God’s Mysteries

There is a great difference between recognizing the “signs of the times” and knowing the detail of how prophecy will be fulfilled. An example of the difference is found in Matthew. Matthew 2:1-18 tells of “wise men” who studied the scriptures, watched the signs in the heavens, recognized a “star” that testified of the birth of the Messiah or newborn “king of the Jews,” traveled a great distance (perhaps as long as two years) to worship Him, facilitated fulfilling prophecy by their presence in Jerusalem, and were visited by God in a dream. Here is the account:

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judæa: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

Despite all the wise men were able to know, they did not know where to find the newborn king. They mistakenly went to Herod’s people to inquire about Christ’s birth. They did not know, and God did not reveal to them, that Christ would be born in Bethlehem.

It is unlikely they would have willingly acted to fulfill the Jeremiah 31:15 slaughter of children. Yet Matthew credits their involvement with fulfilling this prophecy. Can men unwittingly fulfill prophecy? Can anyone, even wise men who are well studied in scripture and prophecy, ever fully understand prophecy.

One of the lessons from this scriptural account is that all “wise men” whose diligence and faithfulness lead them to understand God’s hand is at work may still not understand how or where God will act. There remain “mysteries” which God will accomplish, but men cannot understand beforehand.

If the wise men knew He had been born, but could not identify where Christ’s birth happened, despite all else they were able to do, then how can anyone know how God will accomplish His “strange act” in the last days?

Remember the modern caution in D&C 101:93-95:

What I have said unto you must needs be, that all men may be left without excuse; That wise men and rulers may hear and know that which they have never considered; That I may proceed to bring to pass my act, my strange act, and perform my work, my strange work, that men may discern between the righteous and the wicked, saith your God.

Prophecies are not given to know details beforehand. They are given so that when they are fulfilled one may understand that God knows the end from the beginning. (Isa. 48:3-5.)

Addressing Christians

In response to email inquiries for more information about my proposed talks to Christians in California, Texas and Atlanta, I have been providing the following information:
I’d prefer to speak in a theology school or church, if one can be made available. The intended audience would be those who either know little of Mormonism or think they know enough to be “anti-Mormon” because they regard it a false cult. I will pay my own way there and back, and all costs for hotel, food, etc. I do not expect any compensation for speaking.
If possible, I’d like to have 55 minutes to speak. If that is not possible I would like as close to that length of time as is permitted.
In answer to questions about me and addressing Christians, I have provided the following in email responses:
Do you consider yourself a Christian or a Mormon?
A Christian.
Do you think you are saved by grace or works?
It is by grace we do the required works to be saved. As explained in Philip. 2:13: “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do his good pleasure.”  As Paul explained in Romans 6:1-2 concerning those who are born again through Christ: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid.” We must escape sin by the grace of God and then do the works that testify we are in possession of God’s grace.  As James explained in James 2:17-20: “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But will thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” If we are saved by the grace of God our works will testify of that grace within us. Without the works of righteousness, put within us by being born again, a new creation of Christ’s, we may claim to have been saved by grace, but it is without proof.
What do you think about the Book of Mormon ? Do you think it holds the same level of authority as the Bible?
I believe the witness of John: “Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God”
The Bible testifies of Christ, and I believe its testimony of Him.
The Book of Mormon testifies of Christ, and I accept its testimony.
Where is your teaching different from the LDS church ?
The LDS church claims it speaks for God. I do not believe that claim to be true.
The LDS church claims it alone offers salvation to mankind. I do not believe that claim to be true.
The LDS church asks believers to pay tithes of 10% to them. I believe they misuse the widow’s mite and rob God.
I believe the LDS church lies about its history, wrongly conceals its financial misdeeds from the public and encourages and practices idolatry.
What do you want to talk to the Christian churches about?
How the story of Joseph Smith has been misused, mischaracterized, and misunderstood by the LDS corporate church to falsely claim authority for themselves. That the Mormon followers were responsible for persecuting, opposing, and ultimately murdering Joseph Smith. That he believed and taught from the Bible. It was the Bible that was used by Joseph Smith to preach all his public sermons, and that his entire message can be summed up by James 1:5.
______________________
I’m going to offer an introduction to Mormonism by introducing Joseph Smith as a Christian thinker and Biblical preacher.
Below is a description taken from the cover of my last book about Joseph Smith:
 “Smithsonian Magazine identified Joseph Smith as the most significant religious figure in American history. Yet he remains misunderstood by most Christians, primarily because his legacy has been regarded as Mormon property. In many ways his life mirrors the Apostle Paul. He belongs to the Christian community as much as St. Francis of Assisi, Luther, Tyndale, Wesley, Knox, Williams and Calvin. His worst critics were and are Mormons. They abused him, led mobs against him, conspired to have him imprisoned and ultimately murdered. Mormons have slandered his memory with false histories. Joseph declared to the Mormons in April 1844 (two months before he was murdered): “You don’t know me; you never knew my heart.” That audience and its descendants have been self-interested custodians of Joseph Smith’s legacy. This book separates him from the interests of any institution, and allows him to explain his heart, in his own words. When allowed to speak, he is very different from the Mormon version. This book covers Joseph Smith’s three watershed failures and his written responses. The historical stage is set; then he reacts to the trials. The three episodes are: The quest and failure to distribute priesthood, the quest and failure to establish a community called “Zion,” and his half-year imprisonment in Missouri. He has been vilified and praised as the founder of Mormonism. Over eighty-four different religious sects claim him as their founder. But he is seldom thought of as a Christian thinker, writer and preacher. He taught almost entirely from the Bible. Christians can benefit from knowing his struggle to follow Christ while facing discouraging opposition, betrayal by friends, mob violence, imprisonment and repeated failure. He responded with faith, hope and charity.”

All or Nothing, 7-Conclusion

The return of Zion will require sacrifice. If mankind understood the intelligence that God will return to the earth they would be eagerly asking how to help. Zion will not be a place for proud men to pontificate about man’s learning or their conjecture about the meaning of scripture. It will be a place to learn of God’s ways.

Therefore thus saith the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob, Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale. But when he seeth his children, the work of mine hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel. They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine. (Isa. 29:22-24.)

The proud, learned and those who think themselves wise may continue to walk by the poor sparks of their own dying fire, but they will lay down in sorrow for the loss of their opportunity to learn in Zion. (Isa. 50:11, also 2 Ne. 7:11.) The humble and meek, however, will want to learn from God. They will submit in gratitude to what the Lord offers:

And it shall come to pass in the last days, that 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. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, 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. (Isa. 2:2-3.)

This can happen in our day. Or not. One day, some few will be guided by the Lord to accomplish it. But the choice of allowing it to happen is left to us. The journey begins by living the way Christ taught in the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon at Bountiful.

Every one of man’s institutions are corrupt. They are led by men and women who rule against the best interests, even the will, of the people over whom they exercise control. They abuse authority and their subordinates lord it over their minions.

The kingdoms of men will be ground to dust because all peaceful men will choose to live above their laws in Zion. There will be no commerce to be taxed, but only labor to feed and clothe one another. No legal agreements because people will honor their promises to one another. No police, no lawyers, courts or prisons. They will “deal justly with one another” never asking for mercy, or pardon for failure. To deal “justly” requires every citizen to hold themselves to the rigorous standard of “justice” instead of the lax standard of “mercy.” Even as they hold themselves to a standard of “justice,” they will show “mercy” and “forgiveness” and “charity” to others. “Justice” is only to be applied internally to make us deal fairly with others. Externally, every man expects to allow his neighbor the kindness and mercy he hopes the Lord will show to him in the day of judgment.

As the best of society gravitates to live in Zion, those who refuse to obey a higher standard will be left behind. They will become increasingly unproductive, unlawful, unkind, unmerciful, and ungovernable. Babylon will collapse into chaos. Zion will thrive. The scenes that went before will be repeated again:

And from that time forth there were wars and bloodshed among them; but the Lord came and dwelt with his people, and they dwelt in righteousness. The fear of the Lord was upon all nations, so great was the glory of the Lord, which was upon his people. And the Lord blessed the land, and they were blessed upon the mountains, and upon the high places, and did flourish. And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them. And Enoch continued his preaching in righteousness unto the people of God. And it came to pass in his days, that he built a city that was called the City of Holiness, even Zion. And it came to pass that Enoch talked with the Lord; and he said unto the Lord: Surely Zion shall dwell in safety forever. But the Lord said unto Enoch: Zion have I blessed, but the residue of the people have I cursed. (Moses 7:16-20.)

