Monday, June 27, 2016

Blood of the Saints

You do not know what you have lost in never seeing and becoming acquainted with these men.  I value the privilege I had with them, more than I do all else that my eyes have ever beheld. I ask what would you not give for the privilege, if it could be had, of seeing and conversing with the Apostles Peter, James and John, or Paul, and receiving instructions from them? Now I say unto you that greater than these have been slain in the jail of Carthage.

—John S. Fullmer, personal letter to his uncle, 
September 27, 1844

What is a Saint?

Due to the name of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, members are in the cultural habit of referring to one another as “Saints,” which practice raises eyebrows among other denominations where “Saint” means something so holy that it would be unthinkable to call each other by that title in casual conversation.

Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines “Saint” as follows:

A person sanctified; a holy or godly person; one eminent for piety and virtue; any true Christian, as being redeemed and consecrated to God.
Hence, whatever our cultural habits, we need to keep this definition in mind when reading scripture. A saint is one who is sanctified, or made holy, by God.

Taking the life of one whom the Lord has made holy is such a crime that the shed, innocent blood of the saint cries out to the Lord for vengeance. Consider the case of Abel, who “walked in holiness before the Lord.” (Moses 5:26):

And Cain went into the field, and Cain talked with Abel, his brother. And it came to pass that while they were in the field, Cain rose up against Abel, his brother, and slew him. And the Lord said unto Cain: Where is Abel, thy brother? And he said: I know not. Am I my brother’s keeper? 
And the Lord said: What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother’s blood cries unto me from the ground. (Moses 5:32-35; see also Genesis 4:8-10)
When Nephi saw our day, he observed the following concerning us and our professed religion:
And they deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men; 
Behold, hearken ye unto my precept; if they shall say there is a miracle wrought by the hand of the Lord, believe it not; for this day he is not a God of miracles; he hath done his work. 
Yea, and there shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us. 
And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.
(Side note: The following question was recently asked on a final exam in a BYU Religion Class: “How does what you know about Christ give you hope that you will very likely inherit the Celestial kingdom?” Very likely indeed.)
Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsels from the Lord; and their works shall be in the dark. And the blood of the saints shall cry from the ground against them. (2 Nephi 28:5-10)
Since this passage refers to our day, we have to ask ourselves: What saints cry for vengeance in our day? What spilt blood has reason to cry against us? Surely not the blood of the ancient martyrs, shed at another place, at another time, by corrupt religionists with no connection to us. No, I assert that the blood in question was shed 172 years ago today at Carthage jail, where the two men from this dispensation who can unequivocally be called “saints” were murdered to silence their testimonies of truth.

I’m sure we’ve all read the official accounts of what happened that day. I’ve stood many times in that very room in Carthage jail and considered those events. I don’t believe the official story; it is demonstrably inaccurate in a number of important ways. However, I don’t intend to make that the focus of this post. Besides, only God knows, at this point, the truth of the events leading up to and culminating in the prophet murders.

I’ll assert only that this was not the haphazard action of a violent mob, but rather the calculated endeavor of a secret combination. This combination yet exists among us where we might not expect it.

Just as Nephi saw our day, Moroni did as well, and had this to say about events that are now upon us:

