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Forgiving to be Forgiven

Once you begin to repent the real work commences. God forgives, but retaining forgiveness requires that we follow Him. We are not going to develop into His children until we have become acquainted with His way. He tells us what we must do to learn of Him. We must do His work, join in His labor to save souls:

“And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke 6: 31-38.)

Once forgiven, we forgive. We take on ourselves the role of the intercessor by accepting the shame and abuse of this world, and both forgive and pray for those who give offenses. Through this, we come to understand our Lord because we are like Him.

This is what we see in Lehi. After learning of God’s impending judgments against Jerusalem, he prayed on behalf of “his people” (those who were condemned) with “all his heart.” 1 Ne. 1: 5. His example can be found mirrored in all who repent. They display His grace by what they suffer for His cause.

Christ taught who He was, then lived the example of what a redeemed life would be. He sacrificed Himself. Similarly His followers sacrifice themselves. Perhaps not by dying, as He did and as Joseph did, and as Steven did, and Paul, and Peter, and Abinadi and Hyrum. But by the way they live – taking offenses and forgiving. This is how we obtain broken hearts and contrite spirits, because this world is always at war with the Saints of God. Here the Children of God are strangers and sojourners.

Weakness and Repentance

We are all given weakness as part of life here in mortality. It is a gift from God. (Ether 12: 27.) Repentance requires us to turn away from sin, and to face a new direction where God is found.

Despite our hopes, and our desires, and our best efforts, we are confined to a place and occupy circumstances where we are “weak.” (Id.) The Lord promises, however, that He will “make weak things strong.” (Ether 12: 27.) What does that mean? How does our “weakness” become “strong?”

It does not involve any magic. We do not get some easy and effortless cure to our weakness just because we desire to change. We must actually change. How do we change? The Lord explains that to Moroni in the same conversation: “I will show unto them that faith, hope and charity bringeth unto me– the fountain of righteousness.” (Ether 12: 28.) Or, in other words, the “strength” we hope to receive comes from “faith” in Christ. Our “hope” is found through Him. Our “charity” is a gift also.

The “strength” is entirely borrowed. We are only as strong as our dependence on Him. Our “weakness” is strength only as we depend on Him and His rescue.

For some of us, that “strength” will involve longsuffering and continual reminders through our failure that we have been “given weakness” for a purpose – that we may be humble. As we struggle, we find exposed to our view the weakness we despise in ourselves, long to overcome, and struggle with daily, like a thorn in our flesh tearing at us. Paul begged the Lord to remove his, and was told repeatedly this weakness would remain there to afflict him so he might be humble. (2 Cor. 12: 7-9.) Therefore, Paul took consolation in the knowledge this struggle was godly. (2 Cor. 12: 10.)

Why should you be spared the struggle? Why should you not be kept humble by the weakness you have within? Why should you not take up your cross and follow Him? (Mark 10: 21.) Should your cross be anything other than a revelation to you of your own dependence on God, and need for Him?

Repentance is the start of a journey undertaken between you and your Lord. He will reveal you and Him to you through that journey. Hence the requirement for repentance in order to enter into His kingdom.

Freedom from Sins

The reason “confession” of sin is required, is to free the victim. (D&C 58: 43.) Confession robs the accuser of his power to accuse. (Rev. 12: 10.)

Once the sins of Alma and Younger and the sons of Mosiah were known, confessed and public, the sins no longer had any control over them. They felt no shame for these sins because confessing and admitting they were sinful robbed sin of its power. Similarly, the Apostle Paul’s admission of his sinful past allowed him to move on to accepting and celebrating God’s grace. (1 Tim. 1: 12-16.)

There is power in confessing. It puts the confessor above his sin. (James 5: 16.) We confess to celebrate God’s great deliverance of us. We are all weak. It is part of worshipping Him. (D&C 59: 12.) This is why the testimony of God’s redemption by Alma the Younger included confession of his own sins. (Alma 36: 6, 12-14.)

