Yesterday I presented a paper at the Sunstone Symposium. The text is now available as a download. You can go directly to that paper by clicking on the title below:
Yesterday I presented a paper at the Sunstone Symposium. The text is now available as a download. You can go directly to that paper by clicking on the title below:
A recording of all the talks given in the Joseph Smith Restoration Conference held in Boise last month are now available to watch at:
I learned things from others about the current state of the Restoration and thought all of the talks were interesting and worthwhile. I am grateful for the opportunity we had to attend.
After the experiences in the early common-stock companies, and in community efforts in Kirtland, Ohio, Independence, and Far West, Missouri, Joseph Smith ended any attempts at consecration. In a council meeting on March 6, 1840 in Montrose, Iowa Territory, he announced to the church the Lord rescinded consecration:
He said that the Law of consecration could not be kept here, & that it was the will of the Lord that we should desist from trying to keep it, & if persisted in it would produce a perfect abortion, & that he assumed the whole responsibility of not keeping it untill proposed by himself. (JS Papers, Documents Vol. 7, p. 215, emphasis added, all spelling as in original.)
Joseph died before the Lord gave any command to resume it. Therefore the earlier commandment, still in the T&C, as well as the D&C, is not to be kept. Since it was the will of the Lord that consecration end, it will require a new command from the Lord to resume the attempt.
After the Mormons were expelled from Missouri, a delegation was sent to Washington DC by Joseph Smith in a vain attempt to obtain financial reparations for Mormon property losses. Joseph was temporarily there and met with the President. Neither Joseph nor the President were impressed with the other.
After Joseph left DC, others stayed behind to pursue Congressional assistance. Joseph was updated by letters from them. On April 1, 1840, Horace Hotchkiss sent a letter describing how things were not moving along. In that letter he gave his appraisal of Congress:
I am not, I confess, much disappointed in the result; as I know the vacillating, fawning character of many, in both Houses of Congress; and these are not their worst traits either. For they not only lack the moral courage to do right, but will do what they know to be positively wrong, if they can make political capital by it. [They] will abandon you, me, or anyone else with perfect indifference and heartless treachery, if by doing it they can obtain governmental favor or political preferment. (JS Papers, Documents Vol. 7, p. 236-spellings and grammar corrected from original.)
Congress, it seems, is so stable an institution that its character has remained unchanged for a century-and-a-half.
Yesterday I met with Joseph Frederick Smith, the great-grandson of Joseph Smith. I heard his account of his involvement with the claims that a man from Brazil has been given the plates of the Book of Mormon. Listening to him I had no reason to doubt his sincerity. If there is mischief afoot, he is not the author of it, but the victim of it.
I offered him a few words of caution because I believe he will be the one who will be scorned if this proves to be a misadventure. If it all proves to be false, as I suspect it will, then the great-grandson of Joseph Smith will be the largest target of the critics. It will potentially be used as additional fodder for condemning his great-grandfather as well.
So far the Brazilian claims are not connected with any translation of a text, but have been confined to witnesses claiming to have seen plates purporting to be the Book of Mormon. I reminded them that the witnesses to the Book of Mormon in 1830 did not testify apart from a published text. There is a great difference between testifying to attract readers to take the text of the Book of Mormon seriously, as was done in 1830, and testifying without a text for anyone to consider, as now being done.
The claimants assure the public that a text will be forthcoming. Until there is such a thing, there is nothing to consider.
So far all that has been advanced is testimony about “signs.” Since “he that seeks signs shall see signs, but not unto salvation. …behold, faith comes not by signs, but signs follow those that believe.” (T&C 50:3.) The news of “signs” does nothing to attract me.
All three of the original witnesses to the Book of Mormon eventually abandoned Joseph Smith. The “signs” to them failed to produce enduring faith. That is because signs do not, indeed cannot, produce faith.
When the saints were condemned in 1832, the words of condemnation stated: “And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things that you have received, which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation rests upon the children of Zion, even all, and they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon, and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do, according to that which I have written, that they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s Kingdom.” (T&C 82:20.)
