Countercult ministries/Watchman Fellowship/Section 3

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Response to claims in "Mormonism Overview"

A FairMormon Analysis of: Watchman Fellowship, a work by author: Timothy Oliver, Rick Branch, and James Walker
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Response to claim: The Book of Mormon claims that there is only "one God in the Godhead"

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Mormon claims that there is only "one God in the Godhead."

(Author's sources: Alma 11:22-35)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources





Note that the word "Godhead" does not appear in the Book of Mormon. Latter-day Saints believe in "one God." They recognize three individuals who are properly termed "God"—the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. They understand this unity differently than the creeds. }}

Question: Was Nicean Trinitarianism always a key part of Christian belief?

There is abundant evidence that “Trinitarianism”, as now understood by the majority of Protestants and Catholics was not present in the Early Christian Church

Since the Nicene Creed was first adopted in A.D. 325, it seems clear that there were many Christians in the first centuries following the resurrection of Christ who did not use it. Those who oppose calling the Latter-day Saints "Christians" need to explain whether Peter and Paul are "Christians," since they lived and practiced Christianity at a time when there was no Nicene Creed, and no Trinitarianism in the current sense.

Critics may try to argue that the Nicene Creed is merely a statement of Biblical principles, but Bible scholarship is very clear that the Nicene Creed was an innovation.

There is abundant evidence that “Trinitarianism”, as now understood by the majority of Protestants and Catholics was not present in the Early Christian Church.

When we turn to the problem of the doctrine of the Trinity, we are confronted by a peculiarly contradictory situation; On the one hand, the history of Christian theology and of dogma teaches us to regard the dogma of the Trinity as the distinctive element in the Christian Idea of God, that which distinguishes it from the Idea of God in Judaism and in Islam, and indeed, in all forms of rational Theism. Judaism, Islam, and rational Theism are Unitarian. On the other hand, we must honestly admit that the doctrine of the Trinity did not form part of the early Christian—New Testament—message, nor has it ever been a central article of faith in the religious life of the Christian Church as a whole, at any period in its history.[1]


Response to claim: The Book of Mormon states that David and Solomon's polygamy "was an abomination to God"

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Mormon states that David and Solomon's polygamy "was an abomination to God."

(Author's sources: *Jacob 2:24-35

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The authors ignore the verse which states the conditions under which plural marriage is allowed.



}}

Question: Does the Book of Mormon condemn polygamy?

"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 2:24-29 states:

24 Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.

25 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.

26 Wherefore, I the Lord God will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old.

27 Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none;

28 For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts.

29 Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes.

Critics of the Book of Mormon generally refrain from citing the very next verse:

30 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 2:30).

The Book of Mormon makes it clear that the Lord may, under some circumstances, command the practice of plural marriage. </blockquote>


Response to claim: The Church was originally founded with the name "Church of Christ"

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

The Church was originally founded with the name "Church of Christ."

(Author's sources: David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ, p. 73.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

This is correct. The original name was the "Church of Christ." The name of the Church was eventually changed through revelation to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint.



Question: How many times was the name of the Church changed through revelation?

Criticisms regarding the name of the Church

Critics of the Church ask: Why did the Church change its name twice during its history? Shouldn't the name have been given by revelation? [2] In 1834 the name of the Church was changed to “The Church of the Latter Day Saints”. Why would Joseph remove the name of “Jesus Christ” from the name of his Church? In 1838, the name of the Church was changed to "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (there was originally no hyphen in the name). Why was the name of the Church changed again?

The name of the Church was changed through revelation only once

Christ only instructed Joseph through revelation to change the name of the Church once, as described in DC 115:3. Prior to that time, the Church was referred to by several different names, including "The Church of Christ," "Church of Jesus Christ," "Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints," "The Church of God" and "The Church of Latter Day Saints." The only name for the Church established by revelation was the one mentioned in DC 115:3.

...for thus it shall be called, and unto all the elders and people of my Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, scattered abroad in all the world.

None of the other names by which the Church was known were established by revelation.

David Whitmer disagreed with the change in the name of the Church and it was one of the reasons for his disaffection

It is interesting to note that the change in the name of the Church bothered David Whitmer. Whitmer insisted that the original name of the Church, the "Church of Christ," was the only proper one, and claimed that it had been given by revelation. There is no known revelation to support this claim however, unless you count the Book of Mormon itself. Whitmer appears to be using the Book of Mormon to support this claim (the Book of Mormon uses "Church of Christ".)

It should also be noted that, according to Whitmer, Joseph didn't promote the name change from the "Church of Christ" to the "Church of the Latter Day Saints." Whitmer claimed that it was Sidney Rigdon who pushed to change the name to "Church of the Latter Day Saints":

In June, 1829, the Lord gave us the name by which we must call the church, being the same as He gave the Nephites. We obeyed His commandment, and called it THE CHURCH OF CHRIST until 1834, when, through the influence of Sydney Rigdon, the name of the church was changed to "The Church of the Latter Day Saints," dropping out the name of Christ entirely, that name which we were strictly commanded to call the church by, and which Christ by His own lips makes so plain. (David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ by a Witness to the Divine Authenticity of The Book of Mormon (David Whitmer: Richmond, Virginia, 1887).)


Response to claim: The earliest account of the First Vision states that Joseph was "in the 16th year" of his age, and he does not mention seeing the Father

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: The earliest account of the First Vision states that Joseph was "in the 16th year" of his age, and he does not mention seeing the Father.

(Author's sources: Joseph Smith's 1832 Diary)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event





Question: Why does Joseph Smith state in his 1832 First Vision account that he was in his "16th year" of age?

The only account showing a different age is the 1832 account, which states age 15 rather than 14

In the 1832 account, Frederick G. Williams inserted the "in the 16th year of my age" above Joseph's text after Joseph had already written it. (See: "History, circa Summer 1832," The Joseph Smith Papers)

1832.account.16th.year.png

Joseph's 1832 account states the "16th year" of his age in the handwriting of Frederick G. Williams

In Joseph Smith's 1832 First Vision recital he said that he was "in the 16th year of [his] age" when the manifestation took place but in all other accounts in which he mentions his age, he was in his "fifteenth year."

  • Is this evidence that the Prophet's story evolved over time, and was thus a fabrication to begin with?

The only First Vision account that provided a different age was the 1832 account written in Joseph Smith's own handwriting. In 1832, 12 years after the First Vision, Joseph wrote, "we were deprived of the bennifit of an education suffice it to say I was mearly instructid in reading and writing and the ground rules of Arithmatic which constuted my whole literary acquirements."

There is nothing nefarious in Joseph Smith correcting his own slight mathematical miscalculations

Although the portion of Joseph's 1832 history is in his own handwriting, the text insertion of "in the 16th year of my age" was in the handwriting of Frederick G. Williams, Joseph's scribe. It is likely that Joseph's dating schemes were slightly off when he dictated his age to Williams, many years after-the-fact. There is nothing nefarious in Joseph Smith correcting his own slight mathematical miscalculations.

Two years later, Oliver Cowdery had Joseph's 1832 history in his possession when he began publishing history of the Church in late 1834 in the Latter-day Saints' Messenger and Advocate. Oliver clearly established Joseph's age as 14 ("the 15th year of his life") during the period of religious excitement (although Oliver ultimately never described the actual First Vision at this time). Once the date of the First Vision was correctly established it remained steady throughout all subsequent recitals as the "15th year" or "age 14."


Question: Why does Joseph Smith's 1832 account of the First Vision not mention two personages?

Although the 1832 account does not specifically indicate that the Father appeared, He is mentioned

The theophany portion of the 1832 account does not specifically indicate that the Father appeared to Joseph Smith together with Jesus Christ. The relevant text (in its original form) reads as follows:

"a piller of fire light above the brightness of the sun at noon day c[a]me down from above and rested upon me and I was filled with the spirit of god and the <Lord> opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lord and he spake unto me saying Joseph <my son> thy sins are forgiven thee. go thy <way> walk in my statutes and keep my commandments behold I am the Lord of glory I was crucifyed for the world that all those who believe on my name may have Eternal life <behold> the world lieth in sin and at this time and none doeth good no not one they have turned asside from the gospel and keep not <my> commandments they draw near to me with their lips while their hearts are far from me and mine anger is kindling against the inhabitants of the earth to visit them acording to th[e]ir ungodliness and to bring to pass that which <hath> been spoken by the mouth of the prophets and Ap[o]stles behold and lo I come quickly as it [is] written of me in the cloud <clothed> in the glory of my Father."[3] (emphasis added)

Even though the Savior makes a direct reference to the Father there is no indication in this portion of the 1832 document that God appeared to Joseph Smith alongside His Son.

The same pattern exists in the Book of Mormon with Lehi's vision of God on His throne

This type of pattern is seen in the Book of Mormon, translated in 1829: The Book of Mormon begins (1 Nephi 1:8-10) with Lehi's vision of God on His throne. One [Christ] followed by twelve others descends from God to speak with Lehi—thus, Jesus and the Father are here both separate, and the role of Christ in giving instructions to the prophet while the Father looks on and approves is followed, just as it was in Joseph's First Vision. Here too, Lehi is described as praying to "the Lord," and yet has a vision of both God the Father and Christ.


Response to claim: Joseph Smith gave a "false prophecy" that a temple would be built in Independence, Missouri

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

Joseph Smith gave a "false prophecy" that a temple would be built in Independence, Missouri.

(Author's sources: *DC 84:1-5)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

This was not a prophecy, but a command from God to build the temple



}}

Question: Was Joseph Smith's prophecy that the Independence, Missouri temple "shall be reared in this generation" a failed prophecy?

Jesus Christ used the very same terminology in Matthew 24:34: "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled"

There is a double standard of interpretation that critics use against Joseph Smith, since Jesus Christ used the very same terminology. Matthew 24:34 quotes Christ as saying, "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." Luke 21:32 repeats this prophecy. The term "these things" refers to wars, famines, the sun being darkened, and even the "stars falling from heaven." Some of "these things" occurred during Christ's time period. Some have continued since then. Some have escalated into our time. Some have not occurred yet.

So we must ask, since Joseph Smith is charged with false prophecy concerning "this generation," did Jesus Christ utter a false prophecy? Absolutely not! So, if Joseph Smith uttered a false prophecy about "this generation," then so did Christ. It has been many centuries longer from the time of Christ until now, than it has been from the 1830's till today.

The word "generation" has different meanings. According to scripture, the word "generation" can have reference to a time frame, a people, or even a dispensation. Without specific wording which would indicate exactly what the word "generation" means, it is dishonest to accuse one (Joseph Smith) of false prophecy, while accepting another (Jesus Christ) when both use it in a general form.

Joseph Smith's revelation in D&C 84 may appear on the surface to be a failed prophecy, but a more informed reading reveals that it may not have been a prophecy, and if it is, its fulfillment is still in the future.

When the scriptures use words such as "this generation," "a little season," "nigh," "soon to come," "quickly," and "in due time," it can mean several years, or even centuries

The main problem critics have in interpreting D&C 84 is timing. They cannot understand that when the scriptures use words such as "this generation," "a little season," "nigh," "soon to come," "quickly," and "in due time," it can mean several years, or even centuries. They have no problem with accepting a long time when the Bible makes these statements, but they refuse to interpret Joseph Smith with the same standard. To criticize such terminology is to claim the Bible false. The four hundred years of Israel's Egyptian captivity was a "little season" to the Lord. All the scriptural terms of time (nigh, shortly come to pass, at the doors, about to be, soon to be, in due time, not many days, a little season, near, close at hand, time will come, not many years, and generation) are not specific in numbers of years. Most of them are conditional. To say that "next generation" as used in the Bible can mean thousands of years, and turn around and say these very same words mean only a hundred years when used in the Doctrine and Covenants is hypocritical. Scripture comes from one source, God. His prophets write as they are inspired by the Holy Ghost. The Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Bible use the same terms, with the same meaning, because they come from the same source. You cannot interpret one in one way, and another in a different way. When the Lord wants something accomplished, it will be done, in the Lords time.

Historical background

On 20 July 1831 Joseph Smith recorded a revelation identifying Independence, Missouri, as "the center place; and a spot for the temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the courthouse" (DC 57:3). Joseph and Sidney Rigdon dedicated a site for the temple on 3 August 1831. The following year, Joseph received another revelation concerning the gathering to Zion:

2 [T]he word of the Lord concerning his church, established in the last days for the restoration of his people, as he has spoken by the mouth of his prophets, and for the gathering of his saints to stand upon Mount Zion, which shall be the city of New Jerusalem.

3 Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun., and others with whom the Lord was well pleased.

4 Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation.

5 For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house (DC 84:2-5, (emphasis added)).The Saints were expelled from Jackson County in late 1833, before they could make any progress on the temple. Despite their best efforts, they were unable to return to reclaim their lands. After they settled in Nauvoo, Illinois, Joseph recorded another revelation rescinding the earlier commandment to build the Independence temple:

49 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that when I give a commandment to any of the sons of men to do a work unto my name, and those sons of men go with all their might and with all they have to perform that work, and cease not their diligence, and their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept of their offerings....

51 Therefore, for this cause have I accepted the offerings of those whom I commanded to build up a city and a house unto my name, in Jackson county, Missouri, and were hindered by their enemies, saith the Lord your God (DC 124:49,51).

It is unclear from the wording of the 1832 revelation whether Joseph Smith meant it to be a prophecy or a commandment

When he declared the "temple shall be reared in this generation," it's possible that he meant this as a directive (Compare to the ten commandments: "thou shalt.." and D&C 59:5-13). If this is the case, D&C 84 is not actually a prophecy. Webster's 1828 dictionary noted of "shall":

In the second and third persons [i.e., when applied to another person], shall implies a promise, command or determination. "You shall receive your wages," "he shall receive his wages," imply that you or he ought to receive them; but usage gives these phrases the force of a promise in the person uttering them. [4]

Thus, "shall" indicates a promise or command—and, LDS theology (with its strong emphasis on moral agency) always holds that man is free to accept or reject the commandments or promises of God, and that God will often not overrule the free-agent acts of others which might prevent his people from obeying. In such cases, God rewards the faithful for their willingness and efforts to obey, and punishes the guilty accordingly.

If the revelation is meant as a prophecy, the timeline for its fulfillment depends on what Joseph meant by "generation"

Typically we consider this to mean the lifespan of those living at the time of the revelation. However, in scriptural language "generation" can indicate a longer period of time.

During his ministry in Jerusalem, Jesus revealed the signs of his second coming, and prophesied that "this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled" (Matthew 24:34). All those who heard his prophecy died nearly 2,000 years ago, so evidently Jesus meant "generation" to mean "age" or some other long period of time. It's possible that Joseph meant the same thing in his revelation about the Independence temple, and therefore the time period for its fulfillment is still open.

In Easton’s Bible Dictionary of 1897, the English word “generation” is variably defined with reference to the KJV text:

Gen. 2:4, "These are the generations," means the "history." 5:1, "The book of the generations," means a family register, or history of Adam. 37:2, "The generations of Jacob" = the history of Jacob and his descendants. 7:1, "In this generation" = in this age. Ps. 49:19, "The generation of his fathers" = the dwelling of his fathers, i.e., the grave. Ps. 73:15, "The generation of thy children" = the contemporary race. Isa. 53:8, "Who shall declare his generation?" = His manner of life who shall declare? or rather = His race, posterity, shall be so numerous that no one shall be able to declare it. In Matt. 1:17, the word means a succession or series of persons from the same stock. Matt. 3:7, "Generation of vipers" = brood of vipers. 24:34, "This generation" = the persons then living contemporary with Christ. 1 Pet. 2:9, "A chosen generation" = a chosen people. The Hebrews seem to have reckoned time by the generation. In the time of Abraham a generation was an hundred years, thus: Gen. 15:16, "In the fourth generation" = in four hundred years (comp. verse 13 and Ex. 12:40). In Deut. 1:35 and 2:14 a generation is a period of thirty-eight years.

So, the nineteenth-century understanding of KJV Biblical/religious usage of "generation" includes such variations as:

  • all the descendants of
  • history
  • contemporaries
  • succession or series of people from same stock
  • race, posterity
  • one hundred years
  • thirty-eight years
  • people

Contemporary with Joseph Smith, Webster's 1828 dictionary defined "generation" as:

...2. A single succession in natural descent, as the children of the same parents; hence, an age. Thus we say, the third, the fourth, or the tenth generation. Gen.15.16. 3. The people of the same period, or living at the same time. O faithless and perverse generation. Luke 9. 4. Genealogy; a series of children or descendants from the same stock. This is the book of the generations of Adam. Gen.5. 5. A family; a race. 6. Progeny; offspring. [5]

Webster relied heavily on examples drawn from the KJV of the Bible in his definitions. Thus, when those of Joseph's era used Biblical language speaking of "generations," they understood multiple potential meanings. Whether these shades of meaning were intended by the original biblical authors is immaterial; they reflect the usage of religious English in Joseph's day.

Note the double standard of interpretation critics use against Joseph Smith, for Jesus Christ used the very same terminology

Let's look at what Jesus himself said to the people of his day concerning prophecies of His second coming. Matthew 24:34 quotes Christ as saying, "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." Luke 21:32 repeats this prophecy.

What are "all these things," and have they come to pass?

  1. Many shall come in Christ's name, deceiving many (Matthew 24:5, Luke 21:8)
  2. Wars and rumours of wars (Matthew 24:6, Luke 21:9-10)
  3. Famines (Matthew 24:7, Luke 21:11)
  4. Pestilences (Mathew 24:7, Luke 21:11)
  5. Earthquakes (Matthew 24:7, Luke 21:11)
  6. Apostles killed (Matthew 24:9, Luke 21:16)
  7. Many shall be offended (Matthew 24:10)
  8. Many shall be betrayed (Matthew 24:10)
  9. Men will hate one another (Matthew 24:10)
  10. False prophets will deceive many (Matthew 24:11)
  11. Iniquity shall abound (Matthew 24:12)
  12. Love of many shall wax cold (Matthew 24:12)
  13. Gospel shall be preached in all the world (Matthew 24:14)
  14. Distress of nations (Luke 21:25)
  15. Men's hearts will fail them because of fear (Luke 21:11)
  16. Sun shall be darkened (Matthew 24:29, Luke 21:25)
  17. Moon shall not give her light (Matthew 24:29, Luke 21:25)
  18. Stars shall fall from heaven (Matthew 24:29, Luke 21:25)
  19. Sign of the Son of man shall appear (Matthew 24:30, Luke 21:27)

Some of "these things" occurred during Christ's time period. Some have continued since then. Some have escalated into our time. Some have not occurred yet. So we must ask, since Joseph Smith is charged with false prophecy concerning "this generation," did Jesus Christ utter a false prophecy? Absolutely not! But, according to the critics' rules of interpretation, he did, because "this generation" passed away without "all these things" being fulfilled. So, if Joseph Smith uttered a false prophecy about "this generation" so did Christ. I have never read anything from anyone who is a critic of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that attacks Jesus Christ, or the Bible, for making a prophecy of "this generation" which has not yet occurred. Yet it has been many centuries longer from the time of Christ until now, than it has been from the 1830's till today. It should be noted that D&C 84 does not say the "people now living," it says "this generation." The word "generation" has different meanings. According to scripture, the word "generation" can have reference to a time frame, a people, or even a dispensation. Without specific wording which would indicate exactly what the word "generation" means, it is dishonest to accuse one (Joseph Smith) of false prophecy, while accepting another (Jesus Christ) when both use it in a general form.


Response to claim: The name of the Church was later changed to "The Church of the Latter Day Saints"

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

The name of the Church was later changed to "The Church of the Latter Day Saints."

(Author's sources: *David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ, p. 73.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

This is correct. The name of the Church was only changed through revelation one time.



Response to claim: Joseph gave a "false prophecy" that the Saints would prevail against their enemies in Independence, Missouri

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

Joseph gave a "false prophecy" that the Saints would prevail against their enemies in Independence, Missouri.

(Author's sources: *DC 103:5-7)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources





The scripture says that the saints would "begin to prevail"—but, only if they "hearken from this very hour unto the counsel" that God gives them. The Saints' prosperity was conditionally linked to their faithfulness in heeding the word of God. }}

Response to claim: Joseph Smith's age at the time of the First Vision was "the 15th year of our brother J. Smith Jr.'s age" and then corrects it to be "the 17th"

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

Oliver Cowdery reports in the Messenger and Advocate that Joseph Smith's age at the time of the First Vision was "the 15th year of our brother J. Smith Jr.'s age" and then corrects it to be "the 17th."

(Author's sources:
  • Messenger and Advocate, Dec. 1834, Vol. 1, p. 42.
  • Messenger and Advocate, Feb. 1835, Vol. 1, p. 76.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Oliver's history covering this time period was printed in two parts several months apart. In the first part, Oliver described Joseph at age 14 during a time of religious excitement, and he was clearly leading up to the First Vision. However, when Oliver published his second part several months later, he abruptly skipped any mention of the vision and began describing the visit of Moroni instead. He "corrected" Joseph's age from 14 to 17. Clearly, Joseph asked him not to discuss the First Vision at this time.



Question: Did Oliver Cowdery state that Joseph did not know if a "supreme being" existed in 1823?

In the first installment of his history published in December 1834, Oliver established Joseph's age as 14 and very accurately described the religious excitement leading up to the First Vision

Oliver Cowdery began publishing a history of the Church in the Messenger and Advocate in December 1834 which is commonly misunderstood:

In 1834, Oliver Cowdery began publishing a history of the Church in installments in the pages of the Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. The first installment talks of the religious excitement and events that ultimately led to Joseph Smith’s First Vision at age 14. However, in the subsequent installment published two months later, Oliver claims that he made a mistake, correcting Joseph’s age from 14 to 17 and failing to make any direct mention of the First Vision. Oliver instead tells the story of Moroni’s visit, thus making it appear that the religious excitement led to Moroni’s visit.

This curious account has been misunderstood by some to be evidence that the “first” vision that Joseph claimed was actually that of the angel Moroni and that Joseph invented the story of the First Vision of the Father and Son at a later time. However, Joseph wrote an account of his First Vision in 1832 in which he stated that he saw the Lord, and there is substantial evidence that Oliver had this document in his possession at the time that he wrote his history of the Church. This essay demonstrates the correlations between Joseph Smith’s 1832 First Vision account, Oliver’s 1834/1835 account, and Joseph’s 1835 journal entry on the same subject. It is clear that not only did Oliver have Joseph’s history in his possession but that he used Joseph’s 1832 account as a basis for his own account. This essay also shows that Oliver knew of the First Vision and attempted to obliquely refer to the event several times in his second installment before continuing with his narrative of Moroni’s visit.[6]

Two months later in the second installment published in February 1835, Oliver abruptly "corrects" Joseph's age from 14 to 17 years old, skips the First Vision and then proceeds instead to describe Moroni's visit

After spending the previous installment leading up to the First Vision, Oliver abruptly skips three years ahead and does not mention the vision directly. However, before describing Moroni's visit, Oliver even takes the time to minimize the importance of the religious excitement that he described in the previous installment, stating,

And it is only necessary for me to say, that while this excitement continued, he continued to call upon the Lord in secret for a full manifestation of divine approbation, and for, to him, the all important information, if a Supreme being did exist, to have an assurance that he was accepted of him.
Oliver Cowdery, Messenger and Advocate (February 1835)

The religious "excitement" that Oliver is describing is now portrayed as an event in the past, during which Joseph desired to know "if a Supreme being did exist"

Note carefully what Oliver is saying. The religious "excitement," and the event that Oliver described in the first installment when he said that Joseph was 14 years of age, was when Joseph was seeking a "full manifestation of divine approbation" with the desire to know "if a Supreme being did exist." Oliver then alludes to the First Vision in the past tense by saying,

This, most assuredly, was correct—it was right. The Lord has said, long since, and his word remains steadfast, that for him who knocks it shall be opened, & whosoever will, may come and partake of the waters of life freely.
Oliver Cowdery, Messenger and Advocate (February 1835)

Oliver is stating that something of significance happened in Joseph’s life prior to the events that Oliver would be describing next, and he assures the reader that “this, most assuredly, was correct.” Oliver then proceeds to describe Moroni's visit to Joseph at age 17.


Question: What criticisms are related to Oliver Cowdery's 1834-1835 history of the Church?

Critics of the Church conflate Oliver's first and second installments of his Church history in order to "prove" that Joseph was not aware that a "Supreme being" existed three years after he claimed to have had his first vision

When Oliver Cowdery published his version of the history of the Church in December 1834 and February 1835 he did not include a recital of the First Vision story - thus implying that it was not known among the Saints by that point in time. One critical website makes the following claim:

In the first history of Mormonism from 1835 written under Joseph Smith's direction, it says that the night of September 1823 Joseph Smith began praying in his bed to learn 'the all important information, if a Supreme being did exist, to have an assurance that he was accepted of him.' (LDS periodical Messenger and Advocate, Kirtland, Ohio, Feb. 1835). It makes no sense for him to ask if God existed, if Smith had already seen God face-to-face some three years earlier, and knew he existed.[7]

and

In Joseph Smith's 1835 published history of the church, he claimed that his first spiritual experience was in 1823 after a religious revival in Palmyra that same year. Smith testified that he prayed while in bed one night, to discover if God existed.

These claims, however, are false. Oliver's February 1835 installment did not describe Joseph's First Vision - it described Moroni's visit. It should also be noted that this was not "Joseph Smith's 1835 published history."

Only two years prior to Oliver's history, Joseph's 1832 account of the First Vision clearly establishes the date of both the first vision, and the vision of Moroni

Oliver Cowdery did, in fact, know about the First Vision when he recorded his version of the history of the Restoration—he had physical possession of the Prophet's 1832 history, which contains an account of the First Vision.

In October 1834 Cowdery announced in his newspaper that Joseph Smith would help with the history project but the Prophet himself noted that "no month ever found [him] more busily engaged than November." [8] In December 1834 President Smith was busy lecturing at the School of the Elders and acting as a trustee for the Kirtland High School and so during this month he sent Oliver a short letter to be included as part of the project, but also noted within it that he learned of his prominent role in the project, and its imminent appearance in the press, by reading Cowdery's periodical! [9]


Response to claim: Joseph Smith receives revelation to send David Patten on a mission, but Patten is killed during a battle

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

Joseph Smith receives revelation to send David Patten on a mission, but Patten is killed during a battle.

(Author's sources: *DC 114:)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

This was not a prophecy. It was a mission call.



}}

Question: Why did Joseph Smith say that David Patten would serve a mission when he was killed only six months later?

D&C 114 was not a prophecy, it was a mission call

It is claimed that Joseph Smith prophesied that David Patten would go on a mission (D&C 114:1), yet six months later Patten was dead. They insist that this is an example of a failed prophecy that makes Joseph Smith a false prophet.[10]

Those who make this argument employ a misreading of the call to Patten and a double standard regarding prophecy to condemn Joseph Smith.

D&C 114 was not a prophecy, it was a mission call. Joseph Smith, under the inspiration of the Lord, issued a call for David Patten to go on a mission the following spring. This call by revelation is not a prophecy that David would serve a mission, but an admonition to set all his affairs in order so that he may perform a mission. Although Patten was killed, his affairs were in order when he died so that his family could endure his absence. This alone indicates the Lord's foreknowledge of Patten's death. And who knows but that Patten served that mission call on the other side of the veil?

In any event, Patten's death would not change the instructional nature of that call. Joseph Smith declared that: To the "great Jehovah . . . the past, present, and future were and are, with Him, one eternal 'now'."[11] The Savior does know all that will happen to us individually, but he still gives agency to us and to others who impact on our lives, which usage often precludes what would have happened if the Lord's will were done on earth as it is in heaven.