Those who claim they are holy men, without sin, and thereby cover their weaknesses while courting the praise and admiration of others, have no truth in them. (1 John 1: 8.) But if we confess we are sinful and weak, God is faithful to forgive us. (1 John 1: 9.)

Freedom from sin can only come through admitting your sinful nature. When we confess, He forgives. (D&C 64: 7.)

Time Required to Repent

Repentance does not require a time period. Look at Alma the Younger, the sons of Mosiah, and the Apostle Paul. Now these were encounters with God, but so were the conversions of many of the Lamanites. (Alma 18: 40-42; 22: 18, among others.)

The Lord tells you to repent. If you do, He remembers your sins no longer. Confess and forsake them, and you will be forgiven. (D&C 58: 42-43.) Or, in other words, change. Turn away from your sins and face God instead.

All those labors performed by Alma the Younger, the sons of Mosiah, and the Apostle Paul, after repentance, were not to obtain forgiveness. They were the “fruit” of repentance, or the result of the new direction that they were heading. (See Matt. 3: 8; Luke 3: 8; Alma 5: 62; 13: 13; Moroni 8: 24-26.)

God alone forgives. His forgiveness is not dependent on your good works; your good works are proof of His forgiveness. (Helaman 12: 24; Gal. 5: 22-25.)

A Few Details

The following excerpt comes from an article by Susan Easton Black, published in BYU Studies:

After the death of Emma Smith in 1879 and the demolition of the bee house that had once sheltered the graves, conjecture arose over the exact location of the martyrs’ burial site. Family members could not point with confidence to where the bodies were laid. Joseph Smith III reported, “I didn’t see the bodies buried. I saw them dig them up. I saw them take a knife and cut a lock of hair off of Joseph and give to Emma, but I didn’t follow over and watch them bury them.” David Hyrum Smith, youngest son of Joseph Smith Jr., composed “The Unknown Grave”:

There’s an unknown grave in a green lowly spot,
The form that it covers will ne’er be forgot.
Where haven trees spread and the wild locusts wave
Their fragrant white blooms over the unknown grave,
Over the unknown grave.

* * *
The prophet whose life was destroyed by his foes
Sleeps now where no hand may disturb his repose,
Till trumpets of God drown the notes of the wave
And we see him arise from his unknown grave,
God bless that unknown grave.

When the waters of Lake Cooper threatened to flood the area where the graves were thought to be, leaders of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints decided to locate the bodies and remove them to higher ground and to place an appropriate monument over their graves. W. O. Hands was appointed to direct a small group of surveyors and engineers to search for the missing graves. They began digging on 9 January 1928, and on 16 January they found them. The remains of Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum, as well as those of Emma, were exhumed from their resting place. The remains were arranged in silk-lined wood boxes that were placed side-by-side seventeen feet north of where the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum had been exhumed. Then the bodies were reburied on Friday, 20 January 1928, and the graves were marked. 

On 21 January 1928 Samuel O. Bennion, president of the Central States Mission, wrote to President Heber J. Grant and his counselors about the “exhuming of the bodies of the Prophet and his brother Hyrum.” In his letter he reported asking Frederick M. Smith, president of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, “Why didn’t you let the bodies of these men rest where they were?” In response, he was told, “[I] wanted to find out if the graves of these men were down by what was once called the Spring House.” President Bennion wrote, “It is my impression brethren that he had heard reports that Brigham Young took the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum to Utah and that he wanted to prove it untrue.” Bennion stated, “I could hardly keep the tears back.”

In 1991, under the joint direction of leaders from the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, new tombstones marking their remains became the focus of a gardenlike cemetery near the Homestead in Nauvoo. On 4 August 1991 the newly renovated cemetery was dedicated by Wallace B. Smith, great-grandson of Joseph Smith and president of the RLDS Church. Elder M. Russell Ballard, a great-great-grandson of Hyrum Smith, represented the LDS Church.

If Joseph was resurrected in 1886, his body could not have been relocated in 1928.

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Lorin C. Woolley spoke throughout as an interloper. He was spying and overhearing, but wasn’t invited into the events. Therefore, his statements should be viewed from that vantage point. On the Mount of Transfiguration Peter, James and John were invited by the Lord precisely so they would witness what took place. They saw and heard as invited participants, not interlopers. If Lorin C. Woolley was invited to witness the events, the description would have been otherwise and read much differently.