And it shall come in a day when the blood of saints shall cry unto the Lord, because of secret combinations and the works of darkness. 
Yea, it shall come in a day when the power of God shall be denied, and churches become defiled and be lifted up in the pride of their hearts; yea, even in a day when leaders of churches and teachers shall rise in the pride of their hearts, even to the envying of them who belong to their churches. (Mormon 8:27-28)
A secret combination, working in darkness, conspired to murder Joseph and Hyrum. In our day, their blood cries out. Shed martyr blood always cries out to the Lord for vengeance:
For behold, they murdered all the prophets of the Lord who came among them to declare unto them concerning their iniquities; and the blood of those whom they murdered did cry unto the Lord their God for vengeance upon those who were their murderers; and thus the judgments of God did come upon these workers of darkness and secret combinations. (Alma 37:30)
Nephi prophesied the following regarding the time leading up to Christ’s crucifixion:
Great and terrible shall that day be unto the wicked, for they shall perish; and they perish because they cast out the prophets, and the saints, and stone them, and slay them; wherefore the cry of the blood of the saints shall ascend up to God from the ground against them. Wherefore, all those who are proud, and that do wickedly, the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of Hosts, for they shall be as stubble. 
And they that kill the prophets, and the saints, the depths of the earth shall swallow them up, saith the Lord of Hosts; and mountains shall cover them, and whirlwinds shall carry them away, and buildings shall fall upon them and crush them to pieces and grind them to powder. (2 Nephi 26:3-5)
Nephi’s prophecy was fulfilled. Here’s a relevant portion of the record:
And behold, the city of Laman, and the city of Josh, and the city of Gad, and the city of Kishkumen, have I caused to be burned with fire, and the inhabitants thereof, because of their wickedness in casting out the prophets, and stoning those whom I did send to declare unto them concerning their wickedness and their abominations. 
And because they did cast them all out, that there were none righteous among them, I did send down fire and destroy them, that their wickedness and abominations might be hid from before my face, that the blood of the prophets and the saints whom I sent among them might not cry unto me from the ground against them.
(3 Nephi 9:10-11)
Similar destruction is prophesied in our day, and for exactly the same reasons:
And thus, with the sword and by bloodshed the inhabitants of the earth shall mourn; and with famine, and plague, and earthquake, and the thunder of heaven, and the fierce and vivid lightning also, shall the inhabitants of the earth be made to feel the wrath, and indignation, and chastening hand of an Almighty God, until the consumption decreed hath made a full end of all nations; That the cry of the saints, and of the blood of the saints, shall cease to come up into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, from the earth, to be avenged of their enemies. (D&C 87:6-7)
These are not idle words. The destruction is soon upon us.
And whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold, they shall be destroyed; for the Lord will not suffer that the blood of his saints, which shall be shed by them, shall always cry unto him from the ground for vengeance upon them and yet he avenge them not. 
Wherefore, O ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain—and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you, yea, even the sword of the justice of the Eternal God shall fall upon you, to your overthrow and destruction if ye shall suffer these things to be.  
Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up. (Ether 8:22-24)
Killing the Prophets Today

So why should we be concerned in our day about what happened four or five generations ago? Surely those involved will answer for their actions, will they not? Well of course they will.

But you don’t have to actually pull the trigger to participate in the killings at Carthage. When it comes to those whom the Lord has sent, what matters most is not the men, but the message. When God personally commissions and sends prophets with His message, we ignore that message at our peril. If the prophets are killed for their testimony, their shed blood invokes an undeniable witness, to which the Lord will give heed, and for which the Lord will bring vengeance.

Unfortunately, the “saints” stone, cast out, and kill Joseph yet today. Here are some of the ways those who claim to accept Joseph Smith’s mission, instead participate in his assassination:

Cursed are all those that shall lift up the heel against mine anointed, saith the Lord, and cry they have sinned when they have not sinned before me, saith the Lord, but have done that which was meet in mine eyes, and which I commanded them.  
But those who cry transgression do it because they are the servants of sin, and are the children of disobedience themselves. (D&C 121:16-17)
Blood and Vengeance

When I visited Carthage Jail as a boy, part of the tour included inspecting the blood stains on the floor where Hyrum fell. Whether those were the actual stains or not, the blood of these slain saints yet cries out for vengeance. But that may not mean what we think.

The Lord will have His vengeance on the murderers; this is certain. Yet, fallen human nature impatiently demands justice now, to be exacted by blood for blood.

So egregious were the murders of the Smith brothers that it took great effort by other church leaders to prevent retaliatory violence by the Latter-day Saints. Though vengeance belongs to the Lord, many wanted to shed the blood of those responsible for the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum.

I there and then resolved in my mind that I would never let an opportunity slip unimproved of avenging their blood upon the enemies of the church of Jesus Christ. I felt as though I could not live; I knew not how to contain myself, and when I see one of the men who persuaded them to give up to be tried, I feel like cutting their throats. And I hope to live to avenge their blood.
—Allen Joseph Stout journal entry
This feeling was eventually codified into an actual temple covenant, requiring the following oath of all who received their temple endowment:
You and each of you do covenant and promise that you will pray and never cease to pray to Almighty God to avenge the blood of the prophets upon this nation, and that you will teach the same to your children and to your children's children unto the third and fourth generation.
This oath remained in the endowment into the 1920s when popular outcry and political pressure forced its removal. The sentiment expressed in this oath, and by church leaders, contributed to violence in the early church, including the massacre of innocents at Mountain Meadows.

Of course, no amount of shed blood will right the wrong, nor prevent the consequences of casting out the prophets. And the fact that the blood stains have now been removed from the floor in Carthage does nothing to silence the cry of the martyrs’ shed blood.

I propose there is another way to avenge the blood of the Saints; it is to return to belief in their words. The only real vengeance possible, and the only measures that can in any way right the committed wrong is to return to the truth of the message they died to seal, thus ensuring they did not die in vain.

Unfortunately, many do not feel this way. Some, including the church he founded and those it employs, still hold Joseph Smith in derision. Such are fools. Some still rage against him. Such are children of Hell. (D&C 122:1) Those who continue to assassinate the prophet’s character perpetuate the 172-year legacy of Carthage.