There are several Biblical parallels to David Patten's mission call, such as the calling of Judas as an Apostle. As one of the Twelve Apostles, Judas was promised by the Lord that he would sit on twelve thrones with the others and judge the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28). Judas, of his own choice (unlike David Patten) never fulfilled this promise of the Lord. This doesn't make the Lord a false prophet in the case of Judas. Nor were the Lord and His prophet, Joseph Smith, mistaken in the case of David Patten.

The Lord knocks at the door and gives the promise or opportunity. Whether we open the door and respond in a way to reap the potential blessing is up to us, and in many cases, up to the righteousness of others. In David Pallen's case, extenuating circumstances prevented him from serving an earthly mission: a mob killed him. To understand the case of David Patten, one might study D&C 124:49, which states if "their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept of their offerings."

Some critics have pointed to the "thus saith the Lord" phrase at the beginning of D&C 114 (verses 1 and 2) as proof that this was a prophecy. A quick examination of other sections where "thus saith the Lord" was part of the revelation demonstrates that the phrase was not used exclusively for prophecies (as in D&C 87) but is also used in revelations where instructions (D&C 21, 44, 49, 50, 52, 75, 89, 91, etc.) callings (D&C 36, 55, 66, 69, 99, 100, 108, etc.), and reproof (D&C 61, 95) are given. More than half the time the phrase was used in the first verse of the section. When used in the first verse, it appears to be an indication that it is being given as a revelation. But callings in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are considered callings from God given by revelation. (See Ex. 28:1; Heb. 5:4; Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, Callings)


=Response to claim: The Lectures on Faith describe the Father as a "personage of spirit"

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

The Lectures on Faith describe the Father as a "personage of spirit."

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event





Question: What are the Lectures on Faith?

The Lectures were published in 1835 as the Doctrine portion of The Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of the Latter Day Saints

The Lectures on Faith are seven lessons on theology delivered by the presiding officers of the Church to the School of the Elders at Kirtland, Ohio, in late 1834. The lectures are organized in the form of a catechism, with each lecture starting with instructions on doctrine, and the first five lectures concluding with a question-and-answer section to check class participants for understanding. Scholarship seems to indicate that the lectures were mostly written by Sidney Rigdon with some oversight of Joseph Smith. [12]

The Lectures were the "doctrine" portion of the Doctrine and Covenants

The Lectures were included as the "doctrine" portion of the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants (the revelations comprised the "covenants" portion). The Lectures were suggested to be added to this version of the D&C by a committee appointed on September 24, 1834 by a general assembly of the church to arrange the doctrines and revelations of the church into a single volume. That committee consisted of Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams. The general body of the church accepted the committee's compilation on August 17, 1835 as "the doctrine and covenants of their faith, by a unanimous vote." [13]

While the Lectures on Faith were at one time included in the Doctrine and Covenants, they were subsequently removed from the 1921 edition (along with other items; for more information see D&C Textual Changes) that were not considered official revelation and binding doctrine by the church.


Question: What does Lecture 5 of the Lectures on Faith say about the nature of God?

The Lectures did not have a trinitarian view of God—the Father and the Son were clearly distinct personages, united in mind by the Holy Spirit

Lecture 5 deals with the nature of God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. Lecture 5.2 teaches:

There are two personages who constitute the great, matchless, governing, and supreme power over all things—by whom all things were created and made that are created and made, whether visible or invisible; whether in heaven, on earth, or in the earth, under the earth, or throughout the immensity of space. They are the Father and the Son: The Father being a personage of spirit, glory, and power, possessing all perfection and fullness. The Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle, made or fashioned like unto man, or being in the form and likeness of man—or rather, man was formed after his likeness and in his image. He is also the express image and likeness of the personage of the Father, possessing all the fullness of the Father, or the same fullness with the Father, being begotten of him;(emphasis added.) [14]

Efforts to see this as evidence for an essentially 'trinitarian' view, are flawed

Efforts to see this as evidence for an essentially 'trinitarian' view, are flawed, [15] though at least one LDS missionary used this lecture to argue against the idea that God the Father and Christ "were two distinct personages, with similar bodies and minds." [16] Despite this claim, however, the question-and-answer section of the 5th Lecture on Faith include the following:

How many personages are there in the Godhead[?]

Two: the Father and Son.

Clearly then, as we will see below, this missionary's statement does not reflect the entirety of LDS thought on the Godhead up to that point. Ironically, his interlocutor's response harmonizes better with the Lecture's catechism and present-day LDS thought. [17] It is perhaps not surprising that the missionary let his critic have the last word, despite promising to address further issues! (This exchange provides an excellent lesson for apologists—when one makes a mistake or misstatement, one should admit it, and not try to salvage a bad argument.)

The role of the Holy Ghost was less clear at this point in time

The Lecture describes the "Only Begotten of the Father possessing the same mind with the Father, which mind is the Holy Spirit" (emphasis added).

The exact nature of the relationship between the Spirit and the Father and the Son was not explicitly stated until 1843:

The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.DC 130:22

Thus, the Lectures did not have a trinitarian view of God—the Father and the Son were clearly distinct personages, united in mind by the Holy Spirit.

The Lectures on Faith clearly taught that the Father and Son were "embodied," with visible forms having precise dimensions and position in space

After exploring the early evidence for Joseph's belief in an embodied Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (whether in flesh or spirit bodies), one author concluded:

What, then, shall be made of the lecture’s referring contrastingly to the Father as "a personage of spirit" and to the Son as "a personage of tabernacle"? Again, Webster’s 1828 dictionary is helpful. It lists "our natural body" as one use of the term tabernacle. Our natural body, I take it, is a body of flesh and bones. If so, the lectures affirm that God the Son has a flesh-and-bones body, humanlike in form, while God the Father has a spirit body, also humanlike in form. As mentioned, Joseph later knew that the Father, as well as the Son, has a glorious, incorruptible body of flesh and bone. No doubt, his understanding of the mode of the Father’s embodiment was enlarged and refined as he continued to receive and reflect on revelation. [18]

The Lectures on Faith clearly taught a separation of the Father and Son. They also clearly taught that the Father and Son were "embodied," with visible forms having precise dimensions and position in space. Evidence from the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Church members, and the Church's antagonists all demonstrate that these doctrines go back to the earliest days of the Restoration. (This is not surprising, given that Joseph's First Vision would have made the separate nature of the Godhead crystal clear.)

Whether Joseph Smith understood at this point that the Father had a physical body (as distinct from a spirit body upon which man's body was patterned) is not entirely clear, although some, such as Bruce R. McConkie, believe there is a basis for such in the Lectures on Faith. One thing is for certain, Joseph clearly did not believe in the non-embodied God of classical trinitarianism. Nor did Joseph teach of a Father and Son "of one substance" as the trinitarian creeds of his day defined them.


Question: How would a statement that "God is a spirit" be interpreted in ancient Judasism?

The statement that "God is a spirit" does not mean that he has no body - it means that he is the source of life-giving power and energy

Christopher Stead of the Cambridge Divinity School (another non-Mormon scholar) explains how a statement that God is spirit would have been interpreted within ancient Judaism:

By saying that God is spiritual, we do not mean that he has no body … but rather that he is the source of a mysterious life-giving power and energy that animates the human body, and himself possesses this energy in the fullest measure. [19]

It may be that Joseph Smith, by revelation, had something like this in mind when he wrote that the Father is "a personage of spirit."


Response to claim: Orson Pratt is claimed to have been excommunicated for disagreeing with Joseph Smith regarding polygamy and "Smith's sexual advances to Sarah Pratt, Orson's wife"

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

Orson Pratt is claimed to have been excommunicated for disagreeing with Joseph Smith regarding polygamy and "Smith's sexual advances to Sarah Pratt, Orson's wife."

(Author's sources: Nauvoo: Kingdom on the Mississippi, pp. 269-270.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources





Orson Pratt was later to return to the Church, and indicated that he had been misled by a "wicked source" for the supposed information about Joseph and his wife. }}

Question: Did any woman suffer consequences for turning down Joseph's proposal?

Two women afterward attacked Joseph's character and misrepresented his offer, to which Joseph responded. Those who did not were left strictly alone

There are numerous accounts of women to whom Joseph proposed plural marriage, who turned him down.

Two women afterward attacked Joseph's character and misrepresented his offer. He responded. Those who did not were left strictly alone. There were no consequences to these women. Sarah Kimball reported Joseph's mild reaction to the rejection:

Early in the year 1842, Joseph Smith taught me the principle of marriage for eternity, and the doctrine of plural marriage. He said that in teaching this he realized that he jeopardized his life; but God had revealed it to him many years before as a privilege with blessings, now God had revealed it again and instructed him to teach it with commandment, as the Church could travel (progress) no further without the introduction of this principle. I asked him to teach it to some one else. He looked at me reprovingly, and said, 'Will you tell me who to teach it to? God required me to teach it to you, and leave you with the responsibility of believing or disbelieving.‘ He said, 'I will not cease to pray for you, and if you will seek unto God in prayer you will not be led into temptation.'[20]

(Sarah's husband was not a member of the Church until 1843. There was some tension between him and Joseph as a result of this episode, but he seems to have resolved any animosity he held for the prophet.[21] They were later to go Utah with the Saints, where Sarah assumed a prominent role in the Relief Society. Her husband died while en route to a mission in Hawaii.[22]

Other women loudly trumpeted the plural marriage doctrine in Nauvoo and the hostile press. These women's testimony and character were generally attacked to try to discredit them in an effort to preserve the secrecy which surrounded plural marriage. (This factor is complicated by the fact that at least some were guilty of inappropriate behavior (e.g., likely Sarah Pratt). Despite attacks on their character, some remained in Nauvoo and likewise suffered no physical harm (e.g., Nancy Rigdon).


Response to claim: The authors claim that "historical records show Joseph Smith was sexually involved with women other than his legal wife Emma" long before the 1843 revelation was written

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

The authors claim that "historical records show Joseph Smith was sexually involved with women other than his legal wife Emma" long before the 1843 revelation was written.

(Author's sources: *DC 132:)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources





The D&C revelation was written down in 1843, but Joseph was aware of at least some of its contents by 1831 at the latest. }}

Question: Did Joseph Smith institute polygamy because he had a "voracious sexual appetite"?

It is unjustifiable to argue that he and his associates were insincere or that they were practicing their religion only for power and to satisfy carnal desires

It is claimed by some critics of Mormonism that Joseph Smith (and/or other Church members) had a voracious sexual appetite, and that because of this, he instituted polygamy.

One might reasonably hold the opinion that Joseph was wrong, but in the face of the documentary evidence it is unjustifiable to argue that he and his associates were insincere or that they were practicing their religion only for power and to satisfy carnal desires. Those who insist that “sex is the answer” likely reveal more about their own limited perspective than they do of the minds of the early Saints.

Neutral observers have long understood that this attack on plural marriage is probably the weakest of them all

George Bernard Shaw, certainly no Mormon, declared:

Now nothing can be more idle, nothing more frivolous, than to imagine that this polygamy had anything to do with personal licentiousness. If Joseph Smith had proposed to the Latter-day Saints that they should live licentious lives, they would have rushed on him and probably anticipated their pious neighbors who presently shot him. [23]

Brigham Young matches the explanation proposed by Shaw. When instructed to practice plural marriage by Joseph, Brigham recalled that it “was the first time in my life that I had desired the grave." [24]

John Taylor had similar opinions:

I had always entertained strict ideas of virtue and I felt as a married man that this was to me…an appalling thing to do…Nothing but a knowledge of God, and the revelations of God…could have induced me to embrace such a principle as this…We [the Twelve] seemed to put off, as far as we could, what might be termed the evil day. [25]

Joseph knew these men intimately. He would have known their sensibilities. If it was "all about sex," why push his luck with them? Why up the ante and ask them to marry polygamously? It would have been easier for him to claim the “duty” singularly, as prophet, and not insist that they join him.

As non-Mormon church historian Ernst Benz wrote:

Mormon polygamy has nothing to do with sexual debauchery but is tied to a strict patriarchal system of family order and demonstrates in the relationship of the husband to his individual wives all the ethical traits of a Christian, monogamous marriage. It is completely focused on bearing children and rearing them in the bosom of the family and the Mormon community. Actually, it exhibits a very great measure of selflessness, a willingness to sacrifice, and a sense of duty. [26]

Furthermore, Joseph Smith would not permit other members’ sexual misconduct

For example, he refused to countenance John C. Bennett’s serial infidelities. [27] If Joseph was looking for easy access to sex, Bennett—mayor of Nauvoo, First Counselor in the First Presidency, and military leader—would have been the perfect confederate. Yet, Joseph publicly denounced Bennett’s actions, and severed him from the First Presidency and the Church. Bennett became a vocal opponent and critic, and all this could have been avoided if Joseph was willing to have him as a “partner in crime.” The critic cannot argue that Joseph felt that only he was entitled to polygamous relationships, since he went to great efforts to teach the doctrine to Hyrum and the Twelve, who embraced it with much less zeal than Bennett would have. If this is all about lust, why did Joseph humiliate and alienate Bennett, who Joseph should have known he could trust to support him and help hide polygamy from critics, while risking the support of the Twelve by insisting they participate?

There were certainly easier ways to satisfy one’s libido, as one author noted:

Contrary to popular nineteenth-century notions about polygamy, the Mormon harem, dominated by lascivious males with hyperactive libidos, did not exist. The image of unlimited lust was largely the creation of travelers to Salt Lake City more interested in titillating audiences back home than in accurately portraying plural marriage. Newspaper representatives and public figures visited the city in droves seeking headlines for their eastern audiences. Mormon plural marriage, dedicated to propagating the species righteously and dispassionately, proved to be a rather drab lifestyle compared to the imaginative tales of polygamy, dripping with sensationalism, demanded by a scandal-hungry eastern media market. [28]

Those who became Mormons were those who were least likely, culturally, to be thrilled at the prospect of polygamy

Douglas H. Parker wrote,

Polygamy, when first announced to the Saints, was an offensive, disgusting doctrine, difficult to accept…The men and women who placed faith in the bona fides of the revelation were Victorian in their background and moral character. The hard test of accepting polygamy as a principle revealed and required by God selected out from the Church membership at large a basic corps of faithful members who, within the next few decades, were to be subjected to an Abraham-Isaac test administered by the federal government as God’s agent. [29]

Perhaps the best argument against the “lascivious” charge is to look at the lives of the men and women who practiced it. Historian B. Carmon Hardy observed:

Joseph displayed an astonishingly principled commitment to the doctrine [of plural marriage]. He had to overcome opposition from his brother Hyrum and the reluctance of some of his disciples. Reflecting years later on the conflicts and dangers brought by plural marriage, some church leaders were struck with the courage Joseph displayed in persisting with it. And when one recalls a poignant encounter like that between [counselor in the First Presidency] William Law and Joseph in early 1844, it is difficult not to agree. Law, putting his arms around the prophet’s neck, tearfully pleaded that he throw the entire business of plurality over. Joseph, also crying, replied that he could not, that God had commanded it, and he had no choice but to obey. [30]

One can read volumes of the early leaders’ public writings, extemporaneous sermons, and private journals. One can reflect on the hundreds or thousands of miles of travel on missionary journeys and Church business. If the writings of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Heber C. Kimball, George Q. Cannon and many others cannot persuade someone that they were honest men (even if mistaken) then one should sincerely question whether such a person is capable of looking charitably upon any Mormon.

Paul Peterson’s comment about the diaries of Joseph Smith resonates well in this regard:

I had not fully grasped certain aspects of the Prophet’s psyche and personality. After just a few pages into Personal Writings, [31] it became clear that Joseph possessed religious dimensions that I had not understood. For one thing, it was apparent I had underestimated the depth of his dependence upon Deity. The Joseph that emerges in Personal Writings is an intensely devout and God-fearing young man who at times seems almost helpless without divine support. And his sincerity about his prophetic calling is also apparent. If others were not persuaded of his claims, it could not be said that Joseph was unconvinced that God had both called and directed him. Detractors who claim that Joseph came to like the game of playing prophet would be discomfited if they read Personal Writings. Scholars may quibble with how true his theology is, but for anyone who reads Personal Writings, his earnestness and honesty are no longer debatable points. [32]


Response to claim: Joseph Smith denies polygamy

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

Joseph Smith denies polygamy.

(Author's sources: *History of the Church 6:411)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event





Question: Did Joseph Smith ever publicly attempt to teach the doctrine of plural marriage?

Joseph initiated the practice of polygamy and hid it from the general Church membership during his lifetime

It is true that Joseph did not always tell others about plural marriage. One critic of the Church claims, "Joseph Smith publicly lied about his practice of polygamy, and lied to his own wife (Emma) about the practice." [33]

Joseph made at least one attempt to teach the doctrine, but it was rejected

Joseph did, however, make an attempt to teach the doctrine to the Saints. When Joseph tried to teach the doctrine, it was rejected by many Saints, including Emma, his wife. Joseph then began to teach the doctrine privately to those who would obey. A contemporary journal describes the reaction to Joseph's attempt to teach this doctrine:

When the prophet “went to his dinner,” [Joseph Lee] Robinson wrote, “as it might be expected several of the first women of the church collected at the Prophet’s house with his wife [and] said thus to the prophet Joseph O mister Smith you have done it now it will never do it is all but Blassphemy you must take back what you have said to day is it is outrageous it would ruin us as a people.” So in the afternoon session Smith again took the stand, according to Robinson, and said “Brethren and Sisters I take back what we said this morning and leave it as though there had been nothing said.”[34]


Question: Why did Joseph keep the doctrine of plural marriage private?

The Saints would have suffered negative consequences

Keeping the doctrine private was also necessary because the enemies of the Church would have used it as another justification for their assault on the Saints. Orson Hyde looked back on the Nauvoo days and indicated what the consequences of disclosure would have been:

In olden times they might have passed through the same circumstances as some of the Latter-day Saints had to in Illinois. What would it have done for us, if they had known that many of us had more than one wife when we lived in Illinois? They would have broken us up, doubtless, worse than they did.[35]

It is thus important to realize that the public preaching of polygamy—or announcing it to the general Church membership, thereby informing the public by proxy—was simply not a feasible plan.


Question: Why did the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants include a statement of marriage that denied the practice of polygamy at a time when some were actually practicing it?

Polygamy was not being taught to the general Church membership at that time

The Article on Marriage was printed in the 1835 D&C as section 101 and in the 1844 D&C as section 109. The portion of the Article on Marriage relevant to polygamy states:

Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again. [36]

This was true—the Church membership generally was not being taught plural marriage, and were not living it at that time.

The statement itself was not changed between the 1835 and 1844 editions of the D&C

In fact, the statement remained in the D&C until the 1876 edition, even though plural marriage had been taught to specific individuals since at least 1831, practiced in secret since 1836, and practiced openly since 1852. The matter of not removing it in 1852 was simply due to the fact that a new edition of the D&C was not published until 1876.

The available evidence suggests that Joseph Smith supported its publication

While some have suggested that the article was published against Joseph's wishes or without his knowledge, the available evidence suggests that he supported its publication. It was likely included to counter the perception that the Mormon's practice of communal property (the "law of consecration") included a community of wives.

The statement was not a revelation given to Joseph Smith - it was written by Oliver Cowdery

This statement was not a revelation given to Joseph Smith—it was written by Oliver Cowdery and introduced to a conference of the priesthood at Kirtland on 17 August 1835. Cowdery also wrote a statement of belief on government that has been retained in our current edition of the D&C as section 134. Both were sustained at the conference and included in the 1835 D&C, which was already at the press and ready to be published. Joseph Smith was preaching in Michigan at the time Oliver and W.W. Phelps introduced these two articles to the conference; it is not known if he approved of their addition to the D&C at the time, although he did retain them in the 1844 Nauvoo edition, which argues that he was not opposed to them. (Phelps read the article on marriage, while Cowdery read the one on government.) [37]

Some have suggested that the manner in which the conference was called suggests that Joseph was not the instigator of it, since it seems to have been done quite quickly, with relatively few high church leaders in attendance:

The General Assembly, which may have been announced on only twenty-four hours' notice, was held Monday, August 17[, 1835]. Its spur-of-the-moment nature is demonstrated by observing that a puzzling majority of Church leaders were absent. Missing from the meeting were all of the Twelve Apostles, eight of the twelve Kirtland High Council members nine of the twelve Missouri High Council members, three of the seven Presidents of the Quorum of Seventy, Presiding Bishop Partridge, and...two of the three members of the First Presidency. [38]

However, there is also some evidence that an article on marriage was already anticipated, and cited four times in the new D&C's index, which was prepared under Joseph's direction and probably available prior to his departure. Thus, "if a disagreement existed, it was resolved before the Prophet left for Pontiac." [39]


Response to claim: The Nauvoo Expositor accused Joseph of "practicing polygamy and teaching polytheism"

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

The Nauvoo Expositor accused Joseph of "practicing polygamy and teaching polytheism."

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

It is unsurprising that a hostile paper attacked Joseph's teachings. This does not mean that the attack was accurate, complete, or fair. No informed historian or Latter-day Saint claims that Joseph did not teach or practice plural marriage in Nauvoo.



Question: How was the decision reached to destroy the Nauvoo Expositor?

Destruction of Expositor

8 June 1844
Nauvoo city council meets regarding the Expositor.
10 June 1844
The city council declares the Expositor a public nuisance and threat to the peace. This was not mere exaggeration; there were sixteen episodes of mob violence against controversial newspapers in Illinois from 1832 to 1867, and so the leaders’ fears of civil unrest were likely well-founded. The city council therefore ordered the press and the paper destroyed.[40]
This was done. The decision to suppress the Expositor, while legal for the day, worsened a tense situation (in the years following the Expositor suppression, similar tactics would be used in 1862, 1893, 1918, and 1927).[41]
Historically, presses which violated community ideas of what was proper were a genuine risk to the public peace. Elijah Lovejoy, an anti-slavery editor of The Saint Louis Observer was killed by a pro-slavery mob in 1837.[42]
Joseph and the city council might well have had memories of what happened in Missouri when some members of the Church became frustrated with the lack of legal redress for their mistreatment by Missouri citizens.
Missouri probably also set the stage for the legal decision to suppress the press. In 1833, the Evening and Morning Star, the LDS paper in Independence, was subject to being "razed to the ground" at the unanimous decision of the mob committee established to drive out the Mormons.[43] The mob's ultimatum later stipulated that the Mormons were not to publish anything before leaving.[44]
The law of the day probably gave Joseph and the council the right to destroy the offending issue; however, since they had also ordered the press and type destroyed, they violated property laws. Joseph later said he would be happy to pay for the damages.[45] Critics are inconsistent when they complain about the Nauvoo city council's decision to suppress the Expositor (an action that was legal) and yet do not also acknowledge that Mormon presses had been destroyed by mobs acting with no legal authority whatever.
Despite the fact that the Expositor's suppression was legal, the destruction of the press appeared high-handed to Church critics, and other newspapers began to call for the Mormons’ expulsion or destruction. Joseph and others were arrested on charges of “riot.”


Question: Why did the Nauvoo City Council feel it was necessary to destroy the Nauvoo Expositor?

One member recorded that Joseph told him that the destruction of the press was necessary for the Saints’ safety

It is claimed that Joseph "could not allow the Expositor to publish the secret international negotiations masterminded by Mormonism’s earthly king." [46]

The reality was that the Joseph and the City Council were concerned that the paper would cause turmoil among the Saints.

One member stated,

Brother Joseph called a meeting at his own house and told us that God showed to him in an open vision in daylight [meaning that this was not something he had just conjured up in dreams of the night] that if he did not destroy that printing press that it would cause the blood of the Saints to flow in the streets and by this was that evil destroyed.[47]

Joseph foresaw his own death as a result of the turmoil that was already occurring

Given Joseph’s numerous presentiments of his own death, it may well be that he knowingly chose this course of action to spare the members’ lives at the cost of his own. Said Joseph to Elizabeth Rollins:

I must seal my testimony with my blood.[48]

And later:

Some has supposed that Br Joseph Could not die but this is a mistake it is true their has been times when I have had the promise of my life to accomplish such & such things, but having accomplish those things I have not at present any lease of my life I am as liable to die as other men.[49]


Response to claim: The authors claim that Joseph killed two men at Carthage Jail, and that Joseph cannot be called a martyr because he fought for his life "with an illegally obtained weapon"

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

The authors claim that Joseph killed two men at Carthage Jail, and that Joseph cannot be called a martyr because he fought for his life "with an illegally obtained weapon."

(Author's sources: *History of the Church 7:103.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

Joseph wounded two men, but they lived. It was erroneously believed for a period of time that they died. A martyr does not have to go to their death without defending themselves or their friends.



Question: Is it true that Joseph killed two men by firing at the mob?

The attackers who were hit by Joseph were not killed (as was first reported in some Church publications) but only wounded

Joseph fired his gun six times (only three shots discharged) and he hit two of the mobbers, which John Taylor later mistakenly stated had died. Was Joseph a murderer?

Joseph's actions were clearly self-defense and defense of others under the common law. However, this point is moot since the attackers who were hit were not killed (as was first reported in some Church publications) but only wounded. They were alive and well at the trial held for mob leaders, and were identified by witnesses. Their good health allowed them to receive gifts because of their role in the assault on Joseph, Hyrum, and the other prisoners.

According to Dallin Oaks and Marvin Hill:

Wills, Voras, and Gallaher were probably named in the indictment because their wounds, which testimony showed were received at the jail, were irrefutable evidence that they had participated in the mob. They undoubtedly recognized their vulnerability and fled the county. A contemporary witness reported these three as saying that they were the first men at the jail, that one of them shot through the door killing Hyrum, that Joseph wounded all three with his pistol, and that Gallaher shot Joseph as he ran to the window.[Hay, "The Mormon Prophet's Tragedy," 675] According to Hay, Wills, whom the Mormon prophet had shot in the arm, was an Irishman who had joined the mob from “his congenital love of a brawl.”[Statement of Jeremiah Willey, August 13, 1844, Brigham Young correspondence, Church Archives.] Gallaher was a young man from Mississippi who was shot in the face.[Hay, "The Mormon Prophet's Tragedy," 669, 675. Another source says Wills was a former Mormon elder who had left the Church. Davis, An Authentic Account, 24.] Hay described Voras (Voorhees) as a “half-grown hobbledehoy from Bear Creek” whom Joseph shot in the shoulder. The citizens of Green Plains were said to have given Gallaher and Voras new suits of clothes for their parts in the killing.[Statement of Jeremiah Willey, August 13, 1844][50]


Question: Is it possible that Joseph Smith is not a martyr because, while in jail, he had a gun and he had the temerity to defend himself?

Joseph and Hyrum were martyrs by the accepted definition of the term—they suffered death for their beliefs

It seems clear that:

  1. Joseph and Hyrum were martyrs by the accepted definition of the term—they suffered death for their beliefs. (Note that martyrs can die for worthy or ignoble causes, but this makes them no less martyrs.)
  2. The Church has not hidden this fact, but published it from the beginning and includes it in the History of the Church twice.
  3. Joseph was not guilty of murder, because no one died from his shots, and his actions would have been justifiable as self-defense and defense of others even if deaths had resulted.

Critics of Joseph Smith redefine the term "martyr"

In order to make their argument tenable, the critics must do three things. First, they must take some creative liberties with the English language. In this case, the word being redefined is the term martyr. Webster’s New World Dictionary defines a "martyr" as

“a person who chooses to suffer or die rather than give up his faith or his principles.”[51]

The online resource, Dictionary.com, defines a martyr as

“one who chooses to suffer death rather than renounce religious principles.”[52]

Both are nearly identical and fairly standard definitions, and neither includes a requirement or qualifiers of any sort. However, some anti-Mormon writers have taken the term martyr and subtly changed its definition to suit their own needs. The new definition would probably read something like this: Martyr: a person who chooses to suffer or die rather than give up his faith or his principles without any resistance or effort at self-defense on his part whatsoever.

Critics are free to use such a definition, but it belongs to them alone; it is not the standard use of the word, and not what Church members mean when they refer to the "martyrdom" of Joseph and Hyrum Smith at Carthage.