When Philo saw Joseph “in the midst of a magnificant glory” that was Joseph experiencing the glory, not Philo. Joseph was in the midst of this experience, seeing the Father and Son at the Throne of God. But that description is of Joseph’s being in the “midst” of the experience. Others understood what Joseph was undergoing from the words being spoken.

When he states he “saw the glory and felt the power, but did not witness the vision” he is referring to the same thing any of us witness when reading Section 76. It was this section which got me serious about considering Mormonism. It is glorious. It radiated power to me the instant I first read it. But seeing the glory of that great vision as I read it, like Philo Dibble’s experience hearing it dictated by Joseph, did not involve blinding light–nor seeing light from under a doorway. It was and still is a glorious document and vision. You can still feel the power of it today.

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Brigham Young was a necessary preserver of the faith. Without him the church would have stumbled. Sidney Rigdon was impaired, and we would not have done as well, and may have done much worse, with him at the helm. The point is that the church was faced with a dilemma with the loss of BOTH Joseph and Hyrum. We had no good alternative. We took the one which was probably the most practical. We have to live with it.

But that does not mean we should avoid understanding the full implications of the choice. Every choice has consequences. Until we gather together our best understanding of what happened, and sort out what was going on, we can’t know much of God’s dealing in our day.

We should not just bury our heads and trust happy stories. WE are responsible for our own salvation or damnation.
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I am the best kind of church member: I willingly accept full responsibility for the eternal outcome. As God is my witness, I will never point to Brigham Young, or Spencer W. Kimball, or Bruce R. McConkie, or Boyd K.Packer, or Thomas S. Monson in the afterlife and blame them for my own condition. I will accept sole responsibility for my eternal state. No man is my leader. No man is responsible for my understanding. I alone will blame myself for any failure, and accept no credit for what I got right. I trust only in the grace and mercy of Christ and rely utterly on His power to save me. The general authorities and local leaders ought to want every church member to be like that.

_______________________________________________

If a Fundamentalist were to return to church, they would not be welcomed by the institution. They wouldn’t have membership records, nor receive callings, nor be able to pay tithing. But they could worship there, and in many wards would be fellowshipped by the members even if the institution excluded them. They would be “visitors” and not members. But that shouldn’t deter them. In fact, if enough of them began this practice, the institution would not be oblivious to their presence. When a significant number of people were doing this, policies would be adapted to allow sincere people to repent and return. The leadership of the church would respond. But faithful return will have to precede that even being possible. It would require humility, to be sure.

Brigham Young’s Telestial Kingdom

I have completed an essay about Brigham Young and his Telestial Kingdom. The paper is available for download on Scribd. You do not need a Facebook account to access Scribd, but you do need a Scribd account. They are free and easy to set up.

As always, I suggest you read the footnotes. 

Brigham Young’s Telestial Kingdom.

We have received some comments regarding inability to download the Brigham Young essay on Scribd.  I have spent some time looking into this. I can access it from all computers, multiple browsers and an iPad. I can read it from the site, I can download it. the only thing I didn’t try is printing it. However, on the Scribd website there is a possibility that it will show an occasional blank page. If you close Scribd and and open it up again the pages will be there.

Sorting Things Out, Part 5

The reason this whole topic of plural marriage has assumed cosmic meaning in the minds of our Fundamentalist brothers and sisters is because of Brigham Young’s advocacy of this while leading the church. Brigham Young is a pretty thin reed to lean upon when it comes to doctrine, and I mean any doctrine. His utility to the Lord did not include his ability to teach, but his ability to lead, colonize and organize. He was a genius in these areas. Doctrinally, however, he has proven to be problematic.

