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Mormon History

Just because you “know” something, it doesn’t mean it is true.

Just because you don’t know something, it doesn’t make it false.

LDS history is riddled with lies: Some told to protect lives. Some told to conceal truths. Some told to escape prosecution. Some told to keep the government from taking property away from the church. Some told to promote faith. But LDS history is riddled with lies.

The historic reality of institutional lying does not render our faith itself a lie. But perpetuating the lies today is increasingly perilous.

You tell the truth. Faith cannot be based on anything other than the truth. Everything else is not faith.

Drat

It is always best when you get bad news from someone you love. The news remains terrible, but hearing it from my daughter eases my pain. My daughter called from Wyoming to break the news that Jacoby Ellsbury is going to the Yankees. Now we must face him in the AL East.

On the bright side, apparently Robinson Cano will be leaving the Yankees. With Jeter injured, ARod likely not returning to the game again (ever), and Youklis disabled, they need Jacoby at the top of the lineup to compete. I guess $20 million a year was just too much to resist.

Oh well, he is injury prone.

Scripture Interpretations

In answer to a question about differences between something Joseph Smith said about a scripture and something another prophet said about the same scripture, here is my response:

When Peter referred to the fulfillment of Joel Chapter 2, he declared: “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.” (Acts 2:14-20.)

Referring to the same prophecy of Joel, Moroni declared, and Joseph Smith reported: “He also quoted the second chapter of Joel, from the twenty-eighth verse to the last. He also said that this was not yet fulfilled, but was soon to be.” (JS-H 1: 41.) This was immediately after Moroni quoted from Acts Chapter 3, and therefore Moroni would have been familiar with Peter’s statement in the preceding chapter, Acts Chapter 2.

Both spoke the truth.

What one prophet, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, speaks about a passage of scripture may vary from what another prophet, under the influence of Holy Spirit, may say about the very same scripture. Speaking in different times, under different circumstances, to a different audience, with a different objective in generations separated by considerable amounts of time, allows them both to speak the truth.

How many times have Isaiah’s words “beautiful upon the mountains” been fulfilled? (Isaiah’s prophecy is in Isa. 52: 7. It was discussed by later prophets in different settings. In 1 Ne. 13: 37: Nephi speaking about those who will seek to establish Zion in the last days. In Mosiah 15: 13-17: Abinadi speaking of those who testified about Christ in every generation, past, then and in the future. In 3 Ne. 20: 40: Christ speaking of the future generation when Zion will be established.) Do not think that because one prophet has declared a matter to be fulfillment of scripture that the Lord cannot declare through another prophet another fulfillment of the same scripture. As the Lord stated, “Because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.” 2 Ne. 29: 9.

Tyranny

Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion upholding Obamacare reasoned that this burdensome and unpopular law was legal because the Constitution, as amended, allows Congress to assess taxes. This regulatory construct was appropriate use of government authority because Congress can levy taxes.


Before concluding Congress had the authority to impose this burdensome law, he acknowledged “the National Government possesses only limited powers; the States and the people retain the remainder.” Explaining the limits of Federal Governmental authority, he wrote, “rather than granting general authority to perform all the conceivable functions of government, the Constitution lists, or enumerates, the Federal Government’s powers.” 


Although the U.S. argued that Congress had authority to impose Obamacare under the Commerce Clause, Chief Justice Roberts concluded no such power existed. “If the power to ‘regulate’ something included the power to create it, many of the provisions in the Constitution would be superfluous.” He explained, “the individual mandate, however, does not regulate existing commercial activity. It instead compels individuals to become active in commerce by purchasing a product, on the ground that their failure to do so affects interstate commerce.” This was too vast a grant of authority, and clearly exceeded the limited purpose of the Commerce Clause in the Constitution.


This naked grab for power to control the citizens was rejected by Roberts. The argument advanced by the U.S. would carry the nation far away from a government of limited powers. “Indeed, the Government’s logic would justify a mandatory purchase to solve almost any problem.”


And yet, Justice Roberts upheld the law! The foolish are often blinded by their power to reason through a problem, reaching carefully constructed errors while thinking themselves wise. 

