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Little Known Propaganda: 17 – Life on the Moon

2 Apr

This is my continuing responses to the list of “little known facts” referenced at the blog Sound Doctrine. On this blog the author presents the list along with responses to each from a F.A.I.R. Mormon scholar, known only as CleanCut. In addition the author of this blog, known as Damon, gives a response to CleanCut. As I said in my introduction blog, I am writing a response to each fact in a lengthy series. I will not, however, comment on what CleanCut or Damon said.

See also Fact #1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8#9#10#11#12#13a#13b#14#15, 16

 

FACT #17. Joseph Smith taught the moon was inhabited by people who dressed like Quakers and lived to be about 1000 years old.

In the Mormon publication, The Young Woman’s Journal, pp. 263 & 264, O.B. Huntington gives this interesting information:

“As far back as 1837, I know that he [Joseph Smith] said the moon was inhabited by men and women the same as this earth, and that they lived to a greater age than we do – that they live generally to near the age of 1000 years. He [Smith] described the men as averaging near six feet in height, and dressing quite uniformly in something near the Quaker style.”

Now that man has walked on the Moon, there can be no doubt that there aren’t any 6 foot tall Quakers roaming its surface.

 

This one might have been little known before the age of the internet, and even in the early years of the internet. How well known it was when this list was first put together would be impossible to say, but of all the items on the list, it is likely the least well known. The reason for this is that it is stated in only two places, and both sources are fairly rare. The Young Woman’s Journal was printed from 1889 to 1896, when the New Era took its place. The fact that a single article from more than 100 years ago is not known to the general membership is hardly surprising. When you consider that it was an independent publication (meaning associated with but not published by the church) it is even less surprising. This journal did not, nor has it ever represented actually church doctrine, and anyone who says it does has no idea what they are talking about.

But, regardless of that, there is still the fair question of whether or not Joseph Actually said this. So, let us examine this from a historical perspective, rather than from a theological one.

 

First

Brother Huntington says that he knows Joseph taught this. He doesn’t say that he heard Joseph teach it. We know why this is by reading Brother Huntington’s journal. However, this journal was kept only during the years of 1880-1882. This means the entries in it for any period before that were recollections and not immediate accounts. Now, in these recollections Brother Huntington writes about the idea of life on the moon twice. The first time he says basically what is quoted here, without claiming to have heard Joseph say this himself. The second time he again gives the same details, but states that Joseph Smith had told a Philo Dibble the information, thus indicating that Brother Huntington received the information from Brother Dibble.

The acceptance that Brother Huntington got his information second hand is re-enforced when we look at his life and the life of Brother Dibble. Brother Huntington was 13 when he was baptized in 1836, and thus would have been only 14 in 1837; and only a member for a year. However, in this same year Philo Dibble would have been 31 years old and a member for 7 years. As this is the year that Brother Huntington claims the idea of life on the moon originated it is infinitely more likely that Joseph would have told an older and more established member of the church, who would relay the information years later to a younger member.

So what we have is the recollections of an older man (in 1880 he would have been 57) about something that another brother told him that Joseph Smith had once said nearly 45 years earlier. Regardless of what Brother Huntington believed, it is not compelling evidence to accept that Joseph Smith ever actually said this.

 

Second

If we accept that Joseph Smith did say this, then let us look at the historical context. Several decades earlier one William Herschel, a prominent astronomer and the discoverer of Uranus and infrared light on the sun, had published a paper in which he not only declared a belief in life on the moon but also the sun (see page 22 of the PDF document). Then, in 1835 a series of articles appeared in The Sun in New York purporting to give details of the life on the moon, and sited to John Herschel, William’s son, who was then a prominent astronomer as his father had been. These articles were revealed to be a hoax, but many people had already latched onto the idea and belief in life on the moon became strong and enduring, taking many decades to dispel.