Zion is destined to overthrow the world. But it will happen methodically, with effort, and through a system God established in the beginning returning to the earth. If men will welcome it, and live according to God’s plan for happiness, men will become free and happy indeed.

There can be no king in Zion other than the Lord. The journey is a return to Eden and the beginning. Adam is often referred to in scripture as “father” and not once referred to as “king.” Christ regarded Himself as a “servant” and lifted others around Him by the light of His teaching and godly example. Look carefully at the promise of someone who will be “mighty and strong” found in D&C 85:7:

I, the Lord God, will send one mighty and strong, holding the scepter of power in his hand, clothed with light for a covering, whose mouth shall utter words, eternal words; while his bowels shall be a fountain of truth, to set in order the house of God, and to arrange by lot the inheritances of the saints whose names are found, and the names of their fathers, and of their children, enrolled in the book of the law of God[.]

Was not our Lord “clothed with light for a covering” because of the intelligence He displayed and the graceful things He taught? Were His words not “eternal words”? Were not His bowels “a fountain of truth”? And did He not “set in order the house of God” by what He explained, did and gave? Yet in all this our Lord was meek and humble. He was apparently ordinary. There was no reason for any of those in positions of authority over Him to admire Him. The Jews rejected Him and very few recognized He was the promised Messiah. There was nothing desirable in Him for the wicked. (Isa. 53:2-3.)

Zion, like our Lord, will receive little attention or regard from the world. The people who will recognize that its foundation is being laid will be very few. While the Jews, Christians, saints and philosophers look to constantly replenish themselves from the east (Isa. 2:6), God will begin His work quietly in the mountains of the west (D&C 133:30-32). Thus the Lord’s great revolution will eventually overthrow all other kingdoms.

All or Nothing, 6

Zion consists of people living in harmony with God. It is defined in revelation as “the pure in heart.” (D&C 97:21.) But prophecy also confirms it will be an actual location, and a place of gathering. The events of the last days have been known since the time of Enoch. The Lord explained to him:

great tribulations shall be among the children of men, but my people will I preserve; And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men; and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem. And the Lord said unto Enoch: Then shalt thou and all thy city meet them there, and we will receive them into our bosom, and they shall see us; and we will fall upon their necks, and they shall fall upon our necks, and we will kiss each other; (Moses 7:61-63, emphasis added.)

It is a mistake to think of Zion as ONLY the “pure in heart.” It is more. All God’s covenants with the patriarchal fathers will be fulfilled.

Zion will begin with a single seed, but it will eventually fill the whole of North and South America. (See Words of Joseph Smith, p. 362-363; “The Whole of North and South American is Zion”; Wilford Woodruff Journal, April 8, 1844; see also Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 362.)

The kingdom of God will “grind to dust” through persuasion, example and overcoming the world. If there is no need for financial, legal, administrative, or social assistance from the governments of men then the New Jerusalem can break free of man’s corrupt governments.

The way Zion will “grind to dust” the kingdoms of man will not be by force. The “kingdom of God” will progress “by faith & revolutionize the world, not by power, nor by might, but by pure intelligence.” (JS Papers Administrative Records, p. 157.)

Not all the wicked will be persuaded, and there will be violence because of corruption in the coming days. In the future, it will be with the gentiles as it was with the Nephites: the wicked will destroy the wicked:

But, behold, the judgments of God will overtake the wicked; and it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished; for it is the wicked that stir up the hearts of the children of men unto bloodshed. (Emphasis added.)

Modern revelation speaks of the coming distress among the wicked:

I have sworn in my wrath, and decreed wars upon the face of the earth, and the wicked shall slay the wicked, and fear shall come upon every man; (D&C 63:33, emphasis added.)

Zion must exist independent of Babylon:

 Behold, this is the preparation wherewith I prepare you, and the foundation, and the ensample which I give unto you, whereby you may accomplish the commandments which are given you; That through my providence, notwithstanding the tribulation which shall descend upon you, that the church may stand independent above all other creatures beneath the celestial world; That you may come up unto the crown prepared for you, and be made rulers over many kingdoms, saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Zion, who hath established the foundations of Adam-ondi-Ahman; Who hath appointed Michael your prince, and established his feet, and set him upon high, and given unto him the keys of salvation under the counsel and direction of the Holy One, who is without beginning of days or end of life. (D&C 78:13-16, emphasis added.)

Buying and selling is how men are controlled by Babylon. In the New Jerusalem, exchange will be without money, without price. (Isaiah 55:1–quoted in 2 Ne. 9:50; 26:25.) There will be no commerce to tax, no business to license or regulate in Zion. Because it is independent of everything else under heaven, it will not matter to Zion if Babylon the great falls. (Rev. 18:2.) Zion will not miss her abundant delicacies. (Rev. 18:3.) Zion will not weep over her fall. (Rev. 18:9-11, 15-17.) Zion will not cast dirt on their heads and bewail the loss of riches. (Rev. 18:19.)

The strength of Zion will come from men who are taught correct principles and are able to govern themselves according to the plan of happiness. God will be their protection:

And it shall be called the New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the Most High God; And the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion. And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety. And there shall be gathered unto it out of every nation under heaven; and it shall be the only people that shall not be at war one with another. And it shall be said among the wicked: Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion are terrible; wherefore we cannot stand. And it shall come to pass that the righteous shall be gathered out from among all nations, and shall come to Zion, singing with songs of everlasting joy. (D&C 45:66-71.)

Covenants established with Adam by God will be returned and offered again to bind men and make them accountable only to Him. Those in Zion will live in peace with one another because of their relationship to God.

Like the Nephites after the visit by the resurrected Christ, the people of Zion will live without contentions and disputations, dealing “justly with one another. (4 Nephi 1:2.) They will live according to a higher law which will remove all contention. (4 Nephi 1:13.) This defeat of contention will eventually spread to “all the land.” (4 Nephi 1:15.) When there has been “no contention” for a generation, God will “bless mankind in all their doings.” (4 Nephi 1:18.)

The kingdoms of men, ancient and modern, have and do control how men think, engage in commerce, regulate property, tax, govern, make war and interact. Zion will make a complete overthrow of these systems. Other societies will be “ground to dust” because the way of life in Zion will appeal to all peaceful men. Men of peace will abandon the other false systems and join Zion.

It would do little good to teach the religion of Adam to men if they are not willing to live like Adam. Adam did not question, doubt or rebel against God. He intended to live by every word of the Lord, even when he did not understand “why” something was commanded by the Lord. Adam suspended judgment, and obeyed. Few men are like father Adam. It is doubtful many living today will find it appealing to suspend judgment about a commandment if the Lord does not explain “why” something is to be done.

Adam followed direction for years, not knowing why he was given the direction. He trusted God:

And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord. And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me. And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth. Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore. (Moses 5:5-8, emphasis added.)

When the Lord establishes the foundation of the New Jerusalem, it will require the sacrifice and obedience of the residents. Even if the foundation for that city is laid, if mankind is unwilling to be governed by God, learn from Him and trust His guidance, it is doubtful it will become Zion.

All or Nothing, 5

It may seem ironic that the warning against “kings” on the land of the Americas (2 Ne. 10:11) was recorded by a man who was himself a king (2 Ne. 5:18). However, the gentile model of “kings” is not the same as the Nephite model of “kingship.” The Nephite kingship is well explained by King Benjamin:

I have not commanded you to come up hither that ye should fear me, or that ye should think that I of myself am more than a mortal man. But I am like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind; yet I have been chosen by this people, and consecrated by my father, and was suffered by the hand of the Lord that I should be a ruler and a king over this people; and have been kept and preserved by his matchless power, to serve you with all the might, mind and strength which the Lord hath granted unto me. I say unto you that as I have been suffered to spend my days in your service, even up to this time, and have not sought gold nor silver nor any manner of riches of you; Neither have I suffered that ye should be confined in dungeons, nor that ye should make slaves one of another, nor that ye should murder, or plunder, or steal, or commit adultery; nor even have I suffered that ye should commit any manner of wickedness, and have taught you that ye should keep the commandments of the Lord, in all things which he hath commanded you— And even I, myself, have labored with mine own hands that I might serve you, and that ye should not be laden with taxes, and that there should nothing come upon you which was grievous to be borne—and of all these things which I have spoken, ye yourselves are witnesses this day. Yet, my brethren, I have not done these things that I might boast, neither do I tell these things that thereby I might accuse you; but I tell you these things that ye may know that I can answer a clear conscience before God this day. Behold, I say unto you that because I said unto you that I had spent my days in your service, I do not desire to boast, for I have only been in the service of God. 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. Behold, ye have called me your king; and if I, whom ye call your king, do labor to serve you, then ought not ye to labor to serve one another? And behold also, if I, whom ye call your king, who has spent his days in your service, and yet has been in the service of God, do merit any thanks from you, O how you ought to thank your heavenly King! (Mosiah 2:10-19.)

