Adam, Who is He?
Ex Mormons for Jesus
Following the Leaders
Seven Deadly Heresies
Worthy Male Members
ADAM; WHO IS HE?
Mark E. Peterson
ADAM, THE ARCHANGEL
150th Semiannual General Conference
October 4-5, 1980
Mark E. Petersen
ADAM, THE ARCHANGEL
By Elder Mark E. Petersen
150th Semiannual General Conference
October 4-5, 1980
Reprinted in the November Ensign, p. 16-18
On a warm summer day I visited the land of Adam-ondi-Ahman in the state of Missouri. I had looked forward to this visit with keen anticipation, for I had never been there before.
The place was beautiful: The fields were green, the hills were rolling, the entire landscape was something to remember. But more impressive than the landscape was the significance of the place, for here Adam lived–and Eve–and their family. The stupendous importance of it all weighed heavily upon me.
Here is where the human race began. This we are told by revelation. (See Moses 1:34; D & C 107:53; 84:16)
Adam and Eve knew God personally. They saw him and talked with him. They were taught the gospel of Jesus Christ even in that early time–which was long before the Lord’s earthly ministry, for Jesus had been appointed to be the Savior during our premortal existence.
The plan of salvation, therefore, was instituted among these first human beings, Adam and Eve and their children. Angels taught them. The family believed. They were baptized and began to serve God. (See Moses 5.)
The scriptures say that as Adam tilled the ground and cared for the cattle and the sheep, Eve “did labor with him” (Moses 5:1)
They were highly intelligent people, not at all like either the hominids or the cavemen some claim the first humans to have been. They were well educated, having been taught by the Lord himself. What an education, What an instructor!
Think of it, and remember that “the glory of God is intelligence, or in other words, light and truth” (D & C 93:36). These gifts were imparted to Adam and Eve and their family. No one else could teach them, because they were the first human beings. That task was left to the Lord and his angels.
Adam and Eve had many sons and daughters. Among them were Seth and Abel, faithful to the Lord in all their ways. And then there was Cain!
They taught their children to read and write, “having a language which was pure and undefiled,” given them by God (see Moses 6:6).
“And a book of remembrance was kept” among them, recorded in the language of Adam, and all who called upon God were allowed to write in this pure and undefiled tongue, by the spirit of inspiration (See Moses 6:5-6).
 “And thus the Gospel began to be preached, from the beginning, being declared by holy angels sent forth from the presence of God, and by his own voice, and by the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Moses 5:58).
“And from that time forth, the sons and daughters of Adam began to divide two and two in the land, and to till the land, and to tend flocks, and they also begat sons and daughters.” (Moses 5:3)
It was a glorious period–until Satan came among them. That evil person defied the teachings of God and said to the children of Adam, “Believe it not,” and from that time some of the family loved Satan more than God (see Moses 5:13). They apostatized from the truth.
These dissenters lost the Spirit of God and as a result became carnal, sensual, and devilish (see Moses 5:13). With these evil attributes always comes retrogression. We should not be surprised, therefore, to hear of cavemen living in the dawn of time.
One of these dissenters was Cain. He made a dreadful covenant with Lucifer and persuaded others to follow him. “Adam and his wife mourned before the Lord, because of Cain and his brethren” (Moses 5:27).
Cain hated righteous Abel and coveted his flocks. He was encouraged by Satan, who told him he could obtain Abel’s sheep if he would kill his brother and thus seize possession.
The first murder resulted, Rebuked by the Lord and cursed because of his tragic sin, Cain left Adam-ondi-Ahman and went to live in a place called Nod.
The Church of Jesus Christ was well established in the time of Adam. (see Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938, pp. 157, 169.) Men like Seth and Enos grew to become the early patriarchs of the Church, and through them a long line of priesthood leaders was established.
Adam held the keys of the First Presidency and stood directly after the Savior in authority (See Teachings, p. 168). He received those keys in the Creation, according to the Prophet Joseph Smith, who added, “Christ is the Great High Priest; Adam next” (Teachings, pp. 157-58).
Who was Adam that he was privileged to begin the human race here on earth? Had he been some very special personage in the premortal world?
Indeed, Adam was very special and very important. Before coming into mortality, he was known as Michael. The Prophet Joseph Smith clearly identifies both Adam and Michael as one and the same person, an angel, the chief angel, or archangel, of heaven, the special servant of God and Christ.
When Michael came into mortality, he was known as Adam, the first man, but he was still his own self. Although he was given another name, that of Adam, he did not change his identity.
 After his mortal death, he resumed his position as an angel in the heavens, once again serving as the chief angel, or archangel, and took again his former name of Michael.
In his capacity as archangel, Adam, or Michael, will yet perform a mighty mission in the coming years, both before and after the Millennium. This is startling, but the scriptures declare it.
One important assignment that awaits him is to be the angel to sound the trumpet heralding the resurrection of the dead. The scripture reads, “Behold, verily I say unto you, before the earth shall pass away, Michael, mine archangel, shall sound his trump, and then shall all the dead awake, for their graves shall be opened, and they shall come forth.” (D & C 29:26).
What a marvelous calling for Adam, or Michael. But note that even in this assignment, which is yet future, he still will be an angel–the archangel, but an angel nevertheless.
Section 107 of the Doctrine and Covenants, dated March 28, 1835, identifies him as an angel as of that date–a little more than a hundred years ago–and calls him “Michael, the prince, the archangel” (D & C 107:54).
During the Millennium the devil will be bound, but afterward will be freed for a short time, during which he will rally his evil forces to make one final assault upon God.
Who will lead the defending armies of the Lord? None other than Michael himself, whose position as archangel qualifies him to be the captain of the Lord’s host. Is he not the chief of the angels? Then should he not lead them into battle against Lucifer?
As the archangel he continues to serve the interests of the Lord with respect to this earth. His ultimate exaltation, of course, is fully assured, but it must await the completion of his work here.
Seven angels are to sound trumpets to announce a series of events to precede the second coming of the Savior. Michael will be the seventh of those angels. Says the scripture: “And Michael, the seventh angel, even the archangel”–and please note here how the Lord still identifies him strictly as an angel, for that is his status–and now I repeat this scripture: “And Michael, the seventh angel, even the archangel, shall gather together his armies, even the hosts of heaven…. And then cometh the battle of the great God; and the devil and his armies shall be cast away into their own place.” (D & C 88:112, 114; emphasis added.)
Then can anyone honestly mistake the identity of Adam, or Michael? Even after the thousand years of the Millennium are over, he will still retain his status as an angel–the archangel–and a resurrected man.
 In the year 1842 the Prophet Joseph Smith spoke of Michael, or Adam, who visited him. Joseph identified him as an angel even then the archangel–and said, “The voice of Michael, the archangel;… and of diverse [other] angels, from Michael or Adam down to the present time.” (D & C 128:21). He thus listed Michael, or Adam, with the other angels.
So, in 1842 Michael, or Adam, was still an angel and will continue to be so through the final winding up scene of this earth.
Adam was not our God, nor was he our Savior. But he was the humble servant of both in his status as an angel.
Then what is his relationship to the Savior and to God our Father? Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, the first born to our Heavenly Father in the spirit and the Only Begotten in the flesh.
Jesus is the Holy One of Israel, not Adam, not anyone else. Although we are all spirit children of the Father, Jesus is the Only Begotten of the Father, in mortality, even from the beginning, not Adam, not anyone else (see Moses 5:9). This the Lord himself says.
In the day that the gospel was given to Adam, the Holy Ghost fell upon him, and the divine voice of Jesus Christ–the Jehovah of that time said to him by the power of the Holy Ghost: “I am the Only Begotten of the Father from the Beginning” (Moses 5:9).
Then, can anyone claim that distinction for Adam, or for anyone else? Of course not! Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten of the Father, even from the very beginning.
Shall we not in full faith accept this doctrine, which is so clearly set forth in scripture? Christ is the Lord! He alone is our Savior!
The Apostle Paul has an interesting passage in his epistle to the Hebrews. He spoke of the Savior and declared him to be in the express image of his Father’s person. Then he asked this question: “Unto which of the angels said he [God] at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?” (Heb. 1:5; emphasis added). And of course the answer is immediate and obvious–none of them none of the angels, not even Adam, or Michael, the chief of the angels.
Jesus of Nazareth was the Only Begotten of the Father.
In this passage Paul was speaking only of Jesus the Christ. In the very next verse, as he continued to speak of Jesus, Paul called the lowly Nazarene the first begotten and declared, “Let all the angels… worship him,” and this they did–including Adam, who adores the Only Begotten of God, the Savior Jesus Christ, and is always subservient to him. When the Apostle John wrote one of his most familiar passages he said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16; emphasis added).
 And who was thus given of the Father to be crucified? Who wrought out the atonement on Calvary? Jesus of Nazareth! He was the Only Begotten of God. He alone was the Sacrificial Lamb slain from the beginning of the world. Adam was the Savior’s progenitor only in the same sense in which he is the ancestor of us all.
God had only one begotten son in the flesh. But Adam had many, including Cain and Abel and Seth. He lived nearly a thousand years. He could have had hundreds of children in that time.
Then how could it be said by anyone that he had “an only begotten” son? How could all of his other children be accounted for? Were they not all begotten in the flesh?
Were Cain and Abel and Seth and their brothers and sisters all orphans? Was any child ever begotten without a father? Adam was their father, and he had many sons. In no way whatever does he qualify as a father who had only one son in the flesh.
Yet God our Eternal Father had only one son in the flesh, who was Jesus Christ.
Then was Adam our God, or did God become Adam? Ridiculous!
Adam was neither God nor the Only Begotten Son of God. He was a child of God in the spirit as we all are (see Acts 17:29). Jesus was the firstborn in the spirit, and the only one born to God in the flesh.
The Almighty himself repeatedly called Jesus both his firstborn and his Only Begotten.
Then who is Adam? He is Michael the archangel, appointed by God and Christ to be the mortal progenitor of the race. At this very moment, in the year 1980, he is still in his position as the archangel whose trumpet in the final days will herald the resurrection and who will be the captain of the Lord’s hosts in the final defeat of Lucifer.
He is the “Ancient of Days” spoken of by Daniel the prophet and as such will meet the faithful in that same valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman, which is named after him (see Dan. 7:9-22; D & C 116).
At the close of this dispensation he will there deliver up his stewardship to Christ, his Master and his Savior, the Lord Jehovah, who in turn will give his accounting to the Heavenly and Eternal Father of us all (see Teachings, pp. 122, 157, 167-68, 237).
If any of you have been confused by false teachers who come among us, if you have been assailed by advocates of erroneous doctrines, counsel with your priesthood leaders. They will not lead you astray, but will direct you into paths of truth and salvation.
I bear you my solemn testimony that this–The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–is indeed the church and kingdom of God. Jesus is the Christ. Spencer W. Kimball is his prophet. We are the legal and divinely chosen custodians of the restored truth. This I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
ADAM; HE IS GOD!
A Letter to Mark E. Petersen
November 13, 1980
November 13, 1980
Elder Mark E. Petersen
Church Office Building
47 East South Temple
Salt Lake City, Utah
Dear Elder Petersen:
For over ten years I have been writing letters to the General Authorities of the Church, but so far they have never responded. They have never sent me a letter, given me a phone call, paid me a visit, or invited me to their office–I have never received so much as a picture postcard! I was getting discouraged! Then I heard your talk on Adam at conference and I said to myself, “By golly, I’ve just got to write them another letter, anyway.”
Your talk was obviously an extension of your book Adam; Who is He? which has won for you the acclaim of contemporary Mormons as being the authority on that subject. For this reason I would like to ask you some questions.
In the opening sentence of your book, it says:
In the minds of many people, Adam, the first man, is a controversial figure. So is Eve, his wife. Together they are probably the most misunderstood couple who ever lived on the earth. (Adam; Who is He?, p. 1)
After reading your book, I realized how true it was. Your fellow apostle, Bruce R. McConkie, wrote:
“Cultists and other enemies of the restored truth, for their own peculiar purposes” are supporting “false assumptions” concerning Adam.
I surely do not want to get mixed up with those kinds of people, so I would appreciate some answers from you concerning this very important subject.
The first “false assumption” I would like to get clarified is the validity of Brigham Young’s conference talk in which he said that Adam is our Father and God.
- You have made considerable effort to clarify both the wording and interpretation of that sermon as recorded in the Journal of Discourses. In your book, Adam; Who is He? you devoted three pages to Elder Charles Rich who wrote a slight variation from the text written in the Journal of  Discourses on the critical portions of that controversial sermon. You said that Rich’s account was correct because, “Elder Rich, who was present and heard the sermon. Hence the correction that he made.” (p. 17)
However, in the book on his biography Charles C. Rich, Mormon General and Western Frontiersman, it is reported that Charles Rich was in San Bernadino on March 24, 1852, making preparations to leave for Salt Lake City. This is substantiated in the Hosea Stout Journal which says, “Wedn. 21st April 1852…Gen. Rich and some 15 others arrived today from California by the South route–all well.” This is also confirmed in the Deseret Weekly, May 1, 1852 and in the LDS Journal History of April 21st. So it was satisfying to note that in the 1979 edition of your book you corrected your first edition and stated that Rich was “not” in attendance when Brigham Young’s sermon was delivered. But it was rather amusing to read where you said the sermon was written by C. C. Rich “in his own hand,” when the fact is that it was in the handwriting of his son Ben E. Rich, who had not yet been born!
Joseph Fielding Smith also contended for years that Brigham Young was misquoted in that sermon; but at the same time his fellow apostle, John A. Widtsoe, contended that it was not a misquotation but rather a wrong “interpretation.” My, what a tangled web we weave!
- Elder George D. Watt was in the audience to hear Brigham Young’s talk and he was a professional stenographer who wrote the entire sermon for publication. Many others who heard that sermon wrote it down the same way that Watt did.
- One and a half years later President Young’s sermon was published in the Millennial Star (Vol. 15:769-770) which was identical to the one published in the Journal of Discourses. If it had been transcribed with such an error in the Journals, wouldn’t it have been corrected by the editors of other Church periodicals?
- If Brigham Young would have made such a preposterous blunder in his speech, or in the transcription of it, wouldn’t he have sent out a sermon to correct it shortly afterwards? In one of his sermons he said that he never preached a sermon and sent it out to be read that the people couldn’t call it scripture. Wouldn’t he have corrected this one in particular since it was a conference sermon?
Speaking of misquotes and misinterpretations, let me draw your attention to page 16 of your book Adam; Who is He?, where you quoted Brigham Young:
The Father frequently came to visit his son Adam, and talked and walked with him; and the children of Adam were more or less acquainted with him….
Now let me quote it the way that it is written in the Journal of Discourses, which apparently was your reference:
The Father frequently came to visit his son Adam, and talked and walked with him; and the children of Adam were more or less acquainted with their Grandfather….(Brigham Young, J.D. 9:148)
 Again, on page 13 of your book, you wrote, “President Brigham Young also said, he nevertheless was Michael, the Archangel, and not Deity.” However, God is a member of Deity, and Brigham Young said that Adam was God, as clearly described in the following quote:
Now hear it, O inhabitants of the earth, Jew and Gentile, Saint and sinner! When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is Michael, the Archangel, the Ancient of Days, about whom holy men have written and spoken–He is our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do. Every man upon the earth, professing Christians or non-professing, must hear it; ant will know it sooner or later. (J.D. 1:50)
Other quotations by President Young also plainly state that he meant Adam was our God:
Some may think what I have said concerning Adam strange, but the period will come when the people will be willing to adopt Joseph Smith as their Prophet, Seer and Revelator and God, but not the Father of their spirits, for that was our Father Adam! (Wilford Woodruff Diaries 12:11; 1869)
* * * *
Adam and Eve are the parents of all pertaining to the flesh, and I would not say that they are not also the parents of our spirits. (J.D. 7:290)
Then, since Adam, or Michael, is the father of our spirits, wouldn’t that make him our God?
President Young went much further in explaining what he meant when he said:
Who did beget him? [Christ] His father, and his father is our God, and the father of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Who is he? He is Father Adam; Michael; the Ancient of Days. (Wilford Woodruff Journal, 2/19/1854)
Adam…had begotten all the spirits that were to come to this earth, and Eve our common Mother who is the mother of all living, bore those spirits in the celestial world…. Father Adam’s oldest Son, Jesus the Saviour, who is the heir of the family, is Father Adam’s first begotten in the spirit world, who according to the flesh is the only begotten as it is written. (L. John Nuttal’s Diaries, 2/7/1877)
It seems that Deity is one of the principal mysteries of all religions and ministers. But a starting point for most of them might be from the scripture that reads:
 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. (I John 5:7)
This indicates that there is a trinity in the Godhead, or a Presidency among them. In your conference address, you quoted Brigham Young as saying:
It is true that the earth was organized by three distinct characters, namely Elohim, Yahovah, and Michael, these three forming a quorum…. (J.D. 1:50)
Should we believe that Elohim is God the Father, Yahovah is Christ, and Michael is the Holy Ghost? That must be wrong, so perhaps it is a different Godhead in the Old Testament than the one in the New Testament. But, in either case they are a Godhead.
Joseph Smith said: that “Adam obtained the First Presidency,” and “held the keys of the First Presidency from generation to generation” and that he obtained the First Presidency in the Creation, before the world was formed.” (TPJS, p. 157)
What First Presidency, other than that of the Godhead, could Joseph Smith be talking about?
We must admit that the story of Adam’s creation is not a literal
account! The Prophet Joseph Smith didn’t believe it either, for he said:
Where was there ever a son without a father? And where was there ever a father without first being a son? Whenever did a tree or anything spring into existence without a progenitor? And everything comes in this way. Paul says that which is earthly is in the likeness of that which is heavenly, Hence if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that He had a Father also? I despise the idea of being scared to death at such a doctrine, for the Bible is full of it. (T.P.J.S, p. 373)
You, too, apparently do not believe Moses’ account of Adam’s genesis because in your conference talk you raised this question by asking: “Is any child ever begotten without a father?” (Ensign, p. 18) The Old Testament says that Adam was made like an adobe, but the New Testament traces the genealogy of Christ back to “Adam which was the son of God” (Luke 3:38) Either Adam was made like a brick or he was begotten in the flesh by his father in heaven.
But this also presents a problem for you. You said that “God had only one begotten son in the flesh.” (Ensign, p. 18) Now then, if Adam is the son of God in the flesh, according to the New Testament, and Jesus is also His son in the flesh–How can Jesus be called the “Only Begotten Son?” Perhaps Christ was the only begotten of God while God was in His glorified state. If God became Adam, then the fall would have caused his body to be in a different condition and not in the glorified state that it had been before. His children then would be mortal rather than immortal, and they would not be called “Only Begotten.”
 Then we have another contradiction from the Bible on the Son of God. In Matthew’s account of the birth of Jesus, we read that Mary’s son “which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.” (Matt. 1:20) Thus if we take this scripture literally, Jesus is the son of the Holy Ghost and not God the Father. President Brigham Young said that if this were true, then the Elders ought to be careful about laying hands on women to bestow the Holy Ghost on them, lest they too conceive a son.
Who, then is the real father and grandfather of Adam? And to repeat your question, Adam; Who is He?, we might find the answer from Brigham Young in this conference report in 1854. How different this conference talk by Brigham Young is from your conference talk in 1980! Here is a portion of his talk on Adam:
He [our God] is the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, both body and spirit; and he is the father of our spirits, and the father of our flesh in the beginning. You will not dispute the words of the Apostle, that he is actually the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the father of our spirits. You may add these words to it, or let it alone, it is all the same to me, that he is not only the father of our spirits, but also of our flesh; he being the founder of that natural machinery through which we have all obtained our bodies.
The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the father of our spirits.
I tell you more, Adam is the father of our spirits. He had lived upon an earth; he did abide his creation, and did honor to his calling and priesthood, and obeyed his master or Lord, and probably many of his wives did the same and they lived, and died upon an earth and they were resurrected again to immortality and eternal life.
Our spirits and the spirits of all the human family were begotten by Adam, and born of Eve.
But I reckon that Father Adam, and mother Eve had the children of the human family prepared to come here and take bodies; and when they come to take bodies, they enter into the bodies prepared for them; and that body gets an exaltation with the spirit, when they are prepared to be crowned in Father’s kingdom. “What, into Adam’s kingdom?” Yes.
I tell you, when you see your father in the heavens, you will see Adam; when you see your Mother that bore your spirit, you will see mother Eve. And when you see yourselves there, you have gained your exaltation; you have honored your calling here on the earth; your body has returned to its mother earth; and somebody has broken the chains of death that bound you, and given you a resurrection. (Brigham Young, 24th Semi-Annual Conference, Oct. 8, 1854)
 It is amazing to me how a President of the Church could speak so plainly on the subject of Adam; and then in 100 years, apostles of the same Church speak on that subject with such a completely different meaning. We must only conclude with the words of Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who wrote:
There is no mystery about this doctrine except that which persons ignorant of the great principles of exaltation and unfriendly to the cause of righteousness have attempted to make. (Mormon Doctrine, p. 19)
Joseph Smith’s Teachings on Adam
You have quoted extensively from The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, indicating that you place some credence upon his teachings. However, you either overlooked many of his quotations on Adam or did not adequately explain their meaning. I, too, would like to quote from his teachings and ask the following questions pertaining to 20 of his statements.
- “He [Adam] is the father of the human family, and presides over the spirits of all men….” (TPJS, p. 157)
- It has been taught that only Got presides over the spirits of all men. What position did Adam have in the pre-existence to “preside” over “all men”?
- If Adam presides over the spirits of “all men”, that would include Jesus Christ. How could Adam preside over Christ unless he was his Father?
- “He [Adam] had dominion given him over every living creature.” (TPJS, p. 157)
- If Adam was given “dominion” over every creature, that, too, would include all men and Jesus Christ. Dominion means authority, power and the right to rule–so how did Adam obtain that much dominion?
- “…he [Adam] was the first and father of all, not only by progeny, the first to hold the spiritual blessings”. (TPJS, p. 158)
- What right or how did Adam obtain spiritual blessings “first” before anyone else?
- When he says that Adam was first to hold spiritual blessings, how could he obtain that right before Jesus Christ?
- If Adam is the father of all “not only by progeny”, does this mean he is father over their spirits, too?
- “He [Adam] is the head, and was told to multiply.” (TPJS, p. 158)
- This could not mean the only head over mortal beings because Noah had the same obligation with mankind. Only God is head over Jesus, so what “head” is he referring to?
- “Adam holds the keys of the dispensation of the fullness of times; i.e., the dispensation of all the times have been and will be revealed through him from the beginning to Christ, and from Christ to the end of the dispensations that are to be revealed.” (TPJS, p. 167)
- By what right did Adam get authority and keys over every dispensation on earth?
- Since only God has the keys and authority over the dispensation of Christ on earth, how did Adam obtain the keys?
- Since Adam presided over the first dispensation, what right did he have to hold the keys over every other dispensation including any others that ever will be?
- “The keys have to be brought from heaven whenever the Gospel is sent. When they are revealed from heaven, it is by Adam’s authority.” (TPJS, p. 157)
- How did Adam gain the right and authority over the Gospel each time it is sent to earth, since only God is supposed to have authority over Christ’s gospel and Christ’s dispensation, too?
- “It (the priesthood) is the channel through which the Almighty commenced revealing His glory at the beginning of the creation of this earth, and through which He has continued to reveal Himself to the children of men to the present time, and through which He will make known His purposes to the end of time.” (TPJS, p. 167)
- Does God reveal His glory through Adam’s authority and priesthood, or his own? (See previous statement.)
- “That portion which brought Moses to speak with God face to face was taken away; but that which brought the ministry of angels remained. All the prophets had the Melchizedek Priesthood and were ordained by God himself.” (TPJS, p. 180-81)
- Does God ordain His prophets through Adam’s authority’ (See Statement No. 6.)
- It was Adam “to whom Christ was first revealed, and through whom Christ has been revealed from heaven, and will continue to be revealed from henceforth.” (TPJS, p. 167)
- Was it Adam who revealed the identity of the Son when John baptized Jesus? (See Matt. 3:17)
 Q. All the Bible students and scholars declare that it is God who reveals the Christ; so was it Adam who revealed Christ to Joseph Smith in the first vision?
- “…all that have had the keys must stand before him [Adam] in this grand council.” (TPJS, p. 157)
- If men are only accountable to God for the keys of the Priesthood, why do all who hold those keys stand before Adam?
- “The Son of Man stands before him, and there is given him glory and dominion.” (TPJS, p. 157)
- If Jesus holds authority over Adam, why does Jesus stand before Adam? –rather than Adam standing before Jesus?
- “Adam delivers up his stewardship to Christ, that which was delivered to him as holding the keys of the universe, but retains his standing as head of the human family.” (TPJS, p. 157)
- Since men obtain the keys of the universe only when they are Gods how did Adam get them?
- Why would Adam be giving the keys to Christ rather than Christ giving them to Adam?
- Since Adam still retains his standing as head of the human family, wouldn’t this mean in a spiritual sense, because mortality at this time would be finished?
- The Prophet Joseph explained that “His [God’s] wisdom is alone sufficient to govern and regulate the mighty creations and worlds. (TPJS, p. 55) How then did Adam hold those keys to the universe? And how did he get them before Christ did?
- “We cannot be made perfect without them, nor they without us; when these things are done, the Son of Man will descend, the Ancient of Days sit.” (TPJS, p. 159)
- When the Son of Man is descending, the Ancient of Days is sitting; does this mean that Adam is on a throne?
- “And the Lord appeared unto them, and they rose up and blessed Adam, and called him Michael, the Prince, the Archangel.” (TPJS, p. 38)
- When the Lord was in their midst, they rose up and blessed Adam; shouldn’t they have blessed the Lord if He had authority over Adam?
- “The `Horn’ made war with the Saints and overcame them, until the Ancient of Days came….” (TPJS, p. 159)
- Why did the Saints receive deliverance only when Adam came?
- “…Judgment was given to the Saints of the Most High from the Ancient of Days;” (TPJS, p. 159)
- Since judgment is a power from God, how did Adam have the right to give it to the Saints?
- If God the first, the Creator, had a “dispensation of things to men on the earth,” why was that first dispensation Adam’s?
- “This then is the nature of the Priesthood; every man holding the Presidency of his dispensation, and one man holding the Presidency of them all, even Adam….” (TPJS, p. 169)
- Why wouldn’t Adam hold the presidency over just his own dispensation like everybody else, instead of holding the presidency over every other dispensation, too?
- I spent the day…instructing them in the principles and order of the Priesthood…and so on to the highest order of the Melchizedek Priesthood, setting forth the order pertaining to the Ancient of Days… (TPJS, p. 237)
- Why does the highest order of Priesthood pertain to the order of the Ancient of Days instead of Jesus Christ?
- “I saw Adam in the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman.” (TPJS, p. 158)
- The word Ahman, being capitalized, has reference to God or Deity. What does “ondi” mean?
It appears that Joseph Smith was attempting to teach the Adam-God doctrine just as Brigham Young did. From the previous 20 statements by Joseph Smith, he gave every conceivable hint that Adam was God without actually saying it. Could it be possible that Brigham Young learned this doctrine from Joseph Smith? President Young once said to Wilford Woodruff and others that–
Adam is Michael the Archangel and he is the Father of Jesus Christ and is our God, and Joseph taught this principle. (Wilford Woodruff Diaries, Dec. 16, 1957)
 The Mystery of God
The Prophet Joseph Smith said that “…we can never comprehend the things of God and of heaven, but by revelation. We may spiritualize and express opinions to all eternity; but that is no authority.” (TPJS, p. 292) Thus we know that not many understand the things of God. On another occasion the Prophet agreed to this by saying that “There are but a few beings in the world who understand rightly the character of God.” (TPJS, p. 343) And we may say the same about Adam.
There are many controversial doctrinal issues stemming from different sources by men trying to explain Adam. For instance, you stated in conference that:
After his mortal death, he resumed his position as an angel in the heavens…and took again his former name of Michael. (Ensign, Nov. 1980, p. 17)
Many prophets and patriarchs have had their name changed, but it was never changed back to the former name. Consider Abram who became Abraham. When Jesus spoke of him in heaven (Matt. 8:11), he was still known as Abraham. So, too, with Jacob who was Israel, and Saul who become Paul. It was only Michael who “took again his former name”. Why this difference unless Adam was a position, a title, a special calling or an office on earth?
Why was Michael’s name changed to Adam at the time he came on the earth unless he was accomplishing a mission or official calling? It must be for this reason since the Pearl of Great Price says, “And the first man of all men have I called Adam, which is MANY.” (Moses 1:34) Since the name implies many, would it not be that it is a name that applies to men on many other earths? President Brigham Young said:
Every world has had an Adam, and an Eve; named so, simply because the first man is always called Adam, and the first women Eve,… (Brigham Young, Oct. 8, 1854 Conference)
Hence, there are people who become an Adam and an Eve on every earth — in other words, the story of creation for this earth is repeated on every other earth. The most worthy of this people will become an Adam and Eve on some new world. This was taught by Brigham Young on many occasions:
When you have the privilege of commencing the work that Adam commenced on this earth, you will have all your children come and report to you of their sayings and acts; and you will hold every son and daughter of yours responsible when you get the privilege of being an Adam on earth. (JD 4:271)
Before me I see a house full of Eves. What a crowd of reflections the word Eve is calculated to bring up! Eve was the name or title conferred upon our first mother because she was actually to be the mother of all the human beings who should live upon this earth. I am looking upon a congregation designed to be just such beings. (Mill. Star 31:267)
 Let me here say a word to console the feelings and hearts of all who belong to this Church. Many of the sisters grieve because they are not blessed with offspring. You will see the time when you will have millions of children around you. If you are faithful to your covenants, you will be mothers of nations. You will become Eves to earths like this; and when you have assisted in peopling one earth, there are millions of earths still in the course of creation. And when they have endured a thousand million times longer than this earth, it is only as it were the beginning of your creations. (JD 8:208)
The nature of this “fall”, or the mystery behind it, was also explained by President Young:
Adam planted the Garden of Eden, partook of the fruit of this earth, until their systems were charged with the nature of earth, and then they could beget bodies for their spiritual children. If the spirit does not enter into the embryo man that is forming in the womb of the woman, the result will be false conception. A living, intelligent being cannot be produced. (Oct. 8, 1854)
If Brigham Young was wrong in his understanding of the fall of Adam, then how else could God produce mortal offspring, since the only kind He produced before were spirit children?
Other statements in the scriptures lead to additional important questions. Consider a few revealed in our dispensation which say that Michael “shall gather together his armies, even the hosts of heaven.” (D. & C. 88:112) How did Michael come to gain control of all the “hosts of heaven?”
Then in this great gathering of hosts they fight a battle against the devil.
And the devil shall gather together his armies; even the hosts of hell, and shall come up to battle against Michael and his armies. And then cometh the battle of the great God….” (D. & C. 88:113-4)
If the devil controls the hosts of hell and God controls the hosts of heaven, why is Michael said to be in control? If this great war is called the battle of the great God, why was it Michael’s battle?
In another revelation to Joseph Smith, we read that all the hosts of heaven “rose up and blessed Adam”, (D. & C. 107:54) Nowhere in the scriptures do we read about the heavenly hosts rising up to bless Noah, Moses or Joseph Smith. Why do they bless and praise Adam instead of God?
You quoted the scripture where Michael “shall sound his trump, and then shall all the dead awake for their graves shall be opened, and they shall come forth….” (D. & C. 29:26)
 How is it that the blood of Jesus broke the bands of death, but Michael had authority to “herald the resurrection?”