It also seems that these articles were reprinted in a paper close to Kirtland, and thus it is perfectly reasonable to believe that the members of the LDS church in the area not only read them, but were also fooled into believing them as many others had been. The difference is that the saints had a prophet to whom they believed they could go to get the final answer. So it is also very likely that some of the saints asked Joseph Smith about this, including Brother Dibble.

We must also consider the personality of Joseph Smith. By all accounts he could be quite sarcastic when people were unwilling to listen and was willing to give people what they wanted (in a sarcastic way) if they persisted. For instance; when two sectarian preachers came to visit him in an attempt to trap him in his scriptural understanding he withstood their questions and trapped them with his. When they were about to leave in frustration he made a mark on the ground and took a leap, challenging them to a jumping contest. They went away insulted at such a challenge on the Sabbath, and yet Joseph had, in a sarcastic and mocking way, given them what they wanted; something to criticize.

Taking all this into account it is not unlikely that the members of the church had asked about life on the moon, to which Joseph Smith had not given an answer, or declared that he did not know. But, as he was the prophet, the members kept asking him, assuming (as many today assume) that as the prophet God had revealed everything to him. Getting tired of the constant questions he gave them the answer they were looking for, but with such sarcasm as to be rather ridiculous. But there were those in the church that took this sarcasm literally and chose to believe it to be a prophetic revelation.

 

So, we can reject that Joseph Smith ever actually said, as the historical evidence for it is not compelling; or we can accept that he did say it, but in the context of the time said it in sarcasm and some members foolishly took it as revealed truth. Either way it is at best an intriguing footnote on church history.

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Little Known Propaganda: 16 – Apostates Become Wrinkled and Black

5 Sep

This is my continuing responses to the list of “little known facts” referenced at the blog Sound Doctrine. On this blog the author presents the list along with responses to each from a F.A.I.R. Mormon scholar, known only as CleanCut. In addition the author of this blog, known as Damon, gives a response to CleanCut. As I said in my introduction blog, I am writing a response to each fact in a lengthy series. I will not, however, comment on what CleanCut or Damon said.

See also Fact #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13a, #13b, #14, #15

 

FACT #16. Brigham Young claimed that those who leave the Mormon Church would turn “wrinkled” and “black.”

The following curse was pronounced by Brigham Young:

“. . .but let them apostatize, and they will become gray-haired, wrinkled, and black, just like the Devil.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p. 332)

There have been tens of thousands of people leave the Mormon Church – Where are the “black and wrinkled” ones?

 

As much as some may hate to admit it, this is an actual quote from Brigham Young. However, I see no problem with it, when you understand the full context of his comments. This is truly just another example of the author twisting the words of great men in order to make it appear as if they are guilty of something they are not.

So, here is the full context of the quote.

I feel to bless this people, and they are a God−blessed people. Look at them, and see the difference from their condition a few years ago! Brethren who have been on missions, can you see any difference in this people from the time you went away until your return? [Voices: “Yes.”] You can see men and women who are sixty or seventy years of age looking young and handsome; but let them apostatize, and they will become gray−haired, wrinkled, and black, just like the Devil.

Notice that Brigham Young is not speaking of just the physical characteristics of a person, but also of general appearance, or what could be called the countenance. Countenance is generally defined as “appearance, especially the look or expression of the face.” It is also true that Black has several uses, one being “boding ill; sullen or hostile; threatening.” This meaning is also used in the Bible by the prophet Jeremiah. He uses such phrases “For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black” (Jeremiah 8: 21), “they are black unto the ground” (Jeremiah 14: 2), and “Their visage is blacker than a coal” (Lamentations 4: 8). Some of these refer more to sullen or gloomy dispositions, but they are still used to describe the attitude, or countenance of the person rather than their physical features.

So, Brigham Young is saying that those who live the gospel of God are blessed with good health and vigor, and that their very appearance is brighter. On the other hand, those who apostatize are not so blessed, but will show the signs of age more acutely, and their expressions and mannerisms will be sullen or hostile; or, in other words, black.

