Succession

"You have been indebted to other men, in the first instance, for evidence; on that you have acted; but it is necessary that you receive a testimony from heaven for yourselves; so that you can bear testimony to the truth of the Book of Mormon, and that you have seen the face of God. That is more than the testimony of an angel. When the proper time arrives, you shall be able to bear this testimony to the world. When you bear testimony that you have seen God, this testimony God will never suffer to fall, but will bear you out; although many will not give heed, yet others will. You will therefore see the necessity of getting this testimony from heaven.

"Never cease striving until you have seen God face to face. Strengthen your faith; cast off you doubts, your sins, and all your unbelief; and nothing can prevent you from coming to God. Your ordination is not full and complete till God has laid His hand upon you. We require as much to qualify us as did those who have gone before us; God is the same. If the Savior in former days laid His hands upon His disciples, why not in latter days?" (Oliver Cowdery, HC v 2, ch 13, p 195)

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Hyrum given sealing power, made co-equal with Joseph. (1/19/1841)

And again, verily I say unto you, let my servant William be appointed, ordained, and anointed, as counselor unto my servant Joseph, in the room of my servant Hyrum, that my servant Hyrum may take the office of Priesthood and Patriarch, which was appointed unto him by his father, by blessing and also by right; That from henceforth he shall hold the keys of the patriarchal blessings upon the heads of all my people, That whoever he blesses shall be blessed, and whoever he curses shall be cursed; that whatsoever he shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever he shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

And from this time forth I appoint unto him that he may be a prophet, and a seer, and a revelator unto my church, as well as my servant Joseph; That he may act in concert also with my servant Joseph; and that he shall receive counsel from my servant Joseph, who shall show unto him the keys whereby he may ask and receive, and be crowned with the same blessing, and glory, and honor, and priesthood, and gifts of the priesthood, that once were put upon him that was my servant Oliver Cowdery; That my servant Hyrum may bear record of the things which I shall show unto him, that his name may be had in honorable remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever. (D&C 124:91-96)

Never but one? (1831/1843)

 "And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead." (D&C 132:7)

Hyrum was Joseph's chosen successor

"Did Joseph Smith ordain any man to take his place? He did. Who was it? It was Hyrum..." (Brigham Young, Times & Seasons, October 15, 1844, Vol. 5, p. 683.)

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Brigham hopes to be able to converse with Christ and angels.

1859 (age 62)

"I have flattered myself, if I am as faithful as I know how to be to my God, and my brethren, and to all my covenants, and faithful in the discharge of my duty, when I have lived to be as old as was Moses when the Lord appeared to him, that perhaps I then may hold communion with the Lord, as did Moses. I am not now in that position, though I know much more than I did twenty, ten, or five years ago. But have I yet lived to the state of perfection that I can commune in person with the Father and the Son at my will and pleasure? No, though I hold myself in readiness that he can wield me at his will and pleasure. If I am faithful until I am eighty years of age, perhaps the Lord will appear to me and personally dictate me in the management of his Church and people. A little over twenty years, and if I am faithful, perhaps I will obtain that favour with my Father and God." (Brigham Young, JD v. 7, no. 37, p. 243, September 1, 1859)

1862 (age 65)

"I think it likely that after a while I may be able to so humble myself and become like a little child, as to be taught more fully by the Heavens. Perhaps, when I am eighty years of age, I may be able to talk with some Being of a higher sphere than this. Moses saw the glory of God at that age, and held converse with better beings than he had formerly conversed with. I hope and trust that by the time I am that age I shall also be counted worthy to enjoy the same privilege." (Brigham Young, JD v. 10 no. 4, p. 23)

Brigham dies at age 77.

 

In writing this, I do not desire to accuse Brigham, indeed, it causes me to tremble more. I do not know what his thoughts and intents were, or if he received what he desired before he died, but I hope the best for him. But I include this because it is important to understand the history of the church. 