In deciding this was a Constitutionally permissible law, Justice Roberts reasoned, “The exaction the Affordable Care Act imposes on those without health insurance looks like a tax in many re­spects. The ‘[s]hared responsibility payment,’ as the statute entitles it, is paid into the Treasury by “tax­payer[s]” when they file their tax returns. 26 U. S. C. §5000A(b). It does not apply to individuals who do not pay federal income taxes because their household income is less than the filing threshold in the Internal Revenue Code. §5000A(e)(2). For taxpayers who do owe the pay­ment, its amount is determined by such familiar factors as taxable income, number of dependents, and joint filing status. §§5000A(b)(3), (c)(2), (c)(4). The requirement to pay is found in the Internal Revenue Code and enforced by the IRS, which—as we previously explained—must assess and collect it ‘in the same manner as taxes.’ Supra, at 13–14. This process yields the essential feature of any tax: it produces at least some revenue for the Government. United States v. Kahriger, 345 U. S. 22, 28, n. 4 (1953). Indeed, the payment is expected to raise about $4 billion per year by 2017. Congressional Budget Office, Payments of Penalties for Being Uninsured Under the Patient Pro­tection and Affordable Care Act (Apr. 30, 2010), in Selected CBO Publications Related to Health Care Legislation,2009–2010, p. 71 (rev. 2010). It is of course true that the Act describes the payment as a ‘penalty,’ not a ‘tax.’ But while that label is fatal to the application of the Anti-Injunction Act, supra, at 12–13, it does not determine whether the payment may be viewed as an exercise of Congress’s taxing power. It is up to Con­gress whether to apply the Anti-Injunction Act to any particular statute, so it makes sense to be guided by Con­gress’s choice of label on that question. That choice does not, however, control whether an exaction is within Con­gress’s constitutional power to tax.”

In my view, this reasoning is deeply flawed. Any number of things may “look like a tax in many respects.” But taxing is merely incidental to the real and primary objective to control behavior. Roberts is saying the abuses and expansive control over the citizens which is not authorized through the Commerce Clause may be usurped through the power to tax. In other words, the Federal Government can achieve in two steps what it cannot achieve in one. Directly, it cannot regulate commerce in such an oppressive and expansive way; but indirectly, under the guise of a tax, it may utterly control and subjugate the citizens without regard to limits on Federal power.

This reasoning allows an oppressive intrusion into every individual and family’s healthcare choices because there is merely an incidental effect that can be viewed as a tax. Does that mean other, similarly intrusive government regulation can now be adopted by an increasingly out-of-touch Federal Government over an unwilling population because the regulatory scheme has an incidental tax? The reasoning justifies continuing intrusions, regulations, and mandating behavior by citizens which the citizens themselves oppose, so long as the Federal Government is shrewd enough to include even an incidental component which relies upon the power to tax. Hospital costs alone in 2011 were $387.3 billion. Total healthcare is estimated at 17.9% of the US GDP, or a total of approximately $2.8 trillion (assuming today’s GDP of $15.6 trillion–which will likely increase by the 2017 date used by Roberts). That makes the tax component of this regulatory scheme less than 2/100ths of 1% of overall healthcare spending. As a consequence of that tiny, de minimus component of this part of the economy, the Federal Government now gets to assume 100% control over 17.9% of the entire economy, impose unwanted control over individual choices, dramatically alter relationships between citizens and their doctors, control doctors income, decide who can receive what treatment, increase scarcity of supply, remove religious choices, require me to pay for maternity care even though there is no rational connection between requiring me to make that purchase and my need for the coverage, and allow non-physician regulators to impose health-care decisions, even deciding to restrict access to life saving treatment? An incidental tax permits these things to be imposed by an imperial, distant and unresponsive Federal Government? This is Constitutional? This is an appropriate use of the power to tax? It does not impermissibly expand limited powers in a way which threatens rights of privacy, right to contract, right to property, nor involve improper taking? 


Chief Justice Roberts will be remembered as the intellectual architect of the totalitarian state which the Constitution was designed to prevent. He has managed to undo, by his flawed reasoning, all the limits which the enumerated powers were designed to prevent. He joins a chorus of those in government, business and religion who seek to destroy man’s agency. 


