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Adam’s Religion

I participated in a fellowship discussion with a group of people a few weeks ago about the ministry of angels. I have been reflecting on that conversation since then. I think the ministry of angels is an indispensible part of the gospel, but angels are subject to God, who commands their ministry. (Moroni 7:30.) The angels have a specific ministry. They call men to repentance and fulfill and do the work of God’s covenants. (Moroni 7:31.) We approach God (not angels) and then God sends angels as His ministers.

Adam had a pure religion taught to him directly by God. It contained the full gospel message while other dispensations, depending and their worthiness and readiness, were given portions of it. In a very real sense mankind began with the religion of God, which was lost through disobedience, lack of interest and unwillingness to study. Righteous men have been trying to recover that original religion ever since.

It is the same challenge today. The original religion Adam practiced needs to be recovered. It was prophesied that it would be recovered. It, along with the original priesthood, is destined to return at the end of the world. (Moses 6:7.)

A Book of Remembrance was prepared beginning with Adam (Moses 6:5). Enoch also wrote a book describing the original religion (Moses 6:43-46). The records prepared by those fathers were passed down for a time through heirs, but were relegated to disuse and neglect until restoration came in the time of Abraham. That restoration was needed because Abraham’s immediate forebearers had lost the original teaching through their changing of its doctrines (Abr. 1:31). It was because Abraham obtained the original religion that he was able to practice it in an uncorrupted form. It brought him back into God’s presence.

Although he did not have the complete records, the first Pharaoh did not invent a new religion. Instead he “imitated” and tried to carry on that original which belonged to the fathers. (Abr. 1:26.) Pharaoh was righteous, but he descended through a line that forfeited the birthright and did not have the right of priesthood presidency, or the right to govern the family of God. But the right to that order will return. (Moses 6:7.)

Abraham reestablished the order. Because of this, he could correct and teach the Pharaoh of his day (approximately 2000 years after the first Pharoah), and whose own religion had, by Abraham’s time, lost its way. (See Facsimile 3, final note.)

Once a religion begins to drift, it is very difficult to recover the original. During Abraham’s time, the task was impossible. Egyptian culture, art and government were based on a religion which had changed over 2000 years, despite the intention to preserve its authentic teachings. Even if Abraham could correct everything for the Pharaoh, it would be impossible for that Pharaoh to even reclaim his nation. Once errors have hardened into hierarchy, institutional tradition, wealth, power and governing systems, a single man, even a king, cannot change its course.

Egypt drifted, but was founded by a king “seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father.” (Abr. 1:26.) The religion was not merely faith, repentance and baptism. It was also an “order” which governed. Those holding it, including Adam and Noah, had the right to “reign” or govern. Without God’s full authorization as the foundation of his government, Pharaoh never had the right to govern. He could only “imitate.”

Egypt’s imitation included many truths mingled with errors. The religion of Egypt preserved a slightly better understanding of portions of the original gospel than others. For example, Egypt understood the hierarchy of heaven better than do we. They acknowledged the “four sons of Horus.” They are real. There are four great angels who have power over the four parts of the earth. (D&C 77:8.) We know them as Michael (Adam), Gabriel (Noah), Enoch (Raphael), and John (Uriel), whose control is over air, water, fire and earth—the four parts of the earth. They have “power over the four parts of the earth, to save life and to destroy; these are they who have the everlasting gospel to commit to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people; having power to shut up the heavens, to seal up unto life, or to case down to the regions of darkness.” (D&C 77:8.) In spite of their ministry, we are not to worship them, nor to pray to them. Egypt may have identified and understood them better, but they erred by exalting them to worship and prayer along with other heavenly beings the Egyptians called neteru and the Hebrews called angels. These comprise the host of heaven led by Jehovah. The first error God corrected for Moses was this idolatry of angels, who are not to be worshipped, but are to be recognized and respected as God’s messengers and servants. (Exo. 20:3-5.)

Egypt knew of a great god they identified as “Amon” (also Aumn, Ammon—a name given to several individuals in the Book of Mormon) which Joseph Smith identified as “Ahman” (see D&C 78:20, 95:17; and which is associated with Adam being in the presence of God—Adam-ondi-“Ahman”). The Egyptian father, Amon, had a wife identified as Hathor. Their son was identified as Horus. In the oldest form of the Hebrew faith (before they were excised by the Deuteronomist reformers) the godhead included a Father, Mother and son. The Tabernacle and Temple had an image of the Divine Mother that was removed during Josiah’s reforms and never returned. In the restoration, Joseph taught that exaltation of man required sealing of a man (husband/father) to a woman (wife/mother) to allow for the continuation of the seeds (son/heir). (See D&C 132:19-20.) From eternity to eternity the cycle repeats. If you understand the destiny of those who attain exaltation you understand the nature of those who were exalted before.

