Pamphlets by Ogden Kraut (set 2)

The website wigged out when I tried to add all the pamphlets on one page so I’ve created another page for the rest of them.  Hopefully they all fit and I don’t have to create a set 3.

Independent Fundamentalist
New Testament and Plural Marriage
Ogden Kraut Joke Book
Old Ship Zion
One Mighty and Strong
1978 Legrand Richards
Polygamy of David and Solomon



Enlarged edition of
a paper presented at the
Mormon History Association
Annual Meeting
Park City, Utah
May 21, 1994

Ogden Kraut



The Flag of Fundamentalism….  1

A Chronology of Fundamentalism….  3

Houses Out of Order……. 12

Advantages and Disadvantages….. 17

The Arm of Flesh……. 19

Statement of Beliefs…… 21


Will We Need to Commence Anew?… 22

* * * * *

* * *



[1]                            THE INDEPENDENT



Ogden Kraut


Introduction: The Flag of Fundamentalism

Fundamentalism seems to be a light that cannot be hidden under a basket. In spite of over 100 years of denunciations, felony laws, persecutions, prosecutions, excommunications and imprisonments, their flag still flies.

Who are today’s Fundamentalist Mormons, and how did they originate? Apparently Elder Mark E. Petersen was the first to use this term, which infers support of the original and fundamental doctrines of the LDS Church. Such believers are found within the mainstream church, in many different groups, and also among those termed Independent Fundamentalist Mormons—those who are not active in the LDS Church or any of its organized offshoots.

Fundamentalists generally believe the doctrines of Mormonism cannot and should not be changed. For this reason there have arisen many disputes and divisions. From the earliest history of the Church it became clear that the laws of the Priesthood were not always the laws of the Church.

[2]Doctrinal disagreements have been like magnetic poles, causing large and small divisions ever since the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He himself introduced and separately taught higher principles to a few of the more informed and receptive Church members. This caused serious problems for both Joseph Smith and the Church, according to Brigham Young:

On one occasion several of the Twelve, the witnesses of the Book of Mormon, and other leading Elders in the Church met in council in one of the upper rooms of the temple, and discussed the question of how the Prophet Joseph could be deposed and David Whitmer be chosen President of the Church (Contributor 10:1)

This doctrinal dichotomy has continued to the present. That old time religion didn’t die a slow death; it just went underground in the days of President John Taylor. He and many others went into hiding—not just from the Gentiles, but from many of the Mormons themselves because of a bounty on their heads and their dislike for polygamy. The laws of God and the laws of man were in conflict, and so were the Mormons with each other.

Of all the conflicting and controversial doctrines, plural marriage has created the most public interest and curiosity—and certainly the most trouble. Similar negative reactions to the principle come from three very different areas, i.e.:

  1. Today’s Church leaders wish it were never a part of their history.

[3]2. The Utah Attorney General and law enforcement officers wish it were not still lived in Utah.

  1. Mormon women wish their husbands would quit talking about it.

A Chronology of Fundamentalism

Plural marriage was the first domino to fall, and other Gospel practices and doctrines soon followed, i.e., United Order, Kingdom of God, rebaptism, gathering of Israel, etc. Because of those who refused to compromise or retreat, Fundamentalism was born.

In 1886 (four years before the Manifesto) President John Taylor had been asked to sign a type of manifesto declaring that the Church would abandon the practice of plural marriage. He briefly considered it, but when he inquired of the Lord, he was answered with the following revelation:

Thus saith the Lord . . . how can I revoke an everlasting covenant? . . . my everlasting covenants cannot be abrogated, nor done away with, but they stand forever….

I the Lord do not change and my word and my covenants and my law do not …. I have not revoked this law, nor will I. (1880-1890 Revelations, comp. by Kraut, pp. 54-55)

As a result of this revelation, along with further instructions from the

Lord, President Taylor set apart several men to continue the principle of plural marriage because he was told that Church members would soon abandon it. Little did he know then that his own son, [4] John W. Taylor, would be among the first to be excommunicated for plural marriage.

The following rift involved members and leaders alike. It became so serious that at one point Wilford Woodruff said that “he would about as soon attend a funeral as one of our council meetings,” the spirit of contention was so unpleasant. (L. John Nuttall Journal, Feb. 27, 1889) The misunderstanding and controversy over plural marriage has continued to this day. Most Church members, however, by their own choice, know little about the subject. I am reminded of a fellow who came into my cousin’s office several years ago and said, “I just don’t understand all this stuff about polygamy. Joseph smith said one thing and Heber J. Grant said something different. Brigham Young said one thing and Spencer Kimball says the opposite.” My cousin told him, “I have some advice for you. Just forget everything that anyone ever said about the subject and go home tonight and read what the Lord had to say about it in Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants.” The next day the fellow came back and said, “Well, I read it and I still don’t understand it.” My cousin responded, “Then I have a little more advice for you—quit reading; it’s not doing you any good!”

Most people today still don’t seem to understand the principle of plural marriage. Even Apostle John A. Widstoe commented, “We do not understand why the Lord commanded the practice of plural marriage.” (Imp. Era 46:191 )

When Joseph Smith and Brigham Young taught this doctrine, however, the Saints clearly understood [5] that it was such an important doctrine that Church members could not be exalted without it. But year after year attitudes and doctrines and understandings changed.

The following brief chronology paints a vivid picture—laying the groundwork for the rise of Fundamentalism:

1843 — Referring to plural marriage, Joseph Smith said, “The same God that has thus far dictated me and directed me and strengthened me in this work, gave me this revelation and commandment on celestial and plural marriage, and the same God commanded me to obey it. * * * If I do not practice it, I shall be damned with my people. * * * But we have got to observe it. It is an eternal principle and was given by way of commandment and not by way of instruction.” (Contributor 5:259)

1866 — On many occasions Brigham Young was just as emphatic about the importance of obeying this principle, i.e., “Do you think that we shall ever be admitted as a State into the Union without denying the principle of polygamy? If we are not admitted until then, we shall never be admitted.” (JD 11:269)

1880 — And from John Taylor: “And when the Government conflicts with Heaven, we will be ranged under the banner of heaven and against the Government. The United States says we cannot marry more than one wife. God says different.” (S. L. Tribune, Jan. 6, 1880)

[6]1882 — The Lord revealed to John Taylor in October of this year that no one but polygamists should preside over the Priesthood, for He said, “You may appoint Seymour B. Young to fill up the vacancy in the presiding quorum of Seventies, if he will conform to my law; for it is not meet that men who will not abide my law shall preside over my priesthood.” (Mess. of the First Pres. 2:247)

1884 — According to John Taylor, an eternal plural marriage could be performed outside the temple: (which is not taught by the Church today) “I was asked if certain ordinances could be performed in different places. I told them, yes, under certain circumstances. `Where?’ I was asked—`Anywhere besides in temples?’ Yes. `Anywhere besides the Endowment House?’ Yes. `Where, in some other house?’ In another house or out of doors, as the circumstances might be. * * * It is the authority of the Priesthood, not the place, that validates and sanctifies the ordinance.” (JD 25:355)

1886 — During this time, Church leaders were receiving pressure from gentiles and members alike to abandon the practice of plural marriage. So Pres. John Taylor inquired of the Lord just how binding the principle was on Church members, and, as mentioned earlier in this section, he was told by the Lord that this everlasting covenant could not be abrogated nor done away and that, “I have not revoked this law, nor will I, for it is everlasting, and those who will enter into my glory must obey the conditions thereof. Even so, Amen.” (1880-1890 Revelations, comp. by Kraut, pp. 54-55)

[7]1887 — A new Utah state constitution was drawn up by members of the Church, and one of the provisions was, “Bigamy and polygamy being considered incompatible with a republican form of government, each of them is hereby forbidden and declared a misdemeanor.” (Sec. 12, Art. 15; History of Utah, O. F. Whitney, 3:584) When the election vote was tallied, 13,195 voted in favor of it and only 502 were against it. This occurred three years before the Woodruff Manifesto.

1889 — President Woodruff received a revelation from the Lord saying, “Let not my servants who are called to the Presidency of My Church, deny my word or my law, which concerns the salvation of the children of men. Place not yourselves in jeopardy to your enemies by promise….” (Messages of the First Pres. 3:175)

1890 — Wilford Woodruff signed the Manifesto saying, “I now publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land.” (“Official Declaration” at the end of the D & C) Most Mormons rejoiced to hear this compromise with the government; others thought it was a serious mistake—an exchange of Godhood for statehood.

1891 — Wilford Woodruff explained:

The Lord has told me by revelation that there are many members of the Church throughout Zion who are sorely tried in their hearts because of that Manifesto. * * * Since I received that revelation I have heard of many who are tried in these things…. I know there [8] are a good many men, and probably some leading men, in this Church who have been tried and felt as though President Woodruff has lost the spirit of God and was about to apostatize.

I have been called upon by friends outside of the Church and urged to take some steps with regard to this matter. * * * This feeling has also been manifested more or less by the members of the Church. (Des. News, Nov. 7, 1891; also quoted in Way of the Master, Petersen, pp. 47, 49)

1904 — Another manifesto, or “Official Statement”, was issued which threatened members with excommunication for not following the new policies of the Church.

1905 — The LDS Church dropped Apostles John W. Taylor and Matthias Cowley from the Quorum because of their continuing support of plural marriage, which led to their disfellowshipment and excommunication. Cowley eventually capitulated with the Church and came back, while Taylor became a hero of the Fundamentalists because of his faithfulness to principle.

1906 — A three-year Senate investigation into questionable activities of the Church resulted in over 3500 pages of testimony, revealing that both members and leaders professed one thing and practiced another.

1910 — The Salt Lake Tribune printed a list of over 200 “new polygamists” which included the names of six members of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. (Oct. 8, 1910) Another announcement was made by the Church stating that some persons had “assumed authority” to continue these outlawed activities.

[9]1912 — A document was published by John W. Woolley which was the first public announcement of a small society that would become known as Fundamentalists. As these “eternal principles” were fading in the Church like a sunset, they were becoming a sunrise to the Fundamentalists. And, as the Church continued to make doctrinal changes, the list of Fundamentalists grew larger—and the gulf between the two became wider.

1914 — Another announcement was issued by the Church stating that members were “secretly engaging” in these outlawed ordinances and practices.

1921 — Another announcement came from Heber J. Grant (who himself lived plural marriage ten years after the Manifesto) saying that anyone still living “the principle” should be cut off the Church. He stated:

We have excommunicated several patriarchs because they arrogated unto themselves the right, or pretended right, to perform these ceremonies. And after our having excommunicated several patriarchs, another one, so I am informed, has committed the same offense. (Conf. Rept., Apr. 1921, p. 202)

1925 — Another announcement warned members against such men as John Woolley, who have performed “disloyal acts contrary to the rules of the Church and laws of the land.” (Messages of the First Pres. 5:242)

1926 — An official warning stated that members knowing of any plural marriages should “inform the proper officers of the Church so they may [10] be excommunicated therefrom.” (Messages. of the First Pres. 5:249)

1931 — In a strenuous effort by the Church against Fundamentalism, Heber J. Grant stated, “The Church does not countenance, aid, abet, tolerate or sanction in any way, shape or form the contracting of so-called plural marriages. * * * l do not know how to make it plainer or more forceful. If I did, I would do so.” (Messages of the First Pres. 5:294-95) This statement was read at General Conference and was approved unanimously.

1933 — Another “Official Statement” was published in June of this year—a lengthy treatise using the following derogatory terms relating to plural marriage and those who lived it: “false-doctrine, illegal practice, apostates, misguided, unauthorized, void, contrary to church, false and mock marriages, violative of law, criminal, falling away, unrepentant, disrepute, recalcitrant, evilly led, rebellion, no condoning or trifling, rebellious, corrupt, misled, false representations, and adulterous.” (See Messages of the First Pres. 5:315-330.) This document left no doubt as to the attitude of the Church leaders toward the practice of plural marriage.

1935 — The LDS Church issued a “test oath” for questionable members to sign. Among the first to fail the test were members of the Short Creek Branch in Arizona, and 21 members were excommunicated. This year was also the beginning of Truth magazine which continued for 23 years under the editorship of Joseph Musser.

[11]1935, 1943, 1955 — Government raids were conducted against Fundamentalist polygamists, with many of the brethren being imprisoned. Newspapers throughout the nation and many foreign countries carried the story. The Church was siding more and more with the State in the desire to abolish plural marriage. After the Arizona raid on Short Creek, the Deseret News carried an editorial which stated:

Law-abiding citizens of Utah and Arizona owe a debt of gratitude to Arizona’s Governor Pyle and to his police officers who Sunday, raided the polygamous settlement. . . and we hope the unfortunate activities at Short Creek will be cleaned up once and for all. (Des. News, July 27, 1953)

However, it’s interesting to compare President George Q. Cannon’s comments several years before when he praised men for going to prison because of their religious beliefs:

All honorable men and women will be impressed by such devotion and courage. It will have more weight than any amount of preaching or writing upon the subject. (Juvenile Instructor 20:197)

The LDS Church, who was once the avid defender, now became the great offender. It was a case of the persecuted becoming the persecutor. Fundamentalists became the monstrous troll to be eliminated. So diligent were the Church leaders in trying to stamp out Fundamentalism, that interviews to determine a member’s worthiness included the question, “Do you affiliate with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day [12] Saints, or do you sympathize with the precepts of any such group or individual?” (LDS Church Form No. 31671, 5/90)

The local leaders have even resorted to the recording of license plate numbers of those attending Fundamentalist meetings or homes in order to provide evidence for trials and excommunications.

Houses Out of Order

At first only a few were called to live and teach these principles of the fullness of the Gospel. There was no organized group—just occasional informal meetings in various homes to discuss the Gospel. However, because of the increase in numbers, meeting houses were soon built and then even special ordinance buildings. Regular and organized church meetings resulted. But many people have thought this was above and beyond their original calling, so they have refused to join any of the Fundamentalist groups, thus becoming known as the Independents.

Thus, divisions and hard feelings developed among the Fundamentalists themselves. On October 20, 1945, the Deseret News reported, “Ten Cultists Sign Promise to Drop Polygamy Teachings.” Some of the prisoners, however, had refused to sign this “Little Manifesto”, which ironically was finalized on the very day and month that Pres. Woodruff signed his Manifesto. This caused a lasting division among most of the polygamists involved.

The Independent Fundamentalist Mormon believes that both the LDS Church and the Fundamentalist [13] groups are out of order. He feels there is no single basket where he can put all his eggs. As the Church backed away from its commitments, the groups felt they had the right and even the responsibility to pick them up and continue them. It seems the LDS Church was not going far enough; the groups were going too far; and the Independent Fundamentalist was caught in between.

Louis Kelsch, the youngest member of the original Priesthood Council set up by Lorin Woolley, was familiar with the guidelines first given to the seven council members. When the others had died and he became the senior member, he was often asked,

“Why don’t you come and take your rightful place in the priesthood?” He answered, “I am in my place.” He remember that Lorin Woolley, when asked to organize and hold regular meetings, replied, “The only true Church of Jesus Christ is already organized.” (Louis Kelsch Journal, p. 46)

Along this line, Jenna Vee Hammon, a wife of one of the deceased group leaders, recently wrote a very revealing book called The Betrayal of the Godhead, Priesthood Work, and Priesthood People, which explained the original calling of those men who were set apart to continue plural marriage. She wrote:

Back in March of 1928 the Lord had Lorin C. Woolley call Leslie Broadbent and John Y. Barlow into the Priesthood Council, and with that calling they were given one special appointment, or assignment, one. The only thing they were to operate in “was to keep plural and celestial marriage alive….” They were to be only a spiritual entity and not to take on the duties of what the church was set up for. (The Betrayal . . . . Hammon, p. 2)

[14]A few pages later, the author continues with a list of what they were told NOT to do:

  1. Not to organize
  2. Not to colonize
  3. Not to collect tithing
  4. Not to set up any United Orders
  5. Not to proselyte
  6. Not to give patriarchal blessings
  7. Not to hold public meetings. (Ibid., see p. 10)

The reasons such warnings were given were that (1) these areas were mainly the responsibilities of the LDS Church; (2) If the people concentrated on them, they would lose sight of their main commission to keep plural marriage alive; and (3) Getting into these additional responsibilities would result in the creation of a hierarchy, and it is the  tendency of most leaders to become strong rulers that eventually exercise unrighteous dominion over the people—resulting in priestcraft rather than Priesthood. We should remember the Savior’s instruction, “Whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. (Mark 10:11)

Most Independent Fundamentalist Mormons feel that it is improper to duplicate the organization of the LDS Church. Some groups even have quorums of High Priests, Seventies, Elders, and even a Relief Society and Primary. But this was not the intent in 1886 when John Taylor appointed certain Priesthood holders to keep plural marriage alive, nor the intent of Lorin Woolley who said, “It is not our mission to organize. Our mission is to keep plural marriage alive.” (quoted by [15] Price Johnson in Reminiscences . . ., comp. by Rhea Kunz, 2:20)

Lorin Woolley’s prophecy has certainly been fulfilled—that there would be “many different factions and various groups” and that a “large number of people will be divided this way and that.” (quoted by Harold Allred in Reminiscences . . ., comp. by Rhea Kunz, 4:3) There was one major Fundamentalist group before 1945, and now there are many.

Although there has been considerable criticism against the forming of polygamous groups, many people need to belong to some type of organization—a church, a group, or some form of fraternity. It is a correct principle to gather and associate together, to meet often and to help and encourage each other. For many who believe in the fullness of the gospel today, membership in a Fundamentalist group is very enjoyable and vitally important.

However, the dilemma arises for some—which group is correct and which group should I join? Each Fundamentalist group claims divine revelation and spiritual guidance—yet they claim different authority and religious practices and don’t recognize the ordinances of each other.

Some people have been so confused by the conflicting claims of authority that they wouldn’t join any of the groups. John Singer was an example of such an independent Fundamentalist; and as a Priesthood holder, he performed the ordinances necessary for his family without going to a group. He [16] preferred to keep pretty much to himself. Shortly before John was killed in January of 1979, he said to me, “I don’t want any publicity; I just want to be left alone.” The last time I saw him, however, there were three television stations interviewing him about his plural marriage and about teaching his children at home. I said to him, “John, for a man who doesn’t want any publicity, you’re an absolute failure.” You will remember that the Singer family saga took place here in Summit County.

There is a wide variety of people and specific beliefs among the Independent Fundamentalist Mormons, and many of them have paid a heavy price in prison because they would not compromise—Louis Kelsch, Arnold Boss, Morris Kunz, Charles Zitting, Price Johnson, and many others. Though relatively unknown to most Latter-day Saints, these men suffered in prisons for up to seven years because they would not yield their faith for freedom.

Another Independent Fundamentalist, Roy Potter, put forth a noble effort in defending his lifestyle. In the early 1980’s he tried to prove the unconstitutionality of the Utah felony law against plural marriage. He had been fired from the Murray Police Department for living plural marriage, but his plea was denied in the courts, showing the extreme bias that still exists against this Mormon and Biblical law.

Generally speaking, nearly all Fundamentalist Mormons, independent or group, just want to be left alone to live their religious principles as they so choose.

[17] Advantages and Disadvantages

As mentioned, the lifestyle of any Fundamentalist Mormon is usually not easy nor popular. Frequently jobs are lost; homes are broken up; they are ostracized by the Church; there is usually a constant economic battle; and suitable wives are difficult to find. Mark Twain, an avid anti-polygamist, noted this last condition especially when he stopped in Salt Lake in the 1870’s. He changed his mind somewhat after his visit for he commented:

Then I was touched. My heart was wiser than my head. It warmed toward those poor, ungainly and pathetically homely creatures (referring to the women), and as I tried to hide the generous moisture in my eyes, I said “No, the man that marries one of them has done an act of Christian charity which entitles him to the kindly applause of mankind….” (Roughing It, p. 117, 1872)

In addition to the above, however, there are also other problem areas for the Independent Fundamentalists that are more difficult for them to enjoy since they do not belong to the LDS Church or a fundamentalist group:

1.We have been instructed to gather together often and to partake of the Sacrament.

2.The organizations provide a place where testimonies can be born and ordinances can be performed.

3.Children have the opportunity to learn and associate within the organization, and dating and marriage opportunities are better.

[18] 4.The support and frequent association with others of like mind provide strength and a sense of belonging.

So when some individuals are asked to leave the Church, they feel comfortable joining a group and transferring their confidence from their church leaders to group leaders.

But also noteworthy are some disadvantages within the Church and groups:

1.The members are often so closely supervised in their activities that they lack the freedom they desire.

2.Members have a tendency to follow their leaders’ advice, doctrines and teachings without question.

3.They put their trust in a bishop, president, or the “arm of flesh”, rather than going directly to the Lord.

4.Conditions often subtly evolve into a type of priestcraft without the people even realizing it.

The Independent Fundamentalist Mormon makes every effort to avoid priestcraft, as described by Nephi:

Behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world, but they seek not the welfare of Zion.” (2 Nephi 26:29)

This condition exists to one degree or another in both the Church and break-off groups. An extreme example of this was taught and printed in a recent group lesson:

[19]That oath and covenant, as I understand it, is that we have an oath and covenant with the keyholder of that Priesthood, [their leader] to obey him in an things, because he holds the keys and is the mouthpiece of God. And he is God over us. (Lesson on “Keeping or Breaking Covenants”, March 19, 1994, p. 13)

On a bulletin board of the same group a notice was posted that read, “Put your trust where God puts His: Uncle _______”. (the first name of their leader)

The Arm of Flesh

There is a real danger in placing too much faith and confidence in organizational and church leaders. In spite of God’s frequent warnings that “man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh” (D & C 1:19), there is a constant barrage of such instructions as, “Follow the brethren,” “Follow your leaders,” “Follow the prophet.” Before even investigating anything, the questions are often asked, “Has that been approved by the Church?”, “Is that in the lesson manual?”, and “Is the author of that book a good member of the Church?” It becomes more and more difficult for people to think for themselves.

Thomas Jefferson certainly valued the importance of free thinking, and he commented, “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man….” (Thomas Jefferson and the Restoration …, John J. Stewart, p. 41)

[20]And the Prophet Joseph Smith emphasized the same idea when he explained a passage from Ezekiel—

. . . the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men . . . that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls—applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. . . that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, . . . (TPJS, pp. 237-238)

After the Prophet Joseph Smith was martyred, an assortment of brethren arose to claim his title and position. Orson Hyde became troubled over the fact that they were leading people away from the Gospel. He then received a revelation from the Lord stating:

Evil men, ambitious of power, must needs arise among you, and they shall be led by their own self will and not by me. Yet they are instruments in my hands, and are permitted to try my people, and to collect from among them those who are not the elect, and such as are unworthy of eternal life. Grieve not after them, neither mourn nor be alarmed. My people know my voice and also the voice of my spirit, and a stranger they will not follow. Therefore, such as follow strangers are not my people. (Unpublished Revelations, Vol 1, Collier, Part 65, pp. 104-105)

Brigham Young gave the same counsel:

Now those men, or those women, who know no more about the power of God, and the influences of the Holy Spirit, than to be led entirely by another person, suspending their own understanding, and pinning their faith upon another’s sleeve, will never be capable of entering into the celestial glory, to be crowned as they anticipate; they will never be capable of becoming Gods. They cannot rule themselves, to say nothing of ruling others, but they must be dictated to in every trifle, like a child. (JD 1:312)


[21]Unfortunately sometimes the fault comes from the people themselves who want to be dictated to; they want someone else to do their thinking for them. However, this is not the case with most Independent Fundamentalist Mormons.

Statement of Beliefs

If today’s Independent Fundamentalists were to adopt a set of “Articles of Faith” (in addition to those by Joseph Smith), they might include the following seven declarations:

1.We believe that all the laws, ordinances, doctrines and principles of the Priesthood are eternal and unchangeable; however, members of the LDS Church may vote to accept or reject them.

2.We believe that because the LDS Church has sought to become a world church, it has adopted worldly practices. We are living at the time prophesied by Amos when he said, “A famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.” (Amos 8:11) As evidence of this, where are the “thus saith the Lord” revelations, heavenly visions, angelic appearances, gift of tongues, seer stones, etc.?

3.We believe that sin is the only justifiable ground for church excommunication. Associations, beliefs, sympathies, attending outside meetings, and writing or reading certain books are not considered sins. Even the “Bishops’ Handbook” states, “Total inactivity in the Church or attending or merely holding membership in another [22] church does not constitute apostasy.” (March 1989, 10-3)

4.We believe that excommunication from the LDS Church for supporting and defending the fundamental principles of the Gospel does not jeopardize one’s priesthood. God does not condemn people for believing and practicing true principles.

5.We believe that “man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh.” (D & C 1:19, as well as many other references in the Doc. & Cov., Book of Mormon, and Bible)

6.We believe that authority to seal plural marriages was the only commission given in 1886—not to form churches or groups that duplicate the LDS Church.

7.We believe the U.S. government, the LDS Church, and the groups are all out of order. Soon the “One Mighty and Strong” will come to set things in order (D & C 85), and “they who are not apostles and prophets shall be known. And even the bishop, who is a judge, and his counselors, if they are not faithful in their stewardships shall be condemned, and others shall be planted in their stead.” (D & C 64:39-40)

Conclusion: Will We Need to Commence Anew?

Over a century ago the Apostle Orson Pratt saw so much discord, disbelief and general apostasy that he said:

I do not know but that it would be an utter impossibility to commence and carry out some principles pertaining to Zion right in the midst of this [23] people. They have strayed so far that to get a people who would conform to heavenly laws, it may be needful to lead some from the midst of this people and commence anew somewhere in the regions round about these mountains. (JD 15:361)

Isaiah crudely but accurately described our time when he said, “All tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean.” (Isa. 28:8)

Did Brigham Young also see this serious condition existing in our day when he requested that his coffin be built “deep enough” so “if I wanted to turn a little, . . . I should have plenty of room to do so”? (Brigham Young, the Man and His Work, Preston Nibley, p. 536)

The Independent Fundamentalist Mormon struggles to maintain a Joseph Smith Mormonism. He believes in the doctrines, principles, ordinances, and commandments given at the time of the Gospel restoration. He knows eternal principles come from an unchangeable God.

Mormonism has a history all its own, but Fundamentalist Mormonism is also unique. No other church history can compare with such an exciting and fascinating story!

With nearly nine million Mormons who know little or nothing about Fundamental Mormonism, there is a golden opportunity to ask them some golden questions: What do you know about Mormon Fundamentalism, and would you like to know more?



“-when any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.”                                                    TPJS151


Table of Contents




Ogden Kraut



Numbers in [ ] are the page numbers




The word mystery is tantalizing to some—enticing them to search for some great unknown.  To others it is feared, for the unknown is a mystical threat which may have a hidden power to destroy.

But when the term mysteries is used in scriptures, it refers to neither of these distinctions.  A hidden mystery maybe nothing more than a truth unknown.

There has been the mystery of scientific and mathematical truths until they were discovered.  For example, Edison sought for a way to prevent the filament in his light bulb from burning out—a mystery to him until he found the solution.  When the truth of a mystery is discovered, it no longer is a mystery.  This applies to religious truths as well.

A search into the unknown has often been the means of much provocation. The pathway to truth is a peril confronting the valor of all great men. Scientific and religious truths have been obtained only by great sacrifices.

When the Roman Emperors sought for new and amusing means of torture, they often made the inventors the first victim. Columbus was considered mad for his search in the geographic realm, while Copernicus and Galileo were condemned for their search in gravitational and astronomical fields. The first physicians, who sought new knowledge in anatomy, resorted to graverobbing to thwart the bias of people. With the search for knowledge in the power of steam, the horseless carriage, the means to fly, and other scientific truths, great men have had to endure the jeers and ridicule of their fellowmen. But the new light and knowledge was obtained over the protests of those who later became the benefactors.

Greater forces of opposition contend against the man who seeks new truths in the spiritual realm. And, when a man  comes forth with a new discovery, a new revelation, from the spiritual frontier, he is then considered the most mad of all. Yet, spiritual truth is of much greater worth than any discovery in the field of science.

