BOWbutton

This button is a resource to link those desiring baptism with those having authority to baptize. More information can be found here.

 

Framework

The scriptures set both the framework to teach, and the standard for teaching content. The scriptures provoked the restoration through Joseph. (JS-H 1:11-12.) The resurrected Lord taught from the scriptures, both in Palestine (Luke 24:25-27) and in the new world (3 Ne. 23:5-6.) Christ pointed to the scriptures as the source to be searched for truth concerning Him. (John 5:39.)

When the apostate Sherem was confronted, and his error denounced, those who heard Jacob “searched the scriptures, and no longer hearkened to the words of this wicked man.” (Jacob 7:23.) When Alma and Amulek finished preaching, those who were converted “began to repent, and to search the scriptures.” (Alma 14:1.)

Once people who had been led astray repented, they looked more carefully at the scriptures to guide them, so they would not fall into error again. The scriptures fortified them against false teachings.

All scripture is given to us for our profit and guidance. They can correct our errors and teach us righteousness. (2 Tim. 3:16.)

Everything I do, teach and write is taken from the scriptures. They are the framework and the standard for the content of anything I teach.

Faith Requires Correct Acts

James wrote, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.” (James 2:17-18.) To the same effect, Lectures on Faith explain, “it is faith, and faith only, which is the moving cause of all action, in them; that without it, both mind and body would be in a state of inactivity, and all their exertions would cease, both physical and mental.” (Lecture First:10.) Faith sets man into action, and whatever it is that man believes he acts in conformity with that. All that is required to trap mankind is to have us accept false ideas. We cannot help but act in conformity with them–whether they are true or false.

Saving faith must be grounded upon a correct understanding of God’s will. As Lectures explain, there are some indispensable requirements for saving faith in God, including “a correct idea of his character, perfections and attributes.” (Lecture Third:4.) We cannot be wrong about God and have saving faith. If we misapprehend His character, we are darkened in our understanding and are likely to be misled. Faith in the only true and wise God gets replaced by worship of others thought to be among the hosts of heaven, like the evil king Manasseh. Manasseh brought into the temple altars to worship the “hosts of heaven” like the heathen (or Wiccan) do. This folly offended God, and God spoke to condemn it, but the people would not listen to God. (2 Chr. 33:2-10.) The false worship of the “hosts of heaven” brought the judgments of God upon those who should have known better. They were warned, failed to heed the warning, and were destroyed. (Zeph. 1:4-9.)

Faith likewise requires we have “an actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing, is according to his will.—For without an acquaintance with these three important facts, the faith of every rational being must be imperfect and unproductive; but with this understanding, it can become perfect and fruitful, abounding in righteousness unto the praise and glory of God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Lecture Third:5.) It is impossible to disobey God and obtain the assurance from Him that a man is pursuing His will.

If we are not doing His will, He will not give us such an assurance. It is contrary to His nature to confirm to us we are pleasing Him when our acts displease Him. When a man or woman worships the hosts of heaven, a divine mother, false spirits, or pursues a course different from the one that follows God’s will, any “assurance” that we are pleasing God comes from a lying source. If we are deceived by a lying spirit, it is impossible to have faith. Joseph Smith said,”A man must have the discerning of spirits before he can drag into daylight this hellish influence and unfold it unto the world in all its soul-destroying, diabolical, and horrid colors; for nothing is a greater injury to the children of men than to be under the influence of a false spirit when they think they have the Spirit of God.” (See Times and Seasons, April 1, 1842, “Try the Spirits.”) He also taught, “Lying spirits are going forth in the earth. There will be great manifestations of spirits, both false and true. … Every spirit, or vision, or singing, is not of God.” (DHC 3:391.)