Throughout Christian history, "martyrs" have been understood to be those who suffered quietly, and those who resisted, even with violence, and even to the death of those who persecuted them for their beliefs.

The first anti-Mormon argument thus focuses on the fact that Joseph had a firearm and that he used that firearm to defend himself. Is it possible that Joseph's announcement that he was going “as a lamb to the slaughter” is false, since he fought back?

Anyone who has ever worked on a farm or in a slaughterhouse knows that sheep do not go willingly to the slaughter. They kick and buck, bleat, scream, and make every attempt to escape their fate. In fact, they make such a haunting sound, that the title of an extremely popular Hollywood film was based on it: The Silence of the Lambs. The term “lamb to the slaughter” simply refers to the inevitability of the final outcome. No matter how valiantly they struggle, the fate of the sheep is sealed. If we apply this understanding to Joseph Smith and his brother, it is clear that they truly were slaughtered like lambs. Fight as they might, they were doomed.

Ensign (June 2013): 40, shows Joseph with the pepperbox pistol he would fire to defend himself and others prior to his murder.


Response to claim: The "Oath of Vengeance" is added to the temple ceremony

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

The "Oath of Vengeance" is added to the temple ceremony.

(Author's sources: Diary Journal of Abraham H. Cannon, quoted in Tanner, Mormonism: Shadow or Reality?, p. 475)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event





Question: Was there an oath in a former version of the temple endowment that required vengeance upon the government of the United States?

It is likely that there was an oath that asked members to pray that God would avenge the blood of the prophets

Until 1927 the temple endowment very likely contained such an oath. The exact wording is not entirely clear, but it appears that it did not call on the Saints themselves to take vengeance on the United States, but that they would continue to pray that God himself might avenge the blood of the prophets.

Although the Oath of Vengeance contains no curses like those in the imprecatory psalms, like the psalmists, the Saints apparently had the wisdom to take directly to God their strong feelings in response to the injustices they had been dealt. By doing so, they turned over to Him the responsibility for both justice and healing.

In nearly every anti-Mormon discussion of the temple, critics raise the issue of the "oath of vengeance" that existed during the 19th century and very early 20th century. These critics often misstate the nature of the oath and try to use its presence in the early temple endowment as evidence that the LDS temple ceremonies are ungodly, violent, and immoral.

The leaders of the Church have modified the endowment from time to time. Prior to changes made in 1927, there was an oath to pray for the Lord's vengeance on those who murdered the prophets. In their sworn testimonies and temple exposes, apostates gave conflicting accounts on who was to do the actual avenging: the Lord or the Saints themselves.[53] Surveying Mormon history for teachings about of vengeance can add perspective and help evaluate which possibility is more likely.

During the Missouri conflict, the Saints were instructed through revelation to petition for governmental redress for the outrages they suffered

In 1833, the Mormons were driven out of Jackson County, Missouri, in part due to anti-slavery sentiments that differed from the more established settlers. Through revelation, the Saints were instructed to petition for governmental redress for the outrages they suffered. The Saints were expected to be pacifists, but only up to a point. D&C 98:23-31:

Now, I speak unto you concerning your families—if men will smite you, or your families, once, and ye bear it patiently and revile not against them, neither seek revenge, ye shall be rewarded; But if ye bear it not patiently, it shall be accounted unto you as being meted out as a just measure unto you. And again, if your enemy shall smite you the second time, and you revile not against your enemy, and bear it patiently, your reward shall be an hundredfold. And again, if he shall smite you the third time, and ye bear it patiently, your reward shall be doubled unto you four-fold; And these three testimonies shall stand against your enemy if he repent not, and shall not be blotted out. And now, verily I say unto you, if that enemy shall escape my vengeance, that he be not brought into judgment before me, then ye shall see to it that ye warn him in my name, that he come no more upon you, neither upon your family, even your children’s children unto the third and fourth generation. And then, if he shall come upon you or your children, or your children’s children unto the third and fourth generation, I have delivered thine enemy into thine hands; And then if thou wilt spare him, thou shalt be rewarded for thy righteousness; and also thy children and thy children’s children unto the third and fourth generation. Nevertheless, thine enemy is in thine hands; and if thou rewardest him according to his works thou art justified; if he has sought thy life, and thy life is endangered by him, thine enemy is in thine hands and thou art justified.

The use of violence was condoned only in cases of self-defense or after the Lord had delivered up a previously warned enemy in the Saints hands

Even then mercy towards enemies was encouraged and indications are that the Lord can fight his own battles (see v. 37) to extract his vengeance on the wicked. Note the repeated references to third and fourth generations of children that is added for rhetorical effect despite the impracticality of a single enemy being a menace for the encompassing time span.

The earliest known oath of vengeance in a Mormon temple appears to have been introduced by Joseph Smith in Kirtland

The earliest known oath of vengeance in a Mormon temple appears to have been introduced by Joseph Smith spontaneously at the Kirtland dedication on March 30, 1836:[54]

The seventies are at liberty to go to Zion if they please or go wheresoever they will and preach the gospel and let the redemption of Zion be our object, and strive to affect it by sending up all the strength of the Lords house whereever we find them, and I want to enter into the following covenant, that if any more of our brethren are slain or driven from their lands in Missouri by the mob that we will give ourselves no rest until we are avenged of our enimies to the uttermost, this covenant was sealed unanimously by a hosanna and Amen.

The Mormons used military force to defend themselves in Missouri, but eventually they were driven out after an exterminating order was issued against them by governor Boggs. Further petitions for redress in Missouri were met with rejection. Martin van Buren remarked "Your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you." Enemies in Missouri, including the next governor, conspired to kidnap Joseph in Illinois and bring him to Missouri to face trumped up charges.

Nauvoo Developments: Wilford Woodruff later situated the temple instruction in praying for the Lord's biblical vengeance of blood of the prophets

Perhaps anticipating his death, Joseph met often with apostles and other close associates to restore the temple endowment prior to the completion of the Nauvoo temple. Wilford Woodruff, later situated the temple instruction in praying for the Lord's biblical vengeance of blood of the prophets as follows:[55]

I have already said that there is nothing [antagonistic to the government in the Mormon endowments] of that kind in any part or phase of Mormonism. I ought to know about that as I am one of the oldest members of the church. A good deal is being made of a form of prayer based upon two verses in the sixth chapter of the revelations of St. John as contained in the New Testament. It relates to praying that God might avenge the blood of the prophets. An attempt has, I see, been made to connect this with avenging the death of Joseph and Hyrum Smith and to have reference to this nation. It can have no such application as the endowments were given long before the death of Joseph and Hyrum and have not been changed. This nation and government has never been charged by the Mormon people with the assassination of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. As it is well known the murder was the act of the local mob disguised.

Recent generations of Latter-day Saints, who haven't experienced mob violence, may be surprised at or uncomfortable with such oaths

Recent generations of Latter-day Saints, who haven't experienced mob violence, kidnapping attempts, and death threats, may be surprised at or uncomfortable with the feelings of many earlier saints who were praying for justice instead of praying for their enemies. But we live in kinder, gentler times; and nineteenth-century Mormons—especially those who came out of Nauvoo—saw the hand of God whenever their persecutors suffered misfortune, a feeling common to most powerless, persecuted minority groups.

After Joseph Smith's death, his closest friends continued to meet after his death.[56] This group met to test revelation ("try all things"), pray for the healing of sick members, pray for the success of church projects, and pray for deliverance from their enemies. Heber C. Kimball recalled that after Joseph's death the prayer circle met and prayed for God's vengeance.[57]

Summarizing Willard Richards' activities immediately after the martyrdom, historian Claire Noall wrote:

True, in this [1850] speech Richards finally denounced the actual murderers; but when notifying the Church of Joseph Smith's death at Carthage jail, he wrote to Nauvoo that the people of Carthage expected the Mormons to rise, but he had "promised them no." The next day from the steps of the Prophet's home, he reminded his people that he had pledged his word and his honor for their peaceful conduct. And when writing the news of Smith's death to Brigham Young then near Boston, Willard Richards said the blood of martyrs does not cry from the ground for vengeance; vengeance is the Lord's.[58]

Temple work in general and, more specifically, prayers that God, rather than Mormon members, would avenge Joseph Smith is what was the salvation of the church in Nauvoo. Instead of giving vent to passionate desires for revenge using the impressively-sized Nauvoo Legion, the brethren were able to get members to channel their frustration and anger into petitions to the Almighty for justice. Their actual energy was concentrated on the things of heaven through temple building and service. Temple prayer became a way of ritually memorializing Joseph Smith's martyrdom.

Conflict in Utah: To pray the Father to avenge the blood of the prophets and righteous men that has been shed

After the exodus to Utah, ordinances usually reserved for the temple were performed in the Endowment House, while temple construction was in progress. In a late recollection, David H. Cannon described the instruction at the Endowment House in regards to vengeance:

To pray the Father to avenge the blood of the prophets and righteous men that has been shed, etc. In the endowment house this was given but as persons went there only once, it was not so strongly impressed upon their minds, but in the setting in order [of] the endowments for the dead it was given as it is written in 9 Chapter of Revelations [sic] and in that language we importune our Father, not that we may, but that He, our Father, will avenge the blood of martyrs shed for the testimony of Jesus.[59]

Although the religious stress was on letting God perform the actual vengeance, individuals sometimes imagined they might be called upon to take a more active role. This phenomenon reached a low point after the rhetorical hyperbole of Mormon Reformation[60] and the war time hysteria created by President James Buchanan sending troops against Utah. From the pulpit, many Church leaders held the United States as a nation responsible for letting mobocracy get out of control. As tensions mounted, vengeance motifs surfaced in the apocalyptic language of some patriarchal blessings. The Saints were prepared to fight in a just war.

While the Utah War was nearly a bloodless conflict, tragedy struck some caught in the crossfire. A recent work has examined the way conspiring, local Mormon leaders manipulated others to become complicit in the Mountain Meadows Massacre in part by exploiting their desires for vengeance.[61] However, in their approach to explain how basically good people could commit such an atrocity, the authors found elements in common with vigilantism and mass killings perpetrated everywhere. They agree that these southern Utah Mormons were acting against the principles of their religion.[62] Their oaths of taught them to channel their righteous indignation into petitioning God for justice while they worked constructively to build and defend Zion.

The Reed Smoot Hearings brought to light that the Saints were covenanting to ask God to avenge the blood of Joseph Smith on the nation

Most accounts of the temple oath of vengeance stressed that God, rather than man, would do the actual punishing. For example, August Lundstrom, an apostate Mormon, testified at the Reed Smoot hearings in December 1904:

Mr. [Robert W.] Tayler [counsel for the protestants]: Can you give us the obligation of retribution?
Mr. Lundstrom: I can.
Mr. Tayler: You may give that.
Mr. Lundstrom: "We and each of us solemnly covenant and promise that we shall ask God to avenge the blood of Joseph Smith upon this nation." There is something more added, but that is all I can remember verbatim. That is the essential part.
Mr. Tayler: What was there left of it? What else?
Mr. Lundstrom: It was in regard to teaching our children and children's children to the last generation to the same effect.[63]

One could object that Lundstrom, as an apostate, fabricated the existence of such an oath or, intentionally or unintentionally, distorted its wording. However, others who spoke publicly (such as David H. Cannon above) had similar recollections.

Biblical Perspective: justice is a responsibility reserved for God

The Oath of Vengeance is a vivid reminder that the Saints understood the writings of the Apostle Paul -- that justice is a responsibility reserved for God.

Romans 12:19

19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.


Response to claim: The Book of Abraham is claimed to have become the scriptural basis for denying the priesthood to Blacks

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Abraham is claimed to have become the scriptural basis for denying the priesthood to Blacks.

(Author's sources: *Moses 7:8

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

B.H Roberts was the first to use the Book of Abraham to attempt to explain the priesthood ban, however, there is no record of a revelation having ever been receive that resulted in the implementation of the policy. The use of the Book of Abraham was one of many attempts by Church members to find a reason for the ban.



}}

Question: What did Church leaders after Brigham Young think of the priesthood ban?

John Taylor conducted an investigation and concluded the policy had started under Joseph Smith, rather than Brigham Young

In 1879, John Taylor conducted an investigation and concluded the policy had started under Joseph Smith, rather than Brigham Young, despite receiving mixed information.[64] As part of this investigation Zebedee Coltrin recalled that Joseph Smith said in 1834 that "the Spirit of the Lord saith the Negro had no right nor cannot hold the Priesthood." However, this claim is suspect given Coltrin's errors on the circumstances of Elijah Abel's ordination, participation in Kirtland temple ordinances, and retention in the Seventies quorum all under the supervision of Joseph Smith.[65]

President George Q. Cannon in 1895 asserted that some of Young's teachings about miscegenation and the seed of Cain had first been taught by Joseph Smith.[66]

B.H. Roberts was the first to argue, based on the Book of Abraham, that the curse of Cain had continued to modern blacks through the lineage of Ham

Nearly forty years after the ban started, B.H. Roberts was the first to argue, based on the Book of Abraham, that the curse of Cain had continued to modern blacks through the lineage of Ham.[67]

George Albert Smith, indicated that the priesthood ban had been imposed by "direct commandment from the Lord"

President George Albert Smith, indicated that the priesthood ban had been imposed by "direct commandment from the Lord."

The attitude of the Church with reference to Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time.
—First Presidency statement, August 17, 1949

Joseph Fielding Smith opined that blacks may have been less valiant in the pre-mortal conflict between God and Satan

Joseph Fielding Smith opined that blacks may have been less valiant in the pre-mortal conflict between God and Satan (however, he rejected that they may have been neutral in the war in heaven).[68]

David O. McKay believed that the ban was "not doctrine but...policy"

  • David O. McKay believed that the ban was "not doctrine but...policy," as reported by Sterling McMurrin,[69] his son Llewelyn McKay,[70] and Elder Paul H. Dunn.[71] President McKay told Elder Marion D. Hanks that "he had pleaded and pleaded with the Lord, but had not had the answer he sought."[72]
  • The "Missouri policy theory" attributing the ban to Joseph Smith arising from condition in Missouri was first popularized in 1970 by author Stephen Taggert,[73] and President Hugh B. Brown reportedly embraced it.[74] Other authors found this theory wanting.[75]

Harold B. Lee was inclined to reconfirm the ban

  • Harold B. Lee was inclined to reconfirm the ban,[76] though Church Historian Leonard Arrington
...asserts that President Lee, shortly before his death, sought the Lord's will on the question of blacks and the priesthood during'three days and nights [of] fasting in the upper room of the temple,...but the only answer he received was "not yet." Arrington relied on an unidentified person close to President Lee, but President Lee's son-in-law and biographer found no record of such an incident and thought it doubtful.[77]

Following Joseph Fielding Smith's death, President Lee did say, "For those who don't believe in modern revelation there is no adequate explanation. Those who do understand revelation stand by and wait until the Lord speaks...It's only a matter of time before the black achieves full status in the Church. We must believe in the justice of God. The black will achieve full status, we're just waiting for that time."[78]

President Kimball said that the day might come when they would be given the priesthood, but should the day come it will be a matter of revelation

President Kimball began his administration by holding a press conference. When asked about the ban, he said:

[I have given it] "a great deal of thought, a great deal of prayer. The day might come when they would be given the priesthood, but that day has not come yet. Should the day come it will be a matter of revelation. Before changing any important policy, it has to be through a revelation from the Lord."[79]

He had previously written to his son:

"...I have wished the Lord had given us a little more clarity in the matter. But for me, it is enough...I know the Lord could change His policy and release the ban and forgive the possible error (?) which brought about the deprivation. If the time comes, that He will do, I am sure."[80]

In 1976, he mentioned

"his concern for giving the priesthood to all men, and said that he had been praying about it for fifteen years without an answer...but I am going to keep praying about it."[81]


Response to claim: Brigham Young teaches the "Adam-God doctrine"

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

Brigham Young teaches the "Adam-God doctrine."

(Author's sources: Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 1:50.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event





Question: What is the Adam-God Theory?

Brigham Young taught that Adam, the first man, was God the Father

Brigham Young taught that Adam, the first man, was God the Father. Since this teaching runs counter to the story told in Genesis and commonly accepted by Christians, critics accuse Brigham of being a false prophet. Also, because modern Latter-day Saints do not believe Brigham's "Adam-God" teachings, critics accuse Mormons of either changing their teachings or rejecting teachings of prophets they find uncomfortable or unsupportable.

Brigham never developed the teaching into something that could be reconciled with LDS scripture and presented as official doctrine

Brigham Young appears to have believed and taught Adam-God, but he never developed the teaching into something that could be reconciled with LDS scripture and presented as official doctrine. Therefore, we simply don't know what Brigham Young meant, and modern leaders have warned us about accepting traditional explanations of Adam-God. Since the Church has rejected it, we won't be able to answer the question until the Lord sees fit to reveal more about it.

The Church's official position is that Adam-God is not the doctrine of the Church

Regardless of which approach the reader prefers to accept, the Church's official position on Adam-God is clear: as popularly understood, Adam-God (i.e., "Adam, the first man, was identical with Elohim/God the Father") is not the doctrine of the Church. If there are any particles of truth to anything surrounding the Adam-God doctrine, one would expect those things to harmonize with what has already been revealed. Only further revelation from the Lord's anointed would be able to clear up many points surrounding that doctrine.


Response to claim: Jedediah M. Grant quotes "with approval pagan philosopher Celsus" that Jesus was persecuted because he "had so many wives"

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

Jedediah M. Grant quotes "with approval pagan philosopher Celsus" that Jesus was persecuted because he "had so many wives."

(Author's sources: Jedediah M. Grant, Journal of Discourses 1:345-346.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Just because Jedediah Grant believed that Jesus was a polygamist does not make it Church doctrine.



}}

Question: Did early Mormon leaders believe that Jesus Christ was a polygamist?

A few Church leaders believed this, but the idea was never official Church doctrine

Since members in the nineteenth century were commanded to practice polygamy, many presumed that Jesus would have had to also practice this law.

Jedediah M. Grant

Jedediah M. Grant said:

This ancient philosopher says they were both John's wives. Paul says, "Mine answer to them that do examine me is this:—.Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas." He, according to Celsus, had a numerous train of wives.

The grand reason of the burst of public sentiment in anathemas upon Christ and his disciples, causing his crucifixion, was evidently based upon polygamy, according to the testimony of the philosophers who rose in that age. A belief in the doctrine of a plurality of wives caused the persecution of Jesus and his followers. We might almost think they were "Mormons."

But if you pass on in their history to seek for uniformity and beauty, you will find some grand flare-ups among them. Look, for instance, at Paul and Peter, disputing and quarrelling with each other....[82]

Grant believed that early writers, hostile to the Christians, charged members and even Jesus, with polygamy (a charge which would have offended sophisticated Roman opinion in the day). Grant sees the obvious parallels with how the Saints have been treated over the same issue, but Jesus' marital state is not his main point, but conflict and persecution. (It is not clear, however, to which source Grant is referring—FAIR has been unable to locate any such reference to Celsus.)

Orson Hyde

Likewise, Orson Hyde remarked:

I discover that some of the Eastern papers represent me as a great blasphemer, because I said, in my lecture on Marriage, at our last Conference, that Jesus Christ was married at Cana of Galilee, that Mary, Martha, and others were his wives, and that he begat children.

All that I have to say in reply to that charge is this—they worship a Savior that is too pure and holy to fulfil the commands of his Father. I worship one that is just pure and holy enough "to fulfil all righteousness;" not only the righteous law of baptism, but the still more righteous and important law "to multiply and replenish the earth." Startle not at this! for even the Father himself honored that law by coming down to Mary, without a natural body, and begetting a son; and if Jesus begat children, he only "did that which he had seen his Father do."[83]

Hyde is again not focused on Jesus' matrimonial state, and notes that being married and begetting children—polygamously or otherwise—is no evil, but is in accordance with God's commandments from time to time.


Response to claim: Orson Hyde preaches that Jesus Christ was married and had children

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

Orson Hyde preaches that Jesus Christ was married and had children.

(Author's sources: Orson Hyde, Journal of Discourses 2:82.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Just because Orson Hyde believed this does not make it Church doctrine.



}}

Question: Do Mormons believe Jesus Christ was married?

Mormons don't officially believe that Jesus was married

The easy answer is that no, Mormons don't officially believe that Jesus was married. In fact, there is no official Church doctrine on this issue. Individual members are free to believe as they wish concerning this matter. (Some believe that He was married; others believe He wasn't. Most members are open to believe either way.)

Do many Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus was married?

Since eternal marriage is one of the ordinances required to achieve exaltation, many Latter-day Saints do indeed believe that Jesus Christ was married. The question is: What is it about Jesus being married that would make Him less of our Lord and Savior? Yet, Latter-day Saints are accused of not being Christian because of such beliefs.

William Phipps, Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Davis and Elkins College in West Virginia, wrote an article and a book declaring his belief that the Lord Jesus Christ was married.[84] Are all Presbyterians not Christians on account of Reverend Phipps' beliefs, or do different standards exist for Evangelicals than for those "Satanic cultists," the "Mormons?" Perhaps those who make such accusations would counter that it is just Phipps who is not a Christian, on account of his belief that Jesus Christ was married. But again, why would they damn all Latter-day Saints because some Latter-day Saints believe something that is not official LDS doctrine?

The Bible is silent on the issue of Jesus' marital state

The Bible is silent on the issue of Jesus' marital state, and there has been no modern revelation stating he was or was not married. This leaves the issue an open question. Some Latter-day Saints believe he was married, but the Church has no position on the subject. This question was addressed by Charles W. Penrose in the September 1912 issue of the official Church magazine, the Improvement Era:

Question 2: Do you believe that Jesus was married?

Answer: We do not know anything about Jesus Christ being married. The Church has no authoritative declaration on the subject. [85]

Several early Latter-day Saint leaders believed Jesus was married and preached this from the pulpit

Several early LDS leaders believed Jesus was married, and said so from the pulpit on occasion. Here is one example from Apostle Orson Hyde:

Now there was actually a marriage [at Cana (John 2:1–11)]; and if Jesus was not the bridegroom on that occasion, please tell who was. If any man can show this, and prove that it was not the Savior of the world, then I will acknowledge I am in error. We say it was Jesus Christ who was married, to be brought into the relation whereby he could see his seed (Isaiah 53:10), before he was crucified. "Has he indeed passed by the nature of angels, and taken upon himself the seed of Abraham, to die without leaving a seed to bear his name on the earth?" No. But when the secret is fully out, the seed of the blessed shall be gathered in, in the last days; and he who has not the blood of Abraham flowing in his veins, who has not one particle of the Savior's in him, I am afraid is a stereotyped Gentile, who will be left out and not be gathered in the last days; for I tell you it is the chosen of God, the seed of the blessed, that shall be gathered. I do not despise to be called a son of Abraham, if he had a dozen wives; or to be called a brother, a son, a child of the Savior, if he had Mary, and Martha, and several others, as wives; and though he did cast seven devils out of one of them, it is all the same to me. [86]

Joseph Fielding Smith apparently believed that Jesus had been married

Joseph Fielding Smith apparently believed that Jesus had been married, and that He had children. In a 1963 letter to Elder Smith (then President of the Quorum of the Twelve), J. Ricks Smith asked for clarification on a question he had concerning the marital and paternal status of Jesus:

Burbank, California March 17, 1963

President Joseph Fielding Smith 47 East South Temple Street Salt Lake City 11, Utah

Dear President Smith:

In a discussion recently, the question arose, "Was Christ married?" The quote of Isaiah 53:10 was given, which reads,

Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put Him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul and offering for sin, he shall see His seed, he shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

What is meant by "he shall see his seed"? Does this mean that Christ had children?

In the Temple ceremony we are told that only through Temple marriage can we receive the highest degree of exaltation and dwell in the presence of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Christ came here to set us the example and, therefore, we believe that he must have been married. Are we right?

Sincerely,

J. Ricks Smith 1736 N. Ontario Street Burbank, California

In a written response (on the same letter), Elder Smith indicated his feelings on the matter—both in the positive. Placing an asterisk next to the words "His seed" in the letter, at the bottom of the letter Elder Smith wrote:

*Mosiah 15:10-12 Please Read Your Book of Mormon!

Placing two asterisks next to the words "he must have been married," at the bottom of the letter Elder Smith wrote:

**Yes! But do not preach it! The Lord advised us not to cast pearls before swine!

Apparently Elder Smith believed that the married state of Jesus was true, but that it should not be preached to others.

There has never been any revelation or official statement on the subject on behalf of the Church

Even though several leaders have expressed positive opinions on the subject, there has never been any revelation or official statement on the subject on behalf of the Church.

Dale Bills, a spokesman for the Church, said in a statement released Tuesday, 16 May 2006:

The belief that Christ was married has never been official church doctrine. It is neither sanctioned nor taught by the church. While it is true that a few church leaders in the mid-1800s expressed their opinions on the matter, it was not then, and is not now, church doctrine. [87]


Response to claim: The authors claim that Brigham Young said that the Lord did not come during the First Vision

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

The authors claim that Brigham Young said that the Lord did not come during the First Vision:

The Lord did not come with the armies of heaven.... But he did send His angel to this same obscure person, Joseph Smith jun.,...and informed him that he should not join any of the religious sects of the day, for they were all wrong"

(Author's sources: Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 2:171.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

This is a well-known heavily edited version of the quote by Brigham that originated with the Tanners. The quote has been edited in such a way as to alter its meaning.



Question: What is Brigham Young claimed to have said that leads one to doubt that he denied the First Vision?

Brigham stated that "The Lord did not come with the armies of heaven..."

It is claimed that President Brigham Young taught in an 1855 sermon that the Lord did not appear to Joseph Smith and forbid him from joining any of the religious denominations of his day, and that it was an "angel" who delivered this message instead. [88]

Note that the same critics also claim that Brigham Young never spoke about the First Vision at all:

An edited version of the 1855 sermon text—as it is presented by Church critics—reads as follows:

"The Lord did not come with the armies of heaven...But He did send His angel to...Joseph Smith Jun[ior]...and informed him that he should not join any of the religious sects of the day."[89]

Brigham actually said "The Lord did not come with the armies of heaven...with aught else than the truth of heaven..."

A complete quotation of the relevant 1855 sermon text reads as follows (bolded words indicate anti-Mormon usage):

"the Lord sent forth His angel to reveal the truths of heaven as in times past, even as in ancient days. This should have been hailed as the greatest blessing which could have been bestowed upon any nation, kindred, tongue, or people. It should have been received with hearts of gratitude and gladness, praise and thanksgiving.

But as it was in the days of our Savior, so was it in the advent of this new dispensation. It was not in accordance with the notions, traditions, and pre-conceived ideas of the American people. The messenger did not come to an eminent divine of any of the so-called orthodoxy, he did not adopt their interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. The Lord did not come with the armies of heaven, in power and great glory, nor send His messengers panoplied with aught else than the truth of heaven, to communicate to the meek[,] the lowly, the youth of humble origin, the sincere enquirer after the knowledge of God. But He did send His angel to this same obscure person, Joseph Smith Jun., who afterwards became a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, and informed him that he should not join any of the religious sects of the day, for they were all wrong; that they were following the precepts of men instead of the Lord Jesus; that He had a work for him to perform, inasmuch as he should prove faithful before Him."

Brigham actually used several phrases from Joseph's published First Vision account in this sermon

The portion of the second paragraph that critics focus on in their argumentation contains distinct themes found in the official, previously-published history of Joseph Smith. It is, therefore, necessary to exvaluate President's Young's remarks in that light. Consider the following comparison of texts -

  • BRIGHAM YOUNG (1855 sermon): "informed him that he should not join any of the religious sects of the day, for they were all wrong."
  • JOSEPH SMITH (1842 published First Vision text): "I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong."
  • BRIGHAM YOUNG (1855 sermon): "they were following the precepts of men."
  • JOSEPH SMITH (1842 published First Vision text): "they teach for doctrine the commandments of men."
  • BRIGHAM YOUNG (1855 sermon): "instead of the Lord Jesus."
  • JOSEPH SMITH (1842 published First Vision text): "they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me" [Jesus Christ speaking].