The blood has cried out against us long enough! We must do better; we must begin to right the wrongs by repenting.

When we search out what Joseph actually taught; when we accept his words as the actual words of Christ; when we cease to accuse him of deceit, adultery, ignorance, or sin; when we seek counsel, and authority, and blessings constantly from under Joseph’s hand (D&C 122:2); when we restore the words he gave us as scripture (including the Lectures on Faith); when we put down the secret combinations that seek power and gain through false religion; and most of all, when we seek to receive all that Joseph said was possible—we will begin to avenge the shed blood of the prophets.

This is the only way we can escape the coming judgments. God was serious when he vouched for Joseph (D&C 21:1-8). God was offended when we killed the one he sent. The sword of vengeance hangs over us, and it will fall (Mormon 8:41). 
On this, the anniversary of that fateful Thursday 172 years ago, repentance is our only hope.

Wherever he reasoned on the old prophets his words lit up a sacred flame in the heart of the saint that showed an ocean of existence unexplored by the vain philosophy of the world; when he poured out his eloquence, the gentile on the reserved rights of all fools declared, “I would rather go to hell than believe that imposter!”—and who cannot but say amen! Go!

—W. W. Phelps 
Funeral Sermon of Joseph and Hyrum Smith


  1. Thank you ... many of the things you put out I have received over the years. It feels so nice to have others with me.

  2. Adrian,
    Thank you, and thanks to all those who have defended Brother Joseph against all the slanders and lies over the years!
    On the day I received the Baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost, I was infused with a certain knowledge that the Book of Mormon is true, that Brother Joseph was and still is a real Prophet, that Brother Joseph received the plates and translated them exactly as he set forth, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth and that God lives and is guiding His work in our day.
    I love and honor Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith and I am humbled beyond my poor capacity to express that I have married into their family and am their kinsman. God bless Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith!
    James Russell Uhl

  3. From Matthew 23:

    29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,

    30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.

    31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.

    32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.

    33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

    34 ¶Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:

    35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth,
    from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.

    36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.

    37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

    38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.

    I've been trying to understand the 2 Nephi 28 and Mormon 8 references to the "blood of the saints" for awhile and came upon the above verses recently. This post presents the same reasoning I derived from these verses from Matthew 23, which the Lord explains quite clearly. Thanks for a helpful post.

    David Sutherland

  4. Heaven forbid we start hearing of the persecution and contract murders of the teachers and messengers sent by the Lord in our day. The Book of Mormon persuades me that such is coming over some dark, future hill.

    In the meantime the point of your insightful post should give us pause, Adrian. At all levels there is growing indifference, apologetic back tracking, and disbelief in the mission and words of Joseph Smith within the church that he founded. Imagine the pushback and ridicule he’d receive at our hand were he to come among us today, calling us to repent and to love that we might meet our Lord while yet in the flesh! Imagining that we can spiritually progress to Zion or to the fulfilling of the great latter-day restoration without studying and heeding his words is to proclaim our ignorance of truth.

    The question from the BYU religion course about somehow magically being worthy to inherit the celestial kingdom is telling. Any inheritance with God runs through one gate only, the Holy One of Israel, and the message and authority for such in our day comes through only one man, Joseph Smith. Until we heed his words our pride and self-delusion that it can be some other way will condemn us before God.

  5. You said, "I’m sure we’ve all read the official accounts of what happened that day. I’ve stood many times in that very room in Carthage jail and considered those events. I don’t believe the official story; it is demonstrably inaccurate in a number of important ways."

    Can you share a few of the inaccuracies in a comment here, or perhaps do a post on this topic, or maybe you can recommend a link elsewhere?

    Thanks Adrian for another good post!

  6. Another great post, I've long thought there was far more to their deaths than we know, but there's little out there. It would be awesome if you could elaborate more on what you've found.
    I will say that it appears that Samuel Smith was also murdered - poisoned - so it was clear someone was working hard to remove the Smith brothers who were active in the church.

  7. Since you mentioned the Lectures on Faith how do you reconcile these conflicting doctrines:

    From the Lectures on Faith [Lec 5:2a] 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;

    [Lec 5:2b] whether in heaven, on earth, or in the earth, under the earth, or throughout the immensity of space.

    [Lec 5:2c] They are the Father and the Son: The Father being a personage of spirit, glory, and power, possessing all perfection and fullness.

    Now compare with D&C 130:22 The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.

    Here we have two conflicting doctrines. Both can't be right.
    So which one is the correct one?

    1. Hi Greg,

      Thank you for bringing this up. This is an important question.

      The heart of the question is this: Does the Father having a body of flesh and bones as tangible as a man's absolutely mean he is NOT a being of "spirit, glory and power?"

