Apostasy

Ark steadying.

Men, proud of their wisdom, have for many decades, declared that Ark steadying means you should not attempt to change or find fault the church, or question its priesthood leaders.

What was Uzzah steadying? The throne of a man? The programs of the synagogue? What did the Ark contain and what was it a symbol of but that Law, written by the finger of Jehovah himself amidst the earthquake, fire and smoke of Sinai.

The scriptures in many places declare that the members are to judge those that are higher and they are liable and even likely to fall. For instance D&C 121:34-46, Mark 9 Inspired Version, D&C 107: 82-84, D&C 28:13, D&C 104:71. The Lord built church steadying, and priesthood steadying into his church. For men are imperfect and need steadying no matter their station. Men's knees often quiver, buckle and bend when it comes to keeping the commandments of God. "Its too dangerous!", "Its too offensive!", "Its not practical!" or "It does not apply to our day!" Instead we have turned the infallibility of God on it's head, declaring that man is infallible and God needs correcting!

King David, in his folly, instructed that the Ark should be transported via cart pulled by oxen. Uzzah, being of the priestly class, should have known better for the Lord specifically commanded that the Ark was to be transported, via poles, upon the shoulders of the priests. However, preferring the instruction of his priesthood leader to God, Uzzah was struck dead when it went wrong. And what do we read but that David felt personally responsible when he heard what happened and admitted his error.

Ark steadying refers to any man, especially one called of God, who trifles with His laws.

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

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"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. The principle is as correct as the one that Jesus put forth in saying that he who seeketh a sign is an adulterous person; and that principle is eternal, undeviating, and firm as the pillars of heaven; for whenever you see a man seeking after a sign, you may set it down that he is an adulterous man." (Joseph Smith, HC, ch 26, p. 385.)

So the man is to be the priesthood head over the wife and the wife is only expected to follow him as he follows God. If the man goes off course, would not he want, and would it not be appropriate to have the persuasion of his wife? In this case, I don't think it's correct to label the wife as being an apostate. However, if she were to accuse, not truly seeking her husband's welfare then it would seem this is what Joseph was referring to. What if the man would not hear? It would then be the duty of the wife to either continue in her humble course, or get a writing of divorcement, but in no case would it be following the Law of Christ for her to manipulate, nag, verbally abuse, or lay-in-wait for her husband. Did not Jethro find fault with Moses; not for fault's sake, but to be of service to him? Was Jethro on the high-road to apostasy? John the Baptist rose up to condemn his priesthood leaders and found fault with them saying they were out of the way, indeed a generation of vipers. The only difference I can detect between John and Joseph's statement, is that John said Christ was righteous, not himself, he not even being worthy to loose His shoes; though, he was a righteous man of whom Christ said "Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist." Even the Savior himself who denounced the priesthood leaders, deferred and said, "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God."

"Let not any man publish his own righteousness, for others can see that for him; sooner let him confess his sins, and then he will be forgiven, and he will bring forth more fruit." (Joseph Smith, HC 4:28)

What prophet in the time of the Levites was there, that did not rise up finding fault and condemn the leaders of the church? These prophets whom we are informed had the Melchizedek priesthood and the Second Comforter, could not have gotten their authority to condemn the church from the Aaronic church.

If the head cannot go wrong, then why are we commanded to pluck out the eye which is appointed to see for us; and how could we pluck him out, save we had the privilege of laying out his crimes, or in other words, finding fault and condemning him? (Mark 9:46-48, Inspired Version)

I think the conclusion we must draw from this, is that man who sees faults, must work for the welfare of Zion and not exercise priestcraft and attempt to set himself up for a light, but instead points men to the Savior.

What do you think?

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"...whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same." (D&C 1:38)

In the days of Christ, can anyone believe it would have been accurate to say "whether by mine own voice or by the voice of the Pharisees, it is the same?"  Surely a statement such as this causes revulsion in the senses of anyone familiar with the New Testament.  Jesus affirmed they sat in Moses seat, and were thus the authorized representatives of the church.  So the question must naturally be asked, what qualifies as "my servant"?

The word of God is never as simple as one statement, otherwise we would all be guilty of murder, or of condoning it, as the commandment "thou shalt not kill" should not be taken in isolation of other scripture; and the twelfth article of faith would condemn many righteous and holy men.

If the common interpretation is correct, then this scripture would contradict Nephi's declaration when he said "Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost." (2 Ne 28:31)  If all that church authorities say is the same as God's own voice, then there is no need for Nephi's teaching, for we can then suspend all judgement.  We are to judge who is and who is not God's servant, and the Lord places the responsibility for this judgement squarely on the shoulders of each individual.