Inside the church, he has been referred to as a man whose statements were “made in the absence of revelation.” His position on priesthood ban for those of African blood has been denounced and abandoned. His teachings on plural marriage have been abandoned. His doctrine of Adam-God has been called a “false theory.” His doctrine of annihilation of the spirits of evil beings has been renounced. However, Fundamentalists do not respect the same tradition as those who are faithful LDS members. Therefore, for those who stake their salvation on his teachings, I want to use Brigham Young’s own words to help them see how thin a reed they lean on for establishing the central importance of plural marriage for exaltation.

Brigham Young’s ordination to the apostleship was “not complete” according to those who ordained him, “till God has laid His hands upon [him]. We require as much to qualify us as did those who have gone before us; God is the same. If the Savior in former days laid His hands upon His disciples, why not in the latter days?” (DHC 2: 196.) Twenty-four years later he informed the saints this had not happened. He thought that perhaps “when [he] had lived to be as old as was Moses when the Lord appeared to him, that perhaps I then may hold communion with the Lord.” (JD 7: 243.) In 1863 he reaffirmed that no such visit had taken place, but he still hoped if he lived to be eighty it might. (JD 10: 23.) So, although he held the apostleship as an office in the church, his ordination to that office was conditioned on an event he explained had not been consummated by the Lord’s confirming ordination. How much confidence should that give you when considering his teachings?

He hesitated to call himself a “prophet, seer and revelator,” but allowed others to associate those titles with him: “[After putting the motion for himself to be sustained as ‘Prophet, Seer, and Revelator,’ the President remarked:] I will say that I never dictated the latter part of that sentence. I will make the remark, because those words in that connection always made feel as though I am called more than I am deserving of. I am Brigham Young, an Apostle of Joseph Smith, and also of Jesus Christ. If I have been profitable to these people, I am glad of it. The brethren call me so; and if it be so, I am glad.” (The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young, Vol. 3, p. 1347.)

He explained he was not a visionary man: ” I am not going to interpret dreams; for I don’t profess to be such a Prophet as were Joseph Smith and Daniel; but I am a Yankee guesser[.]” (The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young, Vol. 3, p. 1306.) He considered himself “called of Joseph” and not of the Lord: “I do not want to skip Joseph, Peter, Jesus, Moses and go to my Father in Heaven. All I ask for is to be guided by the spirit of Joseph, then let others be governed by their head, or priesthood. Joseph enjoyed the priviliges which I never thought I had. Joseph was called of God. I was called of Joseph.” (The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young, Vol. 2, p. 1108.) Is being “called of Joseph” a sufficient basis for you to trust the man with your eternal salvation?

Even when Joseph gave him the assignment to finish the Temple rites, he remained uncertain about how this would be accomplished. Ultimately, he concluded that whatever he did would be fixed by the resurrected Joseph Smith during the Millennium: “AfterJoseph comes to us in his resurrected body he will more fully instruct us concerning the Baptism for the dead and the sealing ordinances. He will say be baptized for this man and that man and that man be sealed to that man and such a man to such a man, and connect the Priesthood together. I tell you their [sic] will not be much of this done until Joseph comes. He is our spiritual Father. Our hearts are already turned to him and his to us. This [is] the order of the Holy Priesthood and we shall continue to administer in the ordinances of the kingdom of God here on Earth.” (The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young, Vol. 2, p. 1034.) Temple rites would require Joseph, not President Young, to fix the seals.

On matters affecting eternal salvation, I would not rely on a “Yankee guesser” who considered himself “called of Joseph” and not called of Christ, to give you what you need for salvation. As I have explained in Passing the Heavenly Gift and this blog, his insistence on plural marriage as a condition of being saved is not warranted by the language of Section 132.