Since President Young was obviously drawing his ideas from the official, published First Vision text it is reasonable to propose that he was referring to a completely different event after the comma that follows the word "Revelator" . . . while still referring to the "He" at the beginning of the sentence. Hence, "He" (the Lord) send His angel (Moroni) to Joseph Smith but "He" also—ON A DIFFERENT OCCASION—told Joseph Smith not to join any of the churches.

It should be noted that this sermon was not primarily about the foundational events of Mormonism, but about the United States government and its treatment of the Saints. President Young's remarks on foundational events were incidental, not central, to his message. It should also be pointed out that President Young did not personally deliver this sermon, but had Thomas Bullock read it to the audience which had assembled in the Salt Lake City tabernacle. Bullock served as a scribe on the Joseph Smith history project between 1845 and 1856. It is likely, therefore, that when Bullock delivered President Young's sermon in 1855 he was aware of the First Vision accounts found within the previously-published Joseph Smith history.

The First Vision story had been published nine times before Brigham gave this sermon

It should also be remembered that long before President Brigham Young's 1855 sermon was delivered in Salt Lake City his subordinates in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles had published the First Vision story on nine different occasions: (Orson Pratt - 1840, 1850, 1851); (Orson Hyde - 1842); (John E. Page - 1844); (John Taylor - 1850); (Lorenzo Snow - 1850); (Franklin D. Richards - 1851, 1852). It is doubtful that President Young would have remained ignorant of these publications and their content. In fact, it is known that Elder Lorenzo Snow wrote to President Young on 1 November 1850 and mentioned explicitly that his publication contained accounts of "visions of Joseph" - including the First Vision story.[90]

The charge that President Brigham Young said an angel inaugurated the last dispensation instead of Deity cannot be supported. Evidence suggests that President Young's 1855 sermon is closely paraphrasing distinct First Vision story elements that were publicly available to all of the Saints in 1842.


Response to claim: Brigham taught that "if any of you will deny the plurality of wives, and continue to do so, I promise you that you will be damned..."

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

Brigham taught that "if any of you will deny the plurality of wives, and continue to do so, I promise you that you will be damned..."

(Author's sources: Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 3:266.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources





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Question: Did early Mormon leaders teach the plural marriage was a requirement for exaltation?

Some 19th century Church leaders taught that plural marriage was a requirement for those wishing to enter the highest degree of the celestial kingdom

To obey the Lord's commands in all things is necessary for exaltation. (Our inevitable failure to live perfectly requires the grace of Christ's atonement.) Members of the Church in, say, 1860 who refused to follow the counsel of prophets and apostles put their spiritual standing in jeopardy. Likewise, members who refuse to obey present counsel are at risk.


Question: Because Mormons do not currently practice plural marriage, does this mean that early leaders who taught that is was required were wrong?

The purpose of modern prophets is to give the Saints the will of God in their particular circumstances

Joseph Smith wrote specifically of the issue of plural marriage:

This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted—by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed...in obedience there is joy and peace unspotted, unalloyed; and as God has designed our happiness—and the happiness of all His creatures, he never has—He never will institute an ordinance or give a commandment to His people that is not calculated in its nature to promote that happiness which He has designed, and which will not end in the greatest amount of good and glory to those who become the recipients of his law and ordinances. [91]

LDS doctrine also holds that the prophet, when speaking in an official capacity, speaks on behalf of the Lord:

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

Critics of the Church often come out of an inerrantist background, or draw on arguments first formulated by religious inerrantists or fundamentalists. In an inerrantist religion, God's instructions cannot change with circumstances—if they did, then the Biblical record would not be sufficient, on its own, to guide us. Since inerrantists require, above all, that the Bible be the sole authority, they must assume that God's requirements are always the same.

However, even the Bible gives many examples of God giving new instructions because of new circumstances, or contravening previous instructions:

In each case, failure to obey carried significant penalties. Yet, when proper authority altered or rescinded a command, spiritual disaster followed those who did not obey the new instructions.

President John Taylor said:

Where did this commandment come from in relation to polygamy? It also came from God. It was a revelation given unto Joseph Smith from God, and was made binding upon His servants. When this system was first introduced among this people, it was one of the greatest crosses that ever was taken up by any set of men since the world stood. Joseph Smith told others; he told me, and I can bear witness of it, "that if this principle was not introduced, this Church and kingdom could not proceed." When this commandment was given, it was so far religious, and so far binding upon the Elders of this Church that it was told them if they were not prepared to enter into it, and to stem the torrent of opposition that would come in consequence of it, the keys of the kingdom would be taken from them. When I see any of our people, men or women, opposing a principle of this kind, I have years ago set them down as on the high road to apostacy, and I do to-day; I consider them apostates, and not interested in this Church and kingdom. [92]


Question: If early Church leaders taught that plural marriage was required, does this mean that current members are not capable of achieving exaltation?

There is no doctrine in the Church that states that plural marriage is the norm, or that it is something that will be required for exaltation

The fact that the modern Church does not approve of or practice polygamy does not mean that present members of the Church believe that the principle of plural marriage is false—rather, they believe that it is a principle only to be practiced when the Lord commands it for His purposes.(See Jacob 2:27-30.) There is no doctrine in the Church that states that plural marriage is the norm, or that it is something that will be required for exaltation.


Response to claim: Brigham Young taught "Blood Atonement"

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

Brigham Young taught "Blood Atonement."

(Author's sources: Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 4:53-54.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event





Question: What is "blood atonement"?

If a person thereafter commits a grievous sin such as the shedding of innocent blood, only by voluntarily submitting to whatever penalty the Lord may require can that person benefit from the Atonement of Christ

From the Encyclopedia of Mormonism:

The doctrines of the Church affirm that the Atonement wrought by the shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is efficacious for the sins of all who believe, repent, are baptized by one having authority, and receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. However, if a person thereafter commits a grievous sin such as the shedding of innocent blood, the Savior's sacrifice alone will not absolve the person of the consequences of the sin. Only by voluntarily submitting to whatever penalty the Lord may require can that person benefit from the Atonement of Christ.

Several early Church leaders, most notably Brigham Young, taught that in a complete theocracy the Lord could require the voluntary shedding of a murderer's blood-presumably by capital punishment-as part of the process of Atonement for such grievous sin. This was referred to as "blood Atonement." Since such a theocracy has not been operative in modern times, the practical effect of the idea was its use as a rhetorical device to heighten the awareness of Latter-day Saints of the seriousness of murder and other major sins. This view is not a doctrine of the Church and has never been practiced by the Church at any time.

Early anti-Mormon writers charged that under Brigham Young the Church practiced "blood Atonement," by which they meant Church-instigated violence directed at dissenters, enemies, and strangers. This claim distorted the whole idea of blood atonement-which was based on voluntary submission by an offender-into a supposed justification of involuntary punishment. Occasional isolated acts of violence that occurred in areas where Latter-day Saints lived were typical of that period in the history of the American West, but they were not instances of Church-sanctioned blood Atonement.[93]

Reports of "blood atonement" having occurred were exaggerated and sensationalized

As one historian noted,

That the doctrine [of blood atonement] was preached by high officials is a matter of record; the intent of the sermons became a matter of conjecture; and the results therefrom set vivid imaginations working overtime. Blood fairly flowed through the writing of such men as Beadle in Life in Utah or the Mysteries of Mormonism and Polygamy, in Linn's The Story of Mormonism, and even Stenhouse's anonymous chapter on Reformation and Blood Atonement in his Rocky Mountain Saints. Numerous killings, including the Mountain Meadows massacre, were credited as the fruits of the doctrine....

Omitted from quotations used by the anti-Mormons were restraining clauses such as follow from Brigham Young:

. . . The time has been in Israel under the law of God that if a man was found guilty of adultery, he must have his blood shed, and that is near at hand. But now I say, in the name of the Lord, that if this people will sin no more, but faithfully live their religion, their sins will be forgiven them without taking life.

The wickedness and ignorance of the nations forbid this principle's being in full force, but the time will come when the law of God will be in full force.

The doctrine of blood atonement which involved concern for the salvation of those to be subjected to it, could have little meaning in the [p.62] Mountain Meadows massacre, or any other of the murders laid unproved on the Mormon threshold (emphasis added).[94]

There is evidence that some crimes were considered worthy of death, even in the apostolic age among Christians

Despite the critics' claims, there is evidence that some crimes were considered worthy of death, even in the apostolic age among Christians:

Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him....[Chapter 5] If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death. We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not" (1 John 3:15; 1 John 5:16-18) (italics added).


Response to claim: The Mountain Meadows Massacre

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

The Mountain Meadows Massacre

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event





Henry B. Eyring (2007): "What was done here long ago by members of our Church represents a terrible and inexcusable departure from Christian teaching and conduct"

Henry B. Eyring:

On September 11, 1857, some 50 to 60 local militiamen in southern Utah, aided by some American indian[s], massacred about 120 emigrants who were traveling by wagon to California. The horrific crime, which spared only 17 children age six and under, occurred in a highland valley called the Mountain Meadows, roughly 35 miles southwest of Cedar City. The victims, most of them from Arkansas, were on their way to California with dreams of a bright future“ (Richard E. Turley Jr., ”The Mountain Meadows Massacre,“ Ensign, Sept. 2007).

What was done here long ago by members of our Church represents a terrible and inexcusable departure from Christian teaching and conduct. We cannot change what happened, but we can remember and honor those who were killed here.

We express profound regret for the massacre carried out in this valley 150 years ago today and for the undue and untold suffering experienced by the victims then and by their relatives to the present time.

A separate expression of regret is owed to the Paiute people who have unjustly borne for too long the principal blame for what occurred during the massacre. Although the extent of their involvement is disputed, it is believed they would not have participated without the direction and stimulus provided by local Church leaders and members. [95]


Response to claim: Brigham Young states, "And when all the rest of the children have received their blessing in the Holy Priesthood, then that curse shall be removed from the seed of Cain..."

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

Brigham Young states, "And when all the rest of the children have received their blessing in the Holy Priesthood, then that curse shall be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will then come up and possess the priesthood, and receive all the blessings which we now are entitled to."

(Author's sources: *Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 11:272.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

Brigham was wrong in his opinion. Prophets are not infallible, nor are they immune to their own opinions.



Gospel Topics: "Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else"

"Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics on LDS.org:

Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.

Since that day in 1978, the Church has looked to the future, as membership among Africans, African Americans and others of African descent has continued to grow rapidly. While Church records for individual members do not indicate an individual’s race or ethnicity, the number of Church members of African descent is now in the hundreds of thousands.

The Church proclaims that redemption through Jesus Christ is available to the entire human family on the conditions God has prescribed. It affirms that God is “no respecter of persons”24 and emphatically declares that anyone who is righteous—regardless of race—is favored of Him. The teachings of the Church in relation to God’s children are epitomized by a verse in the second book of Nephi: “[The Lord] denieth none that cometh unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; . . . all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.[96]—(Click here to continue)


Gospel Topics: "Even after 1852, at least two black Mormons continued to hold the priesthood"

Gospel Topics on LDS.org:

Even after 1852, at least two black Mormons continued to hold the priesthood. When one of these men, Elijah Abel, petitioned to receive his temple endowment in 1879, his request was denied. Jane Manning James, a faithful black member who crossed the plains and lived in Salt Lake City until her death in 1908, similarly asked to enter the temple; she was allowed to perform baptisms for the dead for her ancestors but was not allowed to participate in other ordinances. The curse of Cain was often put forward as justification for the priesthood and temple restrictions. Around the turn of the century, another explanation gained currency: blacks were said to have been less than fully valiant in the premortal battle against Lucifer and, as a consequence, were restricted from priesthood and temple blessings.[97] —(Click here to continue)


Question: What are the "curse of Cain" and the "curse of Ham"?

There is a distinction between the “curse” and the “mark” of Cain

The "curse of Cain" resulted in Cain being cut off from the presence of the Lord. The Genesis and Moses accounts both attest to this. The Book of Mormon teaches this principle in general when it speaks about those who keep the commandments will prosper in the land, while those who don't will be cut off from the presence off the Lord. This type of curse was applied to the Lamanites when they rejected the teachings of the prophets.

The exact nature of the "mark" of Cain, on the other hand, is unknown. The scriptures don't say specifically what it was, except that it was for Cain's protection, so that those finding him wouldn't slay him. Many people, both in an out of the Church, have assumed that the mark and the curse are the same thing.


Question: When did a biblical curse become associated with the "Hamites?"

The origin of the "curse of Ham" pre-dates the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by hundreds of years

The basis used is Genesis 9:18-27:

18 And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan.
19 These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.
20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.
23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.
24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.
25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
26 And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
Genesis 9:18-27 (emphasis added)

Although these verses clearly state that Canaan is cursed, it is not clear that the curse would be extended to his descendants. The use of Genesis 9 to associate a biblical curse with the descendants of Ham actually began in the third and fourth centuries A.D. [98] This "curse" became associated with the Canaanites. Origen, an early Christian scholar and theologian, makes reference to Ham's "discolored posterity" and the "ignobility of the race he fathered." [99] Likewise, Augustine and Ambrose of Milan speculated that the descendants of Ham carried a curse that was associated with a darkness of skin. This concept was shared among Jews, Muslims and Christians. The first "racial justification" for slavery appeared in the fifteenth century in Spain and Portugal. In the American colonies, the "curse of Ham" was being used in the late 1600's to justify the practice of slavery. [100] As author Stephen R. Haynes puts it, "Noah's curse had become a stock weapon in the arsenal of slavery's apologists, and references to Genesis 9 appeared prominently in their publications." [101]


Question: When did the "mark of Cain" become associated with black skin?

The biblical “mark of Cain” associated with black skin by Protestants to justify slavery

The idea that the “mark of Cain” and the "curse of Ham" was a black skin is something that was used by many Protestants as a way to morally and biblically justify slavery. This idea did not originate with Latter-day Saints, although the existence of the priesthood ban prior to 1978 tends to cause some people to assume that it was a Latter-day Saint concept.

Dr. Benjamin M. Palmer, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in New Orleans from 1856 until 1902, was a "moving force" in the Southern Presbyterian church during that period. Palmer believed that the South's cause during the Civil War was supported by God. Palmer believed the Hebrew history supported the concept that God had intended for some people to be formed "apart from others" and placed in separate territories in order to "prevent admixture of races." [102] Palmer claimed that, "[t]he descendants of Ham, on the contrary, in whom the sensual and corporeal appetites predominate, are driven like an infected race beyond the deserts of Sahara, where under a glowing sky nature harmonized with their brutal and savage disposition." [103] Palmer declared:

Upon Ham was pronounced the doom of perpetual servitude—proclaimed with double emphasis, as it is twice repeated that he shall be the servant of Japheth and the servant of Shem. Accordingly, history records not a single example of any member of this group lifting itself, by any process of self-development, above the savage condition. From first to last their mental and moral characteristics, together with the guidance of Providence, have marked them for servitude; while their comparative advance in civilization and their participation in the blessings of salvation, have ever been suspended upon this decreed connexion [sic] with Japhet [sic] and with Shem. [104]

Unfortunately, among some, the Protestant concept that God has separated people by race has persisted even into modern times.

God has separated people for His own purpose. He has erected barriers between the nations, not only land and sea barriers, but also ethnic, cultural, and language barriers. God has made people different one from another and intends those differences to remain. (Letter to James Landrith from Bob Jones University, 1998) [105]


Question: How did the "curse of Ham" or "curse of Cain" become associated with Mormonism?

Early members of the Church brought this culturally-conditioned belief in the "curse of Ham" with them into Mormonism

Prior to 1978, the doctrinal folklore that blacks are the descendants of Cain and Ham and that they carry the “mark of Cain” was a belief among some members of the Church, and is occasionally heard even today. The dubious “folk doctrine” in question is no longer even relevant, since it was used to incorrectly explain and justify a Church policy that was reversed over thirty years ago. Prior to the 1978 revelation, however, the Saints used the “mark of Cain” to explain the policy of denying priesthood ordination to those of African descent—a policy for which no revelatory prophetic explanation was ever actually given.

Early members of the Church were, for the most part, converts from Protestant sects. It is understandable that they naturally brought this culturally-conditioned belief in the "curse of Ham" with them into Mormonism. Many modern members of the Church, for instance, are unaware that Joseph Smith ordained at least one African-American man to the priesthood: Elijah Abel.

At some point during Brigham Young's administration, the priesthood ban was initiated. No revelation, if there ever was one, was published, although many throughout the history of the Church have assumed that the reason for the ban must be that blacks were the cursed seed of Cain, and therefore not allowed the priesthood (usually stemming from a misreading of Abraham 1). The correct answer as to why the ban was put into place is: we don't know. For further information on the priesthood ban, see Blacks and the priesthood.

Bruce R. McConkie in 1978, after the revelation granting blacks the priesthood:

It is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young…or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world. We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter any more. It doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June of this year. It is a new day and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds light out into the world on this subject. [106]

Prior to this statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie in 1978, the doctrinal folklore that blacks are the descendants of Cain and Ham and that they carry the “mark of Cain” was a belief among some members of the Church, and is occasionally heard even today. The dubious “folk doctrine” in question is no longer even relevant, since it was used to incorrectly explain and justify a Church policy that was reversed over thirty years ago. Prior to the 1978 revelation, however, the Saints used the “mark of Cain” to explain the policy of denying priesthood ordination to those of African descent—a policy for which no revelation or prophetic explanation was ever actually given.

The speculation was that in the premortal existence, certain spirits were set aside to come to Earth through a lineage that was cursed and marked, first by Cain’s murder of his brother and covenant with Satan (Genesis 4:11–15; Moses 5:23–25, Moses 5:36–40), and then again later by Ham’s offense against his father Noah. The reasons why this lineage was set apart weren’t clear, but it was speculated they were somehow less valiant than their premortal brethren during the war in heaven. In this life, then, the holy priesthood was to be withheld from all who had had any trace of that lineage.

As neat and coherent as that scenario might seem, the scriptures typically cited in its support cannot logically be interpreted this way unless one starts with the priesthood ban itself and then works backward, looking for scriptures to support a predetermined belief.


Response to claim: Brigham states, "The only men who become Gods, even the sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy"

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

Brigham states, "The only men who become Gods, even the sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy."

(Author's sources: Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 11:269.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Brigham was speaking to those who practiced polygamy at that time. Brigham was stating that the command to practice plural marriage was from God, and it is wrong to seek to abolish a command from God, and he acknowledged that those who did not practice polygamy could also achieve exaltation. There is no requirement that one must practice polygamy in order to achieve exaltation.



Question: Is plural marriage required in order to achieve exaltation?

Brigham Young said "The only men who become Gods, even the sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy"

Critics of the Church point to a statement made by Brigham Young to make the claim that Latter-day Saints believe that one must practice plural marriage in order to achieve exaltation: [107] Brigham Young once said,

The only men who become Gods, even the sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy" (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 11:269.)

This quotation is often used in anti-Mormon sources. They do not include the surrounding text which explains what Brigham Young had in mind on this occasion (italics show text generally not cited by those trying to worry modern-day readers):

Brigham Young also said "if you desire with all your hearts to obtain the blessings which Abraham obtained, you will be polygamists at least in your faith"

We wish to obtain all that father Abraham obtained. I wish here to say to the Elders of Israel, and to all the members of this Church and kingdom, that it is in the hearts of many of them to wish that the doctrine of polygamy was not taught and practiced by us...It is the word of the Lord, and I wish to say to you, and all the world, that if you desire with all your hearts to obtain the blessings which Abraham obtained, you will be polygamists at least in your faith, or you will come short of enjoying the salvation and the glory which Abraham has obtained. This is as true as that God lives. You who wish that there were no such thing in existence, if you have in your hearts to say: "We will pass along in the Church without obeying or submitting to it in our faith or believing this order, because, for aught that we know, this community may be broken up yet, and we may have lucrative offices offered to us; we will not, therefore, be polygamists lest we should fail in obtaining some earthly honor, character and office, etc,"—the man that has that in his heart, and will continue to persist in pursuing that policy, will come short of dwelling in the presence of the Father and the Son, in celestial glory. The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy. Others attain unto a glory and may even be permitted to come into the presence of the Father and the Son; but they cannot reign as kings in glory, because they had blessings offered unto them, and they refused to accept them.[108]

Brigham was stating that the command to practice plural marriage was from God, and it is wrong to seek to abolish a command from God

It is clear that Brigham was making several points which the critics ignore:

  • The command to practice plural marriage is from God, and it is wrong to seek to abolish a command from God.
  • To obtain the blessings of Abraham, the Saints were required to be "polygamists at least in your faith": i.e., it was not necessary that each enter into plural marriage in practice, but that they accept that God spoke to His prophets.
  • It was wrong to avoid plural marriage for worldly, selfish reasons, such as believing the Church would fail, and hoping to have political or monetary rewards afterward.
  • Faithful Saints cannot expect to receive "all that the Father has" if they willfully disobey God. When the people have "had blessings offered unto them," and if they refuse to obey, God will withhold blessings later because of that disobedience now.

Finally, it must be remembered that Brigham Young is speaking to a group who had been commanded to live the law of polygamy. There is no basis for speculating about what he would have said to a group who did not have that commandment given to them, as present-day members do not.


Response to claim: Brigham states that "the God that I serve is progressing eternally..."

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

Brigham states that "the God that I serve is progressing eternally..."

(Author's sources: Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 11:286.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The Bible itself states that Jesus Christ changed as he grew. Jesus is referred to as "the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). Yet we learn from the scriptures that Jesus “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man”(Luke 2:52).



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Question: Does the Book of Mormon refute Joseph Smith on the nature of God?

The term "unchangeable God" mentioned in the Book of Mormon is not referencing a physical state

The Book of Mormon never says God was once a mortal, and, in fact, it teaches that God was always God. Take for instance Moroni 8:18. It says God is "unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity." Joseph Smith, however, taught, "We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity, I will refute that idea, and take away the veil so that you may see."[109]

The term "unchangeable God" is not referencing a physical state. This can be shown from similar terms from the Bible about Jesus. Jesus is referred to as "the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). Yet we learn from the scriptures that Jesus “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man”(Luke 2:52) here is certainly a change in condition; here is succession of time with God, a before and after; here is being and becoming; for whereas, He was a spirit, He became man; and in becoming man, He passed through all the phases in life from infancy to manhood. It is significant also that it was not until Jesus had arisen from the tomb and stood in the presence of His disciples, glorified personage, body and spirit united, that He exclaimed, “all power is given unto Me in heaven and earth.” (Matthew 28:18) If “given”, there must have been a time when He did not possess all power in heaven and in earth; and hence, a change from possessing some power to the condition of possessing “all power”. So this term is not meant to mean His physical condition.

In context, no scripture tells us of God's physical change, but actually tells us that one can be eternal, unchanging, the same yesterday, today and forever, and still go through physical changes. Joseph however was contending against this false interpretation of scripture and was teaching the saints appropriately. In his lecture, he was talking about God passing through physical changes, even as Christ did, and as we must.

Here is a brief synopsis of scriptures that speak about this term, and possible meanings:

Scriptural Review

Hebrews 13:8-9

8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.
9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.

Comment: The term here seems to say that God/Christ will not tell you one thing, and another, something different, when it comes to doctrine.

Moroni 8:12,18

12 But little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world; if not so, God is a partial God, and also a changeable God, and a respecter to persons; for how many little children have died without baptism!...
18 For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.

Comment: This also seems to say the same thing. God will not tell someone that one doctrine is correct, in this case, infant baptism, and another it is ok.

Mormon 9:7-9

7 And again I speak unto you who deny the revelations of God, and say that they are done away, that there are no revelations, nor prophecies, nor gifts, nor healing, nor speaking with tongues, and the interpretation of tongues;
8 Behold I say unto you, he that denieth these things knoweth not the gospel of Christ; yea, he has not read the scriptures; if so, he does not understand them.
9 For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing?

Comment: Again, this agrees with the other scriptures. God, will not give tell/give the Gifts of the Spirit to one group, and tell another it is wrong.

2 Nephi 27:23

23 For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith.

Comment: Virtual agreement with our other scriptural references.

Psalms 102:24-27

24 I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days: thy years are throughout all generations.
25 Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands.
26 They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed:
27 But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end"

Comment: The Psalmist here, in context, is referring to the eternal nature of God. All things will pass away, but God will remain.

Malachi 3:4-6

4 Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.
5 And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts.
6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed."

Comment: This is a reference to the promises God makes to His children, and his remembrance of those covenants.


Response to claim: Brigham states that he believes that the Sun is inhabited

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

Brigham Young states that he believes that the Sun is inhabited.

(Author's sources: Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 13:271.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event





Question: Did Brigham Young actually teach that the sun and the moon were inhabited?

Brigham Young speculated that the moon and sun were inhabited: he was clearly expressing an opinion

Brigham Young taught that the moon and sun were inhabited,

So it is with regard to the inhabitants of the sun. Do you think it is inhabited? I rather think it is. Do you think there is any life there? No question of it; it was not made in vain.

Brigham is clearly expressing an opinion, and there is no evidence that he is making a prophetic declaration concerning extraterrestrials. He even goes out of his way to indicate that this is what he "rather think[s]," and asks his congregation to consider what they think. He also says that he would want to know if an idea he has is false—even including his religion. These are not the sentiments of a man convinced he must be right by divine gift of prophetic omniscience.

It is particularly ironic that Brigham's remarks were focused on the fact that no one knows much about anything, and so humility is appropriate on most questions. Critics have taken this wise stance, and have tried to invert Brigham's intent—changing him from an advocate of humility before the unknown into a doctrinaire know-nothing who is certain of absurdities. The critics might do well do follow Brigham's example.

Brigham Young made the following statement in 1869:[110]

It has been observed here this morning that we are called fanatics. Bless me! That is nothing. Who has not been called a fanatic who has discovered anything new in philosophy or science? We have all read of Galileo the astronomer who, contrary to the system of astronomy that had been received for ages before his day, taught that the sun, and not the earth, was the centre of our planetary system? For this the learned astronomer was called "fanatic," and subjected to persecution and imprisonment of the most rigorous character. So it has been with others who have discovered and explained new truths in science and philosophy which have been in opposition to long-established theories; and the opposition they have encountered has endured until the truth of their discoveries has been demonstrated by time...
I will tell you who the real fanatics are: they are they who adopt false principles and ideas as facts, and try to establish a superstructure upon, a false foundation. They are the fanatics; and however ardent and zealous they may be, they may reason or argue on false premises till doomsday, and the result will be false. If our religion is of this character we want to know it; we would like to find a philosopher who can prove it to us.

The context for Brigham's remarks, then, are that new ideas and truths are often mocked or rejected by those who cling to older ideas. And, were he to have such an idea, he would want to know.

He then says:

We are called ignorant; so we are: but what of it? Are not all ignorant? I rather think so. Who can tell us of the inhabitants of this little planet that shines of an evening, called the moon? When we view its face we may see what is termed "the man in the moon," and what some philosophers declare are the shadows of mountains. But these sayings are very vague, and amount to nothing; and when you inquire about the inhabitants of that sphere you find that the most learned are as ignorant in regard to them as the most ignorant of their fellows.

Brigham goes on to speak about inhabitants of the moon. In context, his point is clearly that no one;&mdasheven experts—knows very much about the universe. There are many things (such as whether the moon is inhabited) about which no one of his day could speak clearly.

It then becomes very clear that Brigham is expressing his personal views, not laying down divine truth from on high:

Brigham's point remains that no one knows very much about such things

So it is with regard to the inhabitants of the sun. Do you think it is inhabited? I rather think it is. Do you think there is any life there? No question of it; it was not made in vain.