In contrast to this model, Christ explained the problem with gentile kings: “And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.” (Luke 22:25.)

Nephi’s warning against “kings” occurs in connection with the promised Zion:

And this land shall be a land of liberty unto the Gentiles, and there shall be no kings upon the land, who shall raise up unto the Gentiles. And I will fortify this land against all other nations. And he that fighteth against Zion shall perish, saith God. For he that raiseth up a king against me shall perish, for I, the Lord, the king of heaven, will be their king, and I will be a light unto them forever, that hear my words. (2 Ne. 10:11-14.)

Zion cannot be founded on “kingship” other than the Lord, the king of heaven, who will be Zion’s only king.

The return of the “kingdom of God” will be to prepare the earth for Christ’s return in glory. Zion, the New Jerusalem and the “kingdom of God” all relate to each other and will be developed and functioning in the last generation before the Lord returns. If this does not happen, the whole earth will be cursed. (D&C 128:18.)

The “kingdom of God” has been described as a stone “cut out without hands” (Dan. 2:34) which will proceed to “smite the image… and brake them to pieces.” (Id.) The stone will then become “a great mountain, and fill the whole earth.” (Dan. 2:35.) Yet this is all to be accomplished without violence and based on the principles considered by the council in 1844.

Remember, the “kingdom of God” will be a form of Theocracy to be planted with no intention to interfere with any government of the world. It will offer no violence to governments. But its citizens will live far above their laws. (JS Papers Administrative Records, p. 88.)

How can the “kingdom of God” smite the false governments of the world and grind them to dust without violence? How can it be non-confrontational, yet succeed in filling the whole earth? Such a revolution will be God’s work. God will not need to use violence, compulsion, treachery, unlawful dominion, pride, corruption or any of the other conventions used by the usurping governments of man. Hence the saying it will be a stone “cut without hands” or in other words accomplished by the wisdom of God.

It should be clear from the prophecies that this work will start with a small group chosen to begin the work. A temple and rites will provide the legal, cultural, and covenant foundation for a new society. These people will learn how to become the “kingdom of God” and will learn His ways and to walk in His paths. When they know how to live in peace, and have obtained the original Holy Order, others will be invited to join them and learn how to live according to a new, higher way of life. The challenge of teaching new people this new way of organizing society will be daunting. The community will struggle together to learn how to overcome the social infection that comes from Babylon anytime a new family flees Babylon and comes to Zion.

As the group grows, they will increase their aptitude to assimilate new members. Skills will be gained in helping people overcome the world. The infections from Babylon, the Medes, Persians, Greeks, Romans and all modern world governments will be eradicated. People of the New Jerusalem will learn a godly way of governing and holiness of character.

As the New Jerusalem grows, eventually it will divide, and there will be another group established nearby where both communities will be able to take in new families and teach them of the Lord’s way.

Isaiah described these people:

And it shall come to pass in the last days, that 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. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, 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. (Isa. 2:2-3.)

Modern revelation explained it:

And in the barren deserts there shall come forth pools of living water; and the parched ground shall no longer be a thirsty land. And they shall bring forth their rich treasures unto the children of Ephraim, my servants. And the boundaries of the everlasting hills shall tremble at their presence. And there shall they fall down and be crowned with glory, even in Zion, by the hands of the servants of the Lord, even the children of Ephraim. And they shall be filled with songs of everlasting joy. Behold, this is the blessing of the everlasting God upon the tribes of Israel, and the richer blessing upon the head of Ephraim and his fellows. And they also of the tribe of Judah, after their pain, shall be sanctified in holiness before the Lord, to dwell in his presence day and night, forever and ever. (D&C 133:29-35.)

The work of obtaining Zion from the Lord is to walk back to Eden. Its purpose is to renew mankind and be redeemed from the fall. The objective is to create a place where God can come and dwell with people, as He once did in the Garden of Eden. Because they lack the knowledge to dwell in righteousness, mankind is held captive by false governments: “Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.” (Isa. 5:13.) Fools prize ignorance and speculation over what the Lord is offering as a gift.

Then will Isaiah’s prophecy be fulfilled:

they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord. (Isa. 2:4-5.)

Then too will the 10th Article of Faith be accomplished:

We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

Everything will need to change before the prophecies can be fulfilled. All the culture, law, social arrangements, ambitions, economies and pride of the nations will need to be rejected by the group. The new way of life must be organized after the original pattern taught in the beginning. The “rights belonging to the fathers,” which Abraham obtained as an inheritance from the first man Adam, will be recovered and lived by the those occupants of the New Jerusalem. They must not only say, but do, what is asked of them by God. His purpose is to make mankind joyful, which cannot be attained by wickedness. “Wickedness never was happiness.” (Alma 41:10.)

When God gives mankind this opportunity, they are rarely interested. The last time God offered, the opportunity was spoiled by “jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires among them; therefore by these things they polluted their inheritances.” (D&C 101:6.) Even people who think they would like to see Zion, fight against the truth now being rolled out in plain sight. They err, and prize delusion over active engagement with God.

He offers again. But whether mankind is any better prepared, or more willing than before remains to be seen. It will require all from us, or we will be left with nothing.

All or Nothing, 4

Despite Almon Babbit’s April 4, 1844 concern about a “king” representing apostasy and rejection of God’s rule, the minutes of the April 11, 1844 meeting confirm that Erastus Snow,

concluded by offering a motion that this honorable assembly receive from this time henceforth and forever, Joseph Smith, as our Prophet, Priest & King and uphold him in that capacity in which God has anointed him. The motion was seconded and accepted unanimously. …Whereupon the council adjourned agreeable to E. Snows motion with shouts of Hossanna to God and the Lamb Amen and Amen. (JS Papers Administrative Records, pp. 95-96.)

At this point, work on the constitution for a government by the “kingdom of God” abruptly ended. A new revelation on April 25, 1844 made anything further irrelevant, by declaring:

Verily thus saith the Lord, yea are my constitution, and I am your God, and ye are my spokesmen. From henceforth do as I shall command you. Saith the Lord. (JS Papers Administrative Records, p. 137.)

Apparently, once Joseph Smith was made their king, there was nothing further God could clarify for that group about the “kingdom of God.”

Perhaps the April 11th coronation was a mistake, and the April 25th revelation recognized there was nothing further that could be done in developing the “kingdom of God” among people who chose Joseph, instead of the God of Heaven, as their “king.” There are two potential problems with making Joseph Smith “king” over the “kingdom of God.”

First, there is a phrase coined by Bruce Porter that expresses an impediment to king-making: This land has a ‘restrictive covenant’ prohibiting a king. The Book of Mormon explains God’s intention for this land: “And this land shall be a land of liberty unto the Gentiles, and there shall be no kings upon the land, who shall raise up unto the Gentiles.” (2 Ne. 10:11.) Making Joseph a “king” violated the restriction.

The most that can be established in the Americas is a steward who holds a stewardship in trust for the Lord. Christ is the God of the land and it belongs to Him alone as the King. (Ether 2:12.) Apparently, the council only considered the Old Testament example of the apostasy of ancient Israel by appointing a king and rejecting Samuel, raised by Babbit on April 4th. No one thought to consult the Book of Mormon and consider its prohibition.

A proper stewardship holding Christ’s place belongs to someone appointed by God to hold dominion over the earth. The same as was first given to Adam by God. When planning the creation, God intended for the first man to be given dominion: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:26.)

To the first man and woman God commanded: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:28.)

The right of dominion over the creation belonged to God. God gave that right to Adam and Eve. It does not automatically transfer to all their descendants. It was transferred from Adam to his first appointed heir, Seth. [Cain would have been the first heir (Moses 5:15), but because he rebelled, he lost his position. To prevent that loss, Cain slew the next heir, Abel, but it did not accomplish the ambition. Cain was ultimately replaced by Seth.] Seth was given the right belonging to the first father, Adam, and through him down generations to Enos, and his son Cainan, and his son Mahalaleel, and his son Jared, and his son Enoch, and his son Methusaleh, and his son Lamech, and his son Noah, and his son Shem who was given the new name of Melchizedek. This right is called the “patriarchal priesthood” or right to hold dominion over the world as the steward, or father, or patriarch over all creation. (See D&C 107:40-55.)

