Upcoming Talks

I’ve been invited to speak in South Carolina at a conference being organized there to take place January 12th and 13th. I plan to attend and talk. An announcement about the details will be made soon through the event calendar on the Restoration Archives site. I wanted to make it known as early as possible.

I also plan to give a talk in Centerville, Utah sometime in February.

New Paper

I have put up a new paper that contains the Answer: Build a House and my present initial understanding of the meaning of the Answer. It is on the downloads page and can be reached through this link:

Build a House

My initial interpretation begins following the Answer on page 3 of the document. Of course it is not an attempt to extract all the meaning of the Answer, but only the most obvious initial meaning that is apparent to me.

Conference Underway

A conference is underway in Layton, Utah. The information about the event is at this website: Preserving the Hope of Zion.  I have been invited to talk by the organizers, and will be speaking tomorrow afternoon.

Also, a new recording addressing Christians is now on the “ChristianReformation500years” website and can be accessed by clicking on that name. If you know any Christians who would be interested in the talk please bring it to their attention.

Restoration Conference Recording

A recording of all the talks given in the Joseph Smith Restoration Conference held in Boise last month are now available to watch at:

Restoration Conference Website

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.

Consecration Ended by Joseph Smith

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 In a council meeting on March 6, 1840 in Montrose, Iowa Territory, he announced to the church the Lord rescinded consecration: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.

Congress

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.

More on the Brazilian Claims

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.

Miraculous New Scriptures

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.

Improper Assertion of Authority

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.

Bogus Brazilian Book of Mormon

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.