The Latter-day Saints, more than any other people, should understand the value and the necessity for the discovery and pursuit of new truth. Every man, especially those who bear the priesthood, should become influenced by the Holy Ghost to be led “into all truth”. However, one often hears the same old familiar cry — “stay away from the unknown – the mysteries.”

[2]   The fact is, that the great structure of Mormonism was founded upon a passage of scripture which led the Prophet Joseph Smith “seek” and he would find, “knock” and it would be opened unto him.

The following passages of scripture and quotations tend to confirm this basic truth.


When something is difficult to comprehend, or certain facts seem obscure, we often consider it to be one of the mysteries, and therefore it rests upon untouchable ground. But is it wrong to seek the answer to a mystery? Because we seem to be ignorant upon the nature of something, be it scientific, social, or religious, are we justified in saying we should not explore the unknown?

That which we do not know is termed a mystery. However, when we learn and understand something, it then becomes knowledge.

“The word signifies a secret; a mystery being a thing kept secret and hid from our understanding, until it be revealed to us.”

Crudens Concordance, p398

Paul the Apostle refers to the gospel and Jesus Christ as a mystery which became manifest in his time.

“Now to him that is of power to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:

Romans 16:25-26

“…that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,”

Ephesians 6:19

[4]   Brigham Young declared that when a matter is understood it no longer remains a mystery; and therefore the greater the understanding, the less the mystery. He said the principle of common sense and understanding would clarify any mystery.

“There is no mystery to me in what God has revealed to me, or in what I have learned, whether it has been through Joseph, an angel, the voice of the Spirit, the Holy Ghost, or the Spirit of the Lord; no matter how I have learned a thing, if I understand it perfectly it is no mystery to me. *** Do you think it any mystery to angels to know how the various organizations are brought on earth? Not the least in the world. There is no mystery in all this to the Gods, no mystery in them to the prophets and apostles whom they send, and to whom they reveal them; it is all plain, every day, common sense, just as much so as with anything else in the world–we understand it!”

Deseret News, June 8, 1873

Brigham Young

So, we may determine mysteries to be only the lack of understanding. The more we know and understand a thing, the less the mystery.


Counsel by Joseph Smith was once given to stay away from mysteries. These instructions were given to missionaries as they were departing for their missions. He exhorted them to declare the first principles to the world. Also, that they were not to declare mysteries which they did not understand.

[5]   “Oh, ye elders of Israel, hearken to my voice; and when you are sent into the world to preach, tell those things you are sent to tell; preach and cry aloud, “Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand; repent and believe the Gospel.”  Declare the first principles, and let mysteries alone, lest ye be overthrown.  Never meddle with the visions of beasts and subjects you do not understand.”                                        TPJS292

Jesus himself warned his disciples about teaching mysteries, or the deeper principles of the gospel, to those who would not accept them:

“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”                                                    Matthew 7:6

Paul understood the disciples of Christ to be stewards, or the agents of these mysteries:

“Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.”

1 Corinthians 4:1

Alma bears testimony that he had `seen much’ of the mysteries:

“I said I never had known much of these things; but behold, I mistake, for I have seen much of his mysteries and his marvelous [6] power; yea, even in the preservation of the lives of this people.”            Alma 10:5

Some of these disciples bear record that they did teach some mysteries and were willing to make known some of the deep things of God:

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,”                                1 Corinthians 15:51

“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”

Romans 11:25

Brigham Young explains the mysteries of the gospel in this way:

“Is it a great mystery, that the world cannot solve, that man is on the earth? Yes, it is; but to whom? To the ignorant–those who know nothing about it. It is no mystery to those who understand. Is it a mystery to the [7] Christian world that Jesus is the Son of God, and still the son of man? Yes it is; it is hidden from them, and this fulfills the scripture, `If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost,’ who have no faith, and who pay no attention to the Spirit of God. These things are called mysteries by the people because they know nothing about them–just like laying hands on the sick. Is it a mystery that fever should be rebuked and the sick healed by the laying on of hands of a man who is endowed with authority from God and has been ordained to that gift? `Oh yes,’ say the ignorant receive the truth when they hear it? No, they will not, and this is their condemnation, that light has come into the world, and they choose darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil. That is the fact in the case. What is the mystery about it? They do not understand invisible things.”

  1. Young, Deseret News

June 18, 1873

Now those who say we should stay away from mysteries would of necessity be saying that we should refrain from the teachings of the Book of Mormon because it contains many mysteries. The writers of that book testify to this:

“I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my [8] days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.”

1 Nephi 1:1

“I say unto you, my sons, were it not for these things, which have been kept and preserved by the hand of God, that we might read and understand of his mysteries, and have his commandments always before our eyes, that even our fathers would have dwindled in unbelief, and we should have been like unto our brethren, the Lamanites, who know nothing concerning these things, or even do not believe them when they are taught them, because of the traditions of their fathers, which are not correct.”                  Mosiah 1:5

“And he also taught them concerning the records which were engraven on the plates of brass, saying: My sons, I would that ye should remember that were it not for these plates, which contain these records and these commandments, we must have suffered in ignorance, even at this present time, not knowing the mysteries of God.”              Mosiah 1:3

“Behold, it has been prophesied by our fathers, that they should be kept and handed down from one generation to another, and be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord until they should go forth unto every nation, kindred, [9] tongue, and people, that they shall know of the mysteries contained thereon.”                                           Alma 37:4

Alma said that God prepared the Book of Mormon expressly for the purpose of unfolding all such mysteries.

“And now, when Ammon had made an end of speaking these words the king rejoiced exceedingly, and gave thanks to God, saying: Doubtless a great mystery is contained within these plates, and these interpreters were doubtless prepared for the purpose of unfolding all such mysteries to the children of men.”                                 Mosiah 8:19


Often there arises the question about seeking after mysteries. Should they be condemned, or are we justified before the Lord in seeking these things? Nephi sought to know the mysteries of God and the Lord answered him in this manner:

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.”                                     1 Nephi 2:16

[10]  Then Nephi adds this little testimonial:

“For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.”    1 Nephi 10:19

Alma adds:

“Now, I unfold unto you a mystery; nevertheless, there are many mysteries which are kept, that no one knoweth them save God himself.  But I show unto you one thing which I have inquired diligently of God that I might know–that is concerning the resurrection.”                 Alma 40:3

The Lord gives this counsel:

“And if thou wilt inquire, thou shalt know mysteries which are great and marvelous; therefore thou shalt exercise thy gift, that thou mayest find out mysteries, that thou mayest bring many to the knowledge of the truth, yea, convince them of the error of their ways.”      DC 6:11

“If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries [11] and peaceable things–that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.”

DC 42:61

The difference between the people who learn the mysteries and those who do not, is the difference between the righteous saints of God and the people of the world. It is not for the world to know the mysteries.

“Behold, thou shalt observe all these things, and great shall be thy reward; for unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom, but unto the world it is not given to know them.”   DC 42:65

The channel which separates the true Saints from the world, is the Priesthood. This is the power by which these mysteries are given. Joseph Smith was the first person in many centuries to receive this key (D&C 28:7) and that Priesthood was passed on to others who would then be able to understand the mysteries of God.

“The power and authority of the higher, or Melchizedek Priesthood, is to hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church– To have the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, to have the heavens opened unto them, to commune with the general assembly and church of the Firstborn,”                                   DC 107:18-19

[12]  “And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.”

DC 84:19

“Seek not for riches but for wisdom, and behold, the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you, and then shall you be made rich.  Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich.”                   DC 6:7


Joseph Smith warned:

“I believe all that God ever revealed, and I never hear of a man being damned for believing too much; but they are damned for unbelief.”      TPJS374

“The devil has no power over us only as we permit him.  The moment we revolt at anything which comes from God, the devil takes power.”           TPJS181

This same principle was preached by Jesus to the Apostles.

“He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.”   Matthew 13:11-12

[13]  There is perhaps no better scriptural reference to mysteries than by Alma. Here is a prophet who knew the blessings and dangers of both receiving and rejecting the mysteries. His summary is beautifully explained.

“And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him. And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full. And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction.  Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.”             Alma 12:9-11


The Prophet Joseph, like all other great prophets, had difficulty teaching new truths to the world. On one occasion his feelings were unleashed in this great outburst:

[14]  “This generation is as corrupt as the generation of the Jews that crucified Christ; and if He were here today, and should preach the same doctrine He did then, they would put Him to death.”   TPJS328

Again, on another occasion, he spoke of this difficulty and continues to also chastise the Saints. Said he:

“But there has been a great difficulty in getting anything into the heads of this generation.  It has been like splitting hemlock knots with a corn-dodger for a wedge, and a pumpkin for a beetle.  Even the Saints are slow to understand. I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions: they cannot stand the fire at all.”             TPJS331

“There are a great many wise men and women too in our midst who are too wise to be taught; therefore they must die in their ignorance, and in the resurrection they will find their mistake.”       TPJS309

Some have supposed that we have all that God has revealed within the Doctrine and Covenants; but [15] Brigham Young said this was not the case. God had revealed many things, but the people were not able to accept them.

“I recollect, in Far West, Joseph, talking upon these matters, said ÄÄ “The people cannot bear the revelations that the Lord has for them.  There were a great many revelations if the people could bear them.”

  1. Young, JD 18:242

Others among the Saints knew the difficulty Joseph had with these new mysteries of truth. John Taylor added the following comments:

“No wonder that Joseph Smith should say that be felt himself shut up in a nutshell, there was no power of expansion, it was difficult for him to reveal and communicate the things of God, because there was no place to receive them.  What he had to communicate was so much more comprehensive, enlightened and dignified than that which the people generally knew and comprehended, it was difficult for him to speak; he felt fettered and bound, so to speak, in every move he made,”                                         John Taylor, JD 10:148

“The fact is, there are a great many things taught in the building up of this kingdom which seem strange to us, being contrary to our traditions, and are calculated to try men.  Brother Joseph used a great many methods of testing the integrity of men; and he taught a great [16] many things which, in consequence of tradition, required prayer, faith, and a testimony from the Lord, before they could be believed by many of the Saints.  His mind was opened by the visions of the Almighty, and the Lord taught him many things by vision and revelation that were never taught publicly in his days; for the people could not bear the flood of intelligence which God poured into his mind.”                                             Wilford Woodruff

JD 5:84

“There are many, perhaps all of us, that have more or less of a desire to conform to the ideas which prevail in the world. These ideas we have inherited, and they come natural to us; and not having progressed sufficiently to overcome them, we naturally lean toward them. We do this in politics, in finance, in trading, in almost everything. It seems to be right to us, because all of our inherited tendencies are in that direction. If we could have a glimpse of heaven, and understand things, as they are, we might be able to do better; but this is not God’s way of doing things. He wants us to work out our own development, and to exert the powers we have inherited from Him in conquering the wrong tendencies we have inherited from our fathers. He gives us line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; but He does not reveal it all at once. At the same time He would like us to comprehend more than we do. I have sometimes thought that the Prophet [17] Joseph, with the knowledge he possessed and the progress he had made could not stay with the people, so slow were we to comprehend things and so enshrouded in our ignorant traditions.”                     George Q. Cannon

Mill. Star 61:629

President Brigham Young explains the rare quality of character of those people who were able to accept new truths:

“A declaratory statement is sufficient for those who are prepared to receive the spirit of revelation for themselves, but with the most of the human family, we have to reason and explain. A really pure person is very scarce; but when the heart is truly pure, the Lord can write upon it, and the truth is received without argument, or doubt, or disputation.”

Brigham Young

Deseret News, June 7, 1873

The Lord confirmed this:

“Neither is man capable to make them (mysteries) known, for they are only to be seen and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit, which God bestows on those who love him, and purify themselves before him;” DC 76:116

“For thus saith the Lord–I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who [18] fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end. Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory. And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom. Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations.”

DC 76:5-8

Alma adds this excellent description and qualification:

“Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing–unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance, even as it has been given unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance.”                     Alma 26:22

The great King Benjamin, before delivering his famous sermon, pleaded to the people to prepare themselves so that they would be able to receive the mysteries of God.

[19]  “And these are the words which he spake and caused to be written, saying: My brethren, all ye that have assembled yourselves together, you that can hear my words which I shall speak unto you this day; for I have not commanded you to come up hither to trifle with the words which I shall speak, but that you should hearken unto me, and open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand, and your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view.”                               Mosiah 2:9

From these scriptures and revelations we know that righteousness is the most important factor in learning about the kingdom of God. Only in purity of heart can we understand these mysteries. Without purity and righteousness the mysteries become “stumbling blocks” and a “rock of offense”.


Those persons who are not righteous enough to receive new mysteries of truth will oppose them. Not only will the truths be opposed, but also those who teach them. Hence, there is great danger in teaching the mysteries of the kingdom of God. No one knew these dangers better than the Prophet Joseph. He not only had dangers from the outside world, but also from among his friends.

“Many men will say, `I will never forsake you, but will stand by you at all times.’ But the moment you teach them some of the mysteries of the kingdom of [20] God that are retained in the heavens and are to be revealed to the children of men when they are prepared for them they will be the first to stone you and put you to death. It was this same principle that crucified the Lord Jesus Christ, and will cause the people to kill the prophets in this generation.”                                             TPJS309

Therefore, there must be great wisdom used in handling the mysteries. Jesus warned his disciples not to cast those “pearls before swine.” All of the disciples had to use care in proclaiming the secrets which they knew. Paul felt the weakness of the Saints and voiced his feelings to them this way:

“I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.”    1 Corinthians 3:2

Paul also had trouble with many of the Saints who should have been teachers. They also were under the necessity of learning the milk of the gospel, or in other words the first principles. He declared that stronger doctrines are for those that are able to “discern both good and evil.” This is the meat of the Gospel.

“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them [21] that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”                                                    Hebrew 5:12-14

Jesus referred to this “meat” of the gospel which was yet a mystery to His disciples:

“In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.”   John 4:31-32

Again, to his hearers, He referred to this meat.

“Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.”                     John 6:26-27

In the days of the second coming Jesus shall appoint certain faithful Saints to be rulers in His Kingdom. Peter and the disciples asked Him who those “faithful and wise” servants would be. Again Jesus referred to the “meat” – and to those who would be imparting it:

[22]     “And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, be ye therefore ready also; for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not. Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or unto all? And the Lord said, I speak unto those whom the Lord shall make rulers over his household, to give his children their portion of meat in due season. And they said, Who then is that faithful and wise servant? And the Lord said unto them, It is that servant who watcheth, to impart his portion of meat in due season. Blessed be that servant whom his Lord shall find, when he cometh, so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.”                                              I.V. Luke 12:47-53

Here the faithful servant is the one who “watcheth to impart his portion of meat.” In other words the Saint who knew the mysteries and would watch for the “due season” or the right time and place to impart that “meat” of the gospel. It is that faithful Saint who learns the “meat” and teaches it in its due season, who is the Saint that shall be made “ruler over all that he hath.”

In Brigham Young’s last public address, he summarizes the majesty of the gospel and the great “hidden mysteries that God has reserved for the latter times.” However, he points out in no certain terms our incapacity as Saints to receive these things.

“When we get to understand all knowledge, all wisdom, that it is necessary for us to understand in the flesh, we will be like clay in the hands of the potter, willing [23] to be moulded and fashioned according to the will of him who has called us to this great and glorious work, of purifying ourselves and our fellow-beings, and of preparing the nations of the earth for the glory that awaits them through obedience.  Here is mystery, here are the hidden mysteries that God has reserved for the latter times, and they are coming forth; the work we have upon us is an immense one, it is great, powerful and divine; it is an almighty work.  And with regard to the conduct of this people ÄÄ if an angel should come here and speak his feelings as plainly as I do, I think he would say, `O, Latter-day Saints why don’t you see, why don’t you open your eyes and behold the great work resting upon you and that you have entered into?  You are blind, you are stupid, you are in the dark, in the mist and fog, wandering to and fro like the boat upon the water without sail, rudder or oar; and you know not whither you are going.'”

Brigham Young

JD 19:93-94

Joseph Smith felt a similar feeling of anguish because of the inability of the Saints to receive greater truths.

“If the Church knew all the commandments, one-half they would condemn through prejudice and ignorance.”                   TPJS112

Because of our difficulty to learn even “one-[24]half” of the commandments, it often happens that when we hear a new truth, which would cause us to leave old traditions, and our conformities with the world, we will in fear and false justification, cry out, “stay away from the mysteries.” It is because of these attributes which caused the Prophet Joseph Smith to say:

“Had I inspiration, revelation, and lungs to communicate what my soul has contemplated in times past, there is not a soul in this congregation but would go to their homes and shut their mouths in everlasting silence on religion till they had learned something.”                   TPJS320

“I advise all to go on to perfection, and search deeper and deeper into the mysteries of Godliness.  A man can do nothing for himself unless God direct him in the right way; and the Priesthood is for that purpose.”




Ogden Kraut

September 1994

[i]                                Preface

The main text of this pamphlet is a letter written in answer to one received by the author from a friend who has been having discussions with a pastor on the subject of plural marriage. The names have been withheld for obvious reasons; however, the correspondence is printed in pamphlet form as the information may be of interest to others.

There are three letters included herein: (1) cover letter from “a friend”; (2) excerpts from the pastor’s letter to “the friend”; and (3) response by the author.

The lack of information on plural marriage recorded in the New Testament has caused many readers to wonder why. Hopefully this short pamphlet will provide some possible answers.

—Ogden Kraut

[ii] 18 August 1994

Dear Mr. Kraut,

I have given a number of your books away to people. One of the persons I gave your book Polygamy and the Bible to is the Pastor of a fundamentalist church in _______. I have had many conversations with him regarding polygamy. He has never won an argument.

Yesterday, he presented me with the attached argument. This one has me perplexed as to how to answer it. I believe the singular would refer to my relationship with each wife as a one to one relationship. Therefore, I do not interpret Paul as inferring monogamy. I do not know who Lightfoot is, and therefore I have no reason to consider his reference as important.

The remaining comments 1 through 4 are the Pastor’s interpretation.

I would appreciate any comments you could give me before I respond to him. I don’t like giving answers off the top of my head. I would like to intelligently answer his argument.

Thanking you in advance.




Excerpts from Pastor’s Letter


In I Cor. 7:1 the Apostle [Paul] moves into the second section of the epistle marked by the *****[Greek letters], (peri de), “now concerning.” It is apparent from the epistle that Paul is responding to a number of questions posed to him in a Corinthian correspondence (7:1, 25; 8:1; 12:1; 16:1, 12). It is logical that Paul should insert their questions regarding marriage directly after his discourse on sexual immorality (6:12-20). In all likelihood the “it is good for a man not to touch a woman” is a Corinthian slogan that Paul is quoting from their own letter. It cannot be an axiom of Paul’s for Paul advocates full conjugal relations within marriage and only advises abstinence for the purpose of prayer, and after that to come back together again (7:5).

Paul responds to the pseudo-spiritual Corinthians by telling them “now (*****) because of immortalities (******) let (3rd person imperative) each one (masculine nominative singular) have his own wife (feminine nominative singular) and each one (feminine nominative singular) have her own (*****), husband.”

This statement of Paul, especially within the greater context of 6:12 – 7:7, not only advocates marriage and full conjugal relations within that marriage, but it also promotes monogamy as the standard for Christians. Lightfoot sees 7:2 as an incidental prohibition against polygamy. Calvin also notes that this passage speaks against polygamy because of its emphasis upon the mutual singularity of the marital obligation, which would be undermined by multiple unions.

[iv]Monogamy is advocated in this passage in the following ways:

  1. Paul identifies Gen. 2:24, which is the Divine design for marriage, as being physical in nature (6:16). The “one flesh” teaching from Gen. 2:24 is primarily physical union and that union takes place between two and only two people.
  2. In 7:2 Paul is referring to monogamous marriages only (seen in the repetitive “each” and the emphatic “own”). There is a mutuality here which is exclusive on both spouses. For either spouse to take on another partner would violate the mutual exclusivity commanded in this text.
  3. Again, in vv. 3-4 Paul specifies that there are conjugal rights for each spouse, and again, it is in the context of monogamy (“husband” and “wife” are again both singular). Furthermore, the authority of the spouse’s body belongs to the other spouse, the wife’s body belongs to the husband and the husband’s to the wife. Polygamy would undermine that mutually exclusive “body rights” of the wife if polygamy were permitted.
  4. The advice throughout the context of marital instruction is to “stay as you are” (7:20). If you are single, remain single (if you can, 7:9); if you are married, remain married. A logical extension of this would be if you are monogamous remain monogamous.

[1] September 1994




Dear _________,

Thank you for your letter of the 18th of August and the enclosure of part of a letter from your Pastor friend. It is clear that he has gone beyond the normal amount of gospel study indulged in by most pastors—a very healthy and pleasing quality.

However, his argument against plural marriage requires an intense and weighty struggle with the scriptures to come up with any kind of support. Understanding the meaning of those verses in I Corinthians probably requires a little extra effort, as it is somewhat difficult to determine the clear meaning of some of Paul’s writings. Even the Apostle Peter realized this and commented:

And account that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation, even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;

As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. (2 Pet. 3:15-16)

[2]It seems that we should study Paul’s letters by taking our scriptural commentaries in hand to assist in a more complete understanding of what Paul is really saying. Gospel subjects should not be difficult to understand, as the following commentary from The Times and Seasons explains:

There never ought to be a dispute in the world about what the gospel is among those who profess a belief in the Bible; for if it is not told in the scriptures plainly, and without leaving it a matter of contention, the Bible is not a safe guide, neither could any thinking man trust his salvation on its teachings, unless they were easily understood: for if the gospel is designed for the salvation of all men, it certainly ought to be very plain, for there are a great many in the world who cannot understand anything, unless it is very plain and easy of understanding. There is no subject ever addressed to the understanding of man, that needs to be so plain and easy of comprehension as the gospel, if we may credit the persons who have promulgated it. They profess to have had a commission to proclaim it to every creature in all the world. In taking so wide a range, there would be many persons of very weak capacities, who are not able to understand but very little, and that little must be exceedingly plain, or else they would not be able to understand it. There is no person who will suffer his mind to reflect on the nature and design of the gospel but will be led to see that it must be the plainest of all messages; for it was to affect every creature in all the world; and if so, it must be suited to their capacities to make it a scheme of mercy and benevolence; for if they could not understand it, it would be worse than folly to present it to them. This is one reason why so few either believe or embrace it. It is too simple and foolish, according [3] to their estimation, to be of any consequence to them. It was so considered in the days of the apostles who immediately followed the Savior; and to such an extent did this feeling prevail, that an apostle said, if a man would be wise he must become a fool that is, to be wise, he must believe and practice those things which the world considered the most perfect foolishness, and too simple and degrading, to be believed by any rational being. And yet, notwithstanding its foolishness of God is wiser than men, and this weakness of God is stronger than men: “For when, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God, by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe.” (I Cor. 1:21) (Times and Seasons 2:226-227)

So, generally speaking, the scriptures are meant to be plain and clearly understood. The pathway to understanding the ways of God are simple and “the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.” (Isa. 35:8) It was not intended that the Bible required everyone to understand Greek and Hebrew to comprehend its message.

So now, back to the text of Paul’s writings—We are faced with comprehending Paul’s peculiar form of writing, which is often a difficult task because of his great learning and method of expression. In his letter to the saints in Corinth, Paul says, because of immoralities, everyone should have his own wife and every woman should have a husband. He is neither advocating plural marriage, nor is he speaking against it—he merely supports the idea of marriage in order to prevent immoralities. Paul did not say “monogamy was a standard for Christians.”

[4]Calvin, Lightfoot, Billy Graham and others might think this reference to monogamy is a direct statement of opposition to plural marriage, but it is not. Martin Luther and over a dozen of his best scholars took issue with such an interpretation. In a letter to Prince Phillip, Luther said, “For the Gospel hath neither recalled nor forbid what was permitted in the law of Moses with respect to marriage.” (History of the Variations of the Protestant Churches, vol. 1, by James Benign Bosuet). Even St. Augustine (354-430 A.D.), the learned scholar and prolific writer of the Catholic Church, had to admit that “because for the sake of multiplying posterity, no law forbad many wives.” (The City of God 16:38)

This idea or interpretation is similar to someone saying that since Adam and Eve were married in monogamy on this earth, that must be a definite indication against plural marriage. Did the Old Testament polygamists, Abraham, Jacob, and Moses, fail to read that into it? They were prophets of God; they spoke continually with God. Would they jeopardize their salvation by not correctly understanding and living an eternal law of marriage?

Promoting a monogamous marriage is often a statement against celibacy, which was a common practice in the early days of Christianity. In spite of Paul’s admonitions, it was so common that it became an accepted lifestyle in the church with monks and nuns.

So in his letters to the saints, Paul was actually defending the marriage covenant as opposed to celibacy and immorality. By sustaining marriage, he [5] was not necessarily out on a propaganda campaign against plural marriage.

Let’s consider the Pastor’s four points that he itemized after the statement, “Monogamy is advocated in this passage in the following ways:”

  1. In Genesis 2:24 the physical marriage is considered being “one flesh”, which some indicate is a union only “between two and only two people.” But where in the scriptures does it say that? When Abraham took other wives, was he still only one flesh with the first wife? Or did it suddenly change to one flesh with only the second? Since the act of physical consumation created the union of one flesh, plural marriages are still a physical consumption, still a genuine marriage, still for the production of children, and still one flesh in one family unit. If two people can be “one flesh”, there is nothing in scripture to say that three cannot be one flesh. Are they only one flesh in marriage? Would that mean a man who is single is no flesh? Or is he one flesh and when a wife joins him in marriage, she becomes “one” with him? This sounds more reasonable and more consistent with scripture. Thus, if a second or third woman should join him in marriage, they also shall be “one” with him in the flesh.

If the scriptures figuratively say that woman was taken from a rib of man, she is a part of him—one flesh with him. Furthermore, if he has more than one rib, why can’t he have more than one wife?

  1. The reference in I Cor. 7:2 is talking about a married man having his own wife, and woman having her own husband for the reason “to avoid [6] fornication“. He did not say, “Let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband to avoid plural marriage!” Yet this is the private interpretation that some anti-polygamists use to support their own position. They should read the text in light of the original intent of the author and not for what they personally want it to mean. What sincere Christian could read that text and honestly think it had anything to say about plural marriage? Paul continues further on that subject by saying, “But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.” (I Cor. 7:9) The context of the warning is to avoid immorality—not plural marriage.
  2. In I Cor. 7:3-4, Paul states: “Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.” To say that “Polygamy would undermine the mutually exclusive body rights” is nowhere stated in those verses. If a man had two wives he could still render to each of them “due benevolence”. They, too, could render just as much benevolence to him as they could in monogamy. Benevolence can be rendered in celibacy, monogamy and polygamy, and the latter surely would not “undermine” such a principle. There is no restriction for a polygamous man in his benevolence with two or more wives. In fact, he must learn to be twice as benevolent, for the more wives a man has, the more benevolent he should become—but this is difficult for monogamists to understand.
  3. In I Cor. 7:20, Paul says, “Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.” Your [7] Pastor friend has actually taken this verse out of context, for the verses just prior to this talk about circumcision and the verses immediately following refer to being the Lord’s servant. But, even if verse 20 were referring to marital status–sustaining the idea that if you are single, remain single if you can, and if you are married, then remain married–by the same criteria, then, if you are polygamous, then remain polygamous.

* * *

Most respected Bible commentators do not derive from Chapter 7 of I Corinthians any direct restriction against plural marriage; but there are a few others who do. For example, Matthew Henry thought verse 5 meant that polygamy might “defraud one another of the use of their bodies.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary 6:537) And Adam Clark commented on verse 2: “Here, plurality of wives and husbands is most strictly forbidden; and they are commanded to marry for the purpose of procreating children.” (Clark‘s Commentary 6:220) Strangely enough, he quotes Jewish commentary on marriage with four reasons why men marry:

In the Jewish constitutions there Are some things not only curious, but useful, respecting marriage. “There are four causes which induce men to marry: 1. impure desire; 2. To get riches; 3. To become honourable: 4. For the glory of God. Those who marry through the first motive beget wicked and rebellious children. Those who marry for the sake of riches have the curse of leaving them to others. Those who marry for the sake of aggrandizing their family, their families shall be diminished. Those who marry to promote the glory of God, their children shall be holy, and by them [8] shall the true Church be increased.” (Clark‘s Commentary 6:220)

How interesting that these Biblical commentators will often refer to nearly every subject in the Hebrew text except for laws pertaining to plural marriage. They speak against plural marriage, but they do not look to see what the Hebrew law stated on it.