Coincidentally, I have written nearly 4 million words testifying, explaining, exhorting and teaching primarily from the Book of Mormon, and secondarily from the other works of Joseph Smith. I have labored for years to directly remove the condemnation, by remembering and teaching the Book of Mormon. I know of nothing that the man in Brazil has labored to do to remove the condemnation. I only hear of miraculous events wholly divorced from any sincere effort by those involved to repent and remove the condemnation imposed in 1832 upon all the children of Zion.
If there is ever a text to examine, I will gladly review it. I accept truth from any source. I would like to see what God withheld from the published Book of Mormon because it was too sacred to reveal to the public in Joseph Smith’s day. Since I have seen things which are not lawful for man to utter, nor is man capable of making them known, I would very much recognize a true text that removes the veil and puts on public display those most sacred and unspeakable things. I expect to be able to recognize immediately if the text is authentic. If it proves to be true, it will be an astonishing thing for the world. Heretofore the Lord has commanded, “You shall keep the mysteries of the Kingdom unto yourself, for it is not given to the world to know the mysteries.” (T&C 26:20.) If there is a text, it will no doubt explain why these heretofore withheld precious mysteries are now being published for the world to see.
In the history of the world, God’s greatest mysteries were kept from public display. They become known according to a pattern: “Knowledge of the mysteries of godliness is obtained only through obedience to God. He ordained this method to make His greatest truths universally available to all His humble followers training for the ministry.” (T&C 159:31.)
I very much appreciated the visit, and when our meeting ended, sincerely wished for God to go with Joseph Frederick Smith. We agree on more than we disagree. I regard him as a brother in Christ.
I have copies and have begun to review the three volumes of new scriptures: Vol. 1: Old Covenants, Vol. 2: New Covenants and Vol. 3: Teachings & Commandments. They are better than any other scriptures I’ve ever possessed and mark such an historic advancement of Christ’s teachings that it is miraculous.
In the first letter from Liberty Jail (T&C 138) it is written that the voice of the Spirit confirms it will be utterly futile to “hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from Heaven upon the heads of the latter-day saints.” (Paragraph 22) Since the restoration began there has never been such a down-pouring of knowledge in a single event as in the publication of these new scriptures.
In a newly added section Joseph Smith explains what he means by “keys of the priesthood” in a way that clears away much confusion. Referring to Noah, who learned from God beforehand about the coming flood, Joseph explained: “the keys of this Priesthood consisted in obtaining the voice of Jehovah, that he talked with him in a familiar and friendly manner, that he continued to him the keys, the covenants, the power, and the glory with which he blessed Adam at the beginning, and the offering of sacrifice which also shall be continued at the last time.” (T&C 140:16, emphasis added.)
Most often the “voice of Jehovah” comes through the words of scripture. We now have more of Jehovah’s words in these new volumes of scripture than at any other time in the history of the Restoration.
More than a year before any formal corporate “church” was organized under New York law, Christ identified what He meant by using the term “church.” Christ explained: “Whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church. Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me. Therefore he is not of my church.” (T&C 1, Part I: 21.) Christ’s church consists exclusively of those who repent and return to Him. All other denominational definitions of Christ’s “church” are opposed to Him.
The Joseph Smith History has been greatly expanded. The Lectures on Faith have been added. Joseph Smith’s revelations have been returned to their original content, with edit changes by unknown hands removed. The Book of Mormon has been recovered to the form Joseph Smith authorized. The Old and New Testaments have been published in the form Joseph Smith intended as “the fullness of the scriptures”.
In these three volumes a flood of missing material has been recovered, and new words from “the voice of Jehovah” are now available to confirm our hope and urge us onward.
This project could not have been accomplished any earlier. The means, materials, and technology required have only recently become available. It is clear that the Lord is moving in His power and majesty to bring about His great design. The promises made to the fathers are moving toward fulfillment. All of this is being done in plain sight, and only those with eyes to see know what great things are now underway. While ignorance expands, confusion reigns, and darkness envelopes the minds of almost all mankind, the Great Jehovah performs a marvelous work and a wonder before the eyes of the world… and only few take note.
Christ’s words are being vindicated, and few there are who will find it.
I am grateful to all those who have labored for the last years to bring this project about. In another year there will be leather-bound, fine paper versions printed to make them more portable than the current paperback version. But for the present they are available free on-line and inexpensively in paperback. It is cause for rejoicing.
