Sorting Things Out

We should be more interested in the truth than in just inspiring one another with stories that flatter us, or make us feel we are better than others. We cannot afford the luxury of thinking ourselves right when we believe an error. Promoting “faith” in errors is what the Book of Mormon calls “unbelief.” When we prize our errors and hold them as true when they are not, we dwindle in unbelief. This is a frequent occurance throughout the Book of Mormon, and results in the inability to understand God’s word. (Mosiah 26: 1-3.)

We cannot afford to be popular. The price is too high. We cannot turn away from truth even when it causes us painful and difficult repentance. We must not shrink away from what is required to remove the scales from our eyes.

I thought I had said all I needed on the topic of plural marriage, but a friend has loaned me a copy of the multi-volume work of Arnold Boss on the history of plural marriage. It is apparent more needs to be said to make the matter clear. Therefore, I am going to return to the subject and history to clarify some things.

As far as I can determine, Arnold Boss is an honest man. I do not question his ability to record and report what he has recorded in his account. I accept his account of the interview in 1929 of Lorin C. Woolley, meaning that I trust the interview took place and that Arnold Boss accurately reported the contents of that interview. The defect does not lie with Arnold Boss, but in the account told by Lorin C. Woolley.

Assuming they are interested in the truth, I will lay this matter out in a series of posts that I think will be helpful to the Fundamentalist community. I have been acquainted with this event for over twenty years. 


Here is the account given by Woolley in the interview recorded by Arnold Boss on September 22, 1929. I leave the punctuation and spellings as in the original. The “guard” speaking in the narrative is Lorin C. Woolley. He is relating to Arnold Boss the events that took place on the night of September 26-27, 1886 involving church president John Taylor. This is what purportedly occurred during the night of September 26-27, 1886:

That evening I was called to act as guard during the first part of the night, notwithstanding the fact that I was greatly fatigued on account of the three days trip I had just completed.
The brethren retired to bed soon after nine o’clock. The sleeping rooms were inspected by the guard as was the custom. President Taylor’s room had no outside door. The windows were heavily screened.
Sometime after the brethren retired and while I was reading the Doctrine and Covenants, I was suddenly attracted to a light appearing under the door leading to President Taylor’s room, and was at once startled to hear the voices of men talking there. There were three distince voices. I was bewildered because it was my duty to keep people out of that room and evidently some one had entered without my knowing it. I made a hasty examination and found the door leading to the room bolted as usual. I then examined the outside of the house and found all the window screens were intact. While examining the last window, and feeling greatly agitated, a voice spoke to me, saying, “Can’t you feel the spirit? Why should you worry?”
At this I returned to my post and continued to hear the voices in the room. They were so audible that although I did not see the parties I could place their positions in the room from the sound of the voices. The three voices continued until about midnight, when one of them left, and the other two continued. One of them I recognized as President Taylor’s voice. I called Charles Birrell and we both sat up until eight o’clock the next morning.
When President Taylor came out of his room about eight o’clock of the morning of September 27, 1886, we could scarcely look at him on account of the brightness of his appearance.
He stated, “brethren, I have had a very pleasant conversation all night with brother Joseph.” (Joseph Smith) I said, “Boss, who is the man that was there until midnight?” He asked, “what do you know about it Lorin?” I told him all about my experience. He said, Brother Lorin, that was your Lord.”
We had no breakfast, but assembled ourselves in a meeting. I forgot who opened the meeting. I was called to offer benediction. I think, my father John W. Woolley, offered the opening prayer. There were present at this meeting, In addition to President Taylor, George Q. Cannon, L. John Nuttal, John W. Wooley, Samuel Bateman, Charles H. Wilkins, Charles Birrell, Daniel R. Bateman, bishop Samual Sedden, George Earl, My mother Julia E. Woolley, my sister, Amy Woolley, and myself. The meeting was held from about nine o’clock in the morning until five in the afternoon without intermission, being about eight hours in all.
President Taylor called the meeting to order. He had the manifesto, that had been prepared under direction of George Q. Cannon, read again. Then he put each person under covenant that he or she would defend the principle of Celestial or Plural marriage, and that they would consecrate their lives, liberty and property to this end, and that they personally would sustain and uphold that principle.

[I skip several pages to get to the part most important to the Fundamentalist movement:]

John Taylor set five apart and gave them authority to perform marriage ceremonies, and also to set others apart to do the same thing as long as they remeined on earth; and while doing so the prophet Joseph Smith stoood by directing the proceedings. Two of us had not met the prophet Joseph Smith in theis mortal life, and we, Charles H. Wilkins and myself, were introduce to him and shook hands with him.

Because of what I know and what the scriptures relate, this account, though I believe faithfully recorded by Arnold Boss, is riddled with errors. Lorin C. Woolley has embellished the account, and his additions reveal the fraud. We will go through some of the many errors in a series of posts to show why it is false.