Another commentator, Matthew Poole, also concluded that these verses spoke against plural marriage. However, he did hit on the core of the issue that the main message was to prohibit “all sorts of impurities and uncleannesses, which are the products of the lusts of the flesh.” (Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible 3:558)

These commentators think that polygamy was one of those sins against marriage. Clarke made a reference to one of the Jewish commentaries on marriage, but failed to look further into the Israelitish laws on marriage. They hastily overlook the prominence of those laws pertaining to the marriage covenant and to the gravity of the consequences for disobedience or disbelief in those laws. The modern Christians have become so converted to, and bound down by, the laws of monogamy originating from the pagan Roman Empire, that they fail to look at the marriage laws of Israel established by God through the Prophet Moses.

The Jewish Encyclopedia mentions a few of those laws that pertain to polygamy situations:

  1. “If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, [9] both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated; then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn.” (See Deut. 21:15-17.)
  2. “If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.” (Ex. 21:10; see vs 2-11; compare Deut. 21:10-13.)
  3. “If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger; her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife [even if he already had a wife], and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her. And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel. (Deut. 25:5-6; see also vs. 7-10; compare Matt. 22:24-25, Mark 12:19, and Luke 20:28.) (Taken from Jewish Encyclopedia 8:336)

There are also other Jewish laws pertaining to plural marriage but these are sufficient to prove the point. When were any of those laws changed? Certainly Christ did not nullify or alter them, for He said He did “not come to destroy the law.” Nor did He make any changes in the moral law of marriage. How could He? Moral laws are always consistent, including those pertaining to plural marriage. They do not change in spite of civil, traditional, or national laws. Morality is consistent and ecclesiastical laws of marriage are moral laws.

[10]In other words, if fornication and adultery are evil at one time, the moral law states that they will always be evil. God cannot say in Moses’ day that “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” and then in our day say it’s all right to commit adultery. The moral laws regarding marriage—either monogamy or polygamy—do not change. Time, circumstances or man’s civil laws cannot revoke or reverse them. To do so is evil and contrary to the eternal laws of heaven and earth. Apparently Jesus and His apostles never even mentioned the three Jewish laws previously referred to, thus maintaining them as part of the moral and ethical code of ecclesiastical law. If plural marriage was once sanctioned by the Lord as being a moral law, then it always remains moral.

Men change, societies change, and so do religions; but moral laws do not. It was well stated that “The moral law is supreme….” (Hastings Dictionary of the Bible, p. 271) And this would naturally include those moral laws regarding monogamous and plural marriages.

Returning to our quest in determining what Paul actually thought and taught about marriage, we should realize that it is just as important to analyze what he didn’t say as what he did—or, perhaps more correctly to recognize the difference in what was recorded and what was not. His failure to clearly state his views on plural marriage is most conspicuous by its absence. Throughout chapter 7 of I Corinthians Paul talks about fornication, wives, the unmarried, the married, widows, divorce, children, husbands, circumcision, servants, virgins, the body, and marriage in general; but he completely avoids the issue of plural [11] marriage or a man with more than one wife. This is true in all of Paul’s epistles. The subject of plural marriage is totally ignored! And yet this was certainly not an unusual practice at that time nor anciently.

In Paul’s sermons on fleshly sins—such as in Romans 7, Galatians 5, and many other epistles—he never mentioned that a man in plural marriage was living in sin. Why not? He defends monogamous marriage, and rightly so, but why did he avoid either a positive or negative comment on the subject of polygamy? The Jews practiced it; the Arabs practiced it; the Old Testament prophets and patriarchs practiced it; yet it is not even slightly referred to by Paul or any of the other disciples. In fact, in all of Christ’s teachings about both sins and virtues of the flesh, even He did not mention it. Isn’t it strange that nothing was said about it? Certainly some references must have been made. If plural marriage was as terrible as most people suppose, then the Lord would surely have given us more reputable evidence to rely on than these few isolated verses in 1st Corinthians.

Why do we wrangle over the positive statements on monogamy, which are commendable, but fail to find one simple New Testament reference about plural marriage? If it is a sin, why didn’t they say so? If it is a virtue, why didn’t they admit it? The Old Testament is full of examples of prophets, patriarchs, kings and righteous men who lived plural marriage, and not one disciple of Jesus said a word against them for such a lifestyle.

Undoubtedly Christ’s apostles had something clear and definite to say on the subject. Have some of [12] those epistles been lost? Or, is it possible that the New Testament translators purposely omitted those references because of their own personal bias? It is obvious that either one or both of these situations have occurred.

Because of the scarcity of information on marriage, and especially plural marriage, in the New Testament, some have supposed that Paul did not marry. However, the early Christian fathers did not record it that way. Clement of Alexandria (born about 150 A.D.), one of the noted historians of early Christianity, wrote in his work, “The Stramata”, that “Paul does not hestiate in an Epistle to address his wife (Phil. 4:3; I Cor. 9:5, 13), whom he did not take about with him that he might facilitate his ministry.” (As quoted by Eusebius in Ecclesiastical History, Bk. 3, Chap. 30)

If we can find so little about even the monogamous marriages in the lives of the Apostles and Saints, is it not evident that even much more must be lacking about plural marriage in ecclesiastical history or text? We know that many nations and people of the world were practicing plural marriage at the time of Christ, so why wasn’t more said about it? We actually have very scanty and incomplete records on the personal lives of Christ and His apostles.

Most scholars of Biblical history are dismayed and frustrated at the loss of records and texts from existing manuscripts. Many early Christian fathers noted these textual omissions and aberrations and made an effort to unscramble a multitude of those problems. Augustine attempted to justify them; [13] Neander gave up trying to correct them; and Origen wrote a whole book trying to rectify them.

Nephi, one of the Book of Mormon prophets, despaired over the loss of so many important records. The Lord revealed to him the critical nature and consequences that would result from the loss of “plain and precious” texts that had deliberately been removed from sacred scriptures. He wrote:

And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of a great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away.

Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God

And after these plain and precious things were taken away, it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles; and after it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles, yea, even across the many waters which thou hast seen with the Gentiles which have gone forth out of captivity, thou seest—because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book, which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God—because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceedingly great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them. (I Nephi 13:26, 28, 29)

[14]If we attempt to say that something is missing from the Bible, immediately there is a cry of blasphemy. How could such a thing happen? However, scholars admit that this has been the case. They have introduced statements from the Bible itself to prove that some of the books are missing, i.e.:

Gen. 5:1—the book of the generations of Adam.

Exo. 24:7—the book of the covenant.

32:15-19—tables of testimony written on both sides.

32 & 33—the book which the Lord had written.

Num. 21:14—book of the wars of the Lord.

Josh. 10:18—written in the book of Jasher. (also 2 Sam. 1:18)

I Sam. 10:25—the book in which the manner of the kingdom was written.

I Kings 4:32,33—books containing three thousand proverbs, a thousand and five songs, a treatise on natural history and botany, written by Solomon.

11:41—book of the acts of Solomon.

14:19—book of the Chronicles of the kings of IsraeL

I Chron. 29:29—the book of Samuel the Seer, of Nathan the prophet, and of Gad the Seer.

2 Chron. 9:29—book of Nathan the prophet, the prophecy of Ahijah, the Shilonite, and in the visions of Iddo the Seer.

12:15—book of Shemaiah the prophet and of Iddo the Seer concerning genealogies.

18:22—the story of the prophet Iddo.

20:34—the book of Jehu, the son of Hanani.

24:27—the story of the book of the kings.

26:22—the Acts of Uzziah, written by Isaiah, son of Amoz.

28:26—book of the kings of Judah and Israel. (35:27. Chap. 36:8)

33:18, 19—life of Manasseh, the words of the Seers that spoke to him, in the book of the kings of Israel.

[15]Jer. 36:2—the words which Jeremiah wrote against Israel and Judah, and all the nations, in the roll of a book,

36:13—the roll in which Baruch, the scribe, wrote.

Dan. 22:4—the book that was sealed to the time of the end.

Hab. 2:2—the vision that was made plain on tables.

Mal. 3:16—the book of remembrance that was written for those that feared the Lord.

Luke 1:1—many wrote concerning the faith of the early Saints.

1 Cor. 5:9—a third Epistle to the Corinthians; we have only two.

Philip. 4:3—the book of life. (Rev. 13:8; chap. 20:12)

Col. 4:16—read the epistle from Laodicea.

2 Tim. 4:13—13 books and parchments left at Troas.

Jude 3—a second epistle of Jude; we have but one.

3:14—the prophecy of Enoch

Rev. 1:11—the book sent to the seven churches of Asia

5:1—a book sealed with seven seals

10:2—little book which a mighty angel had in his hand

20:12—the books out of which the dead will be judged

One can only wonder how many of these books would have provided additional information on the law of plural marriage? And how many other books have been lost or discarded because they did say something positive about plural marriage?

Besides all the lost books mentioned in the Bible, there are still many books that are included in some Bibles but not in others. For instance, there are 15 books between the Old and New Testaments (covering about 400 years of ecclesiastical writings) that are treasured by the Catholics, and included in their Bible as worthy scripture. The Church of England includes [16] portions of them in their lectionary, but most of the Protestants have discarded them. This is all a matter of record, so it is easy to understand how many inclusions and deletions have occurred with the original manuscripts.

Much of the difficulty stems from the work of the earliest Christian copyists. In a time when the majority of people were illiterate and when Christianity periodically underwent severe persecution, there were probably few professsionally trained scribes in the service of the church. Moreover, seldom were the scribes possessed by the spirit of the scribes of later times who worked according to the instructions of the Lord given in Deuteronomy 12:32: “Thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish therefrom.” In fact, the opposite seems to have been true of the scribes in the first two centuries. They introduced thousands of changes into the text. To be sure, the majority of their errors were unintentional and are easily discernible slips of the eye, ear, or mind. Hundreds of changes in the text were, however, made intentionally. Yet we should not think of these scribes as having acted from evil motives. If they often took many liberties in copying their texts, apparently they did so in most cases in an attempt to “help out.” They were more interested in making the message of the sacred text clear than in transmitting errorless MSS.

Thus, early scribes (and sometimes later ones) often “smoothed out” the Greek of the Biblical writer by adding conjunctions, changing tenses of verbs, and changing word order. They also tended to clarify ambiguous passages by adding nouns or pronouns, by substituting common synonyms for uncommon words, and sometimes even by rewriting difficult phrases. * * *

[17]There are also some instances—and these are usually very important ones—where scribes have added (or less often, subtracted) whole sentences or narratives in the interest of doctrine or completeness. (Harrison’s Biblical Criticism, pp. 138-39)

How many other letters, sermons, and epistles did the Apostles record, that said something worthwhile about plural marriage? In all the years of their ministry, did they make note of only one or two? We know that Jesus said and performed much more than just what is written in the New Testament. (See John 21:25.)

The answer to the Pastor seems to be clear! Many historians and scribes in ancient times (like those in modern times) generally balked at plural marriage and usually took measures to avoid, prevent or oppose it. If it is a correct principle and sanctioned by the Lord and His prophets, and we reject it, then we are condemned. If we choose to believe it is sanctioned by the Lord, there is plenty of historical evidence and scripture to support it, and blessings will follow obedience to correct principle.

On the other hand, if we choose to reject it, the Lord has allowed enough alternate windows so men can feel justified in that position. Using scriptures as proof against it, however, requires much juggling, twisting, and personal interpretation. This is an interesting aspect of scriptures—they are broad enough to give everyone a chance to believe what they want. A thousand different Christian religions are proof of that.

[18]Thank you for sharing this with me and for giving me the opportunity to respond.

Best wishes,

Ogden Kraut


Ogden Kraut Joke Book

What did the elephant say when the crocodile bit off his trunk?

“I thubbothe you thing thad’s fuddy…”


What happens to ducks that fly upside down?

They quack up.


What did the robot say to the gas pump?

Take your finger out of my ear and listen to me.


Why did Santa Claus use only seven reindeer this year?

He left Comet home to clean the sink.


What’s six feet long, green, and has eight eyes?

The Jolly Green Giant’s Sneakers.


What did the boy candle say to the girl candle?

Let’s go out together?”


What animal has the smallest appetite?

A moth.  It just eats holes.


Why did the cowboy die with is boots on?

‘Cause he didn’t want to stub his toes when he kicked the bucket.


“Why are you jumping up and down?”

“I’ve just taken my medicine and forgot to shake the bottle.”


What’s a raisin?

A worried grape.


What would you do if you ran out of gas in the jungle?

Put a tiger in your tank.


What did the picture say to the wall?

“First they frame me and then they hang me!”


What did one sardine say to the other sardine?

“Move over – you’re squashing me!”


What did the porcupine say to the cactus?

Is that you, Mama?


If you put a mother duck and five ducklings in a box, what would you have?

A Box of quackers.


Why is grass dangerous?

It is full of blades.


Why can’t you play jokes on snakes?

“Cause you can never pull their legs.”


What kind of lights did Noah have on the ark?



What did one ghost say to the other?

Do you believe in People?


Why was the mother flea crying?

Because her children had gone to the dogs.


Why did the rooster cross the road?

To show he wasn’t chicken.


What is a pickle?

A cucumber in a sour mood.


What did the mother pigeon say to her son?

Watch your posture, you’re beginning to walk people-toed!


What goes, “Ha, ha, ha plop?”

Someone laughing his head off.


Why did the jelly roll?

It saw the apple turnover.


What did the hen say when she saw a plate of scrambled eggs?

What a bunch of mixed up kids.


What did one toe say to the next toe?

Don’t look now but there’s a big heel following us.


What did the digital watch say to her mother?

“Look, Ma!  No hands!”


What did the baby sardine say when he saw a submarine?

Look!  There’s a can of people!


Why did King Kong climb up the Empire State Building?

To catch a plane.


Why are ghosts bad at telling lies?

Cause you can always see through them.


Did you hear about the stupid ghost?

He climbed over the walls.


Why is Dracula so unpopular?

Cause he’s a pain in the neck.


What’s worse than a giraffe with a stiff neck?

An elephant with a stuffed nose.


Why couldn’t the two elephants go swimming?

Because they only had one pair of trunks between them.


What’s as big as an elephant, but doesn’t weigh anything?

His shadow


What is a tornado?

Mother Nature doing the twist.


Why did the lobster blush?

He saw the salad dressing.


Why did the hens complain?

They were sick of working for chicken feed!


Why does a rabbit have a shiny nose?

Because its powder puff is at the other end.


Why do cows wear bells?

Because their horns don’t work.


Cross a parrot with a centipede and what do you get?

A walkie talkie!


Why’s a horse a terrible dancer?

It has two left feet!


What’s worse than an elephant with a sore nose?

A turtle with claustrophobia!


How can you tell which end of a worm is his head?

Tickle his middle and see which end smiles!


Why did the lobster get a divorce?

If discovered it was married to a crab!


What did the grape say when an elephant stepped on it?

Nothing – it just let out a little whine>


What happens to cows during an earthquake?

They give milk shakes.


How can you tell if a volcano is mad?

It will blow its top.


What’s the hardest thing about learning to roller skate?

The pavement.


How do you know if an elephant’s in your bed/

By the big “E” on his pajamas.


What do the reindeer say before they tell a joke?

This one will sleigh you!


Why do skunks argue/

Because they like to make a stink!


What did the croaking frog say to his friend?

I think I’ve got a person in my throat!


What would you get if you crossed a flea with a rabbit?

A bug’s bunny.


“Do moths cry?”

“Yes – haven’t you ever seen a mothbawl?”


Which roof covers the noisiest tenant?

The roof of your mouth.


What doesn’t ask questions but has to be answered?

A telephone.


What do you call a flea that lives in an idiot’s ear?

A space invader.


What’s the definition of a caterprillar?

A worm with a fur coat.


Why are wolves like playing cards?

They both come in packs.


Why didn’t the cannibal like clowns?

Because they tasted funny!




“Knock, Knock!”

“Who’s there?”


“Duane who?”

“Duane the bathtub.  I’m dwowning!”


“Knock, Knock!”

“Who’s there?”


“Gladys who?”

“Gladys Friday, how ‘bout you?”


“Knock, Knock!”

“Who’s there?”


“Adolf who?”

“A dolf ball hid me in de moud and I can’t dalk dormal?”


“Knock, Knock!”

“Who’s there?”


“William who?”

“William mind your own business!”


“Knock, Knock!”

“Who’s there?”


“Cows who?”

“Cows go “moo” not “who”!”


“Knock, Knock!”

“Who’s there?”


“Max who?”

“Max no difference – just open the door!”


Teacher:      Use the word “geometry” in a sentence.

Bob:             The little acorn grew and grew, and one day it awoke and said, Gee-ahm-a-tree.


New Neighbor:      Have you lived here all your life?

Old Timer:             Not yet.


Teacher:      Children, there will be only a half day of school this morning.

Pupils:                    Whoopee!  Horray!

Teacher:      Silence.  We will have the other half this afternoon.


Sign in front of a home:

Anyone’s welcome to use our lawnmower, provided he doesn’t take it out of our yard.


Nit:              Do you know how deep this river is?

Wit:             It can’t be that deep.  It only goes up to the ducks stomach.


Teacher:      What is a comet?

Lulu:             A star with a tail.

Teacher:      Name one.

Lulu:             Lassie!


Woman:        (Opening the door of her refrigerator and finding a rabbit inside)  What are you doing in there?

Rabbit:         This is a Westinghouse, isn’t it?

Woman:        Yes.

Rabbit:         Well, I’m just “westing.”


Mother python is worried about her daughter who is eighteen today and has never had a crush on anyone.


Mary wrote to Tom:         If you don’t get this letter, let me know and I’ll write another one.


A man at the movies left his seat to buy popcorn.  When he returned he said to an old lady sitting at the end of the row, “Did I step on your toe just now?”


“You certainly did!”  She said crossly.  “Oh good.”  Come the heartless reply, “this is my row.”


Teacher:      Where’s your homework?

Alec:            I made it into a paper plane and someone hijacked it!


“Daddy, I don’t like cheese with holes.”


Just eat the cheese and leave the holes on the side of your plate.”


A man rushed into the doctor’s office, jumped on the doctor’s back, and began shouting “One! Two! Three! Four!”


“Wait a minute!”  yelled the doctor, struggling to free himself.

“What do you think you’re doing?”


“Well, doctor,” said the eccentric man, “They said I could count on you!”


Jean:  Why does your dog turn around so many times before he lies down?

Jane:  He’s a watch dog, and he’s winding himself up.


Little Ivan had never been to a farm before now.  Visiting his aunt’s farm, he gazed curiously at the cow.

“What’s that” he asked.

“That’s my cow.”  Said his Aunt.

“And what are those things on her head?”

“Horns.”  Replied his Aunt.

Just then, the cow mooed long and loud.  Ivan was startled.  “Which horn did she blow?”


Old Lady:               A ticket to Toledo, please.

Ticket Agent:        Do you want to go by Buffalo?

Old Lady:               No, better make it a train.


A man just released from prison so elated after five years behind bars that he ran down the street shouting.  “I’m free!  I’m free!”

A small boy on the corner said, “So what – I’m four!”


The four-year-old girl stared at her grandfather a long time.

Then, she asked.  “Grandpa, were you on Noah’s Ark?”

“Of course not.”  He answered, chuckling.

“Then how come you didn’t drown?”


“Now as I understand it, sir,” said the policeman to the motorist, “you were driving this vehicle when the accident occurred.  Can you tell me what happened?”

“I’m afraid not, officer,” replied the motorist.  “I had my eyes shut!”


Barber:        Did you have ketchup with your lunch sir?

Customer:    No, I didn’t.

Barber:        In that case.  I seem to have slipped with the razor.


Teacher:      Ray, why is your composition on milk only a half-page long when I asked for two pages?

Ray:              I wrote on condensed milk.


“Daddy, where did I come from?”  the seven-year-old asked.

It was a moment for which her parents had carefully prepared.

They took her into the living room, took out the encyclopedia and several other books, and explained all they thought she should know about sexual attraction, affection, love and reproduction.  Then they both sat back and smiled contentedly.

“Does that answer your question?”  her father asked.

“Not really,” the little girl said.  “Marcia said she came from Detroit.  I want to know where I came from.”


The family seated in a restaurant had finished their dinners when the Dad called the waiter over.  “Yes, sir?”  said the waiter.

“My son has left a lot of meat on his plate.” Explained the Dad.  “Could you give me a bag so that I can take it home for the dog?”

“Gosh, Dad!”  explaimed the excited boy.  “Do we have a dog now?”


Little Girl:   What kind of dog is that?

Little Boy:    It’s a police dog.

Little Girl:   It doesn’t look like a police dog.

Little Boy:    That’s because it’s an undercover agent.


“Violet can you spell banana for me?”

“Well, sir, I know how to start but I don’t know when to stop.”


“When Abraham Lincoln was your age,” the father told his son, “he used to walk ten miles every day to get to school.”

“Really?” the kid asked.  “Well, when he wa your age, he was president.”


“Mom, what happens to the car when it’s too old to run anymore?”

“Someone sells it to your father.”


“Armstrong,” the boss said.  “I happen to know the reason you didn’t come to work yesterday was that you were out playing golf.”

“That’s a rotten lie!”  Armstrong protested.  “And I have the fish to prove it!”


“I’m so worried,” the nervous patient said as the nurse plumped up his pillows.  “Last week, I read about a man who was in the hospital because of heart trouble and he died of malaria.”

“Relax.” The nurse said, smiling.  “This is a first-rate hospital.  When we treat someone for heart trouble, he dies of heart trouble.”


“Mom,” the little girl said, “do all fairy tales begin with ‘Once upon a time?”

“No, dear.”  Her mother said.  “Sometimes they begin with; The couch you ordered has arrived at our warehouse and should be delivered within five working days.’”


A woman walked up to a little old man rocking in a chair on his porch.  “I couldn’t help noticing how happy you look.”  She said.  “What’s your secret for a long, happy life?”

“I smoke three packs of cigarettes a day.”  He said.  “I also drink a case of whiskey a week, eat fatty foods, and never exercise.”

“That’s amazing,” the woman said.  “How old are you?”

“Twenty-six.”  He said.


A little, withered old man walked into the headquarters of a lumberjack company in Western Canada.  “I want a job as a lumberjack.”  He said.

The foreman politely tried to talk him out of the idea.  After all, he was old, small, and much too weak to fell trees.  Undaunted, the old man took up an ax and proceeded to chop down a huge tree in record time.  “That’s just astounding.” The foreman said.  “Where did you learn to fell trees like that?”

“Well,” the old man said “you’ve heard of the Sahara Forest?”

“You mean the Sahara Desert.”

“Sure, that’s what it’s called now.”  The old man said.


Rodney Dangerfield once talked about how tough high school was.

“In our football games,” he said, “after they sacked the quarterback, they went after his family.”


The kindergarten teacher was showing her class an encyclopedia page picturing several national flags.  She pointed to the American flag and asked.  “What flag is this?”

A little girl called out.  “That’s the flag of our country.”

“Very good,”  the teacher said. “And what is the name of our country?”

“’Tis of thee,”  the girl said confidently.


Ted and Norman had been roommates for a week when Ted decided to try his hand at cooking.

He served a casserole and explained.  “I only know how to cook two things:  beef stew and cherry pie.”

Norman tasted it and said.  “Not bad. But which is it?”


The lawyer was reading the old man’s will before a gathering of his survivors.  As everyone listened attentively, he read the final paragraph:  “And, to my nephew Randolph, who always said I wouldn’t remember him in my will – Hello, Randolph.”


A farmer came into the local hardware store and bought a dozen axes at fifty dollars each.  He came in and made the same purchase every week for a month.  Finally, the store owner asked him what was going on.

“I sell these axes for forty dollars each.”  The farmer explained.

“That’s crazy,” the store owner said.  “You’re losing ten dollars on each ax.  What kind of business is that?”

“Lousy business.”  The farmer replied.  “But anything beats farming.”



“My brother was arrested at the zoo this afternoon.”

“Arrested?  What was he doing?”

“Feeding the pigeons.”

“But – what’s wrong with that?”

“He was feeding them to the lions.”


Memorial Day weekend was coming up, and the nursery school teacher took the opportunity to tell her class about patriotism.  “We live in a great country.”  She said.  “One of the things we should be happy about is that, in this country, we are all free.”

One little boy came walking up to her from the back of the room.  He stood with his hands on his hips and said.  “I’m not free.  I’m four.”


Texas Jim, the oil billionaire, showed up for his semi-annual dental examination.  The dentist took a series of X-rays, then poked around inside Jim’s mouth for several minutes.

“Your teeth are in perfect shape, Jim.” The dentist told him.  “Not a cavity in sight.”

Jim looked thoughtfully at him.  “Drill anyway.”  He said.  “I feel lucky today.”


A driver pulled up beside a rundown farmhouse.  He got out and knocked at the door.  A very old woman answered the door, and he asked her for directions to Des Moines.

“Don’t know.”  The woman said.  He got back in his car and pulled away.  Then he heard voices.  He looked in his rearview mirror and saw the woman and an equally old man waving for him to come back.  So he made a U-turn and drove up to them.

“This is my husband.”  The old woman said.  “He doesn’t know how to get to Des Moines either.”


Mark Twain once said that at the age of fourteen, he was convinced that his parents were among the stupidest people on the face of the earth.  When he reached twenty-one, he was amazed at how much they had learned in only seven short years.


He loved living in Staten Island, but he wasn’t crazy about the ferry.  Miss a ferry late at night, and you have to spend the next hour or so wandering the deserted streets of lower Manhattan.

So when he spotted a ferry no more than fifteen feet from the dock, he decided he wouldn’t subject himself to an hour’s wait.  He made a runny leap and landed on his hands and knees, a little bruised maybe, but safe on deck.

He got up, brushed himself off, and announced proudly to a bystander,  “Well, I made that one, didn’t I?”

“Sure did.”  The bystander said. “But you should have waited a minute or two.  The ferry is just about to dock.”


Bert and Harry went into a diner that looked as though it had seen better days.  As they slid into a booth, Bert wiped some crumbs from the seat.  Then he took a napkin and wiped some moisture from the table.  The waitress came and asked if they wanted menus.

“No thanks.”  Harry said.  “I’ll just have a cup of black coffee.”

“I’ll have black coffee.”  Too Bert said.  “And please make sure the cup is clean.”

The waitress shot him a nasty look.  She turned and marched into the kitchen.  Two minutes later, she was back.

“Two cups of black coffee.”  She announced.  “Which one of you wanted the clean cup?”


The office manager was tearing her hair out.  Every computer terminal in the place was lit up.  The mainframe was humming comfortably, and everything looked exactly as it had when work had come to an end the night before.

The only trouble was that nothing was working.  Seven keyboarders sat idly in front of their terminals, waiting for the service truck to arrive.  The office manager imagined dollar bills flying out the window as she paced back and forth impatiently.

At the sound of the approaching elevator, she stopped pacing.  The doors slid open, and a smiling technician strolled into the office.

“It’s about time?”  the office manager cried.  “I don’t know what’s wrong.  The mainframe is working, the terminals are on, everything seems to be hooked up properly.”

“Then what’s the trouble?” the technician asked.

“They type on the keyboards.” The manager said petulantly.  “and nothing shows up on the screen.  Nothing prints.  NOTHING HAPPENS!”

With a little smile, the technician nodded.  He walked over to the mainframe, examined the cable connections, and turned to the office manager.  “Got it.”  He said.

He turned back to the mainframe, reached toward the back of the console, and tapped the machine with the side of his hand.

“It’s working!”  One of the keyboarders called out.

The manager grinned.  “Terrific!”  she said.  “The man is a genius!”  She added, pointing to the technician.

“Glad to be of service.”  The technician said.  “That’ll be six hundred dollars.

The office manager stared at him in horror.  “Six hundred dollars!”  She sputtered.  “Are you out of your mind?  You were here less than thirty seconds.  All you did was tap on the machine.  I won’t pay a cent until you give me an itemized bill!”