As we learned through the Declaration of Independence, when the rights of citizens are abused, there comes a point at which they properly decide they are no longer willing to submit. A decent regard for liberty by a citizenry who consent to be governed requires them to constantly consider whether their government has become destructive, rather than conducive, of liberty. When a long train of abuses and usurpations lead citizens to conclude the end in sight is absolute despotism, then it is the right, even the duty, to throw off such government. We are now being regarded as the property of a government entitled to control our choices, rather than free citizens whose consent is first required before any control is permitted. When citizens consented to be taxed, they did not consent forever after to permit the Federal Government to exercise control over lives based on the thinnest of connections to taxing. This law is not a revenue bill. It is an improper usurpation imposed by an imperial, aloof and usurping band of overlords who have lost regard for the will of the governed.

Chief Justice Roberts was wrong. His decision reflects a trend in tyranny which, unless repudiated, will end in the destruction of either individual rights or the union of this nation. This scheme was the product primarily of a Senator, Harry Reid of Nevada, who controlled the Senate, got the required votes by dispensing favorable treatment to several individual states to acquire votes, and got the required support for the 1,900 page bill without most Senators having read it beforehand. The current national leadership’s view of the proper role of government is repugnant to me. If our liberties are lost, or the union ultimately destroyed, it will long be remembered that a Latter-day Saint was directing the legislative muscle to adopt this invidious scheme. 

We have a limited form of government. Unless the limited Federal Government returns to abide within those limits, it will destroy itself or the liberty of its citizens. We are at a tipping point. I hope there remains enough wisdom in our country to avert what will follow from the present, ill-advised course if it is allowed to continue.

Enemies In Control Of The Vineyard

The Lord foretold the failure of the Saints to acquire the fullness as early as December 1833. He explained that the Saints would plant “the twelve olive trees” (or restore the covenant) and would build a wall and place watchmen (or restore the church), but would unwisely fail to build the required watchtower (Nauvoo Temple) to protect the restoration. Therefore, they would be overthrown. (D&C 101: 43-51.) This was eight years before the Lord warned them they were on the cusp of failing and being rejected as a church. (D&C 124: 31-32.) But the Saints ignored the warning where they were told they would become “very slothful, and [hearken] not unto the commandments of their lord” (D&C 101: 50given to them eight years earlier. They failed to complete the Nauvoo Temple before Joseph and Hyrum were slain. The brothers’ deaths were plainly avoidable by paying attention to the warning given eleven years beforehand in the parable.

The effect of the Saints’ sloth, as foretold in the 1833 parable, was to leave the Lord’s vineyard in the possession of His enemies who would own the vineyard, have the walls and be able to set their own watchmen, and erect their own tower atop His property. That destruction and scattering left the Lord’s enemies in possession of His vineyard. 

The circumstances following the scattering of the Saints (D&C 101: 51) reminds me of Joseph Smith’s last dream:


JOSEPH SMITH’S LAST DREAM:


I was back in Kirtland, Ohio, and thought I would take a walk out by myself, and view my old farm, which I found grown up with weeds and brambles, and altogether bearing evidence of neglect and want of culture. I went into the barn, which I found without floor or doors, with the weather-boarding off, and was altogether in keeping with the farm.
While I viewed the desolation around me, and was contemplating how it might be recovered from the curse upon it, there came rushing into the barn a company of furious men, who commenced to pick a quarrel with me.
The leader of the party ordered me to leave the barn and farm, stating it was none of mine, and that I must give up all hope of ever possessing it.
I told him the farm was given me by the Church, and although I had not had any use of it for some time back, still I had not sold it, and according to righteous principles it belonged to me or the Church.
He then grew furious and began to rail upon me, and threaten me, and said it never did belong to me nor to the Church.
I then told him that I did not think it worth contending about, that I had no desire to live upon it in its present state, and if he thought he had a better right I would not quarrel with him about it but leave; but my assurance that I would not trouble him at present did not seem to satisfy him, as he seemed determined to quarrel with me, and threatened me with the destruction of my body.
While he was thus engaged, pouring out his bitter words upon me, a rabble rushed in and nearly filled the barn, drew out their knives, and began to quarrel among themselves for the premises, and for a moment forgot me, at which time I took the opportunity to walk out of the barn about up to my ankles in mud.
When I was a little distance from the barn, I heard them screeching and screaming in a very distressed manner, as it appeared they had engaged in a general fight with their knives. While they were thus engaged, the dream or vision ended.” (TPJS, pp. 393-4, Recorded 27 June 1844, also DHC Vol. 6, pp. 608-611.)