Saving faith also requires worship of God by correctly identifying the object of your worship. We are authorized to extend faith in God as correctly identified in the Lectures. Whenever the subject is God, “the Godhead: we mean the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There are two personages who constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power over all things—by whom all things were created and made, that are created and made, whether visible or invisible: whether in heaven, on earth, or in the earth, under the earth, or throughout the immensity of space—They are the Father and the Son: The Father being a personage of spirit, glory and power: possessing all perfection and fulness: The Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle, made, or fashioned like unto man, or being in the form and likeness of man, or, rather, man was formed after his likeness, and in his image;—he is also the express image and likeness of the personage of the Father: possessing all the fulness of the Father, or, the same fulness with the Father; being begotten of him, and was ordained from before the foundation of the world to be a propitiation for the sins of all those who should believe on his name, and is called the Son because of the flesh—and descended in suffering below that which man can suffer, or, in other words, suffered greater sufferings, and was exposed to more powerful contradictions than any man can be. But notwithstanding all this, he kept the law of God, and remained without sin: Showing thereby that it is in the power of man to keep the law and remain also without sin. And also, that by him a righteous judgment might come upon all flesh, and that all who walk not in the law of God, may justly be condemned by the law, and have no excuse for their sins. And he being the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and having overcome, received a fulness of the glory of the Father—possessing the same mind with the Father, which mind is the Holy Spirit, that bears record of the Father and the Son, and these three are one, or in other words, these three constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power over all things: by whom all things were created and made, that were created and made: and these three constitute the Godhead, and are one: The Father and the Son possessing the same mind, the same wisdom, glory, power and fulness: Filling all in all—the Son being filled with the fulness of the Mind, glory and power, or, in other words, the Spirit, glory and power of the Father—possessing all knowledge and glory, and the same kingdom: sitting at the right hand of power, in the express image and likeness of the Father—a Mediator for man—being filled with the fulness of the Mind of the Father, or, in other words, the Spirit of the Father: which Spirit is shed forth upon all who believe on his name and keep his commandments: and all those who keep his commandments shall grow up from grace to grace, and become heirs of the heavenly kingdom, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ; possessing the same mind, being transformed into the same image or likeness, even the express image of him who fills all in all: being filled with the fulness of his glory, and become one in him, even as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one.” (Lecture Fifth:1-2.)

This description of the Godhead excludes a mother-in-heaven, the hosts of heaven, and other extraneous objects of veneration. Faith must be centered in the God of heaven or it cannot save.

Tiresome Lying

The hyper-political reporting by the major news outlets has become tiresome. It is no longer watchable. All sense of decency and fairness has been abandoned in order to polarize. Candidates use every device of rhetoric and distortion to portray their opponent to be astonishingly evil, untrustworthy, incompetent, vile and dangerous.

There is no attempt at fairness, no recognition of virtue in the opponent. If you trusted the partisan press you would believe the two major political parties of this nation have insanely chosen to offer us a stupid criminal or a dangerous egomaniac for our presidential candidates.

Washington is corrupt. Both of these candidates have exploited the corruption to gain power by using opposite means. Nevertheless it is corruption which has produced the present choice.

This foolish angry debate between parties may generate interest, sell papers, improve ratings, and increase audience share for the purveyors of propaganda, but it divides people into thoughtless hostile opposing camps. It is unworthy of us.

Suspend all judgment until the candidates debate each other, and decide between them based on the content of their respective explanations. Turn the debate off as soon as the candidates finish speaking, and avoid the highly paid, politically motivated “analysts” who try to tell you what to think afterwards. They are well-paid liars offering opinions for hire, who are far more loyal to their bosses than our country.

As long as we the people have the right to vote bad leaders out and new leaders in to office, no political problem is insurmountable.

Sunstone Paper

The paper that the Sunstone talk I gave yesterday is available as a download. You can view or download the paper here.

We are working to add it to the “Downloads” area of this website and should have that accomplished later today.

Missionary Outreach

The purpose of A Man Without Doubt is to allow those with a desire to open a conversation regarding the restoration with non-Mormons to have a resource to invite questions. The best way to introduce new religious truths is by answering questions. The book explains Joseph Smith in his own words. He explained his beliefs simply, forthrightly, and persuasively. When he is allowed to speak, he does not appear to be the fanatical despot most non-Mormons conjure as their imagined character.