Brigham Young explained how church leadership was not affected by who held office. His theory was that anyone could be elected, and as long as the followers prayed for them things would go perfectly: “Take any man in this kingdom, and if the people say that they will make him a President, or a Bishop, or elect him to fill any other office, and the faith of the people is concentrated to receive light through that officer or pipe laid by the power of the Priesthood from the throne of God, you might as well try to move the heavens as to receive anything wrong through that conductor. No matter whom you elect for an officer, if your faith is concentrated in him through whom to receive the things which he is appointed to administer in, light will come to you. Let a presiding officer or a Bishop turn away from righteousness, and the Lord Almighty would give him the lock-jaw, if he could not stop his mouth in any other way, or send a fit of numb palsy on him, so that he could not act, as sure as the people over whom he presided were right, that they might not be led astray.” (Complete Discourses of Brigham Young, Vol. 3, p. 1379, November 29, 1857; the talk can also found at JD Vol. 6 beginning on p. 93.) Of course, this theory did not work. As an example, Bishop Warren Snow was elected to be Bishop in Manti, but was involved in stealing tithing. Brigham Young sent traveling Bishop A. Milton Musser, then also Orson Hyde, to review records. They found between $5,000 and $8,000 of tithing missing, a substantial sum in those times.

Though he explained this theory, I do not think Brigham Young believed it at all. Had he believed it, he would not have challenged Sidney Rigdon’s claims to lead following the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum. If “any man in this kingdom” could lead, then why not Sidney? If “light will come to you” through any such man, then why not Sidney? The argument was between Sidney (who claimed revelation) and Brigham Young (who claimed to have “keys”). As a result, the debate required the church to choose between Sidney’s claims based on revelation and accept Brigham Young’s administrative “keys” as the source. Brigham Young’s leadership theory (that anyone could lead if prayed for by the membership) would have allowed the church to have both if Sidney were sustained. But Brigham Young’s insistence on having control in his quorum forced a vote by the Nauvoo Saints. The vote resulted in abandoning revelation in favor of administrative “keys” –a choice which has affected church history ever since.

This initial vote established power in the Twelve, but within three years Brigham Young found it cumbersome. He had trouble getting consensus, and John Taylor and Parley Pratt opposed him on many issues. On December 1849 he got another vote making him church president and allowing him to organize the First Presidency, an easier administrative group to control.

Once Hyrum and Joseph died, and Brigham Young succeeded in getting elected as church President, the church operated under his leadership for nearly three decades. President Taylor’s entire presidency was in exile, avoiding Federal prosecution. Wilford Woodruff compromised on the plural marriage teaching for statehood, and his presidency was thereafter affected by debate about the propriety of that decision and what it meant for the church.

It was not until the 1900’s that the church was not in the grip of a conflict brought about by Brigham Young’s presidency and teachings. By that time the mold had been set, and the form put into that mold had hardened. It doesn’t matter whether you consider yourself “Fundamentalist” or mainstream, we are all caught inside the pattern established by the Yankee guesser and the immediate aftermath. Do you want to trust your eternal welfare to him? Do you trust that man so much that you will allow his pattern to control your belief in the restoration?

I think the church has reacted poorly to the dilemma created by this man’s teachings. They have denounced his major contributions, and have cast aside many other of his teachings and practices. Those who have remained devoted to these doctrines believe what they hold dear came from a reliable source. But remember, even he rejected the idea he was a “Prophet, Seer and Revelator” because he was only an apostle of Joseph’s. The church was right to say recently that he spoke “in the absence of revelation” because that is what he did.

The mistake Fundamentalists have made is not in believing in the system, but in trusting a man. He is no more worthy of your confidence than Lorin C. Woolley. The revelation you trust is carefully composed, and defines “the eternal marriage covenant” as between one man and one wife. That is all you need for exaltation. Brigham Young’s excesses on this matter are no more trustworthy than the value of another Yankee guesser. He did what he understood. But his understanding is and was flawed. This is why the church has rejected his teachings on the core of his beliefs: plural marriage, Adam-God, priesthood ban, potential annihilation of damned souls, blood atonement, kingdom of God as earthly institution, etc. There are good reasons for the doctrinal disfavor between him and the same church he led for three decades. Turning to Lorin C. Woolley to preserve Brigham Young’s legacy is not improving your state. It is modeling a flawed model.

Despite this, to his credit, Brigham Young never invented visitations, claimed more for himself than that he was a “good hand to have around” and denied he was visited by the Lord. These statements reflect a great deal more credit on Brigham Young than the embellishments made by Brother Woolley reflect on him.

