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Restoring The Lost Priesthood Keys — Part III   Go to > (part I) or (Part II)

Rich Kelsey

Kolob

 

“Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground. … If his claims and declarations were built upon fraud and deceit, there would appear many errors and contradictions, which would be easy to detect.” (Doctrines of Salvation, Joseph Fielding Smith, 1954, vol. 1, p. 188)

 

During Joseph Smith's lifetime, he claimed that he was visited by:

■  John the Baptist

■  Peter

■  James

■  the Apostle John

■  Moses

■  Elias

■  Elijah

■  Michael

■  Moroni

■  Nephi

■  The Three Nephites

■  God the Father

■  Jesus Christ

and,

■  an angel with a drawn sword. < (Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo, LDS.org)

 

He also claimed that he discovered:

■  golden plates with an ancient record of America's history recorded on them

■  a lost work from Abraham

■  the Apostle John's lost words

■  Moses' lost words  < (see documentation)

 and,

■  revelation after revelation from Jesus Christ.

 

He also claimed that by looking through a pair of mysterious glasses, he could,

 "see anything." < (see documentation)

There is no doubt that Joseph Smith had many,

"... claims and declarations ..."

The question is:

"Were his claims and declarations built upon fraud and deceit?"

To find out, let's look further into Joseph Smith's story.

Errors and Contradictions:  

In the 1st part of this series we documented contradictions in the LDS teaching of "apostasy"; and, the need for a restoration of "Priesthood authority."

In the 2nd part of this series, we documented how the early revelations, which were silent on the subject of priesthood, were re-written to make it seem as if the priesthood doctrine was a foundational teaching.

In this 3rd part of the series, we look further into Joseph Smith's story about being visited by John the Baptist, Peter, James, and, the Apostle John. 

As mentioned earlier, scholars from Brigham Young University spelled out:

"Details regarding the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood, including John the Baptist's role in the event, were seldom if ever shared prior to 1832..." (Priesthood Restoration Documents, Brian Q. Cannon and BYU Studies Staff, BYU Studies 35. no. 4, 1995-96, p. 164)

Also mentioned earlier:

"The important details that are missing from the 'full history' of 1834 are likewise missing from the Book of Commandments in 1833. The student would expect to find all the particulars of the Restoration in this first treasured set of 65 revelations, the dates of which encompassed the bestowals of the two Priesthoods, but they are conspicuously absent.... The notable revelations on Priesthood in the Doctrine and Covenants before referred to, Sections 2 and 13, are missing, and Chapter 28 gives no hint of the Restoration which, if actual, had been known for four years. More than four hundred words were added to this revelation of August 1829 in Section 27 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the additions made to include the names of heavenly visitors and two separate ordinations." (Problems In Mormon Text, by LaMar Petersen, pp. 7-8).

 

To Make Matters Worse:

 Book of Mormon witness David Whitmer claimed:

"Now Brethren, seeing they had no High Priests in the church of Christ of old, and none in the church of Christ in these last days until almost two years after its beginning--when the leaders began to drift into error; remembering the fact of the revelation being changed two years after it was given to include High Priests; taking these things into consideration, how is it that any one can say that the office of High Priest should be in the church of Christ to-day? I can account for it only on the grounds of your spiritual blindness. This matter is so plain and self-evident that any one should see and understand it. Brethren, your blindness must be utter blindness. May God have mercy on you is my prayer.

...

This matter of 'priesthood,' since the days of Sydney Rigdon, has been the great hobby and stumbling-block of the Latter Day Saints." (An Address To All Believers In Christ, David Whitmer, p. 64)

Whitmer became so distraught over changes being made to Joseph Smith's revelations, including the introduction and back-dating of the priesthood teaching, that he left the Church and wrote a treatise on it.

That back-dating is further evidenced in Joseph Smith's 1838 history:

"And again, he [the angel Moroni] quoted the fifth verse thus:
Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord." (Joseph Smith—History 1:38-39)

That section of scripture, which is also found in the Joseph Smith Translation of the bible 1832-33, Malachi Chapter 4, did not have the words,

 "the Priesthood"

in the text, when the translation was completed in 1833.

Why?

Perhaps it was because the Priesthood doctrine; along with, the visitations of John the Baptist, Peter, James, and, the Apostle John, had yet to be invented?

For example: The change in the wording of Malachi Chapter 4 was supposedly what Moroni said to Joseph Smith in 1823. Today it is found in,

THE
DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS
OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS

SECTION 2

An extract from the words of the angel Moroni to Joseph Smith the Prophet, while in the house of the Prophet’s father at Manchester, New York, on the evening of September 21, 1823. HC 1: 12. ...

