Sunday, February 26, 2023

Destruction, Part 8: Inward Vessel

How came you to be here and yet mortal; the last who came here were brothers who had been slain, and you are yet alive? And the man answered, I waited on the Lord and he brought me here safely.
—T&C 163:4

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 |Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

Captain Moroni was, by all indications, quite a guy. Equally orator, military strategist, leader, teacher, prophet and elected official, he represented a seemingly impossible combination of immense power and abject humility, wielded effectively in the cause of righteousness and peace. It’s little wonder that the Book of Mormon devotes significant attention to the teachings and accomplishments of this “strong and…mighty man” whose example sets that standard for righteous power. “Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken for ever; yea, the Devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.” (Alma 21: 34 RE)

Naturally, any hero of this stature requires an arch-nemesis to battle and overcome, and the Book of Mormon doesn’t disappoint. The same chapter that brings us Captain Moroni also introduces another “large and…strong man” named Amalickiah who likewise had a penchant for teaching, leading, and fighting. “Yea, we see that Amalickiah, because he was a man of cunning devices and a man of many flattering words, that he led away the hearts of many people to do wickedly, yea, and to seek to destroy the church of God, and to destroy the foundation of liberty which God had granted unto them, or which blessing God had sent upon the face of the land for the righteous’ sake.” (Alma 21:6 RE)

You know the contours of the story. Amalickiah “was desirous to be king.” So desirous, in fact, that he stirred up others who sought power, promising that in his new kingdom, they would be rulers over the people. When Moroni raised the Title of Liberty in response and rallied the people to the cause of freedom, Amalickiah and his followers fled to the Lamanites. 

Once there, Amalickiah employed deception, flattery, subterfuge, murder and, yes, romance to ultimately reach his goal of kingship, albeit as king of the Lamanites. He then led a years-long campaign of war against the Nephites, attempting to become their king as well. His reign of terror didn’t even end when the point of Teancum’s javelin sent Amalickiah to hell; the war continued for many more years costing tens of thousands of lives. 

These “war chapters” of the Book of Mormon have always been a bit of a mystery to me. Given the excruciating care with which the text was curated over the course of a thousand years, I’ve often wondered why so much space was devoted to detailed coverage of this war initiated by Amalickiah and concluded by Moroni. Certainly, we find many valuable teachings in these chapters, but for today we’ll focus on just one lesson that bears terribly and proximally on us as a covenant people facing widespread destruction, which we’ll cover in a few moments. 

But before we get there, I’d like to weave another strand into this rope. 

Let’s talk about the deaths of Hyrum and Joseph Smith. It’s increasingly clear to anyone who cares to give it a moment’s consideration, that the official story of what happened that day in June is rife with lies. Unpacking the blatant impossibilities in the official account, the contradictory physical evidence, and an increasing number of contrary historical records, ultimately points to a very high likelihood that the Smith brothers were killed by their own followers. Even by their friends. 

What’s worse, the shocking realization that John Taylor and Willard Richards likely shot the Smiths is dwarfed by the further discoveries that come if you tug that thread a bit further. For me, and in the limited time I’ve been able to spend, it leads to the discovery of a conspiracy lasting over a decade with the ultimate goal of supplanting Joseph Smith, indeed the entire Smith family, and taking control and ownership of what he built. 

Carthage was merely the final scene in a much longer tragedy involving murder, sex, money, power and destruction of the Lord’s incipient work. The secret poisonings, jostling for position, politics of power, envy, strife, malice, alteration of historical records, clandestine polygamy and adultery, money counterfeiting and deception truly boggle the mind. I might add that Joseph and Hyrum Smith were guilty of none of these things, though those who took power after the Smiths’ death attempted to push it all off on them. 

