Criticism of Mormonism/Books/An Insider's View of Mormon Origins/Chapter 7

Table of Contents

Response to claims made in "Chapter 7: Priesthood Restoration"

A FairMormon Analysis of: An Insider's View of Mormon Origins, a work by author: Grant Palmer
Claim Evaluation
An Insider's View of Mormon Origins
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Response to claims made in An Insider's View of Mormon Origins, "Chapter 7: Priesthood Restoration"

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Response to claim: 216, n2 - the revelation received through the Urim and Thummim gave Joseph and Oliver the authority to baptize

The author(s) of An Insider's View of Mormon Origins make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that the "original" view was that the revelation received through the Urim and Thummim gave Joseph and Oliver the authority to baptize. The author quotes Lucy Mack Smith's 1845 preliminary manuscript:

[T]hey immediately went down to the susquehana river and obeyed the mandate given them through the urim and Thummim[. A]s they were on their return to the house they overheard samuel [Smith] in a secluded spot engaged in secret prayer[.] They had now received authority to baptize ... and they [then] spoke to Samual who went withe them straightway to the water and was baptized.

Author's sources: *Lucy Smith's Preliminary Manuscript, dictated to Martha Jane Coray, 1844-45, quoted in Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, 1:381.

FairMormon Response

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

How is it that the author believes that an account written seven years after Joseph stated that he had received the priesthood now represents the "original view" of the event? From Lucy's perspective, this is exactly what she would have seen. From Joseph Smith's 1838 history (written 7 years prior to Lucy's 1845 manuscript), this is what was written:

71 Accordingly we went and were baptized. I baptized him first, and afterwards he baptized me—after which I laid my hands upon his head and ordained him to the Aaronic Priesthood, and afterwards he laid his hands on me and ordained me to the same Priesthood—for so we were commanded.
72 The messenger who visited us on this occasion and conferred this Priesthood upon us, said that his name was John, the same that is called John the Baptist in the New Testament, and that he acted under the direction of Peter, James and John, who held the keys of the Priesthood of Melchizedek, which Priesthood, he said, would in due time be conferred on us, and that I should be called the first Elder of the Church, and he (Oliver Cowdery) the second. It was on the fifteenth day of May, 1829, that we were ordained under the hand of this messenger, and baptized. (Joseph Smith—History 1:71-72.

Response to claim: 218 (footnote) - "Joseph intended to keep his and Oliver's baptisms and receipt of authority to baptize from their enemies, not from devoted believers"

The author(s) of An Insider's View of Mormon Origins make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: In light of the David Whitmer and Lucy Smith statements, Joseph intended to keep his and Oliver's baptisms and receipt of authority to baptize from their enemies, not from devoted believers.

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

If you intend to keep something secret, the best way is not to tell a large group of people, even if they are your supporters.



Response to claim: 219 - An angelic ordination to the higher priesthood is not mentioned by Joseph at the time the church was organized

The author(s) of An Insider's View of Mormon Origins make(s) the following claim:

An angelic ordination to the higher priesthood is not mentioned by Joseph at the time the church was organized.

Author's sources: Book of Commandments 24:3-4, 32-35; D&C 20:2-3, 38-45.

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

How does the author know this? All we know is that several years passed before this was put into print.



Question: What criticisms are put forth regarding the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood?

Historical documents do not give an exact date for the restoration of the Melchizedek priesthood

One critic of the Church claims that "Although the priesthood is now taught to have been restored in 1829, Joseph and Oliver made no such claim until 1834." [1] Common questions asked include the following:

  • Was the restoration of the priesthood was "back dated" later by Joseph Smith to justify a desire to dominate the Church?
  • Does anyone know "when or how" Joseph Smith received the Melchizedek priesthood?
  • Why did several years pass before Oliver talked about the priesthood restoration?

If Joseph was making the story up, why not just pick a date and stick to it? The uncertainty of dates is typical of real world events; any one clever enough to "fake" the restoration and organization of the Church could certainly pick a date off the top of his head. Who could argue with him?