1, Elijah is to reveal the priesthood; 2–3, Promises of fathers are planted in hearts of children.

1 Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

2 And ahe shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers.

3 If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.

Yet there is no record of Moroni saying those words until a whopping 15 years after he supposedly said them; and, when one tries to document such visitations, and/or, revelations, from early LDS accounts, serious problems arise.

Here is an example:

The First Vision:

In 1835, Joseph Smith claimed that a heavenly messenger [Moroni?1] had visited him in his bedroom in the year 1823, during which time he discovered,

"... the all important information, if a Supreme being did exist ..."2

Yet, a few years later Joseph Smith claimed he discovered God existed in 1820, when supposedly the Father and the Son appeared to him in the Sacred Grove. < (see documentation)

The Problem:

There is no way that anyone who was visited by God the Father and His Beloved Son3 in 1820, would still be wondering,

"... if a Supreme being did exist ..."

three years later, in 1823. 

Also, in 1844-45 Joseph Smith's mother wrote a history about her son Joseph, yet in it there is no mention of a Sacred Grove, Father and Son, First Vision account.

On this subject The Encyclopedia of Mormonism spells out:

"The Prophet does not suggest that he confided his first vision to his family, and his mother reports only that she had early knowledge that an angel later revealed the Book of Mormon." (BYU Studies, Smith, Lucy Mack, by Anderson, Richard Lloyd/The Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Macmillan, 1992)

Why?

Could it be that in 1845, Lucy Smith was unaware of the latest changes and back-dating to that story?

One thing is certain: An expert on Lucy's history confirms what is written in The Encyclopedia of Mormonism:

"She [Lucy] remembers that her son’s famous first vision occurred in his bedroom at night, echoing the well established tradition of her husband’s own prophetic dreams." (Lucy’s Book, ... Introduction by Irene M. Bates, Signature Books / Salt Lake City)

Also, it appears that as late as 1841, Joseph's brother William had not heard of the Sacred Grove, Father and Son, First Vision story, either: 

"It appears that prior to this time [September, 1823] Joseph had not related to his family his initial visionary experience of some three and one half years earlier in which he saw both God the Father, and Jesus Christ. It would also appear from the published text of an interview by Rev. Murdock that [Joseph’s brother] William was unaware of Joseph's first vision as distinct from his visitation by the angel Moroni, as late as 1841." (THE WILLIAM SMITH ACCOUNTS of JOSEPH SMITH'S FIRST VISION by Elden J. Watson © copyright 1999 Elden J. Watson)

Well, apparently Joseph Smith wasn't very good at keeping his story straight.

And, this is just the tip of the iceberg. < (see documentation)

Therefore, when LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley declared:

"Our entire case as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rests on the validity of this glorious First Vision. It was the parting of the curtain to open this, the dispensation of the fullness of times. Nothing on which we base our doctrine, nothing we teach, nothing we live by is of greater importance than this initial declaration. I submit that if Joseph Smith talked with God the Father and His Beloved Son, then all else of which he spoke is true." ("What Are People Asking about Us?" Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, November 1998)

Hinckley set up LDS Church members for a fall:

• LDS Church assistant historian James B. Allen wrote, "…none of the available contemporary writings about Joseph Smith in the 1830's, none of the publications of the Church in that decade, and no contemporary journal or correspondence yet discovered mentions the story of the first vision" (Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Autumn 1966).

• Today, LDS theologians claim that Joseph Smith discussed what was to become the 'First Vision,' “only privately with a few trusted friends during the Church’s first decade.” (Mormon Publications: 19th and 20th Centuries / A Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church. Volume One, 1830-1847. (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, Religious Studies Center, [1997], Item 82, p. 127-29.)

• Brigham Young University historian and LDS bishop, James B. Allen said, "There is little if any evidence, however, that by the early 1830s Joseph Smith was telling the [First Vision] story in public. At least if he were telling it, no one seemed to consider it important enough to have recorded it at the time, and no one was criticizing him for it." (The Significance of Joseph Smith's First Vision in Mormon Thought, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Autumn 1966, p. 30).

 

Articles of interest:

■  Joseph Smith's First Vision

■  Enchantment — Magic and Money Digging

■  Book of Moses Changes / Anachronisms

■  Another Testament of Jesus Christ

■  Book of Mormon Changes — The Fall of Mormonism

 

Full LDS Index Page

 


Endnotes:

 

1. 1823 Bedroom Vision — What Was The Angel's Name?