If a man speaks by the power of the Holy Ghost, then he is God's servant, God the Testator being the willing witness to the words of that person.  If he speaks by some other spirit, by his own learning, wisdom or wit, then no matter his position or church calling, his words cannot be recognized as the voice of God.

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The Hiram Page revelation

Section 28 of the Doctrine and Covenants has been frequently mis-used to smother the faith and privileges of members.  This revelation given to Oliver in reality affirms we all have the right to revelations, visions, etc, and that we should use these to influence our fellow man.

"But, behold, verily, verily, I say unto thee, no one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church excepting my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., for he receiveth them even as Moses." (v. 2)

This was not an unqualified statement regarding anyone who should follow, but an endorsement of Joseph himself.

What is meant by "no one" is clarified later in the revelation.  Joseph by his faith, works and righteousness has been appointed to his rightful place, however this does not preclude others from receiving revelations.

"And thou shalt not command him who is at thy head, and at the head of the church;" (v. 6)

Christ is always the head of the church, but this revelation seems to make clear he's talking about Joseph as the head.

"For I have given him the keys of the mysteries, and the revelations which are sealed, until I shall appoint unto them another in his stead." (v. 7)

We all are to seek the mysteries, all have equal privilege.  This is thoroughly proved in other places of scripture.  There is a question as to whether another besides Hyrum Smith was appointed in Joseph's stead, and whether the church was rejected by the Lord "with our dead".  Do we still await that appointment?

"But thou shalt not write by way of commandment, but by wisdom... And now, behold, I say unto you that you shall go unto the Lamanites and preach my gospel unto them; and inasmuch as they receive thy teachings thou shalt cause my church to be established among them; and thou shalt have revelations, but write them not by way of commandment." (v. 5, 8)

Oliver was to receive more revelations, to have more great and glorious visions than he already had, and was commanded to teach and write them, influencing the church, even enlightening the head, for the only stipulation the Lord made, was to not command others including the head, to obey them.  When any man speaks by the power of the Holy Ghost, that is the ultimate authority, and if men refuse to obey what it dictates, they do so at their own peril.

"...these things [the revelation on Zion] have not been appointed unto him [Hiram Page], neither shall anything [revelations, policies, etc] be appointed unto any of this church contrary to the church covenants. For all things must be done in order, and by common consent in the church, by the prayer of faith." (v. 12-13)

The Lord clarifies that the church covenants He's talking about, is the previous commandment given to have all things done by common consent.  Joseph many times showed the example of humbly submitting to the will of the church when he asked if they still desired to have him lead or if they would have another, the members at the conference unanimously approved of Joseph, but had another been appointed, it would have been according to church covenants.

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The man who is inspired by the devil cannot help but preach his apostate doctrines and persecute the followers of Christ. Those inspired by the Holy Ghost cannot help but preach the doctrines of Eternity.  Those who are not inspired have no desire to preach but quitely follow established traditions. These are those lukewarm souls who God promised to spew out of his mouth.

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"Apostasy is...persisting...in teaching false doctrine."

Does this definition apply to leadership? By the law of restoration, if a leader judges that a member is worthy of excommunication for persisting in teaching false doctrine, will that leader himself be judged unworthy of the association of the Savior in eternity? For the those that wrote this statement are surely guilty of what they accuse others.

First Presidency Letter

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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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"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. The principle is as correct as the one that Jesus put forth in saying that he who seeketh a sign is an adulterous person; and that principle is eternal, undeviating, and firm as the pillars of heaven; for whenever you see a man seeking after a sign, you may set it down that he is an adulterous man." (Joseph Smith, HC, ch 26, p. 385.)

From an anonymous commenter on AnonymousBishop.com

Overall, excellent post Anon Bishop. However, there is one minor point I take issue with. The quote from Joseph Smith: “That man who rises up to condemn others…that man is in the high road to apostasy” (Chapter 26, History of the Church (volume/page marker 3:385) https://byustudies.byu.edu/hc/hcpgs/hc.aspx), please take a closer look at the context of that quote and reconsider how you are using it.

Joseph prefaced his words just prior to saying those words as follows:

“O Ye Twelve! and all Saints!…”

His train of thought from that introduction to the warning in question is one fluid and connected idea, per the word “key”. He was clearly talking to all the Saints when he is talking about the danger of apostasy due to “finding fault with the Church”. He clearly meant that to be a prohibition against publicly finding fault with him, or publicly criticizing the direction the Church was taking.