The approximate time of the Melchizedek priesthood' restoration can be plausibly narrowed down

When all the circumstantial evidence is studied, the approximate time of the Melchizedek priesthood' restoration can be plausibly narrowed down. Although historical documents do not give an exact date for the restoration of the Melchizedek priesthood we can pinpoint its occurrence to a 17 day window between the 15 and 31 of May, 1829. The window that is known is small enough to preclude a later fabrication of events by the Prophet to "increase his authority."

There are non-Mormon accounts that indicate that Joseph and Oliver had received visits from apostles and angels

Some have claimed that Joseph only began to mention apostolic ordination to the priesthood several years after the Church's organization. Contrary to this claim, there are clear references to Joseph Smith stating he had seen Jesus Christ. Joseph’s ‘conversations’ with the Apostles could be a reference to having seen, spoken to, and been ordained to the Priesthood by the early Apostles Peter, James, and John. Having received that Priesthood Joseph Smith was now qualified to perform healings, and other ‘miracles’.


Question: What is the date of the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood?

There is a narrow May 15 to 30, 1829 ordination window

Knowing that the prophet already had the Melchizedek priesthood prior to the organization of the church we can look at the following clues of the May 15 to 30, 1829 ordination window in order of progressively narrowed parameters:

  1. Year 1829: There is a manuscript in Oliver Cowdery’s handwriting recording part of D&C 18: saying, “Written in the year of our Lord & Saviour 1829.” [2]
  2. June 1829: In D&C 18:9 we read “And now, Oliver Cowdery, I speak unto you, and also unto David Whitmer, by the way of commandment; for, behold, I command all men everywhere to repent, and I speak unto you, even as unto Paul mine apostle, for you are called even with that same calling with which he was called.”
  3. Before June 14, 1829: Oliver Cowdery wrote a letter to Hyrum Smith. The letter has some wording that quotes and refers to section 18 in the D&C. [3]
  4. Before June 1, 1829:
    • Joseph Smith said that he, Emma, Oliver and David Whitmer traveled to the home of Peter Whitmer Sr. “In the beginning of the month of June.” [4]
    • David Whitmer is quoted as saying “The translation at my father’s farm, Fayette Township, Seneca County, New York occupied about one month, that is from June 1, to July 1, 1829.” [5] If those dates are exact then the Prophet was in New York during the entire month of June.
    • Orson Pratt asked David Whitmer, “Can you tell the date of the bestowal of the Apostleship upon Joseph, by Peter, James and John?” To which he replied: “I do not know, Joseph never told me.” From this we can tell that the visitation either:
      1. Happened during the traveling when Joseph and Oliver were away from David and did not tell him about the occurrence (their trusted friend with whom they shared many other events).
      2. Happened at another time than their travel from Harmony to Fayette.


Question: Why did several years pass before Oliver talked about the priesthood restoration?

We don't know when Oliver first mentioned the priesthood restoration to anyone - we only know when he first put it in print

We don't know when Oliver first mentioned the priesthood restoration to anyone - we only know when he first put it in print. But consider this: If Oliver was covering up a fraud on the part of Joseph Smith when he talked of receiving the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods, then why didn't he expose the fraud after he fell into disagreement with Joseph Smith and was excommunicated from the Church? Why, in fact, did Oliver continue to insist that the events related to the restoration of the Priesthood actually happened?

The implication is that Oliver was dishonest, yet his associates during the time that he was a lawyer after leaving the Church viewed his character as "irreproachable". Harvey Gibson, a political opponent of Oliver's, and another lawyer (whose statue now stands in front of the Seneca County courthouse) wrote:

Cowdery was an able lawyer and [an] agreeable, irreproachable gentleman. [6]

Webster's 1828 dictionary defines "irreproachable" as "That cannot be justly reproached; free from blame; upright; innocent. An irreproachable life is the highest honor of a rational being." [7]

Oliver wrote the following to Phineas Young two years after Joseph's death, well after he had left the Church:

I have cherished a hope, and that one of my fondest, that I might leave such a character, as those who might believe in my testimony, after I should be called hence, might do so, not only for the sake of the truth, but might not blush for the private character of the man who bore that testimony. I have been sensitive on this subject, I admit; but I ought to be so—you would be, under the circumstances, had you stood in the presence of John, with our departed Brother Joseph, to receive the Lesser Priesthood—and in the presence of Peter, to receive the Greater, and looked down through time, and witnessed the effects these two must produce,—you would feel what you have never felt, were wicked men conspiring to lessen the effects of your testimony on man, after you should have gone to your long sought rest. [8]


Response to claim: 221 - The book claims that Alma received authority to baptize through the "Spirit" - not by laying on of hands

The author(s) of An Insider's View of Mormon Origins make(s) the following claim:

The book claims that Alma received authority to baptize through the "Spirit" - not by laying on of hands.