Joseph Smith spoke at a conference in Philadelphia on January 13th, 1840. Included in his remarks was this recorded prohibition (he called it an “injunction”), the “traveling elders” were to be prevented from encroaching on local authorities.
The “traveling elders” were the twelve and seventy. They were missionaries. They had no right to interfere or encroach on the stakes or wards. The stakes were equal in authority with the twelve and first presidency. The minutes of the conference include these words from Joseph Smith:
“directed it should be entered on the minutes as the injunction of the Presidency that traveling Elders should be especially cautious of incroaching on the ground of stationed & presiding Elders and rather direct their efforts to breaking up and occupying new ground” JS Papers, Documents, Vol. 7: September 1839-January 1841, p. 115, spelling as in original.
Meaning that the twelve and seventy should occupy themselves with missionary work (breaking up and occupying new ground) and leave governing stakes to the “stationed and presiding” authorities who held the actual authority to govern.
An organization with divided and co-equal authorities cannot survive the ambition of conspiring men. And church members willingly surrender the right to govern to claimants, even when the claims are improper. The solution is to never establish anything other than equality. Even that presents challenges because impatience, haste, ambition and fear motivates even the best of people.
I got an email inquiring about the “record coming out of Brazil” that claims to unseal the Book of Mormon’s missing parts. In response I sent this reply:
I usually do not comment on claims others make about visitations, angels, etc. I let every person decide for themselves about such claims.
What I understand of the claims are that Moroni delivered the plates to a fellow in Brazil. That seems to be inconsistent with the record and known history of the restoration.
In a post titled Nephi on December 10, 2013 and again in a post titled The Angel’s Identification on December 15, 2013 (among other places) I’ve shown, using the historical record, that Joseph Smith originally and consistently identified the angel who delivered the plates as “Nephi” not “Moroni.” Therefore, it seems like the claim to have “Moroni” deliver the plates is inconsistent with my understanding of history and accountability over the plates.
Once the plates were given to Joseph, he became the custodian. He was responsible for sealing and hiding up the plates when his work was completed. In the New Covenants, 2 Ne. 11: 20, Joseph Smith was given direction about what he was to do with the plates when he finished translating the portion to be published: “Wherefore, when thou hast read the words which I have commanded thee and obtained the witnesses which I have promised unto thee, then shalt thou seal up the book again and hide it up unto me that I may preserve the words which thou hast not read until I shall see fit in mine own wisdom to reveal all things unto the children of men.”
Because he was the successor responsible for sealing and protecting the records, Joseph followed those directions. I’ve studied Joseph’s life enough to know he would not have violated that trust. Nor would he have given the responsibility to seal and hide the plates to someone else. And Joseph Smith never set foot in Brazil.
There is also the notion of the “the economy of heaven” where angels do not do for humans what humans can and ought to do for themselves. For example, the angel did not bring the plates to Joseph, instead Nephi required Joseph to go to the place and engage in the labor to recover the buried object. Angels do not become errand boys relieving us of work devolving upon us.
If these Brazilian claimants knew more about church history, they would have been able to make a more plausible claim. As it stands, I do not think their claims can be credited because they identify “Moroni” as the custodian when they ought to have used the correct identify of “Nephi.” They make the claim that the plates Joseph Smith sealed and hid up were located in Brazil where Joseph Smith could not have hidden them up to the Lord. They invoke work on an angel to do what mankind is responsible to do. The angel “Moroni” was not resurrected (because he died after Christ’s death and therefore would not have been among those who rose with Christ). Nephi would be resurrected, since he died prior to the resurrection of Christ and would be a candidate for physically handling the object. It is unlikely that a disembodied spirit would transport the plates.
Given how inconsistent the claims are with my understanding of the history and the Book of Mormon’s direction to Joseph Smith, I’ve not troubled the Lord with an inquiry about the matter.
The organizers of the upcoming conference have asked that I post their announcement, which I have copied and pasted below:
Teaching Our Children to Honor God through Service
An Invitation to all Fellowships
Preparation for the 2018 Fall Conference
In order to actively participate in the theme of the 2018 Fall Conference, “Preserving the Hope of Zion, by Teaching our Children to Honor God, we are inviting all fellowships to plan and participate in a community service project. As followers of Christ all over the world we invite you to prayerfully organize and participate with your children in a service project that is needed in your area.