In vision Daniel, the prophet, witnessed a most magnificent drama taking place in heaven. The splendor of this enactment is glorious as the “Ancient of Days” presents to Jesus Christ an eternal kingdom. The Prophet Daniel describes this scene as the Son of Man is presenting Himself before the Ancient of Days to receive the power and right of dominion over this kingdom. While this drama unfolds, a thousand times ten thousand souls minister to the Ancient of Days, whom the Prophet Daniel described by saying:
The Ancient of Days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the firey flame…. (Dan. 7:9)
The wisest Bible scholars recognize this description of Michael, the Ancient of Days, as none other than God. Joseph Smith also said that “Adam” was the “Ancient of Days”.
Why is the God that Daniel saw, and called the Ancient of Days, so difficult for the Latter-day Saints to understand, when it was verified by both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young?
Pearls are not for Swine
Jesus said, “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.” (Matt. 7:6)
The appellation of dog in the scriptures was a term often used to denote viciousness or meanness, like that of a mad dog. Enemies, persecutors and those held in reproach were often called dogs. Swine were unclean, forbidden animals among the Israelites, so they were used to describe gentiles or unbaptized and unbelieving people. To throw pearls, or sacred principles, to swine would be foolish. Swine and dogs would trample them into the dirt and turn again without understanding or appreciation.
Brigham Young, when speaking of Adam in his conference talk of October 8, 1854, said:
These are things that scarcely belong to the best of this congregation. There are items of doctrine, and principles, in the bosom of eternity that the best of the Latter-day Saints are unworthy to receive.
This is the reason that Moses wrote the story of Adam coming from the dust and Eve from his rib. The truth was a mystery because so many of the children of Israel were unable to grasp the real meaning. Brigham continues:
 Now about the rib. As for the Lord taking a rib out of Adam’s side to make a woman of, he took one out of my side just as much.
“But, Brother Brigham, would you make it appear that Moses did not tell the truth?”
No, not a particle more than I would that your Mother did not tell the truth, when she told you that little Billy came from a hollow toad stool. I would not accuse your Mother of lying, anymore than I would Moses; the people in the days of Moses wanted to know things that was (sic) not for them, the same as your children do, when they want to know where their little brother came from, and he answered them according to their folly, the same as you did your children.
I wish you to understand well the position I have taken, and the nature of the remarks I have made. Profit by them, both saints and sinners. You have had things laid before you that do not belong to the world, nor to men and women, who calculate to apostatize. They belong to the wise; to those who are serving God with all their hearts. (Oct. 8, 1854; Doctrine of the Priesthood 2:1)
On many other occasions, President Young explained the difficulty he experienced in revealing new truths, hidden mysteries, or the pearls of the Gospel:
I will say, as I have before said, if guilt before my God and my brethren rests upon me in the least, it is in this one thing, that I have revealed too much concerning God and his kingdom, and the designs of our Father in heaven. If my skirts are stained in the least with wrong, it is because I have been too free in telling what God is, how he lives, the nature of his providences and designs in creating the world, in bringing forth the human family on the earth, his designs concerning them, etc. If I had, like Paul, said, “But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant,” perhaps it would have been better for the people. (Des. News, June 27, 1860; p. 129)
Some years ago I advanced a doctrine with regard to Adam being our father and God, that will be a curse to many of the Elders of Israel because of their folly. With regard to it, they yet grovel in darkness at will. It is one of the most glorious revealments of the economy of heaven, yet the world hold it in derision. (J.D. 8:208)
But it was not only the world that held the Adam-God doctrine in derision, but one of Brigham Young’s own apostles couldn’t comprehend it. For many years, Orson Pratt disputed certain points in that doctrine, and others noted this controversy between the two men. Wilford Woodruff noted in his journal that President Young told Pratt that Adam–
…came from another world and brought Eve with him, partook of the fruits of the earth, begat children and they were earthly and had mortal bodies, and if we are faithful we should become Gods as [Adam] was.
The President “told Pratt to put aside his philosophical reasoning and get revelation from God to govern and enlighten his mind more…said his [Pratt’s philosophy] injured him in a measure. (W. Woodruff Journal, Sept. 17, 1854)
 Many other Mormons could not accept this doctrine on the Godhead, and of course the Protestant and Catholic denominations couldn’t either. Is this not one of the pearls of the gospel; that had been tossed to them and they rendered it into the dust? As learned and scholarly as so many people are, it is evident that they cannot comprehend what President Young was teaching them. He further said,
There are men upon whom God has bestowed gifts and graces, and women who are endowed with strong mental ability, and yet they cannot receive the truth, and then the truth condemns them; it leaves them in darkness. (Des. News, June 27, 1860)
In view of the history of this doctrine, it is amazing to note the difference of opinion that has existed and still persists. I thought you made a most amusing statement at the close of your conference address, when you said:
If any of you have been confused by false teachers who come among us, if you have been assailed by advocates of erroneous doctrines, counsel with your priesthood leaders. They will not lead you astray, but will direct you into paths of truth and salvation. (Ensign, Nov. 1980, p. 18)
I have personally spent 24 years in “counsel with my priesthood leaders” in many different states and stakes concerning this doctrine. In every instance there has been a difference of opinion and a division of thought among themselves. From the time of the announcement in 1852 of both the Adam-God doctrine and polygamy, there has been a diversity of opinions regarding these important doctrines. This division existed from the apostleship down to the deacons, and continues to the present time.
Perhaps people who read these statements of Brigham Young and Joseph Smith should take the counsel that was given by Joseph Smith in the Inspired Translation of the Bible, which says:
And the mysteries of the kingdom ye shall keep within yourselves; for it is not meet to give that which is holy unto the dogs; neither cast ye your pearls unto swine, lest they trample them under their feet. For the world cannot receive that which ye, yourselves, are not able to bear; wherefore ye shall not give your pearls unto them, lest they turn again and rend you. Say unto them, Ask of God; ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. (Matt., Insp. Vers., 7:10-12)
* * *
The basis of your conference talk was that Adam was an angel, and therefore could not be God. You said, `Adam was not our God, nor was he our Savior. But he was the humble servant of both in his status as an angel.”
First, the definition of “angel” should be established. The Bible describes many kinds of angels–good, evil, heavenly, spiritual and mortal. The term “angel” in the New Testament Comes from the Greek word anggelos, meaning “messenger”. From the Hebrew used in the Old Testament, the corresponding word malakh likewise means “messenger.” Some Bible scholars, such as Henry Halley, designate the word “angel” to also mean “personage.”
This is not difficult for us to understand, for even Joseph Smith on occasion described the Father and Son as being “angels”; or “personages.” In one of his early accounts of the first vision, he wrote: “I received my first visitation of angels when I was about fourteen years old.” (Des. News, May 29, 1852) And then when Joseph wrote to the editor of the Chicago Democrat (later becoming the famous “Wentworth Letter,” from which were drawn the Articles of Faith), he said:
I retired to a secret place in a grove, and began to call upon the Lord; while fervently engaged in supplication, my mind was taken away from the objects with which I was surrounded, and I was enwrapped in a heavenly vision, ant saw two glorious personages, who exactly resembled each other in features and likeness…. (D.H.C. 4:536)
Hence, many prophets who have communed with God or Christ do not always choose to say they saw God, but rather only say they saw “personages” “messengers,” or “angels,” even though they had seen and talked with God.
But there is another very important key to understanding this subject of angels in Old Testament writings. The King James translators have made a slight variation in translating verses that deal with the “angel of the Lord.” In the original Hebrew, there are no words for “of the,” so the literal translation would be “Angel Jehovah” or “Messenger Jehovah” or “Personage Jehovah.” Let’s take a few examples to see how “angel of the Lord” and the personage of Jehovah can really be one and the same.
- Jacob wrote, “And the angel of God spake unto me in a dream saying, Jacob: And I said, Here am I. And he said, Lift up now thine eyes, and see, all the rams which leap upon the cattle are ringstraked, speckled, and grisled; for I have seen all that Laban doeth unto thee. I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointest the pillar and where thou vowedst a vow unto me!…” (Gen. 31:11-13)
- When Moses went up to the mountain of Horeb, it is written that: “And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush:… Moreover he said [the angel], I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.” (Ex. 3:2, 6)
 C. When the Israelites were in bondage to the Midianites, they sought for a deliverer, which was to be Gideon. “And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and saith unto him, The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour. And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? *** And the Lord looked upon him and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel….” (Judges 6:12-14)
- Gideon saw an “angel of the Lord” and said, “Alas, O Lord God! for because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face. And the Lord said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die. Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehovah-shalom:…” (Judges 6:22-24)
- When the Israelites were in bondage to the Philistines for 40 years, God made known that He would send them a deliverer who would be known as Sampson. The “angel of the Lord” made appearances to Manoah and his wife promising them that they would bear a son and how he should eat no unclean thing, neither drink strong drink, nor cut his hair. Then it says–“But the angel of the Lord did no more appear to Manoah and his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the Lord. And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.” (Judges 13:21-32)
There are numerous such infusions of the term “angel of the Lord” with the voice or personage of God throughout the Old Testament. This peculiar facet of scripture has been noticed by nearly all Bible scholars. Note how specifically they infer that the angel of God and God are identical. From Zondervan’s Encyclopedia of the Bible:
The question of identity of “the angel of God” has arouses an intriguing interest in Bible students. The view in which most concur is that He is a distinct personal self-manifestation of God, who may be called the incarnate Logos. The reference in Judges 2:1 shows clearly that “the angel of the Lord” is God in His self-manifestation. This is also the case with similar patriarchal passages dealing with Abraham, Jacob, and Moses…. For instance, He was not restricted to executing a single order, but, like Jesus, He spoke with authority as though He were God Himself. Only the Logos, or some other manifest personification of God, would be able to do that. John declared that the Logos “was in the beginning with God” and that He “was God”; that He was instrumental in the Creation; and, that “The Logos became flesh and dwelt among us”. (John 1:1-14) (Zondervan’s Vol.1:162-3)
How interesting to note that “the angel of God” mentioned so often in the Old Testament was often none other than the God of Israel–Jehovah!
And, let me include one more very important item concerning angels from President Brigham Young. He said:
I believe we have already acknowledged the truth established that no person can officiate in any office he has not been subject to himself and been legally appointed to fill. That no person in  this kingdom can officiate in any ordinance he himself has not obeyed; consequently no being who has not been resurrected possesses the keys of the power of resurrection. That you have been told often. Adam therefore was resurrected by some one who had been resurrected. I will go a little further with this lest some of you will be queering, doubting, and philosophizing this away. It is true, Jesus said, “I lay down my life that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.” I do not doubt the power of Christ; but did he prove that in his resurrection? No. But it is proved that an angel came and rolled away the stone from the door of the sepulchre, and did resurrect the body of the Son of God. (24th Semi-Annual Conference, Oct. 8, 1854)
Who was the angel that came to the Son of God and gave the keys of power for His resurrection? Who but God, His Father, was resurrected at that time? According to your conference talk, you directly stated that it is Adam, or Michael, who is in charge of “heralding the resurrection of the dead” and, “what a marvelous calling for Adam or Michael!” I must agree that Adam, or Michael, heralded the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
If God, as Michael or Adam, was really the first being on earth, how disappointing it will be for the masses of humanity to discover that they really did not know the true God. How embarrassing it will be for so many ministers of religion who have taught that Adam began as nothing more than an adobe brick, or that he has become nothing more than a messenger of God! The importance of knowing the TRUE God is best described by Jesus who said, “This is life eternal to KNOW thee the only TRUE God….”
cc: Elder Bruce R. McConkie
P.S. In D. & C. 129:1-3 it states that “There are two kinds of beings in heaven.” (l) “Angels, who are resurrected personages, having bodies of flesh and bones,” and (2) “spirits of just men made perfect.” Could you please tell me in which category God falls?
 L.D.S. Anonymous
Ex-Mormons for Jesus
Having just read your little pamphlet entitled, “Mormonism: Christian or Cult?”, I would very much like to express my sentiments regarding your denunciations.
You said that “The `God’ and `Jesus’ of Mormonism will not save you,” but you indicated that the Jesus that you serve will save us. I am constantly amazed at all the different “Jesuses” there are–all contending against each other, all claiming to be the “real” Jesus. There is the Sabbatical Jesus of the Adventists; the Jehovah Jesus of the Witnesses; the Ritualistic Jesus of the Catholics; the Liberal Jesus of the Unitarians; the Baptist and Pentecostal Jesus; and now we have the anti-Mormon Jesus!
What a babbling and contending assortment of weird ideas these modern Christian ministers have brewed up! They all preach about heaven and hell, God and the devil, yet they haven’t seen any of them! But I guess it doesn’t matter–they need only a $10.00 Bible to set up business anyway. Nevertheless, we were warned nearly 2,000 years ago, by the Savior Himself, when he said “many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” (Mat. 24:5) Then He concluded by adding, “If any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or, There; believe it not.” (Mat. 24:23) Most of the time I don’t–and in your case I won’t make any exception.
You have written little “pro” and “con” inserts in your letter; and for the remainder of my letter, I would like to respond to these. I would like to mention before proceeding, however, that at times you have quoted from various contemporary LDS Church leaders as if they were absolute authorities on Church doctrine. It is important to keep in mind that they often voice their “opinions”, which cannot be accepted as “official” Mormon doctrine.
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MORMONISM SAYS ALL OTHER CHURCHES FALSE
“I was answered that I must join none of them for they were all wrong; and the personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight and those professors were all corrupt.” Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith 2:19.
“This Church is the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth.” Doctrine and Covenants 1:30 “There is no salvation outside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 670. “All other churches are entirely destitute of all authority from God; and any person who receives Baptism or the Lord’s Supper from their hands will highly offend God; for He looks upon them as the most corrupt of all people. Both Catholics and Protestants are nothing less than the whore of Babylon.” Orson Pratt, The Seer, p. 255. THE BIBLE: The CHURCH is the spiritual body of Christian believers with Jesus at its head. That is the true church–not an organization! (Ephesians 1:22-23, 4:11-16; 1 Corinthians 1:2, 12:12; Matthew 16:18).
* * * * *
It is evident from the words of Christ that many would come in his name and “deceive many”, and “if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Mat. 24:24) These are usually the ministers who “draw near” with their mouths but their “hearts are far from Him.” Yet, they continue to exist and even thrive. The Prophet Joseph Smith explained: “I cannot believe in any of the creeds of the different denominations, because they all have some things in them I cannot subscribe to, though all of them have some truth”. (T.P.J.S., p. 327) It is their doctrinal errors that make them wrong.
For example, Jesus told His disciples that they should go forth teaching the gospel and “carry neither purse nor script” (Luke 10:4), which they did. Paul also travelled the same way and said, “I have preached to you the gospel of God freely” (II Cor. 11:7). But today the ministers have multi-million dollar purses to “help” them in preaching the gospel.
Over a thousand different “Christian” churches all contend that they are right; but it is possible for only one to be right and the rest wrong, or else they are all wrong.
 * * * * *
WHAT JOSEPH SMITH SAID OF HIMSELF
“I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.” Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 408, 409.
THE BIBLE: No prophet of God ever spoke like that. Yet the Mormon people are trusting their eternal salvation in a system set up by him. See Daniel 4:28-33. King Nebuchadnezzar had such pride and was driven out to live with the animals by God. Just one month after delivering the above quoted speech, Joseph Smith was killed by a mob but only after he had shot and killed two of the mob himself. History of the Church, Vol. 7, pp. 102, 103).
* * * * *
You have indicated that no “prophet” ever spoke as Joseph Smith did about his own accomplishments. Did you forget about Moses boasting so much over his bringing water from the rock (See Num. 20:10) that the Lord forbid him to enter the promised land? Paul himself said that “I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles” (II Cor. 11:5), and also that he had “labored more abundantly” than all the Apostles (I Cor. 15:10).
When Joseph Smith said that “the followers of Jesus ran away from Him”, he was referring to the disciples becoming offended in Him and thus leaving Him. Even Peter denied knowing Him (See Mat. 26:31-35), all of which was the fulfillment of an ancient Old Testament prophecy (Zech. 13:7) that these disciples would be offended and flee from Him.
It is not difficult to believe that Joseph Smith was correct when he said, “No man ever did such a work as I.” He established a church that has successfully withstood the greatest political and religious outrages for over 150 years. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of the most dominant churches in the world with five million members. He published a book that is second only to the Bible in number of publications.
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MORMON LEADERS’ VIEW OF THEMSELVES
“When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give direction, it should mark the end of controversy.” Improvement Era (Official church magazine), June 1945, p. 345.
“The living Prophet is more vital to us than the Standard Works (Bible, Book at Mormon, Etc.). The living Prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet (David, Moses, Isaiah, etc.). Those who would remove prophets from politics would take God out of government. Ezra Taft Benson (Next in line to be Prophet), address at Brigham Young University, Feb. 26, 1980.
THE BIBLE: In these last days God speaks through His Son (Hebrews 1:1-2). The authority claimed by the Mormon Church is through an “Aaronic Priesthood,” which cannot be valid since Jesus abolished it, as He took its place (Hebrews 7:11-19, 8:6-13); and a “Melchizedek Priesthood” which never existed as any “priesthood.” Jesus is our High Priest in the likeness of Melchizedek@-He holds this permanently and no one else! (Hebrews 7:15-28, 9:11-15).
* * * * *
It is not difficult to understand why the ministers of today say there is no priesthood–they are admitting that they don’t have it! If they do not possess it, then it is reasonable that they also don’t understand it. At least you fellows admit the truth by saying that Jesus held it but you don’t!
In ancient Israel men received a holy “anointing”. This was administered to those who would hold a priestly office, as did Aaron. This was a priesthood which “shall surely be an everlasting priesthood” and that it would be a “priesthood throughout their generations” (Ex. 40:15).
Furthermore, this priesthood was to follow in certain lineages such as with Phineas, son of Aaron, who “shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God” (Num. 25:13). It would be foolish in the extreme to suppose that the seed of all these men had suddenly stopped when Christ was born; or that no one else would be worthy of it because there were none who were, or ever would be “zealous” for God.
You say that “In these last days God speaks through His Son.” Who are those who have received God’s word in “these last days” if it isn’t prophets–just as God has always delivered His messages? Have you fellows turned prophets or revelators? Or are you going around with just a Bible like all the other ministers who claim “God’s Words” is with you alone? Surely “no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron” (Heb. 5:4).
Although they did not require the offering up of animal sacrifices after the sacrifice of Christ, they were still required to have “an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices” (I Peter 2:5). Furthermore, Peter testified that they were of that special lineage by saying “ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people” (I Peter 2:9). Surely the priesthood could not be found among all the hostile Christian campaigners, for it would be an offense to God.
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MORMONISM DENIES VIRGIN BIRTH
“Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers–Christ was born into the world as the literal son of this Holy Being he was born in the same personal, real, and literal sense that any mortal son is born to a mortal father.” Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 742
THE BIBLE: Jesus was begotten by the Holy Ghost. Mary was indeed a virgin.( Matthew 1:18-23; Luke 1:35)
* * * * *
Mormons do not deny that Mary was a virgin. Quite a few women get married today who are virgins; and when they conceive a child, it is begotten of a father. If all the Protestant ministers claim that Jesus was begotten by the Holy Ghost, then they should cease calling Him the Son of God–because He would be the Son of the Holy Ghost.
We read that John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Ghost, even “from his mother’s womb.” (Luke 1:15) Also Mary was “found with child of the Holy Ghost”. (Mat. 1:18) The difference between these two was that “the power of the Highest” overshadowed Mary. Then the sentence continues to say that Jesus would be known as “the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)
The scriptures continually call Him the Son of God, but never the Son of the Holy Ghost. For instance, God is called the Father and Jesus is the Son (see John 8:38; 17:11); “Christ is born of God” (I John 5:1); Jesus is the “only begotten Son” (Mat. 14:33; Mark 1:1; John 3:16); and Jesus admitted, “I am the Son of God.” (Mat. 27:43) one of the reasons that Jesus was crucified is because He made the claim to be the “Son of God”. (John 19:7)
It is all too evident that if Jesus were begotten of the Holy Ghost, then all ministers should refrain from allowing any women to have the Holy Ghost, lest she, too, become pregnant and thereby conceive another only begotten “Son of God”.
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THE AUTHORITY OF THE BIBLE DENIED
“Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors–many plain and precious things were deleted, in consequence of which error and falsehood poured into the various churches. One of the great heresies of modern Christendom is the unfounded assumption that the Bible contains all of the inspired teachings now extant among men.” Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pp 82, 83.
THE BIBLE: The Bible says of itself that God@s Word therein will stand forever (Isaiah 40:8; I Peter 1:25) Ask the Mormon to show you exactly where the errors exist. Since most of the doctrines added by Mormonism are not in the Book of Mormon either (which is claimed to contain the “fullness of the everlasting gospel,” the “plain and precious things” did not make it in there either!
If you fellows are not aware of any errors in the Bible, it is evident that you have never read it carefully. There is a train of errors that could be mentioned, but it is certainly not worth the time or effort to list them here. However, in response to your request, a few examples are–
Reporting Errors: The crucifixion was the most important event in the
history of the world. Four disciples of Christ were supposed to have been witnesses, or at least to have correctly reported that event. However, they each reported a different inscription on the cross:
Matthew: “This is Jesus the King of the Jews”. (27:37)
Mark: “The King of the Jews.” (15:26)
Luke: “This is the King of the Jews”. (23:38)
John: “Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews”. (19:19)
“No man hath seen God at any time.” (I John 4:12)
Jacob said, “I have seen God face to face.” (Gen. 32:30)
“And the Lord appeared unto” Abraham. (Gen. 18:1)
“And Noah walked with God.” (Gen. 6:9)
“The Lord spoke unto Moses, face to face.” (Ex. 33:11)
“And I saw the Lord standing upon the altar.” (Amos 9:1)
“I saw the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:56)
“And it repented the Lord that he had made man,…” (Gen. 6:6)
“God is not a man that he should lie; neither the son of that he should repent.” (Num. 23:19)
 Mistaken Identity Errors:
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Gen. 1:1)
“<God> hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all thing”, by whom also he made the worlds.” (Heb. 1:2)
“And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden.” (Gen. 3:8)
If anyone is really interested in locating all the errors in the Bible, there are books written on the subject. There is a popular paperback edition being sold for $4.95 called Discrepancies in the Bible that you should read if you are still not convinced that there are Biblical errors.
There are over 1,000 Christian churches in the United States alone, all with the same Bible, but all claiming the others are wrong and they are right. This is a clear manifestation that either the Bible is incomplete and contains errors, or that the ministers are all in error. However, it is probably both.
Some claim that we must be baptized under the water; others by sprinkling, or by pouring; and some believe only in baptism of the spirit. Yet, some contend that we need no baptism at all–that Jesus did it for us. Such confusions exist with every other principle and ordinance, also.
Even the translators have trouble. They have been tirelessly trying to get an error-proof Bible for many centuries, with new ones being published constantly. We now have over 450 different Bibles to choose from–they are either to correct errors of previous editions or to convince others of their personal beliefs.
Out of all this confusion, contention and corruption, it is no wonder that God sent a prophet like Joseph Smith to help people understand the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
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“In the heaven where our spirits were born there are many Gods, each of whom has his own wife or wives, which were given to him previous to his redemption while yet in his mortal state.” Orson Pratt (Apostle), The Seer, p. 37. “This doctrine that there is a Mother in Heaven was affirmed in all plainness by the First Presidency of the Church.” Bruce R. McConkie (Apostle), Mormon Doctrine, p. 516
BIBLE: Absolutely no mention of any “wives” of God! (Matthew 22:29, 30)
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You have asked the question about “Mrs. God”, but the Bible doesn’t say anything about Mr. God either. Your terminology is quite clever, but it should apply to other conditions, too. If you think that Jesus was begotten by the Holy Ghost, then Mary should have been called Mrs. Holy Ghost! We don’t see anywhere in the Bible that Eve became Mrs. Adam either.
The principle to be considered in marriage is that which was introduced with marriage itself and has continued throughout all nations ever since: the woman’s desire and life would be in subjection “to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (Gen. 3:16), and that she would become “one flesh” with him. She would not have a separate identity as before, and she would take upon herself his name. Look in your local phone book and notice that for married couples, they have listed only the man’s name there! Or do you believe that all those men are unmarried, too!
We were all born as spirits to our Father (and Mother) in heaven before we came here, as Paul taught by saying “we are the offspring of God” (Acts 17:29) and “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God”. (Rom. 8:16) He continued by explaining, “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” (Heb. 12:9) Even the ancient prophet knew this, as Jeremiah was told by the Lord, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” (Jer. 1:5)
Neither can we omit such a clear passage as, “God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. (Gen. 1:26) and so “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Gen. 1:27)
If you do not believe that we are the children of our Father in heaven, then cease to pray as Jesus told us to by saying, “Our Father in heaven”. (Mat. 6:9)
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MORMONISM’S GOD IS LIMITED
“The universe is filled with vast numbers of intelligences, and we further learn that Elohim is God simply because all of these intelligences honor and sustain him as such–if He should ever do anything to violate the confidence or sense of justice of these intelligences they would promptly withdraw their support, and the “power” of God would disintegrate–He would cease to be God.” W. Cleon Skousen (BYU Professor & Founder of Mormon-based Freemen Institute), The First 2000 Years, p. 355. “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s,” Doctrine and Covenants, 130:22. “If God possesses a form, that form is of necessity of definite proportions, and therefore of limited extension and space. It is impossible for Him to occupy at one time more than one space of such limits. James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 43.
THE BIBLE: God is infinite! Any other “god” is a false “god.” (2 Chronicles 6:18; Psalm 139:4-8; Jeremiah 23:24)
* * * * *
You claim that God is infinite. By this it is presumed that you also believe He is in all things, through all things, everywhere present and no place in particular.
Many ministers say their god is infinite and therefore he is immaterial, “whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere”. This philosophical absurdity portends a god that has no dimension, no figure, no personage, and therefore he must be extremely difficult to find.
A god who has no ears to hear, nor eyes to see, and who has no parts or passions, would be a sorry god to pray to and expect some kind of answer! No wonder the Protestants and Catholics haven’t heard anything from him for nearly 2,000 years!
These preachers testify of a god who has no dimensions or substance–but that is a description of nothing! I have always suspected that the Protestants weren’t worshipping anything, but now they confirm it! Ancient heathens worshipped gods of stone and wood–but at least they existed. These modern apostate ministers want us to worship nothing!
Here we have a most unusual situation–two kinds of atheists. One class denies the existence of God at all; but the others deny his existence in duration, space and form. One says, “There is no Gods; but the other says, “God is not here or there.” The infidel says, “God does not exist anywhere”; but the Immaterialist says, “He exists nowhere.” The infidel says, “There is no such substance as God”; and the Immaterialists say, “There is no substance in God.” One atheist believes that there is nothing to God, and the other believes that God is nothing!
If there is anything in the doctrines of the Catholics and Protestants that would prevent me from joining them, it would be the idea that I had to pray to a god that had no existence! It would also completely discourage me from trying to became like him!
You say that you are in the ministry to save the Mormons. I would suggest that you save your prayers, and save your missionary labors–in fact, try to save yourselves. Pray for yourself, labor with yourself and get away from becoming “one” in likeness to that god–for it would mean annihilation!
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MORMONISM’S GOD WAS ONCE A MAN
“God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man–I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form–like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man–He was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth.” Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 305.
THE BIBLE: God was never a man. He created man! God has been God from all eternity to all eternity. (Psalm 41:13, 90:2, 102:25-27; Romans 1:22-23)
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The ministers of modern Christianity who believe that God is nowhere, everywhere, in everything, without form or substance, would naturally not believe that God was once a man. It is impossible for nothing to have once been something.
It takes a real prophet to clarify such stupid traditions and philosophies. Let me quote the Prophet Joseph Smith:
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; and I will show it from the Bible.
The scriptures inform us that Jesus said, As the Father hath power in Himself, even so hath the Son power–to do what? Why, what the Father did. The answer is obvious–in a manner to lay down His body and take it up again. Jesus, what are you going to do? To lay down my life as my Father did, and take it up again? Do we believe it? If you do not believe it, you do not believe the Bible.
Here, then, is eternal life–to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one. . . .
My Father worked out his kingdom with fear and trembling, and I must do the same; and when I get my kingdom, I shall present it to my Father, so that He may obtain kingdom upon kingdom, and it will exalt him in glory. He will then take a higher exaltation, and I will take His place, and thereby become exalted myself. So that Jesus treads in the tracks of His Father, and inherits what God did before; and God is thus glorified and exalted in the salvation and exaltation of all His children. It is plain beyond disputation, and you thus learn some of the first principles of the Gospel, about which so much hath been said. (T.P.J.S., see pp. 345-48)
 A young boy grows up to become a man like his father. When Jesus told His disciples to “go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father” (John 20:17), He was not speaking in generalities. There is no son without a father, and the scriptures clearly support this doctrine.
It is the ancient Greek and Roman philosophies that crept into Catholicism and changed the pure doctrines of Christ into this ethereal and mystical hogwash which has continued to be preached by the apostates from Catholicism. All the Protestants are apostates from Catholicism, and they brought many of these heathen philosophies of men with them and continue to call it “The Gospel of Christ.”
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MORMONISM’S JESUS WAS MARRIED
Jesus was the bridegroom at the marriage at Cana of Galilee. –We say it was Jesus Christ who was married, to be brought into relation whereby he could see his seed.” Orson Hyde (Apostle), Journal of Discourses, Vol. 2. p. 82.
THE BIBLE: NO! Check out John 2:1-12! This doctrine generally is not taught today. However, since marriage in a Mormon Temple is mandatory to progress to become a god in Mormonism, to fit the theology of Mormonism the Mormon “Jesus” had to be married. Otherwise, He would only be a ministering servant to those in Mormonism’s heaven who have “celestial marriage.”
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God said it was not good for man to be alone, and so man and women were created in the image and likeness of God, and they were to be “one flesh”. That described the condition of God and man. The law and commandment to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Gen. 1:28) was never revoked or changed. Even Paul the Apostle confirmed this by saying “neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” (I Cor. 11:11) Furthermore, “the women is the glory of the man.” (I Cor. 11:7)
It was a gnostic philosophy that crept into Christianity teaching them that celibacy is more holy than matrimony. Any student of Catholicism can soon discover the gradual changes that crept into the Catholic faith with regard to this pagan philosophy. When the Protestants rejected the mother church, they took with them all those traditions and false doctrines concerning marriage. Paul prophesied that this would happen and said that some people would give heed to these “doctrines of devils” by “forbidding to marry.” (See I Tim. 4:1-3)
From the ages of twelve to thirty, a gap of 18 years, the scriptural history of the life of Christ is missing. This is the very time when men usually marry. John the Beloved said all the things that Jesus did would be enough to “fill libraries;” so we can conclude the reason why there is so little said about the marriage of Jesus. If we had the missing books of the New Testament, which we know were written, it might give us much more light upon this history. Some of these “lost” books are–
An earlier epistle of Paul to the Corinthians (I Cor. 5:9)
Another epistle of Paul to the Ephesians (Eph. 3:3)
An epistle of Paul from Laodicea (Col. 4:16)
A former epistle of Jude (Jude 1:3)
The prophecies of Enoch (Jude 1:14)
All through the New Testament Jesus was called Rabbi. He was so called by Peter (Mark 9:5), by the other disciples (John 1:38, 4:31, 9:2); and even Nicodemus, a Pharisee and ruler of the Jews, also called Him a Rabbi. (John 3:2) Now then, a Rabbi was a teacher by precept and by example. If Jesus had been a celibate teacher of the law, then all of his accusers would have had their greatest reason to denounce Him. He would not be fulfilling the commandments and laws of God concerning marriage. This law is still in vogue among the Hebrew people:
 Every Jewish man should marry at eighteen, and he who marries earlier is more meritorious. (The Shalchan Aruch, Eben Haezer 1:3)
Since the Mishnah fixes the eighteenth year of one’s life as the age of marriage, a man unmarried after this time is, in many communities, regarded as not having conformed with inviolable tradition. (Jewish Ceremonies and Customs, William Rosenau, p. 155)
Both ancient and modern scholars of the Bible admit that all of the Apostles were married men. It is an admitted fact that the Old Testament law required that a man should be 30 years of age and married in order to become a priest. This is why Jesus did not get baptized, anointed, nor begin his ministry until He was 30 years old.