I do not fault Fundamentalists for these problems. They were created by the elected President successor to Joseph and Hyrum. He held the office, and he taught what he taught. But that does not make him right before God. Members of the LDS church should be the first to have charity for this circumstance. We should be willing to forgive this devotion to Brigham Young’s teachings because they originated with a man who was, after all, elected to lead the church for three decades. The church refused to abandon wives when it abandoned plural marriage, and Fundamentalists who would return should not be required to tear apart their families. They should reject the doctrine, and stop teaching it to their children. But the church is so very sensitive about this issue that we don’t share the same attitude.

I personally believe this problem is cured by ceasing the practice, but leaving existing families intact. I believe those who do this will be welcomed in Zion., but those who continue to advocate and insist this is fundamental to salvation itself, I don’t think will be welcomed. The conditions that are required to allow it are not met, and cannot be met by the Fundamentalists. They should recognize this and repent.

Sorting Things Out, Part 4

The part of the account where President Taylor puts those who were present under covenant to obey the principle of plural marriage seems authentic. That was why he was in hiding, after all. He left public view and presided over the church in exile, risking arrest if found.

He sacrificed a great deal to retain the principle of plural marriage. I think that did happen, or could have happened because it is entirely consistent with the events underway at the time.

His denunciation of the “manifesto” also seems authentic to me. His motto was “the kingdom of God or nothing” and he proved himself willing to suffer for a cause he believed to be true. He refused to compromise with the Federal Government, and his refusal was known, public and held to his core. So putting people under a covenant to recommit them to resist, as he was doing by example, seems authentic. It requires no embellishment.

But there is a part of the story I left out of the account. I will mention it only in general terms, as I consider the specifics sacrilege. Those who are Fundamentalist are familiar with it. It involves President Taylor, while denouncing the manifesto, rising from the floor, levitating in the air about a foot off the ground, making certain gestures, and reciting an oath very similar in content to the first Temple covenant penalty in place in 1886.

This addition is designed to add terrible significance to the denounciation. It is to inspire awe and terror in the mind of the listener/reader, but it is entirely out of place. The idea that you needed to add a Temple sign and penalty component to the denounciation of the manifesto is too strange to attribute to President Taylor. It doesn’t fit. It seems to me altogether as an embellishment put into the account in order to make the event seem more holy, more sacred and therefore more trustworthy. It does the opposite. Details like these do not belong in the account. They detract. They suggest someone is afraid they won’t be believed if they tell the story the way it was. It falls apart to my mind because it takes far too much upon itself.

This leads in turn to another addition to supplement the account which also lacks scriptural support: The appearance of Joseph Smith as the slain, hand-shaking, disembodied Prophet. This detail is added, I assume, because there was concern that unless the event was tied directly to Joseph Smith some people would resist acknowledging the authority.

However, disembodied spirits do not “shake hands.” (D&C 129: 6-7.) Joseph’s presence and hand-shaking, like the other added embellishments, are necessary to put the whole thrust of the story over. The purpose is to put into the hands of five men the ability to freelance in sealing plural marriages.

Here, then, is the nub of the whole story: “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 remained on the earth[.]” This is critical for what the Fundamentalists want to justify. They must have this in order to be able to claim post-John Taylor and post-Manifesto marriage sealings were authorized and authoritative.

First, to be clear: I think John Taylor did give authority to these five men to seal other plural marriages. In the time and setting, it makes absolute sense. They were sealing outside of the Temples, and this was being done by the highest church authorities. There is every reason to believe the difficulties of avoiding Federal prosecution tipped in favor of giving authority for others to move plural marriage sealings forward. Just like today there are others who seal marriages in addition to the church President.

HOWEVER, –and this is the problem in the account which nagged the telling of this tale and required its embellishment– this kind of delegation won’t work to perpetuate the practice indefinately. Even if President Taylor wanted to extend his reach and allow other men to be sealers during his underground days, it won’t work once President Taylor died. Their commission is entirely dependent upon the delegation by President Taylor, and cannot run independent from him. When he died, their commission needed to be renewed by President Woodruff. When it wasn’t, then their commission ended.