There are at least 4 LDS publications calling the angel in Joseph Smith's bedroom vision account Nephi instead of Moroni. LDS apologists suggest that early Church editors may have copied an error from one source in which a typo was made. Even if Joseph Smith never called the angel in his vision story Nephi, that would hardly diminish the glaring problem of having the name Nephi in all 4 of these major LDS publications:

• 1842 Times and Seasons
• 1842 Millennial Star
• 1851 The Pearl of Great Price (published in England)
• 1853 Lucy’s biography, Coray/Pratt

It clearly shows that Mormons from the top on down were mostly clueless during the 1830s, 40s, 50s, and beyond as to the name of the messenger / personage , or, the

 " ... very large and tall man [who] appeared to him, dressed in an ancient suit of clothes ..." (Interview With the Father of Joseph Smith — Fayette Lapham)

Perhaps it is because none of the early accounts record a name.

Here is an example:

"I fell into transgressions and sinned in many things which brought a wound upon my soul and there were many things which transpired that cannot be writen and my Fathers family have suffered many persicutions and afflictions and it came to pass when I was seventeen years of age I called again upon the Lord and he shewed unto me a heavenly vision for behold an angel of the Lord came and stood before me and it was by night and he called me by name and he said the Lord had forgiven me my sins and he revealed unto me that in the Town of Manchester Ontario County N.Y. there was plates of gold upon which there was engravings which was engraven by Maroni & his fathers the servants of the living God in ancient days and deposited by th[e] commandments of God and kept by the power thereof and that I should go and get them and he revealed unto me many things concerning the inhabitents of of the earth which since have been revealed in com mandments & revelations and it was on the 22d day of Sept. AD 182 1822 and thus he appeared unto me three times in one night and once on the next day and then I immediately went to the place and found where the plates was deposited as the angel of the Lord had commanded me and straightway made three attempts to get them and then being excedingly frightened I supposed it had been a dreem of Vision but when I considred I knew that it was not therefore I cried unto the Lord in the agony of my soul why can I not obtain them behold the angel appeared unto me again and said unto me you have not kept the commandments of the Lord which I gave unto you therefore you cannot now obtain them for the time is not yet fulfilled..." (Letterbook I, Joseph Smith Papers)

Notice that the vision is at night, and then an appearance the next day. Joseph is 17 years of age, the messenger is called "an angel of the Lord", and, while this angel does speak of "Maroni [Moroni]", he was clearly not referring to himself; nor is it mentioned that Moroni is the name of a personage watching over the plates.

 

2. 1823 Bedroom Vision Account:

"After strong solicitations to unite with one of those different societies, and seeing the apparent proselyting [proselytizing] disposition manifested with equal warmth from each, his [Joseph Smith's] mind was led to more seriously contemplate the importance of a move of this kind. ... To say he was right, and still be wrong, could not profit; and amid so many, some must be built upon the sand.

In this situation where could he go? If he went to one [church] he was told they were right, and all others were wrong-If to another, the same was heard from those: All professed to be the true church..." (Messenger and Advocate, December, 1834, pp. 42-43)

Oliver Cowdery continues this narrative in the next issue of the Messenger and Advocate:

"... You will recollect that I mentioned the time of a religious excitement, in Palmyra and vicinity to have been in the 15th year of our brother J. Smith Jr.’s age — that was an error in the type — it should have been in the 17th.
...
But if others were not benefited, our brother [Joseph Smith] was urged forward and strengthened in the determination to know for himself of the certainty and reality of pure and holy religion.-And it is only necessary for me to say, that while this excitement continued, he continued to call upon the Lord in secret for a full manifestation of divine approbation, and for, to him, the all important information, if a Supreme being did exist, to have an assurance that he was accepted of him.

...
On the evening of the 21st of September, 1823, previous to retiring to rest, our brother's mind was unusually wrought up on the subject which had so long agitated his mind-his heart was drawn out in fervent prayer, and his whole soul was so lost to every thing of a temporal nature, that earth, to him, had lost its claims, and all he desired was to be prepared in heart to commune with some kind messenger who could communicate to him the desired information of his acceptance with God." (Messenger and Advocate, February, 1835, pp. 78-79)

 

3. 1838 Sacred Grove First Vision Account:

17 It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!

18 My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.

19 I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”
(Joseph Smith History of the Church, Volume One, 1:17-19)