The technician sighed.  He pulled an invoice pad from his pocket, wrote something, tore off the top age, and handed it to the office manager.

“Itemized bill,” he said calmly.

The office manager read it aloud:

Tapping the back of the console:         $20.00

Knowing where to tap:                       $580.00


A Texas rancher sat in a restaurant in Chicago, shaking his head sadly as he looked down at his steak.  He waved for the waiter.

“Take this thing back to the kitchen.” He said  “Tell the chef to try cooking it before sending it out again.”

Seconds later, the waiter returned.  “Sir,” he said, “the chef says the steak is cooked.”

Furious, the rancher got up and stormed into the kitchen.  Pointing to the offending steak, he bellowed,  “You call that thing cooked?”

The chef looked at the steak, then back at him “Yes,” he said, “it’s medium-rare.”

“Ha!”  the rancher snorted.  “I’ve seen cows hurt worse than that who recovered!”


During the jury-selection process, the judge asked aprospective juror some questions.

“have you formed any opinion about the guilt or innocence of the man on trial, Mr. Ferguson?”

“None whatsoever,” Ferguson answered.

“Are you opposed to capital punishment?” the judge asked.

“Certainly not in this case.”


O’Toole had been flying single-engine planes for years, but his mother always warned him that it was a terribly dangerous hobby.  O’Toole had asked her hundreds of times to come up with him so she could find out just how safe – and exhilarating – his flights could be.

Then one day, she shocked him and said she’d give it a try.

Determined to make this a memorable experience for his mother, O’Toole did everything he could to ensure she’d be comfortable.  Just before takeoff, he said “Mom, people sometimes have trouble with their ears during a flight.  This should take care of any problems.”

He handed her a stick of gum, strapped himself into the pilot’s seat, and headed for the runway.

An hour later, he touched down and taxied the plane off the runway.  He helped his mother out of her seat, waiting for her report.

She stood up and smiled at him.

“It was really wonderful.”  She said.  “But how do I get the gum out of my ears?”


Crankshaw finished his police training and was inducted into the force.  On his first day in uniform, he went to the department store where he used tow work.

“Look who’s here!” his former colleagues cried.

“Officer Crankshaw.”

“How do you like your new job?” one of them asked.

“Well,” Crankshaw said, “the hours aren’t as good as they were here.  And it’s dangerous.  But, one thing I love is that the customer is always wrong.”


“Governor,” the reporter said, “many people can’t understand from your recent speech just where you stand on the question of air pollution.”

“Good,” the governor said.  “It took my staff a week to write the speech just that way.”


“Painless dentist indeed!  Why, he’s no different from any other dentist I’ve been to!”

“Why, did he hurt you?”

“No, but he screamed when I bit his finger.”


A newcomer to the political scene was campaigning in the backwoods for the office of assemblyman.  Outide a ramshackle house, he saw a young man milking a cow.  He approached the man, ready to make his pitch for a vote.

Just as he was getting started, an old man called from inside the house.  “Luke, get in the house.  And who is that guy you’re talking to?”

“Says he’s a politician, Pop.”  Luke said.

“In that case, you’d better bring the cow inside with you.”


The guide had been leading the hunging party deeper and deeper into the woods.  Finally, he threw up his hands.  “We’re lost.”  He said.

One of the members of the hunting party screamed.  “Lost?  You told me you were the best guide in all of Vermont!”

“I am,” the guide said.  “but, we’re in Canada now.”


“I won’t pay you a nickel for this portrait!” the outraged client sputtered.  “Why – I look like a gorilla!”

“You should have thought of that before you hired me.” Said the artist.


Long ago, before the land and its animals were ravaged by the robber barons, there lied two tribes on opposite sides of a beautiful, yet sometimes dangerous, lake.  These tribes were at war with each other – had been at war for as long as any living member of either tribe could remember.

One day during an especially beautiful morning, a brave from one tribe and a maiden from the other came upon each other in the forest.  Recognizing the brave’s clothing, the maiden was sure that she was about to be killed.  But she soon realized that this was not to be. Instead, the brave marveled over her beauty and the graceful way she moved through the woods.  Like a young deer.

They talked.  They walked through the forest.  They shared childhood memories with each other.  By nightfall, they were deeply in love.  Both were saddened when they had to part.  The maiden went back to her tribe, the brave to his, and neither would have dreamed of telling anyone of what had happened in the forest.

They had, however, made a promise.  On the night of each full moon the brave would paddle across the lake.  The maiden would be waiting for him on the other side.

They kept their promise through many full moons.  Each time, he would dig out his hidden canoe and paddle across the water.  Each time, she would be waiting for him.  And each time, they would spend the night looking at the moon and the stars and dreaming of the day when their tribes would allow them to be together forever.

Then one night, the unthinkable happened.  The brave arrived at his hiding place and found his canoe gone.  He searched all over, but to no avail.  What was he to do?  His love would be waiting for him.  He could not disappoint her.  He realized there was only one action for him to take.  He leapt into the lake and began to swim.

The lake was wide, and the waters were cold, but the brave swam on and on.  Eventually, he passed the middle of the lake, and he could see his love on the opposite bank.  She waved to him, hoping to give him the strength he needed to reach her.

Then she saw him begin to slow.  Soon he was faltering.   Long before he reached her, the brave went under.

The maiden vowed then and there she would never love another.  She would devote her life to the memory of the man whose name her tribe had forbidden her to utter.

According to the legend, the lake was named after the man who gave his life to reach the woman he loved.

It’s called Lake Stupid.


Old Ship

Ogden Kraut


If I have had one dream concerning the OLD SHIP ZION, I have had a hundred.—Heber C. Kimball


[1]                         THE OLD SHIP ZION(1)

                                  A Parable

Once upon a time a Master Craftsman built a beautiful sailing vessel. It was created with more inspiration and wisdom than any other ship had been for nearly 2000 years. It contained instruments for its guidance that no other ship possessed. It was fortified with armor to withstand the attack of any enemy. It could weather any storm.

The Master selected a crew of worthy officers to take her out to sea, giving them chart, compass, and specific written instructions for the course they should pursue. He promised great rewards and joy to all hands when they reached that harbor of peace and plenty from which they would never need to sail again. Everyone became well informed of their course, the dangers of their route and the final destination.

Then the Master Builder launched His beautiful ship for its predestined and maiden voyage. The journey at sea would take many years and great difficulties were to be experienced, but the Master promised success to all who would obey His instructions.

The first captain lived only a short time, but he gave his life for the ship.(2) The second and third captains likewise spent their lives at the wheel carefully charting and navigating the ship according to the Master’s plan.

[2]Finally a storm arose, more severe and threatening than any tempest before. Dark and threatening clouds soon broke into a fury causing the raging seas to thrash against the bow of the ship.(3) Many of the crew and a few of the officers began to fear for their lives and their families.(4) They began to murmur among themselves, saying, “What need has our Master of this dangerous course that may destroy us all?” They soon convinced others that they should turn the ship toward another direction, saying that they were sure the same destination could be reached.(5) These mutineers became so demanding and persuasive that nearly all the officers and even the captain became convinced they should sail south where the sea was calm and the climate warm.(6) There they could take a more peaceful journey and follow the same course of other worldly travelers.(7)

Due to the panic of the crewmembers, and the turbulence of the stormy sea, the captain turned the ship’s rudder in another direction.(8) Immediately the storm abated. They were then joined by other ships who greeted them with friendship and praise for the change in course they had made.(9) This new direction brought such peace and honor from the other worldly travelers, that this detour was soon hailed as inspired.(10)

But in the midst of all their rejoicing, a few of the crew members were not content. They began to question the others and asked, “Are we not supposed to follow the course that was given to us by the Master?(11) Then there [3] began to be disputations among them over the right to change the written orders and turn the ship from its original course.(12) Some of the officers argued that those instructions were “no longer needed.” They claimed the right and the authority to revoke and change them according to their own unanimous approval.(13) Anyone who disagreed with these new policies would be declared a rebel and confined to prison, thrown overboard, or compelled to compromise by signing an allegiance to the officers.(14)

Other captains came to the wheel who not only continued the new change of direction, but soon declared that the original instructions given by the Master were not only out dated, but were false and evil. Anyone believing in them would suffer condemnation.

Soon other changes were inaugurated and approved by the officers. The armor plate was considered too heavy and burdensome and so it was cast off.(15) The sail was too long and bulky so it was shortened.(16) The instrument panel was too bright and was considered unnecessary, so it was covered up.(17) They also tossed aside the sailing regulations.(18) So, they continued their voyage on the calm sea, in the warm climate, surrounded by other ships who had become their closest friends.(19)

But by and by the Master Builder, Who knew His ship was off course, came to rescue it from a terrible fate.(20) “What is the cause of this great evil?” he chided the officers. “Why have you not done even as I commanded [4] you?”(21) At this the officers wept and gnashed their teeth for they could see there was no excuse for what they had done.(22)

Because those officers had chosen to sail with the worldly travelers, the Master told them that such would be their fate.(23) They were placed aboard passing ships and therefore would arrive at a destination they had not anticipated.(24)

The Master told one of His servants(25) to go below deck and release those prisoners who had suffered for defending His orders.(26) To these few faithful followers the Master promised priceless riches and treasures when they reached the haven of His Port.(27)

* * * * *

* * *



[5]                               Footnotes

(1)See the hymn “Jesus Savior, Pilot Me”, L.D.S. Hymnbook, p. 121:

Jesus, Savior, pilot me

Over life’s tempestuous sea;

Unknown waves before me roll,

Hiding rock and treacherous shoal;

Chart and compass came from Thee;

Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

(2)Joseph Smith:

And as for the perils which I am called to pass through, they seem but a small thing to me, as the envy and wrath of man have been my common lot all the days of my life; and for what cause it seems mysterious, unless I was ordained from before the foundation of the world for some good end, or bad, as you may choose to call it. Judge ye for yourselves. God knoweth all these things, whether it be good or bad. But nevertheless, deep water is what I am wont to swim in. It all has become a second nature to me; and I feel, like Paul, to glory in tribulation; for to this day has the God of my fathers delivered me out of them all, and will deliver me from henceforth; for behold, and lo, I shall triumph over all my enemies, for the Lord God hath spoken it. (D & C 127:2)

(3)And all they who receive the oracles of God, let them beware how they hold them lest they are accounted as a light thing, and are brought under condemnation thereby, and stumble and fail when the storms descend, and the winds blow, and the rains descend, and beat upon their house- (D & C 90:5)

[6](4)Let no man be afraid to lay down his life for my sake; for whoso layeth down his life for my sake shall find it again. And whoso is not willing to lay down his life for my sake is not my disciple. (D & C 103:27-28)

And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape upon the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. (D & C 122:7; see also “Lectures on Faith” 6:7-8.)

(5)Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. (John 10:1)

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matt. 7:14)

Let not that which I have appointed be polluted by mine enemies, by the consent of those who call themselves after my name. (D & C 101:97)

(6)For although a man may have many revelations, and have power to do many mighty works, yet if he boasts in his own strength, and sets at naught the counsels of God, and follows after the dictates of his own will and carnal [7] desires, he must fall and incur the vengeance of a just God upon him. Behold, you have been entrusted with these things, but how strict were your commandments; and remember also the promises which were made to you, if you did not transgress them. And behold, how oft you have transgressed the commandments and the laws of God, and have gone on in the persuasions of men. For, behold, you should not have feared man more than God. Although men set at naught the counsels of God, and despise his words—Yet you should have been faithful; and he would have extended his arm and supported you against all the fiery darts of the adversary; and he would have been with you in every time of trouble. (D & C 3:4-8)

But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. (Matt. 13:20-21)

(7)Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved. But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come. (D & C 84:40-41)

…when all the chief features of the Gospel are obliterated, when we float along the stream and do as the world does, then and not till then will persecution cease. . . . (George Q. Cannon, J.D. 22:374)

[8](8)God has given me a revelation in regard to celestial marriage, I did not make it, …. [yet] they would like us to tone that principle down and change it, and make it applicable to the views of the day. This we cannot do, nor can we interfere with any of the commandments of God to meet the persuasions and behests of men. I cannot do it and will not do it.”

(John Taylor, J.D. 25:309; compare D & C, Official Declaration, “Manifesto”, p. 256)

(9)Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. (Luke 6:26)

…know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. (James 4:4)

(10)But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. (Matt. 15:9)

Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5:19)

(11)And at that day, when I shall come in my glory, shall the parable be fulfilled which I spake concerning the ten virgins. For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and [9] cast into the fire, but shall abide the day. (D & C 45:56-57)

And this shall be our covenant—that we will walk in all the ordinances of the Lord. (D & C 136:4)

(12)For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing? (Mormon 9:9)

(13)There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. (Prov. 14:12)

Compare the following statement by S. Dilworth Young:

Thus, the way they interpreted the revelation in those days has no particular bearing on the way the revelations are being interpreted today. *** Joseph Smith did it one way for his day, and Brigham Young did it another way for his day, and John Taylor did it a third way for his day; and today we are doing it the way President Spencer W. Kimball wants it to be. We listen to him. What they did in that day does not bind us at all. *** Modern revelation is what President Joseph Smith said, unless President Spencer W. Kimball says differently. (Ten-Stake Fireside, B.Y.U., May 5, 1974)

(14)That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness. That they may be con-[10]ferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man. Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God. (D&C 121:36-38)

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall, say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. (Matt. 5:11)

But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. (Matt. 23:13)

(15)All other authorities or offices in the church are appendages to this priesthood. (D & C 107:5)

(16)Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. (Rev. 16:15)

(17)Then the white stone mentioned in Revelation 2:17, will become a Urim and Thummim to each individual who receives one, whereby things pertaining to a higher order of kingdoms will be made known. (D & C 130:10)

[11](18)For all who will have a blessing at my hands shall abide the law which was appointed for that blessing, and the conditions thereof, as were instituted from before the foundation of the world. (D & C 132:5)

…any person who is exalted to the highest mansion has to abide a celestial law, and the whole law too. (T.P.J.S., p. 331)

(19)My greatest happiness, I find in the good will and friendship that has developed among all classes of people at home and abroad toward the Latter-day Saints Church, during my lifetime; in place of everyday persecutions and bitterness we now enjoy the high regard and happy association with all denominations. (Heber J. Grant, S.L.Tribune, Nov. 22, 1938)

And when the spirit of persecution, the spirit of hatred, of wrath and malice ceases in the world against this people, it will be the time that this people have apostatized and joined hands with the wicked. (Brigham Young J.D. 4:327)

(20)But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. (Matt. 15:13)

(21)Now, beheld, the nobleman, the lord of the vineyard, called upon his servants, and said unto them, Why! what is the cause of this great evil? (D & C 101:52)

And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. (Matt. 21:13)

[12]O ye workers of iniquity; ye that are puffed up in the vain things of the world, ye that have professed to have known the ways of righteousness nevertheless have gone astray, as sheep having no shepherd, notwithstanding a shepherd hath called after you and is still calling after you, but ye will not hearken unto his voice! (Alma 5:37)

(22)For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation. Ye call upon my name for revelations, and I give them unto you; and inasmuch as ye keep not my sayings, which I give unto you, ye become transgressors; and justice and judgment are the penalty which is affixed unto my law. (D & C 82:3-4)

But behold, verily I say unto you, that there are many who have been ordained among you, whom I have called but few of then are chosen. They who are not chosen have sinned a very grievous sin, in that they are walking in darkness at noon-day. (D & C 95:5-6)

Therefore, be not afraid of your enemies, for I have decreed in my heart, saith the Lord, that I will prove you in all things, whether you will abide in my covenant, even unto death, that you may be found worthy. For if ye will not

abide in my covenant ye are not worthy of me. (D & C 98:14-15)

(23)But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. (Matt. 10:33)

[13]But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matt. 18:6)

(24)Keep my commandments continually, and a crown of righteousness thou shalt receive. And except thou do this, where I am you cannot come. (D & C 25:15)

Hearken and hear, O ye my people, saith the Lord and your God, ye whom I delight to bless with the greatest of all blessings, ye that hear me; and ye that hear me not will I curse, that have professed my name, with the heaviest of all cursings. (D & C 41:1)

(25)And it shall come to pass that I, the Lord God, will send one mighty and strong holding the scepter of power in his hand, clothed with light for a covering, whose mouth shall utter words, eternal words; while his bowels shall be a fountain of truth, to set in order the house of God, and to arrange by lot the inheritances of the saints whose names are found, and the names of their fathers, and of their children, enrolled in the book of the law of God. (D & C 85:7)

(26)The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh— (D & C 1:19)

(27)And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the [14] commandments, …shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures. (D & C 89:18-19)

And this shall be my seal and blessing upon you—a faithful and wise steward in the midst of mine house, a ruler in my kingdom. (D & C 101:61)

And the Lord, even the Savior, shall stand in the midst of his people, and shall reign over all flesh. (D & C 133:25)



The One Mighty and Strong

Ogden Kraut


Table of Contents


Presented at

The Sunstone Symposium

August 1991




1.The Initial Scriptures….  1

2.The Official Announcement…  3

3.The Brief Analysis…..  5

4.The Setting in Order….  7

5.The Professing Candidates…  9

6.The Other Speculations…. 12

7.The Prophet Joseph….. 13


[1]                       THE ONE MIGHTY AND STRONG

The Initial Scriptures

In November of 1832 the Prophet Joseph Smith was in Kirtland, Ohio, writing a letter to W. W. Phelps and his “brethren” in Missouri. The letter pertained to all the Saints who should come to Zion for an inheritance. The Prophet said:

I have many things which I wish to communicate. Some things which I will mention in this letter, which are lying with great weight on my mind. (D.H.C. 1:298)

Extracts from the letter that followed later became Section 85 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Two of the most pertinent verses are:

And it shall come to pass that I, the Lord God, will send one mighty and strong, holding the scepter of power in his hand, clothed with light for a covering, whose mouth shall utter words, eternal words; while his bowels shall be a fountain of truth, to set in order the house of God, and to arrange by lot the inheritances of the saints whose names are found, and the names of their fathers, and of their children, enrolled in the book of the law of God;

While that man, who was called of God and appointed, that putteth forth his hand to steady the ark of God, shall fall by the shaft of death, like as a tree that is smitten by the vivid shaft of lightning. (D & C 85:7-8)

The term “One Mighty and Strong” and the inference of a setting in order probably came from a quotation in Isaiah:

[2]Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand. The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet. (Isa. 28:2-3)

Four verses later he adds, “The priest and the prophet have erred… they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.” (v. 7)

The Book of Mormon also referred to this great individual: “And there shall rise up one mighty among them, who shall do much good, both in word and in deed, . . . (2 Nephi 3:24)

Section 85 resulted in a series of probing questions from Church members as to its meaning. The First Presidency of the Church once stated:

Perhaps no other passage in the revelations of the Lord, in this dispensation, has given rise to so much speculation as this one. (Des. News, Nov. 13, 1905)

Dr. Sidney Sperry, BYU professor, said, “The words in verses 7 and 8 have, over the years, created a veritable storm of discussion; and wide differences of opinion still exist as to their interpretation. . . .” (D. & C. Compendium, p. 410)

Strangely, this revelation was never published in the Doctrine and Covenants until the year 1876, and it never was canonized by the Reorganized LDS Church.

The significance and importance of this revelation has probably never been properly understood. Francis M. Darter, who did an extensive research on this subject to try to comprehend it more fully, concluded, “The decreed mission of the `One Mighty and Strong’ is the second [3] greatest and the second most glorious doctrine found in Holy Writ <the first being the restoration>. It is a most logical event. It is divine.” (Zion’s Redemption, p. 114)

So about 30 years after the publication of Section 85, the First Presidency felt the need to issue an official statement to help clarify all the speculation.


The Official Announcement

The official Church interpretation of Section 85 first came out in 1905 over the signatures of Joseph F. Smith, John Winder, and Anton Lund. It said in part:

And inasmuch as through his repentance and sacrifices and suffering, Bishop Edward Partridge undoubtedly obtained a mitigation of the threatened judgment against him of falling “by the shaft of death ….” so the occasion for sending another to fill his station—”one mighty and strong to set in order the house of God,….” —may also be considered as having passed away and the whole incident of the prophecy closed. (Mess. of the 1st Pres. 4:117)

Here the First Presidency’s statement is putting the matter in the past and considering it a closed issue. However, the very last sentence in this official declaration contradicts this viewpoint by saying:

They (men of exceptional talents and abilities) will be accepted by the Saints in the regular order, appointed by the law of the Church, just as Edward Partridge was called and accepted; and just as the “one mighty and strong” will be called and accepted when the time comes for his services. (Ibid., p. 120)

[4]Then in the middle part of this official statement, they suggest that there is still room for doubt and uncertainty:

If, however, there are those who will still insist that the prophecy concerning the coming of “one mighty and strong” is still to be regarded as relating to the future, let the Latter-day Saints know that he will be a future bishop of the Church who will be with the Saints m Zion, Jackson County, Missouri, when the Lord shall establish them in that land; and he will be so blessed with the spirit and power of his calling that he will be able to set in order the house of God, pertaining to the department of the work under his jurisdiction; and in righteousness and justice will “arrange by lot the inheritances of the Saints.” He will hold the same high and exalted station that Edward Partridge held; for the latter was called to do just this kind of work. (Ibid., pp. 118-119)

In this same announcement the Saints were assured that the Church leaders would always be men of “solid wisdom, righteousness, and conscientious adherence to duty.” (Ibid., p. 120)

Nearly three-fourths of a century later Elder Mark E. Petersen continued to assure the Saints of the integrity of their leaders by saying:

Various of our apostates who become disenchanted with the Church, and declare that its leaders have gone astray, revert to Section 85 of the Doctrine and Covenants and read there concerning “one mighty and strong” destined to set the Church in order.

They assume that this scripture refers to our day and to our leaders whom they declare have fallen. But how mistaken they are! (Way of the Master, Petersen, p. 82)

[5]In going back to the statement that this “One Mighty and Strong” would be a “future bishop of the Church”—in analyzing the duties and responsibilities of a bishop, Section 107, verse 68, states that “the office of a bishop is in administering all temporal things.” Would holding this position enable such a person to qualify for the high and noble called of “One Mighty and Strong” as described in Section 85? Dividing the inheritances of the Saints could well be the responsibility of bishops, but the setting in order of the house of God will require the power and authority of a higher office. It is interesting to note that Joseph Smith said that the term House of God should often be translated as Kingdom of God, which includes more than just the LDS Church. (See D.H.C. 6:184)

In his book, Zion’s Redemption, Francis Darter questioned the authorship of this official Church statement regarding Section 85: “This article was not written by the First Presidency.” (p. 92) Then he dropped it without saying who did write it. Years later N. B. Lundwall, noted LDS author and compiler, told me that while he was secretary to B. H. Roberts of the First Quorum of Seventy, that Elder Roberts admitted to him, “I wrote the article and Pres. Smith and his counselors signed it.” (Copy of Lundwall’s statement in my possession.) Nevertheless, the official stand of the LDS Church has continued to emphasize since 1905 that “the whole incident of the prophecy is closed.”


The Brief Analysis

In helping us understand the type of individual this One Mighty and Strong should be, let’s briefly analyze the qualifications as outlined in Section 85:


1.He will hold “a scepter of power in his hand.” The scepter indicates supremacy and regal power vested in someone with an extremely high calling or appointment, undoubtedly with keys and jurisdiction pertaining to the Kingdom of God. The word scepter, according to Zondervan’s Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, refers to “a rod of correction” or “a commander’s staff,” and is “associated mainly with kings” and “with Israel’s future rulers”. (5:292-293)

2.To be “clothed with light for a covering” is evidence that this personage will be immortal. Similar terminology was used by Oliver Cowdery in describing the appearance of John the Baptist: “The angel of God came down clothed with glory . . . as in the `blaze of day’, yes, more—above! the glitter of the May sunbeam, . . .” (Times and Seasons 2:201)

3.This scripture continues with—his “mouth shall utter … eternal words” and he will be a “fountain of truth”—which words are more descriptive of an immortal being from heaven rather than a mortal who is limited in his knowledge of eternal truths.

4.”To set in order the home of God” includes both the religious and political kingdom of God—first the church, then the state, then the nation—so it can become the promised Zion.

5.”To arrange by lot the inheritances of the saints whose names are found …. in the book of the law of God.” Since it is evident that this was not accomplished in the early days of the Church in Missouri, this must apply to some future time. For those “that endureth in faith and doeth my will, the same shall overcome, and shall receive an inheritance upon the earth when the day of transfiguration shall come.” (D & C 63:20) This is a considerable distance away.

[7]About 20 years before the turn of the century, there was a footnote to the words “One Mighty and Strong” in Section 85 stating “a future messenger”. This was added by Orson Pratt with official Church approval at that time, and remained in the Doctrine and Covenants for over 40 years. It was removed in 1921 in an effort to eliminate so much speculation among the members.


The Setting in Order

Since the scripture states that the One Mighty and Strong will “set in order the house of God,” it is logical to assume, then, that it must first be out of order. When did most of the doubts and questions arise about the Church being out of order?

Dr. Russell Rich, author and B.Y.U. religion professor, stated that “little special attention was paid to these two verses from Section 85 and their possible interpretation until the beginning of the twentieth century.” (Mess. of the First Pres. 4:107)

Wilford Woodruff seemed to be in agreement:

The Lord has told me by revelation that there are many members of the Church throughout Zion who are sorely tired in their hearts because of that Manifesto. And also because of the testimony of the Presidency of the Church and the Apostles before the Master in Chancery. Since I received that revelation I have heard of many who are tried in these things, though I had not heard of any before that particularly. * * * I know there are a good many men and probably some leading men in this Church who have been tried and felt as though President Woodruff has lost the spirit of God and was about to apostatize. (Des. News, Nov. 7, 1891)

[8]However, Dr. Sidney Sperry seemed to downplay the subject of a setting in order when he said, “In my humble opinion, the vigorous discussions of the past—and even at present—were, and are, veritable tempests in a teapot.” (Doc. & Cov. Compendium, p. 411) These small tempests, however, have now mushroomed into tens of thousands of people claiming that all is not well in Zion, nor within the house of God.

Since the early Saints failed to live the United Order and were unsuccessful in redeeming Zion, members then began to adopt worldly standards and the Church has become a world church, giving up much of its uniqueness. For example, Joseph Musser—once leader of the largest Fundamentalist group and author of 21 volumes of Truth magazines—penned the following, showing his reason for believing the Church was out of order:

The Saints are losing their identity as a “peculiar people” which the Lord designed they should be. It is the present boast of our leaders that we are at peace with the world and that Mormonism is becoming popular. This, to all thinking minds, must be evidence of spiritual decay; that the Saints are fast losing their identity as a “holy” and a “peculiar” people, such as the Lord designed they should be. The Church, under its present leadership, is fast becoming “just another religious group.” (Truth 6:14-15)

The Apostle Peter warned:

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? (1 Peter 4:17-18)

[9]And as further evidence that all is not well in Zion and a setting in order is imminent, the Doctrine and Covenants warns:

And upon my house shall it <vengeance> begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord; First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord. (D & C 112:25-26)

And what was John the Revelator referring to when he said:

I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God and give glory to Him; for the hour of his judgment is come. (Rev. 14:6-7)

Apparently the “hour of judgment” was to come after the everlasting gospel was preached to “every nation, kindred and tongue.”

So this time of judgment, vengeance, and setting in order is to occur some time in our future.


The Professing Candidates

In 1912 Joseph F. Smith was still troubled by those claiming to hold the position of “One Mighty and Strong”, so he warned:

[10]I know that the Lord will not raise up “Tom, Dick, or Harry”, here, there and everywhere, claiming to be Christ, or “One Mighty and Strong”, claiming to be inspired and called to do some wonderful thing. * * * Put that in your little notebooks now, and remember it …. (April Conf. Rept., 1912, p. 10)

Nevertheless, claimants to the title continued to arise, and many men have professed revelations which have led them to believe that they were that “One Mighty and Strong.” Ten of the more interesting ones are listed here:

James Brighouse. Jim published some tracts in 1890 that he was to set the House of God in order. He believed in reincarnation wherever the term resurrection was used. He even claimed to be more than the One Mighty and Strong, as he once wrote that he was the true Shepherd of Israel, even Michael the great prince. He also thought he was Enoch once known by the name of Joseph Smith.