In the Greek text of the New Testament there is no difference in the word “wife” or “woman”, and the scriptures inform us that Jesus was often with a woman. The Protestant minister, Dr. Phipps, admitted that “master” was a common term for husband.
. . . words such as those used by Martha when she said to Mary, her sister: “The Master is come and calleth for thee.” (John 11:28) “Master” was the title that a wife used when speaking of her husband. (Was Jesus Married?, p. 17)
Some of the Dead Sea Scrolls are now being uncovered and are revealing that Jesus was married. “The Gospel of Thomas” (p. 57) and “The Gospel of Philip” (p. 35) show more evidence for this fact.
You said to check out John 2:1-12, which is the account of the marriage at Cana. In my book Jesus Was Married, Chapter 5 deals with the Jewish customs and traditions showing that this would have to have been Christ’s marriage.
This subject could be extended considerably, but it is only too reasonable that Jesus never omitted the fulfillment of any of the laws of God. He could not obey some, neglect others, and then say to all mankind, “Follow Me”.
If you fellows believe that Jesus was celibate, then you should not only teach everyone to be like Him and not marry, but also refuse to have anything to do with marriage yourself!
Do you suppose that Jesus was too holy to be married? Or, was the law of marriage too unholy for Jesus? If so, then God should never have given man such a law when He created him. Neither should Jesus have participated in the marriage at Cana, nor endorsed anyone including His Apostles to have a wife. Such thinking and deductions are preposterous. But that is what you ministers of modern Christianity are trying to sustain as true doctrine.
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IN MORMONISM THERE ARE MANY GODS
“In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and people it–in all congregations when I have preached on the subject of the Deity, it has been the plurality of Gods.” Joseph Smith, (Founder and First Prophet), History of the Church, Vol. 6, pp. 308 & 474.
THE BIBLE: There was and is and always will be only ONE GOD! (Isaiah 43:10-11, 44:6-8. 45:5-6, 18-22; Deuteronomy 6:4, 32:39: James 2:19)
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You say that there “was and is and always will be only one God”, but Paul clearly explained, “For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many) but to us there is but one God,…” (I Cor. 8:5-6) There was certainly more than one member of the Godhead in the creation, for it is written that “God said, Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness.” (Gen. 1:26) John agreed by saying, “There are THREE that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” (I John 5:7)
Now there exists a perfect confusion among the Catholics and Protestants about these three being one. But three cannot be one; because if they were one, they would no longer be three. But they are one in purpose. Jesus is separate from His Father because He admitted that “my Father is greater than I”. (John 14:28) And a little later He told Mary, “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father.” (John 20:17) We also note that when Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, that it was his will to let the bitter cup pass, but the will of the Father was otherwise. He asked, “thy will not mine be done”. But most graphically we have a better illustration of three distinct personages at the baptism of Jesus:
And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him. And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Mat. 3:16-17)
Here was (1) Jesus being baptized, (2) God speaking from heaven, and (3) the Holy Spirit descending.
Also we are told in the scriptures that the devil is “the god of this worlds”. (II Cor. 4:4) And even Moses became a god. “And the Lord said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.” (Ex. 7:1) This brings us up to the next item for discussion.
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MORMONISM SAYS MAN MAY BECOME GOD
“Here then is eternal life–to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God the same as all gods have done before you–To inherit the same power, the same glory and the same exaltation, until you arrive at the station of God.” Joseph Smith History of the Church Vol. 6. p 306
THE BIBLE: The sin of Satan from the beginning was that many may become a god! (Genesis 3:1-5; Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:1-10)
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Some of you ministers think that heaven is where you will spend eternity “staring at the face of Jesus”, but most ministers really don’t know what they will be doing. A Mormon will tell you that he expects to continue growing in wisdom and knowledge forever. I prefer the latter to anything I have ever heard from any other religion, especially some of the Protestants.
Paul tells us that we belong to “the whole family in heaven. (Eph. 4:15), and Peter tells us that we can be “heirs together of the grace of life” (I Peter 3:7) and thus prepare for ourselves a little family kingdom. Paul also testifies that “we are the children of God” and “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ”. (Rom. 8:16-17) God Himself testified that “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son”. (Rev. 21:7) John also added that we are “the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; . . .” (I John 3:2)
Jesus gave us something to consider in our eternal destiny when He said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect”. (Mat. 5:48) It will be a long, long time before we can become as perfect as our Father in heaven is–yet Jesus was saying that it could be done or He wouldn’t have given us that commandment. Furthermore, “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?” (John 10:34), which was also written by David: “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High”. (Psalms 83:6)
One of the last prayers of Jesus was that we might become “one even as we are one; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one”. (John 17:22-23) to become one with Him and joint heirs with Him, would make us Gods with Him.
One of the most important things to be revealed to man was clearly illustrated in the creation of man:
For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. (Gen. 3:5)
 This was verified by God himself who said:
And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil. (Gen. 3:22)
Man was meant to have the experience of this life to draw him closer to God in every respect–it was a life that could bring him God-ward, or to become a God himself. This was told to Moses:
Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God: And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do. (Ex. 18:19-20)
This was repeated by Paul who said that “such trust have we through Christ to God-ward” (2 Cor. 3:4) and that we must add faith to God-ward” (I Thes. 1:8). This doctrine of becoming a God is not as opposed as it once was. Even Protestant ministers are beginning to see the God-family where some of the sons of the Father grow to become like their Father, thus becoming Gods over their own children. For instance, the honorable Herbert W. Armstrong has said in support of this principle:
God embarked on His greatest undertaking! He began the process of reproducing himself by creating man (and woman) out of dust from the ground!
* * * Yet, although God formed man of the dust of the ground–physical matter–God has given man a far greater potentiality than angels.
In man, God is reproducing himself! Man has the potentiality of becoming God!
Man shall, when his spiritual creation is completed, judge angels (I Cor. 6:3). Few indeed have ever really grasped the marvelous breathtaking potential of man! By the very fact that God, through man, is reproducing Himself, we know man, when his spiritual creation is completed, shall actually become God! Only God the Father will always remain supreme in authority and command, and Christ second in command, above all else. ***
Everywhere we look we can see each animal, bird, microbe and plant reproducing itself. In Genesis 1:26, God (Elohim) is quoted as saying: . . . Let us make man in our image. . . .” God is reproducing Himself! How very plain that should be to us rational, thinking individuals. We humans are to be made in the very image of God! We are to become “Gods” ourselves.
 . . . man’s ultimate destiny is to become a part of the God family.
Notice John’s first letter once again: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he <Christ> shall appear, we shall be like him for we shall see him as he is. (I John 3:2, KJV). Can you grasp what John is saying here? Even as God became man, so man may become God! The two planes are interchangeable under certain conditions.
Man is to become just as much God as Christ is God. That in a nutshell is the transcendent purpose of human life (The God Family, Herbert W. Armstrong, p. 8)
We also note that it is written that John “looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads”. (Rev. 14:1) Thus, out of all the people on the earth there will be 144,000 who will have the name of God written on their foreheads, because they became like their Father in heaven–a God.
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IF YOU ARE A MORMON:
Some of the above quotations may not sound like the Mormon Church you know and love. The Church is filled with beautiful and sincere people. We know, because we were there. We love you and care for your eternal destiny–but must stand against the system that teaches such doctrine. If you add up the years we have spent in the Church, there would be thousands. We cry out to you: The “God” and “Jesus” of Mormonism will not save you. We did not leave the church to simply join another organization. We left after realizing that JESUS is THE WAY and THE TRUTH and THE LIFE. The real Jesus who died for you personally said in Revelation 3:20 that if you open the door of your heart, He will come in. The Mormon Church has a percentage growth that is impressive. Ex-Mormons for Jesus is growing far more rapidly, with ministries starting in a new area around the world virtually every week. There is FREEDOM out here with Jesus! There is something better than Mormonism. There is a personal day by day relationship with the only Jesus that has the power to give you eternal life!
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MISSIONARIES AT YOUR DOOR
In 1977 the California Arcadia Mission sent out a directive to the Mormon missionaries entitled: THE BAPTIZE NOW PLAN–Teach to commit–Don’t make the people think too much–Baptism must be our prime goal!!!!!”
We know the missionary strategy well. Many of us were formerly missionaries for the Church. When they come to your door, asking to help you start a “Family Home Evening” or to tell you about their Church, ask them to give you the real “meat of the gospel” as above; not just the “milk” that sounds appealing but is designed to make you doubt your current faith and lead you into a system.
They will constantly repeat a “testimony of the truthfulness of the Church” and ask you to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it to receive your own “testimony”–What they want is a feeling, or a “Burning in the bosom.” If you ignore the facts, Satan can cause you to experience feelings and sensations. Why not do as recorded in Acts 17:11 and check the “meat” of Mormonism out with God’s Word, the Bible! Why pray about the Book of Mormon?
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 You say that “Ex-Mormons for Jesus” is growing, but so is wickedness. We live in a time of trouble–the time that Jesus said would be filled with false Christs, false prophets, deceptions and strong delusions. The efforts of all these Priestcrafters would become so convincing that they would almost deceive the “very elect”–but not quite! These instruments of that old dragon, the devil, “which deceiveth the whole world” (Rev. 12:9) are really necessary instruments in the Lord’s hands to separate the wheat and tares (Mat. 25:33). It is out of this great separation that many will learn that–
. . . wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it”. (Mat. 7:13-14)
But what is the great dividing line between the rest of the world and those few that find the “narrow way”? The Apostle Paul warned the Galatians that “if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1:9) Yet Paul admits, “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.” (I Cor. 3:2) But what was worse, the devil’s “ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness.” (II Cor. 11:15) Apostasy had already occurred in the Christian churches. Paul said, “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.” (Heb. 5:12)
Jesus said that His faithful and wise servants in the last days would be teaching “meat in due season”. (See Mat. 24:45-46 & Luke 12:42.) But where is this meat of the gospel among these Protestant churches? All we hear is “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” Is this strong meat or milk? What are the “pearls” of the Gospel that were not to be cast before the swine? (Mat. 7:6)
It is evident that today’s money-market ministers are only peddling milk–and they can’t even agree on what that is! Talk about confusion and Babylon! The only time they seem to find agreement is when they are maligning Joseph Smith. And now the apostates have joined with them to organize their own little “Ex-Mormons” club to fight their former church. But I know it will do little good to try reclaiming them, for it is almost impossible for those who were once enlightened “to renew them again unto repentance.” (Heb. 6:6)
 Most of the nations of the earth are calling themselves “Christians, yet we live in an age which has brought these nations into military clashes–over 150 since World War II. But man will soon see worse things than these–famine, pestilence, earthquakes, and disease. Why? Because they have rejected God’s restored Gospel and fought against His latter-day prophet. Joseph Smith was persecuted and driven nearly all his life, and finally the “Christians” killed him. When he was driven out of Missouri by mobs, ministers, and government officials, he told them they would soon face the cannon’s mouth in war. In detail he described the Civil War–where it would start, when it would begin, who would be involved, and what the final result would be. He died 15 years before it happened, but it transpired exactly as he said it would! The worst part of the war occurred in the very places that raised most of the hostility against the Mormons!
The Prophet Joseph Smith also left many more prophecies that will soon come to pass. He gave us many revelations which became scripture, because “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine. . . .” (II Tim. 3:16) If any of the ministers of today speak by inspiration, where is their scripture–and what do they have for doctrine? Do they have any meat or pearls to reveal to us? I have never seen any coming from any other pulpit or any other church.
Strange that all these ministers have their religion on men who talked with God–but when a man in our day talks to God, they fight against him!
I know there are many good and sincere people among the Protestant churches, and we love all you people, but we just cannot swallow your religious conglomeration of confusion and error. I am convinced, however, that if there is any fault to be found with the Mormon Church today, it is only that they are inclined to become a little too much like the rest of your churches!
FOLLOWING THE LEADERS
Ezra Taft Benson
FOLLOWING THE LORD
FOURTEEN FUNDAMENTALS IN FOLLOWING THE PROPHETS
BYU Devotional Assembly
February 26, 1980
Ezra Taft Benson
* * * * * *
FOURTEEN FUNDAMENTALS FOR DISTINGUISHING
TRUE PROPHETS FROM FALSE PROPHETS
A Letter to Ezra Taft Benson
April 6, 1980
FOURTEEN FUNDAMENTALS IN FOLLOWING THE PROPHETS
By President Ezra Taft Benson
BYU Devotional Assembly Tuesday, February 26, 1980, 10:00 a.m.
My beloved brothers and sisters. I am honored to be in your presence today. You students are a part of a choice young generation–a generation which might well witness the return of our Lord.
Not only is the Church growing in numbers today, it is growing in faithfulness and, even more important, our young generation, as a group, is even more faithful than the older generation. God has reserved you for the eleventh hour–the great and dreadful day of the Lord. It will be your responsibility not only to help bear off the kingdom of God triumphantly but to save your own soul and strive to save those of your family and to honor the principles of our inspired constitution.
To help you pass the crucial tests which lie ahead, I am going to give you today several facets of a grand key which, if you will honor, will crown you with God’s glory and bring you out victorious in spite of Satan’s fury.
Soon we will be honoring our Prophet on his 85th birthday. As a Church we sing the song, “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet.” Here then is the grand key–Follow the Prophet–and here now are Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet, the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
FIRST: The Prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything.
In Section 132, verse 7, of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord speaks of the Prophet–the President–and says:
“There is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred.”
Then in Section 21, verses 4-6, the Lord states:
“Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;
“For his word ye shall receives as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.
“For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you.”
Did you hear what the Lord said about the words of the Prophet? We are to “give heed unto all his words”–as if from the Lord’s “own mouth.”
SECOND: The living prophet is more vital to us than the Standard Works.
President Wilford Woodruff tells of an interesting incident that occurred in the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith:
 “I will refer to a certain meeting I attended in the town of Kirtland in my early days. At that meeting some remarks were made that have been made here today, with regard to the living oracles and with regard to the written word of God. The same principle was presented, although not as extensively as it has been here, when a leading man in the Church got up and talked upon the subject, and said: “You have got the word of God before you here in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants; you have the written-word of God, and you who give revelations should give revelations according to those books, as what is written in those books is the word of God. We should confine ourselves to them.”
“When he concluded, Brother Joseph turned to Brother Brigham Young and said, `Brother Brigham I want you to take the stand and tell us your views with regard to the living oracles and the written word of God.’ Brother Brigham took the stand, and he took the Bible, and laid it down; he took the Book of Mormon, and laid it down; and he took the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and laid it down before him, and he said: `There is the written word of God to us, concerning the work of God from the beginning of the world, almost, to our day. And now,’ said he, `when compared with the living oracles those books are nothing to me; those books do not convey the word of God direct to us now, as do the words of a Prophet or a man bearing the Holy Priesthood in our day and generation. I would rather have the living oracles than all the writing in the books.’ That was the course he pursued. When he was through, Brother Joseph said to the congregation; `Brother Brigham has told you the word of the Lord, and he has told you the truth.”‘ (CR, October 1897, pp. 18-19)
THIRD: The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.
The living prophet has the power of TNT. By that I mean “Today’s News Today.” God’s revelations to Adam did not instruct Noah how to build the Ark. Noah needed his own revelation. Therefore the most important prophet so far as you and I are concerned is the one living in our day and age to whom the Lord is currently revealing His will for us. Therefore the most important reading we can do is any of the words of the Prophet contained each week in the Church Section of the Deseret News, and any words of the Prophet contained each month in our Church magazines. Our marching orders for each six months are found in the General Conference addresses which are printed in the Ensign magazine.
I am so grateful that the current conference report is studied as part of one of your religion classes–the course entitled “Teachings of the Living Prophets,” No. 333. May I commend that class to you and suggest that you get a copy of the class manual at your bookstore whether you’re able to take the class or not. The manual is entitled “Living Prophets for a Living Church,” for Religion Course No. 333.
Beware of those who would pit the dead prophets against the living prophets, for the living prophets always take precedence.
 FOURTH: The prophet will never lead the Church astray.
President Wilford Woodruff stated:
“I say to Israel, the Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of the Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God.” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, pp. 212-213)
President Marion G. Romney tells of this incident which happened to him:
“I remember years ago when I was a Bishop I had President (Heber J.) Grant talk to our ward. After the meeting I drove him home…. Standing by men, he put his arm over my shoulder and said, `My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it.’ Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, `But you don’t need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray.’ (CR, October 1960, p. 78)
FIFTH: The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time.
Sometimes there are those who feel their earthly knowledge on a certain subject is superior to the heavenly knowledge which God gives to His Prophet on the same subject. They feel the prophet must have the same earthly credentials or training which they have had before they will accept anything the prophet has to say that might contradict their earthly schooling. How much earthly schooling did Joseph Smith have? Yet he gave revelations on all kinds of subjects. We haven’t yet had a prophet who earned a doctorate degree in any subject, but as someone said, “A prophet may not have his PhD, but he certainly has his LDS.” We encourage earthly knowledge in many areas, but remember if there is ever a conflict between earthly knowledge and the words of the prophet, you stand with the prophet and you’ll be blessed and time will vindicate you.
SIXTH: The Prophet does not have to say, “Thus saith the Lord” to give us scripture.
Sometimes there are those who haggle over words. They might say the prophet gave us counsel but that we are not obligated to follow it unless he says it is a commandment. But the Lord says of the Prophet, “Thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you.” (D. & C. 21:4)
And speaking of taking counsel from the Prophet, in the D. & C. 108:1, the Lord states:
“Verily thus saith the Lord unto you, my servant Lyman: Your sins are forgiven you, because you have obeyed my voice in coming up hither this morning to receive counsel of him whom I have appointed.”
 Said Brigham Young, “I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call scripture.” (J.D. 13:95)
SEVENTH: The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know.
“Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear,” complained Nephi’s brethren. But Nephi answered by saying, “…the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center.” (1 Nephi 16:1, 3) Or to put it in another prophet’s words, “Hit pigeons flutter.”
Said President Harold B. Lee:
“You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life…. Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow…. Let’s keep our eye on the President of the Church.” (CR, October 1970, p. 152-53)
But it is the living prophet who really upsets the world. “Even in the Church,” said President Kimball, “Many are prone to garnish the sepulchres of yesterday’s prophets and mentally stone the living ones.” (Instructor 95:257)
Why? Because the living prophet gets at what we need to know now, and the world prefers that prophets either be dead or mind their own business. Some so-called experts of political science want the prophet to keep still on politics. Some would-be authorities on evolution want the prophet to keep still on evolution. And so the list goes on and on.
How we respond to the words of a living prophet when he tells us what we need to know, but would rather not hear, is a test of our faithfulness.
Said President Marion G. Romney, “It is an easy thing to believe in the dead prophets, but it is a greater thing to believe in the living prophets.” And then he gives this illustration:
“One day when President Grant was living, I sat in my office across the street following a general conference. A man came over to see me, an elderly man. He was very upset about what had been said in this conference by some of the Brethren, including myself. I could tell from his speech that he came from a foreign land. After I had quieted him enough so he would listen, I said, “Why did you come to America?” “I am here because a prophet of God told me to come.” “Who was the prophet;” I continued. “Wilford Woodruff,” “Do you believe Wilford Woodruff was a prophet of God?” “Yes, I do.” “Do you believe that President Joseph F. Smith was a prophet of God?” “Yes, sir.”
“Then came the sixty-four dollar question. “Do you believe that Heber J. Grant is a prophet of God?” His answer, “I think he ought to keep his mouth shut about old age assistance.”
“Now I tell you that a man in his position is on the way to apostasy. He is forfeiting his chances for eternal life. So is everyone who cannot follow the living Prophet of God.” (CR, April 1953, p. 125)
 EIGHTH: The prophet is not limited by men’s reasoning.
There will be times when you will have to choose between the revelations of God and reasoning of men–between the prophet and the politician or professor. Said the Prophet Joseph Smith,
“Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof until long after the events transpire.” (Scrapbook of Mormon Literature, Vol. 2, p. 173)
Would it seem reasonable to an eye doctor to be told to heal a blind man by spitting in the dirt, making clay and applying it to the man’s eyes and then telling him to wash in a contaminated pool? Yet this is precisely the course that Jesus took with one man, and he was healed. (See John 9:6-7) Does it seem reasonable to cure leprosy by telling a man to wash seven times in a particular river; yet this is precisely what the Prophet Elisha told a leper to do, and he was healed. (See 2 Kings 5)
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8, 9)
NINTH: The prophet can receive revelation on any matter–temporal or spiritual.
Said Brigham Young:.
“Some of the leading men in Kirtland were much opposed to Joseph the Prophet, meddling with temporal affairs….
“In a public meeting of the Saints, I said, `Ye Elders of Israel,… will some of you draw the line of demarcation, between the spiritual and temporal in the Kingdom of God, so that I may understand it?’ Not one of them could do it….
I defy any man on earth to point out the path a Prophet of God should walk in, or point out his duty, and just how far he must go, in dictating temporal or spiritual things. Temporal and spiritual things are inseparably connected, and ever will be.” (JD 10:363-364)
TENTH: The prophet may be involved in civic matters.
When a people are righteous, they want the best to lead them in government. Alma was the head of the Church and of the government in the Book of Mormon; Joseph Smith was mayor of Nauvoo and Brigham Young was governor of Utah. Isaiah was deeply involved in giving counsel on political matters and of his words the Lord Himself said, “Great are the words of Isaiah.” (3 Nephi 23:1) Those who would remove prophets from politics would take God out of government.
 ELEVENTH: The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the prophet are the proud who are learned and the proud who are rich.
The learned may feel the prophet is only inspired when he agrees with them, otherwise the prophet is just giving his opinion–speaking as a man. The rich may feel they have no need to take counsel of a lowly prophet.
In the Book of Mormon we read:
“O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.”
“But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.”
“And whoso knocketh, to him will he open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches–yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them.” (2 Nephi 9:28, 29, 42)
TWELFTH: The prophet will not necessarily be popular with the world or the worldly.
As a prophet reveals the truth, it divides the people. The honest in heart heed his words but the unrighteous either ignore the prophet or fight him. When the prophet points out the sins of the world, the worldly either want to close the mouth of the prophet, or else act as if the prophet didn’t exist, rather than repent of their sins. Popularity is never a test of truth. Many a prophet has been killed or cast out. As we come closer to the Lord’s second coming, you can expect that as the people of the world become more wicked, the prophet will be less popular with them.
THIRTEENTH: The prophet and his counselors make up the First Presidency–the highest quorum in the Church.
In the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord refers to the First Presidency as “the highest council of the Church” (107:80) and says, “…whosoever receiveth me, receiveth those, the First Presidency, whom I have sent,…” (112:20)
FOURTEENTH: The prophet and the presidency–the living prophet and the First Presidency–follow them and be blessed–reject them and suffer.
President Harold B. Lee relates this incident from Church history:
“The story is told in the early days of the Church–particularly, I think, at Kirtland–where some of the leading brethren in the presiding councils of the Church met secretly and tried to scheme as to how they could get rid of the Prophet Joseph’s leadership. They made the mistake of inviting Brigham Young to one of these secret meetings. He  rebuked them, after he had heard the purpose of their meeting. This is part of what he said: `You cannot destroy the appointment of a prophet of God, but you can cut the thread that binds you to the prophet of God, and sink yourselves to hell.'” (CR, April 1963, p. 81)
In a general conference of the Church, President N. Eldon Tanner stated:
“The Prophet spoke out clearly on Friday morning, telling us what our responsibilities are….
“A man said to me after that, `You know, there are people in our state who believe in following the Prophet in everything they think is right, but when it is something they think isn’t right, and it doesn’t appeal to them, then that’s different.’ He said, `Then they become their own prophet. They decide what the Lord wants and what the Lord doesn’t want.’
“I thought how true, and how serious when we begin to choose which of the covenants, which of the commandments we will keep and follow. When we decide that there are some of them that we will not keep or follow, we are taking the law of the Lord into our own hands and become our own prophets, and believe me, we will be led astray, because we are false prophets to ourselves when we do not follow the Prophet of God. No, we should never discriminate between these commandments, as to those we should and should not keep.” (CR, October 1966, p. 124; verse 84, the Lord states:
“And with my servant Almon Babbitt, there are many things with which I am not pleased; behold, he aspireth to establish his counsel instead of the counsel which I have ordained, even that of the Presidency of my Church;…”
In conclusion let us summarize this grand key, these “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet,” for our salvation hangs on them.
FIRST: The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything.
SECOND: The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works.
THIRD: The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.
FOURTH: The prophet will never lead the Church astray.
FIFTH: The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time.
SIXTH: The prophet does not have to say “Thus saith the Lord,” to give us scripture.
SEVENTH: The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know.
EIGHTH: The prophet is not limited by men’s reasoning.
NINTH: The prophet can receive revelation on any matter, temporal or spiritual.
TENTH: The prophet may be involved in civic matters.
ELEVENTH: The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the prophet are the proud who are learned and the proud who are rich.
 TWELFTH: The prophet will not necessarily be popular with the world or the worldly.
THIRTEENTH: The prophet and his counselors make up the First Presidency–the highest quorum in the Church.
FOURTEENTH: The prophet and the presidency–the living prophet and the First Presidency–follow them and be blessed–reject them and suffer.
I testify that these fourteen fundamentals in following the living prophet are true. If we want to know how well we stand with the Lord, then let us ask ourselves how well we stand with His mortal captain–how close do our lives harmonize with the words of the Lord’s anointed–the living Prophet–President of the Church, and with the Quorum of the First Presidency.
May God bless us all to look to the Prophet and the Presidency in the critical and crucial days ahead is my prayer.
* * * * *
* * *
April 6, 1980
President Ezra T. Benson
Church Office Building
47 East South Temple
Salt Lake City, Utah 84103
Dear President Benson:
It was with particular interest that I listened to your lecture to the Brigham Young University student assembly on February 26, 1980, on the subject of “Following the Prophets.” However, it appears that one important and essential factor was overlooked. If we are to obtain the blessings we anticipate, by following the prophets, we must first make the proper distinction between true prophets and false prophets! Our salvation depends upon which kind of prophets we choose to follow.
It was prophesied that in the last days there would be an abundance of both false and true prophets. This is certainly evident today, as many are claiming to be prophets; but since they are contradicting each other, they cannot all be true prophets.
As Jesus sat upon the Mount of Olives with his Apostles, Peter asked Him what would be the signs of His coming. The first response Jesus made was, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” In other words deception would be one of the major signs of His coming, and He warned, “Many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” (Matt. 24:11) Deception by false prophets is perhaps the most damaging power and influence of the latter days, but it is a purifying process that is very necessary. Paul the Apostle said that “God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that all might be damned who believed not the truth….” (II Thes. 2:12)
The Prophet Joseph Smith has also warned:
When a man goes about prophesying, and commands men to obey his teachings, he must either be a true or false prophet. False prophets always arise to oppose the true prophets and they will prophesy so very near the truth that they will deceive almost the very chosen ones. (TPJS, p. 365)
But the false prophets are just as necessary as the true ones, which God revealed to Apostle Orson Hyde by saying:
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, compiled by Fred Collier, p. 104-105, Part 65:3-6)
 When people use the proper keys of knowledge for detecting false prophets, then these false prophets become as evident to them as when the innocent child looked upon the naked emperor and declared that he had no clothes. These keys are necessary to help us pass the crucial tests which lie ahead so that we will be victorious in spite of Satan’s deceptions.
I have written fourteen simple fundamentals used to expose false prophets, which you should find interesting. I call them “Fourteen Fundamentals for Distinguishing True Prophets from False Prophets.”
FIRST: False prophets always teach infallibility.
A week after you delivered your lecture to the B Y.U. students, Pope John Paul delivered a sermon at Rome in which he said:
Belief in the infallibility of the church does not mean in any sense believing in the infallibility of man but rather in the gift of Christ, in that gift which permits fallible men to infallibly proclaim and confess the revealed truth of our salvation.
Here then is one of the common declarations inferring that some men’s words are the infallible words of God. How often we have heard religious leaders erroneously say, “When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan, it is God’s plan.” Or, “We should always follow our leaders for they will never lead anyone astray,” and “We are safe if we put our trust in our leaders.”
Claim of infallibility is really a cover-up for personal failure. When men find themselves incapable of receiving God’s word, then they make this substitution by saying their own words are infallible. It is impossible for infallibility to exist among the leadership in even the true Church of Christ, for, as the Prophet Joseph Smith explained:
…the people should EACH ONE STAND FOR HIMSELF, and DEPEND ON NO MAN OR MEN in that state of corruption of the Jewish church (he was reading from Ezekiel)–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–said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall–that THEY WERE DEPENDING ON THE PROPHET, HENCE WERE DARKENED IN THEIR MINDS,… (T.P.J.S., pp. 237-238)
SECOND: False prophets teach and practice priestcraft.
A false prophet must live by priestcraft or else he will fail to obtain the power and means necessary for his survival. Without priestcraft, a false prophet cannot have a following, nor the material means of support that he needs. The larger his following, the larger his financial support will be. Priestcraft is a craft, or business, that renders financial remuneration for being a priest. Priestcrafters accept money from their followers in tithing, offerings, or gifts with a promise that God will shower blessings upon them for their financial support. Priestcrafters then place these tithings and donations into investments, banking, insurance, business enterprises, and even for personal living expenses. To accomplish this kind of priestcraft,  false prophets instruct their followers to put all their trust in their leadership–without question. Nephi best described this kind of priestcraft by explaining that:
He [God] commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, 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)
But true prophets have always warned people not to put their trust in the arm of flesh:
I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. (2 Nephi 4:34)
Thus saith the Lord: Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. (Jer. 17:5)
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)
And President Brigham Young also warned the Saints:
How often has it been taught that if you depend entirely upon the voice, judgment, and sagacity of those appointed to lead you, and neglect to enjoy the Spirit for yourselves, how easily you may be led into error, and finally be cast off to the left hand? (J.D. 8:59)
Now those men or those women who know no more about the powers 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 never will be capable of becoming Gods. (J.D. 1:312)
Let every man and woman know themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates or not. This has been my exhortation continually. (J.D. 9:150)
When a true prophet speaks, he admonishes men to follow God, Jesus Christ, and the dictates of the Holy Spirit. He urges men to place these three as their personal guide, and not some mortal man.
THIRD: False prophets place their teachings above the scriptures.