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"John wrested the keys, the kingdom, the power, the glory from the Jews, by the holy anointing and decree of heaven..." (Joseph Smith, TPJS)

"[John] was baptized while he was yet in his childhood, and was ordained by the angel of God at the time he was eight days old unto this power, to overthrow the kingdom of the Jews, and to make straight the way of the Lord before the face of his people, to prepare them for the coming of the Lord, in whose hand is given all power." (D&C 84:28)

It can be said that John was raised up, in part, as an authorized messenger to be rejected by the Jews, so he could wrest the keys from them.

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I heard in Elder's Quorum that it was not revealed how succession should take place.

D&C 43:1-7 and D&C 124:91-96 tell a different story. A reasonable reading of these verses state that Joseph would appoint a successor, and he did, it was Hyrum. Hyrum was taken also.

Even Brigham Young admits this: "Did Joseph Smith ordain any man to take his place? He did. Who was it? It was Hyrum..." (Brigham Young, Times & Seasons, October 15, 1844, Vol. 5, p. 683.)

Is it possible the saints did not complete the Nauvoo temple in the Lord's appointed "sufficient time" and thereby reap the consequences?

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History, Hearsay and Heresy Part 2:
Joseph Said That?

Taken from the blog To the Remnant by Adrian Larsen

In my last post, we discussed the importance of sources when evaluating quotes attributed to Joseph Smith--particularly when we intend to stake our eternal salvation upon the principles taught.

Now with that in mind, I’ve selected some of the best Joseph Smith quotes from the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith manual, Chapter 27: Beware the Bitter Fruits of Apostasy. Considering these are included in an official church manual, which was written by our prophets…

—Nope. (You really should check into how the manuals are produced.)

Er..edited and approved by our prophets…

—Nope.

Uh…read by our prophets?

—Not likely.

Well, considering it’s an official church manual, it should be correct. I’m sure it’s been carefully checked and correlated to only teach true doctrine from solid, reliable sources. With souls at stake, anything less would be absolutely unthinkable.

So on to some Joseph Smith quotes:

“I will give you a key that will never rust — if you will stay with the majority of the Twelve Apostles, and the records of the Church, you will never be led astray.”

The source is listed as a statement by William G. Nelson, published in the Young Woman’s Journal. This statement was published in 1906, 62 years after the death of Joseph Smith.

William G. Nelson, the source of this statement, was born in Jefferson County, Illinois, June 10, 1831; associated with the Saints in Illinois and in the West, where he served as a ward bishop and a member of the high council at Oxford, Idaho. The facts surrounding this quote are as follows:

  • Nelson appears to have been in a position as a boy to hear Joseph Smith make this statement in Nauvoo.
  • Nelson would have been 13 years, 2 weeks, and 3 days old when Joseph Smith was killed.
  • Nelson published the quote at least 62 years after hearing it, when his age was approximately 75 years.
  • Nelson makes no other statement of source, circumstances when, where and to whom Joseph said it, whether Nelson recorded it in writing, or how he remembers the wording precisely. It is therefore hearsay, and not a historical record. There is no contemporary collaborating source.
  • This statement was published in an adolescent periodical magazine among other faith-promoting and folksy stories about many topics. Essentially, the Mormon Seventeen. It is neither doctrine nor scripture.

Some difficulties with what is taught are as follows:

  • Depending on whose account you read, the majority of the twelve were in open rebellion to Joseph Smith in Kirtland.
  • The records of the church were recorded by the official church historian, John Whitmer, who took them with him when he left the church, requiring a new history to be written. Therefore to stay with the records of the church at that time would have required staying with Whitmer in Missouri, outside the church.
  • If the "majority of the twelve" doctrine was openly taught by Joseph Smith, there would have been no leadership succession crisis at Joseph's death. The church members would have known to follow the twelve. But no such thing happened.
  • Also, if this doctrine were known to Brigham Young at the time of the succession crisis, he could have argued that Joseph taught the members to stay with the majority of the twelve. But Brigham made no such argument.