Egypt acknowledged one of the exalted angels as “the great scribe,” and identified him as Thoth. His real identity is clarified in the writings of Moses as Enoch. (Moses 6:5, 46.) Enoch ascended to heaven. But we do not worship him.

Egypt’s religion erred by turning true angels into gods, to whom they prayed and whom they worshipped. Angels are sent by God and minister the truth to man, but are forbidden to become the objects of worship. Egypt turned mere angelic servants of God into deity and worshipped them.

Throughout the Bible record, the angels clarify their limited role. In the temple, the angel Gabriel clarified his limited role as a messenger. (Luke 1:19.) When the apostle John beheld the angel sent to him, he fell to worship him. (Rev. 22:8.) The angel forbid it, declaring “See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: Worship God.” (Rev. 22:9.) John has now become a ministering angel. (D&C 7:6.)  When John the Baptist appeared to Joseph and Oliver he declared himself only a “fellow servant.” (JS-H 1:69.)

Angels may occupy positions of authority before God, and may have ministries entrusted to them (D&C 130:5), but only God is to be worshipped. Only God’s word will survive into the afterlife. Even if one of the four great angels establishes a covenant, unless God ordains it as His, that covenant will fail. (D&C 132:13.)

We can recover lost information from studying relics left from the past. Egypt left a great body of evidence we can sort through to help us in our search. But as the search is undertaken we must always remember that their religion had through millennia of practice undergone change and corruption. By the time of Abraham, and still more by the time of Moses (and nearly completely by the time of Isaiah), Egyptian religion had become something very different from that of the first Pharaoh who endeavored to maintain the teachings of the “First Fathers”. We must avoid the errors of Egypt that transpired as their doctrine and rituals changed. “The Lord hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof; and they have caused Egypt to err in every work thereof, as a drunken man staggereth in his vomit.” (Isa. 19:14.) When reckoning through Egyptian wreckage, therefore, our guide must be the truth. We measure truth against the standard of the Book of Mormon, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, and confirmed in the teachings and revelations given through Joseph Smith.

We no longer have Adam’s language. It was corrupted at the time of the tower, and lost to all but the Jaredites. Their record was written in the original language, but by the time Moroni translated the record he required the seer stone to make the translation (Ether 1:1-2; Mosiah 28:11-14.)

We do not have possession of their plates, but the Jaredites wrote in the original language of Adam (Mosiah 28:17; Ether1:35). It is interesting that the last people to have written in the original language of Adam were the Jaredite colony whose record is now part of the Book of Mormon.

We do not yet have the original religion taught to Adam. It also was lost long before Abraham, and was restored to him. He had the advantage of possessing the “records of the fathers” and therefore knew what they wrote in the first generations from Adam till Enoch describing the gospel taught by God to Adam.

No society has preserved the original religion. Joseph Smith was called by God to begin the process to restore the original. Through Joseph, we obtained some significant portions of the gospel which had been lost. He was killed before it was completed. What he left has become a muddled mess requiring a great deal of work to understand it. What Joseph restored must now be recovered. Even then, more must be returned before we finally arrive back at the beginning.

The Book of Mormon was translated “by the gift and power of God” and is an essential part of the restoration of the gospel fullness. Indeed it “contains the fullness of the gospel” because it gives account after account of those who were brought back to God’s presence and redeemed from the fall.

All the ancient world’s earliest religions had accounts of man returning to God through ceremonies and rites. But it was Israel who was visited by God. And the Book of Mormon contains the most clear and vast array of examples of successfully entering God’s presence. Lehi (1 Ne. 1:11), Nephi (1 Ne. 11:7, 2 Ne. 11:2), Jacob (2 Ne. 11:3), Enos (Enos 1:5, 7), Alma (Alma 36:22), and many others returned to God’s presence as part of the narrative of the Book of Mormon. It is indeed as Joseph Smith described it: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (DHC 4:461; see also Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 194.)