 

Now, the author points out that many people have left the church, and asks where the black ones are. But in doing so he is trying to force the reader into believing that Brigham Young used the term as a physical description, and not in the way he was actually using it.

On another note I will admit that Brigham Young uses the term wrinkled, but since he has specifically referenced those who are 60 or 70 years old, I think wrinkles are hardly surprising if one is showing their age.

 

Also, leaving the church and apostatizing are not exactly the same thing, as the author implies. Leaving is a simple falling away and disinterest. Apostasy is much more involved, and those who truly are apostates do tend to become very hostile to the church. I have met some apostates, and I would describe their demeanor and basic character as black, as their only real goal seems to be tearing down and destroying what they once believed. They have no real desire to bring others to believe in Christ in anyway. As long as they can destroy the faith that they have come to hate, that is all that matters. This is a black character, and these kinds of people generally show their age more acutely, largely because such hatred stresses the body and wears it out faster.

Little Known Propaganda: 15 – Shake a Messenger’s Hand

4 Sep

This is my continuing responses to the list of “little known facts” referenced at the blog Sound Doctrine. On this blog the author presents the list along with responses to each from a F.A.I.R. Mormon scholar, known only as CleanCut. In addition the author of this blog, known as Damon, gives a response to CleanCut. As I said in my introduction blog, I am writing a response to each fact in a lengthy series. I will not, however, comment on what CleanCut or Damon said.

See also Fact #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13a, #13b, #14

 

FACT #15. Mormons are taught to “shake hands” with a messenger to determine if he is from God or if he is the devil.

The following information is found in Mormon scripture:

“When a messenger comes saying he has a message from God, offer him your hand and request him to shake hands with you. If he be an angel he will do so, and you will feel his hand. . . . If it were the devil as an angel of light, when you ask him to shake hands he will offer you his hand, and you will not feel anything; you may therefore detect him.” (Doctrine and Covenants 129:4, 5, 8)

Rather than trusting in “feelings” the Bible commands us to: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (I Thessalonians 5:21)

 

On this point I think a closer, and more thorough, look at the passages in question is in order. After all, this Fact quotes only three verses. Thus a little more context will shed light on the matter; and section 129 of the Doctrine and Covenants is only 9 verses long.

1-3. There are two kinds of beings in heaven, namely: Angels, who are resurrected personages, having bodies of flesh and bones—For instance, Jesus said: Handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. Secondly: the spirits of just men made perfect, they who are not resurrected, but inherit the same glory.

Here we are taught that there are two types of heavenly beings. This is very significant. We are also taught what these two types are, and what the difference between them is. This is a radical idea, and shocking to some, for Joseph Smith is talking of heavenly beings as being men who once lived in mortality and have been glorified by God. It is a very new idea to many.

After this explanation of the types of heavenly beings, Joseph Smith then proceeds to tell us a means by which we may know which type they are, or if they are heavenly messengers at all.

4 When a messenger comes saying he has a message from God, offer him your hand and request him to shake hands with you.

This is a very simple thing, and, like Naaman the Syrian, many people in the modern day are offended that such a simple, and obviously mortal act, could be used to discern heavenly messengers. But, as Naaman learned, it is by simple means that God does some of the greatest work.

5 If he be an angel he will do so, and you will feel his hand.

What could be more logical than the idea that it is possible to feel the hand of a being that has a physical body? If it is physical than surely it would be perceptible to the physical senses? So, what more natural way to determine if a messenger is an angel, who has a physical body?

6-7 If he be the spirit of a just man made perfect he will come in his glory; for that is the only way he can appear—Ask him to shake hands with you, but he will not move, because it is contrary to the order of heaven for a just man to deceive; but he will still deliver his message.

And here is how a ministering spirit is known. Just as it is logical to assume that a being with a physical body can be felt, it is just as logical that a being without a physical body cannot. Knowing this a ministering spirit from heaven will not shake hands.

