish is just foolishness. You might as well assume that when you received your patriarchal blessing from your stake patriarch, it meant you just got yourself married to the stake patriarch. It's a priesthood ordinance, not a marriage, for crying out loud.

No doubt you've heard of the letter from Joseph to his close friends the Newell Whitney family? In that letter he asked all three of them to come visit him so he could perform an important ordinance for them.  Some people have interpreted that letter as Joseph wanting to be "comforted" by his young bride, Sarah Ann Whitney.  I don't know about you, but if I were proposing a tryst with some sweet young teenager, the last thing I would do is invite her parents to come along.

Speculation on sealings is fruitless because we just don't know enough about what they were for, just as we know absolutely nothing about what an endowment was when Joseph Smith performed one of those. For decades after Joseph's death, Brigham Young performed endowments that consisted of long ramblings that included anything he felt like yammering on about on a particular day, and they changed significantly every time he did one, until finally around 1876 he put one long boring form of it down in writing and that was the one that stuck.

But it still isn't likely Brigham's endowment ritual had much of a resemblance to Joseph's original. Maybe it did. But again, we don't know.
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Learn To Be A Forensic Historian
If you want to get at the truth about historical events, you have to learn to get scientific about it. In other words, getting at the truth is not a passive activity where you accept whatever you heard first as the facts of the matter. Accurate history is a science. It isn't all that easy to sort out. Like any science, it requires the use of logic, reason, and common sense. It requires some study and effort.

David Hackett Fischer is one of America's most prominent historians. Thirty years ago I bought a book he wrote, Albion's Seed, which was hailed by other historians as a radically new way of looking at the cultural diversity of the early Americas. It was considered at the time revolutionary, as it showed for the first time why people from the different colonies were not just different from one another, they were so radically different that they had little in common.  The roots of these differences explain why so many Americans are still factious today.

I mention Fischer because he had previously written a book which was actually a rebuke to his fellow historians. The title of that book is Historian's Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought. Fischer effectively criticized his colleagues for the many factual errors in their writings. They didn't tend to check facts, he said, but instead just accepted what they themselves read in other history books, repeating things uncritically and passing them on.  Fischer insisted that historians need to thoroughly investigate what they read and not take anything at face value.

Because David Hackett Fischer was held in such high regard by his fellow historians, that counsel was taken to heart, and 50 years later we're seeing a marked improvement in the writing of history. Authors are making sure their works are as accurate as possible, where many had previously relied on rumor and hearsay.

Insisting on accuracy is good advice for anyone reading or writing Mormon history, because so much of it has been doctored, embellished, or completely fabricated since the death of the founder. I can't help but think Fischer would have a field day critiquing Mormon history. Due to all the deliberate lies and deceptions (not to mention omissions and fabricated additions), Mormon history is among the most unreliable history there is. Here's an example that was brought to my attention just days ago:

In 1901 Joseph Smith III finally got a look at the original letter that had been written by his father from Liberty Jail. It would surprise most members to learn that this letter is quite different from the letter that supposedly made it into our Doctrine & Covenants. Here's what David Price says about it:
The original letter was authentic, but what the Utah LDS did to it is not. They hacked and altered it immensely as they plagiarized it to confabulate their D&C Sections 121, 122 and 123.

When forging Section 121, they omitted the first 631 words in t
he Letter. Between verses 6-7, they omitted another 905 words. Between verse 33 and 34 they removed another 856 words. In total for Sec 121, they removed over 3,000 of Joseph’s words and falsely added over 400 words which he did not say (which changed the meaning of the letter).

When they invented Section 122, they deleted at least 8 words, and added at least forty-three.

When inventing Sec 123, between verses 23-33 they omitted 1,003 words, then INSERTED 247 new words promoting the plurality of gods (a subject which appears nowhere in the real Letter)! In all, 292 words were added, and 90 words subtracted from the portions that they chose to include (not including the 1,003 mentioned above). Also, the final 717 words (including the signatures of Joseph, Hyrum, Lyman Wight, Caleb Baldwin, and Alexander McRae).
This is the very kind of thing Fischer warned historians not to gloss over, yet how many Mormon historians have bothered to compare Joseph's original letter with the chopped up and added-to fraud that was inserted into our scriptures? Full details about what is in this letter will be available in Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy, Volume Four (which has yet to be released), but it gives you an idea of the level of perfidy that infuses our historical documents and why we should follow David Hackett Fischer's wise counsel and never accept our histories at face value. If you are investigating any controversy about Joseph Smith that surfaced after June 27th 1844, have your B.S. detector switched on and at the ready. And if someone insists there is historical consensus on a particular claim made about Joseph Smith after he was dead and unable to defend against it, walk away fast because that person is conning you.  Historical consensus is often dead wrong, and anyone today who expresses absolute certainty about an event they were not around to witness is being disingenuous, to put it kindly.

What We Know Vs. What Some Guy Said
I'm well aware that for some people, truth is not an issue. They don't care what happened nearly two hundred years ago.  Fine. They're living in a bubble of their choosing.

But let's talk about you. Is it important to you that you get your historical information unencumbered by propaganda and editorializing? Are you interested in finding out what really happened, or are you content to just accept what some guy said to some other guy sometime back in 1880 about some event that supposedly occurred forty years before that?

Well, the bad news is, we can't know everything that happened back then with complete certainty. But we can sort through the anomalies, contradictions, distortions, and obvious falsehoods that have grown up around the facts so we can help get a clearer picture than we already have. Here are four excellent publications that can help you sort through the noise. If you're interested in getting at the truth about plural marriage as it pertains to Joseph Smith -or at least as near to the truth as possible- these are the tools you'll want to own:

The Secret Chamber by Val Brinkerhoff
I put this book first on the list only because I was asked to write the preface, so hey...call me an attention hog, but I want you to read it. That preface is where you'll find the story of how I got this close to becoming a polygamist myself back in the late 1970's. I can't stress how essential it is for you to obtain both this book and the next one on the list by Ronald Karren, as both not only complement each other, but both books document the existence of a "secret priesthood" that attempted to operate in Nauvoo without Joseph's knowledge. Referred to interchangeably by its acolytes as the "Secret Chamber" or "Secret Priesthood" The former is the term the Lord used in a revelation to Joseph warning him that men close to him were seeking his destruction. You'll find that revelation in D&C 38: 13 & 28, but documents have surfaced showing members of the chamber warning one another that Hyrum had been snooping about and he might have found out about their Secret Priesthood.

You probably can't come to a real understanding of the polygamy issue without being aware of this secret priesthood that was trying to undermine Joseph.  Most members are not aware that Heber C. Kimball was a Royal Arch Mason before he joined the church, and if you know anything about 19th century Freemasonry, you'll know that any loyalty Kimball may have had to the church or to Joseph Smith took a distant second behind his devotion to "The Craft."  Kimball, along with Brigham Young and Willard Richards, made up the inner circle of the secret chamber, which existed not just to keep secret the polygamy being practiced among its acolytes, but also to plot how they were going to get Joseph out of the way before he exposed them.

Once Joseph and Hyrum were successfully dispatched at Carthage, it was this secret priesthood that scrambled to make certain they were the ones who took over leadership, even though the both the Lord and Joseph Smith had already made it clear that no members of the Twelve were authorized to govern the church. There were some in Nauvoo who had a more solid claim to succession (such as Samuel Smith and William Marks), but those obstacles were easily gotten out of the way to make room for the usurpers.  (See How Jesus Christ Was Ousted as Head of the Church of Jesus Christ and Brigham Young's Hostile Takeover.)

What makes this book of special importance is that it is chock full of citations and footnotes. It's essential when deciding whether or not Joseph Smith practiced plural marriage to recognize that the most important sources are the Lord's words first, followed by Joseph's words and warnings second. You'll find all that in abundance here.

The thing that makes this book especially useful is you can read it two ways. If you choose to read it front to back, that's a good choice. Everything is laid out carefully. One reader told me he thought the author repeats himself too much, but there's a reason for that. He is carefully laying out the case. I've seen this kind of careful explication compared to mowing a lawn -a very big lawn. You run the mower up a long path, then you mow another strip of grass right next to the first one, carefully positioning your mower so that you are overlapping a good part of the first strip you covered so you make sure you're covering everything and not missing a thing.

Another way to read this book is to just dive in anywhere, because there are loads of fascinating sub-chapters where you can learn the truth about most of the rumors, how they originated, and where they fall apart under close examination. For example, beginning on page 48, Brinkerhoff examines every one of the so-called "revelations" on polygamy claimed to have been received by men who came after Joseph Smith, and he shows where those claims fall apart one by one. On page 162 we get "A Short Summary of Mormonism and Freemasonry," which actually isn't that short because it goes on til page 187. Pick any subheading in that section you like and you'll learn stuff you'll probably find disturbing. My point is you can pick up this book, open a page at random and always find something interesting in it. And everything in the book is extremely well documented.

Val initially issued this book rather hastily in 2018 because he was anxious to get it to print, but unfortunately that first edition was riddled with typographical errors. If you bought that first edition, get rid of it because he later issued a corrected and revised 2nd edition with significant improvements and substantial additional material. The second edition is the one you'll want to own. If it looks like the copy on the picture above with the author's name and the words "2nd Edition" on the cover, that's the right one. Ignore the first edition; this one is vastly superior. If you want to make sure you're getting the right version, Look for ISBN numbers  10:1090268394 or ISBN 13:978-1090268396.



The Exoneration of Emma, Joseph, and Hyrum
By Ronald Karren

This book has created something of a sensation since its release in 2017. It deserves all the attention it has been getting, as you'll see when you read it. There are now thousands of Mormons and former Mormons who have come to recognize they've been sold a bill of goods when taught that Joseph Smith was a polygamist, and this book had something to do with supplying that change in outlook.

Karren not only deals with the Secret Chamber, he also analyzes a whole host of claims made by those who insist Joseph Smith practiced polygamy, and dispenses with them in proper order.  If you're looking for something to wash the nasty taste of the polygamy podcast out of your mouth, this book could be the antidote you're looking for.


Again, I can't stress enough how important I feel it is that you obtain at least these two books, both Karren's and Brinkerhoff's.  Karren is no longer a believing latter-day Saint, which gives him an advantage over those critics who believe he is motivated by a desire to rehabilitate Joseph Smith's image. He doesn't give a hang about Joseph Smith's image, since he doesn't believe Joseph Smith was a prophet. What Karren is, is a seeker of facts and evidence.  He lets the research take him wherever it goes without worrying about anything but the unvarnished truth. Karren is a guy who recognizes a lie when he sees one -or more accurately, a mountain of lies. 

You'll find plenty in here about how members of the church placed their loyalties to Masonry over their devotion to the gospel.  The author examines those who claimed Joseph was a polygamist, shows the contradictions and inconsistencies in those claims, and shows how in the late 1880's, immediately after one person begins making a new claim, suddenly everyone in Utah starts "remembering" Joseph had told them the very same thing.

I learned just today from several friends online that their comments in the comment section following
 Lindsay's podcast had been deleted, including several instances when listeners left links to this book so others could get a fuller picture of the subject matter. That certainly would explain why, for a podcast that has been up for two years, only a handful of comments can be found, all of them having to do with Bill Nye the Science guy and none of them having anything to do with the subject matter of the podcast.  Obviously the administrator of any online site has the right to block comments if she wishes, but if it's true that Lindsay has been deleting comments that challenge her worldview, I have to say I'm very disappointed.

In the latter part of the book, Karren examines the truly bizarre idea that Joseph Smith (who was by this time hated, derided, and ridiculed across America) had decided to run for president of the United States. Karren provides a compelling argument that, assuming Joseph did float the idea, it was intended as a joke and not to be taken seriously.  More likely, Karren shows us, the idea of Joseph Smith running for president was ginned up not by Joseph but by others, who were either serious about it (not likely) or thought the idea was a pretty good gag (much more likely). Someone printed up a one page flyer touting the candidacy, and to this day that remains the only evidence in existence suggesting Joseph Smith was actually running for president.  Was that flyer intended to be taken as a joke?  Karren seems to think that may have been one purpose for it, since there was never any follow up. Curiously, Brigham and his pals (who, we have been told in our histories) embarked on a trip back East to campaign for Joseph Smith's presidency, did so long after the presidential conventions had already ended. So why would they do that? What was the purpose?  Karren documents the behavior of Young et al while in the East through their letters back home, and suggests they were up to no good.  Buy this book and The Secret Chamber now, and while you're waiting for those books to arrive you can read this excellent synopsis.


Joseph Smith Revealed: A Faithful Telling 

-Exploring An Alternate Polygamy Narrative-
By Whitney N. Horning
For several months I sat at my desk with this book on top of a stack directly behind my head but for some reason I only just noticed it there last week. I haven't read the whole thing yet, but I'm very impressed with what I've seen so far as I've dipped into it randomly. I find it highly readable, and very informative, and I've learned several things I hadn't known about before, which tells you something about how thorough this author is with her research. In a word, I'm impressed. She covers things I haven't seen covered in book form before and I'm glad I got it when I did.

I don't like telling people they have to buy a whole armload of books at once, but if you can manage it, while you're ordering the first two books on this list I highly recommend you latch onto this one as well. I think it's a treasure.


Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy, Volume Three
By Richard and Pamela Price

Released just last year, this is the third installment of the series that woke a lot of people up. In here you'll find a continuation of the conspiracy launched by William Law against Joseph Smith, as well as a refutation of the charge that Hyrum Smith secretly taught polygamy.  Also lots more documented instances of Joseph Smith continuing to assert his innocence. Chapter 17 looks interesting, as it would appear the Higbees were conspiring to see that Joseph was assassinated at Carthage because his lawsuit against them would have been their ruination. You wanna talk about "putting this matter to rest," Lindsay Park should have been reading these books instead of clinging to a false narrative that turns out to be largely unsupportable. If you haven't already read the previous two volumes, by all means get volume one and devour that one first. It was a game changer.

I've been told, I don't know how many times, that these books by the Prices have been thoroughly debunked, to which I reply, "Yeah, right."

If anyone tells you that, ask them for the name of the person who did the debunking and where you can read about it in detail. Don't be surprised when they come up empty-handed, as to some people, "debunked" simply means "I can't deal with this right now."

Of Demigods and Dark Knights
By Jeremy Hoop

This is an 18 page transcript of a remarkable talk given by Jeremy Hoop that you can read right now without having to wait. And it's free, so what are you waiting for?

If you're new to this whole controversy, this is an ideal introduction. It's a concise overview of what we know -and more importantly what we don't know- regarding Joseph Smith and polygamy.  There's tons of stuff in here that will make you sit up and take notice.

For instance, I started reading the transcripts of the Temple Lot Case a few years ago, but I never finished that massive volume so I was not aware of something pertinent that Hoop points out in this transcript.

For those who are not aware, the Temple Lot Case, tried in 1890s Missouri, centered around which church had legal claim of ownership to the plot of land in Independence, Missouri where Joseph Smith had laid the cornerstones for the temple that was to be the one where the Lord finally makes his future appearance. The LDS church did not own that land, the Hendrickites owned it. But that plot of land was about to fall into the hands of the RLDS church, so the Utah Church launched a prolonged and expensive legal battle to keep that from happening, on the theory that they might eventually be able to persuade the Hendrickites to sell the temple lot to the Utah Church, but if it fell into the hands of the RLDS Church, they would never, ever get ownership of it.

It was extremely important to the Utah Church that they could lay claim to the legal right of succession, because if some other church winds up owning the only place in the world  where the Lord's True Temple was prophesied to be built, and in which the Lord Himself is prophesied to return to, how does that look to your claims of authority?

So the case ended up being a contest between the the LDS Church and the RLDS Church as to who had the rightful claim of being the church that Joseph Smith founded. The case was presided over by a gentile Judge named Phillips, and the entire case devolved into which church (the LDS, the RLDS, or the Hedrickites) could prove to be the authorized successor to Joseph Smith. The Utah Church pulled out all the stops in an effort to prove they had right of succession, even to the point of pressuring women to (Gasp!) lie for them.

The RLDS church testified that the LDS church could not claim to being the church founded by Joseph Smith because the Utah church had radically altered the religion Joseph taught by introducing polygamy into it. The Utah church countered that claim by providing testimony from three supposed "wives" of Joseph Smith who would prove the doctrine of plural marriage was taught by Joseph and therefore the Utah church had the rightful claim to being founded by Joseph Smith.

Except two of the three "wives" who testified were evasive when directly asked about their marriage to Joseph, and the third, Emily Partridge, had a history of changing her story. A lot. In the end, the judge wasn't buying any of it. But what was new information to me was that nine of Joseph's alleged wives were still living, but only three were willing to testify or provide affidavits affirming they had been married to Joseph Smith.

Now, why do you think that might be? These women were more than happy to claim to have been married to Joseph Smith while they were living in Utah (and married to other prominent church leaders). This was their claim to fame; women who were known to have been sealed to Joseph Smith enjoyed a privileged station in the Utah hierarchy.  They were the Queen Bees of the territory. So why avoid testifying in a trial that had everything riding on it?

I'm guessing that for some of these women it was one thing to strut around as Utah royalty, but it was a different matter when it came to swearing to what they knew was a fraud under oath.  The Church put tremendous pressure on these women to make that claim in open court, but it seems few were willing to put their hand on the bible and swear "so help me God" that they were telling the truth when they knew they were not.

Jeremy delivered this talk in person at the Joseph Smith Restoration Conference in Boise last June, so if you want to watch the video click here. There are other speakers on the docket, so you'll want to fast forward and start at the 45:30 mark where Tausha Larson introduces Jeremy.

In Conclusion...
Some people reading this information for the first time will be tempted to cite the conventional histories as somehow providing "Proof" that Joseph Smith was a polygamist. I advise against stopping there as if the matter has been settled.

There is an abundance of conventional sources out there to choose from.  Some of these are Mormon sources and some are hostile to Mormonism. Some sources are written from the standpoint of believing Mormons and others are written by ex-Mormons who no longer believe. What they all have in common is they echo the same narrative, albeit with minor differences here and there.

I advise against parroting the conventional histories. You won't persuade anyone and you certainly won't impress me. I have owned these books for decades and I've read them all. Remember, I used to believe that plural marriage was ordained of God. I believed that because I read the conventional histories, including nearly every one of the 26 volumes of the Journal of Discourses.

As most accomplished historians will tell you (David Hackett Fischer being chief among them), you don't learn anything by parroting the conventional narrative. You learn by challenging the conventional narrative in order to test any weaknesses in that narrative.

I have provided above five links to challengers of the conventional narrative on polygamy. Overcome the arguments put forth by those challengers and eventually you may find where the truth lies.


Related Post:
Why I'm Abandoning Polygamy

                                                                  *****


102 comments:

Damascene said...

Look at the following two statements and decide which is more palatable:

1. JS was a serial womanizer, a polygamist, and a predator of young women who worked in his home. He lied through his teeth about it.

2. Brigham Young, the entire early church leadership and a huge number of women lied under oath during the Temple Lot legal case for financial gain.

One of those answers is the correct one. Each is horrible for different reasons.

Good Will said...

A low IQ moron. I have found my new moniker!

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Will, is that you?
Sorry I insulted you on Facebook, Man.

Sandy said...

Thanks for the clear approach to researching for TRUTH... so nice to have you back writing...

Denver Snuffer said...

This really is a sketchy matter. I studied it for over 4 decades trying to get to the bottom of the history. Like you I began as a believer in Joseph Smith's introduction of polygamy in secret, while lying in public about it. Like you I have changed my mind. The best conclusion from the available historical record is that there is no way to resolve the question because of both the absence of some evidence and the presence of clearly unreliable evidence.
I took the view that since it would be a crime to be a secret polygamist, to convict Joseph and convince myself it ought to be beyond any reasonable doubt. There are far too many doubts to convict. Accordingly, I do not believe Joseph Smith taught or practiced what became public in Utah. He did "seal" others to himself. But that arose out of a belief system that he never fully explained or restored.
Glad you're writing again, Rock.

Peter Brown said...

Love Linsday's podcast, but she has been too accepting of the Joseph F Smith affidavits at face value. Part of that is because it lampoons women, who she largely sees as victims, and she is very protective of Mormon women. And for good reason. Victims should be believed.

But . . . JSF was the equivalent of a Deseret Walter Lippmann. He was the chief Mormon propagandist. He was not an anthropologist or trained historian. His job was to extract these testimonies from these women. The pressure for them to perform in order to bring honor to the Church and their husbands would have been enormous. You have to weigh that against any ex-post-facto #metoo movement.

Unknown said...

And neither is impossible.

Mike Ross said...

I have gone from not knowing Joseph practiced polygamy, thinking it was all Brigham's doing to being horrified to discover Joseph was a lecherous lying duplicitous man. It took about 20 years for that to blow over in my life. I wish Whitney Horning had a time machine and could have just popped into my office, thrown her "Joseph Smith Revealed" book at me and then poofed out again. That book clears everything up.

Whitney's book is fantastic. I don't see how Denver can say "there is no way to resolve the question because of both the absence of some evidence and the presence of clearly unreliable evidence."

There is a lot of evidence in Whitney's book that was new to me, like the relief society minute notes for example. I did not know one of the reason the relief society existed was to speak out against polygamy and Joseph was a frequent guest speaker. I didn't know the reason Brigham Young disbanded the RS in 1844 was because it was against polygamy.

I also can not figure out why during those 20 years of disbelief I couldn't see the smoking gun: A few short months after Joseph was killed, polygamy literally exploded. Like scorched smoking squealing drag racing tires off the starting line. And who was bringing polygamy into the light? All those who signed affidavits against polygamy with Joseph and fought it along side him. They were lying the whole time. Several of them were practicing polygamy behind his back. It's like the minute Joseph and Hyrum were out of the way, the floodgates opened.

Rock, I love your article. I now am tasked with figuring out the mess that exonerating Joseph... giving his good name back to him, polished and untarnished, creates for how I feel about Brigham Young. That's a doozy :D

The church is so quick to throw Joseph under the bus and basically call him a liar. So quick to trust Brigham- who is not exactly trustworthy.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Now that I've taken the time to start reading Whitney's book from the beginning, Mike, I share your enthusiasm for it.

You understand why the Church will always throw Joseph Smith under the bus while upholding Brigham, right? They would rather not have to deal with polygamy at all, but since they can't ignore the reality, they can't possibly admit Brigham acted contrary to Joseph's wishes, because they trace their authority THROUGH Brigham to Joseph Smith. To do otherwise would be to admit that Joseph Smith's son had the real authority all along. They spent too much effort vilifying the RLDS as apostates to admit maybe Brigham was the usurper.

Donna said...

I am an elderly woman who only five years ago learned that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy. Two church historians, Roberts and Arrington found this to be true. With their report the church turned at least on Arrington. If it wasn't true why the anger towards them? The Expositor was destroyed because Bro. Law wanted to expose Joseph's preaching of polygamy. Joseph was arrested for denying the First Amendment and sending Rockwell to assainate Gov. Boggs. Now dwelling in my head is : The church is true, the church is not true and no one knows all the facts.

Bored in Vernal said...

Hi Rock,
Glad to see you are writing again. Unfortunately, I find you guilty of what you accuse others of doing--accepting what "some other guy" says without looking at the primary evidence yourself.

I have been immersed in the primary evidence regarding Freemasonry for the past 7 years. I found Ron Karren's book absolutely riddled with errors. He displays an appalling lack of understanding of Freemasonry in general and Freemasonry in Nauvoo. I have not read The Secret Chamber, but if he indeed says that Heber C. Kimball was a Royal Arch Mason, his book may be as full of errors as Karren's. Evidence shows that although Kimball Kimball petitioned for admission to the Royal Arch Chapter in Canandaigua, lodges in that area were shut down over the Morgan Affair before he was ever admitted. Kimball never became a Royal Arch Mason, though he evinced a keen interest in this degree throughout his life.

Karren perpetuates many errors concerning Joseph Smith's Freemasonry in his book, despite the fact that I reviewed a first draft for him and pointed out his mistakes, giving him primary evidence and an opportunity to revise. He did not do so.

Joseph Smith most certainly was a Freemason in Nauvoo. His name appears in the lodge minutes as attending at least 27 meetings on 19 different days in 1842 alone. If one does not trust the Nauvoo Lodge minutes, one can find contemporary evidence from other non-Mormon lodges in the state of Illinois proving that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were raised to the third degree of Master Mason on March 16, 1842.

I could go on and on. Karren speculates that Heber C. Kimball was "integrally connected to the Freemasonry hierarch[y] (both in America and in the British Isles)" and that he "was singlehanded[ly] responsible for the growth of Freemasonry in Illinois." Karren's speculations are due to a gross misreading of the evidence. Kimball was a Junior Deacon in the early days of Nauvoo Lodge and stopped attending after July 1842. He had little influence in the growth of Freemasonry in Illinois, and was not connected to the Masonic hierarchy at all.

Karren's book also promotes the idea that the Masonic Hall was one and the same as the Nauvoo Mormon Temple, and that there was no Temple built under the auspices of Joseph Smith or the Church. This is patently false, and contradicted by a mountain of evidence, including blueprints, existing buildings, and archaeological evidence. Not to mention newspaper articles, contemporary eyewitness accounts, and Masonic minutes from the state of Illinois.

Now, my area of expertise is Freemasonry, so I have focused on the errors these authors you are promoting have made in this area alone. But it does not give me a lot of confidence that they have correctly read the sources regarding a "Secret Chamber" nor regarding Joseph Smith's polygamy.

I hope you will follow your own advice and check their sources yourself. If you would like my assistance in looking at any of the Masonic primary sources, shoot me an email-- clbruno at gmail.

Best of luck in your research.
Cheryl L. Bruno

jstcommentary said...

Rock,

Great to be reading something new from you. I agree with you 100 percent. Here is why 99 percent of people will never admit you could be right.

1. Anti-mormons need Joseph Smith to be a liar so they can discredit both him and the Book of Mormon. Their mantra is "it is all made up." This is John Dehlin's wish for the world.

2. Utah-based Mormons, need Joseph Smith to be a liar so they do not have to admit Brigham Young is not a prophet of God, and therefore their church is not the one true church.

The truth crushes them both. Interesting bed fellows.

John Scott Peterson

Bored in Vernal said...