A great work remains undone to prepare for the Lord’s return. It cannot happen by continuing in the same slothfulness that got us driven into the wilderness. More is required than conceit and contentment as we squander the time remaining. Unless we awaken, we will be utterly wasted at the Lord’s return.

Idolatry is not the Gospel. 

Cursings Instead of Blessings

Passing the Heavenly Gift is not an historic analysis of Mormonism. It is primarily a doctrinal analysis and only incidentally related to history. The many different historic sources allow different stories to be told and supported by selecting from among them. There are some undeniable events foretold by prophecy. It is prophecy which should allow us to make a correct choice between a false and a true narrative. In Passing the Heavenly Gift, I tried to see if there was another possible narrative conforming to the prophecies to replace the traditions we all know. The book explored this possibility.

In the January 1841 revelation to Joseph Smith the Lord stated “the fulness of the priesthood” had been “lost unto you, or which [The Lord] hath taken away.” (D&C 124: 28.) To “restore” it the Lord needed to personally come to a Temple that He was required to be built within a limited time frame. The length of the time given to accomplish the building was not specified by a date certain. Instead the Lord said He would give to the Saints “sufficient time to build a house unto me.” (D&C 124: 31.) In the time between January 1841 and the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith in June 1844, the Nauvoo Temple was not completed. The walls were only complete to the second floor.

The absence of any date for “sufficient time” to build the Temple leaves that an open question. Traditionally, we believe that extended until sometime following the departure of the Saints in February 1846. A small group remained behind and eventually the Temple was dedicated. But these are undisputed facts:

1. When the endowments were performed between November 1845 and February 1846, the attic was used, but even it was not finished. Canvas was used to separate different areas.

2. At the time the endowments were performed, the rest of the Temple was incomplete.

3. When the endowments were performed, the attic was the only place temporarily dedicated for that limited purpose.

4. The day before departing Nauvoo, the Apostles prayed they would be able to finish the incomplete Temple.

5. The next day, the attic caught fire and the area used for the endowments was badly damaged. Although it was subsequently re-shingled, the charred attic space, which had not been finished before the endowments were performed, was never re-finished to the condition it was in with the canvas dividers. They re-roofed the outside top and left the charred interior alone.

6. When it was finally dedicated, it was only “considered complete enough to dedicate” and not actually a finished structure.

It does not matter which historic source you use there is no diary, letter, journal or talk which says that Christ came to the Nauvoo Temple and “restored again the fulness of the priesthood” which He had previously taken away from the church. Most importantly, there are no claims made by any of the leaders of the church that the “fulness of the priesthood” was bestowed upon them by Christ in the Nauvoo Temple. There are multiple explanations of how “the keys” (which the typical LDS apologist claims to be the same as “the fulness”) were passed to the church’s leaders. None of these involve Christ coming to the Nauvoo Temple to restore again that which was lost. These accounts of “passing the keys” to the Apostles include the following:

1. By virtue of the Apostleship, which is the highest office in the church, keys are automatically passed.

2. By the rituals Joseph performed in the Red Brick Store.

3. By Joseph’s declaration about the “keys of the kingdom” made in a meeting of the Council of Fifty in May 1844.

4. By reason of the equivalencies (Twelve “equal in authority” to the First Presidency, etc.) set out in D&C 107 (an argument never raised during the election in August 1844).

Never has there been a claim that the “fulness” was “restored” to the church by the visit of Christ in the Nauvoo Temple after it had been completed.