When a man proclaims that his own words take precedence over the scriptures, it is usually because his teachings contradict the scriptures. A subtle trick of false prophets is to say that their words can justifiably contradict the doctrine of the scriptures because those principles are no longer in vogue for our day. Joseph Smith taught, however:
 If any man writes to you, or preaches to you, doctrines contrary to the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, set him down as an imposter. (Times & Seasons, Apr. 1, 1844)
Even the Savior of the world taught that men should “search the scriptures” (John 5:3.9) because they pointed the correct way towards eternal life. And again He said:
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…. (Matt. 5:19)
The Prophet Joseph Smith would have agreed with the following statement:
If the principles by which any of us attempt to save ourselves are contrary to the Bible, we may know they are man’s teachings, not God’s for the Lord and His Gospel remain the same–always. (Church News, June 5, 1965, p. 16)
And from the scriptures:
To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Isa. 8:20 and 2 Nephi 18:20)
…If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. (Luke 16:31)
Even a more recent authority stated: (Joseph Fielding Smith)
If I ever say anything which is contrary to the scriptures, then the scriptures prevail. (Church News, Aug. 23, 1975)
FOURTH: False prophets live by worldly standards.
Very few people in the world recognize a true prophet. It has always been that when a true prophet came into the world, the world rejected him. The Prophet Joseph Smith explained:
The world always mistook false prophets for true ones, and those that were sent of God, they considered to be false prophets, and hence they killed, stoned, punished and imprisoned the true prophets and these had to hide themselves “in deserts and dens, and caves of the earth,” and though the most honorable men of the earth, they banished therefrom their society as vagabonds, whilst they cherished, honored and supported knaves, vagabonds, hypocrites, impostors, and the basest of men. (T.P.J.S., p. 206)
Jesus also told His disciples of this fact when He said:
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. (Matt. 5:11-12)
 False prophets will be honored by the political leaders of the world. Gentile ministers will heap platitudes and laurels to their name. The worldly will recognize their own.
There is one principle reason for persecution to cease:
…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 apostacized and joined hands with the wicked. (Brigham Young, J.D. 4:327)
When all the chief features of the Gospel are obliterated, when we can float along the stream and do as the world does, then and not until then will persecution cease…. (George Q. Cannon, J.D. 22:374)
FIFTH: False prophets contradict eternal doctrines of the Gospel.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ in its fullness is a stumbling block to every false prophet. They find it to be an offense to their teachings and to their objectives. A false prophet will try to altar, discard or condemn the true doctrines of Christ. How often false prophets garnish the sepulchres of the former prophets, yet contradict every doctrine they taught! But there should be no contradiction of doctrines because they are eternal, everlasting and unchangeable. How can a prophet change an unchangeable doctrine? How can an eternal law of the Gospel be substituted by any other law? But false prophets always seem to be on hand to make substitutions for the laws of God.
However, God has said:
What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away…. (D. & C. 1:38)
An editorial in the Church News a few years ago explains the eternal nature of the unchangeable gospel:
One of the most important things we may learn about our religion is that God is unchangeable, the same yesterday, today and forever. By this we may know that the principles of salvation will always remain the same, and that we need not be disturbed by “new ideas” or “modern innovations” in the Gospel which may come our way. The Gospel cannot possibly be changed. The heaven we hope to achieve is eternal and unchangeable. Therefore, to bring the same human nature to the same goal, regardless of the time in which a person lives, requires the same steps and procedures. For that reason the saving principles must ever be the same. They can never change. (Church News, June 5, 1965, p. 16)
All true prophets have advocated the same principles and doctrines in every dispensation.
Now taking it for granted that the scriptures say what they mean, and mean what they say, we have sufficient grounds to go on and prove from  the Bible that the gospel has always been the same; the ordinances to fulfill its requirements, the same, and the officers to officiate, the same; and the signs and fruits resulting from the promises, the same…. (Joseph Smith, TPJS, p. 264)
Only false prophets teach conflicting doctrine. They try to enter heaven by another set of doctrines and ordinances, but Jesus cautioned His followers:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up same other way, the same is a thief and a robber. (John 10:1)
False prophets fear the words of dead prophets because one or the other must be wrong. For this reason they attempt to cover up or set aside the teachings of the true prophets, lest the people discover the deceiver. The Prophet Joseph Smith gave the key to know what comes from God and what comes from the devil:
A key: Every principle proceeding from God is eternal and any principle which is not eternal is of the devil. (TPJS, p. 181)
SIXTH: False prophets try to be the mediator between man and God.
When men arise to positions of leadership, they are tempted with their power and influence. They want to become the “fileleader” standing between men and God. But,
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)
For there is one God, and ONE MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MAN, the man Christ Jesus. (I Tim. 2:5)
The reason no man can be a mediator is because “…there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” (Ecc. 8:20, Prov. 20:9, I John 1:8)
And President Brigham Young taught:
…the greatest and most important of all requirements of our Father in heaven and of his Son Jesus Christ, is, to his brethren or disciples, to believe in Jesus Christ, confess him, seek to him, cling to him, make friends with him. Take a course to open and keep open a communication with YOUR ELDER BROTHER OR FILELEADER–OUR SAVIOR. (J.D. 8:339)
A false prophet wants to be a fileleader or mediator between men and God because of the authority it gives him over others. But gods of stone and wood do less damage than these false prophets who act as mediators with God.
 SEVENTH: False prophets cannot say “Thus saith the Lord.”
True prophets have always brought the “word of the Lord” to the nations of the world. The ancient prophets of Israel would have been laughed at and scorned if they had tried to tell people that whatever they said was “God’s word” without the endorsement of “thus saith the Lord.” False prophets cannot obtain the word of the Lord because God does not speak to them. For this reason they must pretend to receive the word of God, but they can never produce fit. God spoke to Ezekiel and told him to warn every false prophet by saying:
And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy, and say thou unto them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear ye the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord God; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! (Ezek. 13:1-3)
The Prophet Joseph Smith gave us this important key for determining what is binding from the Lord.
If anything should have been suggested by us, or any names mentioned, except by commandment, or thus saith the Lord, we do not consider it binding (D.H.C. 3:295)
If a revelation from God had the endorsement of “thus smith the Lord” anciently then it should certainly be so in our day.
EIGHTH: False prophets do not speak by power of the Holy Ghost.
It is written that Jesus “spoke as one having authority and not as the scribes and Pharisees.” Jesus spoke by the spirit and power of prophecy and revelation, but false prophets always depend on their own education and learning. The false prophets write out their sermons beforehand and require others to do the same. They have no confidence or faith in the Holy Spirit to dictate their preaching–neither do they trust people who do. The Savior taught His disciples:
But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. (Matt. 10:19-20)
The Lord also commanded the members of His church in these last days to conduct “all meetings” in this same manner:
But notwithstanding those things which are written, it always has been given to the elders of my church from the beginning, and ever shall be, to conduct all meetings as they are directed and guided by the Holy Spirit. (D. & C. 46:2)
Missionary work must also be done by the “Spirit” and not by the “letter”. This was a firm requirement of the missionaries in this dispensation.
 Therefore, verily I say unto you, lift up your voices unto this people; speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and you shall not be confounded before men; for it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say. (D. & C. 100:5-6)
The great missionary Alma was a noble example of this system of missionary work, for he said, “I have been called to preach the word of God among all this people, according to the spirit of revelation and prophecy,…” (Alma 8:24) Alma never used a missionary guide book.
The Latter-day Saints let the Spirit dictate in all of their meetings as Apostle George A. Smith said:
With the Latter-day Saints the idea of writing sermons or preparing addresses beforehand is entirely discarded; it never was practiced amongst them. (J.D. 13:292)
And President Wilford Woodruff added:
It is well known to the Latter-day Saints–though perhaps not to strangers that no Elder or member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-tay Saints who enters into this Tabernacle knows who is going to be called upon to speak to the people. Hence no man spends a week, a day, an hour, or a moment to prepare a discourse to deliver unto the people. We are all of us dependent upon the Spirit of the Lord, upon revelation, upon inspiration, upon the Holy Ghost, in order to be qualified to teach the people before whom we are called to speak,… (J.D. 24:236)
False prophets must depend on their worldly education for their sermons. You can spot those impostors everywhere you see them, reading their sermons. This is a key by which they are known:
Hence the folly of sermons written beforehand; and unless the written beforehand sermons are by revelation, or prophecy, all men the world over, may know when they hear a sermon read from the pulpit, that God has no hand in that matter; and the preacher is not sent of God; and is not God’s servant. (Editorial, Des. News, Sept. 4, 1852)
Readers of sermons do not teach by the Holy Ghost. They do not speak by the Holy Ghost. They are “not sent of God” and certainly “God has no hand” in any of their sermons.
NINTH: False prophets do not enjoy the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
A false prophet claims to be the vicar of Christ, or His prophet, seer, and revelator. Yet there is almost no evidence that he is. He does not have the gift of translation, the gift of tongues; he has no seer stone or Urim and Thummim; he never speaks with the gift of prophecy and has that prophecy fulfilled; he bears no testimony of seeing angels or having visions, nor has he ever talked face to face with God or Christ. True prophets have said:
Because faith is wanting, the fruits are. No man since the world was had faith without having something along with it. A man who has none of the gifts has no faith; and he deceives himself, if he supposes he has. (Joseph Smith, TPJS, p. 270)
 …all these gifts of which I have spoken, which are spiritual, never will be done away, even as long as the world shall stand, only according to the unbelief of the children of men.*** And wo be unto the children of men if this be the case; for there shall be none that doeth good among you, no not one. (Moroni 10:19, 25)
…and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief,… (Moroni 7:37)
False prophets are impostors. They claim things which they do not have. They make a pretext of being close to God and enjoying His gifts, but they have failed to be blessed with such gifts. Because the gifts of the Spirit are absent, so are the influence and power of God.
TENTH: False prophets honor the laws of the land over the laws of God.
False prophets do not condemn many of the sins of people, states and nations, nor the folly of other false prophets. On the contrary, they seek their fellowship and association. False prophets find great happiness in the good will and friendship of the world. Instead of persecution, they sacrifice principles of the gospel to obtain these happy associations. Their counsel is to encourage business according to the practices of the world and sustain every law of the land, no matter if it be unjust, unrighteous or against the gospel of Jesus Christ.
When this problem arose with the disciples of Christ, it was resolved: “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)
This is evident, for we know that “He who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory.” (D. & C. 88:22)
Abraham, Daniel and the three Hebrews were all breakers of the law of the land. True prophets live by the laws of God even if they must suffer the consequences of breaking the laws of men. False prophets are willing to abandon the laws of God and justify it by “obeying the laws of the land.”
True prophets exhibit courage as Joseph Smith did when he said:
It mattereth not whether the principle is popular or unpopular, I will always maintain a true principle, even if I stand alone in it. (D.H.C. 6:223)
The Prophet also wrote:
We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul. (D. & C. 134:4)
 ELEVENTH: False prophets are wolves that scatter the sheep.
False prophets tell the sheep, or the Saints of God, to remain in their native countries and “by so doing, the kingdom of God can grow and prosper and that God will bless them for doing so.” But God never said that. In latter-day revelation, it is recorded that:
…God will gather out the Saints from the Gentiles, and then comes desolation and destruction, and none can escape except the pure in heart who are gathered. (D.H.C. 2:52)
The gathering of the Saints is a very important item of our faith. It is founded upon divine revelation, both ancient and modern. *** None of the Saints can be dilatory upon this subject, and still retain the Spirit of God. To neglect or be indifferent about gathering is just as displeasing in the sight of God as to neglect or be indifferent about baptism for the remission of sins. (Mill. Star 10:241)
If men have not the spirit of gathering, they are blind and cannot see afar off, and are nigh unto burning. (Mill. Star 9:310)
The keys of gathering were given to Joseph Smith in the Kirtland Temple by Moses to gather the house of Israel. Those keys were never taken back, so the commandment of gathering is still in force. Furthermore, they were to gather “in unto one place upon the face of this land.” (D. & C. 29:8) The gathering must continue until the destruction of the wicked occurs.
When the Gospel went forth among the people, after the appearance of Moses in the Temple, and the committing of the Keys of the Gathering, when you Latter-day Saints received the Gospel of baptism for remission of sins and the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost, you also received the spirit of the gathering. (John Taylor, J.D. 19:125)
True prophets have given the warning:
What is Babylon? Why, it is the confused world; come out of her then, and cease to partake of her sins, for if you do not, you will be partakers of her plagues. (Brigham Young, J.D. 12:282)
It is the word and commandment of the Lord to his servants that they shall never do another day’s work, nor spend another dollar to build up a Gentile city or nation. (Joseph Smith, J.D. 11:294-5)
But false prophets scatter the sheep of Israel leaving them to be destroyed with the wicked nations of the earth. And God has said, “Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord.” (Jer. 23:1) Then God proceeds to tell these wicked pastors that He will bring the evil of their doing upon them.
God wants His people to be together, unitedly living every higher principle of the Gospel, but the false prophets encourage them to live with the rest of the world in a scattered condition.
 TWELFTH: False prophets do not bring people to God.
Since false prophets have never seen or talked to God, it is certain they can never show anyone else how to do so. The mission of a true prophet is to teach others how to enjoy the gifts, powers and personal manifestation of their Savior, Jesus Christ. True prophets tell people how to get such revelations for themselves. False prophets, on the other hand, tell people they themselves will get all the necessary revelations. But Joseph Smith said;
Reading the experience of others, or the revelation given to them, can never give us a comprehensive view of our condition and true relation to God. (T.P.J.S., p. 324)
And President Brigham Young added:
Without revelation direct from heaven, it is impossible for any person to understand fully the plan of salvation…. I say that the living Oracles of God, or the Spirit of revelation, must be in each and every individual, to know the plan of salvation and keep in the path that leads them to the presence of God. (Disc. of Brigham Young, p. 58)
(NOTE: He gives the definition of “living oracles” as being the spirit of revelation–it is not man.)
God also has given many reasons for men to receive direct revelation from Him, but the foremost reason was “That every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world.” (D. & C. 1:20)
President Heber C. Kimball prophesied that a testing time was coming when men could not simply put their trust in their leaders to show them the way to God. He said:
To meet the difficulties that are coming, it will be necessary for you to have a knowledge of the truth of this work for yourselves. The difficulties will be of such a character that the man or woman who does not possess this personal knowledge or witness will fall. *** The time will come when no man nor woman will be able to endure on borrowed light. Each will have to be guided by the light within himself. (Life of Heber C. Kimball, pp. 460-61; also Golden Kimball, p. 365)
And President Joseph F. Smith said that particular testing time had arrived:
The time has arrived in the history of this people when every Latter-day Saint must stand on his own responsibility as a tub stands on its own bottom; . . . (Truth 2:88; September 1903)
Since we are no longer tested with mobs, armies, crickets, famine, poverty, unjust laws, hostile Indians, etc., it is evident that we are undergoing another kind of test. The only test that we can ascertain now is  that of deception. Every member must assume the responsibility of receiving revelation for his own guidance. True prophets do not bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost on new members for guidance and then tell them to “follow the brethren.”
THIRTEENTH: False prophets do not honor personal rights of freedom.
During the Dark Ages men were told by their ecclesiastical leaders that they must believe what they were told to believe or they would be punished. If members of the Church were suspected of believing something other than what the Church taught, they were told to sign prepared documents. These statements of belief had to be signed or they would suffer excommunication.
False prophets still use this mode of coercion and compulsion. However, those who use these wicked tactics are stripped of their priesthood, if they have any . (See D. & C. 121:37) Instead of opposing tyranny, they practice it. Free men can live by pure reason, the scriptures and the dictates of the Holy Ghost; but these things expose the false prophets. For this reason, phony prophets must dominate the thinking and beliefs of the people. The quickest and surest way to make men conform to their mandates is to force them to sign these prepared documents of belief. Sometimes they are brave enough to call them in privately and question them. But coercion and extortion of the mind is the false prophet’s objective and his only defense.
The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do, only by the force of reasoning.” (T.P.J.S. p. 313) He demonstrated this in the case of Peliah Brown who was called in by the High Council and questioned on his interpretations of the Bible:
I did not like the old man being called up for erring in doctrine. It looks too much like the Methodist, and not like the Latter-day Saints. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be asked out of their church. I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please. It feels so good not to be trammelled. It does not prove that a man is not a good man because he errs in doctrine. (D.H.C. 5:340)
True prophets respect the freedom of conscience. They affirm that the Spirit of God is the spirit of freedom. A true prophet will never enter into the sacred precincts of the mind; but a false prophet always does.
FOURTEENTH: False prophets are known by their fruits.
Jesus taught his disciples to judge a tree by its fruit. Rotten fruit, or a wicked society, reflects the kind of leadership that it comes from. A society filled with crime and corruption is a reflection upon the kind of leadership that either created it or else tolerates it. False prophets dwell in the midst of the wicked and the worldly. Their environment is identified by the same abominations as any other gentile city of Babylon. The crimes of murder, rape, adultery, robbery, dope addiction, add every other kind of corruption that plagues the rest of the nations, will also be found around false prophets. Even businesses, schools, entertainment, fashions, etc., are molded after the devil’s gentile system. False prophets either do nothing, or can do nothing, to change it.
 These worldly attributes were practically unknown in Salt Lake City for many years after they settled this valley. However, there has been a gradual change, as Joseph F. Smith noted many years ago.
There was a time when we could walk up and down the streets and tell by the very countenances of men whether they were Latter-day Saints, or not; but can you do it now? You cannot, unless you have greater discernment and more of the Spirit and power of God than I have. Why? Because many are trying as hard as they can to transform themselves into the very shape, character and spirit of the world. (J.D. 11:310)
And things have gradually been getting worse, even since his day. In a speech by Eugene E. Campbell entitled “This Was the Place”, in July 23, 1959, he observed:
Utah is rapidly succumbing to the wave of uniformity that has been growing in the nation. Our system of transportation, communication, our nation-wide T.V., radio, chain stores, packaged food, theater chains, clothing styles, are rapidly ending our uniqueness. We are no longer a peculiar people. (“Speeches of the Year,” Extension Publications, p. 9)
By the fruits of Salt Lake City’s society, it appears that false prophets have slipped in amongst us. Wolves in sheep’s clothing have entered into the flock, and probably not with the Shepherd’s permission.
True prophets seek for Zion. The definition was explained by the Lord who called His people Zion, “because they were of one heart, and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there were no poor among them.” (Moses 7:18) Here in the Salt Lake Valley, it is evident that we are not all of one heart and mind; we certainly do not dwell in righteousness; and there are plenty of poor among us (spiritual and financial). Therefore, we are not in Zion. True prophets either lead the elect of God out of Babylon–or else manifest enough power and righteousness to change it into a Zion.
In conclusion, to summarize these fundamentals, they are:
- False prophets always teach infallibility.
- False prophets teach and practice priestcraft.
- False prophets place their teachings above the scriptures.
- False prophets live by worldly standards.
- False prophets contradict eternal doctrines of the Gospel.
- False prophets try to be the mediator between man and Cod.
- False prophets cannot say “Thus saith the Lord.”
- False prophets do not speak by power of the Holy Ghost.
- False prophets do not enjoy the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
- False prophets honor the laws of the land over the laws of God.
- False prophets are wolves that scatter the sheep.
- False prophets do not bring people to God.
- False prophets do not honor personal rights of freedom.
- False prophets are known by their fruits.
 The principles the Gospel of Jesus Christ are eternal, everlasting and unchangeable. But how strange that men who follow a false prophet will raise their hand to sustain every change he makes in the unchangeable gospel. They condemn every other church for having made such blunders; but when their false prophet does it, then it becomes a divine proclamation. Every dispensation has claimed their leaders could never fail them, never lead them astray, and never introduce an apostate doctrine; but they all enjoyed the fruits of apostasy. In our dispensation, even Joseph Smith was warned that if he was not careful, he would fall. (See D. & C. 5:21; 35:18; 64:5-7; 93:47) Hence, we can certainly see the possibility of any other man being susceptible to the same temptations and weaknesses. The Prophet Joseph warned the Saints that such would happen when he declared:
And if any man preach any other Gospel than that which I have preached, he shall be cursed; and some of you who now hear me shall see it, and know that I testify the truth concerning them. (Historical Record 7:548)
Also, Jesus warned His disciples that they, too, could fall. Even the possibility of the leader of the Church could fail in his duty:
And if shine eye which seeth for thee, him that is appointed to watch over thee to show thee light, become a transgressor and offend thee, pluck him out. It is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God, with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. (Mark 9:46-47; Inspired Trans.)
The Savior never told the people to “follow Peter because he holds all the keys.” Peter had enough of his own weaknesses to cope with; he didn’t need others to give him theirs. Besides, Jesus never forfeited His right of being the Good Shepherd to the flock.
Deception is one of the crucial instruments used by the devil, through his false prophets. But Joseph Smith gave many keys for the Saints to use if they were not mentally lazy or spiritually dead. If they will apply these keys, they can avoid the penalty and plight of the deceived. As already mentioned, Joseph said:
A key: Every principle proceeding from God is eternal and any principle which is not eternal is of the devil. (T.P.J.S., p. 181)
He also said that one of the signs of a false angel or prophet is “by his contradicting a former revelation.” (TPJS, p. 215) Furthermore, “If there is no change of ordinances, there is no change of Priesthood.” (TPJS, p. 158) Therefore, it follows that if there is a change of ordinances then there is a change, or loss, of the Priesthood.
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)
The Prophet was very clear in his concern for the Latter-day Saints and he warned them:
 …do not betray the revelations of God, whether in Bible, Book of Mormon, or Doctrine and Covenants, or any other that ever was or ever will be given…lest innocent blood be found upon your skirts, and you go down to hell. (TPJS, p. 156)
Putting trust in a false prophet is like the strange group of people that went searching after the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Lacking certain qualities in their own character, they sought for the Wizard to provide them. The Wizard was acclaimed to possess all the wonderful powers of the universe. In their vain delusion, they all went merrily down the yellow brick road to the Land of Oz. Finally they reached their destiny but fate revealed the Wizard to be a fake. He was, after all, a mortal man like themselves. What a disappointment! Their hopes, desires and efforts were dashed to pieces at the exposure.
However, the great Oz had some redeeming qualities not found in false prophets. He told them that the potentials for intelligence, courage, etc., were within themselves if they would only use and develop them. Luckily for them, it was not too late to learn that lesson.
How similar will be the story of those who trusted their salvation in the arm of some mortal, thinking that they could be exalted merely by following him. It was revealed to Joseph Smith that the Terrestrial Kingdom was filled with people who were the “honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men.” (D. & C. 76:75)
Like Esau of old, they will awaken to an everlasting sorrow that they were willing to be satisfied with a mess of pottage rather than the rich inheritance they could have had. For this reason the heathen gods of wood and stone are less dangerous than the false prophets who lead people into deception.
True prophets give people more spiritual advice than to paint their barns and fix their fences. Their whole objective is to move the people into establishing the Kingdom of God, building up a Zion, and redeeming the New Jerusalem.
Who then are the people who will avoid these calamities? The Lord said:
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 cast into the fire, but shall abide the day. (D. & C. 45:57)
We also know that the day is coming when all the false prophets will be exposed for the Lord said:
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)
 In that day men will say to their fellowmen, “seek after God”, instead of “follow the leader”. Then we will know that men are led by the Holy Ghost and are helping others to be led by the Holy Ghost. Those then who pilot the Old Ship Zion will also be led of God.
cc: Members of the First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve Apostles
THE POLYGAMY OF
DAVID and SOLOMON
FROM TRIUMPH TO TRAGEDY
A RESPONSE TO
“THE GRAND DELUSION”
The following letter was written in response to a pamphlet entitled “The Grand Delusion” by Archie Wood of Pocatello, Idaho. Mr. Wood used several arguments against some of the early Mormon doctrines, such as polygamy, baptism for the dead, and others.
He used the quotation from Jacob 2:23-24 in the Book of Mormon (referring to David and Solomon) to help prove his case against plural marriage. This scriptural passage has been used by many anti-Mormons, semi-apostate Mormons, Reorganites, and other offshoots, but it has seldom been properly explained. Therefore, this letter is a short treatise to help clarify this subject that has been misunderstood by so many.
Plural marriage has been and will continue to be a sacred and eternal doctrine of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
 December 1986
Mr. Archie Wood
P.O. Box 2014
Pocatello, Idaho 83206-2014
I recently finished reading about your “Grand Delusion.” It was very interesting–and for a considerable portion of it, I was in agreement. However, when you said that we should “consider how great this sin of polygamy was,” that it was “a sin of unchastity,” and a great “evil”, then I realized that the grand delusion was even greater than you had supposed.
It is obvious that you have overlooked some very important facts of Biblical history. These should be seriously considered before any condemnation of plural marriage can be justified.
First, we have been warned by Paul that in the last days “God shall send them strong delusion . . . that they all might be damned who believed not the truth….” (II Thes. 2:11-12) It’s certainly bad enough when the devil is globe-trotting with his deceptions, but when God gets into such a program, then we know that few will escape.
You referred to the Book of Mormon in which there will be “none save a few only” that shall escape, and even the “churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted.” (Mormon 8:36) The Lord repeats this in our time by saying, “And my vineyard has become corrupted every whit; and there is none which doeth good save it be a few; . . .” (D & C 33:4)
Well, it is evident today that the nations of the earth, the United States, the State of Utah, the Protestants, Catholics, and the Mormon Church are ALL opposed to plural marriage–which is certainly not a FEW! Little wonder that this is such a grand delusion–they are rejecting the God of Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and Joseph Smith!
You mentioned several items in your pamphlet as the basis for determining your grand delusion. I would like to respond to many of them; but for lack of time, I will discuss only one.
The basis of your first argument against plural marriage was God’s rebuke against two kings in Israel: “David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord. . .” (Jacob 2:24); and then you quote, “David’s wives and concubines were given unto him of me, by the hand of my servant Nathan. . . .” (D & C 132:39) You then proceed with “It is overwhelmingly apparent that both D & C 132:38-39 and Jacob 2:23-24, 27-28, cannot both be true at the same time, for they both claim divine authorship,” and “It is clear to us then that both these scriptures contradict each other on the subject of polygamy.”
 Not so! You quoted the answer to this puzzle when you said they “cannot both be true at the same time.” When Nathan gave David plural wives, it was with God’s consent and favor; but later when he took them against God’s will, then he was unworthy of them and it was 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 the holy sacrament can be the means for the unworthy to “eateth and drinketh damnation to himself.” (I Cor. 11:29)
When David and Solomon were in good favor with the Lord, He blessed them in every way, which included 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.
Therefore, let’s look further into the lives of David and Solomon and see just how and why they warranted such condemnations from the Lord.
The life of David can be divided into two 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 his 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 the Lord would “not leave my soul in hell.” (Psalms 16:10)
It must be understood at what point in David’s life he transgressed the law of the Lord. Was it in plural marriage, as you say? Or, was it 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 powers, 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 warmth to a house, or it can be the power to burn 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 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, it was an abomination for him. It is written in the Bible that David was a “man after God’s own heart;” (I Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22) but when he lusted after Uriah’s wife, he no longer lived “after God’s own heart.” When he was living a righteous life, God said to 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, as well.
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 the prophet then pronounced a curse upon David and his household–and for what? Certainly not polygamy! He quoted the Lord:
Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight? Thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and has taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast 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 was unworthy of those wives, but his neighbor apparently was worthy of them. Polygamy was not the issue–it was David’s sin in his dealings with Bathsheba and Uriah.
 When David committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband, Uriah, it was at that moment that the sword of vengeance came upon David. His illegitimate son died; his daughter was ravished by a half-brother; his eldest son Ammon 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. And why? Because of his sin against the house of Uriah.
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, 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.
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 men.
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 forms.
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 must 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 says:
. . . 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.
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 lifted 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.
O that he would rid you from this iniquity and abomination. And, O 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 fruit 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)
 Can you see from these verses what kind of people Jacob was condemning? 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 he shall have none;
For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts.
Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes.
For if 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)
It is apparent that the Lord may choose those whom he desires to live plural marriage, dependent upon their worthiness. Included here is a quote from Orson Pratt, who so 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 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 this subject. After having reminded the people of the commandment delivered by Lehi, in regard to monogamy, the Lord says–“For if I will raise up seed unto 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 Lehi. 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. (J.D. 13:191-192; Oct. 7, 1869)
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)
O 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, remember that ye may, because of your filthiness, bring your children unto destruction, and their sins be heaped upon your heads 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 transgression became an abomination to them just as it did to David and Solomon.
In reiterating the wickedness of the Nephites at this time, it becomes obvious why the Lord no longer wanted them to have plural wives: They “labor in sin,” “crimes,” “wickedness and abominations,” and “begun to search for gold, and for silver;” they were “lifted up in the pride of your hearts and wear stiff necks,” “and persecute your brethren because ye suppose that ye are better than they,” and “God condemneth you,” because of “iniquity and abomination.” Jacob continued, “The word of the Lord burthens me because of your grosser crimes,” and they “begin to wax in iniquity,” “seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms.” “Ye have come unto great condemnation;” “ye have done greater iniquities than the Lamanites;” and “lost the confidence of your children because of your bad examples.”
So, it becomes evident, then, that Jacob was talking to a people who were not worthy to live the sacred law of plural marriage. 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 Lamanites was foretold.
A similar grave warning has been given by the Lord to all great men:
 . . . 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 important, then, to realize the similarities that exist between the polygamy eventually lived by David and Solomon, and that of the people of Nephi at the time of Jacob.
The Lord mentions Solomon’s polygamy in conjunction with David, so it is necessary to also review his life and see what caused his downfall.
This son of David lived in luxury all his life. Me 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–the most peaceable and wealthy 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. 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 or desire.
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 known before.
For the first 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, 5:477-78)
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.
 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 signed with the rulers of other nations. 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 the temple’s 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 the 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 huge amounts of rare spices, jewels and 120 talents (1,224 pounds) of gold.
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. 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 intermarriage with other nations–the very thing that the Lord had warned him about.
There were certain 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 clave 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 house 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 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 means. (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 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 hath 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 thing–David became an adulterer and murderer, while his son 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, the abomination of their continuation of plural marriages.
* * *
In our dispensation that same law of plural marriage was revealed to Joseph Smith. Why? 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,  acknowledges 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 impostor. What consistency! A strange revolution this, that men should have recourse to our own works, whose authenticity they most emphatically deny, to 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 thereof, and this is a principle which, if 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 them 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.
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. (J.D.13:201, 205; Oct. 9, 1869)
 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 even a monogamous marriage. It certainly stands to reason that if men like David and Solomon, who gained the respect of God and man, were capable of failure in their marriages, then we know that all men can fail. Indeed, we may conclude by saying that only a “few” shall ever qualify for exaltation.
Much more could be said concerning these issues, but I hope this is sufficient for you to see the difference between the polygamy that is sanctioned in righteousness and that which is unrighteous and abominable.
SEVEN DEADLY HERESIES
BYU FOURTEEN-STAKE FIRESIDE
June 1, 1980
Bruce R. McConkie
* * * * * * * * *
DID PRESIDENT BRIGHAM YOUNG TEACH
A Letter to Bruce R. McConkie
October 26, 1980
 SEVEN DEADLY HERESIES
By Bruce R. McConkie
BYU 14-Stake Fireside, Marriott Center
Sunday, June 1, 1980
When the announcement was made that I was a graduate of the University of Utah, a voice in the background spoke up, “That’s a forgiveable sin.” (laughter) I am pleased to certify that I have repented. (more laughter)
I have sought very diligently to be given utterance and have the guidance of the Spirit tonight in what I hope I will be able to say to you. I am going to depart from a normal and usual pattern and read portions of what is involved because I want to state temperately and accurately the views that I have and say them in a way that will not leave room for doubt or for question. I intend to speak on some matters that some would consider to be controversial. They ought not to be. There are things upon which we ought to be united, and proportionately as we are, we’ll make progress and advance and grow in the things of the spirit and prepare ourselves for a life of peace and happiness and joy here and for eventual eternal reward in the kingdom of our Father.