While it is true that the overall speech in 3:385 is directed specifically to the Twelve (this is made clear on page 383), he broadens his audience just before issuing the warning about apostasy. For this reason, I think that Paul Toscano’s assertion in his Dialogue article is not careful in this regard (although I think his article is powerful and inspired overall).

In the end, my conclusion is that Joseph Smith was mistaken in his assertion about apostasy. Rising up and finding fault with the Church is not a harbinger of personal apostasy: such a correlation does not exist and is not an “eternal key” of truth. The scriptures are full of “fringe” characters who rose up and found fault with the people of God (“the Church”), because the Spirit impressed them to stand their ground and speak truth to power when the people of God weren’t living up to their covenants. Such critics did not commit apostasy, they were true to the end (Samuel the Lamanite, Abinidi, Lehi vs. King Zedekiah and the mainstream Jewish culture, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Alma the Elder vs. King Noah, etc).

I think that Joseph was overly sensitive to criticism, and he taught mistaken doctrine about it. One reason that he was prone to imperfection in this matter: the kind of criticism he received was often tinged with murderous and violent overtones, and it often involved intentional lies or unflattering exaggerations by those who were bent on doing him harm and destroying the fledgling organization he was trying to hold together. He had to manage crisis after crisis, had to deal with many officers in high positions whose words and actions threatened to tear the Church apart and destroy whatever tenuous unity existed. He very much wanted the relentless train of crises to subside, and at times he mistakenly taught that strict obedience to the top mortal leaders and zero criticism of them was the way to achieve that peace and stability. It was a natural and carnal impulse on his part, a craving for easy answers, a silver-bullet doctrine or “key”. It did a lot of harm, because those who came after him aggressively championed his “strict-obedience-to-leaders” idea (for example, see https://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-joseph-smith/chapter-27). To his credit, he also taught good doctrine on this point on more than one occasion (see quotes below).

The righteous criticism that is being spoken from the city walls by people like yourself is the kind of criticism that needs to be spoken. Thank you for your willingness to give your insights and testimony to the world –please keep up the good work.

The unity that currently exists in the Church is largely artificial. Carnally pleasing doctrines like “follow the prophet” rule the day. However, I think that the tide is slowly turning towards individual responsibility. One day, when more Saints have woken up due to reading websites like this one (and Pure Mormonism, etc), we will have a spiritual coming of age, and the majority will begin to expect and demand leaders who teach spiritual self-sufficiency rather than spiritual subordination.

One day, a critical mass of active members will hopefully begin to vote in opposition against anyone who preaches “follow mortal leaders”. This signal of non-confidence will rock the leadership to the core and will hopefully motivate them to repent. Either that, or God will replace them, once enough Saints are awake to merit it, with leaders who are awake and who understand the principle of spiritual self-sufficiency. This is how the law of restoration works: we get the leaders we deserve. At present, the majority of the Saints deserve leaders who teach spiritual subordination, because the majority is guilty of spiritual subordination, so we have blind leaders in that regard (the blind are leading the blind).

One day, the following teachings will achieve primacy and we will have leaders who champion these truths (you and others like you are the tip of the spear in returning these teachings to their rightful place):

“You must work through the Spirit. If that leads you into conflict with the program of the Church, you follow the voice of the Spirit.” (Elder Seymour B. Young, First Quorum of the Seventy 1882-1924).

“Do not, brethren, put your trust in man though he be a bishop, an apostle, or a President; if you do, they will fail you at some time or place; they will do wrong or seem to, and your support will be gone; but if we lean on God, He will never fail us. When men and women depend upon God alone and trust in Him alone, their faith will not be shaken if the highest in the Church should step aside”. (George Q. Cannon, First Counselor in the First Presidency, Deseret Weekly, 43:322, Mar 7, 1891).

“We have hitherto acted too much as machines, as to following the President. I will confess to my own shame that I have acted contrary to my own judgment many times. I mean hereafter not to demean myself, to not run contrary to my own judgment. When President Young says that the Spirit of the Lord says thus and so, I don’t consider that all we should do is to say let it be so.” (Elder Orson Pratt; see Conflict in the Quorum ?by Gary James Bergera, 2002).

“If we have presidents or apostles or anybody that we do not like, let us vote them out, and be free men, and cultivate and cherish in our bosoms the principles of liberty.” (President John Taylor, 7 October 1872; “Discourse,” The Deseret News Weekly, volume 21, number 48.)

“And if thine 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.” Mark 9:46, JST

“President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel–said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church–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, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 237-38).

 

Julie DeLong: "Perhaps Joseph simply meant the “church” as defined in D&C 10:67–68. I don’t want to be caught on the wrong side of that church, for sure." (Ibid.)

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