Author's sources: Moses 5:4-9; 6:51-7:1.

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 Book of Mormon doesn't specify how Alma received his authority. There is nothing stated in the Book of Mormon that precludes an angel appearing to Alma and giving him authority. We simply don't have an answer to that question. It is therefore an assumption for the author to state the the laying on of hands was not employed. Joseph Fielding Smith taught: “We may conclude that Alma held the priesthood before he, with others, became disturbed with King Noah. Whether this is so or not makes no difference because in the Book of Mosiah it is stated definitely that he had authority [see Mosiah 18:13, 18]” [9]

Response to claim: 222, n12 - Authority is claimed to be received only through the "Spirit of the Lord" rather than by laying on of hands

The author(s) of An Insider's View of Mormon Origins make(s) the following claim:

Authority is claimed to be received only through the "Spirit of the Lord" rather than by laying on of hands.

Author's sources: Ex. 3:1-12; 40:13-16; 1 Sam. 3:1-18; 9:15-17; 10:1; 16:1-13; Isa. 6:1-10; Jer. 1:1-10; Ezek. 1:1,26-2:3; Zech. 1:1-16; 1 Ne. 1:4-8, 18-2:3; 2 Ne. 5:26; Jac. 1:18.

FairMormon Response

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

The Bible contradicts this claim.



Question: Why is priesthood authority transferred by the "laying on of hands"?

The apostles transferred authority by the laying on of hands

The apostles themselves called others to assist them and gave them authority by laying on of hands. These men did not select themselves, and they did not begin to act as assistants to the Apostles until they were given authority:

1 AND in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.

2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.

3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:

6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. (Acts 6:1-6).

Paul and Barnabas were chosen in the same manner: those with authority received revelation from God (via the Holy Ghost) about who should be chosen, and then gave them authority by the laying on of hands:

2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.

3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. (Acts 13:2-3).

The ability to give the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands was clearly understood to be a power from God that had to be conferred:

18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,

19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.

20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.

21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.

22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.

23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. (Acts 8:18-23).

Simon the magician tried to buy the power, and was rebuked by Peter: notice, though, that Simon understands very clearly that he cannot do what the apostles are doing without the authority: he simply tries to get the authority in the wrong way.


Response to claim: 225, n22 - The Whitmer family and Oliver Cowdery accepted Hiram Page's revelations as authoritative

The author(s) of An Insider's View of Mormon Origins make(s) the following claim:

The Whitmer family and Oliver Cowdery accepted Hiram Page's revelations as authoritative. Since Oliver was said to have received authority directly from heavenly messengers, he ought to have recognized that Hiram Page didn't have the keys.

Author's sources:
  • Jessee, Papers of Joseph Smith, 1:322-23; D&C 28
  • Donald Q. Cannon and Lyndon W. Cook, eds., Far West Record: Minutes of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830-1844

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

How did receiving authority directly from heavenly messengers give Oliver the ability to determine that Hiram Page didn't have the keys to receiving revelation?



Question: Why did Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer accept Hiram Page's seer stone revelations as authoritative?

The Lord used this incident as a way to teach Oliver the proper order of revelation in the Church

This event is discussed in the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual (2013):

In 1830, the Prophet Joseph Smith encountered a challenge because Church members did not understand the order of revelation in the Church. Hiram Page claimed to receive revelations for the Church through the medium of a special stone, and some Church members, including Oliver Cowdery, believed him. Shortly before a Church conference that was held on September 26, 1830, the Lord revealed truths that helped Oliver Cowdery and others understand the order of revelation in the Church.[10]

Oliver was actually directed by the Lord to correct Hiram Page in this matter. It was a "teaching moment" for Oliver:

11 And again, thou shalt take thy brother, Hiram Page, between him and thee alone, and tell him that those things which he hath written from that stone are not of me and that Satan deceiveth him;

12 For, behold, these things have not been appointed unto him, neither shall anything be appointed unto any of this church contrary to the church covenants.

