History, Hearsay and Heresy Part 3:
Herein. Danger. Lies.

Taken from the blog To the Remnant by Adrian Larsen

This post is a continuation of parts 1 and 2. If you haven't read them yet, I'd start there.

I believe Joseph Smith was a prophet, called by God, authorized to teach, and given God's word for the world. I believe he taught pure truth, though to a largely unreceptive audience.

I believe truth, and only truth, gives us power to exercise faith unto life and salvation, so I have a real problem when falsehoods are taught in Joseph's name, with a design to manipulate the gullible and confuse the ill-informed.

Trusting your eternal salvation to such falsehoods is beyond dangerous. It is damning.

I want to know what Joseph knew. He parted the heavens, stood in the presence of God, and received the promise of eternal life. Therefore I'm keenly interested in ANYTHING Joseph taught.

And I'm keenly UNINTERESTED in falsehoods attributed to Joseph that he did NOT teach.

It's vital to know the difference.

Previously, we've examined some of the quotations attributed to Joseph Smith, Jr. in the
Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith manual, Chapter 27: Beware the Bitter Fruits of Apostasy.

We need to continue with a couple more. Let's start with this gem:

"I will give you one of the Keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is an eternal principle, that has existed with God from all eternity: That man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man is in the high road to apostasy; and if he does not repent, will apostatize, as God lives."

This particular quote is cited as follows:

History of the Church, 3:385; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on July 2, 1839, in Montrose, Iowa; reported by Wilford Woodruff and Willard Richards.

Therefore, this quote is cited from three sources:

  1. History of the Church by B.H. Roberts;
  2. Wilford Woodruff
  3. Willard Richards

The quote does indeed appear in Source 1, History of the Church, but that's not the original source. History of the Church simply lifted the quote from the other two sources, as follows:

First is Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, where we find the lengthy notes Woodruff took during the meeting in question. Trouble is, Woodruff's Journal completely omits this quote, though it directly (and without interruption) supplies the rest of the sermon used in History of the Church.

The other source is Willard Richards' Pocket Companion, which does contain this quote.

OK, so got that so far? Woodruff omits this paragraph from the sermon. Richards has this paragraph in the middle of the sermon. Woodruff, no. Richards, yes.

Woodruff, who was present at the meeting in question, is considered the most reliable source because he recorded the notes of the meeting while in attendance. But this quote does not appear in that record. The sermon before and after this quote appears there uninterrupted, but the quoted paragraph is completely absent.

Richards' Pocket Companion is actually a collection of material Willard Richards copied from other sources. Therefore, though this material appears there, Richards was not actually present when Joseph gave this sermon, and Richards copied the material from elsewhere, most likely Wilford Woodruff’s journal. As to how the quote in question got into Richards' Pocket Companion while NOT appearing in the original record is a mystery. Nobody knows where it came from. It is therefore hearsay and not a historical record.

We are left to wonder where Richards obtained the quote and why he stuck it in the middle of a sermon he didn’t hear Joseph give. There is no original source that contains this quotation, and Richards was on a mission in England when Joseph was supposed to have said it.

The quote's dubious provenance is not helped by its doctrinal difficulties. For example, scripture is replete with true prophets, called of God, who did indeed "rise up to condemn others, finding fault with the church, saying they are out of the way." Some obvious examples are as follows:

  • Noah
  • Abraham
  • Moses
  • Lehi
  • Jacob
  • Benjamin
  • Abinadi
  • Alma the Younger
  • Samuel the Lamanite
  • John the Baptist
  • Jesus Christ
  • Joseph Smith

In fact, you can pretty much summarize the mission of any true prophet as calling people to repentance. (D&C 11:9) How is this not " condemn[ing] others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way?"

Therefore, since Joseph Smith himself was "on the high road to apostasy" if this quote were true, it is utterly preposterous that Joseph Smith ever said this. Nobody quite knows where this quote came from, but it wasn't Joseph Smith.


Thank You, Sir, May I Have Another?


Orson Hyde, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, reported:

"Joseph the Prophet … said, 'Brethren, remember that the majority of this people will never go astray; and as long as you keep with the majority you are sure to enter the celestial kingdom.'"

The reference given in the church manual for this quote is as follows:

Orson Hyde, Deseret News: Semi-Weekly, June 21, 1870, p. 3.

Now, the first thing you need to know is that this is how the church manuals cite early General Conference talks to avoid citing them from the controversial Journal of Discourses where the talks actually appear. Since the talks were also published in the Deseret News, the church cites them there. But good luck finding the original newspaper reference! You’ll have to go to the Journal of Discourses if you want to actually read the talk.

The statement can be found in the Journal of Discourses, Volume 13, page 367 in an address by Orson Hyde entitled "Punctual Payment of Debts," given at the tabernacle on May 5, 1870 while Hyde was serving as president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

In this sermon he chastised the saints for being slow to pay their debts, and encouraged them to get out of debt.