Nelson could have based his “recollection” on the following quote, published 4 years earlier:

Ezra T. Clark recalled: "I heard the Prophet Joseph say he would give the Saints a key whereby they would never be led away or deceived, and that was: the Lord would never suffer the majority of this people to be led away or deceived by imposters (sic), nor would he allow the records of this Church to fall into the hands of the enemy" (Improvement Era 5 [January 1902]: 202).

Ezra T. Clark was born in Lawrence, Illinois, November 24, 1823. He died in Farmington, Utah October 17, 1901. Relevant facts are as follows:

  • Clark appears to have been in a position to hear Joseph Smith make this statement in Nauvoo.
  • Clark was 20 years old when Joseph died.
  • This quote is from a testimony Clark gave July 24, 1901 at age 77.
  • Clark published this statement at least 57 years after hearing it.
  • Clark 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. It is therefore hearsay and not a historical record. There is no other contemporary collaborating source.
  • This statement was published in an adolescent periodical magazine among other faith-promoting stories about many topics. It is neither doctrine nor scripture.
  • Within the same testimony, Clark makes several demonstrably false statements about historical events, as well as statements about the content and timing of Joseph Smith’s last sermon, which Clark claims to have witnessed, thus showing his memory unreliable and at least some quotations of Smith fabricated.

The most obvious problem with this quote is that it teaches false doctrine. If the Lord will not suffer the majority of this people to be deceived by "imposters," the Lord would necessarily have to abrogate the agency of the Mormon people. And as you may recall, such a plan was proposed in the beginning, but not by God. We must be free to choose.

Clark may have based his “recollection” on the following statement, published 13 years earlier:

Edward Stevenson published a similar statement in 1889 as follows:

"a key by which you may never be deceived" is that "a majority of the saints and the records and history of the Church also" would remain with the Church (see Jenson and Stevenson, Infancy of the Church, p. 5).

Edward Stevenson was born May 1, 1820, and died January 27, 1897.

Relevant facts are as follows:

  • Stevenson appears to have been in a position to hear Joseph Smith make this statement in Nauvoo.
  • Stevenson was 24 years old when Joseph Smith was killed.
  • Stevenson published this quote at age 69, at least 45 years after hearing it.
  • Stevenson 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. It is therefore uncorroborated hearsay. Again, not a historical record, even though it was published in a history book.

So...What do all the above quotes have in common?

  1. All were first published many decades after Joseph Smith died.
  2. None is from any official doctrinal or scriptural publication of the church.
  3. None is from any recognized church authority.
  4. All are hearsay--meaning they are just statements people claimed Joseph made. In my last post, we explored how hazardous it can be to take such statements at face value.
  5. All have important historical and doctrinal problems, contradicting actual history and doctrine.

And, most importantly,

All were published at a time when the LDS church was battling the RLDS church over which church was "true." Both had estimable claims to be the proper successor to Joseph's restoration. How convenient to have old men on hand in Utah to provide statements that the way to stay with truth is to stay with the Majority of the Twelve (Point LDS!), the records of the church (2-0 LDS in the lead!), and the majority of the membership (LDS for the WIN!!) Sorry RLDS, but thanks for playing.

Yep, good thing we've got old men with spotty memories to say what needs sayin.'

But it doesn't end there. Unfortunately, it gets deeper, broader, and yet more dangerous. I'll show you what I mean in my next post.

Until then, here's one other Gem from the Improvement Era in 1902, that I just couldn't resist sharing. It appears on the page before brother Clark, whom we discussed above.

Advice on Marrying
While you're at it, there's nothing like picking out a good-looking wife, because even the handsomest woman looks homely sometimes, and so you get a little variety; but a homely one can only look worse than usual. Beauty is only skin deep, but that's deep enough to satisfy any reasonable man...then, too, if a fellow's bound to marry a fool, and a lot of men have to if they're going to hitch up into a well-matched team, there's nothing like picking a good looking one. --John Graham, the Packer, to his son Pierrepont.

Words to live by indeed. What do you think? You gonna stake your eternal life on that one?

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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.

Conclusion

  • 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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