Following Melchizedek, an apostasy of generations lost the right, and there was no successor for Melchizedek with dominion over the earth, nor a right to be the father of nations (meaning families). Though separated by generations of apostasy, Abraham sought to obtain the right and retrieve what was nearly lost from the world. As father Abraham explained:

I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers. It was conferred upon me from the fathers; it came down from the fathers, from the beginning of time, yea, even from the beginning, or before the foundation of the earth, down to the present time, even the right of the firstborn, or the first man, who is Adam, or first father, through the fathers unto me. (Abraham 1:2-3.)

Abraham obtained the kingdom of God, the patriarchal priesthood, and the right of dominion belonging to the first man, Adam. It remained through descent from Abraham for five generations. Then the restoration ended, and apostasy returned. The apostasy then lasted for generations until Moses. Between Moses and Jesus Christ, the kingdom of God was lost, and only a remnant kingdom of the Jews remained. That remnant was completely overthrown by John the Baptist, who was appointed to overthrow the kingdom of the Jews. Moses and John the Baptist, on the Mount of Transfiguration, transferred the kingdom of God to Christ. He died not only as the rightful “king of the Jews” but also as the rightful heir of Adam, holding dominion over all the earth. In His death, the rightful Heir was sacrificed.

There will be a “kingdom” established in the last days to fulfill the prophecy of Daniel. But the initial approach taken in Nauvoo was a false start, and appointing Joseph Smith as a “king” aborted the endeavor.

There was a second error, also, in making Joseph a “king.” Although Joseph may have had the authority to appoint, he never had the right to appoint himself. The appointment had been made by God earlier. Hyrum held the legal right before Joseph. Therefore, if a “king” or steward, or more correctly a patriarch, were to be chosen while Joseph was alive, it needed to have been his brother Hyrum. Three years prior to the meetings in 1844, the Lord did appoint Hyrum to the office of “priesthood and patriarch:”

that my servant Hyrum may take the office of Priesthood and Patriarch, which was appointed unto him by his father, by blessing and also by right; That from henceforth he shall hold the keys of the patriarchal blessings upon the heads of all my people, That whoever he blesses shall be blessed, and whoever he curses shall be cursed; that whatsoever he shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever he shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. And from this time forth I appoint unto him that he may be a prophet, and a seer, and a revelator unto my church, as well as my servant Joseph; That he may act in concert also with my servant Joseph; and that he shall receive counsel from my servant Joseph, who shall show unto him the keys whereby he may ask and receive, and be crowned with the same blessing, and glory, and honor, and priesthood, and gifts of the priesthood, that once were put upon him that was my servant Oliver Cowdery; That my servant Hyrum may bear record of the things which I shall show unto him, that his name may be had in honorable remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever. (D&C 124:91-96.)

Hyrum was older than Joseph. After Hyrum’s death, this office passed momentarily back to Joseph because he was the eldest surviving heir. But with Joseph’s death, the two dispensation heads fell. What remained was confusion, usurping, ambitious men, and disorder. Now the Lord has abandoned that remnant to begin something anew.

The work begun through Joseph Smith remains incomplete. The structure, order, authority, organization, laws, and means belong entirely to the Lord. When He establishes the last day’s “kingdom,” it will be His. Even if put into the hands of stewards, they cannot usurp the Lord, who is the God of this land and of the whole earth. Even if God again gives to a man:

[T]he voice of Michael, the archangel; the voice of Gabriel, and of Raphael, and of divers angels, from Michael or Adam down to the present time, all declaring their dispensation, their rights, their keys, their honors, their majesty and glory, and the power of their priesthood; giving line upon line, precept upon precept; here a little, and there a little; giving us consolation by holding forth that which is to come, confirming our hope! (D&C 128:21)

anyone who receives this delegation will need to realize they are only a servant-steward, holding in trust for the Lord all the rights which originated with Him and must be returned to Him when Adam, the ancient of days, returns for a meeting. That gathering will be in the New Jerusalem, or Zion, where Adam-ondi-Ahman–or in other words where Adam and Son Ahman (Christ) come to meet. The purpose will be for all stewards who have obtained this right to return to Christ the right to hold dominion over the earth. Christ will take authority over the entire world at the Second Coming in a lawful and orderly act that respects what He ordained in the beginning. His house is a house of order. He is the same, from the beginning to the end. His path does not vary, and His course is one eternal round.

All or Nothing, 3

In the minutes of the morning meeting of 18 April 1844, an incomplete draft of the constitution for the “kingdom of God” was read. In the afternoon meeting of that day, the constitution was discussed. In the discussion, a remark was recorded about the relative importance of the church and kingdom: “He [Er. Lorenzo D. Wasson] considers that the kingdom is something more important than the church and is approximating nearer to God.” (JS Papers Administrative Records, p. 126.)

It is the “kingdom of God”– not a church — whose destiny is to destroy all other governments, kingdoms and institutions pretending to exercise authority over mankind. God’s kingdom will be welcome relief to the oppression mankind has suffered for thousands of years.

The fledgling “kingdom” did not acquire any clear definition in 1844. When anyone was inducted into the initial organization “the men took an oath to keep their proceedings secret.” (JS Papers Administrative Records, p. 40.) Very little information has been available about the “kingdom of God” until the publication of the minutes as part of the Joseph Smith Papers project.

Even though we now have minutes of the meetings, they are incomplete. As an example, Joseph Smith “gave much instructions on many subjects” in the 11 March 1844 meeting, but what was said is not included in the minutes. (JS Papers Administrative Records, p. 43.) In the same meeting, “the chairman [Joseph] continued his instructions”–again, without any detail of what was taught. (Id., p. 44.)

The LDS Historian’s Office describes the meeting of 13 March 1844 by stating the minutes “clearly fails to record most of the day’s council discussion.” (JS Papers Administrative Records, pp. 45-46.)

The view we have into the incipient “kingdom” is even more limited because it was decided by the participants that,

It was considered wisdom to burn the minutes in consequence of treachery and plots of designing men. (JS Papers Administrative Records, p. 50)

Records were burned. Many of the minutes that now survive are recreations made afterwards. Attempts at remembering some of what happened.

In the meeting of 19 March 1844, “The chairman [Joseph] continued his instructions on the order of the kingdom of God.” (JS Papers Administrative Records, p. 52.) We do not have what he instructed.

By the afternoon of 4 April 1844 the subject of “kingship” had been raised and discussed. Before anyone was considered a “king,” the minutes of 4 April record:

Er Alman [Almon] Babbit differed in some respects from some of the previous speakers. He explained his views on laws in general (i.e.) the laws of the land. He referred to the apostacy of the children of Israel in choosing a king. (JS Papers Administrative Records, p. 79.)

He was referring to the decision to replace a theocratic system, at the time presided over by Samuel, with a king–described in 1 Samuel chapter 8. When the prophet Samuel inquired of God he was told, “they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” (1 Sam. 8:7.) The Book of Mormon anticipated the gentiles displacing the Nephite/Lamanite inheritance, and proclaims: “this land shall be a land of liberty unto the Gentiles, and there shall be no kings upon the land, who shall raise up unto the Gentiles.” (2 Ne. 10:11.)

Elder Babbit’s protest made sense and has scriptural support. In effect, he was saying the restoration of a “kingdom of God” by adopting a king would be like a return to the post-Samuel era of the Old Testament. That is generally considered a time of apostasy, as Babbit suggested.

Elder Babbit sent a letter on 10 April, explaining he would not be able to participate in the meeting scheduled for the next day. He expressed his confidence in the group, and said, “I will most cheerfully give my sanction to all measures which may receive your sanction.” (JS Papers Administrative Records, p. 86.)

Babbit’s protest may have led the Chairman Pro-Tem (Sidney Rigdon) to offer an observation about how the “kingdom of God” ought to be operated. Rigdon explained:

The design was to form a Theocracy according to the will of Heaven, planted without any intention to interfere with any government of the world. We wish to have nothing to do with them. We have no violence to offer to governments, no rights to infringe. The object is to live so far above their laws that they cannot interfere with us, unless by violence. (JS Papers Administrative Record, p. 88.)

Perhaps that would have satisfied Babbit, had he attended. Hyrum Smith spoke to the group and suggested they “have a greater work to do than Enoch had[.]” (JS Papers Administrative Record, pp. 93-94.)

In the meeting held 11 April Joseph Smith was sustained as a “prophet, priest and King” over the “kingdom of God” by members of the council.

It makes one wonder whether the Book of Mormon imperative (“this land shall be a land of liberty unto the Gentiles, and there shall be no kings upon the land, who shall raise up unto the Gentiles.”) was at least part of the reason Joseph would be slain two months later. One thing is certain: The “kingdom of God” did not begin to roll down the mountain in 1844. Nor has it broken in pieces any of the false governments oppressing mankind. The world has yet to see that put into motion by God’s almighty hand.