Many trails remain that point backward to the earliest times and the first religion. Some of those trails are in the Apocrypha which was commended to us for study in modern revelation. (D&C 91.) Joseph, followed by other early saints, were eager to read beyond the closed Biblical canon advocated by their Protestant neighbors. Hugh Nibley followed in that tradition. Joseph Smith did not have access to the Book of Enoch. The materials in the Nag Hammadi were not available until 1945. The Dead Sea Scrolls were not available until they were discovered beginning in 1946 and continuing until 1956. Many ancient texts have been recovered after Joseph’s death. Additionally, scholarly Islamic works have been published in English after Joseph’s death. The sources now available for us, but which were unavailable while Joseph lived, fill libraries. Like the Apocrypha, these newly recovered ancient documents have many things which are true. (D&C 91:1.) They also can be understood through the Spirit. (D&C 91:4.) But without the benefit of the Spirit they can be misleading. (D&C 91:5-6.)

We do not yet have the gospel as taught by God to Adam. That is still to be restored. It will be entrusted to those few people who will hearken to the Lord and live by every word that proceeds from His mouth. (Matt. 4:4—Christ quoting Deu. 8:3.) It will return. But it will be given to people who are worthy of it, and will abide by its requirements. They will be meek, humble, patient, submissive, gentle, or in other words, Christlike.

 

Great or Malignant Sins

Joseph Smith’s 1838 history did not originally have these words:

“In making this confession, no one need suppose me guilty of any great or malignant sins. A disposition to commit such was never in my nature. But I was guilty of levity, and sometimes associated with jovial company, etc., not consistent with that character which ought to be maintained by one who was called of God as I had been.” (JS-H 1:28.)

Instead his original draft ended with this confession:

“I was left to all kinds of temptations, and mingling (with) all kinds of society I frequently (fell) into many foolish errors and displayed the weakness of youth and the corruption of human nature which I am sorry to say led me into divers temptations to the gratification of many appetites offensive in the sight of God.” (JS Papers, Histories Vol. 1: 1832-1844, p. 220.)

The history of Joseph Smith was first published in the Times and Seasons. This part of his history was printed in an installment on April 1, 1842. (Times and Seasons, Vol 3, p. 749.) The explanation that Joseph was not guilty of “any great or malignant sins” had not yet been added in April 1842.

The month following publication of this installment of Joseph’s history, on May 11, 1842, John C. Bennett was excommunicated from the church for adultery. Bennett did not go quietly, and therefore public notice of his excommunication was announced in print on June 15, 1842. Bennett got louder and more accusatory and on July 1, 1842 a full account of John C. Bennett’s misconduct was explained in the Times and Seasons.

Because Bennett began his public accusations against Joseph Smith in 1842, on December 2, 1842 a note was added to Joseph’s history. The LDS Historian’s Office explains the note clarified his sins “were of a minor nature.” (See, JS Papers, History, Vol. 1, p. 221, footnote 55.) The addition they describe is in Willard Richards’ handwriting, and reads as follows:

“In making this confession, no one need suppose  me guilty of any great or malignant sins: a disposition  to commit such was never in my nature; but I was guilty of Levity, & sometimes associated with jovial company &c, not  Consistent with that character which ought to be maintained  by one who was called of God as I had been; but this  will not seem very strange to any one who recollects  my youth & is acquainted with my native cheerly Temperament.” (Manuscript History, Note added December 2, 1842.)

The addition of this clarification appears to be directly in response to John C. Bennett’s adultery, the discovery by Joseph Smith of a “spiritual wife” system being practiced in Nauvoo, and the accusation that he was aware of, believed in, and practiced adulterous relationships. As Joseph Smith stated publicly months later in a meeting in Nauvoo:

“What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers.” (DHC 6:411, May 26, 1844.)

I had not noticed this timing until called to my attention this week. Joseph denied committing “any great or malignant sins” in response to scandal brought to Joseph’s attention through the John C. Bennett affair. Put into context it is clearer. His denial was related to the “spiritual wife” system of adulterous relationships practiced in Nauvoo which was being attributed to him.

Obedience and Sacrifice

The first temple covenants are “obedience” and “sacrifice.” The order places the obligation for obedience before the obligation for sacrifice. They belong in that order.

Obedience requires men to support their wives (D&C 83:2) and parents to care for their children (D&C 83:4). [The first verse of the Book of Mormon informs us Nephi was supported by his goodly parents, including receiving a good education. (1 Ne. 1:1.)] This principle to care for family must happen before any sacrifices can be considered.

In other words, before any sacrifice is made to help the poor, build a temple, support a community, or any other good and charitable thing obedience to the commandment to care for your family members must be satisfied. Those who fail to provide for their families are no better than the faithless. (1 Tim. 5:8.) Those who disobey the obligation to support and care for their families bring the faith of Christ into disrepute and cause scorn for His church.

More on Yesterday’s Post (§132)

It is apparent many people care more about the topic of plural marriage than do I. To stem the flood of emails I am now receiving, let me add these general points:

Context always matters. Who is addressed always controls the content of the message. If an answer is given to a question, then the question controls the Lord’s discussion.