I’m giving copies of the book to others in the hope they will want to learn more. It is intended to be a resource for anyone to use with non-Mormons. We all have an obligation to others. When we are informed about how God is advancing His last-days work, we are obligated to inform others, “it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.” (D&C 88:81.)

2016 Sunstone Symposium

This coming Friday, July 29, I will be speaking at the Sunstone Symposium at the University of Utah. I speak at 5:00 p.m. The lecture is titled: Was There An Original?

The lecture will examine how Mormonism changed during Joseph Smith’s lifetime. By taking a few topics to illustrate the overall phenomena, I hope to provide some additional insight into Joseph’s ministry and how to put context to the restoration. It was an incomplete work-in-process. There is a great deal left to be done.

New Book For Christians

A new book addressed to Christians is now available on Amazon. The book is titled A Man Without Doubt.

It is intended to be readable. There are no footnotes, and it is just under 200 pages. The book introduces material written by Joseph Smith by laying the historical setting that produced the document. Then Joseph is allowed to speak to the reader in his own words. The book was reviewed by non-Mormon readers beforehand, and their comments and suggestions were solicited and considered in finalizing it.

If you know of a Christian who has a negative opinion of Joseph Smith, you may want to lend them a copy of this book to see if influences them in a positive way.

Mormons may not appreciate the book. There is very little about the history leading to each of the three writings that is particularly flattering. The book first explains the frustrations and disappointments Joseph encountered in trying to convey to others the higher priesthood. In response to the failure, Joseph set out to address the lack of faith. Lectures on Faith were given in the School of the Prophets, then canonized in the Doctrine and Covenants to address the crisis of faith early Mormons experienced when the higher priesthood did not work as expected.

The second crisis began in 1837 and lasted through 1838. The collapse of the Kirtland Safety Society, the many members angry at Joseph, his flight to Missouri to escape the Mormons who intended to kill him, and the troubles in Missouri leading up to the Mormon War are explained as background. When John Whitmer, the historian of the church, left with the history, Joseph began a new composition in 1838 to replace the one Whitmer took. The background is prelude to the Joseph Smith History, and explains why Joseph wrote many of the comments in his history.

The third crisis was when Joseph was taken prisoner in the Mormon War. For six months in 1838-1839 he was confined in Missouri while Mormons were scattered from the state under threat of extermination. The background explains the circumstances in which Joseph wrote the letter from Liberty Jail.

After introducing the events leading to the three Joseph Smith compositions, the reader is allowed to read Joseph’s response to the crises. Everyone is allowed to form their own opinion of Joseph by considering how he reacted.

There is a glossary to help those unacquainted with Mormon language and leading figures to familiarize themselves with events, persons and texts of early Mormonism.

Most of the opposition Joseph Smith encountered had either disaffected Mormons leading or participating against him. His responses are all the more remarkable because of how positive he remained throughout.

If you know anyone, including Christian ministers, who could benefit from reading the book, please share it with them. Nothing in the book attempts to convert anyone to Mormonism. Its only purpose is to introduce Joseph Smith as a Christian figure whose life, in many ways, was like the Apostle Paul. A quote from Paul in the beginning of the book supplies all later chapter titles.

Now Christians

I finished and submitted for print a new book addressed to Christians. The book is an attempt to re-introduce Joseph Smith as an important Christian figure, separate from institutional Mormonism. It is time he became relevant to all Christians, and no longer regarded as the property of Mormonism. The new book should be available on Amazon by early August if anyone is interested.

The time has come to give attention to Christians who are not part of the Mormon tradition. Other faiths need to be invited to think about what God is doing to finish His work. Christians have barriers, including prejudices and traditions, but all need to be invited to consider how great things the Lord has done for mankind.

For several months I have solicited the opportunity to speak at several theological schools. Although I did get invited to speak to a group of “Mormon Studies” graduate students in California, they are not who I need to address. The other efforts have not proven successful. Accordingly, I thought it appropriate to make it public. I am looking for an opportunity to speak to a Christian audience, and enlist help from others.

