Friday, July 18, 2014

History, Hearsay and Heresy Part 3:
Herein. Danger. Lies.

I believe Joseph Smith was a prophet, called by God, authorized to teach, and given God's word for the world. I believe he taught pure truth, though to a largely unreceptive audience. 

I believe truth, and only truth, gives us power to exercise faith unto life and salvation, so I have a real problem when falsehoods are taught in Joseph's name, with a design to manipulate the gullible and confuse the ill-informed. 

Trusting your eternal salvation to such falsehoods is beyond dangerous. It is damning.

I want to know what Joseph knew. He parted the heavens, stood in the presence of God, and received the promise of eternal life. Therefore I'm keenly interested in ANYTHING Joseph taught. 

And I'm keenly UNINTERESTED in falsehoods attributed to Joseph that he did NOT teach. 

It's vital to know the difference.

Previously, we've examined some of the quotations attributed to Joseph Smith, Jr. in the
Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith manual, Chapter 27: Beware the Bitter Fruits of Apostasy.

We need to continue with a couple more. Let's start with this gem:

"I will give you one of the Keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is an eternal principle, that has existed with God from all eternity: That man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man is in the high road to apostasy; and if he does not repent, will apostatize, as God lives."

This particular quote is cited as follows:

History of the Church, 3:385; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on July 2, 1839, in Montrose, Iowa; reported by Wilford Woodruff and Willard Richards.

Therefore, this quote is cited from three sources:
  1. History of the Church by B.H. Roberts;
  2. Wilford Woodruff
  3. Willard Richards

The quote does indeed appear in Source 1, History of the Church, but that's not the original source. History of the Church simply lifted the quote from the other two sources, as follows:

First is Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, where we find the lengthy notes Woodruff took during the meeting in question. Trouble is, Woodruff's Journal completely omits this quote, though it directly (and without interruption) supplies the rest of the sermon used in History of the Church.

The other source is Willard Richards' Pocket Companion, which does contain this quote. 

OK, so got that so far? Woodruff omits this paragraph from the sermon. Richards has this paragraph in the middle of the sermon. Woodruff, no. Richards, yes.

Woodruff, who was present at the meeting in question, is considered the most reliable source because he recorded the notes of the meeting while in attendance. But this quote does not appear in that record. The sermon before and after this quote appears there uninterrupted, but the quoted paragraph is completely absent.

Richards' Pocket Companion is actually a collection of material Willard Richards copied from other sources. Therefore, though this material appears there, Richards was not actually present when Joseph gave this sermon, and Richards copied the material from elsewhere, most likely Wilford Woodruff’s journal. As to how the quote in question got into Richards' Pocket Companion while NOT appearing in the original record is a mystery. Nobody knows where it came from. It is therefore hearsay and not a historical record.

We are left to wonder where Richards obtained the quote and why he stuck it in the middle of a sermon he didn’t hear Joseph give. There is no original source that contains this quotation, and Richards was on a mission in England when Joseph was supposed to have said it.

The quote's dubious provenance is not helped by its doctrinal difficulties. For example, scripture is replete with true prophets, called of God, who did indeed "rise up to condemn others, finding fault with the church, saying they are out of the way." Some obvious examples are as follows:
  • Noah
  • Abraham
  • Moses
  • Lehi
  • Jacob
  • Benjamin
  • Abinadi
  • Alma the Younger
  • Samuel the Lamanite
  • John the Baptist
  • Jesus Christ
  • Joseph Smith

In fact, you can pretty much summarize the mission of any true prophet as calling people to repentance. (D&C 11:9) How is this not "condemn[ing] others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way?"

Therefore, since Joseph Smith himself was "on the high road to apostasy" if this quote were true, it is utterly preposterous that Joseph Smith ever said this. Nobody quite knows where this quote came from, but it wasn't Joseph Smith.

Thank You, Sir, May I Have Another?