There is a song or a saying or a proverb or a legend or a tradition or something that speaks of seven deadly sins. I know nothing whatever about these and hope you do not.
My subject is one about which some of you unfortunately do know a little. It is the seven deadly heresies, not the great heresies of the lost and fallen Christendom, but some which have crept in among us. Now, I take a text. These words were written by Paul to ancient saints. In principle they apply to us. “I hear that there be divisions among you”, he said “and I partly believe it for there must be also heresies among you that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.” Now, let me list some axioms. I guess in academic circles we would call these caveats. There is no salvation in believing a false doctrine. Truth, diamond truth, truth unmixed with error, truth alone leads to salvation. What we believe determines what we do. No man can be saved in ignorance of God and His laws. Man is saved no faster than he gains knowledge of Jesus Christ and the saving truths of His everlasting gospel. Gospel doctrines belong to the Lord, not to men. They are His; He ordained them; He reveals them; and He expects us to believe them. The doctrines of salvation are not discovered in a laboratory or on a geological field trip or by accompanying Darwin around the world. They come by revelation and in no other way. Our sole concern in seeking truth should be to learn and believe what the Lord knows and believes. Providentially, He has set forth some of His views in the holy scriptures. Our goal as mortals is to gain the mind of Christ, to believe what He believes, to think what He thinks, to say what He says, to do what He does and to be as He is. We are called upon to reject all heresies and cleave unto all truth. Only then can we progress according to the divine plan. “Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.” (D & C 130:18-19) Please note that knowledge is gained by obedience. There are some things a sinful man does not and cannot know.
Now, may I suggest the list of heresies.
 Heresy No. 1 – There are those who say that God is progressing in knowledge and is learning new truths. This is false utterly, totally, and completely! There is not one sliver of truth in it. It grows out of a wholly twisted and incorrect view of the King Follett sermon and of what is meant by eternal progression. God progresses in the sense that His kingdoms increase and His dominions multiply, not in the sense that He learns new truths and discovers new laws. God is not a student. He is not a laboratory technician. He is not postulating new theories on the basis of past experiences. He has indeed graduated to that state of exaltation which consists of knowing all things and having all power. Now, the life God lives is named eternal life. His name, one of them, is Eternal and He applies that name to identify the type of life that He lives and eternal life is the goal that we are able to obtain if we believe and obey and walk uprightly before him. And eternal life consists of two things: life in the family unit and also of inheriting, receiving and possessing the fullness of the glory of the Father. Anyone who has each of those things is an inheritor and possessor of the greatest of all the gifts of God which is eternal life. And eternal progression consists in living the kind of life that God lives and of increasing in kingdoms and dominions everlastingly. Why anyone should suppose that an infinite and eternal being who has presided in our universe for almost two billion, 555 million (2,555,000,000) years, who made the sidereal heavens, whose creations are more numerous than the particles of the earth and who is aware of the fall of every sparrow, why anyone would suppose that such a being has more to learn and new truths to discover in the laboratories of eternity is totally beyond comprehension. Will He one day learn something that will destroy the plan of salvation and turn man and the universe into an uncreated nothingness? Will He discover a better plan of salvation than the one He has already given to men in worlds without number? I have been sorely tempted to say at this point that any who so suppose have the intellect of an ant. And the understanding of a clod of mirey clay in a primordial swamp. (laughter) But, of course, I would never say a thing like that. (more laughter)
The saving truth as revealed to and taught by the Prophet Joseph Smith is that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. He knows all things, has all power and is everywhere present by the power of His spirit and unless we know and believe this doctrine, we cannot gain faith unto life and salvation. Joseph Smith taught that three things are necessary in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation. These he named as: one, the idea that he actually exists; two, a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes; and three, an actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing is according to the divine will. The attributes of God are given as knowledge, faith or power, justice, judgment, mercy, and truth. The perfections of God are named as the perfections which belong to all of the attributes of his nature, which is to say, that God possesses and has all knowledge, all faith or power, all justice, all judgment, all mercy and all truth. He is, indeed, the very embodiment, personification and source of all these attributes. Does anyone suppose that God can be more honest than He already is? Neither need any suppose there are truths He does not know, or knowledge He does not possess. Thus Joseph Smith taught. Without the knowledge of all things, God would not be able to save any portion of His creatures, for it is by reason of the knowledge which He has of all things from the beginning to the end that enables him to give that understanding to His creatures by which they are made partakers of eternal life. And if it were not for the idea existing in the minds of men that God had all knowledge, it would be impossible for them to exercise faith in him. If God is just dabbling with a few truths He has already chanced to learn, or experimenting with a few facts He has already discovered, we have no idea as to the real end and purpose of creation.
 Heresy No. 2 – There are those who say that revealed religion and organic evolution can be harmonized. This is both false and devilish. Yes, all truth is in agreement, and true religion and true science bear the same witness. Indeed, in the true and full sense, true science is part of true religion, but there is no way to harmonize the false religions of the Dark Ages with the truths of science as they have now been discovered. And there is no way to harmonize the revealed religion which has come to us with the theoretical postulates of Darwinism and the divers speculations descending therefrom. Do not be deceived and led to believe that the famous document of the First Presidency issued in the day of President Joseph F. Smith and entitled, The Origin of Man means anything except exactly what it says. The saving doctrine is that Adam stood next to Christ in power and might and intelligence before the foundations of the world were laid. That Adam was placed on this earth as an immortal being. That there was no death in the world for him or for any form of life until after the fall. That the fall of Adam brought temporal and spiritual death into the world. That this temporal death passed upon all forms of life, upon man and animal, and fish, and fowl, and plant life. That Christ came to ransom man and all forms of life from the effects of the temporal death brought into the world through the fall, and, in the case of man, from a spiritual death also, and that this ransom includes a resurrection for man and for all forms of life. Try as you may, you cannot harmonize these things with the evolutionary postulate that death always existed and that the various forms of life have evolved from preceding forms over astronomically long periods of time. Try as you may, you cannot harmonize these things with the evolutionary postulate that death always existed and that the various forms of life have evolved from preceding forms over astronomically long periods of time. Try as you may, you cannot harmonize the theories of men with the inspired word that says: “And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed, he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the Garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end. And they, meaning Adam and Eve, would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin. But behold all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy. And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall.” (2 Nephi 2:22-26)
The atonement of Christ is the great and eternal foundation upon which revealed religion rests. No man can be saved unless he believes that our Lord’s atoning sacrifice brings immortality to all and eternal life to those who believe and obey. And no man can believe in the atonement unless he accepts both the divine sonship of Christ and the fall of Adam. If death has always prevailed in the world, there was no fall of Adam which brought death to all forms of life. If Adam did not fall, there is no need for an atonement. If there was no atonement, there is no salvation, no resurrection, no eternal life, nothing in all of the glorious promises that the Lord has given us. If there is no salvation, there is no God. The fall affects man, all forms of life, and the earth itself. The atonement affects man, all forms of life and the earth itself.
 Heresy No. 3 – There are those who say that temple marriage assures us of an eventual exaltation. Some have supposed that couples married in the temple who commit all manner of sin and who then pay the penalty will gain their exaltation eventually. This is contrary to the whole system and plan that the Lord has ordained under which we are privileged to work out our salvation with fear and trembling before him. If we believe and obey and enter the waters of baptism and make solemn covenant with the Lord to keep his commandments, we thereby get on a straight and narrow path which leads from the gates of repentance and baptism a very great distance to a reward that is called eternal life. And if we traverse the length of the path going upward and forward and onward keeping the commandments, loving the Lord and doing all that we ought to do, eventually we’ll be inheritors of that reward. And in exactly and precisely the same sense, celestial marriage is a gate that puts us on a path leading to exaltation in the highest heaven of the celestial world. And it is in that highest realm of glory and dignity and honor hereafter that the family unit continues and that those who so inherit receive the reward that is named eternal life. Baptism is a gate. Celestial marriage is a gate. When we get on the path, we are obligated to keep the commandments. And my suggestion in this field is that you go to the temple and listen to a ceremony of celestial marriage, paying particular and special attention to the words and learn what the promises are that are given, particularly learning that all of the promises given are conditioned upon the subsequent compliance with all of the terms and conditions of that order of matrimony.
Heresy No. 4 – There are those who believe that the doctrine of salvation for the dead offers men a second chance for salvation. This is false! false! false! I know a man, now deceased, a non-member of the Church who was a degenerate old reprobate, who found pleasure, as he supposed, in living after the manner of the world. A cigarette dangled from his lips, alcohol stanched his breath, and profane and vulgar stories defiled his lips. His mortal status left much to be desired. His wife was a member of the church, as faithful as she could be under the circumstances. One day she said to him, “You know the church is true; why don’t you be baptized?” He replied, “Of course I know the church is true, but I have no intention of changing my habits in order to join it. I prefer to live the way I do, but that doesn’t worry me in the slightest. I know that as soon as I die you will have someone go to the temple and do the work for me and everything will come out all right in the end, anyway.” He died and she did and it was a total and complete waste of time. There is no such thing as a second chance to gain salvation. This life is the time and the day of our probation. “After this day of life which is given us to prepare for eternity, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.” (Alma 34:33) For those who do not have an opportunity to believe and obey the holy word in this life, the first chance to gain salvation will come in the spirit world. If those who hear the word for the first time in the realms ahead are the kind of people who would have accepted the gospel here, had the opportunity been afforded, they will accept it there. Salvation for the dead is for those whose first chance to gain salvation is in the spirit world.
Now in the new revelation recently added to our canon of holy writ, these words come: “Thus came the voice of the Lord unto me saying, all who have died without a knowledge of this gospel who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God. Also, all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it, who would have received it with all their hearts shall be heirs of that kingdom. For I the Lord will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts.” (D & C 137:7-9) There is no other promise of salvation than the one recited in that revelation. Those who reject the gospel in this life and then receive it in the spirit world go nor to the celestial but to the terrestrial kingdom.
 Heresy No. 5 – There are those who say that there is progression from one kingdom to another in the eternal worlds. Or if not that, lower kingdoms eventually progress to where higher kingdoms once were. This is worse than false. (laughter) It is an evil and pernicious doctrine. It lulls men into a state of carnal security. “If we do not gain the celestial kingdom now, eventually we will. So why worry?” It lets people live a life of sin here and now with the hope that they will be saved eventually. The true doctrine is that all men will be resurrected, but they will come forth in the resurrection with different kinds of bodies, some celestial, others terrestrial, others telestial and some with bodies incapable of standing any degree of glory. The body we receive in the resurrection determines the glory we receive in the kingdoms that are prepared. Of those in the telestial world it is written: “And they shall be servants of the Most High; but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end.” (D & C 76:112) Of those who remain unmarried in eternity the revelation says: “Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven; which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory.” (D & C 132:16) Let me amend that, amend what I said. That is–referring to people who had opportunity to be married right in this life and who were not. And of them the revelation continues: “For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from hence forth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever.” (D & C 132:17) They neither progress from one kingdom to another nor does a lower kingdom ever get where a higher kingdom once was. Whatever eternal progression there is, is in a sphere.
Heresy No. 6 – There are those who believe, or say they believe, that Adam is our father and our God, that he is the father of our spirits and our bodies, and that he is the one we worship. The devil keeps this heresy alive as a means of obtaining converts to cultism. It is contrary to the whole plan of salvation set forth in the scriptures. Anyone who has read the Book of Moses and anyone who has received the temple endowment and who yet believes the Adam-God theory does not deserve to be saved. Those ensnared by it reject the living prophet and close their ears to the apostles of their day. “We will follow those who went before,” they say. And having so determined they are soon ready to enter polygamous relationships which destroy their souls. We worship the Father in the name of the Son by the power of the Holy Ghost, and Adam is their foremost servant by whom the peopling of our planet commenced.
Heresy No. 7 – There are those who believe we must be perfect to gain salvation. This is not really a great heresy, only a doctrinal misunderstanding which I mention here in order to help round out our discussion and to turn our attention from negative to positive things. If we keep two principles in mind, we will thereby know that good and faithful members of the Church will be saved even though they are far from perfect in this life. These two principles are: one, that this life is the appointed time for men to prepare to meet God; this life is the day of our probation; and two, that same spirit which possesses our bodies at the time we go out of this mortal life shall have power to possess our bodies in that eternal world. Now what we’re doing as members of the church is charting a course leading to eternal life. There was only one perfect being–the Lord Jesus. If men had to be perfect and live all of the laws strictly, wholly, and completely, there would be one saved person only in eternity. The Prophet said there are many things to be done even beyond the grave in working out our salvation. And so what we do in this life is chart a course leading to eternal life. We determine in our heart and in our soul with all the power and ability that we have that from this time forward, we will press on in righteousness so that we can go where God and  Christ are. And if we’ve made that determination and we’re in the course of our duty when this life is over, we will continue in that course in eternity because the same spirit that possesses our bodies at the time we depart this mortal life will have power to possess our bodies in that eternal world. And if we go out of this life loving the Lord and desiring righteousness and seeking to acquire the attributes of godliness, we’ll have that same spirit in the eternal world and we will continue to advance and progress until an ultimate, destined day when we’ll possess, receive, and inherit all things.
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Now, I do not say these are the greatest heresies that prevail among us. It seems to me that quite likely there are other things also that could be added, but my suggestion is that we become students of the holy writ, that we conform our thinking and our beliefs to what is found in the Standard Works, that we have less concern about the views and opinions that others have expressed, and that we drink deeply from the fountain that the Lord has given us, and that we come to an understanding on the points of his doctrine. And if we pursue such a course, we’ll find that it is in a different direction than the one that the world goes in, but we will not be concerned with the intellectual expressions of other people. We’ll soon obtain for ourselves the witness of the spirit that we’re pursuing the right course and seeking righteousness and this will have a cleansing and sanctifying and edifying influence upon us.
Now, just to have things in perspective, let me mention the three greatest heresies that prevail in all Christendom. They do not prevail among us, fortunately. The greatest truth known to man is there is a God in heaven who is infinite and eternal— that he’s the creator, upholder, and preserver of all things–that he created us and the sidereal heavens and ordained and established a plan of salvation whereby we might advance and progress and become like him. The great truth pertaining to him is that he is our Father in Heaven–that he has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s–that he is a literal person. And that if we believe and obey his laws, we can gain the exaltation which he possesses. Now that is the greatest truth and the most glorious concept known to the human mind. And the reverse of it is the greatest heresy in all of Christendom. The reverse is that God is a spirit essence, three beings in one, a spirit nothingness that fills the immensity of space. The reverse of it is the heresy that is written in the creeds that are had in the churches of the world.
Now, the second greatest truth in all eternity is that which pertains to the divine sonship of the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s that he was foreordained in the councils of eternity to come down here and be the Redeemer of men. To come and ransom men from the indicated temporal and spiritual death brought upon them by the fall of Adam. The second greatest truth is that Christ worked out this infinite and eternal atoning sacrifice so that all men are raised in immortality, and those who believe and obey are raised also unto eternal life. Now, the opposite of that is the second greatest heresy in all Christendom. And the opposite to that is man is saved by some kind of lip service, by the grace of God supposedly without work and without effort on their part.
 Now, the third greatest truth known to mankind, the third greatest in all eternity is that the Holy Spirit of God is a revelator and a sanctifier. That he is a personage of spirit. That his assigned ministry and work in the eternal Godhead is to bear record of the Father and of the Son, to reveal them and their truths to men. And that his work is to be a sanctifier to cleanse and perfect human souls, to burn dross and evil out of human souls as though by fire. We call that the baptism of fire. Now, the opposite of that is the third greatest heresy in all Christendom, which is that revelation has ceased, that God’s mouth is closed, that the Holy Ghost no longer inspires men, that the gifts of the spirit were done away with the ancient apostles and that we no longer follow the course that they charted.
Well, I have named these things I think you will want to weigh and evaluate. I think you will want to ponder and wonder and search the scriptures. After Jesus had been teaching, as a resurrected person, the Nephites, giving them as much truth as in his wisdom he felt they could absorb at one time, he counseled them to go to their homes and to ponder in their hearts the things he had said, and to pray to the Father in his name to find out if they were true, and then to come again on the morrow and he would teach them more. Well, that’s a pattern as to how we ought to operate in the church. We come together in congregations, seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit, studying the revelations, reading the scriptures and hearing expressions of doctrine and counsel given by those who are appointed. These teachings ought to be given by the power of the Holy Spirit. They ought to be received by the same power. And if they are, then the speaker and the hearer will be mutually edified and we’ll have a situation of true and proper worship. And then when the meeting is over, the “Amen” should not end it. We should go to our homes and to our families and in our circles and we should search out the revelations and find out what the Lord has said on the subjects involved. And we should seek to get in tune with the Holy Spirit and gain a witness not alone of the truth and divinity of the work in which we are engaged, but of the doctrines that are taught by those who preach to us. We come into these congregations and sometimes the speaker brings a jug of living water that has in it many gallons. And he pours it out on the congregation and all that the members brought was a single cup and that’s all that they took away. Or, maybe they had their hand over the cup and they didn’t get anything to speak of. Now, in other instances, we have meetings where a speaker comes and all he brings is a little cup of eternal truth and the members of the congregation come with a large jug and all they get in their jug is the little dribble that came from a man who should have known better and who should have prepared himself and taught from the revelations and spoken by the power of the Holy Spirit. We’re obligated in the church to speak by the power of the Spirit. We’re commanded to treasure up the words of light and truth and then give forth the portion that is appropriate and needful on every occasion.
Now I have deliberately read portions of my talk tonight because I wanted the words to be the way you heard them so that I would be on record on the matters that are involved and so that as far as I am concerned the word would have been said in the plainness that I have given it and those who hear would then be accountable themselves for their reaction to it.
I do not think that heresies as we have named them are common in the church. I think that the great generality of the members of the Church believe and understand the doctrines and seek to apply the principles to their lives. Unfortunately, there are a few people who agitate and stir these matters up and  have some personal ax to grind or desire to spread philosophies of their own that, as near as the judges in Israel can discern, are not in harmony with the mind and will and purposes of the Lord. It is incumbent upon us to believe the truth. We have the obligation to find out what is true and then we have the obligation to walk in the light and to apply the truths that we have learned to ourselves and to influence others to do likewise. Now, the glorious and wonderous thing about this whole system of revealed religion that the Lord our God has given us is the fact that it’s true. There isn’t a grander, a more glorious, a more wonderous concept than the simple one that the work in which we are engaged is true. And because it’s true, it will triumph and prevail. And the knowledge of God and His truths will roll forth until they cover the whole earth as the waters cover the sea. We do not expect to have a perfect society among us until the Millennial Day dawns, and that is not far distant. And when that day comes, we will all, as the scriptures say, see eye to eye and speak with one voice and the Lord himself will dwell among us. He could not dwell among us now because we’re divided and we’re not living in that perfect harmony and unity and with that devotion that prevailed among the saints in the days of the City of Enoch.
God grant that we may be wise in what we do, that we may seek truth, that we may live truth, that we may bear testimony of the truth, that we may as a consequence have the joy and peace and happiness that comes to people who so do, have it here and now, and thus be inheritors in due course and eventually of eternal reward in our Father’s kingdom. This is my prayer for myself and for all of you, and for all of the members of the church, and for honest truth seekers everywhere, and I offer it in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
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 PART II
October 26, 1980
Elder Bruce R. McConkie
Church Office Building
47 East South Temple
Salt Lake City, Utah 84103
Dear Elder McConkie:
I recently received a copy of your lecture to the Fourteen-Stake Fireside at the Marriott Center concerning the Seven Heresies which you said had crept into the Church. It is apparent that you believe these heresies have been in the Church for nearly 150 years, because some of the early presidents of the Church advocated them.
You listed seven heresies in your remarks, but I would like to write to you concerning only the first one. In Heresy No. 1 you said, “There are those who say that God is progressing in knowledge and is learning new truths. This is false utterly, totally, and completely!” Then you added, “I have been sorely tempted to say at this point that any who so suppose have the intellect of an ant and the understanding of a clod of mirey clay in a primordial swamp.”
You undoubtedly were referring to President Brigham Young, as he was the principle advocate of that doctrine and taught it all his life. I would like to quote from some of his sermons on this subject for an understanding of how he could get into that “mirey clay” of such a peculiar “swamp”.
To begin with, the President presented his opinion in the following expression:
Could we live to the age of Methuselah, and eat the fruits which the earth would produce in her strength, as did Adam and Eve before the transgression, and spend our lives in searching after the principles of eternal life, we would find, when one eternity had passed to us, that we had been but children thus far, babies just commencing to learn the things which pertain to the eternities of the Gods.
We might ask, when shall we cease to learn? I will give you my opinion about it: NEVER, NEVER. (JD 3:202)
Brigham Young reflected upon the knowledge that he himself was gaining when he added, “–the more I learn, the more I discern an eternity of knowledge to improve upon.” (JD 7:162) Hence, as a man grows in knowledge, the more it compounds and expands into further knowledge without an end. Apostle Lorenzo Snow reasoned this same point of view by applying this knowledge to both the present time and the eternities:
 Now, when a person receives intelligence from the Lord, and is willing to communicate that for the benefit of the people, he will receive continual additions to that intelligence; and there is no end to his increase so long as he will hold fast to the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ; and so long as he will hold himself in readiness to operate here, go there, and work for the Lord, travel abroad to the nations of the earth, or to travel among the mountains of Israel, that individual is bound to become strong and mighty in the power of God and in the intelligence of eternity. (JD 5:64)
Brigham said that man, angels and God may all be perfect in their sphere, but that it did not limit their growth in perfection.
We are now, or may be, as perfect in our sphere as God and Angels are in theirs, but the greatest intelligence in existence can continually ascend to greater heights of perfection. (JD 1:93)
Brigham was not as descriptive as you are about people who had contrary beliefs, but he did say that all those who believed that God could not progress in knowledge were “shrouded in ignorance” and were darkened in understanding.
I know that we have been taught from our infancy, and it is now a popular doctrine with all the denominations of the Christians of the nineteenth century, that, when the mortal tenement is committed to the grave, there is an end of all further progress in intelligence and learning with regard to this probation.
On the other hand, if we are striving with all the powers and faculties God has given us to improve upon our talents, to prepare ourselves to dwell in eternal life, and the grave receives our bodies while we are thus engaged, with what disposition will our spirits enter their next state? They will be still striving to do the things of God, only in a much greater degree–learning, increasing, growing in grace and in the knowledge of the truth.
The people called Christians are shrouded in ignorance, and read the Scriptures with darkened understandings (JD 7:333)
From these above words of Brigham Young, we learn that the theory you advocate is one that is commonly taught by the sectarian ministers of modern Christianity. He further said he did not believe that we could put bounds on God.
It has been stated that God our Father comprehends eternity, from eternity to eternity, all there is, all there was, all there ever can be about eternity, in and through its. When a person undertakes to establish such a doctrine, what does he do? He gives bounds to that eternity which he at the same time admits to be boundless. Admit such doctrine, and eternity flees away like the shadow of morning; and that is as much as I ever teach about it. (JD 8:17)
But let’s suppose that man’s eternal progression in knowledge should reach a stopping point. What then? Brigham Young conceived of such a condition and further explained those consequences. Said he:
 Life is an accumulation of every property and principle that is calculated to enrich, to ennoble, to enlarge, and to increase, in every particular, the dominion of individual man. To me, life would signify an extension. I have the privilege of spreading abroad, of enlarging my borders, of increasing in endless knowledge, wisdom, and power, and in every gift of God.
To live as I am, without progress, is not life; in fact, we may say that is impossible. There is no such principle in existence, neither can there be. All organized existence is in progress, either to an endless advancement in eternal perfections, or back to dissolution. You may explore all the eternities that have been, were it possible, then come to that which we now understand according to the principles of natural philosophy, and where is there an element, an individual living thing, an organized body of whatever nature, that continues as it is? It cannot be found. All things that have come within the bounds of man’s limited knowledge–the things he naturally understands, teach him that there is no period, in all the eternities, wherein organized existence will become stationary, that it cannot advance in knowledge, wisdom, power and glory. (JD 1:349)
Then he concluded by adding:
If a man could ever arrive at the point that would put an end to the accumulation of life–the point at which he could increase no more, and advance no further, we should naturally say he commenced to decrease at the same point. Again, when he has gained the zenith of knowledge, wisdom, and power, it is the point at which he begins to retrograde; his natural abilities will begin to contract, and so he will continue to decrease, until all he knew is lost in the chaos of forgetfulness. As we understand naturally, this is the conclusion we must come to, if a termination to the increase of life, and the acquisition of knowledge is true.
Because of the weakness of human nature, it must crumble to the dust. But in all the revolutions and changes in the existence of men, in the eternal world which they inhabit, and in the knowledge they have obtained as people on the earth, there is no such thing as principle, power, wisdom, knowledge, life, position, or anything that can be imagined, that remains stationary–they must increase or decrease. To me, life is increase; death is the opposite. (JD 1:350; also Contributor 5:22)
Then Brigham Young introduced another thought. Consider this philosophical gem which may be overlooked by those who think there must be an end to gaining knowledge.
Those persons who strive to gain eternal life, gain that which will produce the increase their hearts will be satisfied with. Nothing less than the privilege of increasing eternally, in every sense of the word, can satisfy the immortal spirit. (JD 1:350)
 So, when knowledge comes to an end, boredom begins. There is only boredom and discontent when man is restricted and cannot improve, grow or increase his learning.
Then President Young adds another thought which relates to both the spiritual realm as well as the mortal. He said:
If the endless stream of knowledge from the eternal fountain could all be drunk in by organized intelligences, so surely immortality would come to an end, and all eternity be thrown upon the retrograde path. (JD 1:350)
Nearly all of the other leaders in the Church believed in a God that could progress in knowledge and glory. Apostle Erastus Snow also explained the necessity of increasing in knowledge and truth when he commented:
The more the mental faculties are brought into exercise, if it is not immoderate exercise, the more these faculties receive strength, and the greater powers of research are developed in that spirit; and where shall the end be?
There is no end to its increase of knowledge and truth, unless we turn round and go the other way; in other words, unless we persistently pursue the path of death and violate every law, both physical and mental, until we become dissolved. (JD 7:354)
Admittedly, it is possible for men to reach a point at which they cease to learn or gain knowledge, and some men do reach that undesirable position. But, if you understood what Brigham Young said on this matter, you probably wouldn’t be encouraging the members of the Church to anticipate such a state of existence. Brigham said:
If we continue to learn all that we can pertaining to the salvation which is purchased and presented to us through the Son of God, is there a time when a person will cease to learn? Yes, when he has sinned against God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Ghost–God’s minister; when he has denied the Lord, defied Him and committed the sin that in the Bible is termed the unpardonable sin–the sin against the Holy Ghost. That is the time when a person will cease to learn, and from that time forth, will descend in ignorance, forgetting that which they formerly knew, and decreasing until they return to the native element, whether it be one thousand or one million years, or during as many eternities as you can count. They will cease to increase, but must decrease, until they return to the native element. THESE ARE THE ONLY CHARACTERS WHO WILL EVER CEASE TO LEARN, BOTH IN TIME AND ETERNITY.
We shall never cease to learn, unless we apostatize from the religion of Jesus Christ. Then we shall cease to increase, and will continue to decrease and decompose, until we return to our native element. Can you understand that? It is a subject worthy of the attention of the eminent divines of Christendom, and they may search into it until they are tired, and still know comparatively little about it, while I preach it to you in a few words. (JD 3:203)
 If the sons of perdition are the only ones who cease to learn, then the theory you are advocating is not very desirable. I do not consider ceasing to learn as a part of Mormon Doctrine. I have always been taught that when we stop progressing, we are damned!
In your remarks regarding this “heresy”, you also stated that, “Neither need any suppose there are truths he [God] does not know, or knowledge he does not possess.” I believe the origin of this theory came from Orson Pratt, but he was censured by President Brigham Young for teaching it:
Some men seem as if they could learn so much and no more. They appear to be bounded in their capacity for acquiring knowledge, as Brother Orson Pratt has in theory bounded the capacity of God. According to his theory, God can progress no further in knowledge and power; but the God that I serve is progressing eternally, and so are his children; they will increase to all eternity if they are faithful. (JD 11:286)
The reference Brigham was speaking about came from Orson Pratt’s book called The Seer published in Washington D.C. in 1852. Pratt wrote:
Then we shall be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect–(Math. 5:48) then shall we be pure as He is pure, and holy as He is holy: then shall we know as we are known, and see as we are seen: then shall we be heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ in the inheritance of all things: then shall knowledge in part be done away, and we shall know in full: then there will be no knowledge, or truth, or wisdom in the heights above or in the depths beneath, or in the Heavens, or in the Heaven of Heavens, or in the immensity of space, or in the eternal ages of duration, but what we shall comprehend and know; then there will be no Being or Beings in existence that will know one particle more than what we know: then our knowledge, and wisdom, and power, will be infinite; and cannot, from thenceforth, be increased or expanded in the least degree; then we shall be Gods, because all the fulness of God will dwell within us.
- It has been most generally believed that the Saints will progress in knowledge to all eternity: But when they become one with the Father and Son, and receive a fulness of their glory, that will be the end of all progression in knowledge, because there will be nothing more to be learned. The Father and the Son do not progress in knowledge and wisdom, because they already know all things past, present, and to come. All that become like the Father and Son will know as much as they do, and consequently will learn no more. The Father and Son, and all who are like them and one with them, already know as much as any Beings in existence know, or ever can know. (p. 117)
However, according to the scriptures, those who become exalted and become as Gods still continue to progress in knowledge and wisdom. The Prophet Joseph explained that when men become gods, they receive a Urim and Thummim so that things pertaining to a higher order of kingdoms will be made known to them. Therefore, as man progresses in power and dominion, he receives more knowledge pertaining to these higher orders of kingdoms.
 The place where God resides is a great Urim and Thummim. This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon, whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to those who dwell on it; and this earth will be Christ’s.
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; and a white stone is given to each of those who come into the celestial kingdom, whereon is a new name written, which no man knoweth save he that receiveth it. The new name is the key word. (Doc. & Cov. 130:8-11)
Brigham Young, in trying to prevent this heresy from getting established in the Church, wrote a letter to Orson Pratt in 1853, telling him that certain points of doctrine in The Seer “are not sound doctrine, and will not be so received by the Saints.” When Pratt returned to Salt Lake City in 1854, President Young confronted him concerning this and other false doctrines. This led to a conflict on doctrinal issues for many years between the two. (See Dialogue, Vol. 8, No. 2.) It was then that Young told Pratt that his interpretation of the omniscience of God–
…was a false doctrine and not true. That there never will be a time to all eternity when all the Gods of Eternity will cease advancing in power, knowledge, experience and glory, for if this was the case, eternity would cease to be and the glory of God would come to an end, but all of celestial beings will continue to advance in knowledge and power worlds without end. (Wilford Woodruff Journal, Sept 17, 1854)
Unfortunately, Pratt’s writings and sermons on this subject have been the seeds of thought and belief for both contemporary and present-day Mormons. For example, Orson Pratt was a close friend and companion apostle to Joseph F. Smith. Both labored together many times, and on one occasion were companions on a special mission to the Eastern States; (CHC 5:532) It was probably during these periods that Orson taught Joseph F. his theory of a God’s fullness of knowledge, because he, too, began to believe and teach it. Yet in spite of all the disagreement and clash between Orson Pratt and Brigham Young over this doctrine, it did not change the opinion of Pratt or Joseph F. Smith. A year after the death of Brigham Young, Joseph F. was still saying that “…our joy cannot be full unless we obtain a fullness of knowledge.” (JD 19:262)
As late as 1880 Orson Pratt was also still hinting that–
In the celestial glory they [men] are made equal in oneness, in power, in knowledge, and in all perfections…. [He later continued] They have a fulness of happiness, a fulness of power, and a fulness of intelligence, light and truth…. (See JD 21:256-263.)