If anyone knows of a Christian venue that meets the description below, please contact me and let me know:

I would like to give three talks, one in California, one in Texas and one in Atlanta. I will pay my own travel costs, and do not expect or want to be compensated for speaking. The audience should be comprised of Christians, and not Mormons. I would like to record the talks and make them available on-line for others to hear. The size of the venue is unimportant. I would prefer a theological school, but would welcome any venue with a Christian audience, including a church if one were available. Below is a brief biographical description you can use to solicit the invitation:

I converted to the LDS church when 19 years old, and served faithfully for 40 years. Among other things, I was an Elder’s Quorum President, Sunday School President, Bishop’s counselor, Ward Mission Leader, High Councilor, and Graduate Institute Instructor. I taught for three years at BYU Education Week on the Brigham Young University campus in Provo, Utah. I graduated from the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University in 1980, and have practiced law for 36 years. I have authored 15 volumes on Mormonism, including Mormon history and doctrine. I was excommunicated for publishing a book challenging the traditional LDS church narrative of its history, and offering a new interpretation of the events. My excommunication was directed by Elder Russell M. Nelson, current President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS church.

I will be addressing the topic of Joseph Smith as a significant Christian figure, worthy of considering alongside all other important Christian thinkers, writers and martyrs.

You can send a response to dssnuffer@gmail.com.

The Martyrs

Hyrum fell first, and as the eldest brother led the way. Joseph died moments later. Today is the anniversary of their martyrdom.

Exactly as the angel foretold, the name of Joseph Smith is “had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people.” (JS-H 1:33.) Just as the Lord affirmed to Joseph in Liberty Jail, “fools shall have thee in derision, and hell shall rage against thee; While the pure in heart, and the wise, and the noble, and the virtuous, shall seek counsel, and authority, and blessings constantly from under thy hand.” (D&C 122:1-2.)

The evil spoken of Joseph now comes from the LDS Church, which claims him as their founder. It comes from Brian Hales, who claims to be an accurate biographer. It comes from anti-Mormons, and Christian ministers, and fundamentalists who have created a caricature they claim to be Joseph. There is little difference between these people and William Law, Charles Ivins, Francis Higbee, Chauncey Higbee, Robert Foster and Charles Foster who published the Nauvoo Expositor.

It would be good if some (or all) of those who claim Joseph was a sexual predator and adulterer for impregnating another man’s wife, were to apologize and acknowledge there is no compelling proof Joseph ever had sexual relations with any other woman other than Emma Smith. Even the putative last suspected daughter, Josephine Lyons, is now ruled out as his descendant. I have not read any apology for the false accusation that he was the father from Hales, the church, or any of his accusers.

In the aftermath of John Bennett’s misconduct, Joseph pursued an effort to track down what had happened in Nauvoo. By May 21, 1842, the high council met and, “[A] charge [was] [preferred] against Chauncey L. Higbee by George Miller for unchaste and un-virtuous conduct with the widow [Sarah] Miller, and others.” (Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes, p. 414, all as in original.) In the trial, “Three witness[es] testified that he had seduced [several women] and at different times [had] been guilty of unchaste and unvirtuous conduct with them and taught the doctrine that it was right to have free intercourse with women if it was kept secret &c and also taught that Joseph Smith authorised him to practice these things &c” (Id., pp. 414-415, as in original.)

On May 25 the charge was preferred “against Ms. Catherine Warren by George Miller for unchaste and unvirtuous conduct with John C. Bennett and others. The defendant confessed to the charge and gave the names of several other [men] who had been guilty having unlawful intercourse with her[,] stating they taught the doctrine that it was right to have free intercourse with women and that the heads of the Church also taught and practiced it[,] …learning that the heads of the church did not believe of [the] practice [of] such things[,] she was willing to confess her sins and did repent before God for what she had done and desired earnestly that the Council would forgive her.”(Id., p. 417, as in original.) She furnished the identities of the several men involved, resulting in more church court proceedings to stop the spread of Bennett’s mischief.