Orson Hyde, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, reported: 

"Joseph the Prophet … said, 'Brethren, remember that the majority of this people will never go astray; and as long as you keep with the majority you are sure to enter the celestial kingdom.'"

The reference given in the church manual for this quote is as follows:

Orson Hyde, Deseret News: Semi-Weekly, June 21, 1870, p. 3. 

Now, the first thing you need to know is that this is how the church manuals cite early General Conference talks to avoid citing them from the controversial Journal of Discourses where the talks actually appear. Since the talks were also published in the Deseret News, the church cites them there. But good luck finding the original newspaper reference! You’ll have to go to the Journal of Discourses if you want to actually read the talk.

The statement can be found in the Journal of Discourses, Volume 13, page 367 in an address by Orson Hyde entitled "Punctual Payment of Debts," given at the tabernacle on May 5, 1870 while Hyde was serving as president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

In this sermon he chastised the saints for being slow to pay their debts, and encouraged them to get out of debt.

Here are the relevant facts:
  • Hyde had long association with Joseph Smith as one of the original apostles. He undoubtedly heard Joseph speak on many subjects. Therefore he could have heard Joseph make this statement.
  • Hyde's relationship with Joseph was rocky. He was twice removed from the Quorum of the Twelve and once excommunicated. He also signed the affidavit against Joseph Smith that resulted in Joseph’s imprisonment in Liberty Jail and contributed to the Mormon War of 1838.
  • Hyde was 39 years old when Joseph Smith died.
  • This quote is from a sermon Hyde gave May 5, 1870 at age 65, at least 26 years after Joseph could have said it.
  • Hyde makes no other statement of source, circumstances when, where and to whom Joseph said it, whether he recorded it in writing, or how he remembers the wording precisely. Thus it is not a historical record, but rather is uncorroborated hearsay. 
  • The quote is placed in the talk seemingly at random, without any context. It certainly does not relate to the topic of paying debts.
But...Hyde was an apostle when he made this statement! In fact he was President of the quorum! Therefore he is trustworthy...right?
  • Well...Hyde was indeed an apostle at the time he made this statement, however, he was also an apostle when he swore an affidavit against Joseph Smith and the saints that resulted in Joseph’s imprisonment in Liberty Jail. Are you going to accept his affidavit as inspired as well? Position is NOT a reliable indicator of truth.
Ramifications of this doctrine:
  1. There is NO scriptural precedent or doctrine supporting the idea that the majority of the church cannot go astray. In fact, this idea directly contradicts the history of nearly every dispensation the world has seen, including the dispensation started by Christ in the meridian of time. Why would our dispensation be somehow different? Where is the scripture that says so? I know we tell ourselves this story continually, but you would think that if the Lord had truly promised we couldn't possibly screw this up, He would have told us somewhere in scripture.
  2. It's an odd thing to think that in one breath Hyde is chastising the saints for failing to do something so basic as pay their debts, and in the next breath stating that the majority of them will unavoidably go to the Celestial Kingdom. What?
  3. The majority of the church is currently inactive. Does that matter? Should I stay with the majority as Hyde suggests?
  4. The majority of the church does not pay tithing or hold a temple recommend. Does that matter? Should I stay with the majority? 
  5. This doctrine promotes the idea that being an average Latter-day Saint is all the Lord requires to receive His greatest reward. Therefore the average LDS can safely be "at ease in Zion" enjoying "carnal security" that comes from knowing "all is well." and "thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell." (2 Ne. 28:21,24-25.) 
  6. This doctrine precludes the possibility that the voice of the people could ever choose iniquity (Mosiah 29:27).
  7. This doctrine opposes the idea that we "stand in jeopardy every hour" (1 Cor. 15:30) that we "must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling" (Mormon 9:27) and that all are astray save a few, humble followers of Christ, and even these are misled by their leaders (2 Nephi 28:14). This is false and vain and foolish doctrine. (2 Nephi 28:14)
  8. This doctrine teaches us that by merely being passable Latter-day Saints we will be saved. This is the same doctrine proclaimed by the Zoramites upon the Rameumptom (Alma 31:17), who considered themselves saved simply because they were God's most favorite people. How did they know they were God's most favorite? Because their anti-Christ leaders told them so! Just stick with the group and you're sure to go to heaven!
  9. Therefore, if this doctrine is true, we must be God's chosen people, and for no other reason than our church membership! Nothing else is required!
  10. This interpretation is so utterly self-serving and unscriptural as to offend the sensibilities of anyone who actually believes what the scriptures say and gives this proposition one iota of thought. It is pure garbage, propounded by those who would prop up their own authority by associating Joseph's name with false doctrine. It mocks Christ and His atonement!
  11. Most importantly, the list of scripture that utterly refutes this false doctrine would go to many pages. 