Samuel Eastman. Sam claimed many revelations including his call in 1904 to be the One Mighty and Strong. On November 13, 1905, the Deseret News wrote an extensive article about him. He was excommunicated shortly thereafter, and died about 1918.

Paul Feil. Paul was secretary to Sam Eastman and believed Sam was the Mighty and Strong. But when Sam died, Paul thought he should take his place. Paul lived on Redwood Road in Salt Lake with a herd of goats. One was named “Holy Ghost” that was supposed to live through the Millennium. Paul died in an auto accident; the goat died of old age.

John T. Clark. John wrote a book in 1922 about the One Mighty and Strong, and concluded that it was an Indian. However, sometime later he received a patriarchal [11] blessing which convinced him that he was that One Mighty and Strong. He, too, has passed on.

LeRoy Wilson. LeRoy set up a colony near Veyo, Utah. He was a genius, an inventor who claimed his inventions would save the economy of the Church. He was shot to death over a mining claim in 1953.

Joel LeBaron. For a while Joel was the leader of nearly all of the fundamentalist LeBarons. His group published a series of pamphlets called “The Ensign”, one of which stated, “Joel F. LeBaron is the One Mighty and Strong.” (“The Seventies”, p. 6) However, after some disagreements over authority, his brother, Ervil, had Joel killed.

Lon Langford. About 80 miles from Colonia LeBaron in Old Mexico are the Langford families. They believed that Lon would be the One Mighty and Strong. However, when Lon died, they concluded that he would come back and do the job. They still await his arrival.

Russ Lloyd. Russ was excommunicated or disowned by both the LDS Church and the Fundamentalists. He claimed to be the One Mighty and Strong and later even the Holy Ghost; had some trouble with morality, went blind and died.

Elden Hollis. Elden had one of the most convincing stories of how the setting in order would take place. His visitations by angels sounded reasonable; however, he made some prophecies that failed to transpire and thus lost his small following. He was last known to have returned to Montana.

Frank Miller. Frank claims he has received ongoing revelations indicating that someday he will fill the calling of setting the house of God in order. He moved from Utah to Arizona, where he is still alive and well.

[12]These are only a few of the many individuals claiming the high and holy calling of “One Mighty and Strong.”


The Other Speculations

Some individuals have thought Jesus, Adam, Brigham Young, or an Indian prophet would fill this important position:

Twenty columns of the Evening and Morning Star, authored by G. D. Cole, presented the case that Jesus is the One Mighty and Strong. Maurice L. Glendenning, the head of the Order of Aaron group, also thought Jesus was the One.

Wingfield Watson, associated with the Strangites, wrote a pamphlet in 1915 stating that the scriptures indicate the One Mighty and Strong is of the tribe of Judah and the lineage of David.

  1. W. Phelps, who received the letter and revelation from Joseph Smith about this One Mighty and Strong, thought it was Adam. (See letter of Phelps to Brigham Young, May 6, 1861, “Letters”, C.H.O.)

Joseph F. Smith and his counselors noted that some “have insisted that the late President Brigham Young was the man who fulfilled the prediction. . . .” (Mess. of 1st Pres. 4:110)

Oliver B. Huntington said, “It was proven to me that he <Brigham Young> was the one mighty and strong.” (Huntington Journal, p. 52, 1878)

Joshua Jones said he heard Brigham Young say that the mighty and strong was yet in the future. (Joshua Jones Diary, 1861)

[13]Ross Wesley LeBaron said he was convinced that “the Mighty and Strong is the Indian Prophet.” (Letter to M. Bautista, Dec. 6, 1958) F. M. Darter once wrote that it was Adam, then later thought it was an Indian “planted in the jungle of southern Yucatan and Northern Guatemala.” (God Will Send a Man, p. 1) Norman C. Pierce, Rhea Kunz, Lynn and Steven Bishop also believe(d) this Indian prophet would be the One Mighty and Strong or at least would work closely with him.


The Prophet Joseph

Many Saints still think that Joseph Smith will yet fill the position of One Mighty and Strong, and justifiably so.

First: Joseph holds the keys to this whole dispensation and therefore is still responsible for it. The Lord told him, “Verily I say unto you, the keys of this kingdom shall never be taken from you, while thou art in the world, neither in the world to come. (D & C 90:3)

Second: If the setting in order takes place with all the house of God, it will require more authority than that of a Bishop.

Third: He must be an immortal being since he will have “light for a covering,” meaning he cannot be a mortal.

Fourth: It has been prophesied that Joseph Smith will return to the earth in the flesh to lead the Saints.

Fifth: He fills all the qualifications mentioned in Section 85.

[14]The Book of Mormon mentions “one mighty among them” and his special work. This has been interpreted as being Joseph Smith because of the inclusion of the word “restoration”:

Wherefore, because of this covenant thou art blessed; for thy seed shall not be destroyed, for they shall hearken unto the words of the book. And there shall rise up one mighty among them, who shall do much good, both in word and in deed, being an instrument in the hands of God, with exceeding faith, to work mighty wonders, and do that thing which is great in the sight of God, unto the bringing to pass much restoration unto the house of Israel, and unto the seed of thy brethren. (2 Nephi 3:23-24)

It is very probable that Joseph Smith fulfilled this prophecy regarding what has already been restored and also that which is yet to come forth, such as the rest of the Book of Mormon.

In 1878 David Whitmer mentioned this “second great work” in an interview with a Dr. Poulson. He said that there will be “a smashing up of this nation, about which time the second great work has to be done, a work like Joseph did, and the translation of the sealed plates. . . .” (Des. News, Aug. 16, 1878)

On September 22, 1835, five years after the publishing of the Book of Mormon, Oliver Cowdery gave a patriarchal blessing to Joseph Smith, wherein he told him that his work with Nephite records was not yet finished:

The records of past ages and generations, and the histories of ancient days shall he <Joseph Smith> bring forth, even the record of the Nephites shall he again obtain, with all those hid up by Mormon, and others who were righteous; [15] and many others till he is overwhelmed with knowledge. (Unpublished Revelations, comp. by Fred Collier, pp. 76-77)

In a parable of the vineyard and the 12 olive trees (D & C 101:41-62), the vineyard was taken over by the enemy, but one of the servants came back and put it in order. In Section 103 the Lord explains that “my servant… (Joseph Smith, Jun.) is the man to whom I likened the servant to whom the Lord of the vineyard spake in the parable which I have given unto you.” (D & C 103:21) So here the Lord very plainly identifies that person who is to return and set things in order.

Since Zion was not redeemed during the Prophet’s mortal lifetime, isn’t it likely that the Lord would allow him to return at a future time to set things in order and to bring about the redemption of Zion?

The Apostle Orson Pratt apparently believed that Joseph Smith could be this mighty person:

The Lord had said unto him, before the rise of this church, that He would grant unto him eternal life even though he should be slain, which certainly was an indication that he might be slain. But we still were in hope that he would live and that he would be the man who, like Moses, would lead this people from bondage. I do not know but he will yet. God’s arm is not shortened that He cannot raise him up even from the tomb. * * * and if the Lord sees proper to bring forth that man just before the winding up scene to lead forth the army of Israel, he will do so. (J.D. 15:363)

Parley P. Pratt gave an interesting testimony after he heard about the martyrdom:

[16]As I walked over the plains of Illinois (toward Nauvoo) . . the Spirit said unto me, “Lift up your head and rejoice; for behold, it is well with my servants Joseph and Hyrum. My servant Joseph still holds the keys of my kingdom in this dispensation, and he shall stand in due time on the earth, in the flesh, and fulfill that to which he is appointed. (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, p. 333)

Brigham Young also testified of this, according to Wilford Woodruff’s journal entry of July 30, 1847—about a week after the Saints arrived in Salt Lake Valley. Woodruff stated that President Brigham Young “clothed with the Spirit of God,” addressed the Saints for more than an hour:

. . . we should yet have Brothers Joseph and Hyrum and many of the Saints in their resurrected bodies with us on earth. . . . (Wilford Woodruff Journal, 3:244)

When the resurrected Prophet does return to earth, still holding the position of leader of this dispensation, it would be out of order for him to be subservient to some other “Mighty and Strong” who was born and lived in this dispensation? In fact, he will apparently be acting under the direction of the Ancient of Days:

He <Joseph Smith> shall sit in the great assembly and general council of patriarchs, and execute the will and commandment under the direction of the Ancient of Days, for he shall have his place and act in his station. (Unpublished Revelations, Collier, p. 77)

Heber C. Kimball also believed that Joseph Smith would return in a leadership capacity for the redemption of Zion:

[17]The western boundary of the state of Missouri will be swept so clean of its inhabitants that, as President Young tells us, when you return to that place, there will not be left so much as a yellow dog to wag his tail. Before that day comes, however, the saints will be put to tests that will try the integrity of the best of them. The pressure will become so great that the more righteous among them will cry unto the Lord day and night until deliverance comes. Then the Prophet and others will make their appearance, and those who have remained faithful will be selected to return to Jackson County, Missouri, and take part in the upbuilding of that beautiful city, the New Jerusalem. (Des. News, May 23, 1931; also Prophecy and Modern Times, Cleon Skousen, pp. 31-32)

In probably the last public discourse of Joseph Smith to the Saints, he prophesied:

You will gather many people into the fastness of the Rocky Mountains as a center for the gathering of the people, and you will be faithful because you have been true; and many of those that come under your ministry, because of their much learning, will seek for high positions, and they will be set up and raise themselves in eminence above you, but you will walk in low places unnoticed and you will know all that transpires in their midst, and those that are my friends will be your friends. This I will promise to you, that when I come again to lead you forth, for I will go to prepare a place for you, so that where I am you shall be with me. (“Diary of John E. Forsgren”, Fate of the Persecutors, Lundwall, p. 154)

[18]There is not time to mention other references that Joseph Smith is the prime candidate for this position of “One Mighty and Strong”—that his mission on earth as the leader of this dispensation is not yet complete.

We can take consolation in the promise that if the Church should get out of order, the Lord will set it back in order rather than allow it to fall into total apostasy as it did after the Christian era.

Regardless of the speculation of Joseph Smith being that “One Mighty and Strong,” we also have the promise that Zion will be redeemed and we shall once again hail the Prophet Joseph—as one of our hymns so beautifully describes:

Hail to the Prophet, ascended to heaven!

Traitors and tyrants now fight him in vain.

Mingling with Gods, he can plan for his brethren;

Death cannot conquer the hero again. * * *

Millions shall know “brother Joseph” again!

(“Praise to the Man,” p. 147, 1957 LDS hymn book)


THE 1978


[1]In support of the premise that the 1978 “Official Declaration” was not a “Thus saith the Lord” revelation, is an interview Apostle LeGrand Richards had with Wesley P. Walters and Chris Vlachos. This interview was taped and later published, with most of it included here:

Walters: On this revelation, of the priesthood to the Negro, I’ve heard all kinds of stories: I’ve heard that Christ appeared to the apostles; I’ve heard that Joseph Smith appeared; and then I heard another story that Spencer Kimball had had a concern about this for some time, and simply shared it with the apostles, and they decided that this was the right time to move in that direction. Are any of those stories true, or are they all?

Richards: Well, the last one is pretty true, and I might tell you what provoked it in a way. Down in Brazil, there is so much Negro blood in the population there that it’s hard to get leaders that don’t have Negro blood in them. We just built a temple down there. It’s going to be dedicated in October. All those people with Negro blood in them have been raising the money to build that temple. If we don’t change, then they can’t even use it. Well, Brother Kimball worried about and he prayed a lot about it. He asked each one of us of the Twelve if we would pray–and we did–that the Lord would give him the inspiration to know what the will of the Lord was. Then he invited each one of us in his office–individually, because you know when you are in a group, you can’t always express everything that’s in your heart. You’re part of the group, see–so he interviewed each one of us, personally, to see how we felt about it, and he asked us to pray about it. Then he asked each one of us to hand in all the references we had, for, or against that proposal. See, he was thinking favorably toward giving the colored people the priesthood. Then we had a meeting where we meet every week in the temple, and we discussed it as a group together, and then we prayed about it in our prayer circle, and then we held another prayer circle after the close of that meeting, and [2] he (President Kimball) lead in the prayer; praying that the Lord would give us the inspiration that we needed to do the thing that would be pleasing to Him and for the blessing of His children.

And then the next Thursday–we meet every Thursday –the Presidency came with this little document written out to make the announcement–to see how we’d feel about it–and present it in written form. Well, some of the members of the Twelve suggested a few changes in the announcement, and then in our meeting there we all voted in favor of it–the Twelve and the Presidency. One member of the Twelve, Mark Petersen, was down in South America, but Brother Benson, our President, had arranged to know where he could be reached by phone, and right while we were in that meeting in the temple, Brother Kimball talked with Brother Petersen, and read his this article, and he (Petersen) approved of it.

Walters: What was the date? Would that have been the first of June, or something?

Richards: That was the first Thursday, I think, in May. (June?) At least that’s about when it was. And then after we all voted in favor of it, we called another meeting for the next morning, Friday morning, at seven o’clock, of all the other General Authorities–that includes the Seventies’ quorum and the Patriarch and the Presiding Bishopric, and it was presented to them, and they all had an opportunity to express themselves, and there were a few of the brethren that were out presiding then in the missions, and so the Twelve were appointed to interview each one of them. I had to interview Brother Lee and read him the article, and asked him his feelings. He was thrilled, because he labored down there in Brazil, and he knew what it would mean for those people. So every member of the General Authorities to a man approved it before the announcement went out.

We had a letter from our colored man up in Ogden; it read like this: he was a member of the Church, and he said,”If the Lord is willing to let me have my wife and children in this life, why wouldn’t He be willing to let me have them in the next life?” That makes sense [3] doesn’t it? You know the Lord gave a revelation to the Prophet Joseph where He said that. “There is a law irrevocably decreed in the heavens before the foundations of the earth were laid, upon which all blessings are predicated, and no blessing can be obtained except by obedience to the law upon which it is predicated.” (D & C 130:20) Well, all that means in that if you want wheat, you’ve got to plant wheat, doesn’t it? If you want corn, you’ve got to plant corn. Well, if I plant wheat and get a harvest, and the colored man plants wheat and takes as good care of it, why isn’t he as much entitled to the harvest as I am? You see? So we figured the same for spiritual blessings. If the colored man lives as good as I do, serves the Lord, and so forth, why isn’t he as much entitled to the blessings as I am? You see that? It’s been a united decision; there’s been no adverse comment by anyone, other than in California.

Richards: What?

Walters: Intermarriage–is that in view, too?

Richards: Well no. We’ve never [recommended it] before this decision was reached. We’ve always recommended that people live within their own race. The Japanese ought to marry Japanese; the Chinese ought to marry Chinese; the Hawaiians ought to marry Hawaiians; and the colored people ought to marry colored.

Walters: And that would be your position on that?

Richards: That is still our position, but, they are entitled to the temple blessings–the sealing of their wives to them. It’s all conditioned on their living. Now, if they live right, and they’re devoted, and they’re good clean living, why shouldn’t they get the blessings?

Walters: Now when President Kimball read this little announcement [in the staff meetings with the General Authorities], was that the same thing that was released to the press?

Richards: Yes.

Walters: There wasn’t a special document as a “revelation”, that he had and wrote down?

[4] Richards: We discussed it in our meeting. What else should we say besides that announcement? And we decided that that was sufficient; that no more needed to be said.

Walters: Was that the letter you sent out to the various wards?

Richards: And to the Church; and to the newspapers, yes.

Walters: Will that become a part of “scripture”?

Richards: Yes, I’ve already thought in my own mind of suggesting we add it to the Pearl of Great Price (the fourth book of LDS “scriptures”), just like those last two revelations that we’re just added.

Walters: At that point, is there a special reason why you add it to the Pearl of Great Price, rather than to the Doctrine and Covenants? Is it just more convenient to put it there, instead of adding another number or something?

Richards: I don’t know that we’ve even discussed the reason which book it should go in; but the Pearl of Great Price was written and assembles later than the Doctrine and Covenants was. My grandfather (Franklin D. Richards) was the one that organized the Pearl of Great Price. When we discussed it in our meeting, we didn’t discuss whether it should go in the Doctrine and Covenants, or the Pearl of Great Price; we just discussed how it would be to have those two revelations in the Pearl of Great Price.

Walters: Will this affect your theological thinking about the Negro as being less valiant in the previous existence? How does this relate? Have you thought that through?

Richards: Some time ago, the Brethren decided that we should never say that. We don’t know just what the reason was. Paul said, “The Lord hath before appointed the bounds of the habitations of all men for to dwell upon the face of the earth,” and so He determined that before we were born. He who knows why they were born with black skin or white and so on and so forth. We’ll just have to wait.

Walters: Is there still a tendency to feel that people are born with black skin because of some previous situation, or do we consider that black [5] skin is no sign anymore of anything inferior in any sense of the word?

Richards: Well, we don’t want to get that as a doctrine. Think of it as you will. You know, Paul said, “Now we see in part and we know in part; we see through a glass darkly. When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away, then we will see as we are seen, and knew as we are known.” (a paraphrase of I Cor. 13:12) Now the Church’s attitude today is to prefer to leave it until we know. The Lord has never indicated that that black skin came because of being less faithful. Now, the Church’s attitude today is to prefer to leave it until we know. The Lord has never indicated that that black skin came because of being less faithful. Now, the Indian; we know why he was changed, don’t we? The Book of Mormon tells us that; and he has a dark skin, but he has a promise there that through faithfulness, that they shall again become a white and delightsome people. So we haven’t anything like that on the colored thing.

Walters: Now, will this new revelation–has it brought any new insights or new ways of looking at the Book of Abraham? Because I think traditionally it is thought of the curse of Cain, coming through Canaanites and on the black-skinned people, and therefore denying the priesthood?

Richards: We considered that with all the “for’s” and the “against’s”, and decided that with all of that, if they lived their lives, and did the work, that they were entitled to their blessings.

Walters: But you haven’t come up with any new understanding of the Book of Abraham? I just wondered whether there would be a shift in that direction. Is the recent revelation in harmony with what the past prophets have taught, of when the Negro would receive the Priesthood?

Richards: Well, they have held out the thought that they would ultimately get the priesthood, but they never determined the time for it. And so when this situation that we face down there in Brazil–Brother Kimball worried a lot about it–how the people are so faithful and devoted. The president of the Relief Society of the stake is a colored woman down there in one of the stakes. If they do the work, why it seems like that the justice of the Lord would approve of giving them [6] the blessing. Now it’s all conditional upon the life that they live, isn’t it?

Walters: Well, I thank you for clarifying that for me, because you know, out in the streets out there, there must be at least five, ten different stories about the way this happened.

Richards: Well, I’ve told you exactly what happened.

Walters: Right. Well, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

Richards: If you quote me you will be telling the truth.

Walters: OK, well fine. You don’t mind if we quote you then?

Richards: No.

(The interview continued for ten more minutes, but nothing more was said with respect to the 1978 Negro revelation.)

(Published by Bob White, Box 31883, Phoenix, AZ 85046)

Included on the next few pages are copies of four interesting letters between Chris Vlachos and Elder LeGrand Richards, that followed their personal interview.

[7]358 West 170 North

Orem, Utah 84057

11 September 1978

Elder LeGrand Richards

LDS Church Office Bldg.

47 E. South Temple St.

Salt Lake City, UT 84111

Dear Elder Richards,

I wanted to write and thank you for our visits of August 16th and a week or so ago. Wesley Walters and I appreciated your kindness in spending so much time with us, and for explaining your experiences with regard to the recent revelation authorizing you to give the LDS Priesthood to Negroes. Since I did not take any notes at our first meeting, I wanted to write and verify a few important points which you made before I forget them.

One of the most interesting items which you mentioned was that the whole situation was basically provoked by the Brazilian temple–that is, the Mormon church has had great difficulty obtaining Priesthood leadership among its South American membership; and now with this new temple, a large proportion of those who have contributed money and work to built it would not be able to use it unless the Church changed its stand with regard to giving the Priesthood to Blacks. I believe that you also mentioned President Kimball as having called each of the Twelve Apostles individually into his office to hear their personal feelings with regard to this issue. While President Kimball was basically in favor of giving the Priesthood to Blacks, didn’t be ask each of you to prepare some references for and against the proposal as found in the scriptures?

Another thing which stands out in my mind was the prayer [8] that President Kimball offered in the special prayer circle with the Apostles and First Presidency on June 1st: Didn’t you say he prayed essentially that God would give you all the inspiration necessary to do what was pleasing to the Lord and what was best for the blessing of His children?

In addition to these details, I have tried to sequentialize what you told us about the revelations. The Twelve and First Presidency had a special prayer circle in the Salt Lake Temple on June 1st, where President Kimball prayed for guidance and inspiration in regard to Negroes. Then, one week later on June 8th, you all met again and the First Presidency presented the letter released on June 9th to all Church leaders to the Twelve in order to hear their reactions. A few members of the Twelve offered suggestions for a few changes in the document. Afterwards, all twelve Apostles voted in favor of the announcement. When we asked you if there was a written revelation, you said that the only written document was the June 9th letter–that it was considered to be sufficient. The next morning, all other general authorities met and voted in favor of the announcement. Then it was released to the press. I feel fairly certain as to the accuracy of these events, but just wanted to double-verify it with you.

I recall Wesley asking if the Mormons still believe that Negroes were less valiant in the pre-mortal existence–this being a reason for their black skin. Didn’t you say that the Brethren decided that the real reasons are still unknown? I do remember you saying that the Book of Abraham curse doctrine was considered with the pros and cons, and that you all decided that if Negroes live good lives, they are entitled to their blessings. I assume that this means no new interpretation of the Book of Abraham account?

When we talked about intermarriage, I got the feeling that the Mormon Church will not encourage them, but if they occur, the [9] Church will support them. Is my perception accurate?

I guess that’s about it. We did talk about other things, but these stick out more in my mind as the important parts. When you reply, please let me know if this accurately represents what you told Wesley and I. I really appreciate your personal concern in answering all our questions.

Very truly yours,

Chris Vlachos


The Council of the Twelve

47 East South Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150

September 12, 1978

Chris Vlachos

358 West 170 North

Orem, Utah 84057

Dear Friend:

This will acknowledge receipt of your letter of September 11th and I don’t quite understand the purpose of your letter. The explanation I gave to you when you were here in my office I did not intend for public use. I thought it would be for your own information. I don’t think there is anything more I need to add to what I told you at that time.

It wouldn’t please me if you were using the information I gave you when you were here in my office for public purposes. I gave it to you for your own information, and that is where I would like to see it remain.

With all good wishes, I remain,

Most sincerely yours,

LeGrand Richards


[11]358 West 170 North

Orem, Utah 84057

15 September 1978

Elder LeGrand Richards

LDS Church Office Bldg.

47 E. South Temple St.

Salt Lake City, UT 84111

Dear Elder Richards,

Thank you for your reply of 12 September. I am writing you again because your response left me very puzzled. After you told Wesley Walters and I the incidents surrounding the recent Negro revelation, we ask you if we could quote what you had said, and you said something to the effect that “Yes, you can quote me, for I have told you exactly what happened.” Having been given that permission, I have told many people since our conversation of your personal story. Now you say that it was not intended for public transmission. Of course, I have no intention of publishing any of those events, but having received permission to share the story, I am writing you again to verify the main points. I will continue to share what you told us, and only wish to be sure that what I say is correctly representing what you said. The basic points of the story as I remember them are:

1.That the whole situation was provoked by the Brazilian temple affair. Apparently, most of the South American members would not have been able to use the temple due to their Negro ancestry.

2.President Kimball personally interviewed each of the Twelve Apostles on the Negro question, and asked you [12] all to prepare references for and against giving Blacks the Priesthood.

3.President Kimball’s prayer offered at the June 1st prayer circle was that God would inspire you all to do what was pleasing to Him and what would be best for His children.

4.The letter sent to all Church officials was first presented to the Twelve Apostles by the First Presidency, and voted upon (affirmatively). This occurred one week after President Kimball’s prayer for guidance.

Elder LeGrand Richards

15 September 1978, p. 2

5.The official letter mentioned in point #4 was the only written document involved in the policy change. No written revelation or account of inspiration was otherwise produced.

6.No new interpretation of the Book of Abraham “curse” upon the descendants of Cain will be offered by the Mormon Church. You said that we still do not know why Blacks were cursed, and that the lack of valiancy in the pre-mortal existence is not a doctrine. The general feeling of the Brethren is that if Negroes live righteous lives, they are entitled to the same blessings as other members of the Church.

7.With reference to intermarriage, the Church does not encourage them, but if they occur, the Church will support them and allow temple sealings to take place.

[13]As I mentioned in the first paragraph, you originally told us that we could quote you as having related these facts. This we will continue to do, but I truly wish to have your verification of the above seven points so that we do not mis-quote you.

Thank you once again for your personal concern with this matter.

Sincerely yours,

Chris Vlachos


The Council of the Twelve

47 East South Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150

September 19, 1978

Chris Vlachos

358 West 170 North

Orem, Utah 84057

Dear Mr. Vlachos:

This will acknowledge receipt of your letter of September 15th.

The reason I replied to your last letter as I did was because some time ago I received a letter from someone down in your area, complaining about what you were saying. I don’t remember just who the letter was from but I didn’t feel that my interview with you was something that you would want to be publicizing all over. I don’t have any objections to your telling it to a friend, as you have stated in your letter now of the 15th, I see nothing wrong in your statements reviewing our interview.

I send my best regards.

Sincerely yours,

LeGrand Richards




Presented at the
B.H. Roberts Society Meeting
University of Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah
May 16, 1990

Ogden Kraut

[1]                           THE 1890 MANIFESTO

100th Anniversary

(Adapted for printing)



If the Manifesto were revoked tomorrow, how many of you would be willing to enter into, plural marriage? Probably not very many@-especially if you’re Mormon.

Professor Davis Bitton made the following statement, which I think is very accurate:

Today probably no modern people is more anti-polygamy than the orthodox Mormons. (Jrnl. of Mormon History, 1977, No. 4, p. 101)

Most Gentiles are also against plural marriage, and they look at it as a curiosity. The news media is an example. Whenever a polygamist does something of note, they are sure to mention that he is a polygamist. “Polygamist so-and-so did this, and polygamist so-and-so did that.” You may remember in the newspapers not long ago, it was stated that Polygamist Ogden Kraut crawled over the fence in the Singer-Swapp case. I don’t know if that means a polygamist can crawl over the fence better than a monogamist, or not.

They always mention the marital relationship in the case of a polygamist; however, they don’t do that with anyone else. They don’t say, “Monogamist Bush had a press conference today.” Or, “the Celibate Pope gave his Easter message.”

It’s a strange society we live in. Here are some of the situations we see frequently all around us:


*Half of our marriages end in divorce.

*Prostitution rages in every city.

*Adultery is a common problem.

*Live-in cohabitation is very popular.

*The states are now giving homosexuals their rights.

*Teenage sex is taught in the public schools.

*Weekend bed hopping seems to be a national sport.

But if someone mentions polygamy, they say, “Now that’s strange!”

It seems that our common sexual practices today are the ones that are forbidden in the Bible, and the correct principle of marriage that was taught in the Bible is now forbidden. I don’t know how we got so mixed up!

Early History

We have to go a long way back to understand what has changed our thinking regarding plural marriages—a long way back! It starts in the first book of the Bible, as early as the fifth chapter, and in that book of Genesis, we read about many great men, several of whom we honor and revere for their faithfulness. For example, Abraham—he was called the Father of the Faithful, the Friend of God, who talked with God and angels; and yet he was a polygamist! He was the George Washington of all religions. He was honored by the Moslems; he is honored by all the Jews; he is honored by all the Christians.

And it’s the same way with the other judges, kings, prophets, and patriarchs of the Bible. For instance, Gideon—a great man who spoke with angels and led the hosts of Israel. He had 70 sons—and probably as many daughters. And today you can go to nearly any hotel in the United States and when you open up the dresser drawer, you’ll probably see a Bible there with Gideon stamped on it—the name of a polygamist! You see how we honor the ancient patriarchs who lived plural marriage, but we ridicule the living ones.