There is a principle important and binding on all of us: The things given us by the Lord should never be overstated. They should be given without embellishment, additions, or interpolations. They are not ours, but the Lord’s. When He entrusts us with something (or anything), then it is our duty to faithfully perform and to keep everything within the bounds the Lord set. Our additions detract from the Lord’s work. Joseph constantly understated his experiences. This is one of the signs he is telling us truth.
It is in the embellishment that Lorin C. Woolley reveals this is a dishonest account. And this event is critical for those who want to claim they can still practice plural marriage, because the authority has remained in the Fundamentalist groups.

2 Nephi 32: 8

2 Nephi 32: 8:

“And now, my beloved brethren, I perceive that ye ponder still in your hearts; and it grieveth me that I must speak concerning this thing. For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.”
 
Again we are called “beloved brethren” despite having just reminded us of our unbelief, wickedness, ignorance and stiffneckedness. His motive is our welfare. He doesn’t care a whit about flattering us. He wants us saved.
 
Still you wonder if this can be true. Still you doubt and think it too much. Still you are left not knowing if the message comes from the Lord. But those doubts are because of your failure to pray. You just won’t listen to the Spirit which teaches everyone they must pray. “For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray ye would know ye must pray.”
 
Nephi knows this because he is a man of prayer. Nephi, as a man of prayer, is struck by the foolishness of deciding matters without prayer. To him it is amazingly obvious that prayer will rescue you from doubt.  But Nephi knows why you won’t pray to know the truth of things.

You want an authority to tell you.
 
You want the truth to become popular so it is easy to find.
 
You want certifications, scholarly support and widespread recognition of the truth.
 
You want someone whose position you respect to tell you what is true.  And until they do, you feel confident you don’t need to study it out and pray to know for yourself if it is true.
 
But Nephi catches you in the act and tells you this is because you are listening to “the evil spirit” which is the one who “teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.” So you are following the spirit. But it is an evil spirit you follow.

God’s Spirit will always teach you to pray and to ask Him about the truth. And if you ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, He will manifest the truth unto you. He can tell you the truth of all things if you will ask and permit the Holy Ghost to respond. (Moroni 10: 4-5.)

 
If the only way to find the truth is to search prayerfully for it before receiving a witness from the Holy Ghost that it is indeed true, what happens to you as a result? Do you gain a testimony of the process? Do you grow in light and truth by what you have experienced?  Was this always meant to be direct between you and God? Is the method itself necessarily always to involve God?
 
Nephi is a prophet. And he’s working to make others like him. That’s the way it is, you see. Those who have something are eager to have others join them. They are not interested in praise or recognition. Instead they are interested in seeing other souls redeemed. Hence Nephi’s blunt message and plain words. They are merciful indeed.

2 Nephi 32: 7

2 Nephi 32: 7:

“And now I, Nephi, cannot say more; the Spirit stoppeth mine utterance, and I am left to mourn because of the unbelief, and the wickedness, and the ignorance, and the stiffneckedness of men; for they will not search knowledge, nor understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be.”
Nephi has reached the limit of what he can say. He has alluded to the Second Comforter, or the appearance of Christ to you in the flesh, but then his message ends. He “cannot say more.” But he has told you that when Christ appears to you that you should do what Christ tells you to do.
Then Nephi laments our unbelief, wickedness, ignorance and stiffneckedness. You have already been told that in the vocabulary of the Book of Mormon the word “unbelief” means that you do not understand correct doctrine. You accept false notions, or your understanding is so incomplete as to make it wrong.
What is “wicked” about not following the “doctrine of Christ” so that you can receive the tongue of an angel? What is wicked about not pressing forward in the light of the Holy Ghost to the point where you receive Christ in the flesh? Why would that failing be “wicked?” (D&C 88: 33.)
Why are we “ignorant?” Is it because of our lack of learning or sophistication, or instead because of it? Studied ignorance is the most indelible kind. It prevents someone from ever casting away unbelief. It enshrines unbelief.
These conditions are all culminated by “stiffneckedness.” Meaning that we are not only in error, but we are decidedly committed to remaining so. We won’t budge. Won’t humble ourselves and ask the Lord to remove our scales of darkness. We just remain devoted disciples of unbelief, leading in turn to our wickedness, borne upon the shoulders of our ignorance. What a spectacle we are when seen in the light of the Holy Ghost – that is, through the eyes of a prophet like Nephi.
What is interesting is this comment comes at the very end of Nephi’s ministry. It is an aged prophet carving his last message targeted to the last day audience of first gentiles, then secondarily the remnant, and finally the Jews. And to this latter-day audience beginning with us, Nephi is rebuking us. It must be because of his love for us. It must be motivated by the love of Christ, because it follows immediately after explaining to us the “doctrine of Christ.” So whether it seems to be the case or not, this is a loving, kind, light-filled warning from someone who knows what we lack.
Soberly, however, this rebuke should be compared to the rebuke he leveled at Laman and Lemuel. He told them to stop debating the meaning of a revelation given to their father, and start asking God for answers. Compare Nephi’s earlier warning and rebuke to his brothers with this verse addressed to us:
“And they said: Behold, we cannot understand the words which our father hath spoken concerning the natural branches of the olive-tree, and also concerning the Gentiles.  And I said unto them: Have ye inquired of the Lord?  And they said unto me: We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us.  Behold, I said unto them: How is it that ye do not keep the commandments of the Lord? How is it that ye will perish, because of the hardness of your hearts?  Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?—If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you.” (1 Nephi 15: 7-11.)
We read that and think ourselves better than Laman and Lemuel because we identify ourselves with Nephi. Nephi, on the other hand, sees our day, and identifies us with Laman and Lemuel. What a profound disconnect our arrogance causes between Nephi’s meaning and our reading.
He is being as plain as words can be. And we are being as obstinate and obtuse as unbelief, wickedness, ignorance and stiffneckedness can cause. You can feel the irony.