  • ALL these quotes come from the official church manual; yet...
  • NONE of these quotes attributed to Joseph Smith can be verified or corroborated by any contemporary sources. They cannot be tied to any date, sermon or historical event. They cannot be shown to have originated with Joseph Smith at all. EVERY one of them is hearsay from old men talking about what they "remember" Joseph said 30, 40, 50 or even 60 years after he allegedly said it. We have NO historical record of Joseph teaching the doctrine that the majority of the church, the twelve or the prophet cannot lead us astray. We have AMPLE scriptural evidence this doctrine is false. 
  • Yet, we put it in our manuals and treat it as fact. Is this honest? 
  • We quote it as the basis of our faith and insist our members kneel and kiss the ring of infallibility, or risk loss of temple recommend, fellowship, or even membership. Is this right?
  • Worst of all, we foolishly, blindly, arrogantly stake our salvation upon this false concept without ever bothering to find out where it came from. It's in the manual, and that's good enough for us. Is this wise?
  • It's hearsay, and it's heresy. It will surely damn those who believe it--and yet we don't seem to give a damn at all. 
Here is perhaps the strongest repudiation of this false doctrine: The vast majority of the church, the Twelve and the records currently teach and believe the false doctrine that tells us we will never fall for a false doctrine! Now that’s clever! The Devil has actually managed to lead us astray with the appealing idea that we can never be led astray! 

This is the same illogic Nephi warned us about: "[A]nd he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance." (2 Ne. 28:22)

No wonder the devil looks up and laughs, having a great chain in his hand. (Moses 7:26)

Bring on the faith-promoting rumors!!


  1. Very well done (again)! I will admit my critical thinking skills are lacking even though I am asking questions I never once would have considered.

    Do you plan to do any future posts about the differences in the duties of Aaronic priesthood holders today, concerning the sacrament, when compared to the duties given to them by the Lord in D&C 20: 46 - 59? There are some real gems for comparison beyond just the sacramental duties. For instance, it explains that the elder is to be assisted by the priests, and the teachers are to be assisted by the deacons, but this is not how it functions today. We do it backwards and have the elders assist the priests, priests assist the teachers, and the teachers assist the deacons. Do you have sources of information you would recommend where I can study to find out how and when we changed to the current MO? Another item that really sinks in for me stems from your earlier posts about signs that follow those that believe. Apart from the fact that these signs follow all "them that believe" it is interesting to note the words of the Lord Himself as he says "In my name they shall..." There is no mention of Him mentioning authority or specific power since the real power comes from the faith of the individual.

  2. Brother,
    The work you are doing here is a great service to the church! I use the word "church" in its true sense to mean the people who call themselves Mormons, believe in the Book of Mormon, believe in Joseph Smith as a true Prophet and seek to follow Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior; and not to mean The Church, Inc. which seems to be doing all it can to squelch individual thought and testimony and demand that its members become subservient wimps who blindly bend their knee, kiss the ring, and "follow the prophet" to the telestial kingdom.
    The "church" has become riddled with false doctrine, lies and apostasy from the Gospel of Jesus Christ; just as was foretold by numerous prophets in the Book of Mormon and by the Savior Himself in the Book of Mormon (3 Nephi 16:10 at least, and in other places as well).
    Thank you for laying to rest 2 more of the most pernicious false doctrines that are currently keeping the "church" bound down in chains.