All or Nothing, 2

The restoration took a dramatic departure in 1844 from the trajectory it was on in the years 1830-1844. Beginning in 1830, there was a church being formed. There followed structural development. Offices were being added. There was overlapping jurisdictions, common consent, and other parts in constant motion throughout that time. In March 1844, the church was left out of something new called “the kingdom of God.” Membership in the church was not necessary for participation in the “kingdom of God.” (See JS Papers Administrative Records, p. 97.) The “kingdom of God” is not the LDS Church and the LDS Church is not the “kingdom of God.” They are separate:

There is a distinction between the Church of God and kingdom of God. The laws of the kingdom are not designed to affect our salvation hereafter. It is an entire, distinct and separate government. (JS Papers Administrative Records, p. 128.)

Joseph died three months after introducing the idea of a separate “kingdom of God.” Therefore, how it would have developed, what it would have accomplished, and whether it would be acceptable to God are questions left unanswered. What is very clear from the scraps of its beginning is that the purpose of the endeavor was to fulfill a prophecy from Daniel. This fulfillment would NOT be through a church established by Joseph Smith, but would instead come through another organization, whose beginning was separate from, and outside of the church.

The prophecy that this other organization (to be known as the “kingdom of God”) would fulfill is:

This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. (Daniel 2:31-35.)

Daniel related the foregoing dream, and then gave its interpretation:

Thou art this head of gold. And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise. And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters’ clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay. And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure. (Daniel 2:38-45.)

The interpretation makes Nebuchadnezzar the “head of gold” or the first kingdom of man whose influence would last throughout history until God reclaims rule over the earth. The project begun in March 1844 was intended to develop into the “kingdom of God.” Joseph explained the purpose and identity of the newly begun, but still poorly defined endeavor:

[T]he kingdom which Daniel saw was not a spiritual kingdom, but was designed to be got up for the safety and salvation of the saints by protecting them in their religious rights and worship. ..The literal kingdom of God, and the church of God are two distinct things. (JS Papers Administrative Records, p. 128.)

At the incipient stage, a committee began a draft to set out the contours of the kingdom. It was never finished, and ultimately was abandoned, but the beginning of their draft work was approved, and the committee was given more time to work to completion. Unfortunately, events quickly changed and the draft was never finished. In their draft they explained the state of the world:

[T]here is not an original kingdom on earth that holds the rightful authority from the king of Kings and Lord of Lords, to govern his subjects: but that all the nations have obtained their power, rule and authority by usurpation, rebellion, bloodshed, tyranny and fraud; (JS Papers Administrative Records, p. 111.)

The document laments the state of the world under man’s rule and explained that,

the cruelty, oppression, bondage, slavery, rapine, bloodshed, murder, carnage, desolation, and all the evils that blast the peace, exaltation, and glory of the universe, exist in consequence of unrighteous rule, and unlawful dominion, by which the pure, the patriotic, the noble, the virtuous, the philanthropic, the righteous and wise servants of God have been persecuted, hunted, whipped, scourged, exiled, massacreed, sawn asunder, crucified and slain in all ages of the world, under all earthly authorities, and by every form of government, from murderous Cain, to the days of the exterminating [Lilburn W.] Boggs of Missouri; And that all the pride, corruption, impurity, intrigue, spiritual wickedness in high places, party spirit, faction, perplexity and distress of nations, are the natural results of these illegitimate governments; (Id., pp. 111-112.)

The problem remains still today. There is no government of God, and therefore no existing kingdom of God, and the first attempt by Joseph did not produce even enough groundwork to permit it to continue past the 1880s. (See JS Papers Administrative Records, p. 6.) It was abandoned, because without God’s directing hand there was nothing well-defined enough to preserve.

The LDS church has incorrectly taken the habit of calling itself “the Church and Kingdom of God.” For example, D. Todd Christofferson said in the October 2015 general conference, “the Church is, after all, the kingdom of God on the earth.” (Why the Church.) It isn’t.

The kingdom was not properly established during Joseph’s lifetime, but it belongs to the last dispensation. The kingdom of God, the New Jerusalem and Zion, are yet to be established.

All or Nothing

Zion and a New Jerusalem will exist before the Lord’s return in glory. (D&C 45:28-32; 133:17-35; 45:65-75.) But God will bring it as His work. Mortal man will labor with Him, but the Lord will be given credit for accomplishing it. (Mosiah 12:22; 3 Ne. 16:18; –both quoting Isaiah 52:8.)

A chorus of Pied-Pipers are now clamoring for attention, none of whom speak for the Lord. None offer the slightest idea or information on how to proceed with the work of Zion. They chirp criticism and proclaim their doubts, claiming something ought to be done. The chorus does not sing from the same page, for one says, “there is no need for a temple”, while another states confidently, “Denver is too enamored with Joseph Smith”, and another proclaims as his great theme, “all you need is Jesus, for He has no final work on Zion to accomplish”, and another, “I’m not saying there hasn’t been a visit by something or someone with Denver, but it certainly wasn’t Christ.” Then there is: “The Davidic Servant will be the translated John!” says another. (This despite the fact that Zion is a mortal challenge to be accomplished by mortals. Immortals do not involve themselves directly in responsibilities required of mankind.) Many other alternatives are also offered, inconsistent and contradictory, all of which pursue as their one theme: Do not expect the Lord to bring again Zion; and if He does, do not expect it to be done with any involvement by Denver.

Do not be misled: I make no claims for myself. Nothing has been accomplished. Until the work is completed, no one can claim a role for himself or proclaim he will fulfill prophecy. Quite frankly, little has been done so far by any one, and every man’s life is short with little time to labor before taken from this world. The task of Zion is far more daunting than the foolish imagination of the human heart. If we soberly assess what is left to be accomplished, we would all repent and cooperate with one another, lending whatever strength we have to the task. We would stop fighting and opposing one another, and ask what we could do to aid.

No institution exists with the capacity to accomplish Zion. It will be so entirely foreign to this world that the people who come there will be required to adopt a new society, new way of thinking, different way of interacting, entirely new law, a form of government that does not presently exist, an order to their lives that alters everything, and a form of righteousness that is only possible for a society with a new structure.

Much of the sinfulness of mankind is due to the way our society, government and economy are organized. If mankind were reordered, a great deal of what is broken inside the individual would be fixed by a new environment. But it is an “all or nothing” proposition. Half-measures will fail. The restoration did not reach a conclusion. It began, halted, and has been receding ever since. The objective was Zion. But Zion is all or nothing. Taking “some” of the attributes without the rest of it, is doomed for failure.

Zion will have “all things in common” but only as a by-product of a larger construct. Without the rest of the social structure, implementing “all things in common” is only a curse, not a blessing. The Pinery Mission in Wisconsin was established to harvest lumber for the Nauvoo Temple. Those sent to Wisconsin decided to live a “consecrated” life and have everything in common. (JS Papers Administrative Records, p. 24 footnote 26.) When the leaders of the mission wrote a letter February 15, 1844 to the first presidency to report on progress, they made an observation about how poorly things were working with their attempt at living consecration:

[T]he main hindrance to our successful operations was the feeding, clothing, and transporting a great many lazy, idle men, who have not produced any thing by their pretended labor, and thus eating up all that the dilligent and honest could produce by their unceasing application to labor, & (JS Papers Administrative Records, p. 24.)

The economic catastrophe left the participants destitute. What was worse, the lumber from this effort, although intended for the Nauvoo Temple and Nauvoo House, was pilfered by workmen for use on their own Nauvoo residences.

Everyone knew the Nauvoo Temple had to be built with dispatch. The same commandment that required the temple built also warned that once sufficient time to build it had passed, if the saints failed to accomplish the task the church would be rejected. (D&C 124:31-32.) The men harvesting the lumber in the Pinery Mission concluded the Nauvoo Temple would not be completed according to the commandment. Their letter said:

…having also become convinced that the Church at Nauvoo are or in the Eastern States will not build the Nauvoo House according to the commandment, neither the Temple in a reasonable time. (JS Papers Administrative Records, p. 30.)

As George Miller observed, theft of the lumber was preventing progress on the temple:

Miller discovered that lumber they had earlier supplied for the temple and the Nauvoo House was instead being used to construct houses for the workmen. (JS Papers Administrative Records, footnote 39, p. 30.)