Mike Ross, you might be interested in reading this view of the Nauvoo Relief Society as well: Keeping a Secret: Freemasonry, Polygamy, and the Nauvoo Relief Society, 1842-1844

Steven Retz said...

Great blog Rock. Just one thought to consider, I see sealing different than the Snufferites do.

The BoM teaches something different about sealings than what the LDS church does.
This is the sealing power, to pronounce what heaven has already been decreed, because those who have the sealing power will do nothing with it except what the Father wants done. We know Nephi “sought [God’s] will and to keep [God’s] commandments” because God attributed this to Nephi in Helaman (LDS 10:4) (RLDS 3:115-116). In the next verse God adds more emphasis to this idea, “for thou [Nephi] shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will” Helaman (LDS 10:5) (RLDS 3:117).
https://seekingyhwh.com/2018/04/30/sealing-power/

truthseeker said...

I agree with Mike Ross that it is disappointing to hear Denver Snuffer equivocate on the compelling evidence in favor of Joseph Smith not practicing or endorsing polygamy. Many of the women, who many decades later declared that they were married to Joseph or somehow knew he practiced polygamy, were the same women who signed their names next to Emma's that no such practice existed in the church nor was taught by Joseph. Many of the leaders of the Utah church also signed their names to an affidavit exonnerating Joseph, only to later retract their testimonies. The judge at the Temple Lot trial would have none of that hypocrisy and soundly denounced Brigham and the Utah church. That by itself, and nothing more, convinces me of Joseph's innocence.

Steven Retz said...

Those who believe that JS fought polygamy or want to learn more about that idea, here is a resource page I have put together to help. https://seekingyhwh.com/resources/marriage/

Underdog2 said...

I have been reading from the 1866 General Conference:
http://www.eldenwatson.net/1860s.htm#14

What is stunning is to hear Brigham Young state that Emma was the most evil person on the planet and that she tried to murder her husband twice.

The mason, Heber C. Kimball, corroborated
Brigham's story.

That year a son of Joseph Smith was doing some missionary work in the state of Utah and Brigham was threatened by his testimony and feared his followers going "apostate".

So what does he do? His rebuttal to Emma's testimony that Brigham had conspired to have her husband murdered is to say that Emma tried to murder her husband, twice.

It's interesting that over the years of studying the modern Gadianton robbers, i.e., the families behind the Federal Reserve System and their front men and women (I.e., world and national politicians), I have seen, over and over, the ones actually guilty of crimes accuse the innocent of doing the crimes they are guilty of.

Trump is a Russian agent, is the one example overused today. Trump is a traitor.

That accusation is just plain silly, but the criminals stick with the accusation.

It is as plain as day that the main strategy of an evil cabal is to distract attention from themselves and accuse innocent people of the very sins they are guilty of.

Brigham Young did this in the 1866 General Conference and throughout his entire reign as king out in Utah.

It does not take a PhD in history to discern that Brigham Young was totally corrupt and used corrupt means to rise to power, and consolidate power, after Joseph's death.

So if I was faced with having to choose sides, I would pick Joseph over Brigham. On the issue of polygamy, I would basically disregard virtually anything Brigham said.

But if Brigham was part of a masonic, satanic combination, as the Book of Mormon predicts would be the chief threat in these days, one question in my mind is how the Lord honored any priesthood that was being used in His name even for baptisms for several generations down to 2014. Perhaps the answer is that the water baptism is barely half the baptism. The Lord's baptism is what counts.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Cheryl Bruno,
Good to hear from you. I was thinking about you just yesterday believe it or not! I will indeed email you in a day or two just as soon as I take care of some other matters I've been neglecting.

I appreciate your weighing in here. I did not know about your interest in Freemasonry and I do hope Ron will respond on this forum. I've had an interest in Freemasonry for probably forty years or more; read more about it than I care to remember, and if there's one thing I can tell you (which you doubtless already know) it is very difficult to know what sources are reliable and which are not. I believe John Robinson's "Born in Blood" may be one of the better sources on the subject, but there's more misinformation out there on Freemasonry than just about anything I can think of. I also liked Tupper Saussy's "Rulers of Evil" which was more an attempt at pulling together what might be known about the Knights Templar as much as the origins of Masonry, but then I learn (I think) that Freemasonry is not as ancient as I thought, but traceable to sometime around the 16th or 17th centuries or more recent rather than having to do with the mythical Hiram Abiff.

I'm aware that there are other sources I've read that would not entirely line up with Ron Kerran's take. The authors of "Junius and Joseph: The Assassination of a Mormon Prophet"credit (if that's the proper term, more like blame) the local Masons in Missouri and Illinois as being angry at Joseph Smith for building a lodge in Nauvoo without authorization from the Grand Poobahs, and which led directly to his assassination, when it is my understanding that it was John C. Bennett who was responsible for starting a lodge at Nauvoo. Joseph just took the fall for Bennett's wrongdoing. So if anyone should have been in trouble for "giving away the secrets" it should have been Bennett and not Joseph Smith.

Anyhoo, my recollection from reading "Exoneration of Emma, Joseph, and Hyrum" is not fresh on the subject, but I don't recall Kerran's position being that there was no Mormon temple under construction in Nauvoo, just a cautionary reminder that when documents and diaries mention "the temple" one should consider whether that reference was to the Masonic Temple or to the "Mormon" temple, because too often we assume "the temple" is the religious edifice (which really hadn't been built yet) when they might have been talking about the Masonic temple. I'd practically have to read the book all over again to remember what all was in it, so I hope Ron Kerran will jump in here and clarify some of what his beliefs are.

I don't expect to ever get a clear picture of what is and isn't factual about Masonry, but it does seem clear to me that Masons on the frontier were very serious about their devotion to the craft and took their oaths of secrecy very seriously. When we talk I'd like your take on the Santa Ana incident.

Looking forward to talking to you on the phone about all this in a few days, Cheryl. I'll email you soon and we'll go from there. Thanks for writing, and thanks for the link to the article you wrote.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thanks for that link, Steven Retz. A very helpful resource.

Dave P. said...

It still amazes me how little church members actually believe in and adhere to the Book of Mormon- you know, the church's supposed keystone scripture- when it comes to polygamy.

Jacob threw the book at the Nephites and made point after point:
* Polygamy is an abomination at all times.
* The Lamanite men were seen as more righteous for having only one wife.
* Polygamy is a reason for the destruction of Jerusalem.
* Polygamy would lead to the destruction of the Nephites.
* The Lord wanted to raise up a peculiar people/righteous seed, and thus gave commandments on how to do that: Don't live like the people around them (including don't practice polygamy).

But the church continues to attempt to justify the whole practice by saying God would grant an "exception" by taking one sentence out of context. And yet, there isn't a second witness to that statement anywhere in the BoM, but the Nephites did get warned plenty of times that they were ripe for destruction for their whoredoms.

Never be afraid to call a spade a spade when it comes to uncovering a "low IQ moron." After all, there are scriptural instances wherein God Himself will call someone a fool.

Eric Kuntz said...

Well it's a good thing we don't need to know all the sordid details of Smith's womanizing to know that if what he produced (the Mormon Church) was of God or not. Luckily we have the holy word of God to guide us if we will only consider it.  We have Jesus himself having what should be the final word on the matter. 

16 Behold, I have created the SMITH that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.  3 Nephi 22
I suggest you read all of chapter 22.

"...bringeth forth an instrument for his work..." The Mormon Church is the instrument of SMITH's work...not God's.  God allowed it.

BTW, this is not the only reference to SMITH in scripture.  See also Isaiah 41, 44, 46.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Steven Retz, would you please stop referring to "Snufferites"?
As in your opening above " I see sealing different than the Snufferites do."

There is no such creature as a Snufferite. Even Denver Snuffer is not a Snufferite.
There is certainly no doctrinal uniformity among those you refer to as such. They tend look to the Book of Mormon and other standard works for doctrinal purity, not to any man.

Thank you very much. This has been a message from the Society of Knock That Off For The Umpteenth Time Will Ya of Latter-day Saints.

matt lohrke said...

The more I read and learn about Joseph Smith, the more mercurial and enigmatic he becomes. His theology is so all over the map that I don't know if Joseph Smith knew what Joseph Smith believed--which is probably why we've been repeatedly told not trust the arm of flesh. But expressing the opinion that we need to seriously re-evaluate Joseph Smith and what he taught makes one persona non grata in various Mormon circles.

I don't believe he practiced polygamy, but I leave the door open. (Is it unreasonable to believe that he might not have been 100% honest about everything all the time? We've all lied, either directly or through omission). I've found it unwise to get married (pun intended) to any ideas when it comes to Mormonism. I think the best we can say is that we don't know with absolute certainty what happened in Nauvoo. We can evaluate the "facts" as we have them (which, itself, is a bit of a nightmare due to all the forgeries and rewriting of records) and make educated and informed guesses, but until we invite a time-machine, well...

I second Cheryl -- Ron is a friend of mine and he's always been good to me. The Nauvoo Temple was, indeed, Joseph's baby. Baptism for the dead, a truly heretical doctrine and rejection of the atonement, was practiced there. As was the equally wrong "baptism for health." We have contemporary, first-hand, non-hostile, non-Mormon sources who describe Joseph taking them to the temple as late as May 1844. We also have Weeks' original drawings for both the Nauvoo Temple and Masonic Lodge.

Mark said...

Does anyone know about the Happiness Letter from Joseph and it's context? Do we know if that was truly written by Joseph? The alleged context is that it was written after Joseph proposed marriage to Nancy Rigdon (part of why Rigdon had a falling out with Joseph). I came across this Sunstone presentation and was wondering if this letter was even real or another post-facto creation of Brigham Young? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXoC4Fd3exE

Greg said...

Another great blog post. Glad you've returned to blogging.

It's nice to have others considering that all they've been taught regarding Joseph Smith might not be true. Today's church is truly of child of it's polygamist past. I'm amazed how willing most people are to believing rumor, hearsay, and outright fabrication.

Leonard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave P. said...

Of course the inverse of that is, while we don't want to cast blame onto Joseph for things he didn't do, we don't want to go too far in the opposite direction and claim he was blameless entirely. He was just as human and the rest of us and made plenty of mistakes that the church still hasn't fully recovered from (mainly because it refuses to admit those mistakes exist too).

The most common one was his fearing men more than God multiple times throughout his life. As a result, he barely got the Book of Mormon translated and even the original version has "corrections" made by Oliver Cowdery to make the chapters where Christ gives the equivalent to the Sermon on the Mount to the Nephites sound more like the KJB.

And what did God tell Joseph in the BoC? "He has the gift to translate and he shall pretend to have no other gift, for I will give him none." Yet, "somehow," Joseph ended up with more and eventually set himself up as a king (regardless of the legitimacy of his candidacy for US President), leading to an even greater compounding of problems that he had to deal with as a consequence whereas what God originally stated never changed.

It's things like this that make the entire debate on whether or not Joseph practiced polygamy, blacks and the priesthood, and other similar debates nothing more than pointless distractions when the root of the problem is asking the question, "What does the (original) Book of Mormon say and why aren't we following that?" I agree with what David Whitmer said in his final publication. Paraphrased, "It doesn't matter how the Book of Mormon came about, it's still there. Read it for yourself and find out."

"Joseph looked into a hat!" "We take the 'skin of blackness' statement literally and therefore it's racist!" "Muh DNA evidence!" All excuses to ignore what the Book really teaches and continue to "trust in the arm of flesh."

Eric Kuntz said...

There is another straight forward way to be able to know if JS's work after translating the BOM was on his own accord or directed by God.
  
Review his changing doctrine of deity.

The BOM is very clearly a work of monotheism as was JS a Monotheist during the period of the translation.

And Zeezrom said unto him: Thou sayest there is a true and living God. And Amulek said: Yea, there is a true and living God. Now Zeezrom said: Is there more than one God? And he answered, NO.   -Alma 11:26-28

Compare the one God doctrine of the BOM to his doctrine of the Godhead found in the D&C and the purality of gods in his King Follet discourse from 1844.

Genghis Khan said...

Why not denver to ask God about Joseph Smith since he talks to Christ?

Dave P. said...

Eric Kuntz,

Definitely. Don't forget the Lectures on Faith, especially the Fifth. And given that his original version of the First Vision (handwritten in his journal) mentions having only seen "the Lord" and not multiple Personages.

One of the major changes to the BoM starting in only 1835 was inserting "the Son of" in places to try and claim the idea of multiple Gods, when, for example, Nephi's vision in the original clearly states that Mary was "the mother of God in the flesh."

We have to remember that the Brighamite cult doesn't rely on God's simple truths as restored by Joseph, but the marketing hooks of "families are forever" and "becoming Gods" despite both of those having zero support in the BoM. Pretty much everything Joseph said about plurality of gods was attributed to him well after he died.

Matt Linsley said...

Glad you are writing again Rock. Thanks for the list of books I can add to my library! God bless.

SMSmith said...