Brigham is obviously expressing his opinion, but his point remains that no one knows very much about such things. To reject a novel idea simply because it is new—such as Mormonism—is irrational. All true ideas were once new, and treated with suspicion.

William Herschel—the preeminent astronomer of his generation and the man to discover Uranus—was also firmly of the belief that the sun was inhabited.[111] One author wrote:

Herschel was not a raving amateur. A gifted astronomer, he discovered Uranus, and was the first to realize that sunlight included infrared light as well as visible light. His sister, Caroline, became famous in her own right for discovering comets, so he did not lack for intelligent conversation. He just had his own theories. Herschel believed that life existed on every celestial body in the universe. He was aware that the sun people saw was too hot to support life. He just assumed there was something underneath that burning atmosphere. When he observed sunspots, he believed that they were openings in the atmosphere, or perhaps mountains, and that if people could get a close look at the planet beneath, they would be able to spot signs of life. Herschel was not alone in his beliefs - as more information on the sun turned up, astronomers speculated on how it would affect life on the surface of the sun, and what kind of life might survive in those environments.[112]

Church publications did not shy away from embracing later scientific findings on the matter

Church publications did not shy away from embracing later scientific findings on the matter:

1856

Desert News noted:

Proof that the Moon is not Inhabited.

“Dr. Scoresby, in an account that he has given of some recent observations made with the Earl of Rosse’s telescope, says: ‘With respect to the moon, every object on its surface of 100 feet was distinctly to be seen; and he had no doubt that, under very favorable circumstances, it would be so with objects 60 feet in height…. But no vestiges of architecture remain to show that the moon, is, or ever was, inhabited by a race of mortals similar to ourselves….. There was no water visible….”[113]

1880

“As there is no air nor water on the moon, but very few changes can take place upon its surface. There can be no vegetation and no animals, and although many astronomers have brought their imaginations to bear upon this subject, and have given us descriptions of the beautiful scenery upon its surface, and have even peopled it with inhabitants, we have every reason to believe that it is as barren and lifeless as an arid rock."[114]


Response to claim: Orson Pratt states that the Independence Temple will be built within the current generation

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

Orson Pratt states that the Independence Temple will be built within the current generation.

(Author's sources: Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses 14:275.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources





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Question: Was Joseph Smith's prophecy that the Independence, Missouri temple "shall be reared in this generation" a failed prophecy?

Jesus Christ used the very same terminology in Matthew 24:34: "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled"

There is a double standard of interpretation that critics use against Joseph Smith, since Jesus Christ used the very same terminology. Matthew 24:34 quotes Christ as saying, "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." Luke 21:32 repeats this prophecy. The term "these things" refers to wars, famines, the sun being darkened, and even the "stars falling from heaven." Some of "these things" occurred during Christ's time period. Some have continued since then. Some have escalated into our time. Some have not occurred yet.

So we must ask, since Joseph Smith is charged with false prophecy concerning "this generation," did Jesus Christ utter a false prophecy? Absolutely not! So, if Joseph Smith uttered a false prophecy about "this generation," then so did Christ. It has been many centuries longer from the time of Christ until now, than it has been from the 1830's till today.

The word "generation" has different meanings. According to scripture, the word "generation" can have reference to a time frame, a people, or even a dispensation. Without specific wording which would indicate exactly what the word "generation" means, it is dishonest to accuse one (Joseph Smith) of false prophecy, while accepting another (Jesus Christ) when both use it in a general form.

Joseph Smith's revelation in D&C 84 may appear on the surface to be a failed prophecy, but a more informed reading reveals that it may not have been a prophecy, and if it is, its fulfillment is still in the future.

When the scriptures use words such as "this generation," "a little season," "nigh," "soon to come," "quickly," and "in due time," it can mean several years, or even centuries

The main problem critics have in interpreting D&C 84 is timing. They cannot understand that when the scriptures use words such as "this generation," "a little season," "nigh," "soon to come," "quickly," and "in due time," it can mean several years, or even centuries. They have no problem with accepting a long time when the Bible makes these statements, but they refuse to interpret Joseph Smith with the same standard. To criticize such terminology is to claim the Bible false. The four hundred years of Israel's Egyptian captivity was a "little season" to the Lord. All the scriptural terms of time (nigh, shortly come to pass, at the doors, about to be, soon to be, in due time, not many days, a little season, near, close at hand, time will come, not many years, and generation) are not specific in numbers of years. Most of them are conditional. To say that "next generation" as used in the Bible can mean thousands of years, and turn around and say these very same words mean only a hundred years when used in the Doctrine and Covenants is hypocritical. Scripture comes from one source, God. His prophets write as they are inspired by the Holy Ghost. The Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Bible use the same terms, with the same meaning, because they come from the same source. You cannot interpret one in one way, and another in a different way. When the Lord wants something accomplished, it will be done, in the Lords time.

Historical background

On 20 July 1831 Joseph Smith recorded a revelation identifying Independence, Missouri, as "the center place; and a spot for the temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the courthouse" (DC 57:3). Joseph and Sidney Rigdon dedicated a site for the temple on 3 August 1831. The following year, Joseph received another revelation concerning the gathering to Zion:

2 [T]he word of the Lord concerning his church, established in the last days for the restoration of his people, as he has spoken by the mouth of his prophets, and for the gathering of his saints to stand upon Mount Zion, which shall be the city of New Jerusalem.

3 Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun., and others with whom the Lord was well pleased.

4 Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation.

5 For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house (DC 84:2-5, (emphasis added)).The Saints were expelled from Jackson County in late 1833, before they could make any progress on the temple. Despite their best efforts, they were unable to return to reclaim their lands. After they settled in Nauvoo, Illinois, Joseph recorded another revelation rescinding the earlier commandment to build the Independence temple:

49 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that when I give a commandment to any of the sons of men to do a work unto my name, and those sons of men go with all their might and with all they have to perform that work, and cease not their diligence, and their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept of their offerings....

51 Therefore, for this cause have I accepted the offerings of those whom I commanded to build up a city and a house unto my name, in Jackson county, Missouri, and were hindered by their enemies, saith the Lord your God (DC 124:49,51).

It is unclear from the wording of the 1832 revelation whether Joseph Smith meant it to be a prophecy or a commandment

When he declared the "temple shall be reared in this generation," it's possible that he meant this as a directive (Compare to the ten commandments: "thou shalt.." and D&C 59:5-13). If this is the case, D&C 84 is not actually a prophecy. Webster's 1828 dictionary noted of "shall":

In the second and third persons [i.e., when applied to another person], shall implies a promise, command or determination. "You shall receive your wages," "he shall receive his wages," imply that you or he ought to receive them; but usage gives these phrases the force of a promise in the person uttering them. [115]

Thus, "shall" indicates a promise or command—and, LDS theology (with its strong emphasis on moral agency) always holds that man is free to accept or reject the commandments or promises of God, and that God will often not overrule the free-agent acts of others which might prevent his people from obeying. In such cases, God rewards the faithful for their willingness and efforts to obey, and punishes the guilty accordingly.

If the revelation is meant as a prophecy, the timeline for its fulfillment depends on what Joseph meant by "generation"

Typically we consider this to mean the lifespan of those living at the time of the revelation. However, in scriptural language "generation" can indicate a longer period of time.

During his ministry in Jerusalem, Jesus revealed the signs of his second coming, and prophesied that "this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled" (Matthew 24:34). All those who heard his prophecy died nearly 2,000 years ago, so evidently Jesus meant "generation" to mean "age" or some other long period of time. It's possible that Joseph meant the same thing in his revelation about the Independence temple, and therefore the time period for its fulfillment is still open.

In Easton’s Bible Dictionary of 1897, the English word “generation” is variably defined with reference to the KJV text:

Gen. 2:4, "These are the generations," means the "history." 5:1, "The book of the generations," means a family register, or history of Adam. 37:2, "The generations of Jacob" = the history of Jacob and his descendants. 7:1, "In this generation" = in this age. Ps. 49:19, "The generation of his fathers" = the dwelling of his fathers, i.e., the grave. Ps. 73:15, "The generation of thy children" = the contemporary race. Isa. 53:8, "Who shall declare his generation?" = His manner of life who shall declare? or rather = His race, posterity, shall be so numerous that no one shall be able to declare it. In Matt. 1:17, the word means a succession or series of persons from the same stock. Matt. 3:7, "Generation of vipers" = brood of vipers. 24:34, "This generation" = the persons then living contemporary with Christ. 1 Pet. 2:9, "A chosen generation" = a chosen people. The Hebrews seem to have reckoned time by the generation. In the time of Abraham a generation was an hundred years, thus: Gen. 15:16, "In the fourth generation" = in four hundred years (comp. verse 13 and Ex. 12:40). In Deut. 1:35 and 2:14 a generation is a period of thirty-eight years.

So, the nineteenth-century understanding of KJV Biblical/religious usage of "generation" includes such variations as:

  • all the descendants of
  • history
  • contemporaries
  • succession or series of people from same stock
  • race, posterity
  • one hundred years
  • thirty-eight years
  • people

Contemporary with Joseph Smith, Webster's 1828 dictionary defined "generation" as:

...2. A single succession in natural descent, as the children of the same parents; hence, an age. Thus we say, the third, the fourth, or the tenth generation. Gen.15.16. 3. The people of the same period, or living at the same time. O faithless and perverse generation. Luke 9. 4. Genealogy; a series of children or descendants from the same stock. This is the book of the generations of Adam. Gen.5. 5. A family; a race. 6. Progeny; offspring. [116]

Webster relied heavily on examples drawn from the KJV of the Bible in his definitions. Thus, when those of Joseph's era used Biblical language speaking of "generations," they understood multiple potential meanings. Whether these shades of meaning were intended by the original biblical authors is immaterial; they reflect the usage of religious English in Joseph's day.

Note the double standard of interpretation critics use against Joseph Smith, for Jesus Christ used the very same terminology

Let's look at what Jesus himself said to the people of his day concerning prophecies of His second coming. Matthew 24:34 quotes Christ as saying, "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." Luke 21:32 repeats this prophecy.

What are "all these things," and have they come to pass?

  1. Many shall come in Christ's name, deceiving many (Matthew 24:5, Luke 21:8)
  2. Wars and rumours of wars (Matthew 24:6, Luke 21:9-10)
  3. Famines (Matthew 24:7, Luke 21:11)
  4. Pestilences (Mathew 24:7, Luke 21:11)
  5. Earthquakes (Matthew 24:7, Luke 21:11)
  6. Apostles killed (Matthew 24:9, Luke 21:16)
  7. Many shall be offended (Matthew 24:10)
  8. Many shall be betrayed (Matthew 24:10)
  9. Men will hate one another (Matthew 24:10)
  10. False prophets will deceive many (Matthew 24:11)
  11. Iniquity shall abound (Matthew 24:12)
  12. Love of many shall wax cold (Matthew 24:12)
  13. Gospel shall be preached in all the world (Matthew 24:14)
  14. Distress of nations (Luke 21:25)
  15. Men's hearts will fail them because of fear (Luke 21:11)
  16. Sun shall be darkened (Matthew 24:29, Luke 21:25)
  17. Moon shall not give her light (Matthew 24:29, Luke 21:25)
  18. Stars shall fall from heaven (Matthew 24:29, Luke 21:25)
  19. Sign of the Son of man shall appear (Matthew 24:30, Luke 21:27)

Some of "these things" occurred during Christ's time period. Some have continued since then. Some have escalated into our time. Some have not occurred yet. So we must ask, since Joseph Smith is charged with false prophecy concerning "this generation," did Jesus Christ utter a false prophecy? Absolutely not! But, according to the critics' rules of interpretation, he did, because "this generation" passed away without "all these things" being fulfilled. So, if Joseph Smith uttered a false prophecy about "this generation" so did Christ. I have never read anything from anyone who is a critic of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that attacks Jesus Christ, or the Bible, for making a prophecy of "this generation" which has not yet occurred. Yet it has been many centuries longer from the time of Christ until now, than it has been from the 1830's till today. It should be noted that D&C 84 does not say the "people now living," it says "this generation." The word "generation" has different meanings. According to scripture, the word "generation" can have reference to a time frame, a people, or even a dispensation. Without specific wording which would indicate exactly what the word "generation" means, it is dishonest to accuse one (Joseph Smith) of false prophecy, while accepting another (Jesus Christ) when both use it in a general form.


Response to claim: John Taylor is claimed to have provided "New First Vision information," when he stated, "None of them was right, just as it was when the Prophet Joseph asked the angel which of the sects was right that he might join it"

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

John Taylor is claimed to have provided "New First Vision information," when he stated, "None of them was right, just as it was when the Prophet Joseph asked the angel which of the sects was right that he might join it. The answer was that none of them are right....the angel merely told him to join none of them that none of them were right"

(Author's sources: *John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 20:167.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources





This is an amazing claim, since John Taylor talked specifically of the visit of the Father and Son during the First Vision numerous other times, including another sermon delivered the very same day! It also seem rather silly to state the John Taylor didn't understand the nature of the First Vision, since the official account of the vision had been published in the Pearl of Great Price years before this discourse. }}

John Taylor (2 March 1879): "the Father and the Son...came to Joseph Smith" and "the Prophet Joseph asked the angel"

The following two statements were made by John Taylor in different discourses on the same day, 2 March 1879. In one, Taylor talks of Joseph Smith asking "the angel" which church was right, and in the other, Taylor clearly states that "the Father and the Son...came to Joseph Smith." This demonstrates how early Church leaders often used the term "angel" to refer to the personages that appeared in the First Vision, even though they clearly knew that they were the Father and the Son.

"When the Prophet Joseph asked the angel which of the sects was right"

None of them was right, just as it was when the Prophet Joseph asked the angel which of the sects was right that he might join it. The answer was that none of them are right.[117]

"When the Father and the Son and Moroni and others came to Joseph Smith"

When the Father and the Son and Moroni and others came to Joseph Smith, he had a priesthood conferred upon him which he conferred upon others for the purpose of manifesting the laws of life... [118]

Notice how one refers to an "angel" and the other refers to "the Father and the Son." Taylor was clearly aware of the details of the First Vision. This also demonstrates how early Church leaders used the term "angel" to represent the personages that Joseph saw, even at the same time that they recognized that these personages were the Father and the Son.


Response to claim: Church leaders continued to practice polygamy after the Manifesto

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

Church leaders continued to practice polygamy after the Manifesto.

(Author's sources: D&C Official Declaration-1)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

The Church discusses this in a Gospel Topic essay found on LDS.org.



Gospel Topics: "The Second Manifesto. At first, the performance of new plural marriages after the Manifesto was largely unknown to people outside the Church"

"The Manifesto and the End of Plural Marriage," Gospel Topics on LDS.org:

At first, the performance of new plural marriages after the Manifesto was largely unknown to people outside the Church. When discovered, these marriages troubled many Americans, especially after President George Q. Cannon stated in an 1899 interview with the New York Herald that new plural marriages might be performed in Canada and Mexico.40 After the election of B. H. Roberts, a member of the First Council of the Seventy, to the U.S. Congress, it became known that Roberts had three wives, one of whom he married after the Manifesto. A petition of 7 million signatures demanded that Roberts not be seated. Congress complied, and Roberts was barred from his office.41

The exclusion of B. H. Roberts opened Mormon marital practices to renewed scrutiny. Church President Lorenzo Snow issued a statement clarifying that new plural marriages had ceased in the Church and that the Manifesto extended to all parts of the world, counsel he repeated in private. Even so, a small number of new plural marriages continued to be performed, probably without President Snow’s knowledge or approval. After Joseph F. Smith became Church President in 1901, a small number of new plural marriages were also performed during the early years of his administration.[119]—(Click here to continue)


Question: Why were some plural marriages performed after the Manifesto?

A limited number of plural marriages were solemnized after Wilford Woodruff's Manifesto of 1890 (Official Declaration 1)

Some of these marriages were apparently sanctioned by some in positions of Church leadership.

  • Does this demonstrate that the Manifesto was merely a political tactic, and that the "revelation" of the Manifesto was merely a cynical ploy?
  • Do Post-Manifesto marriages demonstrate the LDS Church's contempt for the civil law of the land?

Some Church members unfamiliar with the history behind the aggressive Federal anti-polygamy movement have been troubled by critics who try to portray Church members’ and leaders’ choices as dishonest and improper. It is important to realize that this is a point on which modern enemies of the Church would be impossible to satisfy. If the Church had acquiesced to government pressure and stopped polygamy completely in 1890, the Church would then be charged with having “revelations on demand,” or with abandoning something they claimed was divine under government pressure. In fact, prior to the Manifesto, the attorney prosecuting Elder Lorenzo Snow for polygamy “predicted that if Snow and others were found guilty and sent to prison church leaders would find it convenient to have a revelation setting aside the commandment on polygamy.”[120]

Church leaders were placed in a vicious double-bind: they were being ruthlessly persecuted by the legislature for following their faith

If they were to comply with the law, they would (in the eyes of some) be admitting that revelation came “on demand” and in response to secular pressure or “convenience.” Their enemies would “win” no matter what they did.

But, this did not happen—the leaders and members of the Church were literally willing to do anything they were commanded to do, in order to obey the Lord, until they were told otherwise. Impressively, the Church and its leaders took the only possible course which would preserve its revelatory integrity: only when they literally had no further choice besides dissolution was the plural marriage commandment completely rescinded.

It should be remembered, finally, that a key doctrine of the Church is that no one should have to take anyone else’s word for something—”that man should not council his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh—but that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the savior of the world.”(D&C 1:19-20.) This doesn’t apply to polygamy alone; every discussion of testimony includes it. Joseph Smith made numerous other claims that might make us skeptical: appearances of God and Jesus, angels, gold plates, and everything else. Said he:

Search the scriptures—search the revelations which we publish, and ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, to manifest the truth unto you, and if you do it with an eye single to His glory nothing doubting, He will answer you by the power of His Holy Spirit. You will then know for yourselves and not for another. You will not then be dependent on man for the knowledge of God; nor will there be any room for speculation.[121]

As President Cannon explained, the leaders of the Church were not exempt from the rigors of receiving revelation:

Yet, though [Church doctrines] shocked the prejudices of mankind, and perhaps startled us as Latter-day Saints, when we sought God for a testimony concerning them, He never failed to give unto us His Holy Spirit, which witnessed unto our spirits that they were from God, and not of man. So it will be to the end. The Presidency of the Church have to walk just as you walk. They have to take steps just as you take steps. They have to depend upon the revelations of God as they come to them. They cannot see the end from the beginning, as the Lord does. They have their faith tested as you have your faith tested. So with the Twelve Apostles. All that we can do is to seek the mind and will of God, and when that comes to us, though it may come in contact [conflict?] with every feeling that we have previously entertained, we have no option but to take the step that God points out, and to trust to Him…[122]

The full implications of the Manifesto, however, were still the subject of discussion and debate

The Doctrine and Covenants clearly indicates that the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve are of equal authority[123] and that every decision should be done in unanimity in order to make such decisions binding upon the Church[124]: to make them “official,” as it were. Clearly, President Woodruff did not follow this practice—which would be very strange if he expected the Manifesto to be read as a formal revelation insisting that all polygamous practices immediately cease: only three of the apostles even saw the Manifesto prior to its publication.[125] The leaders were agreed that President Woodruff had been right to issue it, and acknowledged his action of the Lord; the full implications of the Manifesto, however, were still the subject of discussion and debate.

President Woodruff did not frame the matter as a declaration from the First Presidency and the Twelve

President Woodruff did not frame the matter as a declaration from the First Presidency and the Twelve (which would be required for any official change in doctrine or practice). Rather, he spoke of the Manifesto as a “duty” on his part, which the Lord required. Even the wording of the Manifesto reflects this—it does not speak of “we the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve,” but simply of Wilford Woodruff in the first person singular. The wording is careful and precise: "I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws, and to use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise… And I now publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land.”(OD-1) Thus, President Woodruff announces a personal course of action, but does not commit other general authorities or the Church—he even issues “advice,” rather than a “command” or “instruction.” No other signatures or authorities are given, other than his own.

A useful comparison can be made with Official Declaration 2, which follows the prescribed pattern for Church government:

…the First Presidency announced that a revelation had been received by President Spencer W. Kimball…[who] has asked that I advise the conference that after he had received this revelation…he presented it to his counselors, who accepted it and approved it. It was then presented to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who unanimously approved it, and was subsequently presented to all other General Authorities, who likewise approved it unanimously.(OD-2)

The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve voted on 2 October 1890 to sustain President Woodruff’s action

Even at this meeting their intent was clear, since they debated whether the Church as a whole should sustain the Manifesto, since “some felt that the assent of the Presidency and Twelve to the matter was sufficient without committing the people by their votes to a policy which they might in the future wish to discard.”[126]

It is evident that these united quorums did not consider the Manifesto to be a revelation forbidding all plural marriage in 1890: for, why would they then contemplate the Church wanting to “disregard” it? The leaders were doubtless still hoping that they might be able to gain some reprieve, and continue to practice their religion without civil or criminal penalty.

Perhaps most convincingly, an editorial in the Church’s Deseret News responded to the government’s Utah Commission, which had argued that President Woodruff needed to “have a revelation suspending polygamy.” The editorial advised that “[w]hen President Woodruff receives anything from a Divine source for the Church over which he presides he will be sure to deliver the message.”[127] This was written five days after the publication of the Manifesto. It seems clear that President Woodruff considered his action inspired and divinely directed; however, he and the Church did not believe that God had, by the Manifesto, told them to cease all plural marriage.

George Q. Cannon made it clear that the Church still felt somewhat trapped between duties to God and duties to political authority

George Q. Cannon said,

But the nation has interposed and said, "Stop," and we shall bow in submission, leaving the consequences with God. We shall do the best we can; but when it comes in contact with constituted authorities, and the highest tribunals in the land say "Stop," there is no other course for Latter-day Saints, in accordance with the revelations that God has given to us telling us to respect constituted authority, than to bow in submission thereto and leave the consequences with the Lord.[128]

The Manifesto thus strove to walk this difficult line–conceding sufficient to “constitutional authority” to prevent the Church’s destruction, maintaining the restrictions on plural marriage, and refraining from teaching the doctrine. Yet, significantly President Cannon says that the Saints “shall do the best we can” (emphasis added). That is, they will continue to practice their faith to the extent possible without threatening the Church’s existence. This would later include a limited continuation of plural marriage.

The Church leaders’ united understanding was that the Manifesto was a revelation. However, they did not understand it as universally forbidding all plural marriage at that time, though for the Church’s survival it was necessary that the government so interpret it.

The leaders and Saints would understand the meaning and application of the Manifesto differently in time. An altered understanding—via revelation—of a revelation is not unprecedented: Jesus commanded the apostles to “teach all nations,” but the apostles continued to interpret this command in a more limited way until later revelation expanded the Christian gospel beyond those who had first embraced the rites of Judaism. A modern example involves the Word of Wisdom, which was not declared to be universally binding for more than a century, though the revelation in section 89 did not “change.”[129]

It is estimated that fewer than two hundred plural marriages were sanctioned between 1890 and 1904

It is estimated that fewer than two hundred plural marriages were sanctioned between 1890 and 1904.[130] These were often performed in areas outside the reach of U.S. law, such as on the seas or in Mexico.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks spoke at BYU about the difficulties of this period:

Some have suggested that it is morally permissible to lie to promote a good cause. For example, some Mormons have taught or implied that lying is okay if you are lying for the Lord… As far as concerns our own church and culture, the most common allegations of lying for the Lord swirl around the initiation, practice, and discontinuance of polygamy. The whole experience with polygamy was a fertile field for deception. It is not difficult for historians to quote LDS leaders and members in statements justifying, denying, or deploring deception in furtherance of this religious practice.

Elder Oaks then reaches the key point—there will be times when moral imperatives clash:

My heart breaks when I read of circumstances in which wives and children were presented with the terrible choice of lying about the whereabouts or existence of a husband or father on the one hand or telling the truth and seeing him go to jail on the other. These were not academic dilemmas. A father in jail took food off the table and fuel from the hearth. Those hard choices involved collisions between such fundamental emotions and needs as a commitment to the truth versus the need for loving companionship and relief from cold and hunger.

My heart also goes out to the Church leaders who were squeezed between their devotion to the truth and their devotion to their wives and children and to one another. To tell the truth could mean to betray a confidence or a cause or to send a brother to prison. There is no academic exercise in that choice!

It is also clear that polygamy did not end suddenly with the 1890 Manifesto. Polygamous relationships sealed before that revelation was announced continued for a generation. The performance of polygamous marriages also continued for a time outside the United States, where the application of the Manifesto was uncertain for a season. It appears that polygamous marriages also continued for about a decade in some other areas among leaders and members who took license from the ambiguities and pressures created by this high-level collision between resented laws and reverenced doctrines.

I do not know what to think of all of this, except I am glad I was not faced with the pressures those good people faced. My heart goes out to them for their bravery and their sacrifices, of which I am a direct beneficiary. I will not judge them. That judgment belongs to the Lord, who knows all of the circumstances and the hearts of the actors, a level of comprehension and wisdom not approached by even the most knowledgeable historians.[131]

Note: This article was adapted from a longer paper which examines these historical matters in much more detail. Interested readers are strongly encouraged to consult it for a much more thorough analysis of the basic concepts sketched in this wiki article. FairMormon link PDF link


Response to claim: The Lectures on Faith are removed from the Doctrine and Covenants

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

The Lectures on Faith are removed from the Doctrine and Covenants.

(Author's sources: Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, vol. 20, No. 3, p. 71.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

A distinction had always been made between the Lectures and the canonized revelations.



Question: Why were the Lectures on Faith removed from the Doctrine and Covenants in 1921?

The Church said that they were removed because they had never been presented to or accepted by the membership as being anything other than theological lectures or lessons

The Church removed the Lectures from the Doctrine and Covenants in the 1921 edition with an explanation that the Lectures "were never presented to nor accepted by the Church as being otherwise than theological lectures or lessons".[132] This is in contrast to the remaining pages of the original Doctrine and Covenants which are officially recognized as divine revelation given specifically to the church.

Joseph Fielding Smith said the following concerning their removal:

a) They were not received as revelations by the prophet Joseph Smith.
b) They are instructions relative to the general subject of faith. They are explanations of this principle but not doctrine.
c) They are not complete as to their teachings regarding the Godhead. More complete instructions on the point of doctrine are given in section 130 of the 1876 and all subsequent editions of the Doctrine and Covenants.
d) It was thought by Elder James E. Talmage, chairman, and other members of the committee who were responsible for their omission that to avoid confusion and contention on this vital point of belief, it would be better not to have them bound in the same volume as the commandments or revelations which make up the Doctrine and Covenants.[133]


Response to claim: B.H. Roberts "finds several serious problems" with the archaeological and scientific content of the Book of Mormon

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

B.H. Roberts "finds several serious problems" with the archaeological and scientific content of the Book of Mormon.

(Author's sources: Studies of the Book of Mormon)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

It should be noted that the Book of Mormon contains no "archaeological and scientific content." Roberts' study of the Book of Mormon was made from the perspective of a "devil's advocate," but he remained a believer his entire life.



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Question: Why did B.H. Roberts write Studies of the Book of Mormon?

B.H. Roberts wrote the material contained in Studies of the Book of Mormon to illustrate the positions that critics would take

Critics use B.H. Roberts' critical evaluation of Book of Mormon difficulties to support their arguments. B.H. Roberts wrote the material contained in Studies of the Book of Mormon to illustrate the positions that critics would take. He was playing "devil's advocate" for the purpose of inspiring Church leadership to work on a better defense (as critics typically point out, Roberts was a "LDS apologist"). For instance, regarding Lucy Mack Smith's description of Joseph giving "amusing recitals" of ancient Americans, Roberts presented the critical conclusion that "These evening recitals could come from no other source than the vivid, constructive imagination of Joseph Smith, a remarkable power which attended him through all his life. It was as strong and varied as Shakespeare's and no more to be accounted for than the English Bard's."