The Book of Mormon sermon of Jacob (Jacob 2:23-33) was to a small branch of Israelites who had departed from Jerusalem. His audience was the common man, and his sermon addressed the morality and virtue expected by God for His people.

The discussion in §132:34-40 is framed by the question Joseph asked. Joseph’s question is restated by the Lord in verse 1. Joseph was perplexed about specific ancient personalities. These were Bible “heroes” or prophets. Bible history indicates they were chosen by God. These men were apparently involved with plural marriages (at least in Joseph’s understanding of the Bible at that time). Joseph wanted to know how the list of men were “justified” before God.

Unlike Jacob’s sermon, the answer to the question Joseph raised was not about morality. [But the Lord does address morality in the first 32 verses, where marriage is between “a man” and “a woman.”] Joseph’s question about  “justification” involved only a legal issue.

In the specific case of David and Solomon (which Jacob condemned in his sermon) the Lord does not describe their conduct as moral or virtuous. He explains how the ancient kings were “justified” in receiving “many wives and concubines” under the ancient system and therefore did not “sin.” Their marriages were political. They were legal. It was part of the ancient system of binding a kingdom to their king, settling disputes, acquiring fealty from influential families, and forming alliances between neighboring kingdoms. It was a political reality, and “justified” in the circumstances. Although not moral, the arrangements were not condemned as “sin” in the answer given to Joseph.

David and Solomon were not moral examples of how the common man should live their lives, organize their families, or establish their marriages. These kings fit the warning Samuel gave about the negatives associated with kingship. Political rule by a king always results in taxes, wars, conscription of young men to fight for the king, and servitude of young women to serve the king. God told Samuel a king would afflict Israel. Samuel repeated what the Lord foretold concerning the abuses kings inflict on their kingdoms  (1 Sam. 8:10-18). It was spot-on.

I have no interest in answering endless questions about this subject. I am working on other important things. The best way to proceed with questions is to study. Study, pray and reflect. Converse with the Lord. Questions should drive you to the Lord. He will answer. Sometimes you must do your homework to arrive at the answer, but He will guide you if you allow Him.

If you believe there is a contradiction, then focus on finding the answer. It is through contradictions that the hidden mysteries of God are found. There are times when the Lord WANTS a matter to appear as a contradiction and deliberately makes it appear that way. He does that to make us think, study, pray and grow. Or, in His language, to “ask, seek and knock.”

Revising D&C Section 132

It is apparent to any reader that D&C §132 is internally inconsistent. Those inconsistencies suggest to me it is an altered document. If it has been altered and/or is not the original language, then there are two choices – throw the entire document out, or attempt to correct it.

There is already an effort underway to throw the document out, so I will leave that idea to others. I would like to make an attempt to correct it.

By way of background, sometime after Joseph dictated a revelation to William Clayton in July 1843, the transcript was lost, misplaced, hidden or destroyed. The version everyone is familiar with is in the handwriting of Joseph Kingsbury. It is Kingsbury’s (not Clayton’s) handwritten document which has been accepted as the official revelation.

The earliest descriptions of the original document do not match the Kingsbury text. I’ve studied the document and given prayerful consideration to it for years. Before proposing a revised version, consider a few of the irregularities in the published text.

Verse 7 has a parenthetical thought which limits sealing authority to one man at a time on the earth. Brigham Young made this claim for himself, and the insertion conveniently ratifies his claim to complete control. That claim by Young and his successors has produced a great deal of harm (for LDS believers and offshoots of LDS Mormonism). In contrast to the exclusive authority of a single man in verse 7, verse 39 refers to Nathan and “others of the prophets who had the keys of this power” who sealed many wives to David. Verse 39 allows more than “one man at a time” and contradicts Brigham Young (and his successors’) claims. By dropping the parenthetical from verse 7 it harmonizes verses 7 and 39. More than “one man at a time on the earth” is also inconsistent with the sealing power given to Hyrum Smith in a revelation (D&C 124:93). The insertion is obviously wrong.

Verse 19 is poorly punctuated and can be made more clear with revised punctuation.

The thought that begins in verse 40 is interrupted by 4 verses, then continues in verse 45. The content in-between (verses 41-44) appears to be an interlineation. The addition of those 4 verses seems unnecessary, and invites abusive intrusions by a man pretending to judge others.

Everything after the Lord confers the sealing power on Joseph Smith and forgives his sins appears to be either unnecessary, a contradiction, or was used to support Brigham Young’s campaign against the influence of Emma Smith and Joseph’s descendants. The “10 virgins” material (verses 61-63) are in particular a contradiction of the earlier limitations found in the earlier text.