  3. Adrian,

    Thank you for doing this research and then taking the effort to publish it. Your efforts have blessed me and helped to remove yet another layer of the scales that have been built up on my eyes. (2 Ne 30:6) From Joseph Smith on, we have not had his equal and do not experience the fruits of real faith. (D&C 84:65-72) I want desperately to remove from me all of the unbelief that I have so that I can have real faith in my Savior and can have the fruits of that faith, even to experience the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost (2 Ne 31:13), obtain an audience with angels (Moroni 7:37) and the Lord (John 14:23 + D&C 130:3), and to experience the spiritual gifts that were enjoyed during anytime real faith existed. These posts speak to me.

    Once you take a step back and look at the situation of the LDS church and its history, it is apparent that the church’s leaders are fallible, unreliable, and do err greatly. For one example: The church now officially condemns the teachings of earlier church leaders. ( All of these leaders are/were supposed to be in direct communication with the Lord, even Apostles, Prophets, Seers, and Revelators, so I don’t understand how they can disagree with one another and condemn one another’s teachings, even if they are from different eras. Is not God the same yesterday, today, and forever, and aren’t His truths unchangeable? (Mormon 9:9) And furthermore, following this fouled line of logic, if what was true then is not so now, will what is true now not be so in the future? Who can we ascribe this quibbling and vacillating to? Can we really expect to build Zion on such shifting and sandy foundations?

    The Rock upon which I want build is the Rock of Jesus Christ (Helaman 5:12) and of personal revelation (Matt 16:17-18). I want to seek Him who is mighty to save and let go of the damning practice of following and idolizing men. (D&C 76:98-113) Thank you for your help in laying down these unbeliefs.

  4. Thank you thank you thank you!!!!!! I really appreciate your effort in dismantling these false quotations attributed to Joseph. I agree with JR that this is a great service to the followers of Christ. These quotes have been bothering me and they always felt wrong, now I know why, they are lies meant to lead us into submission and spiritual prison. Thanks for removing another layer of chains. It would've awesome if you continued posts like this by going through that whole manual. I'd bet we would be absolutely amazed of the false teachings presented in there.

    Thanks again and keep it up!

  5. If I may comment on this bit:

    "Why would our dispensation be somehow different? Where is the scripture that says so? I know we tell ourselves this story continually, but you would think that if the Lord had truly promised we couldn't possibly screw this up, He would have told us somewhere in scripture."

    Actually, I think Jacob 5 has quite a bit to say about this. There are several relevant verses (starting around verse 63), but specifically:

    " 72 And it came to pass that the servants did go and labor with their mights; and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them; and they did obey the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard in all things.

    73 And there began to be the natural fruit again in the vineyard; and the natural branches began to grow and thrive exceedingly; and the wild branches began to be plucked off and to be cast away; and they did keep the root and the top thereof equal, according to the strength thereof.

    74 And thus they labored, with all diligence, according to the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard, even until the bad had been cast away out of the vineyard, and the Lord had preserved unto himself that the trees had become again the natural fruit; and they became like unto one body; and the fruits were equal; and the Lord of the vineyard had preserved unto himself the natural fruit, which was most precious unto him from the beginning."

    I believe from the context that these verses correspond to our times, and more specifically I think they accurately describe the restoration and growth of the Church -- not just in numbers, but in overall righteousness.

    Anyways, I agree otherwise with objectively dealing with historical sources. Thanks!

  6. Thank you for commenting. Jacob 5 is actually my favorite chapter in the whole BOM. The verses you quoted certainly do pertain to our day and the near future. I think it's useful to start a little earlier in verse 70:

    70 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard sent his servant; and the servant went and did as the Lord had commanded him, and brought other servants; and they were few.