From Lucy Mack Smith's history:

"From this time forth, Joseph continued to receive instructions from the Lord, and we continued to get the children together every night evening, for the purpose of listening while he gave us a relation of the same. I presume our family presented an aspect as singular as any that ever lived upon the face of the earth-all seated in a circle, father, mother, sons and daughters, and giving the most profound attention to a boy, eighteen years of age, who had never read the Bible through in his life; he seemed much less inclined to the perusal of books than any of the rest of our children...


Question: Did B.H. Roberts state that it was possible for Joseph Smith to have come up with the Book of Mormon on his own?

B.H. Roberts was a believer in the divine origin of the Book of Mormon, and talked of young Joseph Smith as he sat up late detailing to the family the wonderful conversations he had with the angel

B.H. Roberts retained his belief that the Book of Mormon was of divine origin up until the end of his life. Yet, according to one critical website, B.H. Roberts "postulated that it was certainly possible for Joseph Smith to have come up with the Book of Mormon on his own." [134] Roberts, however, believed that Joseph had conversations with the Angel Moroni.

B.H. Roberts, in his critical study of the Book of Mormon, pointed out how future critics might make use of this.

The face of it is first established by the testimony of the mother who bore him, Lucy Smith. Speaking of the days immediately following the revelation making known the existence of the Book of Mormon to her son...Lucy Smith in her History of the Prophet Joseph Smith, recounts how in the evening of that day, the young prophet sat up late detailing to the family the wonderful conversations he had with the angel;[135]


Question: Did B.H. Roberts lose his faith in the Church and the Book of Mormon?

An excellent argument against the claim that B.H. Roberts abandoned the Book of Mormon can be found in his last book, which he considered his masterwork

Critics charge that the 'problems' with the Book of Mormon made Brigham H. Roberts (an early LDS apologist and member of the First Quorum of Seventy) lose his faith in the its historicity. The primary source upon which this criticism is based originates with Roberts' manuscripts detailing his critical study of the Book of Mormon, which was published under the title Studies of the Book of Mormon years after his death.

An excellent argument against the claim that B.H. Roberts abandoned the Book of Mormon can be found in his last book, which he considered his masterwork. [B. H. Roberts, The Truth, the Way, the Life: An Elementary Treatise on Theology, edited by John W. Welch (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Studies, 1994).] Given Roberts' clear respect for the Book of Mormon in this volume, there can be little doubt that he continued to believe in and treasure it.

Ironically for the critics, many of the issues which drew Elder Roberts' attention have now been solved as more information about the ancient world has become available. He expressed faith that this would be the case, and has been vindicated:

We who accept [the Book of Mormon] as a revelation from God have every reason to believe that it will endure every test; and the more thoroughly it is investigated, the greater shall be its ultimate triumph.[136]

Roberts was an able scholar, and he was not afraid to play 'devil's advocate' to strengthen the Church's defenses against its enemies

In a presentation on some potential Book of Mormon 'problems' prepared for the General Authorities, Roberts wrote a caution that subsequent critics have seen fit to ignore:

Let me say once and for all, so as to avoid what might otherwise call for repeated explanation, that what is herein set forth does not represent any conclusions of mine. This report [is] ... for the information of those who ought to know everything about it pro and con, as well that which has been produced against it as that which may be produced against it. I am taking the position that our faith is not only unshaken but unshakeable in the Book of Mormon, and therefore we can look without fear upon all that can be said against it.[137]

Roberts felt that faith in the Book of Mormon was a given, and so did not consider any 'negative' points to be of ultimate concern

Roberts felt that faith in the Book of Mormon was a given, and so did not consider any 'negative' points to be of ultimate concern, though he did seek for better answers than he then had. The critics have often published his list of of "parallels" between the Book of Mormon and Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews, without informing modern readers that Roberts did not consider the problems insoluable, or a true threat to faith in the Book of Mormon. They also do not generally cite the numerous other statements in which, to the end of his life, he declared the Book of Mormon to be a divine record.

Roberts' studies also made him willing to modify previous conceptions, such as when he concluded that the Book of Mormon was not a history of the only immigrants to the New World.

In 1930, he enthused about the Book of Mormon a century after the Church's organization:

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth, for God hath spoken. ... The Record of Joseph in the hands of Ephraim, the Book of Mormon, has been revealed and translated by the power of God, and supplies the world with a new witness for the Christ, and the truth and the fulness of the Gospel.[138]

Other witnesses by B.H. Roberts of truth of the Church and the Gospel

The book Discourses of B.H. Roberts of the First Council of the Seventy, compiled by Ben R. Roberts (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company 1948) contains the last seven discourses delivered by Elder Roberts: four in Salt Lake City, one in San Francisco (on the radio), and the last two at the World Fellowship of Faith in Chicago, in August-September 1933. He died three weeks after the last discourse. Roberts had returned from a lengthy illness, which made him realize how precious life is. He determined to leave his testimony, especially for the youth of the church.

From the first of these addresses:[139]

It has always been a matter of pride with me, in my more than fifty years of ministry in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that it was no trivial thing which called this Church of the New Dispensation into existence. It was not founded upon the idea that men differed in relation to how baptism should be administered, whether by sprinkling or pouring, or immersion; or whether it was for the remission of sins, or because sins had been forgiven. I always rejoice that it had a broader foundation than whether the form of church government and administration should be Episcopal or Congregational, or the Presbyterian form of government; or any other minor [23] difference of theologians. It went to the heart of things, and astonished the world, and at the same time, of course, aroused its opposition.

When the Prophet of the New Dispensation asked God for wisdom, and which of the many churches about him he should join, he was told to join none of them, for they were all wrong; their creeds were false; they drew near to the Lord with their lips, but their hearts were far removed from him; they had a form of godliness but denied the power thereof; that the Christian world, especially, had, in fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy, transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances, and had broken the everlasting covenant (Isaiah 44), of which the blood of the Christ was the blood of that everlasting covenant. He promised the incoming of a New Dispensation of the Gospel of Christ, which would link together and unite all former dispensations, from Adam down to the present time, the great stream of events speeding on towards an immense ocean of truth in which it would be united with all truth. It was a world movement. To lay the foundations of a greater faith, it brought forth the American volume of scripture, the Book of Mormon. In time the authority of God, the holy priesthood was restored, the minor phase of it, through John the Baptist; and later Peter, James and John, who held the keys of the kingdom of heaven, bestowed upon them by the Christ, appeared to the Prophet Joseph and Oliver Cowdery, and the divine and supreme authority from God was conferred upon them. By this authority and under the power of it they organized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, outlined its doctrines, and established it firmly in the earth.

That is how the New Dispensation began—not whether baptism should be by immersion, or for the forgiveness of sins. The rubbish of accumulated ages was swept aside, the rocks made bare, and the foundations relaid” (22-23).

Roberts then refers to a statement in David Whitmer, To All Believers in Christ, about the translation of the Book of Mormon being interrupted due to some problems between Joseph and Emma:

He [Joseph] took up the divine instrument, the Urim and Thummim, tried to translated but utterly failed. Things remained dark to his vision. David Whitmer tells how Joseph left the translating room and [26] went to the woodslot on the Whitmer farm, and there corrected himself, brought himself into a state of humiliation and of exaltation at the same time. He went back to the house, became reconciled to Emma, his wife, came up to the translating room, and again the visions were given and the translation went on. But he could translate only as he was in a state of exaltation of mind and in accord with the Spirit of God, which leads to the source of hidden treasures of knowledge” (25-6).

Roberts then refers to the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price, which was revealed shortly after the Church was organized, in June 1830:

It goes further than we have come, this knowledge by faith. After the Prophet had translated the Book of Mormon he began to receive the revelations which today make up the Book of Moses, the translation of [27] which began to be published about six months after the Book of Mormon had been translated” (26-7).

I admire the achievements of the men of science and hold them in honor…. But what am I to think of the Prophet of God, who speaking a hundred years before him, and speaking by the knowledge that comes by faith, revealed the same truth—viz., that as one earth shall pass away, so shall another come, and there is no end to God’s work? This gives to the Church of the New Dispensation the right to voice her protest against a dying universe—its death blows to the immortality of man.

Oh, ye Elders of Israel, this is our mission, to withstand this theory of a dying universe and this destruction of the idea of the immortality and eternal life of man. We have this knowledge revealed of God, and it is for us to maintain the perpetuity of the universe and the immortal life of man. Such was the mission of the Christ, such is ours” (29).

I am one of the special witnesses of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, made so by the office I hold, and I want to begin a return to my ministry in this pulpit by exercising my duty as a special witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. Here it is: Jesus Christ is the very Son of God, the incarnation of all that is divine, the revelation of God to man, the Redeemer of the world; for as in Adam all die, so shall they in Christ be brought forth alive. Also Jesus is the Savior of individual man, through him and him alone comes repentance and [30] forgiveness of sins, through which the possibility of unity with God comes. As his witness I stand before you on this occasion to proclaim these truths concerning the Christ, not from scientific knowledge or book learning, but from the knowledge that comes by faith” (29-30)

It is difficult to see these as the words of one who has lost his faith in the Church, the Book of Mormon, or Joseph Smith.


Response to claim: The "Oath of Vengeance" is removed from the temple ceremony

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

The "Oath of Vengeance" is removed from the temple ceremony.

(Author's sources: *Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, vol. 20, no. 4, p. 55.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

The "Oath of Vengeance" was eventually removed from the temple ceremony.



Question: Was there an oath in a former version of the temple endowment that required vengeance upon the government of the United States?

It is likely that there was an oath that asked members to pray that God would avenge the blood of the prophets

Until 1927 the temple endowment very likely contained such an oath. The exact wording is not entirely clear, but it appears that it did not call on the Saints themselves to take vengeance on the United States, but that they would continue to pray that God himself might avenge the blood of the prophets.

Although the Oath of Vengeance contains no curses like those in the imprecatory psalms, like the psalmists, the Saints apparently had the wisdom to take directly to God their strong feelings in response to the injustices they had been dealt. By doing so, they turned over to Him the responsibility for both justice and healing.

In nearly every anti-Mormon discussion of the temple, critics raise the issue of the "oath of vengeance" that existed during the 19th century and very early 20th century. These critics often misstate the nature of the oath and try to use its presence in the early temple endowment as evidence that the LDS temple ceremonies are ungodly, violent, and immoral.

The leaders of the Church have modified the endowment from time to time. Prior to changes made in 1927, there was an oath to pray for the Lord's vengeance on those who murdered the prophets. In their sworn testimonies and temple exposes, apostates gave conflicting accounts on who was to do the actual avenging: the Lord or the Saints themselves.[140] Surveying Mormon history for teachings about of vengeance can add perspective and help evaluate which possibility is more likely.

During the Missouri conflict, the Saints were instructed through revelation to petition for governmental redress for the outrages they suffered

In 1833, the Mormons were driven out of Jackson County, Missouri, in part due to anti-slavery sentiments that differed from the more established settlers. Through revelation, the Saints were instructed to petition for governmental redress for the outrages they suffered. The Saints were expected to be pacifists, but only up to a point. D&C 98:23-31:

Now, I speak unto you concerning your families—if men will smite you, or your families, once, and ye bear it patiently and revile not against them, neither seek revenge, ye shall be rewarded; But if ye bear it not patiently, it shall be accounted unto you as being meted out as a just measure unto you. And again, if your enemy shall smite you the second time, and you revile not against your enemy, and bear it patiently, your reward shall be an hundredfold. And again, if he shall smite you the third time, and ye bear it patiently, your reward shall be doubled unto you four-fold; And these three testimonies shall stand against your enemy if he repent not, and shall not be blotted out. And now, verily I say unto you, if that enemy shall escape my vengeance, that he be not brought into judgment before me, then ye shall see to it that ye warn him in my name, that he come no more upon you, neither upon your family, even your children’s children unto the third and fourth generation. And then, if he shall come upon you or your children, or your children’s children unto the third and fourth generation, I have delivered thine enemy into thine hands; And then if thou wilt spare him, thou shalt be rewarded for thy righteousness; and also thy children and thy children’s children unto the third and fourth generation. Nevertheless, thine enemy is in thine hands; and if thou rewardest him according to his works thou art justified; if he has sought thy life, and thy life is endangered by him, thine enemy is in thine hands and thou art justified.

The use of violence was condoned only in cases of self-defense or after the Lord had delivered up a previously warned enemy in the Saints hands

Even then mercy towards enemies was encouraged and indications are that the Lord can fight his own battles (see v. 37) to extract his vengeance on the wicked. Note the repeated references to third and fourth generations of children that is added for rhetorical effect despite the impracticality of a single enemy being a menace for the encompassing time span.

The earliest known oath of vengeance in a Mormon temple appears to have been introduced by Joseph Smith in Kirtland

The earliest known oath of vengeance in a Mormon temple appears to have been introduced by Joseph Smith spontaneously at the Kirtland dedication on March 30, 1836:[141]

The seventies are at liberty to go to Zion if they please or go wheresoever they will and preach the gospel and let the redemption of Zion be our object, and strive to affect it by sending up all the strength of the Lords house whereever we find them, and I want to enter into the following covenant, that if any more of our brethren are slain or driven from their lands in Missouri by the mob that we will give ourselves no rest until we are avenged of our enimies to the uttermost, this covenant was sealed unanimously by a hosanna and Amen.

The Mormons used military force to defend themselves in Missouri, but eventually they were driven out after an exterminating order was issued against them by governor Boggs. Further petitions for redress in Missouri were met with rejection. Martin van Buren remarked "Your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you." Enemies in Missouri, including the next governor, conspired to kidnap Joseph in Illinois and bring him to Missouri to face trumped up charges.

Nauvoo Developments: Wilford Woodruff later situated the temple instruction in praying for the Lord's biblical vengeance of blood of the prophets

Perhaps anticipating his death, Joseph met often with apostles and other close associates to restore the temple endowment prior to the completion of the Nauvoo temple. Wilford Woodruff, later situated the temple instruction in praying for the Lord's biblical vengeance of blood of the prophets as follows:[142]

I have already said that there is nothing [antagonistic to the government in the Mormon endowments] of that kind in any part or phase of Mormonism. I ought to know about that as I am one of the oldest members of the church. A good deal is being made of a form of prayer based upon two verses in the sixth chapter of the revelations of St. John as contained in the New Testament. It relates to praying that God might avenge the blood of the prophets. An attempt has, I see, been made to connect this with avenging the death of Joseph and Hyrum Smith and to have reference to this nation. It can have no such application as the endowments were given long before the death of Joseph and Hyrum and have not been changed. This nation and government has never been charged by the Mormon people with the assassination of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. As it is well known the murder was the act of the local mob disguised.

Recent generations of Latter-day Saints, who haven't experienced mob violence, may be surprised at or uncomfortable with such oaths

Recent generations of Latter-day Saints, who haven't experienced mob violence, kidnapping attempts, and death threats, may be surprised at or uncomfortable with the feelings of many earlier saints who were praying for justice instead of praying for their enemies. But we live in kinder, gentler times; and nineteenth-century Mormons—especially those who came out of Nauvoo—saw the hand of God whenever their persecutors suffered misfortune, a feeling common to most powerless, persecuted minority groups.

After Joseph Smith's death, his closest friends continued to meet after his death.[143] This group met to test revelation ("try all things"), pray for the healing of sick members, pray for the success of church projects, and pray for deliverance from their enemies. Heber C. Kimball recalled that after Joseph's death the prayer circle met and prayed for God's vengeance.[144]

Summarizing Willard Richards' activities immediately after the martyrdom, historian Claire Noall wrote:

True, in this [1850] speech Richards finally denounced the actual murderers; but when notifying the Church of Joseph Smith's death at Carthage jail, he wrote to Nauvoo that the people of Carthage expected the Mormons to rise, but he had "promised them no." The next day from the steps of the Prophet's home, he reminded his people that he had pledged his word and his honor for their peaceful conduct. And when writing the news of Smith's death to Brigham Young then near Boston, Willard Richards said the blood of martyrs does not cry from the ground for vengeance; vengeance is the Lord's.[145]

Temple work in general and, more specifically, prayers that God, rather than Mormon members, would avenge Joseph Smith is what was the salvation of the church in Nauvoo. Instead of giving vent to passionate desires for revenge using the impressively-sized Nauvoo Legion, the brethren were able to get members to channel their frustration and anger into petitions to the Almighty for justice. Their actual energy was concentrated on the things of heaven through temple building and service. Temple prayer became a way of ritually memorializing Joseph Smith's martyrdom.

Conflict in Utah: To pray the Father to avenge the blood of the prophets and righteous men that has been shed

After the exodus to Utah, ordinances usually reserved for the temple were performed in the Endowment House, while temple construction was in progress. In a late recollection, David H. Cannon described the instruction at the Endowment House in regards to vengeance:

To pray the Father to avenge the blood of the prophets and righteous men that has been shed, etc. In the endowment house this was given but as persons went there only once, it was not so strongly impressed upon their minds, but in the setting in order [of] the endowments for the dead it was given as it is written in 9 Chapter of Revelations [sic] and in that language we importune our Father, not that we may, but that He, our Father, will avenge the blood of martyrs shed for the testimony of Jesus.[146]

Although the religious stress was on letting God perform the actual vengeance, individuals sometimes imagined they might be called upon to take a more active role. This phenomenon reached a low point after the rhetorical hyperbole of Mormon Reformation[147] and the war time hysteria created by President James Buchanan sending troops against Utah. From the pulpit, many Church leaders held the United States as a nation responsible for letting mobocracy get out of control. As tensions mounted, vengeance motifs surfaced in the apocalyptic language of some patriarchal blessings. The Saints were prepared to fight in a just war.

While the Utah War was nearly a bloodless conflict, tragedy struck some caught in the crossfire. A recent work has examined the way conspiring, local Mormon leaders manipulated others to become complicit in the Mountain Meadows Massacre in part by exploiting their desires for vengeance.[148] However, in their approach to explain how basically good people could commit such an atrocity, the authors found elements in common with vigilantism and mass killings perpetrated everywhere. They agree that these southern Utah Mormons were acting against the principles of their religion.[149] Their oaths of taught them to channel their righteous indignation into petitioning God for justice while they worked constructively to build and defend Zion.

The Reed Smoot Hearings brought to light that the Saints were covenanting to ask God to avenge the blood of Joseph Smith on the nation

Most accounts of the temple oath of vengeance stressed that God, rather than man, would do the actual punishing. For example, August Lundstrom, an apostate Mormon, testified at the Reed Smoot hearings in December 1904:

Mr. [Robert W.] Tayler [counsel for the protestants]: Can you give us the obligation of retribution?
Mr. Lundstrom: I can.
Mr. Tayler: You may give that.
Mr. Lundstrom: "We and each of us solemnly covenant and promise that we shall ask God to avenge the blood of Joseph Smith upon this nation." There is something more added, but that is all I can remember verbatim. That is the essential part.
Mr. Tayler: What was there left of it? What else?
Mr. Lundstrom: It was in regard to teaching our children and children's children to the last generation to the same effect.[150]

One could object that Lundstrom, as an apostate, fabricated the existence of such an oath or, intentionally or unintentionally, distorted its wording. However, others who spoke publicly (such as David H. Cannon above) had similar recollections.

Biblical Perspective: justice is a responsibility reserved for God

The Oath of Vengeance is a vivid reminder that the Saints understood the writings of the Apostle Paul -- that justice is a responsibility reserved for God.

Romans 12:19

19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.


Response to claim: An article in The Improvement Era states: "When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done"

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

An article in The Improvement Era states: "When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done."

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

President Grant indicated that this message printed in The Improvement Era was inaccurate, and disclaimed its contents soon after it was printed.



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Question: In Mormonism, when our leaders speak, has the thinking been done?

The prophets themselves have counseled us to think for ourselves

It is clear the Church leaders counsel us to follow the guidance of the prophet. It is also clear that the prophets themselves have counseled us to think for ourselves. James E. Talmage summarized it well when he said that "God has not established His Church to make of its members irresponsible automatons, nor to exact from them blind obedience. Albeit, blessed is the man who, while unable to fathom or comprehend in full the Divine purpose underlying commandment and law, has such faith as to obey. So did Adam in offering sacrifice, yet, when questioned as to the significance of his service, he answered with faith and assurance worthy the patriarch of the race: "I know not, save the Lord commanded me."[151] Each one of us will ultimately be responsible for the decisions that we ourselves have made—not those that the prophet have made. As the Prophet Joseph Smith once said, "I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves."[152]

Critics use a statement made in the Ward Teachers' Message published in the Improvement Era in June 1945 to claim that members must do whatever Church leaders say without question

Critics use a statement made in the Ward Teachers' Message published in the Improvement Era in June 1945 to claim that members must do whatever Church leaders say without question. The statement is presented by the critics as follows:

Any Latter-day Saint who denounces or opposes, whether actively or otherwise, any plan or doctrine advocated by the "prophets, seers, and revelators" of the Church is cultivating the spirit of apostasy.... Lucifer ... wins a great victory when he can get members of the Church to speak against their leaders and to "do their own thinking."...

When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan—it is God's plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give direction, it should mark the end of controversy.[153]

We provide the complete quote below, with the phrases emphasized by the critics in bold type:

Any Latter-day Saint who denounces or opposes, whether actively or otherwise, any plan or doctrine advocated by the "prophets, seers, and revelators" of the Church is cultivating the spirit of apostasy. One cannot speak evil of the Lord's anointed and retain the Holy Spirit in his heart.

It should be remembered that Lucifer has a very cunning way of convincing unsuspecting souls that the General Authorities of the Church are as likely to be wrong as they are to be right. This sort of game is Satan's favorite pastime, and he has practiced it on believing souls since Adam. He wins a great victory when he can get members of the Church to speak against their leaders and to "do their own thinking." He specializes in suggesting that our leaders are in error while he plays the blinding rays of apostasy in the eyes of those whom he thus beguiles. What cunning! And to think that some of our members are deceived by this trickery.

The following words of the Prophet Joseph Smith should be memorized by every Latter-day Saint and repeated often enough to insure their never being forgotten:

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. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 156-157.)

When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan--it is God's plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give direction, it should mark the end of controversy. God works in no other way. To think otherwise, without immediate repentance, may cost one his faith, may destroy his testimony, and leave him a stranger to the kingdom of God.

Response from President George Albert Smith regarding the statement: "The passage quoted does not express the true position of the Church"

When the ward teaching message was published, concerns were raised regarding how this statement would be interpreted. President George Albert Smith responded to a concern expressed by Dr. Raymond A. Cope of the First Unitarian Society:

The leaflet to which you refer, and from which you quote in your letter, was not "prepared" by "one of our leaders." However, one or more of them inadvertently permitted the paragraph to pass uncensored. By their so doing, not a few members of the Church have been upset in their feelings, and General Authorities have been embarrassed.

I am pleased to assure you that you are right in your attitude that the passage quoted does not express the true position of the Church. Even to imply that members of the Church are not to do their own thinking is grossly to misrepresent the true ideal of the Church, which is that every individual must obtain for himself a testimony of the truth of the Gospel, must, through the redemption of Jesus Christ, work out his own salvation, and is personally responsible to His Maker for his individual acts. The Lord Himself does not attempt coercion in His desire and effort to give peace and salvation to His children. He gives the principles of life and true progress, but leaves every person free to choose or to reject His teachings. This plan the Authorities of the Church try to follow.[154]

Finally, we should point out that, in a 1946 letter to Dean Brimhall, Elder Albert E. Bowen of the Quorum of the Twelve rejected the ward teachers' message even more forcefully than had President Smith and explained that it had been written by a young clerk in the Presiding Bishop's office and sent out without anyone in authority having approved it.[155]

Brigham Young: "I exhort you to think for yourselves"

Brigham Young made the following statements:

Ladies and gentlemen, I exhort you to think for yourselves, and read your Bibles for yourselves, get the Holy Spirit for yourselves, and pray for yourselves.[156]

The great masses of the people neither think nor act for themselves. . . . I see too much of this gross ignorance among this chosen people of God.[157]

Joseph Smith said the following:

All have the privilege of thinking for themselves upon all matters relative to conscience. . . . We are not disposed, had we the power, to deprive anyone of exercising that free independence of mind which heaven has so graciously bestowed upon the human family as one of its choicest gifts.[158]

Dallin H. Oaks: "We can be united in following our leaders and yet independent in knowing for ourselves."

Dallin H. Oaks shared the following in the April 2008 conference:

Members who have a testimony and who act upon it under the direction of their Church leaders are sometimes accused of blind obedience.

Of course, we have leaders, and of course, we are subject to their decisions and directions in the operation of the Church and in the performance of needed priesthood ordinances. But when it comes to learning and knowing the truth of the gospel—our personal testimonies—we each have a direct relationship with God, our Eternal Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, through the powerful witness of the Holy Ghost. This is what our critics fail to understand. It puzzles them that we can be united in following our leaders and yet independent in knowing for ourselves.

Perhaps the puzzle some feel can be explained by the reality that each of us has two different channels to God. We have a channel of governance through our prophet and other leaders. This channel, which has to do with doctrine, ordinances, and commandments, results in obedience. We also have a channel of personal testimony, which is direct to God. This has to do with His existence, our relationship to Him, and the truth of His restored gospel. This channel results in knowledge. These two channels are mutually reinforcing: knowledge encourages obedience (see Deuteronomy 5:27; Moses 5:11), and obedience enhances knowledge (see John 7:17; D&C 93:1).[159]

Additional quotes from both early and modern Church leaders may be found here.


Response to claim: Joseph Fielding Smith, who the authors note "would become the tenth prophet," expresses his opinion on the "Curse of Cain" as it was applied to Blacks

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

Joseph Fielding Smith, who the authors note "would become the tenth prophet," expresses his opinion on the "Curse of Cain" as it was applied to Blacks.

(Author's sources: *The Way to Perfection, p. 101.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

This was never Church doctrine. Only the current prophet may declare Church doctrine.



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Question: How did the "curse of Ham" or "curse of Cain" become associated with Mormonism?

Early members of the Church brought this culturally-conditioned belief in the "curse of Ham" with them into Mormonism

Prior to 1978, the doctrinal folklore that blacks are the descendants of Cain and Ham and that they carry the “mark of Cain” was a belief among some members of the Church, and is occasionally heard even today. The dubious “folk doctrine” in question is no longer even relevant, since it was used to incorrectly explain and justify a Church policy that was reversed over thirty years ago. Prior to the 1978 revelation, however, the Saints used the “mark of Cain” to explain the policy of denying priesthood ordination to those of African descent—a policy for which no revelatory prophetic explanation was ever actually given.

Early members of the Church were, for the most part, converts from Protestant sects. It is understandable that they naturally brought this culturally-conditioned belief in the "curse of Ham" with them into Mormonism. Many modern members of the Church, for instance, are unaware that Joseph Smith ordained at least one African-American man to the priesthood: Elijah Abel.

At some point during Brigham Young's administration, the priesthood ban was initiated. No revelation, if there ever was one, was published, although many throughout the history of the Church have assumed that the reason for the ban must be that blacks were the cursed seed of Cain, and therefore not allowed the priesthood (usually stemming from a misreading of Abraham 1). The correct answer as to why the ban was put into place is: we don't know. For further information on the priesthood ban, see Blacks and the priesthood.

Bruce R. McConkie in 1978, after the revelation granting blacks the priesthood:

It is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young…or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world. We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter any more. It doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June of this year. It is a new day and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds light out into the world on this subject. [160]

Prior to this statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie in 1978, the doctrinal folklore that blacks are the descendants of Cain and Ham and that they carry the “mark of Cain” was a belief among some members of the Church, and is occasionally heard even today. The dubious “folk doctrine” in question is no longer even relevant, since it was used to incorrectly explain and justify a Church policy that was reversed over thirty years ago. Prior to the 1978 revelation, however, the Saints used the “mark of Cain” to explain the policy of denying priesthood ordination to those of African descent—a policy for which no revelation or prophetic explanation was ever actually given.