So, it seems evident that the writings or teachings of Orson Pratt influenced the beliefs of Joseph F. Smith, who in turn taught it to his son, Joseph Fielding Smith, who also taught it and published it in his books on Doctrines of Salvation. Under the subtitle “Exalted Beings Eventually  Will Know All Things”, Joseph Fielding Smith said:
I realize that it must eventually come to pass in the case of those who gain the exaltation and become sons of God, that they must, in the eternities, reach the time when they will know all things. (Doc. of Sal. 1:291)
Then in the second volume, he continues:
Our Father in heaven is infinite; he is perfect; he possesses all knowledge and wisdom. (Doc. of Sal. 2:35)
The Preface to these books was written by you and begins with, “Joseph Fielding Smith is the leading gospel scholar and the greatest doctrinal teacher of this generation.” It is understandable then that you have followed so closely to this theory promoted originally in the Church by Orson Pratt.
For many years you have declared that God is “all-powerful, all-knowing,” “omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient”, and that “He is not a progressive being in the sense that liberal religionists profess to believe.” Speaking of the Godhead, you declared that “each has the fulness of truth, knowledge, charity, power,” etc. (Mormon Doctrine, p. 319) You also wrote that:
Exalted persons gain the fulness of the Father; they have all power, all knowledge, and all wisdom; they gain a fulness of truth, becoming one with the Father.
Those who gain exaltation, having thus enjoyed the fulness of eternal progression, become like God. It should be realized that God is not progressing in knowledge, truth, virtue, wisdom, or any of the attributes of godliness. He has already gained these things in their fulness. (Mormon Doctrine, p. 238)
You have advanced these theories as Mormon doctrine, in a book by the same name, but President Young did not agree with you. And knowing the difference between heresy and doctrine is important because, as you say, “There is no salvation in believing a false doctrine.”
But to conclude with the teachings of President Brigham Young, he made this clear and beautiful explanation:
Suppose we say there was once a beginning to all things, then we must conclude there will undoubtedly be an end. Can eternity be circumscribed? If it can, there is an end of all wisdom, knowledge, power, and glory–all will sink into eternal annihilation.
What is life to you and me? It is the utmost extent of our desires. Do you wish to increase, to continue? Do you wish to possess kingdoms and thrones, principalities and powers; to exist, and continue to exist; to grow in understanding, in wisdom, in knowledge, in power, and in glory throughout an endless duration? Why, yes, is the reply natural to every heart that has been warmed with the life-giving influences of the Holy Ghost. (JD 1:353)
 I hope that your heart “has been warmed with the life-giving influences of the Holy Ghost” and can now better understand this doctrine advocated by Brigham Young. And I make an appeal that you reconsider his teachings as the utterances of the second president of the Church, a man tutored by Joseph Smith and holy angels–and not the mutterings from an ant in some swamp!
I must agree with you that “there is no salvation in believing a false doctrine”, but if you believe Brigham Young was teaching false doctrine, and the Protestant churches are correct in that doctrine, then what basis have we for believing any of the presidents of the Church?
In the beginning of your talk, you said that you were about to “speak on some matters that some would consider to be controversial. They ought not to be.” Certain doctrines taught in the early days of the Church have become controversial because they have been changed recently. I agree with you that they ought not to be made controversial because of these modern changes.
In addition to your Seven Deadly Heresies, we should add an eighth, which would be “Changing Doctrines.” In fact, we should make that the First Great Heresy; and if we could get everyone convinced of that, then there wouldn’t be any other heresies. It was President Kimball in our last conference who said that these principles are “flexible”. In the early days of Christianity it was called “apostasy” to change principles, doctrines, and ordinances; but in the days of the Modern Mormons, it is called “revelation” and “flexibility.”
Webster’s Dictionary says that heresy is “a belief opposed to the accepted doctrine of the Church.” My question now is, did heresies gradually work their way into the Church, contradicting the early teachings–or did the Church begin with heresies and now the leaders are trying to get them all corrected? The Latter-day Saints should be told which is Mormon doctrine and which is heresy.
P.S. Your Heresy No. 6, stating that Adam is not our Father and God, is also worthy of comment; however, since Elder Mark E. Petersen devoted his last conference talk to this subject and has written a book regarding Adam, I have decided to write a letter to him also. I will send you a copy soon.
Response to the Utah Evangel
When anyone heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. (Mat. 13:19)
7285 HIGHLAND DRIVE
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH 84121
 THE THREE WITNESSES
A Response to the Utah Evangel
Ever since the restoration of the Gospel of Christ and the re-establishment of His Church, there have been a multitude of anti-Mormon writers pouring out their venom against it. Most of this opposition comes from apostate Mormons. That is understandable because Christ also suffered most from apostates. Nevertheless, there should be some response made in vindication. Oliver Cowdery said it best:
Since then our opposer, have been thus kind to introduce our cause before the public, it is no more than just that a correct account should be given; and since they have invariably sought to cast a shade over the truth, and hinder its influence from gaining ascendancy, it is also proper that it should be vindicated by laying before the world a correct statement of events as they have transpired from time to time. (Letters by Oliver Cowdery to W. W. Phelps, p. 15)
This response is very brief in comparison to the volumes that could be written in answer to the many publications by the anti-Mormons and ex-Mormons. These people publish newspapers, books, pamphlets and produce films and videos with a critical and negative attitude of the liberal left wing of our “modern counterfeit Christians.” their entire gospel is anti-Mormonism. The following article comes from one such newspaper:
 The Three Witnesses
by Robert McKay
In the front of every Book of Mormon is found a statement called the Testimony of Three Witnesses. It is signed by Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris. The Testimony says in substance that these three men saw an angel holding the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon was supposedly translated.
The Mormon church claims that these three men were sober, steady individuals who would not lie, who could not be easily fooled, and whose word was reliable. The facts are otherwise. Rather than being unimpeachable, these witnesses and their testimony are worthless in determining the truth about the Book of Mormon.
Oliver Cowdery, the first the three witnesses, was not an upstanding citizen. Among other things, he was a counterfeiter. A booklet published in Warsaw, Illinois, states, “Joe (Joseph Smith) told me, that in Ohio he…and Oliver Cowdery…were engaged in a bogus establishment” (The Adventures and Experience of Joseph H. Jackson, pg. 15). A letter signed by 84 Mormons declared that “Oliver Cowdery…united with a gang of counterfeiters” (quoted in Senate Document 189, pg. 8). In 1838 Cowdery was tried before the Far West (Missouri) High Council. The eighth charge against him was, “For disgracing the Church by being connected in the bogus business.” This charge was “sustained” (History of the Church, Vol. 3, pgs. 16-17).
The LDS church claims that not one of the witnesses ever denied his testimony. Yet a poem publishes in 1841 asks if it proves “Book of Mormon not his (God’s) word Because denied, by Oliver?” (Times and Seasons, Vol. 2. pg. 482). Apparently Cowdery wasn’t as sure of his statements as Mormons would like to think.
David Whitmer was also involved in counterfeiting. His character is further revealed by Joseph Smith’s statement that Whitmer was a “dumb ass” (History of the Church, Vol. 3. pg. 228). Whitmer himself declared, “if you believe my testimony to the Book of Mormon…then I tell you that in June, 1838, God spoke to me again by His own voice from the heavens, and told me to `separate myself from among the Latter Day Saints (sic)…'” (An Address to All Believers in Christ, pg. 27). According to this statement, if Whitmer’s testimony to the Book of Mormon is true then the LDS church has apostatized. But the church denies that what Whitmer says here is true, thus casting doubt on his testimony to the Book of Mormon.
The third witness, Martin Harris, was no better. It was Harris who lost the 116 pages of the book of Lehi, forcing Joseph Smith to start “translating” all over again. Because of this incident. Harris was called “a wicked man, Who…has broken the most sacred promises which were made before God” (Doctrine & Covenants 3:12-13). An affidavit made in 1833 declares, “I have been acquainted with Martin Harris, about thirty years… his moral and religious character was such, as not to entitle him to respect among his neighbors…He was first an orthadox (sic) Quaker, then a Universalist, next a Restorationer, then a Baptist, next a Presbyterian, and then a Mormon” (Mormonism Unvailed, pgs. 260-261). An official Mormon publication said of Harris, “he changed his religious position eight times” after accepting the Book of Mormon (Improvement Era, March 69, pg. 63). One of the groups he joined was the Shakers, who had their own “latter day scripture.” At one point Harris claimed that he believed in the Shakers more strongly than he did his own testimony to the Book of Mormon (Martin Harris – Witness and Benefactor to the Book of Mormon, pg. 52).
All three of these witnesses were excommunicated from the Mormon church. Joseph Smith wrote, “Such characters as…David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and Martin Harris, are too mean to mention, and we had liked to have forgotten them” (History of the Church, Vol. 3, pg. 232).
Thus we see that the Testimony of Three Witnesses was signed by men who were unreliable, who denied their testimony, and who were condemned by those they aided. To hold these three men and their testimony up to the world as proof that the Book of Mormon is of God is analogous to letting one rattlesnake vouch for another. They cannot be trusted.
THE UTAH EVANGEL
 To recap, then, Robert McKay’s article makes the following charges against the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon:
- Oliver Cowdery denied his testimony of the Book of Mormon.
- Oliver Cowdery was a counterfeiter.
- David Whitmer was a counterfeiter.
- David Whitmer was told by God to leave the Saints, inferring that the Church had apostatized.
- Martin Harris’s “moral and religious character was such, as not to entitle him to respect among his neighbors, . . . ” and also that “he changed his religious position eight times….”
- The three witnesses were unreliable, denied their testimony, and were condemned by those they aided. Their testimony is like “letting one rattlesnake vouch for another. They cannot be trusted.”
Oftentimes such accusations are false, overemphasized, or without real proof, as is the case with the above charges. Without delving extensively into the subject, here are a few explanations and clarifications that should be considered in response to these charges by McKay.
Charge 1. Oliver Cowdery denied his testimony of the Book of Mormon.
In addition to the testimony given in the Book of Mormon, Cowdery made similar positive statements even after he had left the LDS Church. The following report was printed in 1910 by Judge C. M. Nielsen of Salt Lake City. He stated that while he was traveling as a missionary in Minnesota during the year of 1884, he met a wealthy farmer who became especially interested in him because he came from Utah. The farmer stated that when he was 21, an interesting event occurred at the time he was working on his father’s farm in Michigan. On one of his days off, he went to town where the following incident occurred, as retold by Judge Nielsen:
“Near the courthouse I saw a great many people assembling and others walking that way, so I went over to see what was up. There was a jam in the courtroom, but being young and strong, I pushed my way close up to the center, where I found the prosecuting attorney addressing the court and jury in a murder trial. The prosecuting attorney was Oliver Cowdery, and he was giving his opening address in behalf of the state. (After he was excommunicated from the Church, Oliver Cowdery studied law, practicing in Ohio, Wisconsin and then Michigan, where he was elected prosecuting attorney.) After Cowdery sat down, the attorney representing the prisoner arose and with taunting sarcasm said: `May it please the court and gentlemen of the jury, I see one Oliver Cowdery is going to reply to my argument. I wish he would tell us something about that golden  Bible that Joe Smith dug out of the hill; something about the great fraud he perpetrated upon the American people whereby he gained thousands of dollars. Now he seems to know so much about this poor prisoner, I wonder if he has forgotten all about Joe Smith and his connection with him.’ The speaker all the while sneering and pointing his finger in scorn at Cowdery in the hope of making him ridiculous before the court and jury.
“Everybody present began to wonder if they had been guilty of making such a mistake as choosing a Mormon for prosecuting attorney. Even the judge on the bench began looking with suspicion and distrust at the prosecuting attorney. The prisoner and his attorney became elated at the effect of the speech. People began asking, `Is he a Mormon?’ Everybody wondered what Cowdery would say against such foul charges.
“Finally Oliver Cowdery arose, calm as a summer morning. I was within three feet of him. There was no hesitation, no fear, no anger in his voice, as he said: `May it please the court, and gentlemen of the jury, my brother attorney on the other side has charged me with connection with Joseph Smith and the golden Bible. The responsibility has been placed upon me, and I cannot escape reply. Before God and man I dare not deny what I have said, and what my testimony contains as written and printed on the front page of the Book of Mormon. May it please your honor and gentlemen of the jury, this I say, I saw the angel and heard his voice–how can I deny it? It happened in the daytime when the sun was shining bright in the firmament; not in the night when I was asleep. That glorious messenger from heaven, dressed in white, standing above the ground, in a glory I have never seen anything to compare with–the sun insignificant in comparison–and this personage told us if we denied that testimony, there is no forgiveness in this life nor in the world to come. Now how can I deny it–I dare not; I will not!'”
The man who related this to me was a prominent man in that state; he was a rich man, a man who has held offices of trust from the people–a man of respect, one when you look into his face you will not doubt. To strengthen his statement this man, who knew nothing of “Mormon” history, said Oliver Cowdery mentioned something he wanted me to explain–that the angel took back a part that was not translated. We know this and that part of the gold plates then withheld will be revealed at some future time.
“Since I heard Oliver Cowdery speak,” continued my host, “I have not had peace for these many years. I want to know more about your people. I felt when I listened to Oliver Cowdery talking in the courtroom, he was more than an ordinary man. If you can show us that you have what Oliver Cowdery testified to, we shall be glad to receive it.” (Liahona, August 30, 1910)
From this account it is very clear that even after Oliver left the Church, he still did not deny his testimony of the Book of Mormon. Furthermore, he had no intention of denying it in the future.
 Ten years after Oliver left the Church he returned to it. In October 1848 he arrived in Kanesville, Iowa, with his wife and daughter. He attended a Church conference there and was invite to speak. Bishop Reuben Miller made this verbatim account of Oliver’s testimony:
“Friends and Brethren–My name is Cowdery, Oliver Cowdery. In the early history of this Church I stood identified with her, and was one in her councils. True it is that the gifts and callings of God are without repentance. Not because I was better than the rest of mankind was I called; but, to fulfill the purposes of God, He called me a high and holy calling.
“I wrote, with my own pen, the entire Book of Mormon (save a few pages) as it fell from the lips of the Prophet Joseph Smith, as he translated it by the gift and power of God, by the means of the Urim and Thummim, or, as it is called by that book, `holy interpreters.’ I beheld with my eyes and handled with my hands the gold plates from which it was transcribed. I also saw with my eyes and handled with my hands the `holy interpreters.’ That book is true. Sidney Rigdon did not write it; Mr. Spaulding did not write it; I wrote it myself as it fell frown the lips of the Prophet. It contains the Everlasting Gospel, and came forth to the children of men in fulfillment of the revelations of John, where he says he saw an angel come with the Everlasting Gospel to preach to every nation, kindred, tongue and people. It contains the principles of salvation; and if you, my hearers, will walk by its light and obey its precepts, you will be saved with an everlasting salvation in the kingdom of God on high. Brother Hyde has just said that it is very important that we keep and walk in the true channel, in order to avoid the sand-bars. This is true. The channel is here. The holy Priesthood is here.
“I was present with Joseph when an holy angel from God came down from heaven and conferred on us, or restored, the lesser or Aaronic Priesthood, and said to us, at the same time, that it should remain upon the earth while the earth stands.
“I was also present with Joseph when the higher or Melchizedek Priesthood was conferred by holy angels from on high. This Priesthood we then conferred on each other, by the will and commandment of God. This Priesthood, as was then declared, is also to remain upon the earth until the last remnant of time. This holy Priesthood, or authority, we then conferred upon many and is just as good and valid as though God had done it in person.
“I laid my hands upon that man–yes, I laid my right hand upon his head (pointing to Brother Hyde), and I conferred upon him this Priesthood, and he holds that Priesthood now. He was also called through me, by the prayer of faith, an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
In the early part of November following, Elder Hyde called a High Council meeting in the log Tabernacle to consider the case of Oliver Cowdery; having been cut off by the voice of a High Council, it was thought that, if he was restored, he should be restored by the voice of a similar body. Before this body Brother Cowdery said:
 “Brethren, for a number of years I have been separated from you. I now desire to come back. I wish to come humbly and to be one in your midst. I seek no station; I only wish to be identified with you. I am out of the Church. I am not a member of the Church, but I wish to become a member of it. l wish to come in at the door. I know the door. I have not come here to seek precedence. I come humbly and throw myself upon the decisions of this body, knowing as I do that its decisions are right and should be obeyed.”
Brother George W. Harris, President of the Council, moved that Brother Cowdery be received. Considerable discussion took place in relation to a certain letter which, it was alleged, Brother Cowdery had written to David Whitmer. Brother Cowdery again rose and said:
“If there be any person that has aught against me, let him declare it. My coming back and humbly asking to become a member, through the door, covers the whole ground. I acknowledge this authority.” (Mill. Star 21:544-546)
At this conference Orson Hyde made a motion that Oliver Cowdery be received back into the Church, which was seconded and carried unanimously. Shortly afterwards Oliver was again baptized and confirmed a member of the Church.
Here again Oliver gave a strong confirmation of his previous testimony. There were no qualms, side-stepping or excuses, which would have been the case if he had previously denied that testimony.
After Oliver Cowdery had rejoined the Saints, he desired to journey out west to Salt Lake City. However, a severe snow storm compelled him to remain in Iowa for a couple of weeks. Samuel W. Richards was privileged to spend much of this time with Oliver, and he wrote the following account of those visits:
I had but the fall before returned from my first mission to the British Isles, and was in the spirit of inquiry as to all matters of early history and experiences in the Church, and soon found there was no reserve on the part of Oliver in answering my many questions. In doing so his mind seemed as fresh in the recollection of events, which occurred more than a score of years before, as though they were but of yesterday. * * *
To hear him describe, in his pleasant but earnest manner, the personality of those heavenly messengers, with whom he and the Prophet had so freely held converse, was enchanting to my soul. Their heavenly appearance, clothed in robes of purity; the influence of their presence, so lovely and serene; their eyes, that seemed to penetrate to the very depths of the soul, together with the color of the eyes that gazed upon them, were all so beautifully related as to almost make one feel that they were then present….
Before taking his departure he wrote and left with the writer of this, the following statement, which we believe to be his last living testimony, though oft repeated, of the wonderful manifestations which brought the authority of God to men on the earth:
 “While darkness covered the earth and gross darkness the people; long after the authority to administer in holy things had been taken away, the Lord opened the heavens and sent forth His word for the salvation of Israel. In fulfillment of the sacred scriptures, the everlasting gospel was proclaimed by the mighty angel (Moroni) who, clothed with the authority of his mission, gave glory to God in the highest. This gospel is the `stone taken from the mountain without hands.’ John the Baptist, holding the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood; Peter, James and John, holding the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood, have also ministered for those who shall be heirs of salvation, and with these administrations, ordained men to the same Priesthoods. These Priesthoods, with their authority, are now, and must continue to be, in the body of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Blessed is the Elder who has received the same, and thrice blessed and holy is he who shall endure to the end.
“Accept assurances, dear brother, of the unfeigned prayer of him who, in connection with Joseph the Seer, was blessed with the above ministrations, and who earnestly and devoutly hopes to meet you in the celestial glory. (Oliver Cowdery, to Samuel W. Richards, January 13, 1849; see Improvement Era 2:90-96)
Edward Stevenson also relates the following:
“I have often heard him <Oliver Cowdery> bear a faithful testimony to the restoration of the gospel by the visitation of an angel, in whose presence he stood in company with the Prophet Joseph Smith and David Whitmer. He testified that he beheld the plates, the leaves being turned over by the angel, whose voice he heard, and that they were commanded as witnesses to bear a faithful testimony to the world of the vision that they were favored to behold, and that the translation from the plates in the Book of Mormon was accepted of the Lord, and that it should go forth to the world, and no power on earth should stop its progress. Although for a time Oliver Cowdery absented himself from the body of the Church, I never have known a time when he faltered or was recreant to the trust so sacredly entrusted to him by an angel from heaven.” (Mill. Star 48:420)
Oliver Cowdery died on March 3rd, 1850, at Richmond, Missouri. Phineas Young, who was present at his death, wrote the following:
“His last moments were spent in bearing testimony of the truth of the gospel revealed through Joseph Smith, and the power of the holy Priesthood which he had received through his administrations.”
And . . .
Oliver Cowdery’s half-sister, Lucy P. Young a widow of the late Phineas H. Young, relates that Oliver Cowdery just before breathing his last, asked his attendants to raise him up in bed, that  he might talk to the family and his friends, who were present. He then told them to live according to the teachings contained in the Book of Mormon, and promised them, if they would do this, that they would meet him in heaven. He then said, “Lay me down and let me fall asleep.” A few moments later he died without a struggle. (Biographical Encyclopedia, Jensen, 1:251)
In 1878 David Whitmer told Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith that:
“Oliver died the happiest man I ever saw. After shaking hands with the family and kissing his wife and daughter, he said, `Now I lay me down for the last time: I am going to my Savior;’ and he died immediately with a smile on his face.” (Mill. Star 40:774)
As a witness to the Book of Mormon, Oliver died faithful to his testimony. There are many accounts of that testimony given while he was a member of the Church, after he left the Church, and when he returned. There are no conclusive proofs that he ever denied his witnessing the golden plates. Any accounts otherwise were based on rumor and are without verification.
Charge 2. Oliver Cowdery was a counterfeiter.
From all available research concerning Oliver’s involvement in some bogus money charge, there seems to be only rumors and accusations against him without any definite proof. His name had been slandered by it, and it somewhat dampened the reputation of the Church, but I can find no facts to bear it out. Cowdery never went to prison for such a “crime”; there were no trial or sentence held against him; nor has there since been any evidence to prove his “guilt”. It is difficult to defend or expose a charge which has no evidence either for or against it.
But let’s consider the type of characters who originated these charges–The 84 “Mormons” who signed the statement charging Oliver Cowdery as being connected with counterfeiters were not those considered to be orthodox Mormons. Many of these “Mormons” who testified in the Senate Document were Sampson Avard, Reed Peck, George Hinkle, John Corrill and others of like character. A statement by Nancy Rigdon sheds light on the character of Sampson Avard:
I have heard Sampson Avard say that he would swear to a lie to accomplish an object; that he had told many a lie, and would do so again. (Senate Document 189, p. 40)
The same document contained testimony against Joseph Smith and all the Twelve Apostles, accusing them of “high treason against the State for murder, burglary, arson, robbery, and larceny.” These were charges, too, but proof was another thing.
 The key figure in pressing these counterfeit charges was Joseph H. Jackson who published them in a booklet in Warsaw, Illinois. By his own confession, he was a fugitive from the law, and had “committed the darkest crimes”, probably even being guilty himself of counterfeiting. The Warsaw Signal, with its editor, T. C. Sharp, was a constant source of anti-Mormon propaganda. Nearly every apostate had joined hands with the mobocrats and anti-Mormons. These were the “men who had used their uttermost endeavors for more than two years to incite the people to acts of mob violence against the saints, . . .” (C.H.C. 2:235) Sometimes they would set fires to buildings and blame the Mormons for it. From the little evidence available, it appears that counterfeiting was another false charge against the leaders of the Church.
In a special Nauvoo City Council session “Theodore Turley, a mechanic, who being sworn, said that the Laws (William and Wilson), had brought bogus dies to him to fix.” (D.H.C. 6:435) They were apostates trying to bring about the destruction of Joseph and Hyrum, along with most of the other leaders of the Church. In that same meeting Hyrum Smith declared that he knew that “Jackson was engaged in trying to make bogus, which was his principle business.” (Ibid., 6:435) Another witness, Lorenzo Wasson was sworn in and said, “Joseph H. Jackson had told witness that bogus-making was going on in the city; but it was too damned small business. Wanted witness to help him to procure money, for the General (Smith) was afraid to go into it; and with $500 he could get an engraving for bills on the Bank of Missouri, and one on the State of New York, and could make money.” (D.H.C. 6:436)
The City Council was aware of the bogus money being made in and around Nauvoo and was trying to get evidence of who was responsible for it. Another witness was called up by the name of Warren Smith, who stated:
- M. Higbee came to him, and proposed to have him go in as a partner in making bogus money. Higbee said he would not work for a living; that witness might go in with him if he would advance fifty dollars; and showed him (witness) a half-dollar which he said was made in his dies. (D.H.C. 6:447)
Joseph Smith, as Mayor of Nauvoo, wanted this counterfeiting press to be dispatched as he did the press of the Nauvoo Expositor. Both were apparently being operated by the same people. The Warsaw Signal newspaper was constantly hurling malicious and slanderous attacks against the Saints, occasionally inciting mob action against them. As a result, Joseph made the following announcement:
By virtue of my office as Mayor of the city of Nauvoo, I do hereby strictly enjoin it upon the municipal officers and citizens of said city to use all honorable and lawful means in their power to assist me in maintaining the public peace and common quiet of said city. As attempts have already been made to excite the jealousy and prejudice of the people of the surrounding country, by libels and  slanderous articles upon the citizens and City Council, for the purpose of destroying the charter of said city, and for the purpose of raising suspicion, wrath, and indignation among a certain class of the less honorable portion of mankind, to commit acts of violence upon the innocent and unsuspecting, in a certain newspaper called the Nauvoo Expositor, recently established for such purposes in said city, and which has been destroyed as a nuisance, according to the provision of the charter. I further call upon every officer, authority, and citizen to be vigilant in preventing, by wisdom the promulgation of false statements, libels, slanders, or any other malicious or evil-designed concern that may be put in operation to excite and ferment the passions of men to rebel against the rights and privileges of the city, citizens, or laws of the land; to be ready to suppress the gathering of mobs; to repel, by gentle means and noble exertion, every foul scheme of unprincipled men to disgrace and dishonor the city, or state, or any of their legally-constituted authorities; and, finally to keep the peace by being cool, considerate, virtuous, unoffending, manly, and patriotic, as the true sons of liberty ever have been, and honorably maintain the precious boon our illustrious fathers won.
In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed the seal of said corporation at the city of Nauvoo, this 11th day of June, 1844. –Signed Joseph Smith, Mayor. (D.H.C. 6:449)
In the session of the City Council, Jackson was exposed as a counterfeiter and a murderer. Brigham Young spoke at the trial of Sidney Rigdon and declared:
John C. Bennett said in his exposure, he knew all of Brother Joseph’s secrets, and he would publish them. Joseph H. Jackson, says he has published all Joseph’s secrets, but nobody believes their tales, because they lie! And if Sidney Rigdon undertakes to publish all of our secrets, as he says, he will lie the first jump he takes…. Any man that says the Twelve are bogus makers, or adulterers, or wicked men, is a liar; and all who say such things shall have the fate of liars, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Who is there that has seen us do such things? No man. (Times and Seasons 5:664)
The publishers of the Nauvoo Expositor were friends of Joseph Jackson and they defended him when they wrote:
We have reason to believe, from our acquaintance with Mr. Jackson, and our own observation, that the statements he makes are true; and in view of these facts, we ask, in the name of heaven, where is the safety of our lives and liberties, when placed at the disposal of such heaven daring, hell deserving, God forsaken villains. (Nauvoo Expositor, June 7, 1844, p. 3)
 It is interesting to note the method they have of twisting things around because as they were talking about fear for their “lives and liberties”, they themselves were in the process of plotting to kill Joseph, Hyrum and others, and driving the Saints from the state in the middle of winter.
Oliver Cowdery was aware of some others in and around Nauvoo that had made an attempt to create bogus money according to Frederick G. Williams.
<Frederick G.> Williams, who vacillated between being a dissenter and a faithful member of the Church, testified that Oliver had personally informed him of a man in the Church by the name of Davis who would compound metal and make dies which could print money that could not be detected from the real thing. (A History of the Latter-day Saints in Northern Missouri from 1836 to 1839, BYU, 1965, p. 146)
Claims were made that Cowdery was an accessory and that he had a warrant issued against him, but according to all available information, he was never convicted or proven guilty.
Most of the counterfeit coins were turning up in Warsaw, as admitted by the Warsaw Signal. Could it be that the bulk of counterfeiting was actually done in Warsaw? Perhaps those who produced most of the counterfeit money actually lived in Warsaw and were not Mormons at all. Or, could it be that the Mormon apostates, anti-Mormons, and others used Nauvoo as headquarters for their bogus operation? It would be an ideal place for it because if discovered, they could blame the Mormon Church and its leaders.
There is a species of counterfeit, extensively circulated in this community, called Nauvoo Bogus. They are half dollars, dated 1828. They are a pretty good imitation of the genuine coin–so good, that some of our business men have been imposed upon by them. It is said they are manufactured in the City of the Saints. (Warsaw Signal, April 24, 1844, p. 2)
Only a few Mormons, or Mormon apostates, were actually involved or aware of the bogus money, but the Mormons and their leaders were being charged with the crime of originating it. Some Mormon people became innocent victims of this bogus money, but it did not mean they were guilty of producing or sanctioning it. (If you look along the edges of a dime, quarter or half-dollar today, you will see that we too are the innocent victims of a poor imitation of real money.)
Even if a Mormon had any association with someone who was or eventually became connected with the bogus money, their names and reputation were attached to counterfeiting by the Warsaw Signal. But how strange that all the people in Warsaw found with most of the bogus money were never mentioned by name–whether they were innocent or guilty.
 Some of those guilty of counterfeiting were eventually caught and arrested.
We extract the following from the St. Louis Reviele:
Counterfeiters– Mormon Certificates. Yesterday morning, a boy named Theron Terrill was arrested, having in his possession twelve American half and eight Spanish quarter dollars, all counterfeited in some sort of base metal. On examination by the Marshal, he stated that many had been given to him by one George Reader, with whom he had lived in former years, but who he had only recently seen again. For a long time the boy maintained secrecy, but, eventually, he yielded, and so told his story, Reader was caught and arrested on board the Ospery, having taken passage for himself and the boy to Nauvoo…. (Warsaw Signal, June 5, 1844)
It was also later discovered that John Long admitted that he had hidden “two bogus presses” and stated that the presses belonged to Edward Bonney. Governor Ford attended the trial of Bonney.
I, Thomas Ford, late Governor of Illinois, do certify that I was present during the whole trial of Edward Bonney for counterfeiting, . . . I was fully persuaded from the evidence adduced, that the prosecution was put on foot, so far as Haight and the other witnesses against Bonney were concerned, to be revenged on him for ferreting out and bringing to punishment the murderers of Col. Davenport. And for the further object of stopping Bonney from pursuing the residue of said murderers, then and yet at large.–Thomas Ford, Jan. 6, 1847. (The Banditti of the Prairies, p. 259)
Another man called “Eaton” had been accused of making the bogus money, but the final arrests of the guilty parties were announced in 1845:
Counterfeiters Arrested. Two of the Nauvoo Saints were arrested in Burlington, Iowa, on the 20th ult., for passing counterfeit money. Their names were Cyrus Chase and Rufus Adams, and each had passed on the same day a $10 bill on the Lafayette Bank of Cincinnati. Other counterfeit money was found upon them. They were both committed for trim. (St. Louis American, Dec. 2, 1845)
However, Oliver Cowdery was never arrested, tried or found guilty of any of these nefarious bogus operations. Neither were any of the other General Authorities of the Church.