The threats against women in verses 64 and 65 not only abrogates a wife’s agency, but introduces a strange contradiction. An “espoused virgin” has to give her consent for her man to take others (“and the first give her consent”–verse 61). But a wife “becomes a transgressor” if she doesn’t welcome her man’s additional women (verse 65). The practical effect is to let “virgins” make the decision regarding the additional women, but wives get condemned as transgressors, and once they transgress the man is “exempt from the law” (verse 65) requiring her consent.

Based on the earliest descriptions of the text, eliminating obvious parenthetical insertions, removing inconsistencies, treating marriage as the solemn covenant otherwise discussed in scripture, and respecting what I know about our Lord, I believe Section 132 would be more correct if it read as follows:

________________________________

Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph, that inasmuch as you have inquired of my hand to know and understand wherein I, the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as also Moses, David and Solomon, my servants, as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines—

Behold, and lo, I am the Lord thy God, and will answer thee as touching this matter.

 Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same.

 For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.

 For all who will have a blessing at my hands shall abide the law which was appointed for that blessing, and the conditions thereof, as were instituted from before the foundation of the world.

 And as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant, it was instituted for the fulness of my glory; and he that receiveth a fulness thereof must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned, saith the Lord God.

 And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead.

 Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion.

 Will I accept of an offering, saith the Lord, that is not made in my name?

 10 Or will I receive at your hands that which I have not appointed?

 11 And will I appoint unto you, saith the Lord, except it be by law, even as I and my Father ordained unto you, before the world was?

 12 I am the Lord thy God; and I give unto you this commandment—that no man shall come unto the Father but by me or by my word, which is my law, saith the Lord.

 13 And everything that is in the world, whether it be ordained of men, by thrones, or principalities, or powers, or things of name, whatsoever they may be, that are not by me or by my word, saith the Lord, shall be thrown down, and shall not remain after men are dead, neither in nor after the resurrection, saith the Lord your God.

 14 For whatsoever things remain are by me; and whatsoever things are not by me shall be shaken and destroyed.

 15 Therefore, if a man marry him a wife in the world, and he marry her not by me nor by my word, and he covenant with her so long as he is in the world and she with him, their covenant and marriage are not of force when they are dead, and when they are out of the world; therefore, they are not bound by any law when they are out of the world.

 16 Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory.

 17 For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever.

 18 And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife, and make a covenant with her for time and for all eternity, if that covenant is not by me or by my word, which is my law, and is not sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, through him whom I have anointed and appointed unto this power, then it is not valid neither of force when they are out of the world, because they are not joined by me, saith the Lord, neither by my word; when they are out of the world it cannot be received there, because the angels and the gods are appointed there, by whom they cannot pass; they cannot, therefore, inherit my glory; for my house is a house of order, saith the Lord God.

 19 And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them: “Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection (and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection); and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths.” Then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life that he shall commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood. And if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity. And it shall be of full force when they are out of the world. And they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads. Which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.

 20 Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.

 21 Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to this glory.

 22 For strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it, because ye receive me not in the world neither do ye know me.

 23 But if ye receive me in the world, then shall ye know me, and shall receive your exaltation; that where I am ye shall be also.

 24 This is eternal lives—to know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. I am he. Receive ye, therefore, my law.

 25 Broad is the gate, and wide the way that leadeth to the deaths; and many there are that go in thereat, because they receive me not, neither do they abide in my law.

 26 Verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man marry a wife according to my word, and they are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, according to mine appointment, and he or she shall commit any sin or transgression of the new and everlasting covenant whatever, and all manner of blasphemies, and if they commit no murder wherein they shed innocent blood, yet they shall come forth in the first resurrection, and enter into their exaltation; but they shall be destroyed in the flesh, and shall be delivered unto the buffetings of Satan unto the day of redemption, saith the Lord God.

 27 The blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which shall not be forgiven in the world nor out of the world, is in that ye commit murder wherein ye shed innocent blood, and assent unto my death, after ye have received my new and everlasting covenant, saith the Lord God; and he that abideth not this law can in nowise enter into my glory, but shall be damned, saith the Lord.

 28 I am the Lord thy God, and will give unto thee the law of my Holy Priesthood, as was ordained by me and my Father before the world was.

 29 Abraham received all things, whatsoever he received, by revelation and commandment, by my word, saith the Lord, and hath entered into his exaltation and sitteth upon his throne.