Now, it says this because it is contrary to heaven for him to deceive you. But how would this be a deception? It would merely prove that he is not yet resurrected, wouldn’t it? But this is explained next.

8 If it be the devil as an angel of light, when you ask him to shake hands he will offer you his hand, and you will not feel anything; you may therefore detect him.

Devils, ever seeking to deceiving, will try to convince a person they are an angel from heaven by shaking your hand. But, as they are spirits, never having the privilege of being born into physical bodies (Bible Dictionary: Devil), we cannot feel them. This is just as logical as everything else stated in this section.

The reason ministering spirits are forbidden to shake hands is because the devils do try to. Thus, if the ministering spirits did they would be causing confusion and strengthening the deception of the devils. After all, it would be much harder to discern between a devil and ministering spirit if they both shook your hand and you didn’t feel it.

As I said, this is a radical idea to many, and may very well shock those who are not acquainted with the church and what it teaches. But is very logical in how it is presented, and the means given cannot be easily dismissed.

 

The author seems to want to refer us back to Fact #9, and his objection to inner feelings as testimonies of truth. While I have, in that article, shown that such inner feelings are biblical, they have no bearing on the issue at hand. This teaching is talking of physical sensation, not an emotion reaction. It is an attempt on the author’s part to mislead the reader by making a false association.

However, the author does give a biblical quote in an attempt to show that the bible teaching things differently. He quote Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians where he exhorts them to “Prove all things.” So, I would ask “How do we prove all things?” After all, Paul doesn’t actually give us any processes whereby such proof can be obtained. He simply tells us to obtain it.

How do we prove things? Well, in the case of ministering angels and spirits, we prove them through a handshake. There is nothing contradictory here. Joseph Smith has merely provided the means by which we may do as Paul has exhorted us.

Little Known Propaganda: 14 – 56 Year Prophecy

25 Aug

This is my continuing responses to the list of “little known facts” referenced at the blog Sound Doctrine. On this blog the author presents the list along with responses to each from a F.A.I.R. Mormon scholar, known only as CleanCut. In addition the author of this blog, known as Damon, gives a response to CleanCut. As I said in my introduction blog, I am writing a response to each fact in a lengthy series. I will not, however, comment on what CleanCut or Damon said.

See also Fact #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13a, #13b

 

FACT #14. In 1835 Joseph Smith prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord.

At a meeting called by Joseph Smith he instructed the Latter-day Saints that it was “the will of God” to go forth and “prune the vineyard for the last time, or the coming of the Lord, which was nigh-even fifty-six years should wind up the scene.” (History of the Church, vol. 2, p. 182) Eight years later he reinforced this by stating:

“I prophesy in the name of the Lord God, and let it be written – the Son of Man will not come in the clouds of heaven till 1 am eighty-five years old.” (History of the Church, vol. 5, p. 336)

These are obvious False Prophesies which would make Joseph Smith a False Prophet.

 

Before I address the full claims being made here, I would like to point out first that this fact is completely true, as it is stated initially. Joseph Smith did indeed prophesy concerning the coming of Christ. Of course, so did almost every other prophet who ever lived, so it should not be surprising that Joseph Smith would as well.

However, what the author is really trying to do is claim as fact his opinion that Joseph Smith was a false prophet. He doesn’t state that as part of the fact, of course, but that is the intention of including this in the list.

 

On this point, of Joseph being a false prophet, the author provides two different references to where Joseph Smith spoke concerning the coming of Christ. Let us look at each separately.

 

His first reference is from the second volume of the History of the church, and comes from the minutes of a meeting that Joseph Smith had called on February 14, 1835 in Kirtland. At this meeting all those “who journeyed last season to Zion for the purpose of laying the foundation of its redemption” were called together. After opening the meeting Joseph called the men together and addressed them regarding their service in Zion’s Camp. It was at this meeting, on the second day, that the first Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was chosen, and soon after that the first Quorum of the Seventies was called.