13 For all things must be done in order, and by common consent in the church, by the prayer of faith.

14 And thou shalt assist to settle all these things, according to the covenants of the church, before thou shalt take thy journey among the Lamanites. (D&C 28:11-14).


Response to claim: 225-226 - D&C 84 is claimed to not refer to the physical laying on of hands by an angel

The author(s) of An Insider's View of Mormon Origins make(s) the following claim:

*D&C 84 is claimed to not refer to the physical laying on of hands by an angel.
  •  Author's quote: John the Baptist was "ordained by the angel of God at the time he was eight days old ... to overthrow the kingdom of the Jews," while Moses, Jethro, Caleb, Elihu ,Jeremy, Gad, and Esaias all received priesthood authority "under the hand" of men, "and Esaias received it under the hand of God." These examples do not refer to the actual physical laying on of hands by an angel...

    Author's sources: *D&C 84:28, 6-12; Moses 8:19

FairMormon Response

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

The author takes passages from scripture that state "ordained by the angel of God" and "under the hand of God," which directly contradict his previous assertions that authority was not transferred by heavenly beings, and then states that these examples "do not refer to the actual physical laying on of hands by an angel!" It appears that the author will be satisfied with nothing less than an explicit description of hands being used. Furthermore, in the footnote related to Moses 8:19, which states "And the Lord ordained Noah after his own order," the author actually states that this "probably refers to an ordination by a mortal being."



Response to claim: 226, n25 - The author claims that Joseph's statement that he had the priesthood conferred upon him by an angel is not "unequivocal"

The author(s) of An Insider's View of Mormon Origins make(s) the following claim:

Joseph's statement the his priesthood office had "been conferred upon me by the ministring of the Angel of God, by his own will and by the voice of this Church," is claimed by the author not to be an "unequivocal assertion of authority by angelic ordination."

Author's sources: Kirtland Council Minutes, (12 Feb. 1834),27, LDS archives; quoted in Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, 1:32.

FairMormon Response

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

It is difficult to imagine how much more unequivocal Joseph needed to be in his statement in order to satisfy the author. The prophet clearly states that the office was "conferred" upon him by "the ministering of the Angel of God." The author wishes to make every source quote fit his notion that there was no need for a physical "laying on of hands" to transfer authority. From the cited source:

"Bro. Joseph then rose and said: I shall now endeavor to set forth before this council, the dignity of the office which has been conferred upon me by the ministring of the Angel of God, by his own will and by the voice of this Church."





Response to claim: 227, n27-28 - The restoration of priesthood from an angel was a spiritual vision rather than a physical event

The author(s) of An Insider's View of Mormon Origins make(s) the following claim:

The restoration of priesthood from an angel was a spiritual vision rather than a physical event, based upon a statement by Oliver Cowdery that this even occurred "[w]hile we were in the heavenly vision."

Author's sources:
  • The Book of Patriarchal Blessings 1:8-9, quoted in Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, 2:453.
  • Joseph Smith, sermon of 10 Mar. 1844, in Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, eds., The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph, 334.

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

This is simply nonsense.



Painesville Telegraph (1830): "Cowdry claims that he and his associates are the only persons on earth who are qualified to administer in his name. By this authority, they proclaim to the world"

Painesville Telegraph, 7 December 1830:

Mr. Oliver Cowdry has his commission directly from the God of Heaven, and that he has credentials, written and signed by the hand of Jesus Christ, with whom he has personally conversed, and as such, said Cowdry claims that he and his associates are the only persons on earth who are qualified to administer in his name. By this authority, they proclaim to the world, that all who do not believe their testimony, and be baptized by them for the remission of sins . . . must be forever miserable.[11]


Painesville Telegraph (1830): "The name of the person here, who pretends to have a divine mission, and to have seen and conversed with Angels, is Cowdray"

Painesville Telegraph, 16 November 1830:

About Two weeks since some persons came along here with the book, one of whom pretends to have seen Angels, and assisted in translating the plates. He proclaims the destruction upon the world within a few years,--holds forth that the ordinances of the gospel, have not been regularly administered since the days of the Apostles, till the said Smith and himself commenced the work . . . . The name of the person here, who pretends to have a divine mission, and to have seen and conversed with Angels, is Cowdray.”[12]


The Palmyra Reflector (1831): "Jo Smith had now received a commission from God...Cowdery and his friends had frequent interviews with angels"

The Palmyra Reflector, February 14, 1831:

They then proclaimed that there had been no religion in the world for 1500 years,--that no one had been authorized to preach &c. for that period—that Jo Smith had now received a commission from God for that purpose . . . . Smith (they affirmed) had seen God frequently and personally—Cowdery and his friends had frequent interviews with angels.[13]


Response to claim: 228 - The author claims that Joseph invented the story of the angel restoring the priesthood to counter Hurlbut's accusations

The author(s) of An Insider's View of Mormon Origins make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that Joseph invented the story of the angel restoring the priesthood to counter Hurlbut's accusations.

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

This is the author's wishful thinking, with no evidence to sustain it.



Question: What criticisms are put forth regarding the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood?

Historical documents do not give an exact date for the restoration of the Melchizedek priesthood

One critic of the Church claims that "Although the priesthood is now taught to have been restored in 1829, Joseph and Oliver made no such claim until 1834." [14] Common questions asked include the following:

  • Was the restoration of the priesthood was "back dated" later by Joseph Smith to justify a desire to dominate the Church?
  • Does anyone know "when or how" Joseph Smith received the Melchizedek priesthood?
  • Why did several years pass before Oliver talked about the priesthood restoration?

If Joseph was making the story up, why not just pick a date and stick to it? The uncertainty of dates is typical of real world events; any one clever enough to "fake" the restoration and organization of the Church could certainly pick a date off the top of his head. Who could argue with him?

The approximate time of the Melchizedek priesthood' restoration can be plausibly narrowed down

When all the circumstantial evidence is studied, the approximate time of the Melchizedek priesthood' restoration can be plausibly narrowed down. Although historical documents do not give an exact date for the restoration of the Melchizedek priesthood we can pinpoint its occurrence to a 17 day window between the 15 and 31 of May, 1829. The window that is known is small enough to preclude a later fabrication of events by the Prophet to "increase his authority."

There are non-Mormon accounts that indicate that Joseph and Oliver had received visits from apostles and angels

Some have claimed that Joseph only began to mention apostolic ordination to the priesthood several years after the Church's organization. Contrary to this claim, there are clear references to Joseph Smith stating he had seen Jesus Christ. Joseph’s ‘conversations’ with the Apostles could be a reference to having seen, spoken to, and been ordained to the Priesthood by the early Apostles Peter, James, and John. Having received that Priesthood Joseph Smith was now qualified to perform healings, and other ‘miracles’.


Question: In what manner was the Aaronic Priesthood restored?

Joseph Smith: "we were ordained under the hand of this messenger, and baptized"

Joseph learned from Moroni in 1823 that “when [the golden plates] are interpreted the Lord will give the holy priesthood to some, and they shall begin to proclaim this gospel and baptize by water, and after that they shall have power to give the Holy Ghost by the laying on of their hands.”[15] Two years later the first part of that pronouncement occurred when John the Baptist visited Joseph and Oliver:

He said this Aaronic Priesthood had not the power of laying on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, but that this should be conferred on us hereafter...The messenger who visited us on this occasion and conferred this Priesthood upon us, said that his name was John, the same that is called John the Baptist in the New Testament, and that he acted under the direction of Peter, James and John, who held the keys of the Priesthood of Melchizedek, which Priesthood, he said, would in due time be conferred on us...It was on the fifteenth day of May, 1829, that we were ordained under the hand of this messenger, and baptized.[16]

We know that the Melchizedek priesthood therefore had not yet been given and must be given either later that day or sometime following that day.