Charge 3. David Whitmer was a counterfeiter.
The same charge against Oliver Cowdery included David Whitmer, and evidence is also lacking in his behalf.
Charge 4. David Whitmer was told by God to leave the Saints, inferring that the Church had apostatized.
Church history records many interesting events connected with David Whitmer. During some very trying times one of the Elders, William McLellin, lost faith in the leaders of the Church, and “quit praying” and “quit keeping the commandments of God” and “indulged himself in his lustful desires.” He was excommunicated from the Church at Far West. (D.H.C. 3:31) From then on–
. . . he took an active part in the persecution of the Saints in Missouri, and at one time expressed the desire to do violence to the person of Joseph Smith, while the latter was confined in Liberty prison. Subsequently he attempted what he called a reorganization of the Church, and called upon David Whitmer to take the presidency thereof, claiming that he was ordained by Joseph Smith on the 8th of July, 1834, as his (the Prophet Joseph’s) successor. (D.H.C. 3:32)
The Prophet Joseph Smith wrote about these events while in Liberty Jail and said:
But behold the words of the Savior: “If the light which is in you become darkness, behold how great is that darkness.” Look at the dissenters. Again, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own.” Look at Mr. Hinkle–a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Look at his brother John Corrill. Look at the beloved brother Reed Peck, who aided him in leading us, as the Savior was led, into the camp of His enemies, as a lamb prepared for the slaughter, as a sheep dumb before his shearers; so we opened not our mouths.
But these men, like Balaam, being greedy for reward, sold us into the hands of those who loved them, for the world loves his own. I would remember William E. McLellin, who comes up to us as one of Job’s comforters. God suffered such kind of beings to afflict Job–but it never entered into their hearts that Job would get out of it all. This poor man who professes to be much of a prophet, has no other dumb ass to ride but David Whitmer, to forbid his madness when he goes up to curse Israel; and this ass not being of the same kind as Balaam’s, therefore, the angel notwithstanding appeared unto him, yet he could not penetrate his understanding sufficiently, but that he brays out cursings instead of blessings. (D.H.C. 3:228)
Whitmer, like many of the men at that time, was severely tried and tested. He was mortal and had weaknesses which led him into a wayward position resulting in his being excommunicated from the Church. But during his trials and temptations, he did not waver from nor deny his testimony of the Book of Mormon and its truthfulness. It was in his darkness that he made the following statement, as referred to in McKay’s article:
If you believe my testimony to the Book of Mormon . . . then I tell you that in June, 1838, God spoke to me again by His own voice from the heavens, and told me to `separate myself from among the Latter Day Saints…. ‘
 This is a strong possibility, as when men get into that much darkness, it is reasonable that God would not want them to remain any longer with the Saints. If Joseph Smith likened Whitmer to “a dumb ass”, then God certainly would not want any of those in His Church! In fact, all these modern Evangelist preachers who were once Mormons, claiming to be “Christians” but acting more like dumb asses, were probably told by God to “separate themselves” from the Latter-day Saints, as well. It would also be better for them to leave the Saints alone, but they have done just as Joseph said they would do–
Renegade “Mormon” dissenters are running through the world and spreading various foul and libelous reports against us, thinking thereby to gain the friendship of the world, because they know that we are not of the world, and that the world hates us; therefore they <the world> make a tool of these fellows <the dissenters>; and by them try to do all the injury they can, and after that they hate them worse than they do us, because they find them to be base traitors and sycophants.
Such characters God hates; we cannot love them. The world hates them, and we sometimes think that the devil ought to be ashamed of them. (D.H.C. 3:230)
David Whitmer made the mistake of falling in with some of these dissenters and he himself became confused on certain issues in the Church. However, he never denied his testimony of the Book of Mormon. In fact, he strongly refuted those rumors that he and the other two witnesses had ever denied their testimonies of this sacred scripture:
It is recorded in the American Cyclopaedia and the Encyclopaedia Britannica, that I, David Whitmer, have denied my testimony as one of the three witnesses to the divinity of the Book of Mormon; and that the other two witnesses, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris, denied their testimony to that Book. I will say once more to all mankind, that I have never at any time denied that testimony or any part thereof. I also testify to the world, that neither Oliver Cowdery or Martin Harris ever at any time denied their testimony. They both died reaffirming the truth of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. I was present at the death bed of Oliver Cowdery, and his last words were, “Brother David, be true to your testimony to the Book of Mormon.” He died here in Richmond, Mo., on March 3d, 1850. Many witnesses yet live in Richmond, who will testify to the truth of these facts, as well as to the good character of Oliver Cowdery. The very powers of darkness have combined against the Book of Mormon, to prove that it is not the word of God, and this should go to prove to men of spiritual understanding, that the Book is true. (Address to All Believers in Christ by a Witness to the Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, by David Whitmer, 1887, p. 8)
 In spite of all of Whitmer’s straying from Church doctrines, his difficulties with Joseph Smith, and being influenced by apostates, David continued to bear a straight-forward testimony of seeing the plates. In 1878 Apostles Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith went to visit him and reported as follows:
Orson Pratt: “Do you remember what time you saw the plates?”
David Whitmer: “It was in June, 1829, the latter part of the month, and the Eight Witnesses saw them, I think, the next day or the day after (i.e., one or two days after). Joseph showed them the plates himself, but the angel showed us (the Three Witnesses) the plates, as I suppose to fulfill the words of the book itself. Martin Harris was not with us at this time; he obtained a view of them afterwards (the same day). Joseph, Oliver and myself were together when I saw them. We not only saw the plates of the Book of Mormon, but also the brass plates, the plates of the Book of Ether, the plates containing the records of the wickedness and secret combinations of the people of the world down to the time of their being engraved, and many other plates. The fact is, it was just as though Joseph, Oliver and I were sitting just here on a log, when we were overshadowed by a light. It was not like the light of the sun, nor like that of a fire, but more glorious and beautiful. It extended away round us, I cannot tell how far, but in the midst of this light about as far off as he sits (pointing to John C. Whitmer, sitting a few feet from him), there appeared, as it were, a table with many records or plates upon it, besides the plates of the Book of Mormon, also the sword of Laban, the directors (i.e., the ball which Lehi had) and the interpreters. I saw them just as plain as I see this bed (striking the bed beside him with his hand), and I heard the voice of the Lord, as distinctly as I ever heard anything in my life, declaring that the records of the plates of the Book of Mormon were translated by the gift and power of God.” (Biographical Encyclopedia, Jensen, 1:266)
Before he died, David Whitmer made the following public announcement of his testimony:
“Unto all Nations, Kindreds, Tongues and People, unto whom these presents shall come:
“It having been represented by one John Murphy, of Polo, Caldwell County, Missouri, that I, in a conversation with him last summer, denied my testimony as one of the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon,
“To the end, therefore, that he may understand me now, if he did not then; and that the world may know the truth, I wish now, standing as it were, in the very sunset of life, and in the fear of God, once <and> for all to make this public statement:
“That I have never at any time denied that testimony or any part thereof, which has so long since been published with that book, as one of the Three Witnesses. Those who know me best well know that I have always adhered to that testimony. And that no man may  be misled or doubt my present views in regard to the same, I do again affirm the truth of all my statements as then made and published.
“`He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear;’ it was no delusion; what is written is written, and he that readeth let him understand. * * *
“`And if any man doubt, should he not carefully and honestly read and understand the same before presuming to sit in judgment and condemning the light, which shineth in darkness, and showeth the way of eternal life as pointed out by the unerring hand of God?’
“In the Spirit of Christ, who hath said: `Follow thou me, for I am the life, the light and the way,’ I submit this statement to the world; God in whom I trust being my judge as to the sincerity of my motives and the faith and hope that is in me of eternal life.
“My sincere desire is that the world may be benefited by this plain and simple statement of the truth.
“And all the honor to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen!
“DAVID WHITMER SEN., Richmond, Mo., March 19, 1881.”
(Missouri Conservator, March 25, 1881)
A weekly Missouri newspaper called The Richmond Democrat printed the following item concerning the death of David Whitmer:
“David Whitmer bore his long illness with great patience and fortitude, his faith never for a moment wavering, and when the summons came he sank peacefully to rest, with a smile on his countenance, just as if he was being lulled to sleep by sweets music. Just before the breath left the body, he opened his eyes, which glistened with the brightness of his early manhood. He then turned them toward heaven, and a wonderful light came over his countenance, which remained several moments, when the eyes gradually closed and David Whitmer was gone to rest. On Monday last (Jan. 23, 1888), at 10 o’clock a.m., after awakening from a short slumber, he said he had seen beyond the veil and saw Christ on the other side. His friends, who were constantly at his bedside, claim that he had many manifestations of the truths of the great beyond, and which confirms their faith beyond all shadow of doubt. On Sunday evening, at 5:30 (Jan. 22, 1888), Mr. Whitmer called his family and some friends to his bedside, and addressing himself to the attending physician, said: `Dr. Buchanan, I want you to say whether or not l am in my right mind, before I give my dying testimony.’ The doctor answered: `Yes, you are in your right mind, for I have just had a conversation with you.’ He then addressed himself to all around his bedside in these words: `Now you must all be faithful in Christ. I want to say to you all, the Bible and the record of the Nephites (Book of Mormon) is true, so you can say that you have heard me bear my testimony on my death-bed. All be faithful in Christ, and your reward will be according to your works. God bless you all. My trust is in Christ forever, worlds without end. Amen.'” * * *
Charge 5. Martin Harris’s “moral and religious character was such, as not to entitle him to respect among his neighbors. . . “, and also that “he changed his religious position eight times….”
In answer to the last part of this charge, it is easy to understand why anyone would wander around from church to church before becoming a Mormon. That’s like searching for a gourmet dinner in a 7-11 store. Then, when Mormons somehow become disaffected with Joseph Smith or with the Church, they again wander around without finding satisfaction in any of the organized churches.
Any man on the brink of apostasy will experience feelings of doubt, dissatisfaction and disappointment. The three witnesses of the Book of Mormon were no exception; however, they never publicly denied their testimony of the plates. Martin Harris made public and private statements about the Book of Mormon, but they were not denials.
The following incident was recorded by David B. Dille, who visited Martin Harris in 1853. Dille was on his way to fulfill a mission in Great Britain and stopped enroute to see Harris.
“What do you think of the Book of Mormon? Is it a divine record?”
Mr. Harris replied and said, “I was the righthand man of Joseph Smith, and I know that he was a Prophet of God. I know the Book of Mormon is true.” Then smiting his fist on the table, he said, “And you know that I know that it is true. I know that the plates have been translated by the gift and power of God, for His voice declared it unto us; therefore I know of surety that the work is true. For,” continued Mr. Harris, “did I not at one time hold the plates on my knee an hour and a half, whilst in conversation with Joseph, when we went to bury them in the woods, that the enemy might not obtain them? Yes, I did. And as many of the plates as Joseph Smith translated I handled with my hands, plate after plate.” ***
Mr. Harris further said, “I took a transcript of the characters of the plates to Dr. Anthon, of New York. When I arrived at the house of Professor Anthon, I found him in his office and alone, and presented the transcript to him, and asked him to read it. He said if I would bring the plates, he would assist in the translation. I told him I could not, for they were sealed. Professor Anthon then gave me a certificate certifying that the characters were Arabic, Chaldaic, and Egyptian. I then left Dr. Anthon and was near the door, when he said, `How did the young man know the plates were there?’ I said an angel had shown them to him. Professor Anthon then said, `Let me see the certificate!’–upon which I took it from my waistcoat pocket and unsuspectingly gave it to him. He then tore it up in anger, saying there was no such thing as angels now–it was all a hoax. I then went to Dr. Mitchell with the transcript, and he confirmed what Professor Anthon had said.” (Mill. Star 21:545)
 Edward Stevenson also recorded an interview with Martin Harris:
In the year 1869 I was appointed to a mission to the United States. Having visited several of the Eastern States, I called at Kirtland, Ohio, to see the first temple that was built by our people in this generation. While there, I again met Martin Harris, soon after coming out of the temple. He took from under his arm a copy of the Book of Mormon, the first edition, I believe, and bore a faithful testimony, just the same as that I heard him bear 36 years previously. He said that it was his duty to continue to lift up his voice, as he had been commanded to do, in defense of the Book that he held in his hand, and offered to prove from the Bible that just such a book was to come forth out of the ground–and that, too, in a day when there were no prophets on the earth–and that he was daily bearing testimony to many who visited the temple. (Mill. Star 44:79)
Martin Harris, like Oliver Cowdery, eventually came back into the Church. When he arrived in Utah, the Deseret News published the following:
He is remarkably vigorous for one of his years, his memory being very good, and his sight, though his eyes appear to have failed, being so acute that he can see to pick a pin off the ground…. He has never failed to bear testimony to the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. He says it is not a matter of belief on his part, but of knowledge. He with the other witnesses declared, and their testimony has accompanied every copy of the book, that “an angel of God came down from heaven, and brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon.” This declaration he has not varied from in 41 years …. We are glad to see Martin Harris once more in the midst of the Saints. (Des. News, Aug. 31, 1870)
During his lifetime, Martin frequently related his unwavering testimony; and up to the time of his death, he was still actively bearing testimony of the Book of Mormon.
Brother Martin visited many of the wards, continuing to bear his testimony both of what he had beheld with his own eyes, and verily knew to be true. He publicly said that many years ago, in Ohio, a number of persons combined and sought to get Martin to drink wine for the purpose of crossing him in his testimony. At the conclusion they asked him if he really believed the testimony that he had signed in the Book of Mormon to be true. He replied no, he did not believe it, but, much to their surprise, he said he knew it to be true!
Soon after receiving his blessings in the house of the Lord, he went to Smithfield, Cache Valley, and lived with his son until he left this mortal life. Just before he breathed his last, he sat up in his bed, holding the Book of Mormon in his hand, and bore his last testimony to those who were present. <Salt Lake City, November 30, 1881> (The Three Witnesses, by Preston Nibley, p. 133)
 William Homer visited Martin Harris at the time of his death and made the following statement:
The next day, July 10, 1875, marked the end. It was in the evening–milking time–and Martin Harris Jr., and his wife, Nancy Homer Harris, had gone out to milk and do the evening chores. In the house with the stricken man were left my mother, Eliza Williamson Homer, and myself, who had had so interesting a day with Martin Harris at Kirtland. I stood by the bedside holding the patient’s right hand and my mother at the foot of the bed. Martin had been unconscious for a number of days. When we first entered the room, the old gentleman appeared to be sleeping. He soon woke up and asked for a drink of water. I put my arm under the old gentleman, raised him, and my mother held the glass to his lips. He drank freely, and then he looked up at me and recognized me. He said, “I know you. You are my friend.” He said, “Yes, I did see the plates on which the Book of Mormon was written; I did see the angel; I did hear the voice of God; and I do know that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of God, holding the keys of the Holy Priesthood.”
This was the end. Martin Harris, divinely chosen witness of the work of God, relaxed, gave up my hand. He lay back on his pillow, and just as the sun went down behind the Clarkston mountains, the spirit of Martin Harris passed on. –Signed, William Harrison Homer. (Imp. Era, March 1926)
Edward Stevenson adds another statement about an interview with Martin Harris:
At an evening visit of some of my friends at my residence in Salt Lake City, to see and hear Brother Harris relate his experience (which always delighted him), Brother James T. Woods, who is now present while I am writing this article, reminds me that himself and G. D. Keaton were present on that occasion, and asked him to explain the manner in which the plates containing the characters of the Book of Mormon were exhibited to the witnesses. Brother Harris said that the angel stood on the opposite side of the table on which were the plates, the interpreters, etc., and took the plates in his hands and turned them over. To more fully illustrate this to them, Brother Martin took up a book and turned the leaves over one by one. * * *
On the afternoon of his death he was bolstered up in his bed, where, with the Book of Mormon in his hand, he bore his last testimony to those who were present. Brother Harris was over ninety years of age at the time of his death, and had always enjoyed good health. Bishop Rigby, who preached his funeral sermon, placed the Book of Mormon on his breast, while he lay in his coffin, and it was buried with him. –Signed, Edward Stevenson. (Mill. Star, June 21, 1886)
A prayer and final resume of Martin Harris’s life and testimony were published in the Deseret News at the time of his death, including the following excerpt:
 Notwithstanding these great favors shown to this remarkable man he had, like all of Adam’s race, his imperfections. He did not follow up his brethren in all their persecutions in the states of Missouri and Illinois, but remained for many years in Ohio; this gave rise to many conjectures that Mr. Harris had apostatized. But it can truly be said that Mr. Harris never faltered nor swerved in the least degree from the great testimony given in the Book of Mormon. (Des. News, July 17, 1875)
Martin Harris and the other two witnesses had their faults and weaknesses. They may have differed in some of their beliefs, and they did not all return to the Church, but they never publicly denied their testimony as printed at the beginning of the Book of Mormon.
Now to answer the first part of Charge No. 5, McKay took this quote from E. D. Howe’s book Mormonism Unveiled:
“I have been acquainted with Martin Harris about thirty years. …. his moral and religious character was such, as not to entitle him to respect among his neighbors….” (pp. 260-261)
Howe was a master anti-Mormon. Getting a character reference of Martin Harris from him would be like asking the Mafia for a character reference of the Police Department. Talk about one rattlesnake vouching for another!
In spite of his personal weaknesses, Martin Harris was a man of veracity as a witness to the Book of Mormon. He displayed weakness by continuing to ask Joseph for the manuscript of 116 pages even after the Lord had forbid it. However, after losing the manuscript, the Lord later permitted him to assist in the work.
He contributed much time to the restoration, and gave $3,000 towards publishing the first edition of the Book of Mormon. When the United Order was first established, Martin Harris was the first one called of God by name to set an example before the Church in laying his money before the Bishop. (see D. & C. 58:35)
In 1835 he assisted in electing, ordaining and instructing the first quorum of Twelve Apostles in this dispensation. He was active in the Church all the while the Saints were in Kirtland.
When the Saints moved to Missouri, Martin chose to remain in Ohio. This display of weakness caused him to become influenced by the Strangites, an offshoot of the Mormons. However, his venture with them in 1846 didn’t last long.
After residing in Kirtland for many years, he left to emigrate to Salt Lake City in 1870. His years in Kirtland did not prove “his moral and religious character was such, as not to entitle him to respect among his neighbors.”
 An Elder making a visit to New York said:
I found there an aged gentleman, 74 years old, who knew Martin Harris, and said that he was known in that neighborhood as an honest farmer, having owned a good farm three miles from that place. (see Mill. Star 44:78)
Martin tells about his relationship with his neighbors in Ohio during an incident previously referred to in this section:
He <Martin Harris> said that on one occasion several of his old acquaintances made an effort to get him tipsy by treating him to some wine. When they thought he was in a good mood for talk, they put the following question very carefully to him: “Well, now, Martin, we want you to be frank and candid with us in regard to this story of your seeing an angel and the golden plates of the Book of Mormon that is so much talked about. We have always taken you to be an honest, good farmer and neighbor of ours, but could not believe that you ever did see an angel. <Martin went on to tell them he did not believe it, he knew it.> (Biographical Encyclopedia, Jensen, p. 274)
Because Martin visited with other churches in Ohio after becoming a Mormon, it is an indication of his good moral and religious character. When people refuse to associate with churches or religion, then there can be justifiable doubts about their character.
Charge 6. The three witnesses were unreliable, denied their testimony, and were condemned by those they aided. Their testimony is like “letting one rattlesnake vouch for another. They cannot be trusted.”
In his article of the three witnesses, Robert McKay tries to set a pattern for judging the validity of these men at witnesses. He casts doubt upon their testimony of the Book of Mormon by casting aspersions upon their character and judgment. By exposing and exaggerating upon their moral and ethical weaknesses, McKay assumes that their testimony of the Book of Mormon is such that “they cannot be trusted.”
Every crafty lawyer will attempt to discredit the testimony of a person by attacking their character and by exposing any personal weaknesses or failings. If a lawyer can destroy, or make the appearance of destroying, the integrity and character of a person, then he can assume to destroy their testimony as well. Such lawyers care nothing about validity. Truth is immaterial to men who are so avid in the defense of their own case. However, this means of judging is certainly not correct nor wise.
As has been mentioned several times already in this response, in spite of the human weaknesses evident in each of these three witnesses, they never did deny their testimonies of the Book of Mormon.
 Testimony of Bible Witnesses
If we were to use McKay’s method of logic for doubting men’s testimonies, we could apply it to anything else–even the Bible itself. For instance, let’s use this anti-Mormon tactic by applying it to three of the witnesses of Christ. We will judge the testimonies of John the Baptist, Simon Peter, and Judas Iscariot by examining the imperfections of their characters as a means of determining the credibility of their testimonies.
John the Baptist
The first consideration of John the Baptist could be concerning his background. He was not educated in the “approved” theological schools of his day. In fact, John was living “in the uninhabited country bordering on Antipas’ realm.” He lived like a recluse, even away from the house of Israel. In the Qumran scrolls there is evidence that the only contact John had with the outside world was with the Essenes. Most ministers of today must be students of some Christian seminary to qualify as a minister of Christ, but not John. How could he qualify as a critic against the great Pharisees and the Roman empire?
I am sure that if Oliver Cowdery had come out of the wilderness the way John did, and wore a hairy camel’s hide and ate locusts and wild honey, it could have been used as further ammunition and “evidence” to discredit Cowdery’s testimony. The anti-Mormons would have said he was some kind of a nut!
The Lord once spoke of John in the following terms:
For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist…. (Luke 7:28)
However, if this would have been said (in a revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants) about Oliver Cowdery, the anti-Mormons would certainly question the source of that revelation or else Oliver’s abilities as a prophet. There was not a greater prophet than John the Baptist, yet nowhere in scripture did he ever make a prophecy!
Continuing further, there is also the question of John’s identity. When John was approached by a party from Jerusalem, he was asked, “What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not.” (John 1:21) But Jesus was telling people, “if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.” (Matt. 11:14) Didn’t John know who he was?
In a very short time John lost confidence in Christ and “hesitated for a time in his wholehearted support of Jesus’s claims for Himself because Jesus did not appear to be exactly the kind of Messiah he had expected.” (Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, 3:645) John, the first and foremost witness of Christ, began to doubt his own testimony!
 From the Mandean sources of historical works (a sect still existing today, and who claim their perpetuation from John the Baptist), there is a recorded rivalry between John and Jesus. They claim that Jesus first came under the ministry of John, but as Jesus rose in fame and honor, John’s diminished and he supposedly resented it.
Whatever John’s feelings were towards Jesus, it appears that he had serious doubts that Jesus was the Messiah. When John was sent to prison “he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him (Jesus), Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” (Matt. 11:3) This was John–the one who was first to herald the announcement of Christ, who was the “forerunner” of the Messiah, who baptized Jesus and heard the voice of God declaring that Jesus was the “Only Begotten Son”. According to the scriptures, John went to prison and lost his head still wondering if Jesus was the real Messiah!
Based upon McKay’s own method and criteria of determining a valid testimony, he certainly should not believe in the “witness” called John the Baptist.
Simon, or Peter, was another “witness” for Christ and a leader of the Twelve Apostles. Peter, or “Rock”, was the name given to him by Jesus. But he was “not always stable and reliable as his name implies.” He was very well aware of his own weaknesses and once exclaimed, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” (Luke 5:8) The anti-Mormons would say that the Lord could never use such sinners, but He did–He chose Peter as a chief apostle.
In the New Testament we read that Jesus spoke to Peter saying: “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:19) Peter did not prove to be as stable as a rock, nor did the church prove stable. Within a few hundred years the Church had suffered destruction, apostasy and a complete departure from its original doctrines. Ignatius, in his letter to the Romans, affirms that Peter actually held positions in the Roman Catholic Church before his death. Marcarius of Magnesia states that Peter was crucified in Rome after being a leader of the church there for only a few months. The Roman episcopal lists make Peter the first Bishop of that city. The film Quo Vadis portrays the story of Peter leaving his duties in the church to save his life, but enroute he had a revelation that said, “I had a disciple who was imprisoned and was to be put to death. He is escaped, and is free. l go to die, a second time, for him.” Peter cried out, “Lord, go not; I will return and die!” He went back the next day, and according to Origen, Peter was crucified upside down.
Regardless of the statements of the apocraphal writers about the apostasy of the church from the time of Peter, the Protestants began to protest an apostasy. They denounced the corruptions of the Catholic Church. The church  was shattered into a thousand little pieces, all claiming to be right and the others all wrong. It doesn’t seem right to blame Peter for the mess the Protestants brought about, but the scriptures said that Peter was given the responsibility to keep the church from the gates of hell. It is evident that the gates of hell have swallowed up nearly all of Christianity. Thus, did Peter fail?
Following the conversion and baptism of Cornelius at Caesarea, Peter had to return to Jerusalem to answer criticisms for the way he had conducted his ministry. (see Acts 11:1-18) Paul also reprimanded Peter for the way he handled his calling in the ministry. Paul said, “But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.” (Gal. 2:11) Poor Peter was getting chastised from the Lord, the disciples, and now even Paul. Consider the following incidents showing that Peter was not always as solid as a “rock”:
- Jesus told Peter, “Thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (Matt. 16:23)
- Jesus upbraided him for being a man “of little faith” and having “doubt”. (Matt. 14:31)
- At one of the most critical periods in the life of Christ, Peter was caught sleeping on the job and was chastised for it. (Matt. 26:40, Mark 14:37)
- Both Mark and Luke mentioned the time of the transfiguration when Peter carried on a conversation and didn’t know what he was talking about. (Mark 9:5; Luke 9:33)
- At the essential washing of the feet, Peter’s impetuousness nearly cost him his chance of ever remaining with the Savior. (John 13:8)
- After the crucifixion, Peter apparently left the ministry. He said to the other disciples, “I go a fishing,” which even influenced the others to follow him. (John 21:3)
- Three times the Lord had to admonish Peter that if he loved Him, he should “feed my sheep”. (John 21:15-18)
- Peter was over-confident, and boastful for he said though all men would deny the Lord, he alone would remain faithful. Jesus said that before the rising of the sun, he would be offended in Him. (Matt. 26:33-34)
- Though Peter held the keys of the ministry of Christ, he took up a sword and cut off a man’s ear, for which he was rebuked by the Lord. (Matt. 26:52)
- The most tragic scene in the life of Peter is when he denied knowing the Savior. This was verified by all four Gospel writers. (Matt. 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:54-62; John 18:25-27)
- Peter not only denied knowing Jesus once, but three times! In his third denial he became so infuriated that he cursed and swore! (Matt. 26:74; Mark 14:71)
- The most shocking rebuke Peter ever received was towards the end of his ministry. Jesus “turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me….” (Matt. 16:23) What had happened to the Rock? Had it turned into a Prince of Darkness? When Jesus called Peter a Satan, that was certainly much worse than Joseph calling Whitmer a dumb ass!
Scholars of the Zondervan Publishing House summarized Peter’s weaknesses best when they stated that his life–
. . . illustrates, however, the danger of misdirected and superficial enthusiasm. Some of the sharpest rebukes in the New Testament were directed at him. His positive traits are inspiring and challenging; his negative traits are a warning. Enthusiasm and devotion must be tempered by a balanced and informed perspective. Peter could be overconfident in his enthusiasm, at time bordering on the arrogance (as in the Upper Room).” (Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible 4:739)
If the Lord would have given a revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants calling either Cowdery, Whitmer or Harris “Satan”, then McKay would have a more valid argument than the one he proposes. How could McKay ever acknowledge the testimony of a man the Lord called “Satan”?
There is little doubt that Judas, called Iscariot, became a Christian in good faith and with good intentions. He aspired, and probably qualified, to occupy the position of one of the Twelve Apostles–the highest position of trust among the disciples of Jesus. However, he began to display certain weaknesses of the flesh. The first incident of his mortal failings is recorded thus:
Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? (See Matt. 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-10; John 12:1-8)
The Apostle John was very certain in explaining that Judas was not really interested in caring for the poor, but rather to satisfy his own avarice. When Judas was complaining about the costly oil to be sold, John wrote:
This he said not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. (John 12:6)
 According to John, Judas wanted the money turned over to him to give to the poor, but his intentions were to steal it for himself. Judas was a thief, and he could and perhaps should have been sent to jail. He was stealing from all the other disciples and even from Jesus, too! That’s worse than Oliver’s supposed bogus money scandle.
Judas became a “thief”, yet Jesus did nothing, or at least very little, to disfellowship or excommunicate the man for his thievery. Jesus was usually the first to recognize the weaknesses of men and to help them overcome. All through the New Testament we read of the mercy and forgiving nature of the Gospel message. Personal weaknesses were tolerable to Christ and forgivable; but when men turn traitor, they commit wilful, intentional and deliberate sins, causing trouble or harm to those they once called friends. It was these unrepentant evils which persisted in Judas that debased him and resulted in his becoming a traitor. When men expose themselves to the spirit of unrighteousness, they soon become servant to the master of all unrighteousness. Judas, like most traitors, became an aspiring spirit, undoubtedly considering himself better or more intelligent than the other disciples.
From the scriptures we can ascertain that the plot and execution of betrayal were ingeniously carried out with minutest detail. It was the craftiest lawyers, the learned Pharisees, and the wisest sages of the Jews that tried and failed so many times to trap the Messiah. Not until Judas performed the act of a traitor was Christ brought into a position to be murdered.
The Prophet Joseph Smith once said:
I am exposed to far greater danger from traitors among ourselves than from enemies without, although my life has been sought for many years by the civil and military authorities, priests and people of Missouri; and if I can escape from the ungrateful treachery of assassins, I can live as Caesar might have lived, were it not for a right-hand Brutus. I have had pretended friends betray me. All the enemies upon the face of the earth may roar and exert all their power to bring about my death, but they can accomplish nothing, unless some who are among us, who have enjoyed our society, have been with us in our councils, participated in our confidence, taken us by the hand, called us brother, saluted us with a kiss, join with our enemies, turn our virtues into faults, and, by falsehood and deceit, stir up their wrath and indignation against us, and bring their united vengeance upon our heads. All the hue and cry of the chief priests and elders against the Savior could not bring down the wrath of the Jewish nation upon his head, and thereby cause the crucifixion of the Son of God, until Judas said unto them: `Whomsoever I shall kiss he is the man; hold him fast.’ Judas was one of the Twelve Apostles, even their treasurer, and dipped with their Master in the dish, and through his treachery, the crucifixion was brought about; and we have a Judas in our midst, (Life of Joseph Smith, by George Q. Cannon, p, 430)
In fact, there always have been Judases in the midst of the Mormons.
 Even though Judas was acknowledged to be an Apostle of Christ–a most high and holy calling–sin overtook him and rather than fulfilling his calling as an Apostle, he became an adversary. At the Last Supper, Jesus said, “Ye are not all clean” (John 13:11), because He was aware of how far Judas had transgressed. Though He washed their feet, He knew their hearts and He saw filth in the heart of Judas. It would not wash away. The traitorous character of Judas was not discernable to the other Apostles, but Jesus knew he would betray Him.
Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him.
Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, and said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him. (Matt. 26:3-4, 14-16)
The Scribes and Pharisees were eager to take advantage of the offer by Judas. “And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money.” (Mark 14:11) If greed for money was the reason that Judas acted the traitor in the betrayal, it was a most paltry sum, for Judas sold Christ for the price of a slave. (Ex. 21:32) So, “they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued.” (Matt. 27:9) In our money, this is about $18.00.