In the context of this meeting we are given a summary of what Joseph Smith said to the brother. The minutes were taken by a scribe and recorded in the History of the Church. In this record we read that Joseph

“gave a relation of some of the circumstances attending while journeying to Zion…and said God …had it in remembrance yet; and it was the will of God that those who went Zion…should be ordained to the ministry, and go forth to prune the vineyard for the last time, or the coming of the Lord, which was nigh—even fifty-six years should wind up the scene.”

What was being said here? It is clear that the subject was the calling of the men of Zion’s Camp to the ministry, in preparation of the coming of the Lord. However, the exact words are not known, and thus the exact meaning is not known.

If it is calculated 56 years from the year 1835, brings us to the year 1891. We know that Christ did not return in that year, but there is something else of note that did happen. By the year 1891, all of the original 12 apostles were dead. From all I have been able to discover, the seven presidents of the Quorum of the Seventy were also dead. A little extra research is needed, but it appears that all members of Zion’s Camp had died by the year 1891. So, it would appear that 56 years did, in fact, wind-up the scene of the ministry that these men were called to.

 

 

Now, the second reference seems even more damning, as it is in Joseph Smith’s own words. However, if you look at what he is saying, and look at the context, you will see that what he said did, in fact, come to pass. So, let us see the full quote.

I was once praying earnestly upon this subject, and a voice said unto me, “My son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years of age, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man.” I was left to draw my own conclusions concerning this; and I took the liberty to conclude that if I did live to that time, He would make His appearance. But I do not say whether He will make his appearance or I shall go where He is. I prophesy in the name of the Lord God, and let it be written—the Son of Man will not come in the clouds of heaven till I am eighty-five years old.

So, the only definite thing that Joseph Smith prophesied was that Christ would not come before he was 85 years old. That would have been the year 1891 again, and we can all agree that Christ did not come before that year. As such, Joseph Smith’s statement was perfectly fulfilled.

Beyond this, Joseph Smith himself stated that he was unsure of what to make of the revelation given, and that it could have reference to Joseph’s death, and thus him seeing Christ beyond the veil.

Then, to take the reference even farther, we read the following from Joseph Smith in the next paragraph of the record.

Judah must return, Jerusalem must be rebuilt, and the temple, and water come out from under the temple, and the waters of the Dead Sea be healed. …all this must be done before the Son of Man will make His appearance. There will be wars and rumors of wars, signs in the heavens above and on the earth beneath, the sun turned into darkness and the moon to blood, earthquakes in divers places, the seas heaving beyond their bounds; then will appear one grand sign of the Son of Man in heaven…as the sign of the coming of the Son of Man, which will be as the light of the morning cometh out of the east.

So, far from saying that Christ would return in the year of 1891 (or the year Joseph would turn 85), Joseph made it clear that many things had to happen before the Lord would return, and that it would not happen until sometime after the year 1891, and not before.

None of this is in error, and thus Joseph Smith is once again shown to be a prophet.

Little Known Propaganda: 13 – Joseph Smith Boasted (part 2)

12 Aug

This is my continuing responses to the list of “little known facts” referenced at the blog Sound Doctrine. On this blog the author presents the list along with responses to each from a F.A.I.R. Mormon scholar, known only as CleanCut. In addition the author of this blog, known as Damon, gives a response to CleanCut. As I said in my introduction blog, I am writing a response to each fact in a lengthy series.

See also Fact #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13a

Note: This is the second part to this one because it ended up being much longer than the others. Please read both to have a full understanding of my comments. I do this because I don’t like any article on my blog to be over 1,000 words. Thank You

FACT #13. Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church, boasted of doing a greater “work” than the Lord Jesus.

Joseph Smith made this incredible boast:

“I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. . . . Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor JESUS ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of JESUS ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.” (History of the Church, vol. 6, pp. 408, 409)

No true Prophet of God ever spoke such words as these.