 30 Abraham received promises concerning his seed, and of the fruit of his loins—from whose loins ye are, namely, my servant Joseph—which were to continue so long as they were in the world; and as touching Abraham and his seed, out of the world they should continue; both in the world and out of the world should they continue as innumerable as the stars; or, if ye were to count the sand upon the seashore ye could not number them.

 31 This promise is yours also, because ye are of Abraham, and the promise was made unto Abraham; and by this law is the continuation of the works of my Father, wherein he glorifieth himself.

 32 Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved.

 33 But if ye enter not into my law ye cannot receive the promise of my Father, which he made unto Abraham.

 34 God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the law; and from Hagar sprang many people. This, therefore, was fulfilling, among other things, the promises.

 35 Was Abraham, therefore, under condemnation? Verily I say unto you, Nay; for I, the Lord, commanded it.

 36 Abraham was commanded to offer his son Isaac; nevertheless, it was written: Thou shalt not kill. Abraham, however, did not refuse, and it was accounted unto him for righteousness.

 37 Abraham received concubines, and they bore him children; and it was accounted unto him for righteousness, because they were given unto him, and he abode in my law; as Isaac also and Jacob did none other things than that which they were commanded; and because they did none other things than that which they were commanded, they have entered into their exaltation, according to the promises, and sit upon thrones, and are not angels but are gods.

 38 David also received many wives and concubines, and also Solomon and Moses my servants, as also many others of my servants, from the beginning of creation until this time; and in nothing did they sin save in those things which they received not of me.

 39 David’s wives and concubines were given unto him of me, by the hand of Nathan, my servant, and others of the prophets who had the keys of this power; and in none of these things did he sin against me save in the case of Uriah and his wife; and, therefore he hath fallen from his exaltation, and received his portion; and he shall not inherit them out of the world, for I gave them unto another, saith the Lord.

 40 I am the Lord thy God, and I gave unto thee, my servant Joseph, an appointment, and restore all things. Ask what ye will, and it shall be given unto you according to my word.

 41 And as ye have asked concerning adultery, verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man receiveth a wife in the new and everlasting covenant, and if she be with another man, and I have not appointed unto her by the holy anointing, she hath committed adultery and shall be destroyed.

 42 If she be not in the new and everlasting covenant, and she be with another man, she has committed adultery.

 43 And if her husband be with another woman, and he was under a vow, he hath broken his vow and hath committed adultery.

 44 And if she hath not committed adultery, but is innocent and hath not broken her vow, and she knoweth it, and I reveal it unto you, my servant Joseph, then shall you have power, by the power of my Holy Priesthood, to take her and give her unto him that hath not committedadultery but hath been faithful; for he shall be made ruler over many.

 45 For I have conferred upon you the keys and power of the priesthood, wherein I restore all things, and make known unto you all things in due time.

 46 And verily, verily, I say unto you, that whatsoever you seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever you bind on earth, in my name and by my word, saith the Lord, it shall be eternally bound in the heavens; and whosesoever sins you remit on earth shall be remitted eternally in the heavens; and whosesoever sins you retain on earth shall be retained in heaven.

 47 And again, verily I say, whomsoever you bless I will bless, and whomsoever you curse I will curse, saith the Lord; for I, the Lord, am thy God.

 48 And again, verily I say unto you, my servant Joseph, that whatsoever you give on earth, and to whomsoever you give any one on earth, by my word and according to my law, it shall be visited with blessings and not cursings, and with my power, saith the Lord, and shall be without condemnation on earth and in heaven.

 49 For I am the Lord thy God, and will be with thee even unto the end of the world, and through all eternity; for verily I seal upon you your exaltation, and prepare a throne for you in the kingdom of my Father, with Abraham your father.

 50 Behold, I have seen your sacrifices, and will forgive all your sins; I have seen your sacrifices in obedience to that which I have told you. Go, therefore, and I make a way for your escape, as I accepted the offering of Abraham of his son Isaac.

 51 Verily, I say unto you: A commandment I give unto mine handmaid, Emma Smith, your wife, whom I have given unto you, that she stay herself and partake not of that which I commanded you to offer unto her; for I did it, saith the Lord, to prove you all, as I did Abraham, and that I might require an offering at your hand, by covenant and sacrifice.

 52 And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those that have been given unto my servant Joseph, and who are virtuous and pure before me; and those who are not pure, and have said they were pure, shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God.

 53 For I am the Lord thy God, and ye shall obey my voice; and I give unto my servant Joseph that he shall be made ruler over many things; for he hath been faithful over a few things, and from henceforth I will strengthen him.