The speculation was that in the premortal existence, certain spirits were set aside to come to Earth through a lineage that was cursed and marked, first by Cain’s murder of his brother and covenant with Satan (Genesis 4:11–15; Moses 5:23–25, Moses 5:36–40), and then again later by Ham’s offense against his father Noah. The reasons why this lineage was set apart weren’t clear, but it was speculated they were somehow less valiant than their premortal brethren during the war in heaven. In this life, then, the holy priesthood was to be withheld from all who had had any trace of that lineage.

As neat and coherent as that scenario might seem, the scriptures typically cited in its support cannot logically be interpreted this way unless one starts with the priesthood ban itself and then works backward, looking for scriptures to support a predetermined belief.


Response to claim: Mark E. Petersen states that "our performance in the pre-existence" affected what race we were born into

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

Mark E. Petersen states that "our performance in the pre-existence" affected what race we were born into.

(Author's sources: "Race Problems - As They Affect the Church," Aug. 27, 1954, p. 4.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

Mark E. Petersen expressed this opinion, along with others. He was wrong, and the Church has disavowed such theories. This belief is not Church doctrine. Only the current prophet may declare Church doctrine.



Gospel Topics: "Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else"

"Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics on LDS.org:

Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.

Since that day in 1978, the Church has looked to the future, as membership among Africans, African Americans and others of African descent has continued to grow rapidly. While Church records for individual members do not indicate an individual’s race or ethnicity, the number of Church members of African descent is now in the hundreds of thousands.

The Church proclaims that redemption through Jesus Christ is available to the entire human family on the conditions God has prescribed. It affirms that God is “no respecter of persons”24 and emphatically declares that anyone who is righteous—regardless of race—is favored of Him. The teachings of the Church in relation to God’s children are epitomized by a verse in the second book of Nephi: “[The Lord] denieth none that cometh unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; . . . all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.[161]—(Click here to continue)


Joseph Fielding Smith: "We know of no scripture, ancient or modern, that declares that at the time of the rebellion in heaven that one-third of the hosts of heaven remained neutral"

We know of no scripture, ancient or modern, that declares that at the time of the rebellion in heaven that one-third of the hosts of heaven remained neutral. ... That one-third of the hosts of heaven remained neutral and therefore were cursed by having a black skin, could hardly be true, for the negro race has not constituted one-third of the inhabitants of the earth. —(Click here to continue) [162]


Question: Was the idea that Blacks were neutral in the "war in heaven" ever official doctrine?

The "neutral in the war in heaven" argument was never doctrine. In fact, some Church leaders, starting with Brigham Young, explicitly repudiated the idea

This idea was repudiated well before the priesthood ban was rescinded. President Brigham Young rejected it in an account recorded by Wilford Woodruff in 1869:

Lorenzo Young asked if the Spirits of Negroes were Nutral in Heaven. He said someone said Joseph Smith said they were. President Young said No they were not. There was No Nutral spirits in Heaven at the time of the Rebelion. All took sides. He said if any one said that He Herd the Prophet Joseph Say that the spirits of the Blacks were Nutral in Heaven He would not Believe them for He herd Joseph Say to the Contrary. All spirits are pure that Come from the presence of God. The posterity of Cane are Black Because He Commit Murder. He killed Abel & God set a Mark upon his posterity But the spirits are pure that Enter their tabernacles & there will be a Chance for the redemption of all the Children of Adam Except the Sons of perdition. [163]

The First Presidency under Joseph F. Smith also rejected this idea

there is no revelation, ancient or modern, neither is there any authoritative statement by any of the authorities of the Church … [in support of the idea] that the negroes are those who were neutral in heaven at the time of the great conflict or war, which resulted in the casting out of Lucifer and those who were led by him. [164]

Joseph Smith never taught the idea that those born with black skin were "neutral" during the war in heaven

Brigham Young, when asked this question, repudiated the idea. Wilford Woodruff recorded the following in his journal:

December 25, 1869: I attended the School of the Prophets. Many questions were asked. President Young answered them. Lorenzo Young asked if the spirits of Negroes were neutral in heaven. He said someone said Joseph Smith said they were. President Young said no they were not. There were no neutral spirits in heaven at the time of the rebellion. All took sides. He said if anyone said that he heard the Prophet Joseph say that the spirits of the Blacks were neutral in heaven, he would not believe them, for he heard Joseph say to the contrary. All spirits are pure that come from the presence of God. The posterity of Cain are black because he commit[ted] murder. He killed Abel and God set a mark upon his posterity. But the spirits are pure that enter their tabernacles and there will be a chance for the redemption of all the children of Adam except the sons of perdition. [165]

The idea that anyone who came to earth was "neutral" in the premortal existence is not a doctrine of the Church. Early Church leaders had a variety of opinions regarding the status of blacks in the pre-existence, and some of these were expressed in an attempt to explain the priesthood ban. The scriptures, however, do not explicitly state that the status or family into which we were born on earth had anything to do with our "degree of valiance" in our pre-mortal life.

Other religions would not have had reason for such a teaching because they do not believe in the pre-existence or the "war in heaven."

The scriptures themselves do not state that anyone was neutral in the pre-existence.


Question: Did Church leaders ever teach that Blacks were neutral in the "war in heaven?"

Yes, some Church leaders promoted the idea as a way to explain the priesthood ban

Despite the explicit denial of this concept by Brigham Young, the idea that people born with black skin as a result of their behavior in the pre-existence was used by several 20th century Church leaders in order to try and provide an explanation for the priesthood ban.

The First Presidency, in a statement issued on August 17, 1949, actually attributed the ban to "conduct of spirits in the premortal existence"

The First Presidency stated in 1949:

The position of the Church regarding the Negro may be understood when another doctrine of the Church is kept in mind, namely, that the conduct of spirits in the premortal existence has some determining effect upon the conditions and circumstances under which these spirits take on mortality. [166]

Joseph Fielding Smith said in 1954 that there were no "neutrals in the war in heaven," but that rewards in this life may have "reflected actions taken in the pre-existence

In the 1954 book Doctrines of Salvation (compiled by Bruce R. McConkie), Joseph Fielding Smith stated that "there were no neutrals in the war in heaven," but suggested that the rewards received in this life reflected actions taken in the pre-existence:

NO NEUTRALS IN HEAVEN. There were no neutrals in the war in heaven. All took sides either with Christ or with Satan. Every man had his agency there, and men receive rewards here based upon their actions there, just as they will receive rewards hereafter for deeds done in the body. The Negro, evidently, is receiving the reward he merits. [167]

Bruce R. McConkie said in 1966 that they were "less valiant" in the pre-existence

The most well known of these was the statement made by Bruce R. McConkie in his book Mormon Doctrine. McConkie offered the following opinion:

Those who were less valiant in the pre-existence and who thereby had certain spiritual restrictions imposed upon them during mortality are known to us as the negroes. Such spirits are sent to earth through the lineage of Cain, the mark put upon him for his rebellion against God and his murder of Abel being a black skin...but this inequality is not of man’s origin. It is the Lord’s doing, based on His eternal laws of justice, and grows out of the lack of spiritual valiance of those concerned in their first estate. [168]

These statements by Church leaders reflected ideas which were prevalent in society during the 1950s and 1960s

These statements by 20th century leaders did not represent thinking that was unique to the Church, but instead reflected ideas which were much more prevalent in society during the 1950's and 1960's.

When the priesthood ban was lifted in 1978, McConkie retracted what he had said previously

Elder McConkie retracted his previous statements regarding the priesthood ban when it was lifted in 1978:

Forget everything I have said, or what...Brigham Young...or whomsoever has said...that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world. [169]


Question: Did the Church repudiate the idea of neutrality in the "war in heaven?"

President Kimball was reported as repudiating this idea following the 1978 revelation

Some members and leaders explained the ban as congruent with the justice of God by suggesting that those who were denied the priesthood had done something in the pre-mortal life to deny themselves the priesthood. President Kimball was reported as repudiating this idea following the 1978 revelation:

President Kimball "flatly [stated] that Mormonism no longer holds to...a theory" that Blacks had been denied the priesthood "because they somehow failed God during their pre-existence." [170]

The modern Church rejects this theory

Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form. [171]

Modern Church leaders teach that everyone who came to earth in this day was "valiant" in the premortal existence

Elder M. Russell Ballard, talking of today's youth, said in 2005:

Remind them that they are here at this particular time in the history of the world, with the fulness of the gospel at their fingertips, because they made valiant choices in the premortal existence. [172]


Response to claim: Joseph Fielding Smith "admits Mormon doctrine that Jesus was married"

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

Joseph Fielding Smith "admits Mormon doctrine that Jesus was married."

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

There is no Church doctrine that claims that Jesus was married. Some Church leaders have expressed a belief that He was. Only the current prophet may declare Church doctrine.



Question: Do Mormons believe Jesus Christ was married?

Mormons don't officially believe that Jesus was married

The easy answer is that no, Mormons don't officially believe that Jesus was married. In fact, there is no official Church doctrine on this issue. Individual members are free to believe as they wish concerning this matter. (Some believe that He was married; others believe He wasn't. Most members are open to believe either way.)

Do many Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus was married?

Since eternal marriage is one of the ordinances required to achieve exaltation, many Latter-day Saints do indeed believe that Jesus Christ was married. The question is: What is it about Jesus being married that would make Him less of our Lord and Savior? Yet, Latter-day Saints are accused of not being Christian because of such beliefs.

William Phipps, Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Davis and Elkins College in West Virginia, wrote an article and a book declaring his belief that the Lord Jesus Christ was married.[173] Are all Presbyterians not Christians on account of Reverend Phipps' beliefs, or do different standards exist for Evangelicals than for those "Satanic cultists," the "Mormons?" Perhaps those who make such accusations would counter that it is just Phipps who is not a Christian, on account of his belief that Jesus Christ was married. But again, why would they damn all Latter-day Saints because some Latter-day Saints believe something that is not official LDS doctrine?

The Bible is silent on the issue of Jesus' marital state

The Bible is silent on the issue of Jesus' marital state, and there has been no modern revelation stating he was or was not married. This leaves the issue an open question. Some Latter-day Saints believe he was married, but the Church has no position on the subject. This question was addressed by Charles W. Penrose in the September 1912 issue of the official Church magazine, the Improvement Era:

Question 2: Do you believe that Jesus was married?

Answer: We do not know anything about Jesus Christ being married. The Church has no authoritative declaration on the subject. [174]

Several early Latter-day Saint leaders believed Jesus was married and preached this from the pulpit

Several early LDS leaders believed Jesus was married, and said so from the pulpit on occasion. Here is one example from Apostle Orson Hyde:

Now there was actually a marriage [at Cana (John 2:1–11)]; and if Jesus was not the bridegroom on that occasion, please tell who was. If any man can show this, and prove that it was not the Savior of the world, then I will acknowledge I am in error. We say it was Jesus Christ who was married, to be brought into the relation whereby he could see his seed (Isaiah 53:10), before he was crucified. "Has he indeed passed by the nature of angels, and taken upon himself the seed of Abraham, to die without leaving a seed to bear his name on the earth?" No. But when the secret is fully out, the seed of the blessed shall be gathered in, in the last days; and he who has not the blood of Abraham flowing in his veins, who has not one particle of the Savior's in him, I am afraid is a stereotyped Gentile, who will be left out and not be gathered in the last days; for I tell you it is the chosen of God, the seed of the blessed, that shall be gathered. I do not despise to be called a son of Abraham, if he had a dozen wives; or to be called a brother, a son, a child of the Savior, if he had Mary, and Martha, and several others, as wives; and though he did cast seven devils out of one of them, it is all the same to me. [175]

Joseph Fielding Smith apparently believed that Jesus had been married

Joseph Fielding Smith apparently believed that Jesus had been married, and that He had children. In a 1963 letter to Elder Smith (then President of the Quorum of the Twelve), J. Ricks Smith asked for clarification on a question he had concerning the marital and paternal status of Jesus:

Burbank, California March 17, 1963

President Joseph Fielding Smith 47 East South Temple Street Salt Lake City 11, Utah

Dear President Smith:

In a discussion recently, the question arose, "Was Christ married?" The quote of Isaiah 53:10 was given, which reads,

Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put Him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul and offering for sin, he shall see His seed, he shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

What is meant by "he shall see his seed"? Does this mean that Christ had children?

In the Temple ceremony we are told that only through Temple marriage can we receive the highest degree of exaltation and dwell in the presence of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Christ came here to set us the example and, therefore, we believe that he must have been married. Are we right?

Sincerely,

J. Ricks Smith 1736 N. Ontario Street Burbank, California

In a written response (on the same letter), Elder Smith indicated his feelings on the matter—both in the positive. Placing an asterisk next to the words "His seed" in the letter, at the bottom of the letter Elder Smith wrote:

*Mosiah 15:10-12 Please Read Your Book of Mormon!

Placing two asterisks next to the words "he must have been married," at the bottom of the letter Elder Smith wrote:

**Yes! But do not preach it! The Lord advised us not to cast pearls before swine!

Apparently Elder Smith believed that the married state of Jesus was true, but that it should not be preached to others.

There has never been any revelation or official statement on the subject on behalf of the Church

Even though several leaders have expressed positive opinions on the subject, there has never been any revelation or official statement on the subject on behalf of the Church.

Dale Bills, a spokesman for the Church, said in a statement released Tuesday, 16 May 2006:

The belief that Christ was married has never been official church doctrine. It is neither sanctioned nor taught by the church. While it is true that a few church leaders in the mid-1800s expressed their opinions on the matter, it was not then, and is not now, church doctrine. [176]


Response to claim: Book of Abraham "manuscripts" are discovered

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

Book of Abraham "manuscripts" are discovered.

(Author's sources: Tanner, The Case Against Mormonism, Vol. 3, Preface.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources





Fragments from the papyri owned by Joseph Smith were discovered. Aside from Facsimile #1, they do not contain the text of the Book of Abraham, and the Church has never claimed otherwise.

}}

Response to claim: Book of Abraham "papyrus manuscripts" are turned over the the Church, after which "noted Egyptologists translate them and declare that the text is from the Book of Breathings"

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

Book of Abraham "papyrus manuscripts" are turned over the the Church, after which "noted Egyptologists translate them and declare that the text is from the Book of Breathings." The authors state: "Despite this exposure as a fraud, the Book of Abraham continues to be published as scripture by the church."

(Author's sources: Tanner, The Case Against Mormonism, Vol. 3, Preface.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

The critics fail to note that the Church itself published this information in The Improvement Era first.



Question: Was the Church forthright in identifying the rediscovered papyrus prior to their examination by non-LDS Egyptologists?

The January 1968 issue of the Improvement Era demonstrates that the Church was very forthright about this issue

The Church announced that the fragments contained a funerary text in the January 1968 Improvement Era (the predecessor to today's Ensign magazine). Of the 11 fragments, one fragment has Facsimile 1, and the other 10 fragments are funerary texts, which the Church claimed from the moment the papyri were rediscovered. There is no evidence that the Church has ever claimed that any of the 10 remaining fragments contain text which is contained in the Book of Abraham.

The critics are telling us nothing new when they dramatically "announce" that the JSP contain Egyptian funerary documents. The Church disseminated this information as widely as possible from the very beginning.

The timeline of events

A review of the time-line of the papyri demonstrates that the Church quickly publicized the nature of the JSP in the official magazine of the time, The Improvement Era.

There were 11 fragments discovered and given to the church. The Church was very quick in releasing this information to the membership and the world.

November 27, 1967
Church receives papyri.
December 10–11, 1967
Deadline to submit material for the January 1968 Improvement Era.
December 26–31, 1967
January 1968 Improvement Era issue mailed to subscribers.[177]
February 1968
Another fragment was discovered in the Church historian's files, and publicized in the February 1968 Improvement Era.[178]
Cover of the January 1968 issue of the Improvement Era, the Church's official magazine of the time. Note the color photograph of the recovered Facsimile 1.


Response to claim: The Mark Hofmann forgeries

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

The Mark Hofmann forgeries.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event





Question: What are the Hofmann forgeries and the Salamander Letter?

The Church purchased several alleged nineteenth-century documents from Mark Hofmann which were later identified as forgeries

Gordon B. Hinckley, then a member of the First Presidency, purchased several apparently nineteenth-century documents from Mark Hofmann which were later identified as forgeries.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson explains:

Some of you may remember hearing about a man named Mark Hofmann, now serving a prison sentence in Utah for murder. He was an expert forger of historical documents. Some of these were tied to U.S. history, but several related to Church history. One was a purported letter from Martin Harris to W. W. Phelps reporting that Joseph Smith found the gold plates led by a spirit who “transfigured himself from a white salamander in the bottom of the hole” where the plates were. Another was a supposed transcript of a blessing given by the Prophet to his son Joseph Smith III in 1844 declaring his son to be his rightful successor as head of the Church. [20]

Some left the Church when these documents were publicized saying it was clear that Joseph Smith’s testimony concerning his visions was false or that they could no longer consider The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the true Church. Not long afterward these and other documents were shown to be forgeries. I wondered, do those who were so troubled believe again now, and when other questions arise, as they always do, will they leave again? In matters of faith, a spiritual witness is essential if one is to avoid being “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” [21] With a Spirit-derived assurance in place, you can go forward in the Lord’s work and continue deepening your relationship with your Heavenly Father while pursuing or awaiting answers. If you determine to sit still, paralyzed until every question is answered and every whisper of doubt resolved, you will never move because in this life there will always be some issue pending or something yet unexplained.[179]

Hofmann made the decision to lie and cover his lies with murder. As tragic as such choices are, LDS doctrine would not expect God to typically intervene via a prophet, or personally, to prevent a person bent on making wicked choices from carrying out his or her plans.(See DC 10:37 If God did so routinely, unfettered choice would be threatened.


Question: If Gordon B. Hinckley were a true prophet, why did he not discern the nature of the Hofmann forgeries?

Prophets are not omniscient nor are they infallible

Critics of the Church raise the question: If Gordon B. Hinckley were a true prophet, why would he be fooled into buying the forgeries? Would he not be able to discern the fraud? [180]

The assumption that President Hinckley should have discerned the nature of the forgery stems from incorrect expectations of what a prophet is. Prophets are not omniscient nor infallible. The Church bought the documents when assured by experts that they were genuine.

Prophets do not generally act to take away the free agent choices of others. President Hinckley's decision to purchase the documents allowed them to be examined, and kept them available for further study so that the forgery could be discovered. (Had a private collector, especially one hostile to the Church, acquired the documents, access might have been much more difficult.)

Some think it strange that a prophet could have been deceived. President Hinckley's public statements make it clear that he was not entirely convinced of the document's provenance, but provisionally accepted the judgment of the experts. (For a discussion of the decision to promptly make the document public when owned by the Church by an author who declared the document a forgery early on, see Rhett S. James, "Writing History Must Not Be an Act of Magic (Review of Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, revised and enlarged edition, by D. Michael Quinn)," FARMS Review of Books 12/2 (2000): 395–414. [{{{url}}} off-site].)

The Lord made it clear to Joseph Smith that a prophet is not granted to know all the designs of those who seek to destroy the Church:

But as you cannot always judge the righteous, or as you cannot always tell the wicked from the righteous, therefore I say unto you, hold your peace until I shall see fit to make all things known unto the world concerning the matter. (DC 10:37)

The LDS doctrine of agency requires that those who plot evil be allowed a certain latitude, though (as President Hinckley prophetically noted) permanent harm to the Lord's work will not be permitted.


Question: Was President Hinckley suspicious that the Salamander letter might not be authentic?

President Hinckley advised caution in accepting the documents' authenticity

President Hinckley, at a Young Adult fireside broadcast from Temple Square, spoke about Martin Harris and others mentioned in the Salamander Letter, and advised caution in accepting the documents' authenticity. He was careful not to proclaim that they were authentic:

As most of you know, recently there have been great stirrings over two old letters. One was purportedly written in 1825 by Joseph Smith to Josiah Stowell. If it is genuine, it is the oldest known product of Joseph Smith’s handwriting. It concerns the employment of Joseph by Mr. Stowell, who was engaged in a mining operation looking for old coins and precious metals. The other carries the date of October 23, 1830, and was purportedly written by Martin Harris to W. W. Phelps.

I acquired for the Church both of these letters, the first by purchase. The second was given to the Church by its generous owner. I am, of course, familiar with both letters, having held them in my hands and having read them in their original form. It was I, also, who made the decision to make them public. Copies were issued to the media, and both have received wide publicity.

I knew there would be a great fuss. Scholars have pored over them, discussed them, written about them, differed in their opinions, and even argued about them.

I am glad we have them. They are interesting documents of whose authenticity we are not certain and may never be. However, assuming that they are authentic, they are valuable writings of the period out of which they have come. But they have no real relevancy to the question of the authenticity of the Church or of the divine origin of the Book of Mormon.

Much has been said about the Martin Harris/W. W. Phelps letter. I ask: Shall two men, their character, their faith, their lives, the testimonies to which they gave voice to the end of their days, be judged by a few words on a sheet of paper that may or may not have been written by the one and received by the other?

If you have been troubled in any way by press reports concerning this letter, I ask only that you look closer at the man who presumably wrote it and at the man who presumably received it Martin Harris and W. W. Phelps.

The letter is dated subsequent to the declaration of the Testimony of the Three Witnesses, one of whom was Martin Harris. In language unequivocal and certain he and his associates had declared to the world: "Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record,...And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true.... And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon."

Would Martin Harris have mortgaged his farm, eventually losing it, to pay for the printing of the Book of Mormon if he had thought of that book as a fraud? He endured ridicule, persecution, and poverty. He lived to the age of ninety-two and died in full faith, voicing his testimony of the truth of the Book of Mormon to the end of his life.

What about W. W. Phelps? Five years subsequent to the date of the letter, he wrote: "Now, notwithstanding my body was not baptized into this Church till Thursday, the 10th of June 1831, yet my heart was there from the time I became acquainted with the Book of Mormon; and my hope, steadfast like an anchor, and my faith increased like the grass after a refreshing shower, when I for the first time, held a conversation with our beloved Brother Joseph whom I was willing to acknowledge as the prophet of the Lord, and to whom, and to whose godly account of himself and the work he was engaged in, I owe my first determination to quit the folly of my way, and the fancy and fame of this world, and seek the Lord and His righteousness."

This is the same man who wrote that majestic and marvelous hymn of tribute to the Prophet Joseph — "Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah! Jesus anointed that Prophet and Seer. Blessed to open the last dispensation, Kings shall extol him, and nations revere."

He had no doubt concerning the divine origin of the Book of Mormon or the divine calling of him who was the instrument in the hands of the Almighty in bringing it forth. William W. Phelps died as a high priest in Salt Lake City in full faith.

Marvelous and enduring love and loyalty of the kind shown by these two men do not come from an experience with a "salamander" as we generally interpret that word.

Would these two men have so endured, so declared their testimonies, and so lived out their lives in faith had there been any doubt about the way in which the Book of Mormon plates were received from the hands of Moroni and translated by the gift and power of God?[181]


Response to claim: The Book of Mormon has over "4000" changes since its first publication, and the phrase "white and delightsome" is changed to "pure and delightsome"

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Mormon has over "4000" changes since its first publication, and the phrase "white and delightsome" is changed to "pure and delightsome."

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

It should be noted that the change from "white" to "pure" was originally made by Joseph Smith in 1840. Most of the 4,000 changes were punctuation and grammatical



Question: Why were textual changes made to the Book of Mormon over the years after it was first published?

The few significant modifications were made by the Prophet Joseph Smith to clarify the meaning of the text, not to change it

The published text of the Book of Mormon has been corrected and edited through its various editions. Many of these changes were made by Joseph Smith himself. Why was this done?

The authenticity of the Book of Mormon is not affected by the modifications that have been made to its text because the vast majority of those modifications are minor corrections in spelling, punctuation, and grammar. The few significant modifications were made by the Prophet Joseph Smith to clarify the meaning of the text, not to change it. This was his right as translator of the book.

These changes have not been kept secret. A discussion of them can be found in the individual articles linked below, and in the references listed below, including papers in BYU Studies and the Ensign.

Joseph Smith taught "the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book."[182] As the end of the preceding quote clarifies, by "most correct" this he meant in principle and teaching. The authors of the Book of Mormon themselves explained several times that their writing was imperfect, but that the teachings in the book were from God (1 Nephi 19:6; 2 Nephi 33:4; Mormon 8:17; Mormon 9:31-33; Ether 12:23-26).

There are over 100,000 insignificant changes that have been made to the Book of Mormon

If one counts every difference in every punctuation mark in every edition of the Book of Mormon, the result is well over 100,000 changes.[183] The critical issue is not the number of changes that have been made to the text, but the nature of the changes.

Most changes are insignificant modifications to spelling, grammar, and punctuation, and are mainly due to the human failings of editors and publishers. For example, the word meet — meaning "appropriate" — as it appears in 1 Nephi 7:1, was spelled "mete" in the first edition of the Book of Mormon, published in 1830. (This is a common error made by scribes of dictated texts.) "Mete" means to distribute, but the context here is obvious, and so the spelling was corrected in later editions.

Some of these typographical errors do affect the meaning of a passage or present a new understanding of it, but not in a way that presents a challenge to the divinity of the Book of Mormon. One example is 1 Nephi 12:18, which in all printed editions reads "a great and a terrible gulf divideth them; yea, even the word of the justice of the Eternal God," while the manuscript reads "the sword of the justice of the Eternal God." In this instance, the typesetter accidentally dropped the s at the beginning of sword.

The current (1981) edition of the Book of Mormon has this notice printed at the bottom of the page opposite 1 Nephi, chapter 1:

Some minor errors in the text have been perpetuated in past editions of the Book of Mormon. This edition contains corrections that seem appropriate to bring the material into conformity with prepublication manuscripts and early editions edited by the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Some Book of Mormon changes were corrections of transcription or printing errors.

There are a few significant changes that have been made to the Book of Mormon

Changes that would affect the authenticity of the Book of Mormon are limited to:

  • those that are substantive AND
    • could possibly change the doctrine of the book OR
    • could be used as evidence that the book was written by Joseph Smith.

There are surprisingly few meaningful changes to the Book of Mormon text, and all of them were made by Joseph Smith himself in editions published during his lifetime. These changes include:

The historical record shows that these changes were made to clarify the meaning of the text, not to alter it.

Many people in the church experience revelation that is to be dictated (such as a patriarch blessing). They will go back and alter their original dictation. This is done to clarify the initial premonitions received through the Spirit. The translation process for the Prophet Joseph may have occurred in a similar manner.


Question: Why was the phrase "white and delightsome" changed to "pure and delightsome" in the 1840 edition of the Book of Mormon?

This change was originally made in the 1840 edition, lost, and then restored again in the 1981 edition

This change was originally made in the 1840 edition but because subsequent editions were based off the European editions (which followed the 1837 edition), the change did not get perpetuated until the preparation of the 1981 edition. The change is not (as the critics want to portray it) a "recent" change designed to remove a "racist" original.

The idea that the Church has somehow "hidden" the original text or manuscripts of the Book of Mormon in order to hide this is simply unbelievable. Replicas of the 1830 Book of Mormon are easily obtained on Amazon.com, and the text is freely available online. In addition, Royal Skousen has extensively studied the original Book of Mormon manuscripts and published a critical text edition of the Book of Mormon. The claim by the critics that the Church has somehow hidden these items is seriously outdated.

The change in the 1840 edition was probably made by Joseph Smith

This change actually first appeared in the 1840 edition, and was probably made by Joseph Smith:

  • 2 Nephi 30:6 (1830 edition, italics added): "...they shall be a white and a delightsome people."
  • 2 Nephi 30:6 (1840 edition, italics added): "...they shall be a pure and a delightsome people."