The argument that the Lord didn’t need to come because the “fulness” was dispensed by the Apostles in the Nauvoo Endowments in November 1845-February 1846 ignores the language of the revelation. The language of the revelation required the Lord to come and restore again what was lost: “For there is not a place found on earth that he [Christ, personally as I read it] may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you.” (D&C 124: 28, emphasis added.) I take these words at their plain meaning. Therefore. I view the complete absence of any record or claim that the Lord came to the Nauvoo Temple and restored again the “fulness of the priesthood” as an important point to be accepted. The traditional narrative is that the endowments were sufficient to restore the removed “fulness” to the Saints.

History also reflects the Saints were chased out of Nauvoo by an armed mob. They left with considerable hardship in the dead of winter, leaving for the most part in February 1846.

The January 1841 revelation states: “ye shall build [the required Temple] on the place where you have contemplated building it, for that is the spot which I have chosen for you to build [the Temple which Christ was to visit to restore again the fulness]. If ye labor with all your might, I will consecrate that spot that it shall be made holy. And if my people will hearken unto my voice, and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed to lead my people, behold, verily I say unto you, they shall not be moved out of their place. But if they will not hearken to my voice, nor unto the voice of these men whom I have appointed, they shall not be blest, because they pollute mine holy grounds, and mine holy ordinances, and charters, and my holy words which I give unto them. And it shall come to pass that if you build a house unto my name, and do not do the things that I say, I will not perform the oath which I make unto you, neither fulfil the promises which ye expect at my hands, saith the Lord. For instead of blessings, ye, by your own works, bring cursings, wrath, indignation, and judgments upon your own heads, by your follies, and by all your abominations, which you practise before me, saith the Lord.” (D&C 124: 43-48.) If you accept these words as a guide to knowing the truth, then answer for yourself the following questions about what happened:

Was the Nauvoo Temple consecrated by the Lord?

Was the Nauvoo Temple made holy by the Lord?

Did the Lord visit it?

Did the Lord restore the fulness to the church within it by coming to bestow it again? How? To whom? When? What was involved?

Did the Saints hearken to the voices of their leaders, Joseph and Hyrum, who had been called by the Lord?

Why did Joseph complain that the church failed to listen to Hyrum? Was there some greater risk to the church if it did not hearken to Hyrum?

Were the Saints moved out of Nauvoo?

Did the “sufficient time” begin in January 1841and last until a date we can now deduce?

What date did the Lord take Joseph and Hyrum from us?

Was three-and-a-half years sufficient to complete the Nauvoo Temple construction?

Were there other projects completed in that time frame, including houses for the church leaders, and Seventies’ Hall, the Masonic Lodge?

If the effort given to these other building projects had instead been spent on completing the Nauvoo Temple, could it have been finished earlier?

Could it have been completed by June 1844?

Was the Nauvoo Temple ever completed?

Were there “blessings” or “cursings” suffered by the Saints immediately following the three-and-a-half years between January 1841 and June 1844?

The effort to build the traditional narrative taught by the LDS church using other source material than I have used can only persuade me I am in error if:

1. There is proof the Lord came to the Nauvoo Temple. (Never claimed by anyone.)

2. There is proof that while in the Nauvoo Temple the Lord restored again the fulness of the priesthood. (Never claimed other than to say the Nauvoo Endowments were the same thing as. But if this were true why did the Lord say He needed to come? I assume the Lord said what He meant and therefore we could only reobtain “the fulness” if He gave it to us, personally, as the revelation promised.)

3. There is proof the Saints were not moved out of their place in Nauvoo because it had become “holy” to the Lord and He defended it. (Which cannot be proven because the opposite happened.)

4. There must be proof the Saints were not cursed, did not suffer wrath, and did not have the judgments of God poured down upon their heads following Nauvoo. (The suffering and wrath of God is apparent from all the contemporaneous accounts of the terrible suffering, privation and death suffered by the Saints in the western trek.)

I have allowed the prophecies to inform the story. I readily admit anyone can build another story that ignores the prophecies, and  tells us “all is (and was) well.” But there is no source you can appeal to that conforms to the prophesied events as well as the story proposed in Passing the Heavenly Gift.