2 Nephi 30: 3

2 Nephi 30: 3:
“And now, I would prophesy somewhat more concerning the Jews and the Gentiles. For after the book of which I have spoken shall come forth, and be written unto the Gentiles, and sealed up again unto the Lord, there shall be many which shall believe the words which are written; and they shall carry them forth unto the remnant of our seed.

Nephi speaks again prophetically about our time. He makes no distinction between the Jews and “the remnant of our seed,” or Nephite remnant in what he says here. The “book of which I have spoken” is the record of the Nephites. It will come forth, written as a warning to the gentiles. Here is another attempt to establish a time frame for a prophecy. It will be after the record exists, gets brought forth “unto the gentiles” and then is “sealed up again unto the Lord.” We are in that era now. The record exists, even if part of it is sealed. It has come forth, at least in that part intended to be released at the point of this prophecy. And it has been “sealed up again unto the Lord.” We don’t have possession of it at present.

I’ve addressed the cover story that the Angel Moroni still has the plates in what I’ve written before. Briefly, the Book of Mormon tells Joseph Smith to “seal them up unto the Lord” in detail in three places. This is one of them. The other two are 2 Nephi 27:22 (giving the most detailed instruction to Joseph) and Ether 5: 1-4. All of these instructions are to the same effect. Once the Book of Mormon has been translated, to the extent it is to come forth in our day, the plates are to be “sealed up again” by Joseph. Since he did everything else in the way he was instructed, there is no reason to believe he wouldn’t have sealed up the record and hid it again.

Here Nephi prophesies that “there shall be many which shall believe the words which are written.” Meaning that those words “written unto the gentiles” or what we have in print now, will in fact be believed by “many.” They “shall believe the words.” Nephi has assured us of that. Therefore, it is necessary that some group from among the gentiles distinguish itself by actually believing the words of the Book of Mormon. It will be this group which “shall carry them forth unto the remnant of” Nephi’s seed. Notice that they will “believe” in the book. (That will require them to have a correct understanding of the book’s content, otherwise they would have unbelief.)

Those who do not believe (or have unbelief) in the Book of Mormon will not, indeed cannot, bring the words to the remnant. They aren’t qualified. They would not be able to convert any of the remnant. It will be those who actually believe in and accept the precepts of the Book of Mormon who will carry them forth unto the remnant.



Considering the otherwise direful predictions about the gentiles, this is the one way where hope may come to them. The group that believes in the Book of Mormon will necessarily have to be preserved to fulfill their responsibility to carry the words to the remnant. This is a subset of the Saints, and clearly not all of the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For the church itself, there remains a condemnation because of their unbelief in the book. ( D&C 84: 54-57.) This condemnation of the church was repeated by President Benson and again by Elder Oaks.

If, therefore, you would like to be preserved, the manner in which that will happen, according to Nephi’s prophecy, will necessarily require you to abandon the condemnation of the larger church, and become one of those who believe in the Book of Mormon. Not only to say, but to do; as Section 84 above requires.

It is surprising how much information the Book of Mormon has for us. It is even more surprising that with such detail available to us, we have done so little to understand and teach it. The words of this prophecy by Nephi ought to be proclaimed among us. However, very little attention has been given to it.

One of the effects of pride is blindness. We can’t see what our pride prevents us from seeing. We have to come down to the depths of humility (to use a phrase Nephi coined in 2 Nephi 9: 42.) Interestingly it is only the Book of Mormon which tells us to “come down in the depths of humility.” (2 Ne. 9: 42; Helaman 6: 5; and 3 Ne. 12: 2.) Once Nephi coined the phrase, Mormon used it twice in his abridgement. It is a good phrase. It does tell us what we must do.

The great work of the Lord in this day revolves around the Book of Mormon. More instruction, prophecy and promises are contained in that book for our day than any other. You can get closer to God by abiding its precepts than any other book.

Joseph Smith didn’t write it. It was written by ancient prophets, sealed up to come forth in our day, and translated by the gift and power of God.

It is a perilous book. We neglect it at the risk of failure. Don’t let it remain a “sealed book” for you. Anyone can come to believe in it if they are willing.