      Are you a spirit being? Is your spirit housed in mortal flesh?

      Can the Father be a being of "spirit, glory and power" inhabiting a body of flesh?

      According to D&C 131:7 "There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes;"

      Therefore, the Father, a being of "spirit, glory and power" is still also a being of matter.

      Christ, after His resurrection, was able to enter a locked room without making a hole in the wall. And yet, he had a body of flesh and bones.

      It's clear, there are different sorts of bodies, and different levels of glory. It is a mistake to assume Telestial flesh, with its limitations, is the sort of flesh God has.

      There is no contradiction in Joseph's statements.

    2. This is how we got D&C 130:22, the only "scripture" which says God has a body of flesh and bones: "On Saturday, 1 April 1843, Joseph Smith traveled to Ramus, accompanied by Orson Hyde and William Clayton. Brother Clayton acted as Joseph's scribe on this trip and recorded the Prophet's remarks in his personal diary. The Prophet's party stayed the night at the home of Benjamin F. Johnson. The next morning Orson Hyde preached to the Saints, using as his texts 1 John 3:2 and John 14:23. Joseph later wrote that after the morning meeting, 'we dined with my sister Sophronia McCleary, when I told Elder Hyde that I was going to offer some corrections to his sermon this morning. He replied, 'they shall be thankfully received.' Joseph then preached to the saints at Ramus in the afternoon and evening meetings. He included among his afternoon remarks what is now Doctrine and covenants 130:1-7, and he included Doctrine and covenants 130:18-23 during his evening remarks. These selected remarks of the Prophet Joseph, as recorded by William Clayton and later copied by Willard Richards, were first published in the Deseret News on 9 July 1856. They were added to the Doctrine and Covenants as section 130 in the 1876 edition at the direction of Brigham Young." (Stephen E. Robinson, H. Dean Garrett, A Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2001] 4:220-221).
      I don't consider this scripture at all and believe the lectures on Faith, which were the basis of many elders actually seeing God and Jesus Christ at the Morley Farm conference in 1831. That conference also included an eyewitness testimony stating God was a Spirit.
      Just because Spirit is comprised of matter doesn't mean that matter is also "flesh and bones. We know our spirits aren't flesh and bones even though they can inhabit a body of flesh and bones.
      The whole God has a physical body and also many wives teaching is part of the Brigham Young polygamy doctrine, not supported by scripture. Lectures on Faith completely refutes that false doctrine and that is probably why they were removed from the D&C in 1921 by Heber Grant.

    3. IF what Greg quotes above is true, and DC 130:22 was added in 1876, then that is very interesting and may explain some corruption of the original text. Compared to Lecture Fifth, the main takeaway for me was that the Holy Ghost is the mind of God, and not a "personage of Spirit", like the Brother of Jared saw when he saw the pre-mortal Jesus Christ.

      Lecture Fifth uses the word "spirit" to describe Heavenly Father. "The Father, being a personage of spirit, glory and power," while the Son is described as "a personage of tabernacle, made or fashioned like unto 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."

      Joseph the Prophet described the Two differently. Abinadi does too. Abinadi was very clear. You could make the case, Lecture Fifth was a restatement of Mosiah 15:1-5. Specifically, Abinadi distinguishes between the Two by calling one flesh - the Son, and the other, the Father, the "Spirit." I quote: "And thus the flesh (the Son) becoming subject to the Spirit, or the Son to the Father..."

      This is a lucid description of the Father as "the Spirit." Of course, Ammon taught this as well, "Believest thou that this Great Spirit, who is God, created all things...?" (Alma 18:28).

      Final takeaways from my recent studies:
      1) spirit = matter
      2) Christ is in express image of Father
      3) Christ had body that was "physical" after His resurrection. Humans touched him.

      Therefore, I ask anybody here reading this question, cannot the Father be touched as well? I assume since the Son is in the express image of Father and like the Father, and since Joseph Smith is an eyewitness of them both looking alike, that the Father, can be physically touched, or embraced, as well as the Son. Obviously He doesn't have corruptible flesh that tabernacles His Spirit, but He has incorruptible matter appearing as flesh. Whether bones or not seems not so important to me. But They can eat, as Jesus proved after His resurrection.

      Again, the main takeaway for me is that the Holy Ghost is NOT a personage of Spirit, but the mind of God (which we all have access to), and so that verse (DC 130:22) being added in 1876 makes me believe it is a corrupt teaching in our DC.

  8. Almost everything Young, Clayton and Richard's touched should be considered suspect and likely altered or created from whole cloth. They had to work hard to make the case that the polygamy doctrine came through Joseph Smith.


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