 54 And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and cleave unto my servant Joseph, and to none else. But if she will not abide this commandment she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord; for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her if she abide not in my law.

 55 But if she will not abide this commandment, then shall my servant Joseph do all things for her, even as he hath said; and I will bless him and multiply him and give unto him an hundred-fold in this world, of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, houses and lands, wives and children, and crowns of eternal lives in the eternal worlds.

 56 And again, verily I say, let mine handmaid forgive my servant Joseph his trespasses; and then shall she be forgiven her trespasses, wherein she has trespassed against me; and I, the Lord thy God, will bless her, and multiply her, and make her heart to rejoice.

 57 And again, I say, let not my servant Joseph put his property out of his hands, lest an enemy come and destroy him; for Satan seeketh to destroy; for I am the Lord thy God, and he is my servant; and behold, and lo, I am with him, as I was with Abraham, thy father, even unto his exaltation and glory.

 58 Now, as touching the law of the priesthood, there are many things pertaining thereunto.

 59 Verily, if a man be called of my Father, as was Aaron, by mine own voice, and by the voice of him that sent me, and I have endowed him with the keys of the power of this priesthood, if he do anything in my name, and according to my law and by my word, he will not commit sin, and I will justify him.

 60 Let no one, therefore, set on my servant Joseph; for I will justify him; for he shall do the sacrifice which I require at his hands for his transgressions, saith the Lord your God.

 61 And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.

 62 And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified.

 63 But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused, shall be with another man, she has committed adultery, and shall be destroyed; for they are given unto him to multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfil the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified.

 64 And again, verily, verily, I say unto you, if any man have a wife, who holds the keys of this power, and he teaches unto her the law of my priesthood, as pertaining to these things, then shall she believe and administer unto him, or she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord your God; for I will destroy her; for I will magnify my name upon all those who receive and abide in my law.

 65 Therefore, it shall be lawful in me, if she receive not this law, for him to receive all things whatsoever I, the Lord his God, will give unto him, because she did not believe and administer unto him according to my word; and she then becomes the transgressor; and he is exempt from the law of Sarah, who administered unto Abraham according to the law when I commanded Abraham to take Hagar to wife.

 66 And now, as pertaining to this law, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will reveal more unto you, hereafter; therefore, let this suffice for the present. Behold, I am Alpha and Omega. Amen.

Reorganizing A Stake

I listened to a lesson today riddled with apostate heresy and historical errors. The lesson was hopelessly beyond repair, so I said nothing. But a little while before attending that meeting I had been reading in the Times and Seasons about the very topic mangled by the lesson.

On May 22, 1841 the saints in Kirtland called a General Conference. There was no central authority consulted before calling the conference. The first presidency was not asked, nor the twelve apostles, nor any seventy. It was a decision made only by the saints themselves.

At the conference Almon Babbit resigned as the stake president. After resigning the conference was adjourned for an hour to allow the saints to decide who they wanted to nominate. Following that adjournment the saints settled on Almon Babbitt as their nominee, but he declined. Despite declining a vote was taken and Babbitt was unanimously elected stake president. Upon being elected, he relented and agreed to serve. He nominated Lester Brooks and Zebidee Coltrin as counselors, who were likewise unanimously elected.

The minutes of the General Conference were mailed to Nauvoo, and were published in the Times and Seasons on July 1, 1841.

The whole church with various equal quorums (first presidency, twelve traveling high councilors, seventy, stake high councils) had been fully organized five years before 1841. Everyone at that time understood a stake high council had authority equal to the twelve traveling high council, and equal as well to the first presidency. With equal and separate divisions it was designed to be impossible for one branch to corrupt the entire church.

The early church governed themselves by common consent, without overlords dictating to them. Equality prevailed and authority was disbursed into equal and independent groups. That prevented autocratic rule and guarded against apostasy of the whole body, until church government was overthrown by Brigham Young and replaced by an autocracy of the twelve.

Book of Mormon

Here is how the Prophet Joseph Smith explained the Book of Mormon: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (DHC 4:461; see also Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 194.)

Here is how the Lord addressed those who believed in the restoration (including us) in 1832: “And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received— Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written—” (D&C 84:54-57.)

It makes no sense to ignore the Lord’s condemnation. It makes no sense to give primacy to what others have to say instead of remembering and studying the Book of Mormon.

It makes no sense to measure the truth of the gospel by another standard when the Book of Mormon was provided to us as the means to measure that truth.

The writers of the Book of Mormon departed from Jerusalem before the Jewish exile into Babylonian captivity. The first Book of Mormon writers avoided Babylon, and their descendants never knew a thing about it.