When a society acts on the notion of having “all things in common” as an end, rather than a by-product of a new society, then any project, just like the Nauvoo Temple, becomes almost impossible to complete successfully. This principle cannot be separated from a reordered society. This is why the Lord must bring Zion, because mankind cannot.

Minutes of a meeting May 6, 1844 mentioned twenty-five men who would be returning from the Pinery Mission in Wisconsin:

About the 1st of July there will be about 25 able men down from the Pinery who would be destitute when they returned home. (JS Papers Administrative Record, p. 155.)

Zion will not begin with people attempting to “have all things in common.” Zion will require a new government, new social order, new way of life, an altogether different society from what now exists. It will not be just adopting some new magic economic rule like “have all things in common.”

____________________________________________

There are still a series of talks that need to be given to the Christian community. No venue has yet been arranged to speak in California, Texas or Atlanta. I appreciate the effort given by so many of you, and believe the attempts have all been noted by the Lord. The assignment to speak has not been withdrawn, and I still need assistance to make such arrangements for the three venues. If you can offer an opportunity, I would appreciate knowing of it.

Supreme Court

The public does not elect members of the Supreme Court. We elect an office holder, who selects a nominee, and such nominee must then be confirmed by the US Senate. Once confirmed, a Justice of the Supreme Court serves for life, unless impeached and removed from office.

Because of the death of Justice Scalia, this election takes place against a background of one vacancy on the Supreme Court. There are other members whose health and age make additional vacancies likely to happen during the next four years. Because of this, we know the next President of the United States will make at least one, and perhaps several appointments to the highest court in the land.

There are several issues that invade every aspect of our lives which the Supreme Court either has or will be asked to decide.

Should men who “self-identify” as women be permitted to use a woman’s bathroom? Should this be allowed even if there are minor children in the bathroom? This issue is now winding its way through the Federal Court system.

Should all churches be subject to public accommodation laws? If so, can churches be required likewise to allow men into women’s restrooms, even if minor children are in the same bathroom? The Massachusetts Attorney General is threatening to litigate this very issue.

Is Obamacare constitutional? It has been upheld in a split decision based on the power to adopt a tax, despite the fact that Obamacare would be unconstitutional if based on the power to regulate commerce. However, since it originated in the US Senate, and the power to adopt a new tax is confined to bills originating in the US House of Representatives (Article 1, Section 7, Clause 1), will this make the law unconstitutional?

When a rancher in Wyoming excavated an area along the stream on his property, and created a pond, did that subject his property to regulation by the EPA under the Clean Water Act? The EPA imposed a $20 million fine claiming they had that right. If the Supreme Court were to weigh in on such a dispute, what would they decide?

Are the limits of the Second Amendment broad or limited? Is the right of citizens to “keep and bear arms” broad enough to allow few regulations? On what basis can there be restrictions?

Is executive legislative action taken by any President of the United States an unconstitutional invasion of the legislative power confined to Congress? If not, how far can an executive impose “executive orders” which defy, neglect or contradict legislative action taken by Congress?

Everything from how you are investigated about an alleged crime, to how you are charged with an alleged crime and how you are to be prosecuted for the alleged crime is up to the Supreme Court. That court alone determines the extent of governmental power, and what steps are necessary to protect your rights against self-incrimination, due process, protection against cruel and unusual punishment, and right to legal counsel. Do these protections apply to US Citizens if the Commander in Chief employs a drone to kill people in foreign lands?

Recently a divided Federal Appeals Court upheld a law requiring the Catholic Little Sisters of the Poor to provide abortion and contraceptive care, contrary to Catholic Church teachings. The decision means the Little Sisters of the Poor face up to $2.5 million a year in fines.

The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. Federal agencies are spying on citizens at an unprecedented level because of Internet, email, smart-phones and social media. The Supreme Court will be asked to determine what, if any, limits the Constitution provides to citizens under this Amendment.

The extent to which government can oppress, impose its will, tax, regulate, spy, and burden you and your property is decided in the final analysis by the Supreme Court. If Congress oversteps its limits, the Supreme Court can nullify their acts. If the President oppresses or acts illegally, it is up to the Supreme Court as the final arbiter to reign him in.

The potential justices nominated by the next President to serve on the US Supreme Court may have greater effect on your life, liberty and property than will the President. As you vote, you may want to consider the likely selection to be made by the only two candidates who stand any chance of being elected. Throwing a vote away for some symbolic gesture, as recent polling suggests Utah is now willing to do, means abdicating the decision to others (if this election is close). This seems foolish, given the enormous importance of the role the next President will have in filling the US Supreme Court.

The difference between the likely appointees of the two candidates cannot be fully known until an appointment is made. But there are two competing judicial philosophies that broadly reflect these differences:

A conservative judicial appointment would generally favor allowing social change to come slowly and to be accomplished by legislation. This approach allows elected officials to reach a consensus through compromise legislation. An activist liberal judicial appointment would view the court as an agent of change. Instead of following behind public consensus, the court’s decision can compel social changes even without a national consensus. These different approaches result in very different decisions. It is often the case that an activist decision changes society, but leaves scars and turmoil because there was no attempt to reach a consensus. Should the Supreme Court have the power to usurp the people and attempt to reshape our society?

Second Comforter: Spanish Translation

A Spanish language translation of The Second Comforter: Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil is now available in print and should be available next week on Kindle.

The Spanish title is El Segundo Consolador: Conversando con El Senor a traves del Velo

This is the same book as The Second Comforter, translated into Spanish by a volunteer committee. The material in the book was sound LDS doctrine/teaching when originally written. Since that time the teaching has been denounced by the LDS Church, and therefore it is important as a point of contrast between what was taught for over a century-and-a-half by the LDS Church and what they have rapidly abandoned in only the last decade.

If you know of any Spanish readers who would be interested in this important teaching, they may want to read this volume. Although the institution has removed it from their body of teaching, the book teaches truth about the Gospel of Christ.

 

Joseph Smith Papers, Conclusion

Though practically endless fodder exists for comment about the disparity between the historical texts published in the Joseph Smith Papers project and the LDS Historian’s Office commentaries and footnotes, I plan to make this last observation and leave the topic alone. Readers should be aware the Historian’s Office is blinded by an LDS tradition which they defend, even when it is contradicted by the documents they are publishing. Readers should make their own careful assessment of both the documents and the Historian Office’s running commentaries.

A number of people have already pointed out that the latest publication of the record of the Council of Fifty meeting does not support what is called in the LDS tradition “Joseph Smith’s last charge” to the twelve. Briefly the issue is this:

The twelve claim they were given a mantle by Joseph Smith that put them in control of all things LDS. This event purportedly happened 26 March 1844, because this is the only possible date that fits all the various claims about the event. The Historian’s Office editorializes about the 26 March 1844 meeting of the Council of Fifty:

A significant event likely occurred in this meeting, probably in the morning session, about which the minutes are silent but which council members discussed a year later in connection with a written summary prepared by Orson Hyde. Clayton’s brief note that JS spoke “on heavenly things and many other important subjects” likely marks what was later referred to as JS’s “last charge.” This may have been an extension of the charge relating the history, purpose, and rules of the council that was typically given to new members and that JS may have delivered in this meeting. The most complete recorded version of this charge was written down by Thomas Bullock in December 1846. (JS Papers Administrative Records, p. 63.)

Did you get that? An event “likely” happened “probably” in the morning, but the records do NOT mention it. But this missing information “likely marks” something (that later got manufactured to defend claims by the twelve) and “may have” happened even though nothing in the record supports the claim. Then 33 months later Thomas Bullock wrote the “most complete recorded version” of what may likely have possibly happened.

Checking Joseph’s journal, we get this report of the day on which the possible event may have happened:

Tuesday Ma[r]ch 26–1844 fr[o]m 9 to 12. in council from 2 to 5 P.M. in coun[c]il– [9 lines blank] warm some wet  (JS Papers Journals Vol. 3, pp. 208-209.

The Historian’s Office adds footnotes to the record in order to insert other retrospective accounts that put Joseph’s “last charge” (as it is called) into the footnotes. Presumably so the reader is reassured the LDS traditions are supported–just not by anything that Joseph Smith was connected with recorded contemporaneously.

This fuss to support the twelve’s claim to have the right to control all things LDS ignores an obvious problem. Even if one believes the retrospective accounts, and supposes that what “might probably” have happened, really did, it doesn’t amount to anything. Traditions not only blind the Historian’s Office, they defy common sense.

The “kingdom of God” is not the LDS Church and the LDS Church is not the “kingdom of God.” They are separate:

Joseph Smith stated that the “literal kingdom of God [that is, the Council of Fifty], and the church of God are two distinct things” as “the laws of the kingdom are not designed to affect our salvation hereafter.” (JS Papers Administrative Records, p. xxiii.)