How many of the alleged sealings to Joseph were done by proxy without Joseph being present (or even aware of them)? I ask this because of the Dec. 1883 sworn statement by Mrs. Mary Ralph (recorded in chpt. 14 of Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy, Vol. 2 at http://restorationbookstore.org/articles/nopoligamy/jsfp-vol2/2chp14.htm ) wherein Mary alleged knowledge of 2 such sealings where Heber C. Kimball and W[m]. Clayton stood as proxy for Joseph. Would anyone have subsequently conflated the proxy with the actual person of Joseph to strengthen their claim to Joseph's complicity? As to John Cook Bennett (August 3, 1804 – August 5, 1867), he manifests all the classic behaviors of psychopathy / sociopathy. His snake-like charm, smoothness, and mendacity might account for much of the 1840s (and subsequent) rumors and troubles.

As to the setup leading to WWI, please see the even deeper background in The James Corbett Report: 3-part series. Part One is found at https://www.corbettreport.com/the-wwi-conspiracy-part-one-to-start-a-war/ . The series and several Q&As and other Corbett interviews concerning WWI are also available: some on YouTube as well.

Eric Kuntz said...

Dave P,
All good and true points. The 'cult' is basically a prison for the LDS people. Until they wake-up and cast off the chains of hell they will remain there. (2 Ne 28:22)

They love to be led around by their foolish and blind guides. (Hel 13:29) The profit won't lead them astray because their prophets says they won't.
 
"families are forever"...LOL. This 'doctrine' does not even make sense from a LDS prospective if you stop to think about it for 2 seconds. That primary song along with "Follow the Prophet" are probably  the two most evil pieces of propaganda the cult uses.

Lynette Norton said...

Welcome back Rock!

I appreciate the time and effort a post like this must take to write.

Just a quick typo that should be changed. In the text you have incorrectly typed Kerran, however, it should be Karren...it is correct on the chapter heading highlighting his book but wrong throughout the post.

Again, thank you for your blog, you are a gem!

matt lohrke said...

To Mark's question -- there's a very good article from a sympathetic source at BYU who argues it probably is not a JS letter. There's no extant original, which was published by John C. Bennett (that should raise some eyebrows), Sidney Rigdon said it wasn't in JS's writing... Yet, despite these facts, it's still used to implicate JS in plural marriage. I tried to find the article just now, but couldn't. I know its out there because I read it about a month ago.

Indeed, the BOM is monotheistic. Jesus Christ is God condescended--and there is only one God. In 1843, a Unitarian minister from nearby Quincy visited Nauvoo and met with JS. He recorded in his journal:

"He showed me some specimens of the hieroglyphics, such as, he says, were on the gold plates. He asked me if I was a Clergyman--and of what denomination--and what were the fundamental doctrines of our faith--on my telling him that we believed in divine Unity--in one God in one person--he said, we don't agree with you there. We believe in three Gods, equal in power and glory. There are three personages in heaven, but those three are not one. I suppose, from what I hear, that Smith makes it a point not to agree with any one in regard to his religious opinions, and adapts himself to the person with whom he talks for the time being..." [Diary, pp. 105-106.]

Was JS being contrarian here or expressing what he believed? If is the former, why would a "prophet of God" engage in that kind of behavior? If it's the latter, well, that's another conversation.

Personally, I think Joseph Smith has become a distraction. There's so much intrigue over polygamy, Zion, temples, "mysteries," and the so-called "second comforter," (Christ said that at no time would the Gentiles see him or hear his voice--we Gentiles are to live by faith and testimony via the Holy Ghost. Snuffer got around this by changing the BOM) that we get sidetracked from just being good Christians, which is what God has asked of us. The doctrine of Christ is so simple that it takes less than one chapter of the BOM to fully explain. There's no mystery to it.

The biggest proof, in my view, that Joseph Smith didn't write the Book of Mormon is his near total ignorance of its doctrine and teachings.


Ed Francom said...

Hi Rock. I personally favor the "third" alternative proposed by one who is watching, in that Joseph having taken on the Davidic Servant role was attempting through the marriage covenant to unite the ancient bloodlines supporting his new role as leader of the world. This actually makes more sense to me than the other propositions you list in the books.

Because it was "spiritual" in nature (not spiritual wifery) in uniting and restoring the kingship of ancient Israel and Judah, he did not need to "consummate" the marriages in the flesh. Later intermarriages would take care of that issue. Accordingly, he was not a "polygamist" in the commonly accepted patterns of thought. Rather, this explains why he denounced the perverted form of polygamy that sprang out of a purely out-worldly act by those who didn't know or understanding what he was really doing.

https://onewhoiswatching.wordpress.com/2015/03/26/the-secret-bloodline/

matt lohrke said...

I have a question I hope someone can answer:

I've heard it said that Joseph Smith was sealing people to him because he had a "connection to heaven."

What is this all about?

I read Hoop's presentation and this comment strikes me as so bizarre:

"There are however,indications that Joseph was practicing something involving sealing and adoption that first began with sealing women and their families to himself and later sealing men and their families to himself...

Likewise, John D. Lee wrote that 'this doctrine [of adoption] extends much further. All persons are required to be adopted to some of the leading men of the Church. In this, however, they have the right of choice, thus forming the links of the chain of priesthood back to the father, Adam, and so on to the second coming of the Messiah'... Any teaching or practice of being sealed to Joseph Smith and to the “fathers in eternal glory” has been lost from institutional Mormonism and the only teaching of adoption on lds.org has reference with the practice of legally adopting children."

QUESTION: Why on earth would the early saints--or anyone--need to be sealed to Joseph Smith or "the Fathers?" If a man or woman has to be sealed to Joseph Smith, or any other man, am I "relying wholly on the merits of Jesus Christ" or on another fallible man? It sounds a bit like literally putting a servant at the gate. This whole concept is nonsense.

"Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all. Amen." (Mosiah 5)

Salvation comes only through faith in Jesus Christ and the infinite and eternal atonement, not being "sealed" to another man:

"I say, that this is the man who receiveth salvation, through the atonement which was prepared from the foundation of the world for all mankind, which ever were since the fall of Adam, or who are, or who ever shall be, even unto the end of the world. And this is the means whereby salvation cometh. And there is none other salvation save this which hath been spoken of; neither are there any conditions whereby man can be saved except the conditions which I have told you." (Mosiah 5)

But, if someone has a good explanation as to why people need to be sealed to people, I'm all ears...

Nathan said...

Matt Lohrke - I also have also read a paper similar to the one you described and have been disappointed that the information isn’t more widely known. Once again, Joseph’s accusers put upon him their misdeeds and in this case it seems obvious that Jon C Bennett was the author of the “happiness letter”.

I’ll take a try at your question about one man’s connection to heaven benefitting a group of people- here is an idea that may at least give you something to think about. At Mount Sinai, God bound Israel to himself by covenant through Moses, to whom he gave the Law. After which Moses built the tabernacle and performed ordinances to fulfill Gods promise. To Aaron, Moses was told “thou shalt be to him instead of God”. Is it possible Joseph was doing a similar thing. A look at Mormon history seems to have many correlations with the people of Israel. Perhaps this was only an intermediate step on the part of God, to gather to himself a family who can withstand his presence.

matt lohrke said...

Nathan --

Appreciate the thoughts. Rhetorical questions, but why imitate Old Testament practices? As I understand it, Exodus 4:16 was written by the Elohist source (who was not fond of Aaron), hundreds of years after the events in question. How reliable is that account? And where does "sealing" come into play? How did this happen? Ceremony, ritual, pronounce some words? The God I believe in invites me to personally come to Him with a broken heart and contrite spirit.

Is this why the remnant folks believe they need Snuffer to act as intermediary in a covenant with God? It's just all so bizarre to me, as is the idea that there has to be a collective "covenant." I heard one guy going on about having to have the sword of Laban, a land covenant, etc. Just go out and help the poor, mourn with the mourners, comfort the comfortless, clothe the naked and feed the hungry. It's really not complicated.

This doesn't even get into the fact that the Mormons are Gentiles, and we read about the Gentiles:

"And it came to pass after my father had spoken these words he spake unto my brethren concerning the gospel which should be preached among the Jews, and also concerning the dwindling of the Jews in unbelief. And after they had slain the Messiah, who should come, and after he had been slain he should rise from the dead, and should make himself manifest, by the Holy Ghost, unto the Gentiles." (1 Nephi 10)

And as I noted above, Christ said to the Nephites:

"And they understood me not that I said they shall hear my voice; and they understood me not that the Gentiles should not at any time hear my voice—that I should not manifest myself unto them save it were by the Holy Ghost. But behold, ye (the House of Israel) have both heard my voice and seen me...And blessed are the Gentiles, because of their belief in me, in and of the Holy Ghost, which witnesses unto them of me and of the Father." (3 Nephi 15, 16)

If Joseph Smith is a Gentile, and according to the title page of the BOM and Kirtland Dedicatory Prayer, he is, well...

I think Joseph Smith had a very active and speculative theological imagination, and we need to carefully consider and evaluate what he said and did and not just buy into something because "Joseph Smith said..." He's a man, and trusting in the arm of flesh is a fool's errand.

Peter Brown said...

The Covenant concept isn't simply isolated to the Deuteronomist rewrite of the Torah. Perhaps there is some drift, but Isaiah, heavily quoted by Nephi, Jacob, Mormon, and commended by Jesus himself to study, and his contemporaries and successors (Micah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, etc.) are pretty explicit with the ideas of a sort of group salvation, a nation of people being redeemed by covenant, the House of Israel. They weren't part of the Deutoronomist rewrite per say, with perhaps meddling in some of the pronoun interpretations (Cyrus, for example) because it was too contemporary and it was prophecy and not history and "sealed" to make it hard to understand as per Isaiah. I recommend the prophetic passages in the Old Testament over the historical passages that culminate from the time of Moses. And Jesus seems pretty fond of it as well both in the New Testament and in the Book of Mormon.

In a way, it's really one of the novelties of Mormonism, and it's right in the Isaiah part of the BOM. Reform Theology became focused on grace and individual salvation, moving away from the nonsense of Catholic intercession, correctly so, but I believe it over-corrected in the area of fulfilling the Zion-covenant prophecies in scripture. It's why most Christians are rapture-oriented, dispensationalists who think Jesus will take them to Heaven prior to any troubles. They don't have a good answer for Isaiah. Churches are simply service stations for individual salvation. While I believe that actually COULD be true if a person takes time to do their homework and come to the Lord, light and knowledge help make that process work better. Christianity preaches a closed canon, which makes that a more difficult process.

I think if we merely view Mormonism as a re-focusing on a more correct view of reform theology of individual grace, and simply see it as a step in the Reformation, we will miss things.

There are some that see Snuffer as the one to help deliver that covenant. Time will tell. As he says, do the work, then claim the mantle. But you are totally right about priorities. If we do NOT help the poor, etc. will the Power of the Lord ever settle on a people, with or without a leader, to fulfill the covenant promises? Probably not. But if you go out and simply do the things YOU are supposed to do, are we also missing the boat at creating a Zion community? I understand the skepticism because others have claimed to do such things, and in the end, it has made it worse.

We can be careful of Joseph Smith, true, but we must also be careful of our own understanding. That is also trusting in the arm of flesh. My advise is to keep an open and wondering mind, willing to be changed by new information.

Underdog2 said...

Peter,

Thanks. Well said.

Denver encourages every soul to rise up in this life and make the first ascension to God while in the flesh. Some have done so. Others will. Perhaps a great many will.

But if there are believers who cannot or will not do so in this life, Denver teaches that the temple (yet to be built) is the means God will provide to allow the “least of the Saints” to likewise obtain a hope in Christ by an authorized covenant which will bind on earth and in heaven.

Denver says that then they become likewise heirs of salvation and part of the great congregation to whom the Lord will proclaim: “Well done!”

They will have a legitimate and authorized means for laying ahold of the promise of eternal life and continuing the long path of ascent to the Throne of God to dwell with Him and Christ.

But is being a part of a group enough to get you to the temple, and just getting a temple recommend and scheduling an appointment to take out your endowments?

I hardly think so. I think the Lord or his angels will have to directly speak to you.

matt lohrke said...

Underdog:

How do you get around Jesus telling the Nephites that He would not any time reveal himself to the Gentiles, save by the Holy Ghost? Joseph Smith and the Mormons are all Gentiles. Denver got around it by rewriting that passage in the Book of Mormon, but how would you explain it?

"...and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile." (2 Nephi 26)

I don't see any collective salvation here, nor any reason why I need to be part of a group, nor any reason to be "sealed" to Joseph Smith or "the fathers." Nor do I see the need for a "temple" or any other special building to receive everything God has to give.

You write: "They will have a legitimate and authorized means for laying ahold of the promise of eternal life and continuing the long path of ascent to the Throne of God to dwell with Him and Christ."

What are these "legitimate" and "authorized" means? Jesus told me to offer a broken heart and contrite spirit and help out when and where I can. Also, Jesus Christ is God. We can't dwell with Christ and God, because they're the same person.

Has anyone stopped to consider that maybe, just maybe, Denver Snuffer, and Joseph Smith before, are wrong?

Underdog2 said...

Matt,

Sure they could be wrong, but about what specifically?

What does "by the Holy Ghost" mean?

I agree with 2 Nephi 26. I'm not preaching a group salvation. Don't believe it. Don't preach it. I said above, "I hardly think so."

Look, I have lots of unanswered questions myself. I wish it was easy to get the Lord to reveal things to me, but it isn't. Looks like you too have questions.