 

Now, let us look at what Joseph Smith said.

 

My object is to let you know that I am right here on the spot where I intend to stay.

First Joseph Smith tells his audience his purpose in speaking, which is to let the world know that would remain faithful to God and the gospel.

I, like Paul, have been in perils, and oftener than anyone in this generation. As Paul boasted…

Here he directly compares himself to Paul, which is something he does throughout this talk.

God is in the still small voice. In all these affidavits, indictments, it is all of the devil–all corruption. Come on! Ye prosecutors! ye false swearers! All hell, boil over! Ye burning mountains, roll down your lava! for I will come out on the top at last.

Just as Paul was speaking to answer the accusations of false teachers, so Joseph Smith is addressing the accusations of those who opposed him. Then, what follows is his very brief statement of boasting.

I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.

Note a few things. First, the author made the claim that Joseph Smith boasted of doing a greater work than Jesus. They even placed the word ‘work’ in quotations to emphasize their point. Clearly they want the reader to believe that Joseph made the claim that he did a greater work than the Atonement that was wrought by Christ. However, if we look at what Joseph Smith said we see clearly that he never said any such thing. He claimed only to have done a unique work, making no claim to superiority in any way. So, the only thing that one need ask is was his work unique in the history of the family of Adam?

The answer to this is clearly yes. Every prophet in the scriptures had trouble with dissenters and apostates that continually divided the church and led to wide spread rebellion. Even Jesus was abandoned by a great portion of His followers. However, Joseph Smith led a church that remained faithful through some of the greatest tribulation that man has ever experienced. The vast majority stayed faithful through it all. This is unique in human history, and thus the claim is true.

Now, to say that Joseph was foolish to have said this, especially as regards Christ, is perfectly true. But then, as we have seen, he is taking his lead from Paul, who stated directly that he was going to speak foolishly. If Paul may have the privilege of speaking foolishly and still be considered a prophet, than why not Joseph Smith?

 

Now, we have seen that Paul’s intent was to answer the accusations of false teachers, and the rest of Joseph Smith’s remarks are also directed to this main purpose, with just a few side notes.

You know my daily walk and conversation…For the last three years I have a record of all my acts and proceedings…therefore my enemies cannot charge me with any day, time, or place, but what I have written testimony to prove my actions; and my enemies cannot prove anything against me…

To preface this answer to the accusers Joseph Smith declares that he can produce proof against their accusations, showing them all to be liars. He then spends the next five paragraphs speaking of the accusations of a Mr. Simpson, then nine paragraphs addressing William Law and his conspirators. In all this he is still, to some extent, boasting that these men can prove nothing against him.

When I love the poor, I ask no favors of the rich. I can go to the cross–I can lay down my life; but don’t forsake me. I want the friendship of my brethren.–Let us teach the things of Jesus Christ…

Here he entreats the saints to not forsake him, but to join with him in teaching Christ and his gospel. For Joseph Smith, even after foolishly boasted, still saw himself as a follower of Christ, and sought only for the glory of God.

He then gives some counsel, which is not important to our purpose here, and then speaks again about William Law and his associates. Finally he closes with this statement.

As I grow older, my heart grows tenderer for you. I am at all times willing to give up everything that is wrong, for I wish this people to have a virtuous leader, I have set your minds at liberty by letting you know the things of Christ Jesus. When I shrink not from your defense will you throw me away for a new man who slanders you?…

He expresses his love for the saints, and his desire to be the virtuous man they deserve (though he does not claim to be perfect in any way). He then invokes Christ, declaring that it is Christ that has liberated the saints and brought them the joy and blessings they had received.

He finally says something similar to what Paul had said to the Corinthians. Don’t forsake him (even though he is foolish at times and has weakness), especially for a false teacher.