Joseph and Oliver Cowdery were told to re-ordain each other to the priesthood after being baptized. This was to follow proper rules of being a member before receiving the priesthood, but in their case they couldn't become members until having the priesthood to baptize each other.[17]


Question: In what manner was the Melchizedek Priesthood restored?

The ordination to the office of Elder via the higher priesthood could not occur until the church had been established

Similar to this origination complication of baptism and membership, the ordination to the office of Elder via the higher priesthood could not occur until the church had been established. After the church was officially established we have the following evidences that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery had already received the higher priesthood:

  1. Aug 1830, the Lord spoke to the Prophet Joseph Smith of “Peter, and James, and John, whom I have sent unto you, by whom I have ordained you and confirmed you to be apostles, and especial witnesses of my name, and bear the keys of your ministry and of the same things which I revealed unto them.” D&C 27:12
  2. Apr 1830, “And to Oliver Cowdery, who was also called of God, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to be the second elder of this church, and ordained under his hand.” D&C 20:2-3
  3. “Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery sought after this higher authority, and the Lord gave it to them, before the rise of this Church, sending to them Peter, James and John. What for? To bestow upon them the Apostleship.” -Elder Parley P. Pratt [18]
  4. Hiram Page, a son-in-law of Peter Whitmer Sr., and one who was present on the day of the Church’s 6 April 1830 organization, later confirmed that “Peter, James and John” had come and bestowed the Holy Priesthood “before the 6th of April 1830.” [19]
  5. “I know that Joseph received his Apostleship from Peter, James, and John, before a revelation on the subject was printed, and he never had a right to organize a Church before he was an Apostle.” -Brigham Young [20]


Question: What is the date of the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood?

There is a narrow May 15 to 30, 1829 ordination window

Knowing that the prophet already had the Melchizedek priesthood prior to the organization of the church we can look at the following clues of the May 15 to 30, 1829 ordination window in order of progressively narrowed parameters:

  1. Year 1829: There is a manuscript in Oliver Cowdery’s handwriting recording part of D&C 18: saying, “Written in the year of our Lord & Saviour 1829.” [21]
  2. June 1829: In D&C 18:9 we read “And now, Oliver Cowdery, I speak unto you, and also unto David Whitmer, by the way of commandment; for, behold, I command all men everywhere to repent, and I speak unto you, even as unto Paul mine apostle, for you are called even with that same calling with which he was called.”
  3. Before June 14, 1829: Oliver Cowdery wrote a letter to Hyrum Smith. The letter has some wording that quotes and refers to section 18 in the D&C. [22]
  4. Before June 1, 1829:
    • Joseph Smith said that he, Emma, Oliver and David Whitmer traveled to the home of Peter Whitmer Sr. “In the beginning of the month of June.” [23]
    • David Whitmer is quoted as saying “The translation at my father’s farm, Fayette Township, Seneca County, New York occupied about one month, that is from June 1, to July 1, 1829.” [24] If those dates are exact then the Prophet was in New York during the entire month of June.
    • Orson Pratt asked David Whitmer, “Can you tell the date of the bestowal of the Apostleship upon Joseph, by Peter, James and John?” To which he replied: “I do not know, Joseph never told me.” From this we can tell that the visitation either:
      1. Happened during the traveling when Joseph and Oliver were away from David and did not tell him about the occurrence (their trusted friend with whom they shared many other events).
      2. Happened at another time than their travel from Harmony to Fayette.


Question: Where was the Melchizedek Priesthood restored?

The bestowal of the Melchizedek priesthood occurred in Harmony, but the ordination to offices was deferred until later

The bestowal of the Melchizedek priesthood occurred in Harmony, Pennsylvania. [25] The time of travel between Harmony, PA and the Whitmer farm would have been three days. The likelihood of the men traveling back to Harmony at the same time as they did the following is near impossible:

  • Finished the translation
  • Secured the copyright on June 11
  • Oliver's letter to Hyrum on June 14
  • Joseph's details of how busy they were during this time period at the farm [26]

As shown above, after receiving the priesthood they were not yet allowed to ordain each other to the offices within that priesthood. They were told to “defer this our ordination until such times as it should be practicable to have our brethren, who had been and who should be baptized, assembled together, when we must have their sanction to our proceeding to ordain each other.” [27]

There are many times[28] when Oliver confirmed without error that the sequence of events occurred as shown above.[29]


Response to claim: 232 - The events surrounding the priesthood ordination are claimed to have been reinterpreted to bolster Joseph's status

The author(s) of An Insider's View of Mormon Origins make(s) the following claim:

The events surrounding the priesthood ordination are claimed to have been reinterpreted to bolster Joseph's status.