As far as Joseph and Denver, reading their writings is, to me, like trying to drink from a fire hydrant blasting truth out. Kind of hard. It's like getting baked in the sun at Noon day. They both are a fountain of truth, according to my spiritual eyes, and what they reveal is frequently, I hate to say it, over my head. But it tastes good to my soul. I was repeating above what Denver has previously said. As is frequently the case with reading the writings of prophets, they raise more questions and challenge the mind to think outside the box.

Peter Brown said...

Underdog,

I think that's a nice idea. IF a temple can be built where angels attend, a cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night, then perhaps it can be a tool to help bridge the gap. I understand why folks would be skeptical of such an endeavor. I think it's worthy, but if efforts are made to build something and it's more like the Hare Krishna temple in Spanish Fork when all is said and done, then it's a great waste of time. Let's hope that those seeking to undertake such an effort have both the Will and the Power of the Lord to attend it.

matt lohrke said...

Underdog --

Fair question. I should have clarified -- wrong about temple theology, ascension theology, sealing people to people, archaic covenants, priesthood, authority, etc. It seems there's a fairly large group of people convinced that unless they have an "audience" with Christ in this life in the flesh, they cannot be saved. Talk about looking beyond the mark...

If some "prophetic" statement is over our heads, perhaps we ought to remember Nephi's words:

"...for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men." If it's not plain and simple, we need to have a hard think about it.

I listened to all of Denver's talks multiple times over, read a few books, studied the talks and took it all to the Lord. My answer was: stay away. Don't get involved. That was about 2016 (?). I occasionally check it just to see what people are talking about, but I put him on the shelf that day. Whenever I got back and reread something of his, it's very alarming. I disagree with him vehemently on questions of Christology, MMP, redemption, and is changes to the BOM. I don't recognize his Jesus at all. Don't know how he came to his conclusions other than he was deceived. For BOM prophets, Jesus is God condescended--the one and only God. Denver's Jesus achieved godhood through multiple mortal probations. It's insanity.

My only real question is Joseph Smith. I can't figure the guy out. A lot of his revelations (most?) are passages lifted from the Bible and stitched together in nonsensical fashion. They don't pass scrutiny. (I have plenty of examples). Abraham and Moses conflict with the BOM in many ways. He received "revelations" for things were previously revealed in the BOM. He got Lucifer wrong in D&C 76. Butchered and rearranged/edited/added to the Isaiah passages in D&C 133. Also copied the bit about the "angel" from Revelation into D&C 133, but that was a mistranslation in Revelation and should have been "eagle," so he copied the error. He didn't understand the difference between Greek and Hebrew names in the New Testament, and regularly confused Elias/Elijah and Esaias/Isaiah. Didn't really understand Hebrew prophecy, which he took literally when its meant to be taken allegorically (mountain of the LORD's house, for example, is not a literal temple). It appears he even got the "second comforter" of John 14 wrong. Baptism for the dead is a heretical doctrine--as is any proxy ordinance (yet Denver describes meeting 11 relatives at the Jordan temple who, with him, formed a quorum, and that they were waiting for the "robes of righteousness." oooook.) He allegedly wrote animal sacrifice would return in an 1840 discourse, nullifying the words of Christ to the Nephites. There's nothing in the BOM about patrilineal priesthood prior to Christ--it was solely based on one's faith and righteousness. Researchers have found some 300 references to Adam Clarke's Bible Commentary in the so-called "Inspired Version." The 1838 account of the First Vision is markedly similar to many other alleged Theophanies in Western NY during the same timeframe.

I'm not anti-Joseph Smith. Quite the contrary. But I think we need to have some very serious conversations about his doctrine.

Dave P. said...

It's definitely amazing how Joseph ended up digging himself into a hole as a result of the one decision that basically screwed him over for the rest of his life.

God: Okay, Joseph, so you just barely managed to translate the Book of Mormon and get it published despite screwing up nearly every step of the way. Your job is done. Pretend to have no other gift and live a humble life spreading my word.
Joseph: Hmm... nah! I think I'll choose to set myself up as a king and declare revelations from you that "just happen" to align with the carnal desires of my heart, instead.

The rest is history.

Then, near the end of his life:

God: Okay, Joseph, you've witnessed and suffered the consequences of choosing to become a king: The church is a mess, infiltrators are plotting your downfall, and it will only get worse. Retreat to the mountains to complete your repentance, then return and clean things up.
Joseph: But my wife said people called me a coward, so I'm turning around and going to Carthage.

And it came to pass, that the sounds of a massive face palm echoed through the firmament.

matt lohrke said...

John Corrill wrote in '39:

“I have left you, not because I disbelieve the bible, for I believe in God, the Saviour, and religion the same as ever; but when I retrace our track, and view the doings of the church for six years past, I can see nothing that convinces me that God has been our leader; calculation after calculation has failed, and plan after plan has been overthrown, and our prophet seemed not to know the event till too late. If he said go up and prosper, still we did not prosper; but have labored and toiled, and waded through trials, difficulties, and temptations, of various kinds, in hope of deliverance. But no deliverance came. The promises failed, and time after time we have been disappointed; and still were commanded, in the most rigid manner, to follow him, which the church did, until many were led into the commission of crime; have been apprehended and broken down by their opponents, and many have been obliged to abandon their country, their families, and all they possessed, and great affliction has been brought upon the whole church. What shall we say to these things? Did not your prophet proclaim in your ears that the day was your own, and you should overcome; when in less than a week you were all made prisoners of war, and you would have been exterminated, had it not been for the exertions and influence of a few dissenters, and the humane and manly spirit of a certain officer?” (A Brief History of the Church of Christ of Latter-Day Saints)



Dave P. said...

Thomas B. Marsh and David Whitmer both said basically the same thing. Of course, rather than heed the calls to repent, the church claims Marsh "apostatized" over milk strippings while Whitmer had to literally flee for his life from the Danites.

Of course, somewhat going back to the polygamy issue, Oliver Cowdery left because of his claimed witness that Joseph committed adultery in an affair with Fanny Alger. That happened before the greater mess of polygamy in general.

Certainly doesn't help the church's case.

matt lohrke said...

To Dave P's point, David Whitmer wrote:

"In Kirtland, Ohio, in 1831, Rigdon would expound the Old Testament scriptures of the Bible and Book of Mormon (in his way) to Joseph, concerning the priesthood, high priests, etc., and would persuade Brother Joseph to inquire of the Lord about this doctrine and that doctrine, and of course a revelation would always come just as they desired it...Rigdon finally persuaded Brother Joseph to believe that the high priests which had such great power in ancient times, should be in the Church of Christ to-day. He had Brother Joseph inquire of the Lord about it, and they received an answer according to their erring desires."

If you trace the priesthood chronology of D&C 84, it doesn't add up ("Jeremy" is the anglicized version of Jeremiah, "Esaias" is the Greek version of Isaiah, who most certainly didn't live in the time of Abraham. "Elihu" only appears in the Book of Job, which is an allegory, not history.) It's almost like he was just pulling names out of a hat.

Peter Brown said...

When we confront what I call the David Whitmer wing of Mormonism, I think we need to parse the issues one of a few ways.

1) Whitmer was largely correct in his assessment of the situation. The Gifts of the Spirit that were there at the beginning of the movement, failed soon thereafter. There were revelations from Joseph that gave us new light and knowledge, which started to fade by the mid 1830's.

2) How much of it can be laid at Joseph's feet? Whitmer and Cowdery believe Joseph was the instigator. But I'm not so sure. Joseph, like many prophets and mystics, are often not equipped to deal with leadership. Others like to use the "prophet" as a macguffin for their own purposes. A 20th Century example is the Emperor of Japan. He was largely seen as a god to the Japanese, but really he held very little power, the the military used him for their own purposes, at least until he stepped up to help secure the surrender of the country. Likewise in Mormon history, Joseph's name was used to carry on all sorts of deeds, but I wonder how much of his name has been taken in vain?

3) A character study of Joseph find someone who was immensely gullible and taken in by stronger personalities who could corral the calves. I think he hated leading. I see Joseph Smith not as the creator of Mormonism as much as a pawn of Mormonism. At the end of it all, he was really just a prop.

4) His reaction to those who reacted against things being done in his name showed another level of gullibility and weakness. I believe he had a few worm-tongues who would sully the names of those who wouldn't get with the program. He would then lash out at their disloyalty because he also had a temper. But it was a temper with no bite in it. It was usually simply very reactive. His responses to his female accusers, for example, are hard to read today and not very #metoo.

However, on his contemplative musings, his teachings, and his public sermons, I give a full-blooded hearing and I tame my skepticism. I believe he had a bead on the heavens when he put his mind to it. He had a gift. And he was trying to teach people how to get the gift themselves. This was almost parallel to the legalisms and structure that were popping up alongside him. Toward the end, they started to diverge. And I think he was starting to get a spine. And that's what killed him.

matt lohrke said...

Fine observations, Peter.

Which of the early 1830s revelation, in your estimation, gave us more light and truth--above and beyond the Book of Mormon? (Genuinely interested). I read those early revelations and see someone imitating Paul (regularly borrowing phrases and ideas), trying to sound authoritative. I see the revelations given at the Hiram, OH conference (D&C 1, 45, 133) and the dozens and dozens of sentences lifted straight from Isaiah, Joel, Hebrews, Corinthians, etc...

In D&C 29 and 49 we have very subtle voice shifts, where presumably Jesus is speaking, but then starts referring to Jesus in the 3rd person, then shifts back to first person.

My biggest concern with Joseph Smith is that he did not seem to understand, or know, that Jesus Christ is God. Nephi wrote that "there is a God, and He is Christ." (2 Nephi 11) Abinadi said, "God himself shall down and redeem his people," (Mosiah 15). Nephi saw "the everlasting Father on the cross," (1 Nephi 11, 1830 BOM) the other Nephi wrote that "Nephi also testified of these things, and also almost all of our fathers, even down to this time; yea, they have testified of the coming of Christ, and have looked forward, and have rejoiced in his day which is to come. And behold, he is God, and he is with them, and he did manifest himself unto them..." (Helaman 8) King Benjamin said "For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay..." (Mosiah 3)

Moroni wrote that Jesus "ministered unto [the Brother of Jared] even as he ministered unto the Nephites; and all this, that this man might know that he was God, because of the many great works which the Lord had showed unto him." (Ether 3)

The purpose of the Book of Mormon was to "convince the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ--the Eternal God."

If all the holy prophets from the beginning time knew that God--the one and only God according to Zeezrom's questioning of Amulek--was coming into his creation, why doesn't Joseph Smith know this? And by extension, why doesn't Denver Snuffer know this? Why don't any of the people who have claimed the "Second Comforter" know this?

Why did Joseph write or sign off on Lecture 5, which states:

"..all will agree in this that [Christ] is the prototype or standard of salvation, or in other words, that he is a saved being. And if we should continue our interrogation, and ask how it is that he is saved, the answer would be, because he is a just and holy being; and if he were any thing different from what he is he would not be saved; for his salvation depends on his being precisely what he is and nothing else; for if it were possible for him to change in the least degree, so sure he would fail of salvation and lose all his dominion, power, authority and glory, which constitutes salvation; for salvation consists in the glory, authority, majesty, power and dominion which Jehovah possesses, and in nothing else; and no being can possess it but himself or one like him."

Jesus is a "saved being?" The infinite and eternal God who was and is from eternity to all eternity, who spoke the world into existence, whose footstool is earth, who left his heavenly throne, to take upon him mortality and offer himself as a sacrifice for sin is "saved being" and could have "failed salvation" by not being who he is?

Jesus isn't a "saved being," He is salvation. I can't be exactly as He is, which is precisely why He did what He did.

matt lohrke said...

I'll just add one more and leave it at that. Everyone has to make their own conclusions...

"And the angel spake unto me, saying: These last records, which thou hast seen among the Gentiles (BOM), shall establish the truth of the first, which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved. And they must come according to the words which shall be established by the mouth of the Lamb; and the words of the Lamb shall be made known in the records of thy seed, as well as in the records of the twelve apostles of the Lamb; wherefore they both shall be established in one; for there is one God and one Shepherd over all the earth." (1 Nephi 13, 1830 BOM)

Jared Livesey said...


This seems relevant given the course of the conversation.

https://mouthofthelamb.blogspot.com/

matt lohrke said...

Very relevant indeed. The Gospel and Doctrine of Christ are simple. So simple, that it takes about one page of the Book of Mormon to summarize.

Dave P. said...

A few things to add to what you said, matt,

First, part of what you quoted from Nephi's vision is extremely important, "and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them." In this case, "them" refers not to the apostles, but to the Bible and Book of Mormon. The statement is referring to plain and precious truths taken away from both books! What was taken from the BoM starting with the second printing and persists today? The very fact that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh!

Second, Christ is indeed very clear as to what His doctrine is when speaking to the Nephites: Repent and be baptized. It's important enough that He mentions it three times, which is a big deal in Hebraic text. The connotation makes it even more important that saying "most important" in English and is basically the most superlative expression of important in Hebrew. Baptism by one who holds authority is the only saving ordinance, and everyone who is baptized receives that same authority, hence women and children have always held "the priesthood" (the details of that are another discussion entirely). We also can't forget what Christ said at the end, "This is my doctrine, and anyone who teaches more of less than this cometh not of me, but of evil." What are the fruits of the extra ordinances in the corporate LDS church? An elitist hierarchy, iniquity, blind obedience, blood oaths akin to secret combinations, and theft by deception.