[3]The Moslems, along with their respect for Abraham and the other early prophets, also honored their lifestyle of plural marriage that started out in the early books of the Bible and ran like a heavy stream all the way through for 4,000 years to the end of the Old Testament. And the Moslems still honor plural marriage today.

The Jews honored it for about 3,000 years, and then a strange thing happened. They gave it up because of a rabbi by the name of Gershom ben Judah. He was the Wilford Woodruff of the Jews. He wrote a book called The Light of the Exile, in which was a prohibition against plural marriage; however, it didn’t completely stop its practice. For centuries some of them continued to live plural marriage down around Spain and some of the other countries, and even today you can find plural marriage lived among the Jews over in Jerusalem. I guess they could be called Jewish Fundamentalists.

I was talking to a Jewish rabbi one day, and I said that it appeared to me that those laws regarding morality and marriage should be lived even today. And he answered that was correct. And I said, “Well, in the 22nd chapter of Exodus there is a quotation that says that if a man entices a maid who is not betrothed and lies with her, he should surely endow her to be his wife.” He said, “That’s correct.” And I said, “Well then, what happens if he entices two maids and lies with them?” He looked at me for a minute and said, “Well, we don’t believe in polygamy.” And I asked him why not since it was a moral law. He responded, “Rabbi Gershom changed that.” I asked again, “How is it that a man can change the laws of God? We have that same problem not resolved in the Mormon Church.” He just shook his head and realized that they didn’t have it resolved either.

Well, how does this effect Christianity and those living during the time of Christ? There were no prohibitions against it then. The great scholar Flavius Josephus [4] lived plural marriage and that was at the time of Christ. Many of the disciples of Christ, and even Jesus we are told, lived plural marriage. In fact, I wrote a book on this subject called Jesus Was Married—but it was never a best seller.

Those traditions have been carried down for nearly 2,000 years. For instance, in the Catholic Church all the nuns take a covenant to become the brides of Christ. Now there’s polygamy! In fact, to prove their marriage, they all wear a wedding ring.

And so, this tradition has followed down through the ages, and many of the reformers realized that it was a correct doctrine—that there was nothing against it. From about 1400 to 1800, there were many Protestant pamphlets advocating plural marriage, and even the great scholar, Martin Luther, for 18 years defended it as a correct principle. And when Prince Phillip of Hess in Germany went to Luther and said that he wanted a son to raise up and take his place on the throne, he told Luther that his wife wouldn’t have any more children. Luther said that he would think about it and discuss it. So he got some of the best scholars that he had and brought them together. After their discussion, he told Prince Phillip that it was all right for him to take another wife. And this is what Luther told him:

The gospel of Christ hath neither recalled nor forbid what was permitted in the law of Moses with respect to marriage. (History of Variations of the Protestant Churches, James Bosuet, Vol. 1)

Even the Church of England was founded on the principle of plural marriage. There was a battle between Henry VIII and the Catholic Church. He believed in marriage, but not divorce.

[5]The only time I ever heard of anyone that found a scripture against plural marriage was Mark Twain, when he came into the Salt Lake Valley one time and got into an argument with an elder. Twain told him that the Bible was against plural marriage. The Elder said, “Mr. Twain, you find one scripture in that Bible against plural marriage.” Twain thought for a moment and then said, “All right, `No man can serve two masters!'” How are you going to argue with that?

We have adopted many customs, traditions, and laws from the Romans. The wearing of a ring on the wedding finger is a tradition of the Romans; carrying the bride across the threshold came from the Romans; and the law of monogamy came from the Romans, too—and the Caesars. They said it was all right to have as many wives as you want but not at the same time—you have to get rid of the previous one first. So this is the same law that we’re following today.

Joseph Smith and the Restoration

Well, what about the restoration and Joseph Smith? Why did he bring in such a practice against the existing traditions and laws? I have to quote Mark Petersen here, as he gave a very good explanation. He asked a question and then answered it:

Why was plural marriage practiced by the Latter-day Saints? The Lord refers to it as part of the restoration of all things. The Prophet Joseph did not wish to enter into polygamy. It was farthest from his mind. But he was the restorer, and through him “all things” must be restored. (Way of the Master, p. 43)

Apparently, the Lord was quite eager to let them know about it because Brigham Young said that that doc-[6]trine was revealed to Joseph and Oliver Cowdery while they were translating the Book of Mormon in 1829, before the Church was organized. About this time, Oliver said to Joseph that since they knew it was true, why should they delay. He thought they should go into it immediately. Joseph answered him that it was not time.

Well, Cowdery was over-eager and Joseph was too reluctant. Oliver Cowdery, I understand, married the niece of George A. Smith—her name was Lyman, I believe—and I guess that didn’t last very long. But Joseph had an angel come to him three times, telling him to obey that law. One of his wives said on his third appearance the angel brought a sword. I guess he meant business that time! So Joseph went into it—probably as early as 1835.

But he had trouble introducing it to the members of the Church. He made the following statement:

I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions; they cannot stand the fire at all. (TPJS, p. 331)

So, there were a few members who lived plural marriage for ten years before the Church accepted it.

Government Law Versus God’s Law

In 1862 Abraham Lincoln said that the Mormons were like a big green tree that was too big to remove and too green to burn, and so they would just have to plow around it. But he took another course of action and signed a law against plural marriage in the territories, which was definitely against the Mormons.

[7]It is interesting to note here that each time the Government would make a law against plural marriage, the Lord gave a revelation sustaining it. This see-saw went back and forth right up to the time of the Manifesto. Let’s look at some of these revelations:

Wilford Woodruff received a revelation in 1880 that said, “Woe unto that nation or house or people who seek to hinder my people from obeying the Patriarchal law of Abraham, which leadeth to celestial glory, which has been revealed unto my Saints through the mouth of my servant, Joseph….” (1880 Revelation, v. 20)

It is a very lengthy revelation. Strange that it is not included in our Doctrine and Covenants.

In 1882 another revelation came to John Taylor, and this one said, “You may appoint Seymour B. Young to fill up the vacancy in the presiding quorum of Seventies, if he will conform to my law, for it is not meet that men who will not abide my law shall preside over my Priesthood.” (Messages of the First Presidency 2:345)

Wilford Woodruff said what was meant by “my law” was plural marriage. And so in this particular verse, the Lord is saying that He didn’t want anyone presiding over His Priesthood unless he was a polygamist.  But, of course, that changed within ten years. This revelation is not in the Doctrine and Covenants either.

Now we come to a revelation received in 1886, and this one is somewhat controversial. Mark E. Petersen said that it was concocted and spurious, and that it was a false revelation allegedly given to President John Taylor in 1886, which pretended to have secret authority given to perform plural marriages.

[8]Well, this revelation is the springboard for Fundamentalism, and it is not so much the revelation that became controversial as the meeting that was held afterwards. That’s another whole story, and we won’t go into that now.

Part of this 1886 revelation stated:

I the Lord do not change and my word and my covenants and my law do not. And as I have heretofore said by my servant Joseph, All those who would enter into my glory must and shall obey my law. And have I not commanded men that if they were Abraham’s seed and would enter into my glory, they must do the works of Abraham? I have not revoked this law nor will I, for it is everlasting. (Revelations 1880-1890, Kraut, p. 30)

And another part of this revelation was, “Furthermore, it is more pleasing to me that men should use their free agency in regards to these matters.” The Lord was never going to force anybody into it, nor is He going to force them away from it. They have to use their free agency.

This passage about now using free agency is the one that broke up the order and procedure, as Fundamentalists see it, of having to get permission from the first wife, and the parents, and then the bishop and stake president, and maybe the apostleship or Church president. Now, since conditions were getting hot and heavy with the U.S. Government,  and many Church members didn’t want to continue plural marriage any more in the Church, this traditional order was now being broken up.

In fact, John Taylor one time was being questioned in court by a federal attorney as to who held the authority [9] to perform plural marriage, and President Taylor responded that he had ordained hundreds of men to perform plural marriages. The lawyer said, “Would you be so kind as to give me those names?” And John Taylor said, “No, I will not be so kind.”

In 1889 another revelation came, and this one was received by Wilford Woodruff just ten months before the Manifesto. Abraham Cannon said that they were in a quandary as to what to do. They weren’t sure how to handle the situation because the Government was putting so much pressure on the Church.

When the revelation came Cannon wrote in his journal:

The whole revelation was filled with words of the greatest encouragement and comfort. *** It sets all doubts at rest concerning the course to pursue. (Journal of Abraham H. Cannon, Dec. 19, 1889)

Excerpts from this revelation read:

Let not my servants who are called to the Presidency of my Church, deny my word or my law.

Place not yourselves in jeopardy to your enemies by promise.

Let my servants. . .make their pleadings. . . without any further pledges.

Fear not the wicked and ungodly.

Have faith in God and His promises and He will not forsake you.

I cannot deny my word, neither in blessings nor judgments. (Message of the First Presidency, 3:175-176)

[10]In that revelation, there were about 12 very positive statements instructing them not to compromise or give in. However, ten months later, they did.

This revelation is also not in the Doctrine and Covenants. This is a strange thing. I have found about a dozen revelations received between 1880 and 1890, all of whom have “Thus saith the Lord” in them, and none of them are in the Doctrine and Covenants. I better modify that statement somewhat. There were some editions of the Swedish, German, and Danish Doctrine and Covenants that had some of these revelations contained in them. It seems somewhat peculiar, however, that the Lord revealed those revelations in English, and they were first written down in English, and then they were printed in a foreign language.

Isn’t it interesting to note that during the first 60 years of the LDS Church, there were over 100 revelations that contained “Thus saith the Lord”; but after the Manifesto was accepted as an official doctrine, as a revelation, for the following 100 years we have never had one revelation to the Church with “Thus saith the Lord” in it.

Another significant fact to consider is that some of the leaders of the Church lived plural marriage before the Church accepted it, and many of the leaders lived it after the Church rejected it. Could it be that the law of plural marriage is always a Priesthood law, and only a Church law when voted on by the members?

To Whom It May Concern

The Manifesto says “To Whom it May Concern”. Well, now, who did it concern?

It didn’t seem to concern Wilford Woodruff, because apparently he took another wife seven years after he issued the Manifesto.

[11]It didn’t seem to concern his counselors, because one of them was issuing recommends to go into plural marriage, and the other was performing the ceremony up to 14 years after the Manifesto.

It didn’t seem to concern the apostles, because most of them married additional wives afterwards, or at least continued to live it.

It didn’t seem to concern many of the general membership of the Church because they had plural marriages performed in Mexico, Canada, on the high seas, and some of them didn’t even bother to travel; they stayed right here and went into it.

And it didn’t seem to concern the Federal Government afterwards, because they didn’t put people in jail after that.

Many of the states weren’t concerned, because they made laws stating that “anything between consenting adults” was legal.

It doesn’t seem to concern the Reorganized Church now, because they received a revelation in 1972 stating that they could allow polygamists to come into their church.

And for awhile after the 1978 announcement, it didn’t seem to concern the Black Mormons in Africa, because many of them joined the Church with their plural wives.

And it certainly doesn’t concern the Fundamentalists. They all feel about like Louis Kelsch. He was a man who had five wives and spent seven years in prison for those wives—the longest time that any man has served in prison for this principle. When he was called in for trial on his [12] membership in the Church, he was asked, “Haven’t you read the Manifesto?” And Louis said, “Well, yes, I read it but it says `To Whom it May Concern’, and it doesn’t concern me a damn bit!”

Who, then, did it really concern?

It concerned Hugh B. Brown and J. Reuben Clark, the lawyers, that I understand helped to formulate the law making plural marriage a felony in the state of Utah. And they did the best they could to enforce it.

It concerned the son of B. H. Roberts, who was the prosecuting attorney that tried to get Fundamentalists and polygamists into prison. If it had not been for the timing, he could have put his own father in prison.

It concerned some Church historians, because they have tried to cover it up, and many of the books now on Joseph Smith and Brigham Young never mention that they lived polygamy nor identify any of their wives. Martha Bradley in her Sunstone article entitled “Changed Faces: The Official LDS Position on Polygamy 1890-1980,” admitted:

The polygamist Joseph Smith or Brigham Young is rarely acknowledged. *** The concept of plural marriage is not part of the oral or written traditions of the modern-day public church. (Sunstone, Feb. 1990, p. 32)

It concerned Mark Petersen, because he sent out these test oaths. He blessed me with one of those. This is the time when believing in plural marriage was just about as bad as living it.

And as for Heber J. Grant—well, it didn’t concern him and then again it did. He paid $100 fine nine years after the Manifesto for living with three wives. And then [13] in a matter of a few years later, he said he would be glad when they put the polygamists in jail!

And Bruce McConkie—well, his was kind of a yo-yo concern. He made the following statement about those who lived plural marriage before the Manifesto:

Those who entered this order at the Lord’s command, and who kept the laws and conditions appertaining to it, have gained for themselves eternal exaltation in the highest heaven of the celestial world! (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed., 1979, p. 578)

Isn’t that good? And then he talked about those who lived it after the Manifesto:

They are living in adultery, have sold their souls to Satan, and whether their acts are based on ignorance or lust or both, they will be damned in eternity. (Ibid., 1st ed., p. 523)

And then he turns around and talks about a future time when plural marriage will be lived again:

Obviously the holy practice <of plural marriage> will commence again after the Second Coming of the Son of Man and the ushering in of the millennium. (Ibid., 2nd ed., p. 578)

After the first edition of his Mormon Doctrine book, McConkie left out the part about those polygamists after the Manifesto selling their souls to Satan and being damned. I wrote and asked him if he omitted that because it would condemn several Church presidents and apostles and good Latter-day Saints, but he never answered my letter.

[14] Belief Versus Practice

The stand taken by most LDS is that we believe in plural marriage but we are forbidden to live it today. To me, that’s like saying, “Well, we believe in the Ten Commandments, but we can’t live them right now.”

But strangely enough, it was never a very popular practice. It has been reported that from 3% to 21% maximum is all that lived it in the LDS Church before the Manifesto. In a way, that is a disgrace. Here was a principle they were told would exalt them, and we’re looking at 80% to 95% of the members who would not or did not live it. It had died a slow death, but it never really lived.

Mark Petersen said that there were only two reasons that it was lived anyway. I just briefly looked in the Old Testament and found 17 good reasons; and then I noted another 35 that were taught by some of the 19th century leaders of the Church.

During the Smoot Hearings in 1904, Joseph F. Smith was called in and questioned about living plural marriage after the Manifesto. He had this to say:

The Church has obeyed the law of the land, and it has kept its pledges with this Government, but I have not, as an individual, and I have taken that chance myself. (Smoot Investigation 1:97; also S. L. Tribune, Oct. 8, 1910)

Now, that’s spoken like a true Fundamentalist!

When the law didn’t seem to get a lot of the people living plural marriage after the Manifesto, they thought maybe shame and embarrassment and ridicule would stamp it out. For example, when B. H. Roberts went back to take his seat in Congress, they tried every way they could [15] to embarrass and shame him and make him look foolish for his belief and practice of plural marriage. Finally, as he was leaving, he got up and said:

I shall leave this august chamber with head erect and brow undaunted and walk God’s earth as the angels walk the clouds, with no sense of shame upon me. (Congressional Record 33:1104)

Now there’s a man!

Mark Peterson said that laws were enacted in Congress to ban plural marriage and so the Church was committed to honor that. That sounds good, and it’s very reasonable, and I think that’s nice—but that’s not the way it was. Joseph Smith lived it in five states that had laws against plural marriage. Brigham Young lived it for 15 years in opposition to the “law”. John Taylor had to live about half of his ten-year administration underground because he would not yield to the “law”. And Wilford Woodruff lived it for several years before giving in.

So, it took the Church about 50 years to finally give in to the “law”, and after the writing of the Manifesto, a lot of thinking on plural marriage began to change. For instance, note the following comparisons:

Brigham Young:

The doctrine of polygamy with the Mormons is not classed with “non-essentials”. It is not an item of doctrine that can be yielded and faith in the system remain. (Mill. Star 27:673)

James E. Talmage:

But that plural marriage is a vital tenet of the Church is not true. *** Plurality of wives was an incident, never an essential. (Story and Philosophy of Mormonism, p. 89)

* * *

[16]John Taylor:

Plural marriage is as much a part of our religion as faith, repentance and baptism. (Life of John Taylor, p. 357)

John A. Widstoe:

We do not understand why the Lord commanded the practice of plural marriage. (Imp. Era 46:191)

* * *

It would be a sad day for Joseph Smith if he were alive today and wanted to join the Church he started, but was denied membership because of his plural wives!

It would certainly trouble Brigham Young if he were refused admittance to BYU, the university bearing his name, because of his many wives and beard!

It would upset John Taylor to be ousted for promoting the Kingdom of God instead of the Republicans or Democrats.


The principle of plural marriage has been covered up, changed, denied, frowned upon, legislated against—but it’s still there. To some, it is a proud heritage; to others, an embarrassment; to the rest, a curiosity. This perplexing history may be discarded or burned up, but like a Phoenix, it keeps rising again and again from its own ashes.

Men and women suffered for their belief and practice of plural marriage before the Manifesto, and they did the same afterwards. Right or wrong in the eye of the beholder, they deserve respect for their faith and their sacrifice.

[17]The worst thing about it is—it doesn’t matter whether we live it or don’t live it, whether we believe it or don’t believe it—the thing that I think is really hurting the Church and Mormons in general is the fact that they’re trying to cover up or whitewash or change history, and that’s wrong. The greatest sword that is being used by anti-Mormons is when they expose and relate the facts of history and show many of the Mormon people what really happened, and the Mormons won’t believe it because they have been told otherwise. Will plural marriage survive? There was certainly no question about its survival in the minds of many of the early Church leaders:

Brigham Young:

I can deliver a prophecy upon it … and I tell you—for I know it—it will sail over, and ride triumphantly above all the prejudice and priestcraft of the day. (Mill. Star 15:31 Supplement)

John Taylor:

Polygamy Is a divine institution. It has been handed down direct from God. The United States cannot abolish it. (S. L. Tribune, Jan. 6, 1880)

Heber C. Kimball:

The principle of plurality of wives never will be done away. (JD 3:125) It would be as easy for the United States to build a tower to remove the sun, as to remove polygamy. (Mill. Star 28:190)

Wilford Woodruff:

We won’t quit practicing plural marriage until Christ shall come. (Utah Hist. Quar., Fall 1971, 39:359; statement dated May 1888)

[18]So the Manifesto was a revelation only in the sense that it revealed the will of the majority of the Mormons. God had made it very clear that He would not revoke it.

If the Manifesto was meant to stop plural marriage, it failed, because there are more polygamists today than there were when the Manifesto was issued.

I consider it a great honor and privilege to have been called to speak here tonight. It was a lot of fun for me. Thank you very much.




[1] Preface

The following quotation from Jacob 2:23-24 in the Book of Mormon has often been quoted by anti-Mormons, semi­apostate Mormons, Reorganites, and other offshoots against plural marriage:

But the word of God burthens me because of your grosser crimes. For behold, thus saith the Lord: This people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures, for they seek to excuse themselves in com­mitting whoredoms, because of the things which were written concerning David, and Solormon his son.

Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord. (Jacob 2:23-24)

Plural marriage was being lived by many of the Biblical prophets, priests, kings, and patriarchs during the same time period that this scripture was written. The Old Testament is a continuous record of men who lived polygamy during those 4000 years. Even Moses received laws pertaining to the way this marriage style should be lived. For many others it was not intended because they were not sufficiently qualified. Thus this passage in Jacob refers to them.

Since the scripture in Jacob has been seldom properly explained, this pamphlet is intended to help clarify it and explain the apparent contradictions surrounding the polygamy of David and Solomon. [2]

A Few Verses the Majority

From priest to politician, we hear the cry of “sin,” “outlawed,” “immoral,” and other epithets depicting plural marriage. Many people believe that it is an “evil,” “adulterous;” and ‘wicked” practice. Most of these objections, however, originate from those who have not sufficiently read or studied the reasons men and women have practiced this unpopular marriage lifestyle.

The world is supposed to be more wicked today than it ever has been; and according to the Book of Mormon the “churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted” (Mormon 8:36). The Lord has said in our dispensation, “And my vineyard has become corrupted every whit; and there is none which doeth good save it be a few….” (D & C 33:4) It is evident today that the United States, the State of Utah, the Protestants, Catholics, and the Mormons are generally ALL opposed to plural marriage-which does not qualify them to be in the category of “a few”. On the other hand, there are certainly only a few of the nation’s population that believe and practice the principle. Is it possible, then, that this few may be right and the majority could be wrong and corrupted?

The basis of many arguments against plural marriage was God’s rebuke against two kings in Israel, as previously quoted: “David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord….” (Jacob 2:24) But yet we also read in Mormon scripture that, “David’s wives and concubines were given unto him of me, by the hand of my servant Nathan….” (D & C 132:39) How can these two seemingly contradictory passages both be true?

What makes this even more perplexing is the statement by the prophet Samuel to Saul, when he was chastizing Saul for not keeping God’s commandments: “The Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people,. . .” (1 Sam. 13:14)

[3] The Apostle Paul explained further:

… he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus.” (Acts 13:22-23)

How do we explain God’s choosing a man “after his own heart” to be an honored “king over Israel,” and to have posterity for the lineage of Jesus, yet say he lived an “abomin­ation”?

The answer to this puzzle is that both Jacob 2:24 and D & C 132:39 cannot be true at the same time. When Nathan gave David plural wives, it was with God’s consent and favor; but later when David took wives against God’s will, then he was unworthy of them and it became an abomination. After David had become an adulterer and a murderer, he was not worthy of plural marriage, so it became an abomination to him. Even partaking of the holy sacrament can be the means of condemnation for the unworthy, for he “eateth and drinketh damnation to himself.” (I Cor. 11:29) For the individual who is pure, it is a blessing; for the wicked, it is condemnation.

When David and Solomon were in good favor with the Lord, He blessed them in every way, including their wives; but when they apostatized, they were no longer worthy of those good women. Plural marriage would be an abomination for any wicked man-it would have been an abomination for Hitler, Stalin or Mao Tse Tung to live plural marriage-so it would be for any man who apostatized from the truth. Plural marriage was never an abomination for good men such as Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Gideon, etc., and that is why God never con­demned them for it.

[4] Therefore, let’s look further into the lives of David and Solomon and see just how and why they warranted such criticism from the Lord.

King David

The life of David can be divided into two main parts: (1) his rise from the lowly shepherd boy to his kingship over Israel, and (2) his subsequent great fall. No young man had ever achieved such fame and honor with the Lord as did David; nor did any man show such suffering and mourning over his sins. In battle, on the throne, and in his home, he was blessed by the Lord, who protected him and even spoke to him. Yet he later sinned so grievously that David’s only consolation was that he felt the Lord would “not leave my soul in hell.” (Psalms 16:10)

It should be understood, then, at what point in David’s life he transgressed the law of the Lord. How could it have been in his early plural marriages, as the Lord said, “David’s wives and concubines were given unto him of me… and in none of these things did he sin against me save in the case of Uriah and his wife….” (D & C 132:39)

Again we have a seemingly contradictory statement from the Lord when He speaks of David’s plural marriage as an “abomination,” and then again says that through plural marriage a man “shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, prin­cipalities, and power, dominions” and “then shall they be gods.” (D & C 132:19-20) It is very clear to see that all good things CAN become bad.

It can be stated that the better, the more powerful and more glorious something may be, the more damaging, disastrous or damning it can become. For instance, a fire may give life-sustaining warmth to a house, or it can be the cause of burning it down. Atomic power can light up a whole city, or it can destroy it in a blast. And so it is with plural marriage-it [5] can exalt a man or be the means to condemn and damn him. The Prophet Joseph said it well:

It signifies, then, that the ordinances must be kept in the very way God has appointed: otherwise their Priesthood will prove a cursing instead of a blessing. (TPJS, p. 169)

David lived both honorably and dishonorably, but “not at the same time”. He lived polygamy in righteousness and later in unrighteousness. When he first entered into marriage with plural wives, he was blessed; but when he became a wicked man, he was cursed. For a while David was a “man after God’s own heart,” but when he lusted after Uriah’s wife, he no longer lived “after God’s own heart.” When David was living a righteous life, God abundantly blessed him:

I gave thee thy master’s <Saul’s> house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and I gave thee the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things. (II Sam. 12:8)

Notice here that the Lord is giving plural wives to a man who is a polygamist already, and says He is willing to give more! Surely, God could have donated those women to some poor souls who didn’t have a wife-especially if He considered polygamy to be “evil”. This is a good example of how the Lord wants good and honorable men to have wives rather than those who are unworthy of them. When David turned from the Lord, as Saul did, the Lord took them away from him also.

When the Prophet Nathan came to David with the story of the shepherd with many sheep who slew a shepherd and took his only lamb, David was furious and said the man should be condemned to death. Nathan then said that he <David> was the man. David confessed, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan then pronounced a curse upon David and his house­hold-and for what? Certainly not polygamy, as the Lord stated:

[6] Wherefore host thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight? Thou bast killed

Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and has taken his wife to be thy wife, and host slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thin house; because thou hast despised me, and host taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. (II Sam. 12:9­-10)

To further condemn David, the Lord said:

… I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy

wives in the sight of this sun. (II Sam. 12:11)

David became unworthy of his wives, but his “neighbor” apparently was worthy. Polygamy was not the issue-it was David’s sin with Bathsheba and Uriah.

When David became guilty of adultery and murder, it was then that the sword of vengeance came upon David: his illegitimate son died; his daughter was ravished by a half brother; his eldest son, Amnon, was murdered; a rebellion took place against him by his son; and Absalom was killed. Both the sword and sorrow continued to plague the house of David!

Nathan the prophet was the man who gave David his plural wives because at that time he was a righteous man, and it was Nathan who later came and took them away when David sinned. This should have been enough for David to learn his lesson, but he multiplied wives to himself-right up to the last day of his life. These women were not given to him by the prophet or by God, but by his own choosing and the efforts of others. (See I Kings 1:1-3.) The Lord saw nothing wrong with David’s having many wives while he was a righteous man, but when he became an adulterer and murderer, then he was condemned in the sight of all Israel.

[7] It is an abomination for wicked men to live plural marriage. King David was no exception. As a murderer and

adulterer, he had no right to take any more wives, neither was he worthy of those he already had.

During the time David was an innocent man and was living plural marriage (before the Bathsheba incident), the Lord

said to him:

I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, and have cut off all thine enemies out of thy sight, and have made thee a great name, like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth. (II Sam. 7:9)

But after David committed adultery and murder, the Lord said:

Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house. . . . Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house…. (II Sam. 12:10-11)

And because of David’s sins, the Lord caused a pestilence to come upon Israel resulting in the death of 70,000


And David spake unto the Lord when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly…. (II Sam. 24:17)

The Lord never let David forget the incident with Bathsheba and Uriah; and from then on, David suffered hell in all its ugly forms.

King Solomon

The Lord mentions Solomon’s polygamy in conjunction with David` , so let’s briefly review his life and see what caused

his downfall:

[8] This son of David lived in luxury all his life. He never knew hunger, poverty, and war as so many of the Israelites had

experienced. He was raised with the best education, in the shadow of his father’s fame and fortune, during a very peaceful

and prosperous period of Israel’s history.

He followed in the footsteps of his father and rose to the kingly throne over Israel. He ruled in righteousness-so well, in

fact, that the Lord spoke to him, guided his life and even

appeared to him twice. (See I Kings 3:5 & 9:2.) Solomon so pleased the Lord that he was blessed with wisdom, riches and

honor above all other men. He had everything that any man could want.

Solomon’s desire was to make Israel a holy nation with a royal priesthood and build a temple to God. Under his wise counsel, the nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem began to prosper and receive blessings that it had never before known. .

For the fast time the nation had a permanent national worship center in the capital city. The presence of the temple was to dominate the religious life and thinking of the Israelites until its destruction in 587-6 B.C. Even then it did not fade out. the structure was rebuilt and later thoroughly remodeled until again destroyed in A.D. 70.