So if Joseph rolled the “kingdom of God” off his shoulders and onto the twelve, it has nothing to do with the giving the twelve jurisdiction to assume complete autocratic control over the church. There was already a revelation in place (D&C 107) that confirmed the role of the twelve in the church to co-equality with the seventy, stake high councils, and gave them no jurisdiction within an organized stake. So the assertion that the charge allowed them expanded jurisdiction contrary to and in violation of, Section 107 is not justified when the “kingdom of God” and the church are two separate things. The “kingdom of God” is “not designed to affect our salvation” and therefore did not, indeed cannot, subjugate the church.

Further, even if you accept the charge given to the twelve, rolled to them the “kingdom of God,” they abandoned it.

The final meetings of the council were held in the mid-1880s. Thereafter the council’s records appear to have remained in the custody of the Office of the First Presidency. In 1922 church president Heber J. Grant reportedly entrusted Joseph Anderson, who served as secretary to Grant and the First Presidency, to safeguard the records. In 1932 Grant and Franklin S. Richards–the last two living members of the council–met together and read through some of the Council of Fifty records. The minutes were also accessed in the late twentieth century. In 2010 the First Presidency transferred the Nauvoo-era record to the Church History Library. (JS Papers Administrative Records, p. 6.)

Thus died the “kingdom of God” which, Joseph Smith probably may have charged the twelve to possess. They neglected the “kingdom of God” because they were preoccupied with acquiring complete, unfettered control to dictate over the church and hold at defiance any who dared to challenge them. They reign over the seventies and high councils with impunity. Their autocratic control holds the approximate 30% of those who remain nominally active in the church in complete submission. They have the “keys of the kingdom”–which kingdom has lapsed into complete oblivion. But they’ve parlayed that into dictatorship over the other organization, the church.

Ask yourself: Why would Joseph, knowing the “kingdom” and the “church” were entirely separate, choose to have himself anointed a “king and priest” in the Council of Fifty, and NOT in the church? There is something important to be found in the answer. An answer you will have to find for yourself because very few LDS know much about this. Unfortunately, they are too busy “not being led astray” by men who claim to probably have the “keys of the kingdom,” (at least most likely may have–probably from the morning of March 26, 1844).

Joseph Smith Papers 3

Volume 4 of the Documents put the Lecture First of the Lectures on Faith into an appendix in the back of the book. The Historian’s Office explains in the “Historical Introduction” the reason for putting it at the end in an appendix, rather than where it would belong chronologically as part of the main volume.

First, they question the authorship. Although they admit Joseph Smith edited and vouched for the Lectures, they note, “it seems likely that Sidney Rigdon had a large hand in composing the lectures.” (JS Papers Documents Vol. 4, p. 458.) They concede on the next page that “JS was apparently involved as well.” (Id., p. 459.)

Taking this point first, consider the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. Joseph did not compose any of the original 66 books in the LDS/King James version of the Bible. Joseph edited and “corrected” the text.

John 6:44 in the KJV reads: “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”

JST John 6:44 reads: “No man can come unto me, except he doeth the will of my Father who hath sent me draw him. And this is the will of him who hath sent me, that ye receive the Son; for the Father beareth record of him; and he who receiveth the testimony, and doeth the will of him who sent me, and I will raise up at the last day in the resurrection of the just.”

Since Joseph did not compose the original text of John, but merely edited it, should it or should it not be regarded as Joseph’s product. Would it be Joseph’s as soon as he approves an edit, no matter how much of the original is left?

The LDS Historian’s Office rejects this idea for Lectures on Faith, and explains:

Because JS’s role in producing the lectures cannot be clearly determined, the first lecture is presented as an appendix of the volume rather than as a featured text. (JS Papers Documents Vol. 4, pp. 459-460.)

The volume published after Volume 4 of the Documents is the first volume of the Administrative Records containing the minutes of the meetings of the council of 50. The LDS Historian’s Office takes a different approach in this volume of minutes than their treatment of Lecture First:

[T]he minutes are published as part of The Joseph Smith Papers even though much of the record covers events in the eighteen months following Smith’s death on 27 June 1844. This volume is divided into four parts that correspond with the council’s periods of activity. Part 1 contains a record of the meetings held on seventeen days from 10 March through 31 May 1844. Part 2 of this volume covers the meetings held on fifteen days from 4 February through 10 May 1845. The final two parts contain, respectively, the minutes for three meetings held in September and October 1845, and for two meetings held in January 1846. (JS Papers Administrative Records, p. xiii.)

Only the first part of this new volume has any connection with Joseph Smith at all. The first 204 pages are the only pages covering events prior to Joseph’s death. Pages 205 to 526 are entirely a product of others. Joseph Smith, who, being deceased, did not contribute to the meetings. Yet none of these four parts are put into an appendix, as Lecture First was done.

The disparate treatment forces the conclusion that by relegating Lecture First to an appendix and questioning the authorship, the Historian’s Office hopes to undermine confidence in Lectures on Faith and bolster the inappropriate administrative decision to delete them from LDS scripture in 1921 without approval by the body of the church. Likewise, by putting into the JS Papers project, meetings held after Joseph’s death which were presided over by Brigham Young, the Historian’s Office wishes to convey the impression of continuity and trustworthiness in the LDS institution following Joseph’s death. They want to convey the impression it was “business as usual” and nothing changed.

Nephi/Moroni Questions

In response to questions about the prior post concerning Nephi visiting Joseph Smith in September 1823 I add the following:

In the “Historical Introduction” written by the LDS Historian’s office for what is now D&C 14, they mention the first witness of the plates (other than Joseph Smith) was the mother of David and John Whitmer:

Whitmer later recounted that during their journey to Fayette, he, Cowdery, and JS briefly encountered a ‘pleasant, nice looking old man’ whom JS identified by revelation as a heavenly messenger transporting the plates. Whitmer also recalled that soon after their arrival in Fayette, his mother, Mary Mussleman Whitmer, was met ‘by the same old man, ‘who showed her the plates.’ (Joseph Smith Papers, Documents Vol. 1: July 1828-June1831, p. 67.)

This witness (Whitmer’s mother) knew the angel’s name as “Nephi” -just like Joseph Smith in his 1838, 1839, 1840 and 1842 writings. Her grandson wrote,“I have heard my grandmother [Mary Musselman Whitmer] say on several occasions that she was shown the plates of the Book of Mormon by a holy angel, whom she always called Brother Nephi.” (Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture, article titled Another Account of Mary Whitmer’s Viewing of the Golden Plates, found in Vol. 10; (2014), p. 37.)

In footnote 56 (JS Papers Histories Vol. 1, p. 223) the Historian’s Office also cites an article in the Elder’s Journal in July 1838 as a reason to rename “Nephi” to “Moroni.” However, this is a reference to an answer by Joseph of a specific question involving the source of the plates (and not the angel who appeared in September 1823). The question and answer are:

Question 4th. How, and where did you obtain the Book of Mormon?

Answer. Moroni, the person who deposited the plates, from whence the book of Mormon was translated, in a hill in Manchester, Ontario County, New York, being dead; and raised again therefrom, appeared unto me, and told me where they were; and gave me directions how to obtain them. (Elder’s Journal, July 1838, pp. 42-43.)

The plates were deposited by Moroni, not Nephi. The fact Moroni was involved in delivery of the plates does not mean it was him who appeared to Joseph in 1823. Since Moroni sealed the records to prevent their discovery by an unauthorized party (Moroni 10:2), the records could not come from their secure location without his (Moroni’s) consent to open the seal.

Of course Moroni should have been among the “many angels” involved between 1823 and 1827. But Joseph and Mary Mussleman Whitmer both testified it was “Nephi” who appeared at the beginning (1823) to her and to Joseph. Moroni consented to allowing Joseph possession of the plates–as was his right to do. And both Nephi and Moroni were required (the alpha and omega of the Nephite dispensation) to hand off their dispensation to Joseph–as explained in D&C 128:21.

Joseph Smith Papers 2

In the JSP Histories Vol. 1, the LDS Historian’s Office adds an “Historical Introduction” to drafts of history written between 1838 and 1841. In their introduction, they discuss copyist Howard Coray’s explanation of his clerical work in transcribing Draft 3. This version was based on Draft 2, which Joseph Smith “dictated” to Coray as he wrote down Draft 3. The Historian’s Office then acknowledges this:

If the statement was accurate in that sense, it suggests that JS read aloud from Draft 2 in the large manuscript volume, directing editorial changes as he read. (JS Papers Histories Vol. 1, pp. 200-201.)