And, finally, going back to Joseph not being a very good leader. That again goes back to the fact that he tried to do what he wasn't called to. His gift was to translate the Book of Mormon, his calling was first elder. He tried to take on more than he could chew and dealt with the aftermath for years.

matt lohrke said...

Dave - It's amazing to me just how many people are coming to the same conclusion independently: Jesus Christ is the one and only God. An acquaintance on facebook called me one day to tell me he had a similar experience. He was reading the official LDS BOM and came across the 1 Nephi 11 passages where "son of" was added. As he was reading, he said a voice stopped him and said, "that's not right." He didn't know what it meant. He called his friend who had a copy of the 1830 BOM asked him to read back the same passages -- he was flabbergasted.

It's also amazing to me how the LDS try to get around "more or less than this cometh not of me, but of evil." They try to tell Jesus didn't really mean that.

Wild times we live in.

Dave P. said...

One thing that Joseph Smith taught that he got right was that a true revelation from God will never contradict His word or a previous revelation.

Rather than heed the calls to repent, the church attempts to justify its sins because of the trap of "modern revelation" that somehow has more authority than canonized scripture no matter what it says. Hence why they think they can fly with the "Jesus didn't really mean that," excuse. Doubly ironic given the BoM outright states to feast upon the words of Christ, and no other.

matt lohrke said...

"Modern revelation" is Mormonism's deus ex machina. There's no obstacle that can't be overcome by invoking it.

dx said...

The real puzzle is why would God go to the trouble of restoring the church via Joseph Smith knowing it would all be obscured behind endless scandals attached to him?

matt lohrke said...

Perhaps because God knew one day the Book of Mormon would have to be disassociated from Restoration churches, and specifically from Joseph Smith.

Joseph's theology is incompatible with Christ's gospel and doctrine outlined in the Book of Mormon. Joseph dabbled, apparently, in esoteric teachings like kabbalah, hermetics, and gnosticism. He went above and beyond what wad required of him and it sank him.

As I mentioned earlier, the biggest proof of BOM authenticity is Joseph's ignorance of it. The BOM had to be divorced from Mormonism, because Mormons keep reconciling the BOM against Joseph Smith, rather than than reconciling Joseph Smith against the BOM.

Dave P. said...

I'm not near my notes to double check some sources, so I'm paraphrasing from memory:

1. One thing we have to remember is the saga with God allowing everything that happened as a result of Joseph Smith's choices and mistakes is because the Lord respects free agency.

2. People think that the Restoration through Joseph Smith was the only one, yet the BOM (primarily in 2 Nephi and Mormon, IIRC) allude to a Second Restoration, meaning not everything has been fulfilled yet. The section in the D&C referring to the church being under condemnation for treating the Book of Mormon too lightly has not been rescinded and will not until the Book of Mormon is brought forth out of obscurity.

3. Given the state of the promised land today, another major culling will likely have to take place before another period of repentance. Given how far too many people are hung up over the literal interpretation of the "skin of blackness" placed on the Lamanites and cry "racism against black people" rather than an allegorical sense used in both the Bible and Book of Mormon for that and other issues, people will continue to look beyond the mark until they repent or something happens to humble them.

matt lohrke said...

Just today I had a conversation with a Facebook friend who believes the BOM is not a legitimate book because it doesn't address Levitical priesthood, appears to have no connection to Hebrew culture, has Greek words (baptize, for example), copied the Sermon on the Mount (but ignored other of Jesus' teachings), so on and so forth. He's a Torah guy, and apparently thinks we ought to follow it. I see an emerging trend of Mormons who believe this as well. I mean, if you want to go blow on shofar, knock yourself out. But why?

Dave P. said...

It again shows how lightly those Mormons treat what is supposed to be their keystone scripture.

Eric Kuntz said...

Yeah the 'cult' seems to be trying to distance itself from the BOM. It's obvious why...the BOM condemns most everything the cult claims as it's core beliefs...temple work, baptism of children, priesthood authority, the nature of God, the plan of salvation, etc.

Question: Since Rusty finally got his pet peeve project laid down as law of removing the nickname Mormons from the cult, does anyone here know if TBM's are offended if you still call them Mormon?

matt lohrke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
matt lohrke said...

Eric - it was you who first planted the idea that Jesus is God in my brain, probably almost two years ago... I went back and forth on it for months. It was such a difficult concept to grasp because of my programming. The Holy Spirit intervened and bore witness, just as Christ said it would. It fundamentally changed my worldview. I can't even think about two different personages. There's only one. Incredible. Thank you.

Dave P. said...

Haven't seen any significant changes related to people caring if others use the term "Mormons" or not, especially since this isn't the first time there's been a corporate presidential dictate to stop using the term.

The funny thing is this goes back to one thing that continually drove Joseph Smith crazy during his tenure as "king" because he continually lamented that the one thing people would never willingly let go of was "tradition."

Shahram said...

Welcome back from the hiatus, Rock. Always enjoy your comments on the truth. Keep up the good work.

Robin Hood said...

Denver Snuffer is correct (and that's something I never thought I'd say)… it really is impossible to get to the bottom of this plural marriage/polygamy issue. There is reasonably good quality evidence on both sides of the argument, with no definitive and controversy satisfying answers available. The evidence can and does point both ways.
In the end it comes down to who we believe and who we don't.
That's the best any of us can do in the circumstances.

matt lohrke said...

True. I'd personally like to see everyone move on. It's such a distraction, both on the pro and con sides.

Dave P. said...

The problem is that it's not going to go away any time soon because the powers that be want it to be an endless distraction and that will be the case so long as people continue to focus on who is right rather than what is right: That "what" being that polygamy is an abomination before God and that there are no exceptions, which the Book of Mormon and New Testament make clear.

To admit that the church as been wrong about the stance this whole time would also force it to admit that the doctrine of, "The prophet will never lead the church astray," has always been false but the cult has bought into it hook, line, and sinker for the past 130 years. People would much rather live in a comfortable delusion than face an uncomfortable truth.

So, in the end, did Joseph Smith practice polygamy? It doesn't matter! If he did, then he had to deal with the consequences. If he didn't, kudos to him, but that didn't stop the practice from becoming mainstream within the church and it's long past time to condemn the practice and abandon the idea that any re-institution will be authorized by God.

matt lohrke said...

I agree 100% -- it doesn't matter. If he did, shame on him. I can see that may have believed it was part of the "ancient order of things" and later repented of it. But we can never know for sure either way. Let it be forgotten and let us move on to being good Christians.

Dave P. said...

Headline from a satire site I follow on Twitter when it comes to Mitt Romney's grandstanding yesterday:

"Follower Of Joseph Smith Urges Nation To Reject Morally Flawed Leaders"

Given the mainstream view of Joseph Smith: Ouch!

Peter Brown said...

Matt you wrote:

Which of the early 1830s revelation, in your estimation, gave us more light and truth--above and beyond the Book of Mormon? (Genuinely interested)?

The D&C mostly establishes a pattern to understand how to go get revelation, and sometimes how NOT to get revelation, as God provides examples of error, sometimes directed at Joseph Smith. It's a list of examples, really, and there is value there. On the doctrinal front you have the early Book of Commandments writings, which outlined a list of attributes that invited to a call, and they weren't based on some office calling, but on virtues and desires. It doesn't really matter if they appear lifted from the Bible. Many of the passages of the Book of Mormon have the same influence on a certain level. So that can't necessarily disqualify it, particularly if the revelation voice is Jesus. That would be the correlating factor.

Then you have doctrinal and prophetic expounding in D&C 45, 88, 93, 101, 121, to name a few. The Doctrine and Covenants is riddled with error, but not without scriptural value in many places.

Then you have your problems with Joseph's theology. Well . . . it all determines on how you define "god," I guess. Eternal is a title, right? Or is it the reformed theology creedal construct? I tend to trust Joseph on this because he saw God. It's quite clear Joseph thought Jesus was God, and the Book of Mormon does too, punctuation aside. But perhaps not the trinitarian idea that Christianity draws needless boundaries over. In Joseph's theology Jesus IS your God, your Father, but then Jesus has a Father. There is a chained guru relationship. It certainly has that feel in the Lectures and in the Words.

When you say that the Book of Mormon gospel is "come unto Christ" and there is no gnosticism or esotericism, I disagree. Coming unto Christ has some basic entry requirements, but enduring to the end may have some mystery, and the lives and visions of the exemplars in Lehi, Nephi, Jacob, Isaiah, Alma, all give us a template to follow. Saying God only ministers by the Holy Ghost is again, often a reform theology excuse for lack of visions and miracles. God is not a changing God, so he should visit you and me with knowledge. I think the baptism of fire is all one needs for salvation, but salvation is NOT enduring to the end. That can be interpreted as a different idea altogether. Coming unto Christ may be a very literal construct. The End may be also seeing Him. There is room in the Book of Mormon for all of this theology.

matt lohrke said...

Did Joseph Smith really see God? I sincerely doubt it.

According to 84 (1832), no one can see the face of God and live without the "ordinances" and "priesthood," yet a 14/15/16/17 year old boy saw the face of God without it. The Articles and Covenants of the Church of Christ (D&C 20) make no mention of the First Vision. The Lectures on Faith (most likely penned by Rigdon) make no mention of the First Vision.

There is a severe blind spot in the restoration movements when it comes to Joseph Smith. Few, if any, appear to actually consider whether not Joseph Smith was 100% truthful 100% of the time. It's a big deal because the foundation of Mormonism is not the BOM or even Jesus Christ--it's Joseph Smith.

As far as God ministering to the Gentiles by the Holy Ghost, we have to use the terminology set forth by the Book of Mormon itself. In the BOM, the gentiles are the European settlers to whom the Book of Mormon was given. This is stated several times over. In the Kirtland dedicatory prayer, Joseph identified the Mormons as Gentiles. The Book of Mormon title page reads that it could forth "by way of the Gentile."

Mormon wrote, "And now behold, I say unto you that when the Lord shall see fit, in his wisdom, that these sayings shall come unto the Gentiles according to his word, then ye may know that the covenant which the Father hath made with the children of Israel, concerning their restoration to the lands of their inheritance, is already beginning to be fulfilled..."

Mormons are Gentiles.

Nephi wrote:

"And as I spake concerning the convincing of the Jews, that Jesus is the very Christ, it must needs be that the Gentiles be convinced also that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God; And that he manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, working mighty miracles, signs, and wonders, among the children of men according to their faith." (2 Nephi 26)

Christ at Bountiful when He said "And they understood me not that I said they shall hear my voice; and they understood me not that the Gentiles should not any time hear my voice—that I should not manifest myself unto them save it were by the Holy Ghost. But behold, ye (the House of Israel) have both heard my voice, and seen me...And blessed are the Gentiles, because of their belief in me, in and of the Holy Ghost, which witnesses unto them of me and of the Father." (3 Nephi 15, 16)

"Not at any time" means "not at any time."

Christ also said, "And blessed are the Gentiles, because of their belief in me, in and of the Holy Ghost, which witnesses unto them of me and of the Father. Behold, because of their belief in me, saith the Father, and because of the unbelief of you, O house of Israel, in the latter day shall the truth come unto the Gentiles, that the fulness of these things shall be made known unto them. " (3 Nephi 26)

So, if the Mormons are Gentiles, or a subset of Gentiles, and BOM authors considered Joseph Smith a Gentile (according to the title page) and Christ said "at no time will I manifest myself unto the Gentiles save it be by the Holy Ghost," we have to rethink some things. I don't think we can say Christ "didn't really mean what He said." (Though I hear that reasoning frequently.)

I define God the way BOM prophet-writers describe God: the Everlasting God, Eternal Father, King of Heaven, and Great Creator who condescended into mortality in the person of Jesus Christ. The one and only God. So my question: if God is indeed the same, and I believe He is, why doesn't Joseph Smith know what Book of Mormon prophets knew? Because he doesn't know.

If he had that experience, I would think it would've been seared into his memory and he would boldly declare what all the holy prophets declared of Christ: that "he is God." (Helaman 8)

EternalWarfare4Souls said...

So this is an open minded question, not to be taken as accusatory or an attempt to be contradictory. If Jesus is God:

A. Who was he praying to during his life?
B. Why does he direct us to pray to the Father?
C. Who is His Father that he repeatedly refer to during his mortal ministry?

Peter Brown said...

Matt you said?

Did Joseph Smith really see God? I sincerely doubt it.

According to 84 (1832), no one can see the face of God and live without the "ordinances" and "priesthood," yet a 14/15/16/17 year old boy saw the face of God without it. The Articles and Covenants of the Church of Christ (D&C 20) make no mention of the First Vision. The Lectures on Faith (most likely penned by Rigdon) make no mention of the First Vision.

So I believe Joseph. Alma's construct of the Priesthood and even section 84 discuss the higher priesthood being without office, but of God. God gave Moses, and by comparison and likewise, Mormons, a lesser system, because they could not handle the first. I believe Joseph wasn't spit-balling a new system in 1832 and 1834 and 1838 and 1841. He was being like unto Moses according to these passages. He was explaining why he was introducing new things to a people that couldn't handle the higher things.