This is because of the very revelation upon which Fundamentalist doctrine is grounded: Section 132. In Section 132 the power to seal is consolidated in but one man at a time, “and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred” according to the revelation establishing the very doctrine they defend. (D&C 132: 7.) If this was John Taylor when the sealing authority was given, then the one man who could authorize it was John Taylor. When he died, the one man would have been Wilford Woodruff. You can’t, in any event, have “five set apart and given authority” who would later rival Wilford Woodruff’s claim to the position. That alone is contrary to the order in Section 132. This has been discussed in Beloved Enos. The claims are unscriptural and indefensible.

This scriptural impediment to the claim is the very reason we see added the light under the door, the three voices, the levitating and sacreligious oath pronouncing President Taylor, and the disembodied Joseph Smith shaking hands and presiding over the affair. They are added, though they could not possibly have happened in that way, precisely to overcome the scriptural impediment to the authority claimed by Fundamentalists to be able to continue to seal plural marriages.

I disbelieve the account, though I do not question whether President Taylor gave the ability to seal to other men in order to overcome Federal harrassment at the time he was president. But that delegation ended with his death.

To now have various pretenders all claiming they can track back to John Taylor and one of these five men their “line of authority” to seal plural marriages is a deception. There is only one man at a time who can do this. Even the church now disclaims they can perform such rites.

Sorting Things Out, Part 3

In addition to the “light” there is the problem of the “three voices.” The fact is that angels do not vibrate the air with vocal chords in order to communicate. They “speak” into the mind of the person they address. This is why there are two different quotes of the John the Baptist by Joseph and Oliver. Both of them “heard” him speak. But the “speaking” was into the mind of these two individuals. The communication “spoken” by John the Baptist was of intelligence, conveyed from the mind to the mind.

Joseph quoted John the Baptist as saying: “Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken from the earth until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.” (JS-H 1: 69.)

Oliver quoted John the Baptist as saying: “Upon you my fellow-servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer this Priesthood and this authority, which shall remain upon the earth, that the Sons of Levi may yet offer an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.” (JS-H footnote.)

For Joseph it was “the Priesthood of Aaron” and for Oliver it was “this Priesthood.” The concept is identical, the words, however, are not.

For Joseph it was “which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for remission of sins” and for Oliver it was “this authority.” Again, these are the words they used to convey the communication which came into their minds. Identical in substance, different in language. It is one of the evidences they were telling about an authentic event.

For Joseph it was “this shall never be taken from the earth until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness” and for Oliver it was “which shall remain on the earth, that the Sons of Levi may yet offer an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.”

These differences are the result of each converting into our language the thoughts or intelligence which came from the angel. Angels do not vibrate the air. They “speak” otherwise, in thought – mind to mind.
Similarly, none of those who occupied the same room, even the same bed as Joseph the night of the Angel Moroni’s visit heard anything. No one was awakened during the all-night repetitious lectures to Joseph by the  Angel. No one else in the room heard anything. Only silence.

So in the embellished and untrue account of Lorin Woolley he adds a detail about the “voices of three men” coming from inside the room in an attempt to add credibility to the account. It doesn’t. It shows something has been added that did not happen. Details matter. From this I can say he lacks knowledge and experience in contact with angelic ministers.

Putting Joseph Smith into this setting as one of the “three voices” is additionally problematic.

It is also a questionable detail that the guard placed for the inside door would abandon his post and go outside to inspect the window screens. I assume he added this detail to insure the “credibility” of the appearance inside the room through miraculous means. Apparently the creator(s) of the account did not want to trust the lighting effect alone, but wanted to add a miraculous component to the arrival of Christ and Joseph Smith as well. Because as any skeptic would conclude, if they had broken open the exterior window screens to enter, I suppose we would not believe it was Christ or Joseph Smith.

I also note the morning-time glow of president Taylor in the account. This brightness which was difficult to look upon is akin to Moses’ descent from the mount, and designed to furnish that same sense of awe and holiness to the affair. I would think if that were the case, we would have something in the George Q. Cannon or L. John Nuttal diaries about the incident.