The influence of the priests became more powerful and the festivals became regularized The presence of the temple enhanced the city of Jerusalem itself so that it became known as the city of God. The teaching function of the priests helped to disseminate the ancient truths revealed by God more widely in Israel The temple became a powerful unifying force. (Zonder­van’s Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, 5:477­78)

While Solomon reigned as king, he was blessed in both temporal and spiritual things until it was looked upon as the

“golden age” for Israel. He acquired more land, ratified peace with many nations, and acquired fabulous wealth.

[9] It was during this rise to fame and fortune that Solomon also acquired several wives. Some of them were surities for the treaties that he had signed with other national rulers. One of these wives, an Ammonitess, was to become the mother of Rehoboam, Solomon’s successor. This kind of marriage arrangement in Israel was not uncommon both before and after Solomon’s time, nor did the Lord condemn Solomon or any other king in Israel for condoning it. However, there were specific restrictions, both as to particular nations and races, which Solomon initially respected; so the Lord continued to bless him and the Israelites.

The temple was a project in which God seemed particularly interested-so much so that He gave specific instructions on how it should be built. The Ark of the Covenant was placed in the temple; and at the conclusion of its construction, God indicated His acceptance of both Solomon and the temple by making His presence known there by a special cloud. We read in I Kings 8:42-43 that the temple would also be used to attract and convert people of many nations to the true God of Israel. Strange, isn’t it, that God would allow the chief architect and builder of such a significant structure to be a polygamist-especially since he was to act as a representative and example to the people of many other nations!

As further evidence of the Lord’s pleasure with this polygamist, Solomon, and all that he was doing, “the Lord appeared to Solomon the second time” (I Kings 9:2) <after the temple was finished>, and told him how he would continue to bless him and the house of Israel. <The house of Israel, remember, consists of the descendants of Jacob, the polygamist.>

The leaders of many nations did come to “hear his <Solomon’s> wisdom, which God had put in his heart” (I Kings 10:24).  Even the Queen of Sheba fell weak at the sight of the temple and the influence of Solomon, and she left him  [10] huge amounts of rare spices, jewels and 120 talents (1,224 pounds) of gold.

And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solo­mon’s wisdom, and the house that he had built, .. . there was no more spirit in her. And she said to the king, it was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it, and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel:… (I Kings 10:4-9)

The temple in Jerusalem, with Solomon as the overseer, became the “show and tell” mecca for the whole house of Israel. Indeed it was the International Visitors Center for the Lord. People from many nations came in awe and new respect for God’s dealings with His chosen people and to learn of Him and His ways.

In all of these things, God seemed satisfied with his servant, Solomon. However, there came a time in which Solomon, like his father, displeased the Lord. It was regarding his dealings and intermarriages with those of certain other nations-the very thing that the Lord had warned him about. There were some nations that God had put restrictions upon regarding Israel. All other nations were allowed to come and visit, become converted to the house of Israel, and to live and marry among the Israelites. But it was with these forbidden nations that Solomon lost his judgment and reason-making both political and religious alliances. He even took their

women as wives. Thus, the Lord warned Solomon:

Of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods; Solomon clove unto these in love. (I  Kings 11:2)

It was the influence of these women, not the others, that “turned away his heart”. It was when he built altars for these strange gods of Chemosh, Ashtoreth, and Molech to satisfy the desires of these “strange” wives or concubines, that Solomon did that which the Lord had forbidden.

And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods. And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice. And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the Lord commanded. (I Kings 11:8-10)

So the Lord told Solomon that he would take his kingdom away from him and give it to another-Rehoboam, another polygamist! If Solomon’s great sin was polygamy, surely the Lord wouldn’t take away his kingdom and then give it to another polygamist!

But Solomon, with all that wisdom, lost it when he took to wife those women who were from the forbidden nations and allowed them to desecrate the temple of God. It was these particular women, not the others, who were unconverted and subverted the temple with idols, false images, and wicked practices. Solomon allowed the house of God to become a den of heathens. He was no longer the wisest man in the world-he didn’t even use common sense! Even the polygamist Brigham Young proved to be wiser than Solomon, for he never allowed any heathen practices into the temple of God. Consider the follies that Solomon tolerated from some of these forbidden women:

Of the numerous deities to which his foreign wives turned his heart, perhaps the best known in the ancient world was Ashtoreth, called “the abomination of the Sidonians” (I Kings 11:5, 33), since her cult was early established among the Phoenicians. This fertility goddess, known as Astarte among the Greeks and as [12]  Ishtar in Babylonia, was the protagonist of sexual Love and war in Babylonia and Assyria. Her degraded moral character is revealed by the Ugaritic literature from Ras Shamra. She is pictured on a seal found at Bethel where her name is given in hieroglyphic char­acters. Solomon thus courted disaster by this reams. (Unger’s Bible Dictionary, p. 103)

Foreign marriages brought foreign religions, and the king compromised the convictions which he had expressed in his dedicatory prayer for the. temple (I

Kings 8:23. 27) by engaging in syncretistic worship to placate his wives. This violent breach of Israel’s covenant could not go unpunished. (illustrated Bible Dictionary, vol. 3:1472)

So Solomon apostatized from the God of his fathers by introducing the heathen gods of wicked nations and accepting their practices. It was for this reason that his polygamy was an abomination.

Both David and Solomon transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances, and broke the everlasting covenant, for which they suffered the punishments of God. Their sins brought death, sorrow and captivity to their own houses and the whole house of Israel. As apostates, they received the curses of God while they lived and even God’s judgments have followed them beyond the grave. As the Lord said, “David’s wives and concubines were given unto him of me,” but he committed such sins that “he path fallen from his exaltation, and received his portion; and he shall not inherit them out of the world.” (D & C 132:39)

Thus David and Solomon did an abominable became an adulterer and murderer, while Solomon transformed the temple of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob into a house of strange gods for heathens. No longer were they worthy of an eternal marriage covenant with any women; hence, it was an abomination for them to continue living plural marriage, and tey lost the right to have any wives.

Jacob’s Message to the Nephites

Jacob, son of Lehi, delivered a very pertinent sermon instructing the Nephites of his day and referred to the polygamy of David and Solomon. To understand the circumstances and reasons for Jacob’s discourse, it is necessary to set the stage as Jacob saw it. We need to under­stand the kind of people he was talking to, or we will not understand why he forbid them to live plural marriage. Was he talking to a people who were righteous like Abraham, Jacob, Moses, etc., or was he talking to a people who had trans­gressed the commandments of the Lord similar to what David and Solomon had done? Jacob described:

… the people of Nephi, under the reign of the second king, began to grow hard in their hearts, and indulge themselves in wicked practices, such as like unto David of old desiring many wives and concubines, and also Solomon, his son. (Jacob 1:15)

It is apparent that David and Solomon were lusting after women and used plurality of wives for their wicked desires. To continue:

But behold, hearken ye unto me, and know that by the help of the all-powerful Creator of heaven and earth I can tell you concerning your thoughts, how that ye are beginning to labor in sin, which sin appeareth very abominable unto me, yea, and abominable unto God.

Yea, it grieveth my soul and causeth me to shrink with shame before the presence of my Maker, that I might testify unto you concerning the wickedness of your hearts.

But, notwithstanding the greatness of the task, I must do according to the strict commands of God, and tell you concerning your wickedness and abominations, in the presence of the pure in heart, and the broken heart, and under the glance of the piercing eye of the Almighty God.

[14] And the hand of providence hath smiled upon you most pleasingly, that you have obtained many riches; and because some of you have obtained more abundantly than that of your brethren ye are lied up in the pride of your hearts, and wear stiff necks and high heads because of the costliness of your apparel, and persecute your brethren because ye suppose that ye are better than they.

And now, my brethren, do ye suppose that God justifieth you in this thing? Behold, I say unto you, Nay. But he condemneth you, and if ye persist in these things his judgments must speedily come unto you.

0 that he would rid you from this iniquity and abomination. And, 0 that ye would listen unto the word of his commands, and let not this pride of your hearts destroy your souls!

But the word of God burthens me because of your grosser crimes. For behold, thus saith the Lord: This people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures, for they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms, because of the things which were written concerning David, and Solomon his son.

Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.

Wherefore, thus saith the Lord, I have led this people forth out of the land of Jerusalem, by the power of mine arm, that I might raise up unto me a righteous branch from the fruif of the loins of Joseph.

Wherefore, I the Lord God will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old. <Live plural mar­riage unrighteously> (Jacob 2:5-6,10,13-14,16,23-26)

Obviously the people at that time were living in whoredoms and practicing plural marriage unrighteously-and rather than have such a sacred principle abused as it was by

David and Solomon, the Lord instructed Jacob to tell the people:

For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines and he shall have non;

For I, the Lord god, delight in the chastity of women, and whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts.

[15] Wherefore, this people shall keep my command­ments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes.

For I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people: otherwise they shall hearken unto these things. (Jacob 2:27-30)

We can see the results of the wickedness of these Nephites by reading further in Jacob:

For behold, I, the Lord, have seen the sorrow, and heard the mourning of the daughters of my people in the land of Jerusalem, yea, and in all the lands of my people, because of the wickedness and abominations of their husbands. (2:31)

Behold, ye have done greater iniquities than the Lamanites, our brethren. Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them; and the sobbings of their hearts ascend up to God against you. And because of the strictness of the word of God, which cometh down against you, many hearts died, pierced with deep wounds. (2:35)

But wo, wo, unto you that are not pure in heart, that are filthy this day before God; for except ye repent the land is cursed for your sakes; and the Lamanites, which are not filthy like unto you, nevertheless they are cursed with a sore cursing, shall scourge you even unto destruction. (3:3)

Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you; for they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our fathers-that they should have save it were one wife, and concubines they should have none, and there should not be whoredoms committed among them. (3:5)

0 my brethren, I fear that unless ye shall repent of your sins that their skins will be whiter than yours, when ye shall be brought with them before the throne of God. (3:8)

Wherefore, ye shall remember your children, how that ye have grieved their hearts because of the example that ye have set before them; and also, [16] remember that ye may, because of your filthiness, bring your children unto destruction, and their sins be heaped upon your heeds at the last day. (3: 10)

Referring to verse 3:5, the Lord has occasionally given the command to live monogamy, as in the case of Lehi or when dealing with an unrighteous people. In these cases it would be a sin for the people concerned to live the higher law of polygamy, because they would be disobeying the Lord. The Lamanites had been commanded to live monogamy, and they had been obeying the law at that level. Yet the Nephites, also under that monogamous command given to Father Lehi, had taken it upon themselves to live polygamy, and had done so unrighteously, abusing that higher law and turning it into whoredoms and self-gratification. Thus they brought upon themselves the greater condemnation. At this time, then, the Lamanites were more righteous than the Nephites, whose transgressions became an abomination to them just as they did to David and Solomon.

It is interesting to interject here, that in 1890 when the Manifesto was issued, if it did come from the Lord as many people claim, it would have been for the same reason that the Lord had discontinued plural marriage on rare occasions in the past-because of the unworthiness of the people! Is that the message for us as a Church today?

To summarize the kind of people Jacob was talking to:

1.They labored in sin.

2.They had wickedness in their hearts. 3. They were committing abominations.

4.They had pride in their hearts.

5.They wore stiff necks and high heads.

6.They wore costly apparel.

7.They persecuted their brethren.

8.They supposed they were better than others.

9.There were about to receive God’s judgments.


  1. They understood not the scriptures.
  2. They were committing whoredoms.

Is it any wonder, then, why Jacob instructed them NOT to live plural marriage! Has a similar condition of worldliness, pride and carnal pleasures existed for the past 100+ years within the LDS Church?

Jacob was talking to a people who were not worthy to live that sacred law nor any other higher Priesthood law. It was impossible for them to raise up a righteous seed, as the Lord was desirous that they should do. Therefore, they were prevented from these blessings, and their destruction and overthrow by the Lamintes was foretold.

It is important, then, to recognize the similarities that existed between the polygamy eventually lived by David and Solomon, and that of the people of Nephi at the time of Jacob.

Plural Marriage Intended for the Righteous

It is apparent that the Lord prefers to choose those righteous people whom He desires to live plural marriage, depending on their worthiness. Orson Pratt very appropriately explained this practice:

But, notwithstanding that he <Solomon> was so highly blessed and honored of the Lord, there was room for him to transgress and fall, and in the end he did so. For a long time the Lord blessed Solomon, but eventually he violated that law which the Lord had given forbidding Israel to take wives from the idolatrous nations, and some of these wives succeeded in turning his heart from the Lord and induced him to worship the heathen gods, and the Lord was angry with him and, as it is recorded in the Book of Mormon, considered the acts of Solomon an abomination in His sight.

Let us now come to the record in the Book of Mormon, when the Lord led forth Lehi and Nephi, and [18] Ishmael and his two sons and five daughters out of the land of Jerusalem to the land of America, The males and females were about equal in number: there were Nephi, Sam, Laman and Lemuel, the four sons of Lehi, and Zoram, brought out of Jerusalem. How many daughters of Ishmael were unmarried? Just five. Would it have been just under these circumstances, to ordain plurality among them? No. Why? Because the males and females were equal in number and they were all under the guidance of the Almighty, hence it would have been unjust, and the Lord gave a revelation-the only one on record I believe-in which a command was ever given to any branch of Israel to be confined to the monogamic system. In this case the Lord, through His servant Lehi, gave a command that they should have but one wife. The Lord had a perfect right to vary His commands in this respect according to circumstances, as He did in others, as recorded in the Bible. There we find that the domestic relations were governed according to the mind and will of God and were varied according to circumstances, as He thought proper.

By and by, after the death of Lehi, some of his posterity began to disregard the strict law that God had given to their father, and took more wives than one, and the Lord put them in mind, through His servant Jacob, one of the sons of Lehi, of this law, and told them that they were transgressing It, and then referred to David and Solomon, as having committed abomination in his sight. The Bible also tells us that they sinned in the sight of God; not in taking wives legally, but only in those they took illegally, in doing which they brought wrath and condemnation upon their heads.

But because the Lord dealt thus with the small branch of the House of Israel that came to America, under their peculiar circumstances, there are those at the present day who will appeal to this passage in the Book of Mormon as something universally applicable in regard to man’s domestic relations. The same God that commanded one branch of the House of Israel in America, to take but one wife when the numbers of the two sexes were about equal, gave a different command to the hosts of Israel in Palestine. But let us see the qualifying clause given in the Book of Mormon on . t t: subject. After having reminded the people the [19 ] commandment delivered by Lehi, in regard to monogamy, the Lord says-“For if I will raise up seed onto me I will command my people, otherwise they shall hearken unto these things;” that is, if I will raise up seed among my people of the House of Israel, I will give them a commandment on the subject, but if I do not give this commandment, they shall hearken to the law which I give unto their father LehL That is the meaning of the passage, and this very passage goes to prove that plurality was a principle God did approve under circumstances when it was authorized by Him. (JD 13:191-192, Oct. 7, 1869)

It is important to understand the conditions upon which plural marriage should be lived or not lived. If God commands His people to live it, they should do so; but if He commands them not to live it, then they are under condemnation if they do. If God does command people not to live it-as He has done on rare occasions- it is because of their unworthiness.

But many prophets and righteous saints have very definitely received a commandment to live that law. In this last dispensation, for example, the Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation directing him and the Saints to obey plural marriage. He knew that he had no other choice, but in his anguish and trial over it, he declared:

‘They accuse me of polygamy, and of being a false Prophet, and many other things which I do not now remember; but I am no false Prophet; I am no impostor; I have had no dark revelations; I have had no revelations from the devil; I made no revelations; I have got nothing up of myself. The same God that has thus far dictated me and directed me and strengthened me in this work, gave me this revelation and commandment on celestial and plural marriage, and the same God commanded me to obey it. He said to me that unless I accepted it and introduced it, and practiced it, 1, together with my people, would be damned and cut off from this time henceforth. And they say y1 do so, they will kill me: Oh, what shall I do? If I dc, not r,:_: t +: e ii, 1 shall be damned with my people.  If I [20] do teach it, and practice it. and urge it, they say they will kill me, and I know they will But,” said he, “we have got to observe it. It is an eternal principle and was given by way of commandment and not by way of instruction.” (Contributor 5:259; see also DHC 6:280­281)

However, many years later John Taylor commented on the weak-nesses and failings of the Saints and was afraid that they would someday reject it. He warned:

What would be necessary to bring about the results nearest the hearts of the opponents of Mor­monism? Simply to renounce, abrogate, or apostatize from the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage in its fulness. Were the Church to do that as an entirety, God would reject the Saints as a body. The authority of the Priesthood would be withdrawn with its gifts and powers, and there would be no more heavenly recognition of the administrations. The heavens would permanently withdraw themselves, and the Lord would raise up another people of greater valor and stability, for his work must, according to his unalterable decrees, go forward: for the time of the second coming of the Savior is near, even at the doors. (Des. News, April 23, 1885)

The Lord had also confirmed this previously in a revelation to Joseph Smith which indicated that men could be prophets, revelators, and workers of miracles; yet if they refused to obey His commands, even plural marriage, they would be condemned.

… although a man may have many revelations, and have power to do many mighty works, yet if he boasts in his own strength, and sets at naught the counsels of God and follows after the dictates of his own will and carnal desires, he must fall and incur the vengeance of a just God upon him. (D & C 3:4)

It is clear to see that men can be condemned for living it, or not living it!

[21] Thus, in our dispensation this law of plural marriage was revealed to Joseph Smith because he and others were righteous and were bound by the law of the Priesthood, which is the guiding force in how the law of plural marriage should be lived. This principle is not for the entire world, but is an eternal Priesthood law, obedience to which distinguishes the Saints from the rest of the world. Quoting from a sermon by George Q. Cannon:

In every civilized country on the face of the earth the seducer plies his arts to envelop his victim within his meshes, in order to accomplish her ruin most completely; and it is well known that men holding positions of trust and responsibility, looked upon as honorable and highly respectable members of society, violate their marriage vows by carrying on their secret amours and supporting mistresses; yet against the people of Utah, where such things are totally unknown, there is an eternal and rabid outcry because they practice the heaven-revealed system of a plurality of wives. It is a most astonishing thing, and no greater evidence could be given that Satan reigns in the hearts of the children of men, and that he is determined, if possible, to destroy the work of God from the face of the earth

The Bible, the only work accepted by the nations of Christendom, as a divine revelation, sustains this doctrine, from beginning to end. The only revelation on record that can be quoted against it came through the Prophet Joseph Smith, and is contained in the Book of Mormon; and strange to say, here in Salt Lake City, a day or two since, one of the leading men of the nation, in his eager desire and determination to cast discredit on this doctrine, unable to do so by reference to the Bible, which he no doubt, in common with all Christians, acknowledge as divine, was compelled to have recourse to the Book of Mormon, a work which on any other point, he would most unquestionably have scouted and ridiculed, as an emanation from the brain of an imposter.. What consistency! A strange revolution this, that ?r en. should have recourse to our own works, whose authenticity they most emphatically deny, to [22] prove us in the wrong. Yet this attempt, whenever made, cannot be sustained. for Brother Pratt clearly showed to you, in his remarks the other day, that instead of the Book of Mormon being opposed to this principle, it contains an express provision for the revelation of the principle to us as a people at some future time-namely that when the Lord should desire to raise up unto Himself a righteous seed He would command His people to that effect. Plainly setting forth that a time would come when He would command His people to do so.

It is necessary that this principle should be practiced under the auspices and control of the Priesthood. God has placed that Priesthood in the Church to govern and control all the affairs fairs thereof, and this is a principle which, f not practiced in the greatest holiness and purity, might lead men into great sin; therefore the Priesthood is the more necessary to guide and control men in the practice of this principle. There might be circumstances and situations in which it would not be wisdom in the mind of God for his people to practice this principle, but so long as a people are guided by the Priesthood and revelations of God, there is no danger of evil arising therefrom. If we, as a people, had attempted to practice this principle without revelation, it is likely that we should have been led into grievous sins and the condemnation of God would have rested upon us: but the Church waited until the proper time came, and then the people practiced it according to the mind and will of God. making a sacrifice of their

own feelings in so doing. * * *

He has helped us this far. He has helped us to conquer our selfish feelings, and when our sisters seek unto Him He helps them to overcome their feelings; He gives theist strength to overcome their selfishness and jealousy. There is not a woman under the sound of my voice today, but can bear witness of this if she has tried it. You, sisters, whose husbands have taken other wives, can you not bear testimony that the principle has purified your hearts, made you less selfish, brought you nearer to God and given you power you never had before? There are hundreds within the sound of my voice today, both men and women, who can testify that this has been the effect that the practice of this principle has had upon them.

[23] I am speaking now of what are called the spiritual benefits arising from the righteous practice of this principle. I am sure that through the practice of this principle, we shall have a purer community, a community more experienced, less selfish and with a higher knowledge of human nature than any other on the face of the earth. (JD 13:201, 205; Oct.. 9, 1869)

The “spiritual benefits” that Cannon speaks of were explained by Jesus to His Apostles when He said, “Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 8:11) E doubt that monogamists will have such a seat or feel comfortable in such company.

The Lord did not condemn Abraham or Jacob in the Book of Mormon statement, only David and Solomon. Everywhere in the Bible and Book of Mormon, Abraham is honored and revered, but never chastised for his polygamy.

Furthermore, the Savior stated that, “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when yea shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.” (Luke 16:24) Strange that Jesus would honor Abraham and Jacob, two polygamists, if they had lived their lives in such a “sinful” way!


These statements prove that men can live holy principles worthily, or they can fail and live them unrighteously. Judas Escargot was condemned, not as an apostle, but when he failed to live worthy of this calling. So also David and Solomon were condemned, not while they were obedient to the Lord, but when they failed.

Plural marriage was never intended to be a principle that all men could live. Furthermore, it never will-simply because most men are incapable of properly fulfilling the obligations of [24] even a monogamous marriage. It certainly stands to reason that if men like David and Solomon, who gained the respect of both God and man, were capable of failure in their marriages, then we know that any man can fail. Indeed, we may conclude by saying that only a “few” shall ever qualify for exaltation.



Ogden Kraut


June 1986

Oct. 1994

June 1995


Introduction……  1

Learning to Pray…..  3

Blessings from Prayer….  8

The Return to God….. 14

God’s Will……. 22

Conclusion……. 25


* * * * *


A soldier lies wounded and suffering. His life’s blood spills upon the ground; and though his eyes are closed, his lips continue to move. His soul is reaching to its Creator in final repose.

In the delivery room of a hospital, a woman cries through the pains of childbirth. She pleads to God for relief of her agony in bearing the child. Her body and soul are taxed in pain, bringing to focus the cries of relief to the Great Eternal.

A frenzied mob drag their victim to the martyr’s post. Strong cords bind his arms and legs to the funeral pyre as they spark the flame of death. The golden tongues of fire creep up towards its victim. The martyr raises his head within the veil of smoke and peers into the heavens. His words reach beyond the howls of mortals as he begs God for forgiveness; then he commits his spirit to Him who gave it.

Even the story of Jesus cannot be told without Gethsemane. Who knows what sorrow, what pain, and what torment of soul Jesus paid in that Garden. No one knew—not even the Apostles; they all slept. But the sufferings of Jesus are to this day remembered by the blood that came from every pore. Yet, while He bled, while He suffered, and while He died—His voice was in prayer.

So different are the pains, the sorrows, and the deaths of men; yet so much remains in common. In all cases, at the final hours of trial, the humble, the great and the brave find peace with their God in prayer.

[2]If then, such noble examples are left for us to follow, how faithless, how neglectful, and how shamed we must feel. Certainly then we must devote ourselves more diligently to the study and practice of this divine spark within our souls called prayer.

Prayers are offerings and expressions of our desires and feelings to God. They are offered for things that are needful; or in gratitude for the things received. Prayer is the monitor between us and our Maker. We may offer prayers vocally, mentally, publically, or privately; for ourselves, our families or friends. They help us to obtain the good things; or else that we might remove the evil things. We must pray sincerely, consistently, and with faith, and, most important, through the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Christ was the greatest example of righteousness; and no better example can be found of a prayerful being. He left us this example—showing that we can overcame, and again be in His presence with the Father. Through this means we offer our confessions, our petitions, and seek the direction we should follow to make this return to the Father. Prayer becomes the spiritual compass to our soul.

Prayer is often referred to as the “soul’s sincere desire” and the “simplest form of speech”. And as a young son asks his father for the things he needs, so we ask the Eternal Father for the things we need. As we receive these things, we should offer a prayer of thanksgiving, gratitude, and adoration.

Prayer should be a pattern in our life. A habit, yes, but rather a desire than a duty. It should be a precious privilege, knowing that it will be a source of blessing upon our home, our land, our income, our health, and upon all the things we hope to be or [3] have. It can be a source of power upon our possessions as well as our friends. If we do all we can in the attitude of prayer, then God will honor our efforts and aid us the rest of the way.

In prayer, then, we learn to trust in God, and as the Prophet Joseph said, “When we have confidence in God, He will have confidence in us.”



“Teach us to pray,” said the disciples of Jesus. Even they saw the need to better know how to pray. Any item of our religion which requires more duty than perhaps all others, is certainly one which we should properly, and more perfectly, become qualified to practice. We should have a blessing upon our food at each meal, a family prayer each morning and evening, and then to these add our own personal prayers. This amounts to about eight prayers every day in a normal pattern of duty; yet how often Saints will neglect them all!

This frequent practice of prayer in our lives should be exercised in a correct and pleasing manner to the Hearer, for there are many incorrect ways to pray.

There are no schools or universities that give an education in the function of prayer. We must learn by example and experience. Jesus taught the disciples to begin a prayer by addressing “Our Father who art in Heaven.” We must first learn that it is our real Father, the Father of our spirits, that we appeal to. [4] He is as concerned for our welfare as any mortal father ever could be. He looks upon us with divine compassion and perfected love. He wishes only that we pay Him the proper respect as a Father.

God will always answer our prayers properly, and see that we have that which is most needful in our lives. Jesus said, “Would a father give a son stones for bread?” How much more then would our Heavenly Father show His affection and concern for our eternal welfare and salvation?

Learning to pray is much easier in youth. To learn this principle while still very young is important, for “as a twig is bent so shall the tree be inclined.”

Nearly all great prophets and leaders have been faithful to God from their youth. Such a one was Samuel, and we read the “child Samuel grew on, and was in favor both with the Lord, and also with men.” Because of Samuel’s faith in the Lord, “the Lord called Samuel; and he answered, `Here am I,'” and soon all “Israel from Dan even to Bethsheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord.” And later “the Lord appeared again in Shiloh: for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel.”

The faith and righteousness of Samuel were a positive influence and great example in the life of young David. The boy shepherd spoke in faith when he heard of Goliath and said, “Who is this Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” When none would contest him, David said that he would go and “the Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. [5] And Saul said unto David, Go, and the Lord be with thee.” Thus is established the faith and integrity of youth when properly trained in prayer to their God.

Every parent has a duty and privilege to teach their children faith in God, and how to pray to Him. It becomes a pleasure to youth, and they enjoy the experience. From youth are men made, and if we “Train up a child in the way he should go, when he is old, he will not depart from it.” It becomes a staff and stay to his moral life, giving him blessings of joy and righteousness. No greater responsibility rests upon parents, nor can any greater rewards come from such teachings. Through prayer the family “stays together” and enjoys a deeper filial love for each other. It gives them a divine protection, and guidance, throughout their lives.

One of the most important blessings in life is obtaining a testimony of God. Each time we pray and the prayer is answered, it strengthens our testimony. Each problem in life should be met with prayer. As our testimony grows, so also will our faith in God increase. Soon we are able to champion the greatest of problems through faith in prayer.

In every learning process there are hindrances, and this is true, as well, in learning to pray. “Sin keeps men from prayer, just as prayer will keep men from sin.” So a person guilty in his conscience may say to himself, “I’m not worthy to pray, or even try to be religious.” Thus the devil gains his first foothold into the man’s soul.