The book was written to explore and introduce an idea. That idea is to let the prophecies, instead of our pride, speak to us about us. I want to see our failures, if we have any. I do not want to substitute a happy account based on arrogance to deprive me of the truth. If the warnings are talking to me about me, then I want to face up to that no matter how painful it might be. In the book, in addition to the January 1841 revelation to Joseph Smith, I also use Christ’s prophecies, and Nephi’s warnings to us from the Book of Mormon to inform my effort to reconstruct what has happened in this dispensation. In the end I think it is faith promoting to see ourselves stripped of our vanity and fulfilling the prophetic warnings by our failure. It it a false faith, only pseudo-faith, to ignore the truth and substitute a false narrative about unmitigated success. It was foretold by Christ that we would reject the fullness.

So far the most critical review of the book assumes I am writing history and it proceeds to gather other historic sources to contradict me and to reinforce the traditional narrative. It damns my book and proclaims again that “all is well.” My book isn’t history. It is doctrine. It focuses on prophecy to see if the subsequent events can be shown to fulfill the prophecy. This is how we should always try to understand our condition. Not through the tools of the apologist historian, but instead through the lens of prophecy. What God has said matters a good deal more than what we think of ourselves.

Appeal Letter

President Hunt called and read me a very short letter from the First Presidency denying my appeal. Because the appeal was denied, I have no reason to withhold a copy of the appeal letter. See below. The letter denying the appeal was approximately 2 sentences long, the second sentence told President Hunt that he could read it to me, but that President Hunt could not give me a copy of the denial.

Marriage

Marriage is the perfect opportunity for learning to live the Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount is the blueprint for being like Christ.

Wives have claim on their husbands for their support. (D&C 83: 2.)

Neither man nor woman alone can be exalted. (1 Cor. 11: 11; D&C 132: 16-17.)

Divorce was tolerated because of the hardness of the Israelites, but Christ denounced divorce, teaching what God joined no man should set aside. (Mark 10: 4-9.)

If your spouse does not believe as you do, it is your obligation to bear with them in patience, and by your godly walk convert them to the truth. Only a fool will ignore the obligations set out so clearly in scripture and choose to abandon their marriage. Worse still are those who imagine themselves justified in such conduct by claiming they are following God’s will.

The Scriptures

As I have pointed out in recent talks, if you were to be taught by an angel of God it would be a lesson in the scriptures. (See, e.g., JS-H 1: 36-41.) The day the Lord was resurrected He spent the better part of the day expounding the scriptures to two of His followers. (Luke 24: 13-32.)

I teach from the scriptures because they contain everything needed to support, explain, justify and make clear those doctrines which are needed for your salvation. Even the deepest of material I’ve given to you is anchored in the scriptures.

If angels and our Lord all found the scriptures a sufficient text to use in teaching truths, then we should look there, searching deeply for any truths we want to learn. We shouldn’t move our attention away from the scriptures to learn what is needed for salvation and exaltation. No matter how much a topic glitters and begs you to notice it, the scriptures should form a shield to keep away what is unnecessary and save you from unreliable error.

The more exotic the “spiritual” information, the more important it is to find a home in the scriptures. This is because if it cannot be found there, then it does not belong to Christ’s Gospel.

In the traditions of the church, we have added speculation to conjecture, and contradiction to supposition, until the present array of approved topics through the correlation process has been adopted to try to bring an end to the chaos of opinions. Earlier teachings that were thought to be critical to salvation have been abandoned. Earlier practices that were taught as necessary for exaltation are now condemned. Earlier positions on practices and church government are now renounced. It has become an embarrassment to the institution to allow this foolishness to continue. They have resorted to correlation and the current practice of saying “only the living mouthpiece is reliable.” This is anti-historical and renders each leader almost entirely irrelevant as soon as he dies. Mormonism has been reduced to the medieval shout: “The king is dead! Long live the king!” each time a church president dies. Through this means, the church is attempting to bring stability to a reed so thin it cannot be leaned upon at all for your salvation. It will break because it cannot support the weight of your salvation.

Look to the scriptures. They testify of Christ. They were given by Him to teach you of Him. Because if you are to be saved at all, it will be through the knowledge which can be found in the scriptures.

Anyone attempting to save souls who neglects to anchor their teaching in the scriptures offends common sense, and is attempting the impossible. Angels and the risen Lord used them. You should therefore find them sufficient for your own study unto salvation.