We've talked about Joseph Smith before. His mistakes aren't a problem, we know they happened. But when he gave doctrine, how do you know it was a mistake? If you are relying upon your own Biblical interpretation, or upon reformation theology and Biblical scholarship to define against Joseph's mistakes, then I consider that a difficult challenge to overcome.

I know Mormons are Gentiles, but a remnant are also adopted into the House of Israel before the Second Coming. This is Isaiah and it's in 2 Nephi and it forms a new and everlasting covenant and these people see the face of God. So if you're adopted are you a Gentile?

Does Christ mean "hearing his voice" in terms of a natural visit to them where they hear the words of Christ directly from HIM and not through the power of the Holy Ghost.

I think this passage allows some further interpretation when included with other passages, particularly in terms of the adoption of the remnant into the House of Israel. So does a Gentile get adopted individually before they see God? Does the very idea that seeing God mean you are no longer a Gentile. Yes we know Mormons are Gentiles, but do they stay Gentiles? According to the scriptures, the righteous of them do not.

Lots to ponder. I would careful about drawing too many conclusions considering Joseph Smith's theology. It finder it wiser to remain open-minded.

Sandy said...

Joseph Smith could have seen the face of Christ... and lived. There are those who have. And seeing that all the disciples of Christ actually walked with Him and lived.. some or at least one who still lives... I think it is very likely that Joseph saw Christ.

I don't believe Oliver Cowdery did, however... His life proved it...

matt lohrke said...

"And thus the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit, or the Son to the Father, being one God, suffereth temptation, and yieldeth not to the temptation, but suffereth himself to be mocked, and scourged, and cast out, and disowned by his people." (Mosiah 15)

All mortal flesh is subject to the commandments.

God / Father / Spirit
Jesus / Son / Flesh

That Jesus is God is laid out:

Isaiah 43-45: No other God, no other Savior
BOM Title page: Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God
1 Nephi 11 (1830) - the condescension of God, Nephi sees Everlasting God on the Cross
1 Nephi (1830) - BOM to show that the lamb of God is the Eternal Father, one God and One shepherd.
1 Nephi 19 - God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob yeildeth himself as a man.
2 Nephi 9 - God would show himself in the body to those in Jerusalem
2 Nephi 26 - Gentiles must be convinced Jesus is the Eternal God
Mosiah 4:1 - Jesus Christ created all things in heaven and earth
Mosiah 7 - Abinadi killed because he said God himself would redeem His people
Mosiah 13 - God himself would redeem his people
Mosiah 15 - God himself would redeem his people / "the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son—And they are one God."
Alma 11 - There is only One God
Helaman 8 - Jesus is God, He manifested Himself to all the holy prophets
3 Nephi 1:13-14 - the "son" because of the flesh, not the literal son.
Ether 3 - The brother of Jared had a perfect knowledge of God
Mormon 9 - "the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and it is that same God who created the heavens and the earth and all things that in them are. Behold, he created Adam and by Adam came the fall of man. And because of the fall of man came Jesus Christ, even the Father and the Son."

Jesus at Bountiful:

I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth and have been slain for the sins of the world....And when they had all gone forth and had witnessed for themselves they did cry out with one accord, saying: “Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus and did worship him.”

It's literally everywhere...

Peter Brown said...

Of course Jesus is God. His is my God. I pray to him.

But it doesn't mean Jesus doesn't have his own Father, who is his God.

Since Jesus said this all the time and it's all over the place, it's not that esoteric.

matt lohrke said...

Peter - I just rely on the Book of Mormon. One of the purposes of the Book of Mormon was to declare to the world that the Lamb of God is the Eternal God, and that there's one God and Shepherd over the whole earth. It's on the title page even.

I'm afraid I don't really know anything about the Reform Theology, nor am I interpreting scripture. I copy and paste directly from the BOM. But in Mormonism, Joseph Smith is invariably privileged over the BOM and its prophets.

The hard truth is that the 1832 account borrows the language of Lehi's account and alludes to Luke 2. The various accounts are similar to other theophanies recorded in upstate NY, which were published well before Joseph Smith's (quiet place, forest, brilliant light, father and son, overpowering evil force, etc.) Few, if any, knew about the First Vision. And as mentioned, none of the church's founding documents mention it.

Throughout the BOM there are repeated, clear distinctions between lineal Israel and the Gentiles. Christ said to the Nephites that he still needed to visit the other branches of the House of Israel to whom he had not manifested himself. But the Gentiles, not so much. Joseph himself made the distinction between Israel and Gentiles in the Kirtland dedicatory prayer.

Perhaps the reason JS's theology is so confusing is because He never actually experienced what he claimed to experience. There was no vacillation or hesitation from the Nephite prophets on the nature of God:

"And now, as I, Moroni, said I could not make a full account of these things which are written, therefore it sufficeth me to say that Jesus showed himself unto this man in the spirit, even after the manner and in the likeness of the same body even as he showed himself unto the Nephites. And he ministered unto him even as he ministered unto the Nephites; and all this, that this man might know that he was God, because of the many great works which the Lord had showed unto him. And because of the knowledge of this man he could not be kept from beholding within the veil; and he saw the finger of Jesus, which, when he saw, he fell with fear; for he knew that it was the finger of the Lord; and he had faith no longer, for he knew, nothing doubting. Wherefore, having this perfect knowledge of God, he could not be kept from within the veil; therefore he saw Jesus; and he did minister unto him." (Ether 3)

"Our father Lehi was driven out of Jerusalem because he testified of these things. Nephi also testified of these things, and also almost all of our fathers, even down to this time; yea, they have testified of the coming of Christ, and have looked forward, and have rejoiced in his day which is to come. And behold, he is God, and he is with them, and he did manifest himself unto them, that they were redeemed by him; and they gave unto him glory, because of that which is to come." (Helaman 8)

This is all very simple stuff and easy to explain, but JS's theology is anything but consistent.

I highly recommend everyone read this article showing the "development" of Mormon theology.

http://mormonismi.net/pdf/Reconstruction_of_Mormon_Doctrine_Alexander.pdf

We went from the monotheism of the Book of Mormon to henotheism and the divinization of man in Nauvoo.

OpenMind said...

@EternalWarfare4Souls:

Your questions are excellent and seem genuine. Perhaps the text in this link will assist you.

https://scriptures.info/scriptures/tc/glossary/jesus-christ-as-the-father

Peter Brown said...

Matt, everyone interprets scripture. It's the foundation of spiritual inquiry, but you need your own eisegesis to completely understand what it means. Exegesis, or what the words literally say, doesn't work.

I mean, you interpretation isn't without precedent. I've discussed your point of view with three others over the last five year. All of them have subsequently disregarded all of Mormonism, including the Book of Mormon.

As far as Joseph Smith goes, of course he said he saw God, and yeah, it was edited later by his followers, but the original vision text is intimate and detailed, salvific even, and it's just as charismatic as Father Lehi's account. In fact, one of the chief accusations about Joseph Smith is that he drew upon his own experiences to construct visionary experiences of the characters he "translated."

matt lohrke said...


Joseph Smith was of the opinion that we don't "interpret" the scriptures, but take them as they are written. That's one thing he got right.

Joseph claimed he saw God. So did Norris Stearns, Benjamin Abbot, Lorenzo Dow, Billy Hibbard and many other adolescents in the region. They all more or less told the same story.

In the Book of Mormon, Jesus Christ is God. In the Book of Mormon there is only one God, but people continue to tell me--again and again--that "one doesn't mean one" and that when Nephi, Jacob, Mormon, Moroni, and all the BOM prophets uniformly declare that Jesus is the One True God, they don't really mean it. Why? Joseph Smith and the First Vision.

Why doesn't "what the words literally say" work? Eisegesis is precisely why the church is such a mess. Mormonism's a black hat from which you pull your own religion. I think it's partially the reason why we have so many self-appointed prophets. Every once in a while a new one surfaces claiming to have the correct "interpretation," or here to "set things in order." There are something like 30 different people identified with the "one mighty and strong." It's a circus.

I don't interpret scripture. I read it as its written and I take the Book of Mormon very seriously. And I didn't come to this understanding of my own accord. In fact, two years ago I had a very different view. On this very blog I once made an impassioned defense of two personages. But Eric Kuntz made a statement about the oneness of God/Jesus and I couldn't shake it. I spent months and months of laborious study, trying to understand. I pled with God. Finally, He answered. It was pure knowledge. No feelings, no interpretation, no burning bosoms. No reading my own biases into the text. Pure knowledge. It was old data out, new data in. My brain was quite literally rewired on the fly. I had nothing to do with it.

In Mormonism, neither the Book of Mormon nor Jesus Christ are the foundation. The foundation is Joseph Smith. Truman Madsen wrote that no one would disagree with the idea that Joseph Smith's teachings are the foundation of Mormon theology. So, everything is framed and interpreted through the lens of Joseph Smith, rather than the Book of Mormon. Mormons view the Book of Mormon as the witness of "Joseph Smith's prophetic calling" and has since the beginning. We reconcile the Book of Mormon against Joseph Smith, when we should do the opposite. And where conflict arises, we should throw out Joseph--because he got far more wrong than he ever got right. He introduced doctrine and teachings contrary to the Book of Mormon, but his followers remain willfully ignorant of them because, for some reason, there's a very real reticence to question Dear Leader. I was recently chastised for not "recognizing Joseph Smith's specialness." Haha.

Peter Brown said...

Because Matt, language is imprecise. Words can mean different things.

Take the phrase "come unto Christ." Is this abstract or literal? If abstract, it's coming unto Christ with your heart. If it's literal, you have literally find Christ and approach his being to "see and hear" him.

Take also the idea that the scriptures say people can't see God. What does it mean to "see?" Does it mean to look upon something with your literal eyes, or to see with you're mind's eye? Or does it mean that you see something in transcendent vision, being translated and lifted up to "see" something that is more real than seeing something with your natural vision?

This entire example is the reason why you can't simply take words at their meaning. Words and phrases and punctuality are all filtered through language, with is crude. When God speaks to someone, it's in their own understanding, and then they have to translate that understanding to crude language, then write it, then rely upon your understanding of how to read English, then interpret it in your own brain.

Stuff gets lost. That's why it's impossible to rely upon exegesis.

You say:

In Mormonism, neither the Book of Mormon nor Jesus Christ are the foundation. The foundation is Joseph Smith. Truman Madsen wrote that no one would disagree with the idea that Joseph Smith's teachings are the foundation of Mormon theology. So, everything is framed and interpreted through the lens of Joseph Smith, rather than the Book of Mormon. Mormons view the Book of Mormon as the witness of "Joseph Smith's prophetic calling" and has since the beginning. We reconcile the Book of Mormon against Joseph Smith, when we should do the opposite. And where conflict arises, we should throw out Joseph--because he got far more wrong than he ever got right. He introduced doctrine and teachings contrary to the Book of Mormon, but his followers remain willfully ignorant of them because, for some reason, there's a very real reticence to question Dear Leader.

I completely agree with you. But then how do you reconcile what you think you understand with what Joseph taught and and how can you know whether you are wrong or he is wrong? Ultimately you have to trust your own understanding, but understanding the literality of scripture can only get you so far. You have to become your own prophet.

matt lohrke said...

If the Book of Mormon was translated by the "gift and power of God," and I would guess everyone around these parts believes that, then we probably should take it face value. Both Nephi and Moroni were of the view that those who have the BOM would be judged by its contents--not JS, not the D&C, not the LoF, not any church, and not one's personal interpretation.

Yes, language can be crude (I don't believe it always is), which is why I think we need to look at the entire Book of Mormon. For example, the BOM doesn't say, "baptism for the dead is false," but there are a least a dozen passages that stress the necessity of repentance in this life, that there is no "work" in the spirit world, and that how you go out is how you come back. There are multiple passages that plainly state the blood of Christ rescues those who sinned ignorantly or knew not the will of God concerning them. That didn't stop JS from instituting BFTD anyway. Now, the church spends billions of dollars on temples and genealogy work and every last dollar is a waste. Not to mention the millions of man hours invested in that charade. I think JS is the prime example of someone who trusted in his own understanding, or mistook his own thoughts and ideas for "revelation." (Which is why the D&C and Abraham are so riddled with errors.)

How do I know when JS was wrong? I reconcile him against the BOM. I reconcile him against himself. It's not hard to see the issues, the evolving theology, but most don't care to look. I don't claim to be right about anything. I just take the BOM view because of the unmistakable and undeniable witness I had of it about four years ago.

If we have to be our prophets, what, exactly, is the Truth? Is there Universal Truth? Or is Mormonism like Oprahism in which you just find your own truth and live according to your own interpretation? I think that's a perilous path. Take, for example, Denver Snuffer and Rob Smith. Both claim to have come into God's presence, yet they disagree on key doctrinal points. Why is God telling these "prophets" different things? They can't be both be right. Mormonism is full of arm-chair prophets who make prophecy and teach doctrine according to their understanding; and hardly any of them agree on anything. It's a mess.

I don't believe the Gospel and Doctrine of Christ are relative to one's understanding. It either is or it isn't. I believe in the Absolute Truth of it. I disagree I have to trust in my own understanding. I need to trust in the Holy Spirit, which is the final arbiter of Truth. I'm smart enough to know I don't know anything at all, which is why I find the Book of Mormon is so valuable.

Nathan said...