 

In all his words Joseph Smith spoke to address the concerns of the saints that had arisen because of the false accusations of some among them who were seeking to pull him down that they might lead the people instead. Just like Paul he spoke foolishly, boasting in his own works in order that the saints might see the truth of his prophetic calling, despite his faults. He gave the credit for his success to Christ, and entreated all to remain faithful, even though he was not perfect.

Little Known Propaganda: 13 – Joseph Smith Boasted (part 1)

12 Aug

This is my continuing responses to the list of “little known facts” referenced at the blog Sound Doctrine. On this blog the author presents the list along with responses to each from a F.A.I.R. Mormon scholar, known only as CleanCut. In addition the author of this blog, known as Damon, gives a response to CleanCut. As I said in my introduction blog, I am writing a response to each fact in a lengthy series.

See also Fact #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12

Note: Because this one ended up requiring a longer response than the others I will be posting it in two parts. Please read both to have a full understanding of my comments. I do this because I don’t like any article on my blog to be over 1,000 words. Thank You

FACT #13. Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church, boasted of doing a greater “work” than the Lord Jesus.

 

Joseph Smith made this incredible boast:

“I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. . . . Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor JESUS ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of JESUS ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.” (History of the Church, vol. 6, pp. 408, 409)

 

No true Prophet of God ever spoke such words as these.

 

This little tidbit has nothing to do with LDS doctrine, but is a sensationalized twisting of the words of Joseph smith. You can tell this by the fact that there is no attempt to actually address what was said. There is just a subdued outrage that he would dare to utter these words.

So, let us set aside the apparent clairvoyance of the author who thinks he knows everything every prophet has ever said, and let us look at what Joseph Smith is actually saying here, and in its full context.

 

In the record of this talk we are told at the beginning that Joseph Smith read from the 11th chapter of II Corinthians. We are not told how much of the chapter he read, and so it is assumed that he read the entire thing. So, to fully understand Joseph Smith we need to understand this chapter. As such I will review those relevant parts as briefly as possible.

1 Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.

First, Paul begins this chapter by asking us to bear with his folly. This is important for what comes later.

2-5 …I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means…your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached…ye might well bear with him.

It would seem that there were those in Corinth who had been teaching things contrary to the gospel that Paul and the other apostles had taught. Paul is here telling the people that if they follow Paul they should bear with him, but if they follow another they should bear with that person. This is important, as Paul is basically telling the people that they need to look past the faults of those whom they accept as teachers sent by God.

7-9 Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?…in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.

Basically, Paul is asking if it was wrong of him to work for their salvation at the expense of his own interests.

10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia.

Here we have the first direct statement of Paul boasting. He here states that he boasts of his work in Corinth throughout that region of the world.

12 But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.

Here we get the real purpose of what Paul is saying. It is clear from this that there were those in Corinth who were not only teaching false doctrine, but were justifying themselves by ridiculing and accusing the apostles. They were seeking to find a reason, or an occasion that they could accuse the apostles, and thus turn the saints from them.

13-15 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

This is a great indictment against those who would seek to find fault with God’s anointed leaders.

16-19 I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little. That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also. For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.

Here Paul asks the Corinthians to allow him a little folly and to suffer his foolishness gladly. In other words, accept that he had fault and let him have a few, as all men have faults.

21 I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also.

And from this point on Paul really gets into the folly of boasting, though I do not feel the need to post the rest of the chapter. It is simply a list of all the sufferings and works of Paul that he lists to show how much he has done for the church, and in so doing he also claims that he has done more and suffered more than any of the other apostles.

 

So, to summarize: There were people in Corinth that had been teaching false doctrine and justifying themselves by accusing the apostles and persuading others that since the apostles had faults they weren’t really from God. In response Paul boasts of his works, doing so to counter the accusations of these false teachers in an attempt to persuade the Corinthians to remain faithful to the true gospel.