In the Draft 2 that Joseph Smith read from, the following description is recorded about the visit of an angel to Joseph on September 21, 1823:

He called me by name and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me and that his name was Nephi. That God had a work for me to do, and that my (name) should be had for good and evil among all nations kindreds and tongues. (JS Papers Histories Vol. 1, p. 222.)

While reading the account, and making editorial changes to it as Coray wrote Draft 3, the account was rewritten as follows:

…calling me by name, (he) said. that he was a messenger. sent from the presence of God to me. and that his name was Nephi. —that he had a work for me to do that my name should be had for good and evil. among all nations. kindreds. & tongues — (JS Papers Histories Vol. 1, p. 223.)

It is noteworthy that the two versions are not identical. There was a close enough examination of the text of Draft 3 for Joseph to have made several changes to these sentences. Yet in both accounts the name of the angel who visited on September 21, 1823 remained “Nephi.”

Somehow the LDS church changed the name of the angel from “Nephi” to “Moroni” and it is the “Angel Moroni” who sits atop almost every LDS temple. The LDS Historian’s Office deals with this problem through a footnote:

A later redaction in an unidentified hand changed “Nephi” to “Moroni” and noted that the original attribution was to a “clerical error.” (JS Papers Histories Vol. 1, p. 223, footnote 56.)

That footnote uses Oliver Cowdery as a reliable source for changing the name to “Moroni” because of a letter he wrote in 1835. But Oliver Cowdery was not with Joseph in 1823-1827. The first time they met was April 5, 1829. (JS-H 1:66.) Oliver is not as reliable a source as Joseph, but the Historian’s Office uses him to justify the change of identity from “Nephi” to “Moroni.”

The same footnote acknowledges that during Joseph’s lifetime the identity of the angel was always Nephi:

The present history [Draft 2] is the earliest extant source to name Nephi as the messenger, and subsequent publications based on this history perpetuated the attribution during JS’s lifetime. (Id.)

Draft 2 was written in 1839, and appears to have been entirely based on a version dictated by Joseph in 1838. The 1838 manuscript has been lost and therefore Draft 2, made the next year, is the “earliest extant source” of the Joseph Smith History.

Taking these dates, we know Joseph identified the angel as “Nephi” in 1838, and remained consistent with that identification when it was recopied in 1839. Joseph reviewed and revised the account with Coray in 1840, and although he changed several things in the surrounding text, the identity of the angel was still “Nephi.” Subsequent publications approved or written by Joseph during his lifetime likewise identified the 1823 visitor as “Nephi.” (See Times and Seasons, 15 April 1842, 3:753-754; LDS Millennial Star, August 1842, 3:53-54.)

In 1842 Joseph became the editor of the Times and Seasons. He wrote an announcement in the March 1, 1842 edition which stated:

To Subscribers: This paper commences my editorial career, I alone stand responsible for it, and shall do for all papers having my signature henceforward. I am not responsible for the publication, or arrangement of the former paper; the matter did not come under my supervision. JOSEPH SMITH (Times and Seasons, Vol. 3, No. 9.)

This March 1, 1842 edition of the paper began the first publication of the Book of Abraham, and so it is one of the more available editions of the paper.

Three editions later, with Joseph as editor of the paper, the following account was printed:

He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Nephi. That God had a work for me to do, and that my name should be had for good and evil, among all nations, kindreds, and tongues[.] (Times and Seasons, Vol. 3, No. 12, HISTORY OF JOSEPH SMITH (Continued.))

In the JS Papers Histories Vol. 1, the footnote quoted above acknowledges the change of name from “Nephi” to “Moroni” was done “later” and by “an unidentified hand.” It could have been put there anytime by anyone. But this insertion is important enough to the LDS tradition for the Historian’s Office to footnote and to explain the name “Nephi” was a “clerical error.”

Joseph used, approved, repeated and asserted that he alone would stand responsible for identifying the angel as “Nephi.” But an unknown hand is used by the Historian’s Office to relegate this name to a clerical error when it conflicts with LDS tradition.

The question of whether “Moroni” belongs at all in the LDS narrative can be answered by another document found in the same volume. Another recap of history was composed by Joseph Smith in 1842, and printed in the same edition of the Times and Seasons wherein he announced his role as the new editor. Joseph wrote a letter to John Wentworth, the editor of the Chicago Democrat. After the letter was written and sent, it was transcribed and published in the Times and Seasons. This required Joseph to have reviewed the letter at least twice by the time it was printed in the newspaper he edited.

The letter does not name the angel, but clarifies Joseph’s experience between 1823 (first visit) and 1827 (when the plates were given to him):

The angel appeared to me three times the same night and unfolded the same things. After having received many visits from the angels of God unfolding the majesty, and glory of the events that should transpire in the last days, on the morning of the 22d of September A.D. 1827, the angel of the Lord delivered the records into my hands. (JS Papers Histories Vol. 1, p. 495; also Times and Seasons, Vol. 3, No. 9, CHURCH HISTORY.)

Joseph was not visited by a singular angel, but “many visits” from “angels“–making it possible that although Nephi visited him first in 1823, others (which may have included Moroni) also visited him during those four years. Joseph’s mother, Lucy Mack Smith, recounted what Joseph learned from the “many angels” who visited:

During our evening conversations, Joseph would occasionally give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of travelings, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life among them. (Lucy Mack Smith, Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet, and His Progenitors for Many Generations (Liverpool, S.W. Richards, 1853), 36-173.)

The PofGP version of the Joseph Smith History, verse 54, confirms that with each annual visit between 1823 and 1827 he met “the same messenger” (meaning Nephi). However, as the Wentworth Letter suggests, there were others who are not mentioned and are only alluded to have visited.

The visit of “diverse” angels is also mentioned in D&C 128:20-21. These various angels all declared “their dispensations”–a term that would refer to a beginning and ending of a gospel epoch or order.

The dispensation of Moses began with him and ended with John the Baptist. Both Moses and John the Baptist appeared to Christ, witnessed by Peter, James and John, on the Mount of Transfiguration. In Matthew 17:1-13, Moses is named and “Elias” is later clarified to identify John the Baptist. (Verse 13: “Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.”)

In the JST Mark 9:2-4, the identities are explicitly Moses and John the Baptist: “2 And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. 3 And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. 4 And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses, or, in other words, John the Baptist and Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.” Joseph inserted into verse 4: “or in other words, John the Baptist and Moses.”

The men who began and finished the dispensation of Moses visited Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration and “declared their dispensation” to Him. It would be symmetrical for the Nephite dispensation which began with Nephi and ended with Moroni to likewise have the founder and finisher visit Joseph and “declare their dispensation” to him.

[Since Lehi was Nephi’s father some will quibble over identifying Nephi as the beginning. However, before departing from Jerusalem it was Nephi, not Lehi, who possessed the Sword of Laban, brass plates, and indicia of kingship. It was Nephi, not Lehi, who received the revelation giving instructions on how to build the boat for the trip to the promised land. It was Nephi who received the more fulsome revelation of the tree of life. It was Nephi who was shown the entire sweep of history in a revelation summarized in 1 Nephi chapters 11-14. Nephi prepared, and God preserved the Small Plates of Nephi as the foundational scripture of the Book of Mormon. Mormon did not abridge Nephi–we have his record in full. Therefore, it is more properly Nephi, not Lehi, who should be regarded as the founder of the Nephite dispensation.]

If Joseph identified the angel who visited him in September 1823 by the name “Nephi” throughout his life, using it in three drafts of his history, using it in the newspaper he edited, and not changing when given many opportunities to do so, the conclusion it was a “clerical error” that was corrected by “an unknown hand” is at best insufficient.

If “many angels” visited between 1823 to 1827, including Moroni, then leaving the name as “Nephi” does no harm, and more accurately attributes to Joseph Smith what Joseph Smith intended. No matter how the error was made, and despite an “unknown hand’s” change to “Moroni” the Joseph Smith Papers ought to respect Joseph Smith’s words above Oliver’s.

The obvious difficulty with this approach is that the tradition makes the “angel fly[ing] through the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach” (Rev. 14:6) now in gold leaf atop temples and identified as “Moroni” an embarrassing mistake. Tradition holds that this reference in the Book of Revelation was fulfilled by the first angel who visited on September 21, 1823. That would make it Nephi, even if later on an angelic Moroni was among the “many angels” visiting between 1823 and 1827.

Joseph’s account should not be undermined even if, when he tells his account and vouches for its truthfulness, he contradicts an LDS tradition.