For those fellowships that feel inspired to participate with their children, please document the service projects with pictures and short video clips. You can upload your documentation in the Google Drive link below. Email the conference committee at email@example.com to let us know about your project. Please provide a brief description of what you did. These projects will be shared at the main Sunday conference session. This effort is not meant to brag, or to let your right hand know what your left hand is doing. We hope that the children will be reminded of the joy they feel in serving their community, and be uplifted in viewing the projects of other youth around the globe. In the spirit of charity for others, we desire to strengthen our connection to the Lord and to one another.
“And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom, that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God”. (Mosiah 1:8, New Covenants)
We look forward to sharing in your experiences and discussing the joy of service to God with each other at the conference. Please plan on participating and sending in your pictures and short video clips by August 20, 2018.
“Yea, a man may say, I will show you I have faith without works. But I say, show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (Epistle of Jacob 1:11, New Covenants)
We look forward to gathering and fellowshipping with you this coming September.
Have a beautiful summer!
The Wasatch Front Planning Committee
I got an email asking about the phrase describing a revelation that the recipient was “unable to take it in.” I responded:
When God reveals vast amounts of information, truths or visions from a higher order, or material that exceeds our framework of thought, it does not become immediately understood. I have said there are three different stages involved with the greatest revelations:
First, to receive it.
Second, to understand it.
Third, to be capable of teaching it.
Just because it has been received, that does not mean it is understood.
Just because it has been received and understood, that does not mean the recipient is capable of teaching it to others in an understandable or coherent way. It can be a very difficult struggle to move to the point that a person can begin to teach these things to others.
Joseph relentlessly labored and meditated on how to grasp the things opened to his view. That was why he was able to continually teach new truths.
I responded to an email posing the question of how Zion would result from what is presently happening and who is presently involved. I responded by explaining these ideas:
Any solution could be imposed quickly and would result in stabilizing everything–just by adopting a central command structure to compel order. Everyone is already conditioned to accept authority and obey it. But that step would bring peace at the price of altogether losing the hope for Zion. For now it must be this gentle way.
Don’t think about this as a time to gather but as a time to prove.
I have been asked about two statements: one in the opening remarks at the Boise Conference which did not mention reading the Prayer for Covenant and another one in the note of section 158 saying that the prayer is to be read with the covenant. The opening remarks included this:
I have been given authority from God to deliver His covenant this day. Every formality required from the days of Adam until now for establishing a covenant has been kept and met. Once the covenant is established, those sustained by seven women (or a man inside his own family) who receive it also have authority to administer the ordinance to others who want to be numbered among God’s people. To administer to others, repeat the ordinance. Read aloud the Lord’s Answer and the words of the Covenant. Ask them to stand and say, Yes, and they will become one of the Lord’s covenant people. Do not change the words of the covenant, for to change an ordinance is to break it. (Isa. 24:5.)
The note at the beginning of Section 158 explains:
One person believes his understanding of God can control what God is able to do or not do. Another person believes anything new that conflicts with what she thinks about God must be false. They limit what God is able to accomplish with them because they doubt God can be other than they imagine Him to be. It is puzzling to think people with such different views of God assume they will see God’s promises fulfilled:
And it shall come to pass in the last days — when the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it — many people shall go and say, Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations and shall rebuke many people. And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. O house of Jacob, come, and let us walk in the light of the Lord; yea, come, for you have all gone astray, everyone to his wicked ways. Therefore, O Lord, you have forsaken your people, the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east and listen to fortune-tellers like the Philistines (OC Isa. 1:6-7, emphasis added.)
It is puzzling for people to wish to be “one” when they have such diverse versions of God:
A pdf version of yesterday’s talk in Phoenix is now up on the “Downloads” part of this website. The talk (paper) is titled Our Divine Parents.
Unfortunately, when converted to pdf the first footnote was cut off. I will reconvert it to pdf and repost it this evening. The first footnote should read this way:
“This is a term used twice by Alman the Younger in his instruction to his son Corianton, recorded in New Covenants Alma 19:13 (hereafter “NC”); Alma 42:8, 16. Joseph Smith referred to this plan as “eternal progression.”