(Continued in part 2)

 

Little Known Propaganda: 10 – Total Obedience Required

6 Dec

Little Known Propaganda: 10 – Total Obedience Required

This is my continuing responses to the list of “little known facts” referenced at the blog Sound Doctrine. On this blog the author presents the list along with responses to each from a F.A.I.R. Mormon scholar, known only as CleanCut. In addition the author of this blog, known as Damon, gives a response to CleanCut. As I said in my introduction blog, I am writing a response to each fact in a lengthy series. I will not, however, comment on what CleanCut or Damon said.

See also Fact #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9

FACT #10 Mormon leaders demand total obedience regardless whether they are right or wrong.

The ward teacher’s message for June, 1945, stated:

“When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan it is God’s plan.” (Improvement Era, June 1945, p. 354 – page 36 of the link)

Herber C. Kimball, First Councilor to Brigham Young, clarifies further:

“But if you are told by your leader to do a thing, do it. None of your business whether it is right or wrong.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p. 32)

The Bible warns us in I John 4:l:

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”

The truth is that the prophet of God is not wrong for he is speaking for God, and God is never wrong. It is not that they demand total obedience regardless of whether they are right or wrong. It is simply that if one truly believes them to be prophets of God than they would have faith that their counsel will always be right. So, regardless of what an individual member may believe regarding a particular thing, they should have enough faith to accept that the prophet is delivering the truth from God himself.

This is the same attitude that is praised throughout the Bible.

When Korah and his companions led a rebellion against Moses they didn’t accuse him of any serious crimes. They simply claimed the right to lead Israel with equal authority as Moses. But Moses was the one chosen by God as Prophet and leader of Israel. The rebels who challenged this were destroyed by God when the earth swallowed them and fire consumed 250 more. (Numbers 16)

When the Israelites spied out Canaan the men sent declared that Israel was not strong enough to concur the people. This was said despite the fact that Moses had told the people that God had commanded them to go in and take the land. The people listened to these people more than to Moses to the point that they were ready to choose their own leader and return to Egypt. As a result of this rebellion the people were denied entry into their promised land. (Numbers 14)

Perhaps the most famous example is that of Naaman the Syrian. When he went to Elisha to be cleansed of his leper Elisha sent a servant to tell him to wash in the Jordan and be healed. Naaman was angry at this, and only at the persuasion of his servants did he wash and was cleansed. (2 Kings 5)

And, lest people say that things have changed since the advent of Christ, this is the same attitude displayed by the early saints, as shown in the account of the controversy over circumcision. People argued and debated both sides, but when Peter stood and declared that the practice was no longer required everyone sat down and stopped arguing. The prophet had spoken and there was nothing left to be said. All that was left was to spread the word, which was soon agreed upon and men were chosen to do just that. (Acts 15)

Now, this is the kind of faith that is being talked about in the quotes given. When the prophet tells us to do something we should accept that he has greater authority from God and the power to speak the will of God, and so we should simply act. If they declare a doctrine we should accept it as the will of God and the truth of heaven. That is the very nature of their calling. Just as those in scriptural times were expected to follow the prophet so we are expected to do so today.

So, yes, when the prophet tells us to do something we should do it, and we should not try to reason in our own minds whether it is right or wrong, nor should we wait for God to tell us personally. We read in the scriptures that those who followed the prophets without question are those who were blessed by God, while those who challenged the prophets found greater tribulation and hardship. We are expected to do nothing but what all the followers of God have been expected to do in any age that God has had a church on the earth. God speaks through his prophets, and if we are going to question that than why believe in the prophets at all?

Now, as to 1 John 4: 1, this does nothing to counter this principle. We are to try every spirit, but anyone who has chosen to join the church and continually sustains the leaders in our various conferences is assumed to have tried the Spirit of the prophets and found it to be a true spirit, and thus we can follow them without question. I have tried the spirit of the church and found it to be of God. I have sensed that spirit in the words of the prophets, and thus I know that they are speaking for God. I don’t need to know anything else.