Here are the relevant facts:

  • Hyde had long association with Joseph Smith as one of the original apostles. He undoubtedly heard Joseph speak on many subjects. Therefore he could have heard Joseph make this statement.
  • Hyde's relationship with Joseph was rocky. He was twice removed from the Quorum of the Twelve and once excommunicated. He also signed the affidavit against Joseph Smith that resulted in Joseph’s imprisonment in Liberty Jail and contributed to the Mormon War of 1838.
  • Hyde was 39 years old when Joseph Smith died.
  • This quote is from a sermon Hyde gave May 5, 1870 at age 65, at least 26 years after Joseph could have said it.
  • Hyde makes no other statement of source, circumstances when, where and to whom Joseph said it, whether he recorded it in writing, or how he remembers the wording precisely. Thus it is not a historical record, but rather is uncorroborated hearsay.
  • The quote is placed in the talk seemingly at random, without any context. It certainly does not relate to the topic of paying debts.

But...Hyde was an apostle when he made this statement! In fact he was President of the quorum! Therefore he is trustworthy...right?

  • Well...Hyde was indeed an apostle at the time he made this statement, however, he was also an apostle when he swore an affidavit against Joseph Smith and the saints that resulted in Joseph’s imprisonment in Liberty Jail. Are you going to accept his affidavit as inspired as well? Position is NOT a reliable indicator of truth.

Ramifications of this doctrine:

  1. There is NO scriptural precedent or doctrine supporting the idea that the majority of the church cannot go astray. In fact, this idea directly contradicts the history of nearly every dispensation the world has seen, including the dispensation started by Christ in the meridian of time. Why would our dispensation be somehow different? Where is the scripture that says so? I know we tell ourselves this story continually, but you would think that if the Lord had truly promised we couldn't possibly screw this up, He would have told us somewhere in scripture.
  2. It's an odd thing to think that in one breath Hyde is chastising the saints for failing to do something so basic as pay their debts, and in the next breath stating that the majority of them will unavoidably go to the Celestial Kingdom. What?
  3. The majority of the church is currently inactive. Does that matter? Should I stay with the majority as Hyde suggests?
  4. The majority of the church does not pay tithing or hold a temple recommend. Does that matter? Should I stay with the majority?
  5. This doctrine promotes the idea that being an average Latter-day Saint is all the Lord requires to receive His greatest reward. Therefore the average LDS can safely be "at ease in Zion" enjoying "carnal security" that comes from knowing "all is well." and "thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell." (2 Ne. 28:21,24-25.)
  6. This doctrine precludes the possibility that the voice of the people could ever choose iniquity (Mosiah 29:27).
  7. This doctrine opposes the idea that we "stand in jeopardy every hour" (1 Cor. 15:30) that we "must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling" (Mormon 9:27) and that all are astray save a few, humble followers of Christ, and even these are misled by their leaders (2 Nephi 28:14). This is false and vain and foolish doctrine. (2 Nephi 28:14)
  8. This doctrine teaches us that by merely being passable Latter-day Saints we will be saved. This is the same doctrine proclaimed by the Zoramites upon the Rameumptom (Alma 31:17), who considered themselves saved simply because they were God's most favorite people. How did they know they were God's most favorite? Because their anti-Christ leaders told them so! Just stick with the group and you're sure to go to heaven!
  9. Therefore, if this doctrine is true, we must be God's chosen people, and for no other reason than our church membership! Nothing else is required!
  10. This interpretation is so utterly self-serving and unscriptural as to offend the sensibilities of anyone who actually believes what the scriptures say and gives this proposition one iota of thought. It is pure garbage, propounded by those who would prop up their own authority by associating Joseph's name with false doctrine. It mocks Christ and His atonement!
  11. Most importantly, the list of scripture that utterly refutes this false doctrine would go to many pages.


  • ALL these quotes come from the official church manual; yet...
  • NONE of these quotes attributed to Joseph Smith can be verified or corroborated by any contemporary sources. They cannot be tied to any date, sermon or historical event. They cannot be shown to have originated with Joseph Smith at all. EVERY one of them is hearsay from old men talking about what they "remember" Joseph said 30, 40, 50 or even 60 years after he allegedly said it. We have NO historical record of Joseph teaching the doctrine that the majority of the church, the twelve or the prophet cannot lead us astray. We have AMPLE scriptural evidence this doctrine is false.
  • Yet, we put it in our manuals and treat it as fact. Is this honest?
  • We quote it as the basis of our faith and insist our members kneel and kiss the ring of infallibility, or risk loss of temple recommend, fellowship, or even membership. Is this right?
  • Worst of all, we foolishly, blindly, arrogantly stake our salvation upon this false concept without ever bothering to find out where it came from. It's in the manual, and that's good enough for us. Is this wise?
  • It's hearsay, and it's heresy. It will surely damn those who believe it--and yet we don't seem to give a damn at all.

Here is perhaps the strongest repudiation of this false doctrine: The vast majority of the church, the Twelve and the records currently teach and believe the false doctrine that tells us we will never fall for a false doctrine! Now that’s clever! The Devil has actually managed to lead us astray with the appealing idea that we can never be led astray!

This is the same illogic Nephi warned us about: "[A]nd he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance." (2 Ne. 28:22)

No wonder the devil looks up and laughs, having a great chain in his hand. (Moses 7:26)

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