Matt Lohrke, I find your revelation about the nature of God refreshing, although I don’t share all your conclusions. This topic has been on my mind lately. A few months ago I spoke with an Sikh truck driver about his religion. When I asked him for the most important tennant of his faith he quickly replied, “God is One”.

Recall the proclamation of Jesus when asked a similar question. His prelude to the ‘greatest commandment’ is mostly passed over: “Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord.” Religious Jews repeat the Shema as a commandment multiple times daily. What is the significance here?

I believe there is a great mystery being revealed in the saying ’God is One’. This gets to the real question we all want to know: What is the nature of God?

Christ is “in and through all things” and the power by which they were made. Matter, energy, vibration, reality...no wonder Joseph Smith is accused of hermeticism, mysticism and a magical world view. In the past these ideas were only eluded to and subtly taught in ritual, symbolism and mystery, the greater public unable to receive them because of dogmatism, captivity of the mind. Finally, the stars are aligning and our our present understanding of reality may lead one to conclude that God truly is One and ALL is God.

Christ has a Father, as we all do. We emanated from our father. “They” are unified in purpose, but is there more here?

It is written, “I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men and shall redeem his people. And because he dwelleth in flesh, he shall be called the Son of God; and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son —the Father because he was conceived by the power of God, and the Son because of the flesh, thus becoming the Father and Son (and they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of Heaven and of earth), and thus the flesh becoming subject to the spirit, or the Son to the Father, being one God...”
(Mosiah 8:6 RE)

“Through the power of the spirit our eyes were opened and our understandings were enlarged, so as to see and understand the things of God, even those things which were from the beginning, before the world was, which was ordained of the Father through his Only Begotten Son, who was in the bosom of the Father even from the beginning...(TC 69:3 RE)

The light of Christ...the light which now shines, which gives you light, is through him who enlightens your eyes, which is the same light that quickens your understandings, which light proceeds forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space: the light which is in all things, which gives life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sits upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things. (TC 86, NC)

Does all of creation emanate from the Father (or the Parents)? Christ was in the bosom of the Father. But what exactly does this mean?

Nathan said...


Matt, I agree with you in some ways. I believe you are on to something that most of us are not yet able to receive.

However, your promotion of the gentiles condemnation neglects the process, as described in Book of Mormon, to occur among the gentiles and house of Israel at some point in time. The gist of Peter Brown’s earlier comments bare repeating: At what point do repentant gentiles become the Lords covenant people?

“wherefore, after I have visited them in judgment and smitten them by the hand of the gentiles, and after that the gentiles do stumble exceedingly because of the most plain and precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which has been kept back by that abominable
church, which is the mother of harlots, saith the Lamb, I will be merciful unto the gentiles in that day, insomuch that I will bring forth unto them in mine own power much of my gospel which shall be plain and precious, saith the Lamb. For behold, saith the Lamb, I will manifest myself unto thy seed, that they shall write many things which I shall minister unto them, which shall be plain and precious. And after thy seed shall be destroyed and dwindle in unbelief, and also the seed of thy brethren, behold, these things shall be hid up to come forth unto the gentiles by the gift and power of the Lamb. And in them shall be written my gospel, saith the Lamb, and my rock and my salvation.

And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the holy ghost. And if they endure unto the end, they shall be lifted up at the last day and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb. Yea, whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be!

And the time cometh that he shall manifest himself unto all nations, both unto the Jews and also unto the gentiles. And after he has manifested himself unto the Jews and also unto the gentiles, then he shall manifest himself unto the gentiles and also unto the Jews; and the last shall be first, and the first shall be last.

And it shall come to pass that if the gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks, and harden not their hearts against the Lamb of God, they shall be numbered among the seed of thy father. Yea, they shall be numbered among the house of Israel; and they shall be a blessed people upon the promised land for ever. They shall be no more brought down into captivity, and the house of Israel shall no more be confounded.
(2 Nephi 3: 23-25 RE)

Does being a blessed people on the promised land forever, including the manifestation of Christ in word, power, and in very deed, transcend having the gift and power of the Holy Ghost, which has been associated with the portion appointed to the gentiles? On this point the Book of Mormon is unambiguous. You limit yourself by setting up a stake here my friend. I intend to receive these blessings.

matt lohrke said...

Nathan -- I appreciate the comments.

There are significant issues with D&C 76. This "revelation" apparently came in response to Joseph Smith "translating" the Bible, something he had no mandate to do according to Book of Commandments chapter 5. Of course that "revelation" was altered to give Joseph Smith carte blanche to do and develop whatever doctrines he wanted.

"Lucifer" isn't "Satan." Lucifer in Isaiah 14 is the King of Babylon. 76 has reference "Esaias and Isaiah," but they're the same person. "Esaias" is the Greek of Isaiah.

"Neither was it revealed, neither is, neither will be revealed unto man, to them who are made partakers thereof; Nevertheless, I, the Lord, show it by vision unto many, but straightway shut it up again." Huh? Read that again.

The use of "Son of Man," is also interesting as that title for Christ doesn't appear once in the Book of Mormon. There is debate whether Christ used that term, or it was put on his lips by the Gospel writers. It appears frequently in Joseph's works -- Abraham, Moses and the D&C, but zero times in the BOM.

I don't believe 76 an authentic revelation. (There are many problems with 88, as well). I think this goes back to the idea that we all accept Joseph Smith's revelations without any critical evaluation.

Why does God work through a middle man? Jesus Christ is the first and the last, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. There is no other God besides Him, nor is there any other Savior. Amulek said there was one God. Nephi said, "there is a God and he is Christ." Nephi saw the "Everlasting God" on the cross. God/Jesus can't simultaneously be eternal and everlasting and also be a created being who came from literal parents.

I disagree I've set up stakes. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Nathan said...
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Nathan said...
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Nathan said...



Matt Lohrke, you said:

“God/Jesus can't simultaneously be eternal and everlasting and also be a created being who came from literal parents.”

I simply disagree. “Knowest thou the condescension of God?”

Have you looked into the Sumerian texts?

I never said you needed a middle man, though I have pointed out that in the past people have. Why? Because few people are like Daniel.

“And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision.

“Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.”

The time is at hand that, “this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

I’m sure you could point to scholars who may conclude that Jeremiah never penned those words.

I have a different perspective on what is was Joseph Smith, Moses and all the enlightened ones of the past, were attempting to accomplish. What we have as the Torah, Moses constructed from existing records and is apparently extremely inaccurate and simplified as a historical account. But was that the point really?
Joseph Smith, (knowingly or perhaps in some instances unknowingly) also used the existing religious concepts to get us closer to the truth.

I believe we have a long way to go before what was veiled by the prophets becomes obvious and what we thought we knew will make way for the truth. I find textual criticism valuable. No longer is it a stumbling block to me, because I have a spiritual witness of Christ. I take it for what it’s worth, while piecing it all together until the answer comes, which it always does if I seek and ask. Good luck on your search.


matt lohrke said...

As I understand it, Denver is now teaching that "the condescension of God" is a reference to Mary, who really is heavenly mother. It just gets more bizarre by the day.

It's all very simple. The Gospel and Doctrine of Christ is magnificent in its simplicity, but we have the baggage of Joseph Smith to contend with. Joseph Smith was a product of his time. He was a millennialist through and through. His revelations are saturated in the language of Daniel, Revelation and Matthew 24, but he didn't understand Hebrew prophecy. He thought he was going to institute the "Kingdom of God," not realizing the "Kingdom of God" was established at the resurrection. It's a spiritual kingdom. Joseph didn't understand what "fulness of times" meant. The priesthood chronology of D&C 84 doesn't work. The voice shifts in 29 and 49. Baptism for the dead in 124--which also a highly problematic letter for multiple reasons.

We have unrealized prophecies, the bad doctrine, the evolving view of God (this is well-documented), revelations cobbled together like a patchwork quilt, the inconsistencies between the BOM and the D&C/LOF/Abraham/Moses. Abraham is a particularly bad book. JS's God is quite different from the Nephite God. The unfortunate truth is that JS was scripturally ignorant. He could recite passages at will, but he didn't understand them. He was absolutely certain the second coming was nigh. Well, here we are, 190 years later...

The Book of Mormon was supplanted by the Book of Commandments and Lectures on Faith. Joseph's ignorance of the BOM is really something. Try to find a JS sermon or teaching that references anything in the BOM. You can probably count them on less than one hand. Maybe two or three fingers. He claimed revelation for doctrine previously revealed in the BOM.

An early revelation told him he wouldn't be strong in the worldly things, but that didn't stop him from land speculation, a failed ferry business, the Kirtland chapel that put the saints in considerable debt, plans for the Nauvoo House, the Nauvoo Temple, a print shop, etc, etc, etc. It was one failure after another. Moroni interjected into the Jaredite record to warn the Mormon Gentiles what would happen if they didn't obey the commandments, and that they would prosper if they did. The fact that they were driven from place to place ought to tell us a few things. This all happened under JS's watch.

If he was a "true prophet" who came into God's presence, how did he get so much wrong? I'm not trying to be cute about it. It's serious because we're still reaping the fallout. Mormonism's big mistake was betting the farm on the arm of flesh in the person of Joseph Smith. I get it that people who grew up in the Mormon tradition have an emotional connection to JS. But, I feel JS's day of reckoning is coming. I guess we'll see.

Dave P. said...

Another thing that the church fails to recognize is that persecution is not a "badge of honor" as the church continually teaches that it must be doing the right thing because of how much persecution it's had to endure (which is of course an entirely one-sided tale, but that's another topic entirely).

What the BOM says is the opposite: Persecution is a call to repent. If the church was indeed heeding what the BOM teaches, it would not only be prospering, but its enemies would be leaving it alone.

Colt H. said...

Eternal Warefare you posited the questions

If Jesus is God:

A. Who was he praying to during his life?
B. Why does he direct us to pray to the Father?
C. Who is His Father that he repeatedly refer to during his mortal ministry?

Questions that definitely would point us to the conclusion of there being separate beings.

I don't know if you're asking these rhetorically or are interested in the questions, either way I'd point you to another source on the subject, Paul Toscano's book The Serpent & The Dove. In it he discusses the Adam-God Doctrine that unpacks this in a fascinating way.

EternalWarfare4Souls said...

Hello Everyone,

Thank you for your points-of-view. A lot of you have posted many references and books that I am slowly consuming. My standpoint on anything is, I do not take a standpoint on anything until I have obtain sufficient knowledge from heaven. My list of "things I know" is not very long. I like to keep an open mind about everything and let heaven teach me. My questions were sincere and again, I want to thank everyone for contributing to my understanding.

I just wanted to drop a quick response to let everyone know that their responses were appreciated.

EternalWarfare4Souls said...

Colt H.

My current understanding is:

A. God = Heavenly Father
B. Jesus = Son of God (Savior)
C. Holy Ghost = The mind of God and Jesus (which can speak to our minds when our Ghosts [spirit] is holy.

If God = Jesus, then prayer seems weird to me. Maybe it shouldn't, but it does.

Dear Heavenly Father (Jesus?),
...
In the name of Jesus Christ (the person I am addressing) Amen.
(In your name, Amen.) - another way to view this phrase, which also seems weird to me.

If I am praying to Jesus, then why am I praying to Him in His name?

When Jesus was on the earth, I am sure he prayed with other people at some time. So were those people praying to Jesus' Father or to who Jesus would become after the resurrection or to him as a bi-personage being in the flesh and spirit...?

Thou shalt have no other gods before me. If Jesus = God, but Jesus' father is His father or another God, and we pray to his father, but Jesus is God... you can see where this gets really confusing.

Jesus: I am God. I have a Father who is my Father and my God. Pray to the Father in my name and I will bring you unto Him.
People: Jesus is my God. I pray to Him.
Me: Ok. But didn't Jesus direct us to pray to His Father (God) in His name (Jesus)?

I don't want anyone to think that I am attacking their beliefs. I am simply confused on the logic. If Jesus is God, that makes sense. If Jesus is the son of God, that also makes sense.

Someone posted a reference showing how Jesus takes on the role of our Father. That also makes sense. So....ya. Lots of confusion on my part.

Robin Hood said...

I've done it again.
I bought a book based upon Rock's recommendation. I've done this before a couple of times and regretted it. But maybe this time would be different, especially as Rock was so generous in his praise.
When will I ever learn.
This time I bought The Secret Chamber.
If anyone is considering purchasing this, be my guest. However, please be prepared to be overwhelmingly underwhelmed.

Robin Hood said...

I would add that Rock's forward was quite well written.

matt lohrke said...

It was very confusing for me at first. I struggled with it for many months.

All I can say is that the expressed purpose of the Book of Mormon is to testify that Jesus Christ is the Eternal God. And the Book of Mormon is monotheistic.

I think we get tripped up on thinking of "son" patrilineally. "Son" is simply the designation of His mortal body. (3 Nephi 1:13-14, Mosiah 13, 15). Nothing more, nothing less.

I look at it this way:

God / Father / Spirit
Jesus / Son / Body

Same being, different states, called "the condescension of God" by the angel and Abinadi.

Modelism is probably the closest to describing it, but it's not perfect. Others would call it Sabellianism or patripassianism.

matt lohrke said...

This.

There's a reason the Gentile Mormons were specifically warned.

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