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

This is the author's opinion, with no evidence to support it.



Question: Why did several years pass before Oliver talked about the priesthood restoration?

We don't know when Oliver first mentioned the priesthood restoration to anyone - we only know when he first put it in print

We don't know when Oliver first mentioned the priesthood restoration to anyone - we only know when he first put it in print. But consider this: If Oliver was covering up a fraud on the part of Joseph Smith when he talked of receiving the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods, then why didn't he expose the fraud after he fell into disagreement with Joseph Smith and was excommunicated from the Church? Why, in fact, did Oliver continue to insist that the events related to the restoration of the Priesthood actually happened?

The implication is that Oliver was dishonest, yet his associates during the time that he was a lawyer after leaving the Church viewed his character as "irreproachable". Harvey Gibson, a political opponent of Oliver's, and another lawyer (whose statue now stands in front of the Seneca County courthouse) wrote:

Cowdery was an able lawyer and [an] agreeable, irreproachable gentleman. [30]

Webster's 1828 dictionary defines "irreproachable" as "That cannot be justly reproached; free from blame; upright; innocent. An irreproachable life is the highest honor of a rational being." [31]

Oliver wrote the following to Phineas Young two years after Joseph's death, well after he had left the Church:

I have cherished a hope, and that one of my fondest, that I might leave such a character, as those who might believe in my testimony, after I should be called hence, might do so, not only for the sake of the truth, but might not blush for the private character of the man who bore that testimony. I have been sensitive on this subject, I admit; but I ought to be so—you would be, under the circumstances, had you stood in the presence of John, with our departed Brother Joseph, to receive the Lesser Priesthood—and in the presence of Peter, to receive the Greater, and looked down through time, and witnessed the effects these two must produce,—you would feel what you have never felt, were wicked men conspiring to lessen the effects of your testimony on man, after you should have gone to your long sought rest. [32]


Painesville Telegraph (1830): "Cowdry claims that he and his associates are the only persons on earth who are qualified to administer in his name. By this authority, they proclaim to the world"

Painesville Telegraph, 7 December 1830:

Mr. Oliver Cowdry has his commission directly from the God of Heaven, and that he has credentials, written and signed by the hand of Jesus Christ, with whom he has personally conversed, and as such, said Cowdry claims that he and his associates are the only persons on earth who are qualified to administer in his name. By this authority, they proclaim to the world, that all who do not believe their testimony, and be baptized by them for the remission of sins . . . must be forever miserable.[33]


Painesville Telegraph (1830): "The name of the person here, who pretends to have a divine mission, and to have seen and conversed with Angels, is Cowdray"

Painesville Telegraph, 16 November 1830:

About Two weeks since some persons came along here with the book, one of whom pretends to have seen Angels, and assisted in translating the plates. He proclaims the destruction upon the world within a few years,--holds forth that the ordinances of the gospel, have not been regularly administered since the days of the Apostles, till the said Smith and himself commenced the work . . . . The name of the person here, who pretends to have a divine mission, and to have seen and conversed with Angels, is Cowdray.”[34]


The Palmyra Reflector (1831): "Jo Smith had now received a commission from God...Cowdery and his friends had frequent interviews with angels"

The Palmyra Reflector, February 14, 1831:

They then proclaimed that there had been no religion in the world for 1500 years,--that no one had been authorized to preach &c. for that period—that Jo Smith had now received a commission from God for that purpose . . . . Smith (they affirmed) had seen God frequently and personally—Cowdery and his friends had frequent interviews with angels.[35]


Reverend Taggart (1833): "Joe Smith...told them he had seen Jesus Christ and the Apostles and conversed with them, and that he could perform miracles"

Reverend Richmond Taggart to Reverend Jonathan Goings, Cleveland, Ohio, March 2, 1833:

The following Curious occurrence occurred last week in Newburg about 6 miles from this Place [Cleveland, Ohio]. Joe Smith the great Mormonosity was there and held forth, and among other things he told them he had seen Jesus Christ and the Apostles and conversed with them, and that he could perform miracles.[36]


Notes

  1. Jeremy Runnells, Letter to a CES Director. www.cesletter.com
  2. Oliver Cowdery, “Written in the year of our Lord & Savior 1829—A true copy of the articles of the Church of Christ,” MS 1829, LDS Church Archives.
  3. Letter of Oliver Cowdery to Hyrum Smith, 14 June 1829, Fayette, New York, LDS Church Archives.
  4. 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), 1:48–49. Volume 1 link; Papers of Joseph Smith, 1:293.
  5. Kansas City Daily Journal, 5 June 1881.
  6. "Letter from General W. H. Gibson," Seneca Advertiser (Tiffin, Ohio) 12 April 1892.
  7. Webster's Dictionary, off-site
  8. Oliver Cowdery to Phineas Young, 23 March 1846, Oliver Cowdery Collection, "Scriptory Book of Joseph Smith Jr." (kept by George W. Robinson), 22, LDS Church Historical Department (published in Scott H. Faulring, ed, An American Prophet's Record.— The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1989), emphasis in original; cited in Scott H. Faulring. “The Return of Oliver Cowdery”, FARMS Featured Paper, no date.
  9. Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions 3:203.
  10. "Lesson 34: Doctrine and Covenants 28," Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual, 2013.
  11. Painesville Telegraph, 7 December 1830
  12. The Golden Bible,” Painesville Telegraph (Ohio) (16 November 1830).
  13. The Palmyra Reflector, February 14, 1831.
  14. Jeremy Runnells, Letter to a CES Director. www.cesletter.com
  15. As quoted by Oliver Cowdery in a letter to W. W. Phelps printed in (October 1835) Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate 2:199..
  16. JS-H 1:70-72
  17. Joseph Fielding Smith, Essentials in Church History, 27th ed. (1974), 58.
  18. Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses 16:294-295.
  19. Letter of Hiram Page to “Brother Wm. [William E. McLellin],” 4 March 1848, Fishing River, Missouri, Second Part, RLDS Archives, Independence, Missouri.
  20. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 1:137.; emphasis added.
  21. Oliver Cowdery, “Written in the year of our Lord & Savior 1829—A true copy of the articles of the Church of Christ,” MS 1829, LDS Church Archives.
  22. Letter of Oliver Cowdery to Hyrum Smith, 14 June 1829, Fayette, New York, LDS Church Archives.
  23. 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), 1:48–49. Volume 1 link; Papers of Joseph Smith, 1:293.
  24. Kansas City Daily Journal, 5 June 1881.
  25. D&C 128:20; 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), 1:40–41. Volume 1 link
  26. 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), 1:51–51. Volume 1 link
  27. 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), 1:60–61. Volume 1 link; emphasis added.
  28. Reuben Miller Journal, 21 Oct. 1848, MS 1392, LDS Church Archives.
  29. Statement of Oliver Cowdery to Samuel W. Richards, 13 Jan. 1849, quoted in Deseret Evening News, 22 March 1884, 2.
  30. "Letter from General W. H. Gibson," Seneca Advertiser (Tiffin, Ohio) 12 April 1892.
  31. Webster's Dictionary, off-site
  32. Oliver Cowdery to Phineas Young, 23 March 1846, Oliver Cowdery Collection, "Scriptory Book of Joseph Smith Jr." (kept by George W. Robinson), 22, LDS Church Historical Department (published in Scott H. Faulring, ed, An American Prophet's Record.— The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1989), emphasis in original; cited in Scott H. Faulring. “The Return of Oliver Cowdery”, FARMS Featured Paper, no date.
  33. Painesville Telegraph, 7 December 1830
  34. The Golden Bible,” Painesville Telegraph (Ohio) (16 November 1830).
  35. The Palmyra Reflector, February 14, 1831.
  36. Reverend Richmond Taggart to Reverend Jonathan Goings, Cleveland, Ohio, March 2, 1833.