    71 And the Lord of the vineyard said unto them: Go to, and labor in the vineyard, with your might. For behold, this is the last time that I shall nourish my vineyard; for the end is nigh at hand, and the season speedily cometh; and if ye labor with your might with me ye shall have joy in the fruit which I shall lay up unto myself against the time which will soon come.

    There is a servant called. He calls a few other servants. They commence the gathering of the natural branches (scattered remnants of the House of Israel). The Lord personally labors with them. I don't see any reference to any church or organization there. Just that the Lord will get his work done by working with a servant and some few others willing to hear and heed his voice.

    Rather than getting into a lengthy discussion about the identity of the servant, the trees, the locations, etc. I'll just say the following.

    We tend to read the scriptures by starting with a specific set of beliefs, then forcing the scriptures to comply with our beliefs. And we do this MUCH more than any of us realize. By doing so, we have overlaid very different meanings upon the Book of Mormon than are actually found in the book. It's so deeply ingrained, we don't even realize we're doing it.

    Jacob 5 deals with sweeping events of cosmic scale. Literally. The themes, events, and players embrace the history of this world and other worlds as well. There is much more there than we may be willing to see.

    We can make this a parable about an earthly church institution if we want to, but I think that misses the mark considerably. I'll have more to say in future posts. Jacob 6 holds important keys to the last time the servants go into the vineyard to labor.

  7. Where can I find Wilford Woodruff's journal?

  8. This is a classic post! I've come back to it often.

  9. I compared Richards with Woodruff. The final section in each was different, but both referred to a "sign" Joseph apparently spoke about. (Actually, there are many differences between the two accounts, so it's not clear that Richards copied from Woodruff. They could have both copied from a third document.) Woodruff's allusion to "this sign" that is not otherwise mentioned in his account suggests Joseph did talk about a "sign" that Woodruff failed to mention. IOW, Woodruff's account corroborates the Richards account, but doesn't prove Richards had it word-for-word correct.

  10. Before repeating the information found here, please note that this is not entirely correct.

    Indeed, Wilford Woodruff's journal does omit this quote. This is found here

    However, Wilford Woodruff also copied the same sermon into another booklet at the same time as his journal. This was Woodruff's "Book of Revelations" does contain this quote. It is found here.

    In expalining the different versions of this sermon, the Joseph Smith papers exlains that the sermon was copied into this booklet at the same time as his journal and that Woodruff brought his notebook on his mission to England, where fellow missionary Willard Richards borrowed the notebook and copied this and other discourses into his own notebook.

    I will say if you look carefully at where this quote is, in the second source, it would appear that it is in a different pen (but still in Wilford Woodruff's handwriting. As such, it is still in question whether or not Joseph actually said this during that particular sermon. However, the statement seems to be more contemporary than this blog post would seem to indicate...

  11. The quote on Apostasy ends with "as God lives". This remark is commonly used by Brigham Young -- in order to flout his authority.
    I have never heard Joseph Smith use this phrase.
    Thus, it is likely that Brigham Young is the author of the quote.

  12. From the Joseph Smith Papers Project regarding the JS quote about a man rising up to condem others and the church being on the road to apostacy:

    "Three versions of this discourse are extant. Woodruff took notes on the discourse and later copied the notes into his “Book of Revelations,” a notebook in which he copied JS revelations and discourses. In his notebook, Woodruff dated the discourse as 1 July 1839, but the context of the discourse places it on 2 July, when JS was in Montrose.7 Woodruff brought his notebook on his mission to England, where fellow missionary Willard Richards borrowed the notebook and copied this and other discourses into his own notebook.8 Woodruff also copied the discourse into his 1839 journal. In the journal version, he omitted the final section of the discourse, which addressed apostasy, and made other minor revisions. Woodruff’s “Book of Revelations” version is featured here because it is the earliest and most complete and was likely copied between 2 July and 8 August, the date Woodruff and fellow apostle John Taylor departed for New York, en route to England. Significant differences between the two versions are noted in annotation."

    So, it does, in fact, exist in the earliest record that WW took of the meeting. Here is is in WW's handwriting.


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