Judas was aptly described by Christ as “a devil” (John 6:70), and also a “son of perdition” (John 17:12). These two names were the worst possible titles that Christ could put upon a mortal being.
The Gospel writers and the apostles also referred to him as, “Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor….” (Luke 6:16) The appellation was earned and well attached to Judas, for it was his most famous act. Betrayal or traitorous acts are all solemn and saddening. Those who forsake or turn against their family leave broken hearts; those who betray the confidence of an organization prove to be unworthy of trust by any other company; and he that betrays or acts as traitor to his country is often worthy of death. But the sin of betrayal to God is more serious, more terrible and worse in the final judgment than man has conceived of.
Within the character of Judas we have an Apostle, or witness, of Jesus Christ. Also within this person is a thief, a traitor, a liar, a betrayer and a man who initiated the death of the Savior. However, the fact that he had been a thief and worse during his ministry did not negate his work or testimony of Christ. His early ministry was performed with good intention, in faith and with certain testimony. His acts of sin were done in the hour of temptation. His failure as an Apostle did not destroy his work of the ministry–it only destroyed himself.
Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris and David Whitmer also had their personal weaknesses, but they never turned traitor to their testimony, nor did they ever deny or betray Christ.
To reiterate then, McKay makes this observation concerning the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon:
The Mormon Church claims that these three men were sober, steady individuals who would not lie, who could not be easily fooled, and whose word was reliable. The facts are otherwise. Rather than being unimpeachable, these witnesses and their testimony are worthless in determining the truth about the Book of Mormon.
Yet, on the other hand, McKay would want you to believe that John the Baptist and Simon Peter were “sober, steady individuals who would not lie, who could not be easily fooled, and whose word was reliable.” The facts are otherwise. Using the same criteria, these witnesses and their testimony, (according to McKay’s reasoning) are worthless in determining the truth about Christ and the Bible.
McKay, who was once a Mormon himself, summarizes his article by saying:
Thus we see that the testimony of Three Witnesses was signed by men who were unreliable, who denied their testimony, and who were condemned by those they aided. To hold these three men and their testimony up to the world as proof that the Book of Mormon is of God is analogous to letting one rattlesnake vouch for another. They cannot be trusted.
According to the assumptions made by Robert McKay, one would probably consider the witnesses of Christ to be “unreliable, who denied their testimony, and who were condemned by those they aided.” Shall we also say that “to hold these three men and their testimony up to the world as proof” that the Bible is of God, would be “analogous to letting one rattlesnake vouch for another?”
If Cowdery, Harris and Whitmer, who once claimed membership in the L.D.S. Church, but left it and thus became “unreliable and who denied their testimony,” were to be likened to rattlesnakes, then let us include all the other Mormon apostates who became anti-Mormon writers. But since there are so many variations and kinds of Mormon apostates, they can’t all be classified as rattlesnakes–we should brand them as Cobras, Cottonmouths, Diamondbacks and Sidewinders!
But these three witnesses of Christ–John, Peter and Judas–also displayed weaknesses and faults in their characters, just as did Oliver, Martin and David.
Consider these three witnesses of Christ–John died with a message of doubt about the identity of Christ. Peter denied knowing Jesus just before His crucifixion, and Judas died right after betraying Christ.
 On the other hand, consider the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon–all three on their deathbed bore testimony to their witness of the Book of Mormon plates and the angel who showed them.
But as the personal weaknesses of the witnesses of Christ did not invalidate their testimony of Christ, neither did the personal weaknesses of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon invalidate their testimony of the Book of Mormon.
If men “cannot be trusted” who lived about two hundred years ago because they exhibited weaknesses and failings, then men who lived 2000 years ago “cannot be trusted” because they displayed similar weaknesses.
If McKay scorns the testimony of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon because of frailties in their character, he should consider in the same light these other three witnesses of Christ and their frailties. On this basis, how could Robert McKay ever swallow the story of Christianity?
It seems so strange to me that the anti-Mormons can be so zealous in discovering any discrepancy, error or human weakness in the background of the Latter-day Saints, yet they can gloss over the same things in the Bible! Is this an occasion where they see a sliver in another’s eye, but miss the beam in their own?
But, did the testimony of these witnesses of the Book of Mormon as well as the witnesses of Christ become invalid because of personal failings? Absolutely not! God has no one but imperfect beings to work with, and His mercy extends beyond the meager limits so often set by mortal men. Too often men misjudge the things of God by their condemnation of the men who bear that message. Oliver Cowdery perhaps said it best:
But in reviewing the lives and acts of men in past generations, whenever we find a righteous man among them, there always were excuses for not giving heed or credence to his testimony. The people could see his imperfections; or, if no imperfections, supposed ones, and were always ready to frame an excuse upon that for not believing. No matter how pure the principles, nor how precious the teachings–an excuse was wanted, and an excuse was had. * * *
One of two reasons may be assigned as the cause why the messengers of truth have been rejected–perhaps both. The multitude saw their imperfections, or supposed ones, and from that framed an excuse for rejecting them; or else in consequence of the corruption of their own hearts, when reproved, were not willing to repent but sought to make a man an offender for a word, or for wearing camels’ hair, eating locusts, drinking wine, or showing friendship to publicans and sinners!
When looking over the sacred scriptures, we seem to forget that they were given through men of imperfections and subject to passions. It is a general belief that the ancient prophets were  perfect–that no stain or blemish ever appeared upon their characters while on earth, to be brought forward by the opposer as an excuse for not believing. * * * And that even our Saviour, the great shepherd of Israel, was mocked and derided, and placed on a parallel with the prince of devils; and the prophets and apostles, though at this day looked upon as perfect as perfection, were considered the basest of the human family by those among whom they lived. (Letters by Oliver Cowdery to W. W. Phelps, pp. 12-14)
Good men, wayward men, and bad men all may give a true testimony. On one occasion even the devils bore testimony of Jesus. When Jesus came into the country of the Gergesenes, he met “two possessed with devils”, who spoke to him and cried, “What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God?,” and asked to be cast into a herd of swine. (Matt. 8:28-31)
If good men, bad men, and devils alike confess the truth, we should be willing to acknowledge it. John, Peter, Judas, Oliver, Martin and David all bore valid testimonies, even though they displayed the frailties of mortal men. The Mormons, more than anyone else, know the honor and calling of John the Baptist even after his death. Oliver Cowdery’s last breath of life was a testament of seeing John the Baptist in glory. Peter’s burst of denial was not said in sincerity but in grief. As evidence that the Lord made no issue of it, Peter was the first man to witness the resurrection of Christ. Judas was a witness of the miracles of Christ and stood by Him during most of His ministry, but he became an apostate who opposed what he once professed as true. Let his life be a warning to those who become traitors to their faith. How many Latter-day Saints have become traitors to their faith, acting as Judas by writing and preaching against Mormonism and selling their betrayal for pieces of silver?
Christians should be engaged in doing good, promoting the doctrines of Christ, and administering to the needs of others. The real Gospel of Christ is not negative, as anti-Mormon literature demonstrates, but its message aims high, exalts men, and proclaims freedom and truth.
One Mormon beautifully describes true Christianity and Priesthood:
This, then, is true priesthood–to be images of the living God, exhibiting in our characteristics His brightness and His strength; to be girt and endowed with the purity of His nature; to be insullied in heart and mind; to stand by the strength of redeeming, saving qualities; to bless, and bless, and bless again, notwithstanding ingratitude in some–building, sustaining, and protecting all the time; to fight all spirits of division and all principles of death; to help the weak, the downtrodden, and the helpless, till helping becomes our natural food, working on all principles that yield nourishment, support, and strength–till our very presence is as the sun, cheering and blessing all. So shall God increase within us, refreshing our own spirits, and watering all around, and the characteristics of the Holy Priesthood will grow out from us like the branches of a fruitful tree that yield shelter, shield, and fruit. (Mill. Star 20:641-644)
 We are grateful to the men who were witnesses of Christ and those who were witnesses to the Book of Mormon. Understanding both their frailties and testimony helps us overcome our own weaknesses and failings. The tolerant mercy we extend to others, we hope the Lord will extend to us. It is a great consolation to know the mercy and kindness of God towards weak fallible mortals. And how loving He is to continue to work with and for us in spite of so many failings. In that hope and faith we anticipate the day when we shall see and hear for ourselves the testimony of many others besides those “Three Witnesses” in the Kingdom of God.
* * * * *
R E V E L A T I O N
WORTHY MALE MEMBERS
SPENCER W. KIMBALL
R E V E L A T I O N
T H E H O L Y P R I E S T H O O D
128th year–No. 30880 PAGESSALT LAKE CITY, UTAH
20 CENTS FRIDAY, JUNE 9, 1978 Copyright Deseret News 1978
LDS Church extends priesthood to all worthy male members
The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today released the following statement:
As we have witnessed the expansion of the work of the Lord over the earth, we have been grateful that people of many nations have responded to the message of the restored gospel, and have joined the church in ever-increasing numbers. This, in turn, has inspired us with a desire to extend to every worthy member of the church all of the privileges and blessings which the gospel affords.
Aware of the promises made by the prophets and presidents of the church who have preceded us that at some time, in God’s eternal plan, all of our brethren who are worthy may receive the priesthood, and witnessing the faithfulness of those from whom the priesthood has been withheld, we have pleaded long and earnestly in behalf of these, our faithful brethren, spending many hours in the upper room of the Temple supplicating the Lord for divine guidance.
He has heard our prayers. and by revelation has confirmed that the long promised day has come when every, faithful, worthy man in the church may receive the holy priesthood with power to exercise its divine authority, and enjoy with his loved ones every blessing that flows therefrom, including the blessings of the temple. Accordingly, all worthy male members of the church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color. Priesthood leaders are instructed to follow the policy of carefully interviewing all candidates for ordination to either the Aaronic or Melchizedek Priesthood to insure that they meet the established standards for worthiness.
We declare with soberness that the Lord has now made known his will for the blessing of an his children throughout the earth who will hearken to the voice of his authorized servants, and prepare themselves to receive every blessing of the gospel.
Spencer W. Kimball
- Eldon Tanner
Marion G. Romney
the First Presidency
 July 4, 1978
President Spencer W. Kimball
Church Office Building
47 East South Temple
Salt Lake City, Utah 84103
Dear President Kimball:
One of my children has recently returned from a Church mission and three more have been preparing to go on missions. However, the recent announcement that the Priesthood can now be given to the Negroes has raised several questions in my mind. Before I can sustain or support my children on missions for the Church, I must have the following ten questions satisfactorily answered.
- This announcement contradicts the statements of all previous presidencies of the Church. The word of the Lord should be consistent and unchangeable, “for God doth not walk in crooked paths, neither doth he vary from that which he hath said….” (D.& C. 3:2)
President Brigham Young declared that:
“The Lord said I will not kill Cain, but I will put a mark upon him, and that mark will be seen upon the face of every Negro upon the face of the earth; and it is the decree of God that that mark shall remain upon the seed of Cain until the seed of Abel shall be redeemed and Cain shall not receive the priesthood until the time of that redemption. (Wilford Woodruff, by Cowley, p. 351)
President Brigham Young had received the word of the Lord on this matter and once remarked:
Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. THIS WILL ALWAYS BE SO. (J.D. 10:110)
How long is that race to endure the dreadful curse that is upon them? That curse will remain upon them and they never can hold the Priesthood or share in it until all the other descendants of Adam have received the promises and enjoyed the blessings of the Priesthood and the keys thereof…. (J.D. 7:290)
When there is a contradiction between past and present prophets, then someone is wrong. Either the early presidencies of the Church were wrong and those today are right–or else the former presidents of the Church were inspired of God and those today are not. One or the other is right, or else they are all wrong together. Yet, we know the early men of the Church were led of God–so how can we justify this contradiction by saying the leaders of today are also right?
 It appears that this “revelation”, like the Manifesto is not a new revelation, but rather a statement, by the president of the Church, abandoning revelations that have previously been given. Why is there such a contradiction in the word of God?
- Why was this revelation proclaimed as a doctrine of the Church before the members had an opportunity to vote on it? We are told by the Lord that “all things MUST be done in order, and by COMMON CONSENT in the Church, by the prayer of faith.” (D. & C. 28:13; see also D. & C. 26:2) This is a privilege and a duty of the members. The right of common consent in God’s Church prevents dictatorship so that unwanted decrees cannot be hoisted upon its members without their approval. Even the ancient church of God followed this procedure. Why has this new edict overturned the established order of procedure as outlined by the Lord?
- Why was the announcement of this revelation given to the public news media before it was published or printed in any of the Church publications, or before it was announced to the members of the Church? The haste and manner by which it was proclaimed to the world, rather than to the members, has the essence of satisfying public clamor rather than the needs of the Church. The revelations of the Lord have always been for the benefit of Church members, not to meet the demands of society or for gentile approbation. Was this announcement generated to satisfy Civil Rights groups and appease the wrath of those bringing lawsuits to you and the Church, rather than for some spiritual merits achieved by the Negroes, of which we are all unaware?
- Within two days after this announcement, Negroes were being ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood. Within two weeks of that announcement, Negroes were administering the sacrament, taking out their endowments, being sealed in mixed marriages in the Temple, and being called on missions! Why the extreme rush to put the Negro into these positions and appointments without proceeding through the same step by step gradations that have been required of the whites? Men should be advanced to the Priesthood according to their faithfulness and accomplishments in each of the offices of the Church to prove their worthiness for Priesthood advancement. Now the Negro is receiving preferential treatment, and Church procedure with the Negro is creating a discrimination against the white man.
- Where is this revelation? If such a revelation is to be thrust upon four million members of the Church as official doctrine, they are entitled to read it. If it is a revelation, then it should be published, voted upon, and added to the standard works of the Church as scripture. If the Lord should reveal something to you, which is of a personal nature, then you have the right to keep it secret, and probably should. But when a revelation comes through the president of the Church for its members, then they are entitled to have it.
On June 17, 1933, the First Presidency, under President Heber J. Grant, issued the following statement:
It is alleged that on September 26, 1886, President John Taylor received a revelation from the purported text of which is given in publications….
 As to this pretended revelation, it should be said that the archives of the Church contain no such revelation; the archives contain no record of any such revelation, nor any evidence justifying a belief that any such revelation was ever given.
From the personal knowledge of some of us, from the uniform and common recollection of the presiding quorums of the Church, from the absence in the Church archives of any evidence whatsoever justifying any belief that such a revelation was given, we are justified in affirming that no such revelation exists. (Way of the Master, by Mark E. Petersen, p. 58)
I called up to the Church Archives to inquire about obtaining a copy of this latest revelation, but they informed me that they do not have any copy of it, nor do they know the whereabouts of that revelation. Am I justified then in saying that since “the archives of the Church contain no such revelation nor any evidence justifying belief that any such revelation was given, that I am also “justified in affirming that no such revelation exists?”
On December 6, 1974, you sent a letter to “All Stake and Mission Presidents, Bishops and Branch Presidents in the Western United States and Western Canada” recommending that they use the book The Way of the Master by Elder Petersen, to help counsel “members of the Church who may be influenced by false doctrine being disseminated by apostate cultist groups.” Also you stated that you wanted them to be informed by that book so “no member of the Church be led astray by those who covertly try to teach falsehoods.” You recommended reading Chapters 8 through 15 for this purpose. May I remind you of a paragraph in Chapter 11 which states:
Furthermore, so far as the authorities of the Church are concerned and so far as the members of the Church are concerned, since this pretended revelation, if ever given, was never presented to and adopted by the Church or by any council of the Church, and since to the contrary, an inspired rule of action, the Manifesto, was (subsequently to the pretended revelation) presented to and adopted by the Church, which inspired rule in its terms, purport, and effect was directly opposite to the interpretation given to the pretended revelation, the said pretended revelation could have no validity and no binding effect and force upon Church members, and action under it would be unauthorized, illegal, and void.” (The Way of the Master, p. 58)
Now then, since your “revelation” was “never presented to and adopted by the members of the Church” and your revelation is “opposite to the inspired rule in its terms, purport, and was directly opposite to” those revelations and teachings of the scriptures and prophets before you, then should I consider that your “revelation could have no validity and no binding effect and force upon Church members, and action under it would be unauthorized, illegal, and void?”
At least the Revelation of 1886 began by saying, “Thus saith the Lord.” It also said, “All commandments that I give must be obeyed by those calling  themselves by my name, unless they are revoked by me or by my authority, and how can I revoke an everlasting covenant; For I the Lord am everlasting and my everlasting covenants cannot be abrogated, nor done away with but they stand forever.”
The hallmark of distinction between a prophet of Mormonism and all the rest of the world is a “Thus saith the Lord” revelation which marks the stamp of Divine approval on it. This is the distinction between false prophets and true prophets. Also, a true prophet will never call a “Thus saith the Lord” revelation from God a “concocted,” “purported” or “spurious” revelation. Neither will he oppose it or its doctrines. As a matter of fact, the Prophet Joseph Smith warned members that the devil could be detected “by his contradicting a former revelation” from the Lord. (T.P.J.S., p. 215)
In summary, then, your “revelation” (a) contradicts a former revelation, (b) it has not been voted upon by the members of the Church, and (c) it is not to be found in the Archives of the Church or in any of the Church publications. How then can we have any assurance that it came from God?
- Calling the house of Cain to receive the rights of the Priesthood makes a distinct change in our Articles of Faith. Since we no longer apparently believe in “…the literal gathering of Israel” and the “…restoration of the ten tribes,” but now have included the “tribe” of Cain, I presume these articles will have to be re-written. The Lord declared that we “…are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect…” (D. & C. 29:7). What has brought about this change that the call is being made to the unelected? Is there a justification and reason for this reversal in the articles of our faith?
- According to the word of the Lord, the descendants of Cain received a dark skin, which was a distinguishing feature of those who would be “…cursed as pertaining to the Priesthood,” and should not have the right of possessing the Priesthood. (Abraham 1:27) If those of that lineage are worthy to receive the Priesthood, why are they still cursed with a black skin? If God placed this mark upon that certain lineage for a particular reason, wouldn’t He remove that mark when it was time for them to obtain the rights of the Priesthood? He has removed that stigma before (2 Nephi 30:6), and He can do this again if He chooses to bestow Priesthood upon them.
The skin of blackness was a curse given to the Negro race because of their disappointing weakness in the pre-existence; therefore, they forfeited the right to obtain the Priesthood in mortality. If they are still being born black, they must still be of that class to whom the curse was given in the pre-existence. How can there be any justification for giving the Priesthood to anyone who still has the mark of a curse from their pre-mortal life?
- Do members of the Church now have any justifiable grounds for segregation of the races? Before this announcement came, members had the right of religious convictions for not intermarrying and inter-mixing races, but now there are no apparent grounds to prevent intermarriage. Any mention of discrimination by natural selection, or right of preference, can now bring trouble and lawsuits by any blacks who wish to use the law for their own personal wishes. What right are members left to claim segregation of their own race?
 9. How long, and how many times, has the presidency of the Church appealed to the Lord for a change on this issue? The very fact that the Lord has warned us not to “ask for that which you ought not” (D. & C. 8:10) because “if ye ask anything that is not expedient for you, it shall turn unto your condemnation” (D.& C. 88:65), should be remembered. When Joseph Smith continually pleaded to the Lord for permission to give the 116 pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript to Martin Harris, the Lord finally consented. The Lord finally gave him permission, not because it was right but because of Joseph’s persistence. I am wondering if such a situation has again occurred.
Also, the prophet Balaam, because of his persistence, chose a different path to follow from that which the Lord revealed to him. (See Numbers 22)
Fifteen years ago, Hugh B. Brown told the news media that the First Presidency was seeking for possible ways to change this ban to the Negroes and that they were considering abandoning this doctrine in the Church. The New York Times published the account in the following report:
Salt Lake City, June 3–The top leadership of the Mormon Church is seriously considering the abandonment of its historic policy of discrimination against Negroes. ***
One of the highest officers of the Church said today that the possibility of removing this religious disability against Negroes has been under serious consideration.
“We are in the midst of a survey looking toward the possibility of admitting Negroes,” said Hugh B. Brown, one of the two counselors serving President David O. McKay in the First Presidency of the Mormon Church. ***
Mr. Brown, a 79-year-old former attorneys said he believed that if the change were made, it would be a doctrinal revision for Mormonism of a magnitude matching the abandonment of polygamy in 1890. (New York Times, June 7, 1963)
For the fifteen years since then, the Church has been the victim of lawsuits, Civil Rights protestors, unwarranted attacks by the news media, and a constant clamor from public opinion for this change. Has a constant and repetitious appeal to the Lord brought about this reversal, just as it was granted to Joseph Smith?
- Why have written revelations and spiritual gifts declined so much over the past 80 or 90 years? The last written revelation that carried a “Thus saith the Lord” was recorded in 1889 which stated in part:
Thus saith the Lord…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.
Fear not the wicked and ungodly.
 Search the scriptures, for they are they which testify of me; also those revelations which I have given to my servant Joseph, and to all my servants since the world began, which are recorded in the record of divine truth.
The eyes of the Lord and the Heavenly Hosts are watching over you and your acts. Therefore, be faithful until I come.
The Manifesto, which was issued a few months later, was of course a denial of His word, and it placed members of the Church into jeopardy by promise with their enemies. This was the last time the Church as a body has heard a “Thus saith the Lord” revelation.
Your “revelation” is another promise to the demands of our enemies and a denial of God’s word on the subject of Priesthood. Can these be the reasons that spiritual gifts, and the written revelations of God, have discontinued in the Church?
* * * * *
All of this brings me to the sobering thought that this “revelation” which you claim may not be from the Lord! In fact, all of the evidence so far leads to this conclusion. If your “revelation” is not from God, or even if your “revelation” is premature, the consequences could be catastrophic!
President Brigham Young said:
Let this Church which is called the Kingdom of God on the earth; we will summons the First Presidency, the Twelve, the High Council, the Bishopric, and all the Elders of Israel, suppose we summons them and appear here, and here declare that it is right to mingle our seed with the black race of Cain, that they shall come in with us and be partakers with us of all the blessings God has given to us. On that very day and hour we should do so, the Priesthood is taken from this Church and Kingdom and God leaves us to our fate. The moment we consent to mingle with the seed of Cain, the Church must go to destruction–we should receive the curse which has been placed upon the seed of Cain, and never more be numbered with the children of Adam who are heirs to the Priesthood until that curse be removed. (Speech by Governor Brigham Young in Joint Session of the Legislature, giving his views on slavery, February 5, 1852.)
According to this, then, every man in the Church who tries to give the Priesthood to the Negro, or sanctions giving it to them, must, of course, lose his own Priesthood. In such a condition, “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.” (T.P.J.S., p. 169)
All of the descendants of those who mix their seed with the Canaanites will be deprived of the Priesthood, for “any man having one drop of the seed of Cain in him cannot receive the Priesthood…. (Wilford Woodruff, p. 351)
 All those of the black race who think they possess the Priesthood will learn that they have been deceived by the present leaders of the Church.
All of the black people, and those who have ordained them, who give ordinations and perform ordinances will learn that they were of no avail. All their administrations will be vain. “The gifts of God are all useful in their place, but when they are applied to that which God does not intend, they prove an injury, a snare and a curse instead of a blessing.” (T.P.J.S., p. 248)
All those who have put their trust in your arm will learn that they have been deceived and cursed. (D. & C. 1:19; 2 Nephi 4:34; Jer. 17:5)
All those who seek to exalt the Negro will only bring themselves down to their station and lose the “rights of the Priesthood” until the Negro does receive it.
All those who believe that you received a true revelation and later learn that it was not true, would say that you were guilty of “blasphemy” and that you were a false prophet because you produced a revelation that was not of God. The law of God declares such to be guilty of death. (See Deut. 13:1-5)
All of the temples would become corrupted by those who enter without the Priesthood. Their ordinances and offerings would no longer be acceptable to the Lord, as in the case of Cain.
In such a condition the Lord would someday be forced to return and “set His house in order” and remove the Canaanite from His temples, as foretold in the scriptures: “…and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts.” (Zach. 14:21)
If your “revelation” is not from the Lord, then you must someday answer to your forefathers who were before you. Your grandfather, Heber C. Kimball, like other great men, “…are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and motions, and are often pained therewith. (T.P.J.S., p. 326) From Heber C. Kimball to Father Abraham you will have to answer for letting the Canaanites into the House of the Lord and defiling His temples. You will have to explain why you allowed the Negro into the temples, but have excommunicated men and women who have believed and lived the principles that your forefathers had taught as being the fulness of the gospel. To more than four million members you will have to answer for a curse upon the House of Israel.
The consequences and results of your “revelation” could prove to be the forfeiture of celestial blessings from which sorrow and regret may never be overcome through all the eternities.
 Because these Priesthood matters are of such vital importance, I have been prompted to write this letter. I would very much appreciate your interest and concern to such an extent that you would respond to these questions.
cc: Members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve
DESERET NEWS, WEEKEND OF JUNE 10, 1978 A3
Dissident calls change `convenient’
Three men who have been excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints said today they were happy to see the ban lifted on blacks holding the priesthood, but one called it “a revelation of convenience.”
All three said they felt agitation by dissidents helped bring about the change announced Friday by the First Presidency of the church.
One of the men, H. Byron Marchant, voluntarily dropped his civil litigation against Church President Spencer W. Kimball a few hours after the announcement.
Marchant’s attorney, Brian Barnard, said the lawsuit was withdrawn because he felt the issue is now resolved.
Marchant opposed the church’s previous policy of excluding blacks from ordinations. He was charged in April with trespassing after his arrest in the vicinity of the church’s April General Conference.
Douglas A. Wallace, a Vancouver Wash., attorney who was excommunicated in 1976 after performing an unauthorized ordination of a black man to the priesthood, said he “wasn’t surprised” by the announcement.
“It was a revelation of convenience,” said Wallace, “just as the decision in 1890 to stop polygamy was politically inspired.”
He said he thought the change would have “very little impact unless the church begins to work among minorities.”
Wallace had filed several lawsuits against the church since his excommunication. A federal judge dismissed three suits last March. Wallace had sought $2.2 million in damages from the church, contending its actions had prevented him from practicing his religion.
John Fitzgerald, former Mormon chaplain, said he would be willing to return to the church if leaders would rescind his excommunication, but said he would not be rebaptized because he feels he did nothing wrong in objecting to the issue.
He said he thought the change of policy was long overdue. “The church is very wise in making the change now,” he said, “because of the coming dedication of the temple in Brazil where the church has had difficulty telling which members have black ancestry.”
128th YEAR–NO. 309 50 PAGES SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH 20 CENTS
WEEKEND of JUNE 10, 1978
Carter praises LDS action
President Spencer W. Kimball was commended for “compassionate prayerfulness and courage” by President Jimmy Carter as reaction continued today to the First Presidency’s announcement ending all racial barriers to priesthood ordination.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 148 year-old practice of barring blacks from the priesthood was swept away Friday in a statement saying revelation, had been received “to extend to every worthy member of our church all the privileges and blessings which the gospel affords.
“Accordingly, all worthy members of the church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color.”
Reaction to the dramatic statement was overwhelmingly positive as the news swept across Utah and the nation Friday. Major news outlets held up editions to get the news in; Church Office Building employees were swamped with requests for additional comment by the news media and church members themselves. Black LDS Church members were ecstatic. (See related stories on A-3.)
In a telegram to President Kimball, President Carter said, “I welcomed today your announcement as president and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that henceforth all worthy men in your church without regard for race or color relay have conferred upon them the priesthood in your church.
“I commend you for your compassionate prayerfulness and courage in receiving a new doctrine.
“This announcement brings a healing spirit to the world and reminds all men and women that they are truly brothers and sisters.”
Reaction of joyous black members was typified by James Dawson, a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir: “I am overwhelmed . . . grateful .. . this is a great blessing to the black brethren of the church.”
The announcement Friday fulfilled statements made by most LDS Church presidents since Joseph Smith that blacks would one day obtain the full blessings of the church, including the priesthood.
Speaking against slavery, Brigham Young once told the Utah Legislature, “. . “the day will come when all that race (blacks) will be redeemed and possess all the blessings which we now have.”
That statement was formally restated by President Wilford Woodruff in a First Presidency announcement and has been widely quoted by church leaders ever since.
President Kimball, in a press conference shortly after assuming the church leadership in 1973, said he had given the black-priesthood problem much thought and prayer, and the day might come when blacks would be given the priesthood.
He emphasized then that such a change in church practice would have to come through a revelation from God.
“But we believe in revelation,” he said. “We believe there are yet many more things to be revealed from the Lord.”–
In the Friday announcement, the First Presidency made it clear that the new policy is based on revelation.
“. . . we have pleaded long and earnestly in behalf of these, our faithful brethren spending many hours in the upper room of the Temple supplicating the Lord for divine guidance.
“He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the church may receive the holy priesthood . . . ”
The announcement came after several months of careful study and consideration by the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve.
A major problem the church has faced with its policy regarding blacks was in Brazil, where the church is building a temple. Many people there are mixed racially, and it is often impossible to determine whether church
See CARTER on A-3
Carter leads comment on LDS action
Continued from A-l
members have black ancestry.
The practice of denying blacks the priesthood has long been a difficult public issue for the church, and in the past the church has been severely criticized for it.
However, the announcement changing the practice came at a time when comparatively little pressure was being received by the church to change it.
During the 1960s, when racial tensions often erupted into violence, the church and its institutions were subjected to great hostility and repeated protests, especially at athletic events.
Male LDS Church members generally receive the Aaronic Priesthood at the age of 12 and the Melchizedek Priesthood, if they are deemed worthy, at age 18 or 19.
Priesthood holders are allowed to officiate in church ordinances, depending upon which office they hold.
As news of the First Presidency’s announcement swept across the country and the world, it was hailed as “the most important day for the church of this century, Dr. Sterling M. McMurrin, dean of the University of Utah Graduate School and a longtime critic of the Church’s position.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said be shares the joy of the church First Presidency and members throughout the world “that the answer to our sincere and ongoing prayers to our Lord has come. . .
Salt Lake City Mayor Ted Wilson said, “According to my personal religious beliefs God has spoken through the prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints. I am more than delighted and gratified that people of all races can now receive the full range of blessings from the church.”
Passersby on the street interviewed by news media were nearly all pleased with the church announcement.
The Salt Lake Branch, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People sent a telegram to LDS church headquarters saying, “Congratulations to you in the ads LDS Church upon today’s announcement that all male members regardless of race shall be received into the priesthood.
“We have been of the opinion for many years that your prior practice of exclusion of blacks from progression . . . has extended into secular affairs and has done much to sustain discrimination in areas of employment, housing, education and cultural affairs.
“Your decision today will do much to change that opinion and undoubtable will have an effect toward eradication of unjustifiable treatment to any people based on race.”
James E. Dooley, NAACP president, said he personally feels good about what happened and received many phone calls from blacks, all positive.
Rabbi Abner Bergman, Congregation Kol Ami, said be was delighted when he heard the news. “For some time the Mormon people have practiced equality and fairness in their dealings with human beings of different faiths and racial backgrounds,” he said. “The statement issued by the church serves to give an outward manifestation to what has long been unspoken personal relationships of equality between Mormons and others.
“Because this statement will carry the weight of law within the church, it will serve to make more fully manifest the ideas ideals and equally equality the church upholds. ”
Bishop Otis Charles, Episcopal diocese of Utah, said, “I think we should share the joy that must be in the hearts of m