The 1837 edition was used for the European editions, which were in turn used as the basis for the 1879 and 1920 editions, so the change was lost until the 1981 edition

This particular correction is part of the changes referred to in the note "About this Edition" printed in the introductory pages:

"Some minor errors in the text have been perpetuated in past editions of the Book of Mormon. This edition contains corrections that seem appropriate to bring the material into conformity with prepublication manuscripts and early editions edited by the Prophet Joseph Smith."

It’s doubtful that Joseph Smith had racism in mind when the change was done in 1840 or other similar verses would have been changed as well.

The "pure" meaning likely reflected the original intent of the passage and translator

Furthermore, "white" was a synonym for "pure" at the time Joseph translated the Book of Mormon:

3. Having the color of purity; pure; clean; free from spot; as white robed innocence....5. Pure; unblemished....6. In a scriptural sense, purified from sin; sanctified. Psalm 51.[185]

Thus, the "pure" meaning likely reflected the original intent of the passage and translator.


Response to claim: The authors state that "drastic changes" were made in "secret Mormon temple rituals"

The author(s) of Watchman Fellowship make(s) the following claim:

The authors state that "drastic changes" were made in "secret Mormon temple rituals."

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

Changes have been made many times over the years. To call them "drastic" is an overstatement.



Question: Why would the Church remove or alter elements of the temple ceremony if these ceremonies were revealed by God?

There is a difference between the ordinance of the endowment and the mechanism used in the presentation of the ordinance

Latter-day Saints believe that the Temple endowment is an eternal ordinance that Joseph Smith received by revelation from God. Why, then, have changes been made to it several times since it was first revealed?

People sometimes confuse the ordinance of the endowment with the presentation of the endowment. The presentation has undergone many changes since the time of Joseph Smith as it is adjusted to meet the needs of a modern and ever changing membership.

Joseph Smith restored the endowment ordinance, but the method of presentation of the ordinance is adapted to fit the needs of the times. There would be no point in having continuing revelation, a founding idea of our faith, if we are not permitted to advance and meet new needs. God’s directives and how He deals with His people may vary according to His people’s understanding and needs. God doesn’t tell everyone to build an ark and wait for a flood. Changes sometimes occur as a result of God dealing with His children according to their changing circumstances.



Notes

  1. Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of God (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1949), 205.
  2. Criticisms put forth by Watchman Fellowship, The Watchman Expositor (Page 3)
  3. Dean C. Jessee, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, revised edition, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 2002), 9–20. off-site [PRECISE page numbering is needed; the words "emphasis added" need to be inserted after a ";" and space after the numbering designation.]
  4. Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language (New York: S. Converse, 1828), s.v. "shall."
  5. Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language (New York: S. Converse, 1828), s.v. "generation."
  6. Roger Nicholson, "The Cowdery Conundrum: Oliver’s Aborted Attempt to Describe Joseph Smith’s First Vision in 1834 and 1835," Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 8:27-44 (December 6, 2013).
  7. "The First Vision," mormonthink.com.
  8. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 2:170. Volume 2 link
  9. J. Christopher Conkling, A Joseph Smith Chronology (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1979), 68–69.
  10. The original form of this article is from Stephen R. Gibson, "Did Joseph Smith Prophesy Falsely Regarding David Patten?," in One-Minute Answers to Anti-Mormon Questions (Bountiful, Utah: Horizon Publishers, 2005) ISBN 0882907840. off-site. Because of the nature of wiki projects, over time it may have been altered substantially from the original.
  11. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 4:597. Volume 4 link
  12. See Larry E. Dahl, "Lectures on Faith," in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow, (New York, Macmillan Publishing, 1992), 2:818–821.
  13. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 2:243–246. Volume 2 link
  14. Lectures on Faith Num 5, 5:2a-5:2e
  15. See David L. Paulsen, "The Doctrine of Divine Embodiment: Restoration, Judeo-Christian, and Philosophical Perspectives," Brigham Young University Studies 35 no. 4 (1995–96), 6–94. PDF link (Key source)
  16. Stephen Post, “Mormon Defence.--No. II,” Christian Palladium (Union Mills, New York) 6, no. 15 (1 December 1837): 230–31. off-site
  17. Oliver Barr, “Mormonism--No. V,” The Christian Palladium (Union Mills, New York) 6, no. 18 (15 January 1838): 275. off-site
  18. See David L. Paulsen, "The Doctrine of Divine Embodiment: Restoration, Judeo-Christian, and PhilosophicalPerspectives," Brigham Young University Studies 35 no. 4 (1995–96), 6–94. PDF link
  19. Christopher Stead, Philosophy in Christian Antiquity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 98.
  20. Augusta Joyce Crocheron (author and complier), Representative Women of Deseret, a book of biographical sketches to accompany the picture bearing the same title (Salt Lake City: J. C. Graham & Co., 1884).
  21. See Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 5:12–13. Volume 5 link; Richard S. Van Wagoner, "Mormon Polyandry in Nauvoo," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 18/3 (Fall 1985): 77; Van Wagoner, "Joseph and Marriage," Sunstone 10/9 (January 1986): 32.
  22. Jill C. Mulvay, "The Liberal Shall be Blessed: Sarah M. Kimball," Utah Historical Quarterly 44/3 (Summer 1976): 209; citing (221n11) "Jenson dates Hiram's baptism July 20, 1843. Andrew Jenson, Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia, 4 vols. (Salt Lake City, 1901-36), 2:372. At the end of 1844 Hiram received a patriarchal blessing, an ordinance usually reserved for church members. Patriarchal Blessings, vol. 9, December 25, 1844, manuscript, LDS Archives."
  23. George Bernard Shaw, The Future of Political Science in America; an Address by Mr. Bernard Shaw to the Academy of Political Science, at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York, on the 11th. April, 1933 (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1933) as cited in Richard Vetterli, Mormonism, Americanism and Politics (Salt Lake City: Ensign Publishing, 1961), 461–462.
  24. Brigham Young, "Plurality of Wives—The Free Agency of Man," (14 July 1855) Journal of Discourses 3:266.
  25. John Taylor, "President John Taylor's Recent Trip To Bear Lake, Selections from his Discourses delivered in the Various Settlements," (1883) Journal of Discourses 24:232.
  26. Ernst Benz, "Imago dei: Man as the Image of God," FARMS Review 17/1 (2005): 223–254. off-site
  27. For an extensive discussion, see Danel W. Bachman, “A Study of the Mormon Practice of Polygamy Before the Death of Joseph Smith,” (1975) (unpublished M.A. thesis, Purdue University).
  28. Richard Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy: A History (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1986), 89.
  29. Douglas H. Parker, “Victory in Defeat—Polygamy and the Mormon Legal Encounter with the Federal Government,” Cardozo Law Review 12 (1991): 814.
  30. B. Carmon Hardy, Solemn Covenant: The Mormon Polygamous Passage (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1992), 9; an account of this encounter between Joseph and William can be found in Joseph W. McMurrin, "An Interesting Testimony / Mr. Law’s Testimony," Improvement Era (May 1903), 507–510.
  31. He here refers to Dean C. Jesse’s landmark volume Personal Writings of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1984).
  32. Paul H. Peterson, “Understanding Joseph: A Review of Published Documentary Sources,” Joseph Smith: The Prophet, the Man, edited by Susan Easton Black and Charles D. Tate, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1988), 109–110.
  33. John Dehlin, "Questions and Answers," Mormon Stories Podcast (25 June 2014).
  34. Richard S. Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy: A History (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1986),48; citing Robinson, Journal, 23–24.
  35. Orson Hyde, "The Marriage Relations," (6 October 1854) Journal of Discourses 2:75-75.
  36. Doctrine and Covenants, 1835 edition, Section 101.
  37. History of the Church, 2:246–247. Volume 2 link
  38. Brian C. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy Volume 1: History (Salt Lake City, Utah: Greg Kofford Books, 2013), 154.
  39. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy Vol. 1, 173, see pp. 171–1731 for full details.
  40. Dallin H. Oaks, “The Suppression of the Nauvoo Expositor,” Utah Law Review 9 (1965):874.  (Key source)
  41. Oaks, 897–898.
  42. "Today in History, November 7," United States Library of Congress. off-site
  43. Joseph Fielding Smith, Essentials in Church History (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1922), 134. See also Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 1:390–395. Volume 1 link; Anonymous, "A History, of the Persecution, of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day Saints in Missouri," Times and Seasons 1 no. 2 (December 1839), 18. off-site GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  44. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 1:338–339. Volume 1 link
  45. James B. Allen and Glen M. Leonard, Story of the Latter-day Saints, 2nd edition revised and enlarged, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1992[1976]), 208. ISBN 087579565X. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  46. Richard N. and Joan K. Ostling, Mormon America: The Power and the Promise, (New York:HarperCollins Publishers, 2000), 16. ( Index of claims )
  47. Truman G. Madsen, Joseph Smith the Prophet (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1989), 114; citing Diary of George Laub, BYU Special Collections, 18.
  48. Journal of Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, BYU Special Collections, 7; cited by Truman G. Madsen, Joseph Smith the Prophet (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1989), 103.
  49. Joseph Smith, Discourse of 9 April 1842, Wilford Woodruff Diary; cited in Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of Joseph Smith, 2nd Edition, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996), 112.
  50. Dallin H. Oaks and Marvin S. Hill, Carthage Conspiracy, the Trial of the Accused Assassins of Joseph Smith (Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1979), 52. ISBN 025200762X.
  51. Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second College Edition (New York: World Publishing Company, 1970), 870.
  52. Dictionary.com website, s.v. "martyr."(accessed May 7, 2003).
  53. Van Hale, "The Alleged Oath of Vengeance," recorded 1 July 2007 during the Mormon Miscellaneous Worldwide Talk Show, off-site
  54. See 30 March 1836 Jesse Hitchcock record in "MS Joseph Smith Journal, 1835-36," 193 pp., Joseph Smith Collection, LDS Church Archives cited in Dean C. Jessee, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, revised edition, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 2002).
  55. Wilford Woodruff interview, Deseret News 22 November 1889
  56. For a history of prayer circles, see D. Michael Quinn, "Latter-day Saint Prayer Circles," Brigham Young University Studies 19 no. 1 (Fall 1978), 79–105. PDF link
  57. See his 21 December 1845 diary entry in The Nauvoo Endowment Companies, 1845–1846: A Documentary History, Richard Van Wagoner, Devery Scott Anderson, and Gary James Bergera, eds. (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2005).
  58. Claire Noall, "The Plains of Warsaw," Utah Historical Quarterly 25/1 (January 1957): 47–51.
  59. David John Buerger, "The Development of the Mormon Temple Endowment Ceremony," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 34 no. 1 (Spring/Summer 2001), 103.
  60. Paul H. Peterson, "The Mormon Reformation of 1856–1857: The Rhetoric and the Reality," Journal of Mormon History 15/1 (1989): 59–88.
  61. Richard Turley, Ron Walker and Glen Leonard, Massacre at Mountain Meadows (Oxford University Press, 2008), 13–14,92,135,181,286n48.
  62. Turley, Walker and Leonard, Massacre at Mountain Meadows, xiii–xiv.
  63. Testimony of August W. Lundstrom, Proceedings before the Committee on Privileges and Elections of the United States Senate in the Matter of the Protests Against the Right of Hon. Reed Smoot, a Senator from the State of Utah, to Hold His Seat (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1906), 2:153. PDF link
  64. Neither White nor Black, 77–78.
  65. Neither White nor Black, 60–61, 77–78.
  66. Neither White nor Black, 79–81.
  67. B.H. Roberts, "To the Youth of Israel," The Contributor 6 (May 1885): 296–97.
  68. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56), 65.
  69. Sterling M. McMurrin and and L. Jackson Newell, Matters of Conscience: Conversations with Sterling M. McMurrin On Philosophy, Education, and Religion (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 1996), 199–201; cited in Edward L. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2005), chapter 20, page 5, footnote 17. ISBN 1590384571 (CD version)
  70. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, chapter 20, page 5, footnote 17.
  71. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, chapter 20, page 5–, footnote 17.
  72. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, chapter 20 working draft, 13.
  73. Steven Taggert, Mormonism's Negro Policy: Social and Historical Origins (Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press, 1970).
  74. Edwin B. Firmage, "Hugh B. Brown in His Final Years," Sunstone 11:6 no. (Issue #67) (November 1987), 7–8. off-site
  75. Newell G. Bringhurst, "The 'Missouri Thesis' Revisited: Early Mormonism, Slavery, and the Status of Black People," in Newel K. Bringhurst and Darron T. Smith, eds., Black and Mormon (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004), 13. ISBN 978-0252073564. ISBN 0252073568.
  76. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, 204–205.
  77. Lengthen Your Stride, working draft chapter 20, page 22, footnote 105; citing for the affirmative Arrington, Adventures of a Church Historian and Arrington to author, February 10 and June 15, 1998; for the negative, L. Brent Goates, interview by author, February 9, 1998.
  78. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, working draft chapter 20, page 22; citing Goates, Harold B. Lee, 506, quoting UPI interview published November 16, 1972.
  79. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, working draft chapter 21, page 1; citing Charles J. Seldin, "Priesthood of LDS Opened to Blacks," Salt Lake City Tribune (10 June 1978), 1A.
  80. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, working draft chapter 21, page 4; citing letter of 15 June 1963 to Edward Kimball.
  81. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, working draft chapter 21, page 7; citing F. Burton Howard to author, June 15, 1995; F. Burton Howard, interview by author, July 30, 2002.
  82. Jedediah M. Grant, "UNIFORMITY," (7 August 1853) Journal of Discourses 1:346.
  83. Orson Hyde, "The Judgements of God on the United States--The Saints and the World," (18 March 1855) Journal of Discourses 2:210.
  84. William Phipps, "The Case for a Married Jesus," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 7 no. 4 (1972), 44-49., and William Phipps, Was Jesus Married? The Distortion of Sexuality in the Christian Tradition (New York: Harper and Row, 1970).
  85. Charles W. Penrose, "Peculiar Questions Briefly Answered," Improvement Era 15 no. 11 (September 1912).
  86. (6 October 1854) Journal of Discourses 2:82. Elder Hyde's interpretation of Isaiah 53:10 is at variance with the one given in the Book of Mormon. Abinadi taught that the prophets and those who believe the words of the prophets are Jesus' seed (Mosiah 15:10-13).
  87. "LDS do not endorse claims in 'Da Vinci'," Deseret News, 17 May 2006; (Link). See also "Book's premise not so shocking to LDS," The Salt Lake Tribune, 19 May 2006; (Link).
  88. Jerald and Sandra Tanner, The Changing World of Mormonism (Moody Press, 1979), 164.( Index of claims ); Christian Research and Counsel, “Documented History of Joseph Smith’s First Vision,” full-color pamphlet, 10 pages. [There is a notation within this pamphlet indicating that research and portions of text were garnered from Utah Lighthouse Ministry]; Watchman Fellowship, The Watchman Expositor (Page 3)
  89. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 2:171.
  90. Eliza R. Snow, Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1884),127–128.
  91. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 5:135. Volume 5 link
  92. John Taylor, "Our Religion Is From God," (7 April 1866) Journal of Discourses 11:221.
  93. Lowell M. Snow, "Blood atonement," Encyclopedia of Mormonism.
  94. Gustave O. Larson, "The Mormon Reformation," Utah Historical Quarterly 26/1 (January 1958): 60-62.
  95. Henry B. Eyring, in “Expressing Regrets for 1857 Massacre,” Church News, Sept. 15, 2007
  96. "Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics on LDS.org (2013)
  97. "Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics on LDS.org. (2013)
  98. Stephen R. Haynes, Noah's Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002)
  99. Origen, "Genesis Homily XVI," in Homilies on Genesis and Exodus, translated by Ronald E. Heine (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1982), p. 215, referenced in Haynes.
  100. Haynes, p. 7-8.
  101. Haynes, p. 8.
  102. Haynes, Noah's Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery, p. 127-8 citing Palmer, "The Import of Hebrew History," Southern Presbyterian Review 9 (April 1856) 591
  103. Haynes, p. 129, citing Palmer, Our Historic Mission, An Address Delivered before the Eunomian and PhiMu Societies of La Grange Synodical College, July 7 1858 (New Orleans: True Witness Office, 1859), 4-5.
  104. Haynes, p. 132, citing Cherry, God's New Israel, 179-180 who in turn is citing one of Palmer's sermons.
  105. Haynes, p. 161.
  106. Bruce R. McConkie, “All Are Alike unto God,” address in the Second Annual CES Symposium, Salt Lake City, August 1978.
  107. The following critical works use this quote from Brigham to claim that Latter-day Saints must accept polygamy as a requirement to enter heaven. Contender Ministries, Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves. Answers; Richard Abanes, Becoming Gods: A Closer Look at 21st-Century Mormonism (Harvest House Publishers: 2005). 233, 422 n. 48-49. ( Index of claims ); George D. Smith, Nauvoo Polygamy: "...but we called it celestial marriage" (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2008), xiv, 6, 55, , 356. ( Index of claims , (Detailed book review)); Jerald and Sandra Tanner, The Changing World of Mormonism (Moody Press, 1979), 29, 258.( Index of claims )
  108. Brigham Young, "Remarks by President Brigham Young, in the Bowery, in G.S.L. City," (19 August 1866) Journal of Discourses 11:268-269. (emphasis added) See Quote mining—Journal of Discourses 11:269 to see how this quote was mined.
  109. Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 345. off-site
  110. Brigham Young, "The Gospel—The One-Man Power," (24 July 1870) Journal of Discourses 13:270.
  111. "...in 1795 [Herschel] published one of his most extraordinary papers, 'On the Nature and Construction of the sun', with the Royal Society, suggesting that the sun had a cool, solid interior and was inhabited by intelligent beings." [Richard Holmes, The Age of Wonder (London: Harper Press, 2008), 199.]
  112. Esther Inglis-Arkell, "Astronomers once thought there was life on the sun," io9. (20 December 2013)
  113. Deseret News 6 (1856): 134d.
  114. ‘Quebec,’ “The Moon”, Contributor 1/9 (June 1880): 193-5, from page 195
  115. Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language (New York: S. Converse, 1828), s.v. "shall."
  116. Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language (New York: S. Converse, 1828), s.v. "generation."
  117. John Taylor, (2 March 1879) Journal of Discourses 20:167.
  118. John Taylor, (2 March 1879) Journal of Discourses 20:257.
  119. "The Manifesto and the End of Plural Marriage," Gospel Topics on LDS.org
  120. B. Carmon Hardy, Solemn Covenant: The Mormon Polygamous Passage (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1992), 50-51.
  121. Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 11–12. off-site
  122. George Q. Cannon, "Enduring to the End," in Brian H. Stuy (editor), Collected Discourses: Delivered by Wilford Woodruff, his two counselors, the twelve apostles, and others, 1868–1898, 5 vols., (Woodland Hills, Utah: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987–1989), 2:115–116. [Discourse given on 5 October 1890.]
  123. D&C 107:23-24
  124. DC 107:27
  125. See discussion in wiki article on Official Declaration 1
  126. Abraham H. Cannon, Diary, 2 October 1890; see also George Q. Cannon, Diary, 6 October 1890; Heber J. Grant, Journal, 2 October 1890, and copy in Conference Report 1:48.
  127. See discussion in B. Carmon Hardy, Solemn Covenant, 148; citing “A Utah Commissioner’s Perversions,” Deseret News, 1 October 1890.
  128. George Q. Cannon, "Enduring to the End," in Brian H. Stuy (editor), Collected Discourses: Delivered by Wilford Woodruff, his two counselors, the twelve apostles, and others, 1868–1898, 5 vols., (Woodland Hills, Utah: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987–1989), 2:119. [Discourse given on 5 October 1890.]
  129. See FairMormon Answers Wiki article on Word of Wisdom
  130. Telegram from President Joseph F. Smith to Reed Smoot, Apr. 1, 1911, Reed Smoot Correspondence.
  131. Dallin H. Oaks, “Gospel Teachings About Lying,” BYU Fireside Address, 12 September 1993, typescript, no page numbers.
  132. Doctrine and Covenants, 1921 edition's introduction.
  133. As told to John William Fitzgerald, A Study of the Doctrine and Covenants, M.A. Thesis, Brigham Young University, 344.
  134. "Could Joseph Smith have written the Book of Mormon?", MormonThink.com
  135. B. H. Roberts, Studies of the Book of Mormon, (Salt Lake City, UT; Signature Books, 1992) 243. Some online ministries quote Roberts' use of Lucy's quote as "evidence" that Roberts lost his testimony of the Book of Mormon. They completely ignore Roberts's statements on the same page that Joseph was describing the "wonderful conversations he had with the angel."
  136. B. H. Roberts, "The Translation of the Book of Mormon," Improvement Era no. 9 (April 1906), 435–436.
  137. B. H. Roberts to the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, March 1923. (See Studies of the Book of Mormon (1992), p. 58. On page 33, note 65, the editor of this work states that the date on this letter should be 1922 rather than 1923.)
  138. Brigham H. Roberts, Conference Report (April 1930), 47.
  139. B. H. Roberts, “Protest Against the Science-Thought of a ‘Dying Universe’ and no Immortality for Man: The Mission of the Church of the New Dispensation,” delivered SLC Tabernacle, Sunday, 23 January 1932; reproduced in Discourses of B.H. Roberts of the First Council of the Seventy, compiled by Ben E. Roberts (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company 1948), 11–30.
  140. Van Hale, "The Alleged Oath of Vengeance," recorded 1 July 2007 during the Mormon Miscellaneous Worldwide Talk Show, off-site
  141. See 30 March 1836 Jesse Hitchcock record in "MS Joseph Smith Journal, 1835-36," 193 pp., Joseph Smith Collection, LDS Church Archives cited in Dean C. Jessee, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, revised edition, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 2002).
  142. Wilford Woodruff interview, Deseret News 22 November 1889
  143. For a history of prayer circles, see D. Michael Quinn, "Latter-day Saint Prayer Circles," Brigham Young University Studies 19 no. 1 (Fall 1978), 79–105. PDF link
  144. See his 21 December 1845 diary entry in The Nauvoo Endowment Companies, 1845–1846: A Documentary History, Richard Van Wagoner, Devery Scott Anderson, and Gary James Bergera, eds. (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2005).
  145. Claire Noall, "The Plains of Warsaw," Utah Historical Quarterly 25/1 (January 1957): 47–51.
  146. David John Buerger, "The Development of the Mormon Temple Endowment Ceremony," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 34 no. 1 (Spring/Summer 2001), 103.
  147. Paul H. Peterson, "The Mormon Reformation of 1856–1857: The Rhetoric and the Reality," Journal of Mormon History 15/1 (1989): 59–88.
  148. Richard Turley, Ron Walker and Glen Leonard, Massacre at Mountain Meadows (Oxford University Press, 2008), 13–14,92,135,181,286n48.
  149. Turley, Walker and Leonard, Massacre at Mountain Meadows, xiii–xiv.
  150. Testimony of August W. Lundstrom, Proceedings before the Committee on Privileges and Elections of the United States Senate in the Matter of the Protests Against the Right of Hon. Reed Smoot, a Senator from the State of Utah, to Hold His Seat (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1906), 2:153. PDF link
  151. James E. Talmage, The Vitality of Mormonism, (Deseret News Press, 1919), 42.
  152. George Q. Cannon, Life of Joseph Smith, the Prophet (Salt Lake City, Utah: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1888), 529.
  153. Ward Teachers' Message for June, 1945, "SUSTAINING THE GENERAL AUTHORITIES OF THE CHURCH" Improvement Era, June 1945, p.354
  154. Letter from President George Albert Smith to Dr. J. Raymond Cope, Dec. 7, 1945 (emphasis added).
  155. Albert E. Bowen to Dean Brimhall, 26 October 1946, p. 1. Dean R. Brimhall papers, MS 114, box 12, folder 21, Manuscripts Division, J. Willard Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
  156. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 11:107.
  157. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 9:295.
  158. Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 49. off-site
  159. Dallin H. Oaks, "Testimony," Ensign (May 2008).
  160. Bruce R. McConkie, “All Are Alike unto God,” address in the Second Annual CES Symposium, Salt Lake City, August 1978.
  161. "Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics on LDS.org (2013)
  162. Joseph Fielding Smith, "The Negro and the Priesthood," Improvement Era Vol 27, Num 6, pg 565 (April 1924)
  163. Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 6:511 (journal entry dated 25 December 1869). ISBN 0941214133.
  164. First Presidency letter from Joseph F. Smith, Anthon H. Lund, and Charles W. Penrose, to M. Knudson, 13 Jan. 1912.
  165. Wilford Woodruff's Journal, entry dated Dec. 25, 1869.
  166. First Presidency Statement (George Albert Smith), August 17, 1949. off-site
  167. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954) , 1:65-66. (emphasis in original)
  168. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine (1966), p. 527.
  169. Bruce R. McConkie, "New Revelation on Priesthood," Priesthood (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1981), 126-137.
  170. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, chapter 24, page 3; citing Richard Ostling, "Mormonism Enters a New Era," Time (7 August 1978): 55. Ostling told President Kimball's biographer and son that this was a paraphrase, but an accurate reporting of what he had been told (see footnote 13, citing interview on 10 May 2001).
  171. "Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics, lds.org. (2013) off-site
  172. M. Russell Ballard, "One More," Ensign, May 2005, p. 69.
  173. William Phipps, "The Case for a Married Jesus," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 7 no. 4 (1972), 44-49., and William Phipps, Was Jesus Married? The Distortion of Sexuality in the Christian Tradition (New York: Harper and Row, 1970).
  174. Charles W. Penrose, "Peculiar Questions Briefly Answered," Improvement Era 15 no. 11 (September 1912).
  175. (6 October 1854) Journal of Discourses 2:82. Elder Hyde's interpretation of Isaiah 53:10 is at variance with the one given in the Book of Mormon. Abinadi taught that the prophets and those who believe the words of the prophets are Jesus' seed (Mosiah 15:10-13).
  176. "LDS do not endorse claims in 'Da Vinci'," Deseret News, 17 May 2006; (Link). See also "Book's premise not so shocking to LDS," The Salt Lake Tribune, 19 May 2006; (Link).
  177. Jay M. Todd, "Egyptian Papyri Rediscovered," Improvement Era (January 1968), 12–16.
  178. Jay M. Todd, "New Light on Joseph Smith's Egyptian Papyri: Additional Fragment Disclosed," Improvement Era (February 1968), 40.; Jay M. Todd, "Background of the Church Historian's Fragment," Improvement Era (February 1968), 40A–40I.
  179. Elder D. Todd Christofferson, "The Prophet Joseph Smith," Brigham Young University-Idaho Devotional (24 September 2013).
  180. Criticisms related to President Hinckley's inability to detect the Mark Hofmann forgeries are raised in the following publications: Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church (New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003), 424 ( Index of claims ) (See here for a response to this issue for this individual work.); Jerald and Sandra Tanner, The Changing World of Mormonism (Moody Press, 1979), 337.( Index of claims ); Watchman Fellowship, The Watchman Expositor (Page 3)
  181. Gordon B. Hinckley, "First Presidency Message: Keep the Faith," Ensign (September 1985), 3.. off-site
  182. Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 2:139. ISBN 0941214133. Quoted in Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 4:461. Volume 4 link See also Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 194. off-site
  183. Royal Skousen, "Changes In the Book of Mormon," 2002 FAIR Conference proceedings.
  184. Daniel K. Judd and Allen W. Stoddard, "Adding and Taking Away 'Without a Cause' in Matthew 5:22," in How the New Testament Came to Be, ed. Kent P. Jackson and Frank F. Judd Jr. (Provo and Salt Lake City: Religious Studies Center and Deseret Book, 2006),159-160.
  185. Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language (New York: S. Converse, 1828), s.v. "white."