On September 3, 1842, “[A] charge was preferred against Gustavius Hills by Elisha Everett[,] one of the teachers of the Church[,] for illicit intercourse with a certain woman by the name of Mary Clift by which she was with child[,] and for teaching the said Mary Clift that that the heads of the Church practiced such conduct & that time would come when men would have more wives than one &c” (Id., p. 424, as in original.)

The next day, September 4, 1842, “Esther Smith gave evidence that [the] defendant [Gustavius Hills] told her that it was lawful for people to have illicit intercourse if they only held their peac[e] & that the time would it was agreeable to the practice of some of the leading men or heads of the Church.” (Id., p. 425, as in original.)

Yet more courts were held as the effort to round up those who were involved in this practice. John Bennett, in response to the treatment given him by the church, set out to tell another story in which he was the hero and Joseph was the villain. He wrote, lectured and campaigned against Mormonism, first to salvage his reputation, but ultimately as his profession.

Joseph left a record of public and private actions taken in opposing the plural wife system. These included: “I preached in the grove and pronounced a curse upon all adulterers and fornicators, and unvirtuous persons and those who have made use of my name to carry on their iniquitous designs.” (Joseph Smith (Sermon at the Grove; Apr 10, 1842)

Then there is the obviously altered Joseph Smith journal for Thursday 5th October 1843, which confirms there was an effort to alter documents to conform to later events and practices:

(ORIGINAL) Evening at home and walked up and down the street with my scribe. Gave inst[r]uction to try those who were preaching teaching or practicing the doctrin of plurality of wives. on this Law. Joseph forbids it. and the practice ther[e]of— No man shall have but one wife.

(REVISED) Evening at home and walked up and down the street with my scribe. Gave inst[r]uction to try those who were preaching teaching or practicing the doctrin of plurality of wives. on this law for according to the law i hold the keys of this power in the last days, for there is never but one on earth at a time on whom the power? and the keys are conferred – and I have continually said Joseph forbids it. and the practice ther[e]of No man shall have but one wife at a time unless the Lord directs otherwise

          Someone revised the content at a later date. Once revised at a later date, it was “on” again, and perhaps retroactively “on” since the original alterations were not possible to detect until the Joseph Smith Papers project made the original available for public view.

There was a published denunciation of polygamy in early February 1844 in the newspaper edited by Joseph:

“As we have lately been credibly informed, that an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter-day Saints, by the name of Hiram Brown, has been preaching Polygamy, and other false and corrupt doctrines, in the county of Lapeer, state of Michigan. This is to notify him and the Church in general, that he has been cut off from the church, for his iniquity; and he is further notified to appear at the Special Conference, on the 6th of April next, to make answer to these charges.”  (Joseph Smith & Hyrum Smith, Times and Seasons Vol. 5 (February 1, 1844).)

The Relief Society later put out a more detailed document titled A Voice of Innocence from Nauvoo that offered an even stronger denial of plural marriage. It was penned by W. W. Phelps at the request of Joseph Smith. The document was presented to a general meeting of the church at which Joseph presided in March 1844, three months before he was killed:

“A vast assembly of Saints met at the Temple of the Lord at nine o’clock a. m., by a special appointment of President Joseph Smith, for the purpose of advancing the progress of the Temple, &c. The Patriarch, Hyrum Smith, was present; also of the Twelve Apostles Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, Willard Richards, Wilford Woodruff, John Taylor, and George A. Smith; also the temple committee and about eight thousand Saints….[later in the meeting] an article was also read by W. W. Phelps, entitled, A Voice of innocence from Nauvoo, and all the assembly said ‘Amen’ twice.” (DHC 6:236, p 241.)

I tire of hearing Joseph’s name associated with evil. Particularly from those who claim to honor him as a prophet. On this day I would defend his honor and affirm he is exactly who and what he claimed. He was a virtuous man, in love with his wife Emma, and opposed to adultery, immorality and dishonesty.