The Book of Mormon people migrating out of Jerusalem left the Holy Land at the end of the first temple period. They avoided the triumph of the Deuteronomists over the religion of the Jews. The Jewish Deuteronomists were innovators who repudiated and replaced the original religion with a new, apostate form of worship that dominated the second temple period. The Book of Mormon writers were spared from all that. They were gone before it happened.

Recall the “head of gold” in the king’s dream (as interpreted by Daniel) was the king of Babylon. (Daniel 2:32-38.) It is foretold that in the last days God’s work will provide a “stone” which will break down all the world’s false religious, economic, cultural and philosophical ideas. (Id., vs. 34-35.) As the restoration commenced with Joseph Smith, a book was translated “by the gift and power of God” which was written by authors who were never exposed to, or contaminated by the “head of gold,” or any other subsequent kingdoms of the world. The ONLY text we have that survives without corruption of false religious ideas from history is the Book of Mormon.

I have friends (and of course Hugh Nibley) who will think my statement, “The ONLY text” goes too far because there are earlier texts predating Babylon that were uninfluenced by it. Most notably Egypt. This is an opinion they are welcome to hold. I do not share it, however.

The Book of Abraham shows the path of Abraham crossing into Egypt. The language used on the brass plates (Mosiah 1:3, 5), and by the Nephites (Mormon 9:32), was Egyptian. They remind me that Egypt is significant somehow. But crossing paths and adopting language is not the same as certifying their religion and culture. There are plenty of reasons to question Egypt’s religious material.

Israel was taken out of Egypt. Even though there are Egyptian influences in the religion of Israel, it is certainly clear that Israel did NOT adopt Egyptian teachings wholesale, but included only carefully selected parts. They preserved some, abandoned others, and added still more. If Egypt represents an apostasy, then Israel represents a restoration.

There is no account of angels visiting the Egyptians or an ascent into heaven. The exception is Imhotep, but his story seems remarkably parallel to Joseph’s. Both were commoners. Both were employed by the Pharaoh. Both attained to high status despite their common birth. The tomb of Imhotep is “lost” despite efforts to locate it, and Joseph’s bones were taken from Egypt with the departure of the Israelites (Exo. 13:19). There are others, of course. But apart from questions about dating, their accounts are quite similar. If Imhotep and Joseph are not the same individual, a single exception does not destroy the general rule.

The ceremonies of Egypt spoke of “gods” but the gods did not visit them. After leaving Egypt, God sent to Israel a host of prophets who were ministered to by God and angels, including Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Malachi, and even His Son, Jesus Christ. These prophets came to Israel, not Egypt, to visit, teach, prophesy, minister and live.

Egypt fought against Israel and hoped to keep them in captivity. But the God of Israel fought for and delivered Israel from Egyptian enslavement. If there must be a choice between religions, then the choice ought to be settled by God’s deliverance of Israel by His own hand, and Egypt’s unsuccessful fight against the God of Heaven to prevent it.

Although Solomon’s temple was architecturally inferior to and much less elaborate than the temples of Egypt, God visited and accepted Solomon’s temple. (1 Kings 8:10-13.) There is no account before or after that time of God visiting and accepting the temples of Egypt.

The religion of Israel worked. The religion of Egypt did not. Heaven ministered to, visited with, sent angels to teach, and His Only Begotten Son to dwell with Israel. The Egyptians kept elaborate ceremonial complexity which awed their people, and preserved a false tradition generation after generation despite its powerlessness. It was impressive to men. It was ineffective to save.

Perhaps most importantly, after adhering to the original religion in the Americas, being instructed, warned and led by prophets who spoke with God, the Lord Himself, as a risen being, descended to visit with the people of the Book of Mormon. The religion of Israel also had the power to connect anew with heaven. Even after 600 years of difficulties and disputes, they still retained a religion with the vitality necessary for Christ to come to visit.

I studied the Book of Mormon for over two decades before being fully persuaded of its power. My sense of wonder increased over time. It was ONLY because I came to regard with tremendous respect the Book of Mormon that the Lord condescended to visit with me. The religion of the Book of Mormon saves. Through it, the only “stone” upon which it is safe to build will roll forth in the last days. That “stone” is Christ. (1 Peter 2:6.)

Paper: Mormon History

The recent talk on Mormon History in the “Downloads” page now has a paper based on the talk. The paper has been edited and additional supporting materials and citations have been added.

Talk on Mormon History

Last Sunday I spoke about Mormon history. It was recorded and is now available on this website for any who are interested in that topic. It is located on the Downloads page, under the “Audio Files” section.