Question: How have Church leaders reacted to the stories of the White Horse prophecy?

Table of Contents

Question: How have Church leaders reacted to the stories of the White Horse prophecy?

Authorities of the Church have denounced portions of the account

Authorities of the Church have denounced portions of the account. In General Conference in October 1918 Joseph Fielding Smith made the following comments:

I have discovered that people have copies of a purported vision by the Prophet Joseph Smith given in Nauvoo, and some people are circulating this supposed vision, or revelation, or conversation which the prophet is reported to have held with a number of individuals in the city of Nauvoo. I want to say to you, my brethren and sisters, that if you understand the Church articles and covenants, if you will read the scriptures and become familiar with those things which are recorded in the revelations from the Lord, it will not be necessary for you to ask any questions in regard to the authenticity or otherwise of any purported revelation, vision, or manifestation that proceeds out of darkness, concocted in some corner, surreptitiously presented, and not coming through the proper channels of the Church. Let me add that when a revelation comes for the guidance of this people, you may be sure that it will not be presented in some mysterious manner contrary to the order of the Church. It will go forth in such form that the people will understand that it comes from those who are in authority, for it will be sent either to the presidents of stakes and the bishops of the wards over the signatures of the presiding authorities, Or it will be published in some of the regular papers or magazines under the control and direction of the Church or it will be presented before such a gathering as this, at a general conference. It will not spring up in some distant part of the Church and be in the hands of some obscure individual without authority, and thus be circulated among the Latter-day Saints. Now, you may remember this. [1]

The White Horse Prophecy, in any of its variant forms, has never been submitted, or even considered, for such a process that would be required to make it canon or binding on the Church membership. It simply has not occurred.

Joseph Fielding Smith's father and President of the Church, Joseph F. Smith, followed immediately after his speech and said:

The ridiculous story about the "red horse," and "the black horse," and "the white horse," and a lot of trash that has been circulated about and printed and sent around as a great revelation given by the Prophet Joseph Smith, is a matter that was gotten up, I understand, some ten years after the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith, by two of our brethren who put together some broken sentences from the Prophet that they may have heard from time to time, and formulated this so-called revelation out of it, and it was never spoken by the prophet in the manner in which they have put it forth. It is simply false; that is all there is to it. [2]

Elder Bruce R McConkie also comments on the “prophecy” in his book Mormon Doctrine:

From time to time, accounts of various supposed visions, revelations, and prophecies are spread forth by and among the Latter-day Saints, who should know better than to believe or spread such false information. One of these false and deceptive documents that has cropped up again and again for over a century is the so-called White Horse Prophecy. This supposed prophecy purports to be a long and detailed account by the Prophet Joseph Smith concerning the wars, turmoils, and difficulties which should exist in the last days. [3]

Note that the substance of the condemnation is that some thoughts or sentences from one source or another may have been put together to form this so-called revelation. The memory of the men involved may not have been sufficient to remember all that occurred in the short conversation they reportedly had with the Prophet. It is likely that they had parts from here and parts from there that formed the basis of their memory of the event. Note also that it is the descriptions of the various horses and what they represent that are condemned as false. In addition, the details of the last days are also declared false.

It is clear that the text of the White Horse Prophecy as reported by Theodore Turley and Edwin Rushton and recorded in the diary of John J. Roberts is not accepted as verified, binding prophecy by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It has never been accepted and it has been soundly denounced. No authority of the Church has ever spoken in support of this document—not once.

Notes

  1. Joseph F[ielding]. Smith, Jr., Conference Report (October 1918). Note that Joseph F. Smith, Jr. is typically referred to as "Joseph Fielding Smith," to distinguish him from his father, the 6th president of the Church, cited in the next footnote.
  2. Joseph F. Smith, Conference Report (October 1918).
  3. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 835. GL direct link