When we begin to doubt the Lord’s power to forgive and His mercy to help, we lose faith. Often we say that we “don’t feel like praying, or we don’t have the “spirit of prayer.” Brigham Young said we [6] should just say: “Knees, get down there; and then pray until we get the spirit of prayer.” We often don’t feel worthy, or in the mood, and make an excuse that we don’t have time. Martin Luther once said that he “must hurry or he would only have about three hours remaining for prayer.” If we are shy, incapable, or lazy, then it is time for us to practice the art of prayer. It must be learned as well as any other facet of our life.

The Lord speaks of prayer as a commandment, and “he that observeth not his prayers before the Lord in the season thereof, let him be had in remembrance before the judge of my people.” (D. & C. 68:33) Regardless of our desires and intents, we must recognize that the devil shall try every means, and through every source, to discourage us and hinder us from prayer. As Nephi says, “For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray, ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.” (2 Nephi 32:8) Thus, every influence or power that hinders us from prayer is evil.

There are many reasons why man neglects this important principle of prayer. He burns his eyes by hours of television, movies, and magazines, or he finds a multitude of meaningless pleasures and popular sporting activities. Sometimes we hear someone say, “Oh, I can feel closer to God in the mountains than I can in church.” But while he is in church, he must pray, but when he arrives in the mountains, he devotes his time to fishing or hunting or picnicking, and is nowhere near God in his thoughts—unless he profanes His name as he stumbles over a log, or loses a big fish. Thus, by external influences we are separated from the spiritual ties of prayer.

[7]Prayer can be a secret and sacred thing. In learning how to pray, we must not be as the hypocrites, praying in the streets and synagogues, “that they may be seen of men,” but we should seek God in secret, knowing “thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” (Mat. 6:6) We are also told about the hypocrites who “devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayer,” who, therefore, would receive the greater condemnation.

However, when people finally do bend their wills to prayer, it often becomes a routine, a cliche of words, a stiff formality in which there is no earnest desire nor feeling. Moroni says that if man should pray grudgingly or “without real intent, it profiteth him nothing.” Prayer should become a vital force, an earnest appeal of the soul.

At an early age in life, we enter school to be taught carefully in all the fields of learning. Later we choose an occupation specializing in some branch of learning. In all the arts and sciences, there is a broad field of knowledge that can be acquired. Yet, in the ways of spiritual prayer, there are but very few ways to learn these most precious moments in life. If all the years of learning are used to gain knowledge for only this life, then consider how much more important it is that we discipline ourselves in the practice of prayer, which will prove invaluable to our life throughout eternity.



Scriptural history is filled with great acts of prophets and holy men of God. None of them could have been as great, nor performed these great deeds without faith in prayer. Healings, miracles, and great power were manifest through prayers. James says if a man desires wisdom, then “let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given.” Prayer, however, must be accompanied by faith. James continues with “but let him ask in faith, nothing wavering; for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that men think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.” (James 1:6-7)

Prayer is likened to the spiritual thermometer of a man. It measures the faith in his soul. If he has no will to pray, he has no faith; but if he prays much, then he is filled with faith and spiritual strength. A good man is a source of strength and blessing to his family and friends, for “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

In times of distress or affliction we have the promise to pray and blessings will follow. In sickness the commandment is “let him call for the elders of the Church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up.” Further blessings are to attend this administration, for James says that “if they have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” Here then is a double blessing. Healed of sickness and forgiven of sins!

[9]Further blessings of forgiveness through prayer are also given in this manner, for the Lord promises, “I will forgive you of your sins with this commandment—that you remain steadfast in your minds in solemnity and the spirit of prayer, in bearing testimony to all the world of those things which are communicated unto you.” (D. & C. 84:61)

Fasting is one of the most forgotten, yet most important, ingredients in prayer. Fasting gives spiritual power to a man’s faith, priesthood, and righteousness. For instance, when the disciples were trying to cast out an evil spirit, they were amazed that they could not perform the task. They went to Jesus and said, “Why could not we cast him out?” When Jesus saw the man possessed, He replied, “This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” So the man who prays and fasts can have power over evil spirits.

Note also these great blessings which come to the food, the land, and conditions in which we live—all are affected by such matters of faith. God said, “If my people which are called by my name shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sins and heal their land.” (2 Chron. 7:14) He further encourages us to “pray and seek him and we shall know Him.”

In our generation He tells us to “seek the face of the Lord always,” and that “every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am.” (D. & C. 93:1) This illustrates the final purpose of prayer. This is what we should most desire and look to and pray for.

[10]Destructions have been avoided by people who turned from wickedness to prayer and obedience. In the Book of Mormon the Prophet Alma said to the people, “If it were not for the prayers of the righteous who are now in that land, that ye would even now be visited with utter destruction; yet it would not be by flood, as were the people in the days of Noah, but it would be by famine, and by pestilence, and the sword. But it is by the prayers of the righteous that ye are spared.” (Alma 10:22)

How many other calamities have been avoided by prayer? How many troubles in our own lives have been avoided by our prayers? Perhaps our own nation would have crumbled by now, had it not been for the prayers of the righteous. Again we may ask, how much trouble and sorrow has been brought into our lives because we failed in our prayers?

Blessing our food is a common practice in our faith; yet, there is much more to it than we suppose. We just assume it to be a prayer of thanks. Consider for a moment the old laws which were given to Moses and the children of Israel. These Old Testament laws strictly forbid the use of pork, certain fowls, and others foods. Yet there can be extenuating circumstances. For example, when missionaries were sent out without purse or script, they depended upon the Lord and the people for food and clothing. The Lord warned, “I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves.” (Mat. 10:14) He also said, “Into whatsoever house they receive you, remain, eating and drinking such things as they give,” (Luke 10:7) and that “nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (v. 20) The Lord promised them that even “if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them.” (Mark 16:18) Paul instructed Timothy, “For every creature [11] of God is good and nothing be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”

It is necessary to understand the difference between willingly disobeying the Lord’s counsel and being “compelled” to take another course, in which case the Lord could honor a blessing given over something He had previously cursed. It is similar to the devil tempting Jesus to cast Himself down from the temple to see if God would save Him. If someone else tried to throw Him down, God would probably have saved Him; but if He willingly throws Himself down, that saving principle no longer applies. Man can eat “forbidden” food on particular and unique occasions and the Lord would not condemn him; but if he tempts the Lord and willingly takes that which is forbidden, prayers would be ineffectual.

A humorous incident in the life of Brigham Young occurred one morning when he sat down to the breakfast table and noticed bacon or ham before him. In his blessing on the food he said, “Oh Lord, bless this food—if you can bless that which you have cursed.”

We have also been advised to abstain from all meats in the summer time:

Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly; and it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine. * * * And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger. (D. & C. 89: 12-13, 15)

[12]There is another form of prayer that is not frequently recognized as such. A beautiful song is a joy to every soul, and the Lord Himself appreciates it and so declares: “My soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.” (D. & C. 25:12)

Additionally, by the prayer of your faith, ye shall receive my law, that ye may know how to govern my church and have all things right before me.” (D. & C. 41:3) Thus even the Church must be governed by the prayer of faith. We even receive our strength and give it to others by faith in prayers. “Therefore, strengthen your brethren in all your conversation, in all your prayers, in all your exhortations, and in all your doings.” (D. & C. 108:7)

When a man knows the will of God and prays for it in faith, God will honor the prayer. Jesus said, “All things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” We must apply faith in our prayers because too many prayers are only words spoken. Some persons may pray an hour, but they are only multiplying words and sending them out without faith. The feelings of the heart, the burdens of the soul, and the faith of the whole being, must be asserted in prayer. God would be pleased to answer those prayers with a blessing.

[13]Thus, some things may be forbidden, but because of certain extenuating circumstances, they can be eaten with thanksgiving and prayer and thus sanctified for human consumption without condemnation.

Oftentimes the servants of God have personal desires, not necessarily the will of God; but because of their faith, God will grant them their wish. David W. Patten, the Apostle, told the Prophet Joseph Smith he had prayed and asked the Lord that he might die as a martyr in the cause of the Gospel. Joseph looked sad and then said, “When a man of your faith asks the Lord for a privilege, God usually grants it.” Apostle Patten was the first martyr in this dispensation—just as he had prayed.

Some ministers pray in a strange, over-pitched voice, or a peculiar type of “gargling” that almost throws a chill down the spine. Such prayers are offensive to the people as well as to God. In a humble prayer to God, we should speak reverently as to a Father, respectfully as to a great authority, and yet personally as though we spoke to a good friend. When Brigham Young was heard to pray, friends said that they were inclined to open their eyes to see who he was talking to. Heber C. Kimball prayed to God in such a familiar manner that he made people feel that God was his close associate.

In placing God before our minds as though He were just before us, it is possible to pray in a proper manner. Prayer is conversation with Him. Too often prayers become merely words bouncing around a room—or words to be transported over the air waves. They must be uttered in faith to be placed before God. Prayers are a personal conversation with our Father, so in answering our petitions, God will bless us as only a divine Father can do.



In this life we stand by ourselves. Our only solace and hope rests in God; and it is through our prayers that we can reach Him. He has planned it this way so our faith could increase; therefore, prayer is the first step to the increase of faith.

In this world we are on a journey, a long way from our eternal home. Through this wilderness of life we must find the pathway back and the first step is prayer. There are many strange and dangerous paths that lead men astray; snares, temptations, and evil forces continually pull and push man from the line of duty. So much appeals to the eyes, the ears, tastes, and feelings that we are enticed to forget those spiritual goals. Temporal things draw us to this world only; prayers of the spirit draw us to the world beyond—even to the throne of God.

Since God is the Father of all and the Creator of all things, we must learn to depend upon Him. Prayer is the medium to which we must resort for wisdom, health, guidance, and protection. Temporal things have a proper place and function; but spiritual things are of greatest importance. Temporal things sometimes entice us away from our spiritual senses, so we must “pray always” lest “we enter temptation” and be overcome, for “straight is the gate and narrow the way, and few there be that find it.”

The Prophet Enos is perhaps one of the best recorded incidences of a faithful man seeking the Lord in prayer. He says, “I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came, I [15] did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens. And there came a voice unto me saying, `Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.'”

How few men seek God with such earnestness and humility. Out of the approximate 25,000 days in a man’s life, it would take perhaps only one, in prayer, to receive such a tremendous experience.

Jesus also set the same example, even though He was without sin, for He “went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” (Luke 6:12)

The practice of prayer is well demonstrated in the life and teaching of every prophet and apostle. For example, Alma gives this exhortation:

Yea, cry unto him for mercy; for he is mighty to save. Yea, humble yourselves, and continue in prayer unto him. Cry unto him when ye are in your fields, yea, over all your flocks. Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening. Yea, cry unto him against the power of your enemies. Yea, cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness. Cry unto him over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them. Cry over the flocks of your fields, that they may increase. But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness. Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you. (Alma 34:18-27)

[16]One of the students of the great professor, Karl G. Maeser, gave this testimony about how important the silent prayer was to this great man:

He told us that he was never called to perform any task, however small, that he did not offer up a silent prayer that he should have divine guidance, and that he never purchased an article of clothing without asking a blessing that it might give him good service. (Life of Karl G. Maeser, p. 7)

Karl, as great as he was, could still see the necessity of dependance upon God through prayer. As he beautifully described: “All our prayers are addressed in the handwriting of the heart, readable to God and ourselves only.”

At one time when the Nephites were in bondage to the Lamanites, the latter would “put to death” any Nephite who was found praying. It became necessary for the Nephite people to pray silent prayers to God, and so—

Alma and his people did not raise their voices to the Lord their God, but did pour out their hearts to him; and He did know the thoughts of their hearts. And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying, Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage. And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; [17] and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions. And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord. (Mosiah 24:10-15)

So the Lord answered their silent prayers, making their burdens light so they “cannot feel them upon their backs.” He further promised them that He would deliver them out of their bondage, which promise was fulfilled. How effective were these silent prayers, and yet they seem to be so much neglected and misunderstood by Christians today.

Jesus established the pattern for prayer by saying, “Our Father who art in heaven.” However, some of the Christian churches pray not to Him but to some Saint or even to Mary, the mother of Jesus. The devil will thwart our prayers and attentions away from God in every possible way, and with these stumbling blocks, we become neglectful—often forgetting God and prayer altogether.

Jesus once said, “It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” The devil had turned the house of prayer into a place of wickedness.

Only a few have been as faithful as Anna, who “was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.” She had become so spiritual that she was termed a “prophetess.”

[18]The disciples of Jesus were dedicated to this principle of prayer, and decreed “we shall give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” James used the example of Elias, who was—

. . . a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. (James 5:17-18)

When Alma became a persecutor of the Church of God, an angel came and rebuked him for fighting the Church. And the angel said,

The Lord hath heard the prayers of his people, and also the prayers of his servant, Alma, who is thy father; for he has prayed with much faith concerning thee that thou mightest be brought to a knowledge of the truth; therefore, for this purpose I have come to convince thee of the power and authority of God, that the prayers of his servants might be answered according to their faith.” (Mosiah 27:14)

Alma then became struck dumb and immovable, as though he were dead. Then the priests “began to fast, and to pray to the Lord,” that He would bring Alma back. “And it came to pass after they had fasted and prayed for the space of two days and two nights, the limbs of Alma received their strength, and he stood up and began to speak unto them.” (Mosiah 27:23) This was a most remarkable testimony to the power of prayer.

[19]Perhaps one of the greatest illustrations of prayer was that occasion witnessed by the Nephites when Jesus appeared to them:

And after this manner do they bear record: The eye hath never seen, neither hath the ear heard before, so great and marvelous things as we saw and heard Jesus speak unto the Father; and no tongue can speak, neither can there be written by any man, neither can the hearts of men conceive so great and marvelous things as we both saw and heard Jesus speak; and no one can conceive of the joy which filled our souls at the time we heard him pray for us unto the Father. (3 Nephi 17:16-17)

He then commanded his disciples to: “Pray always, lest ye be tempted by the devil, and ye be led away captive by him. And as I have prayed among you, even so shall ye pray in my church, among my people who do repent and are baptized in my name. … Therefore, ye must always pray unto the Father in my name; and whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you. Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed.” (3 Nephi 18:15:21)

So great are the blessings from prayer, they seem to be incomprehensible. Yet, man often turns to God too late. Have you seen movies of a man going to the electric chair? He pleads to God for help, making great promises if he can be delivered. He cries through anguish and tears, while his soul is bitter with anticipation. Again you may have seen a [20] mother with a dying child in her arms. Tears of sorrow and mourning stream down her face. She pleads and prays in soul rending petitions. Yet, these people probably had not spent 15 minutes during the whole previous year in prayer. As soon as crisis comes, then they resort to prayer. No doubt the people pleaded and prayed when Noah closed the ark as water came in torrents. It usually takes death, sickness, pain, and worry to bring man to his knees. God would be very happy to give man his heart’s desires, if he would but only remember and serve Him before these trials come. But—

We may see at the very time when he doth prosper his people, yea in the increase of their fields, their flocks, and their herds, and in gold, and in silver, and in all manner of precious things of every kind and art; sparing their lives, and delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; softening the hearts of their enemies that they should not declare wars against them; yea, and in fine, doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One, yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity. And thus, we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember. (Helaman 12:1-3)

What tremendous pressures and forces must come upon man to induce him to bend the knee. What a great force must be applied to make the will of man ascribe the honor and glory to his Creator. Why must God’s children always remain so rebellious? [21] Distress seems to be the only cause to make men yield their wills. In our own dispensation, they of His own church had to endure the sufferings of sorrow for their deeds. God declares that—

They were slow to hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; therefore, the Lord their God is slow to hearken unto their prayers, to answer them in the day of their trouble. In the day of their peace they esteemed lightly my counsel; but, in the day of their trouble, of necessity they feel after me. (D. & C. 101:7-8)

Consider how much greater are the blessings of obedience rather than humility learned through suffering. Man should become like Enoch of old, who became a “Seer” and had such power that when he rebuked the wicked “fear came on all them that heard him,” and the “people trembled, and could not stand in his presence.” “So great was the faith of Enoch, the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course—and all nations feared greatly so powerful was the word of Enoch.” He built a great city which became so righteous that it “was taken up into heaven. And the Lord said unto Enoch, “Behold mine abode forever.” The promise is the same for all the prayerful, obedient Saints of God.



Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. (James 4:3)

There is a certain objective to all prayers and that objective is the will of the Lord. The Lord knows what is good and proper for us—much better than we do ourselves. If God answered all our prayers, we would, in a short time, become a ruined people. Even Jesus wanted the “bitter cup” of crucifixion to pass from Him; but He concluded His prayer with “nevertheless not my will, but thine be done.”

We think we know what would be best for us, but our desires would lead us into a life of ease, luxury and idleness. Such a life would be disastrous to our souls. We, too, must pass through a Garden of Gethsemane, maybe even required to “bear a cross.” If we seek an eternal life with the Lord, we must follow in His footsteps, learning obedience to His will. Solomon, in his wisdom, said to “commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him.”

The scriptures tell us that God “knoweth what things ye have need of, even before ye ask Him;” therefore, He awaits to hear our prayers to see if we pray for these things and to see if we desire His will to be done. It is our love for Him, a desire to do His will, and the prayers we offer to His cause, which are the things God desires from us. Prayer is the way He gauges our desires and intentions. When we learn to pray for His will, and seek to do His will, then is the time God is willing to open the doors of eternity to us—to bestow upon us all the kingdoms, principalities and powers of which He is in possession. He is willing, then, to have us to be “one with Him” in all things.

[23]But, sadly enough, we see multitudes of nations rushing blindly into the broad gate of self destruction. The majority of mankind are willing to sacrifice the expanse of eternities, the throne of Godhood, and the blessings of all things, for a few of the paltry pleasures of mortality.

The spirit of prayerful worship is manifest in the heart of nearly all human beings. From the great scientists to the cannibals of darkest Africa—all have this same mainspring of faith. The forms, manners, and customs are various, but they all serve the same intent. God aids them all according to the knowledge and capacity which they possess. However, He desires that they would “all come to a knowledge of the truth” and worship Him correctly. When a true servant comes with a message from the heavens, bearing testimony of the true God, then if that knowledge is rejected, there follows sin, judgment and punishment.

If people act in ignorance, they are justified without the law. But when God makes known His will, then either a blessing or a cursing comes to the people. The priests of Baal would not accept the Prophet Elijah, and so about 450 of them perished. The Jewish priests rejected their Savior, and have suffered war, pestilence, and persecution even to this day.

The Christians at first had a knowledge of the true God, but within a few centuries they changed Him into an incomprehensible matter, scattered everywhere and nowhere. He was so small as to dwell in the heart, and yet had a center that filled the universe. For many centuries worshippers bowed down to a god of at least a stone substance; but the Christians of today have descended to worshipping a god of nothing—an immaterial god scattered everywhere. Yet God overlooks such foolishness and still continues to help and aid them.

[24]After Joseph Smith received his first vision, the mystery of God was discovered; truth was again established and the knowledge of God was communicated to man. Joseph said:

It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did. … God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. (T.P.J.S., p. 345)

Prayer becomes a matter of personal communion with our Eternal Father and it certainly ought to be practiced in a more holy, sincere, and dedicated manner. Prayers should reflect our adoration and praise. David concluded his psalms with this beautiful expression:

Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts; praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet; praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance; praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals; praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord. (Psalm 150)



To illustrate the importance of proper prayer, the following experience is included here. It is an illustrative dream given to a careless, ungrateful, and thoughtless mortal.

I was recovering from a severe illness of many weeks, and was well enough to sit at an open window in my easy chair, and as our house stood in a pleasant garden in the suburbs of London, the first roses of the year scented the soft breeze that fanned my pale cheeks and revived my languid frame.

The bells of the parish church were just beginning their chimes, and the familiar sound awakened in me an intense longing to be with my family once more a worshipper in the house of God. I took up my Bible and prayer book which had been placed on the table beside me, intending to read when the hour of eleven o’clock service should be announced by the ceasing of the bells, and in the meantime closed my eyes, and soothed my impatient wishes by picturing to myself the shady avenue of blossoming limes that led to the church, and the throngs that would now be entering it for the public worship of the day.

All at once I seemed to be walking in the beautiful churchyard, yet prevented from gratifying my eager wish to enter the church by some irrestible though unseen hand. One by one the congregation, in their gay Sunday dresses, passed me by, and went in, where I vainly strove to follow. The parish children, in two long and orderly trains, filed up the stairs into the galleries, and except a for few stragglers hurrying in, as feeling themselves late, I was left alone.

[26]Suddenly I was conscious of some awful presence, and felt myself addressed by a voice of sweet solemnity in words to this effect: Mortal, who, by divine mercy hast been permitted to return from the gates of the grave, pause before thou enterest God’s holy house again; reflect how often thou has profaned His solemn public worship by irreverence, or by inattention, which in His sight is irreverence; consider well the great privilege, the unspeakable benefit and blessing of united prayer, lest by again abusing it thou tire the patience of thy long-suffering God, and tempt Him forever to deprive thee of that which hitherto thou hast so little valued.

Seeing that I cast down my eyes with a flush of conscious guilt, the gracious being continued in a milder tone: I am one of the angels commissioned to gather the prayers of the Saints, and form them into odorous incense that they may rise to the throne of God. Enter now with me, and thou shalt for thy warning, be enabled to discern those among the devotions about to be offered which are acceptable to Him, and to see how few in number, how weak, and how unworthy they are.

As he ceased speaking, I found myself by the side of the angel still, but within the church, and so placed that I could distinctly see every part of the building. “Observe,” said the angel, “that those prayers that come from the heart, and which alone ascend on high, will seem to be uttered aloud. They will be more or less audible in proportion to their earnestness—when the thoughts wander, the sounds will grow faint, and even cease altogether.” This explained to me [27] why the organist, though apparently playing with great energy, produced no sound, and why, when the service began, though the lips of many moved, and appeared attentive, only a few faint murmurings were heard.

How strange and awful it was to note the sort of death-like silence that prevailed in whole pews, in which it was thus evident no heart was raised in gratitude to heaven. Even in the Te Deum and Jubilate, the voices sometimes sunk in total silence. After the creed, there was a low murmuring of the verticles, and then, distinct and clear above all other sounds, a sweet childish voice softly and reverently repeated the Lord’s prayer. I turned in the direction of the sound, and distinguished among one of the children of the poor people a very little boy. His hands were clasped together as he knelt, his eyes were closed, his gentle face composed in reverence, and as the angel wrote on his tablets the words that fell from those young lips, his smile, like a sunbeam, illuminated the church for a moment, and I remembered the words of David, where he says, “Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, Thou hast perfected praise.”

Presently I was again reminded of the prayer of the publican in holy writ. A wretched looking man, who swept the crossings near the church, lounged into the centre aisle during the reading of the lesson, his occupation being for the hour suspended. The second lesson was the 24th chapter of Matthew. Some verses attracted his attention; he listened with more and more seriousness, until at length he put his hand over his face, and exclaimed aloud, “What will become of [28] me at the day of judgment?” Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner!” That prayer was inserted in the tablets of the angel. Oh, may it not stand alone, but be an awakening of better things. May God indeed have mercy on the poor, neglected ones, and raise up someone to teach them and care for their immortal souls!”

After this, I grew accustomed to the broken murmur and interrupted sounds—and followed many a humble Christian through a portion of the Litany, though often while I was listening with hopeful attention, a sudden and total pause showed but too plainly the thoughts of the kneeling supplicant had wandered far away, and that those who had appeared so earnest in their devotions had become languid and silent like the rest of the congregation.

“Thou art shocked at what thou hast observed,” said the angel. “I will show thee greater abominations than these. God is strong and patient. He is provoked every day. Listen, now, and thou shalt hear the thoughts of all these people. So shalt thou have some faint idea of the forbearance God continually exercises towards those who draw near to Him with their lips, while their hearts are far from Him.”

As the angel spoke, my ears were deafened by a clamor which would have been shocking in a humble meeting, but which here, in God’s holy house, was awfully profane. The countenance remained composed and serious as before, the lips moved with the words of prayer, but the phrases they uttered were of the world and its occupations:

[29]”How shamefully late Mrs. Alack always comes,” said one woman, who looking over the edge of her prayer book, saw her neighbor and a train of daughters bustle into the next pew. “What an example to set her family! Thank goodness no one can accuse me of that sin!”

“New bonnets again already!” exclaimed the last comer, returning the neighborly glance from the other seat, ‘ere she composed herself to the semblance of devotion. “How can they afford it, heaven only knows, and their father owing all his Christmas bills yet. If my girls look shabby, we at least pay our debts.”

“Oh, there’s Tom S.,” nodded a young man to his friend in the opposite gallery. “He is growing quite religious and respectable, I declare! He has been at church two Sundays running; how much longer will the devout fit last?”

These were shocking and striking examples of irreverence; there were, happily, not many such. The involuntary wanderings of thought were more common.

As the service proceeded, the attention of the congregation flagged more and more—the hubbub of worldly talk increased. One man composed a letter he intended to send, and even altered whole passages, and rounded elegant periods without one check or recollection of the holy place where he stood. Another repeated a long dialogue which had passed between himself and a friend the night before, and considered how he might have spoken more to the purpose. Some young girls rehearsed scenes with their lovers; some recalled the incidents of their last [30] ball. Careful housewives planned schemes of economy, gave warning to their servants, arranged the turning of a dress, or decided on the most becoming trimming of a bonnet.

To me, conscious of the recording angel’s presence, all this solemn mockery of worship was frightful; I would have given worlds to rouse this congregation to a sense of what they were doing and to my comfort I saw that for the involuntary offense a gentle warning was provided, as the angel was about to quit a place so desecrated, his frown of disapproval threw an influence over these thoughtless ones, and recalled the wandering thoughts of many a soul, unconscious whence came the breath that revived the dying flame of their devotions. Then self-blame and remorse, of which those kneeling nearest knew nothing, wrung the heart, shocked at its own careless ingratitudes, wondering at the forbearance of the Almighty, while more devotional thoughts, and I trust more fervent prayer, succeeded to the momentary forgetfulness.

In spite of all these helps, the amount of real devotion was small; and when I looked at the angel’s tablets, I was shocked to see how little was recorded therein. Out of three hundred Christians, thought I, assembled after a week of mercies, to praise and bless the Giver of all good, are these few words the sum of what they offer?

“Look to thyself,” said the angel, reading my thoughts. “Such as these are, such hast thou long been; darest thou, after what has been revealed to thee, act such a part again? Oh, could [31] thy immortal ears bear to listen to the songs of the rejoicing angels before the throne of the Almighty, thou wouldst indeed wonder at the condescending mercy which stoops to accept these few faint wandering notes of prayer and praise. Yet the sinless angels veil their faces before Him in whose presence man stands boldly up, with such mockery o[ worship as thou hast seen this day. Remember the solemn warning, lest hereafter it be counted to thee as an aggravation of guilt.”

Suddenly, the sweet solemn voice ceased, the glorious angel disappeared, and so oppressive seemed the silence and loneliness that I started and awoke: My watch pointed to the hour of eleven. It must have been the stopping of the bells that interrupted my slumber, and all the solemn scene had passed before my mind in the short space of a few minutes. May the lessons I learned in those few minutes never be effaced from my heart; and if this account of them should recall one wandering thought in the house of prayer, or teach any to value more highly, and cultivate more carefully the—privilege of joining in the public worship of our God and Father, it will not have been written in vain.” (Contributor 6:141)

People spend time, money, and effort in recreation, hobbies and in the many pleasures of this world. Such pastimes and many foolish notions are absorbing thousands of hours out of our lives, but we fail and neglect the few minutes of gratitude which is due the Great Giver of all things.

[32]What has been the result of this failure? Look not only to the prisons, the social workers, the insane asylums, but to the broken health, homes and hearts of millions. Crime is on the increase; psychologists and psychiatrists, doctors, and ministers are being over-burdened with the broken down generation in which we live. What can be done to bring them back to God?

In the fields of science things are tested by experimentation—proving and disproving by constant analysis. This applies also to prayer. Prayer will prove itself through constant practice and reliance. Conditions, attitudes and even character will change through its practice. Miracles can be performed, destructions avoided, joy restored to the soul, and the true purpose of life established in the minds of people. It could be the tonic and a sure-cure medicine for our sick generation. The answer to the problems of the world may rest in the simple cure called prayer.