The ongoing perils of the “false brethren” (T&C 139:8) surrounding Joseph Smith lend even greater gravity to our Lord’s sharp and direct warning delivered through Mormon:

Hearken, O ye gentiles, and hear the words of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, which he hath commanded me that I should speak concerning you; for behold, he commandeth me that I should write, saying, Turn, all ye gentiles, from your wicked ways, and repent of your evil doings — of your lyings and deceivings, and of your whoredoms, and of your secret abominations, and your idolatries, and of your murders, and your priestcrafts, and your envyings, and your strifes, and from all your wickedness and abominations — and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may receive a remission of your sins and be filled with the holy ghost, that ye may be numbered with my people who are of the house of Israel. (3 Nephi 14 RE)

This warning was directly targeted to the gentiles surrounding Joseph Smith. And to us. 

It’s little wonder, therefore, that the Lord’s last-days covenant includes the very same language as a conditional qualification for reception of the Lord’s promises:

All you who have turned from your wicked ways and repented of your evil doings, of lying and deceiving, and of all whoredoms, and of secret abominations, idolatries, murders, priestcrafts, envying, and strife, and from all wickedness and abominations, and have come unto me, and been baptized in my name, and have received a remission of your sins, and received the holy ghost, are now numbered with my people who are of the house of Israel. (T&C 158:10)

Implicit in this statement is that any of these evil doings among us prevent those involved from receiving the Lord’s covenant, and may well prevent the entire covenant people from accomplishing the Lord’s work. 

So What’s Wrong?

When you consider these two statements, it’s easy enough to dismiss them as being overly broad and dire. Whoredoms? Secret abominations? Murders? Priestcrafts? Really? Among us? Nah…

I mean, how could such things happen? Among people as “righteous” as us? People who believe and sacrifice and covenant and hope for the return of the Lord? Maybe such evils used to be a problem in a more wicked time, but certainly not now. Certainly not among the covenant body. Right? 

But let’s suppose, just for a moment, that the Lord actually knows what he was—and is—talking about, and that these warnings are as applicable to us now as they were in prior, more “wicked” times. Hey, wait a minute…aren’t these wicked times as well? Isn’t the world ripening in iniquity, soon to be burned? Uh-oh.

All right, so let’s consider it all, by asking a few questions. First about the cabal of Brigham Young and his circle who ultimately murdered the Smiths and usurped the restoration.

  1. How did the believing converts and churchmen who surrounded Joseph Smith reach the point that they considered murder to be justified, and possibly even righteous, and doing God a service (see John 9:13 RE)?
  2. Did it start with the intent of murder? 
  3. And if murder wasn’t the original intent, then what set off the cascade leading there, and what was the first domino to fall? 

While we consider those, let’s ask similar questions about Amalickiah. 

  1. Did he really intend to single-handedly instigate a terrible war lasting over a decade and costing tens of thousands of lives, including his own? 
  2. Did it start with the intent of wholesale slaughter and the near annihilation of an entire civilization?
  3. And if genocide wasn’t the original intent, then what set off the cascade leading there, and what was the first domino to fall? 

I believe the first domino was the same for both Amalickiah and Brigham. I believe one of the most important lessons of the “war chapters” is found in discovering that initial spark that led to infernos, both ancient and recent. And I believe that same lesson applies to us, here, now, in exactly the same way as it did in times past, because human nature doesn’t change. What worked to nearly wipe out the Nephites, and to usurp the latter-day restoration of the gospel, will have just as great an effect in preventing the Lord’s work now underway if it is not understood, recognized and eliminated. 

The initial spark of the conflagration is always the same. It is zeal.


To be sure, zeal itself isn’t necessarily all bad, and can in fact be good. Webster’s 1828 defines zeal as follows:

Passionate ardor in the pursuit of any thing. In general, zeal is an eagerness of desire to accomplish or obtain some object, and it may be manifested either in favor of any person or thing, or in opposition to it, and in a good or bad cause.

The real key is that last bit—in a good or bad cause. Certainly, appropriate zeal in the pursuit of good is key to accomplishing righteous ends. But zeal in the service of anything that is misled, incorrect, or wrong leads to disastrous outcomes. The key is knowing the difference. And this is where it gets difficult. 

Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge; for they, being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes. (Romans 1:46 RE)

Paul warns us it is indeed possible, even for those among the house of Israel, to have zeal, but not according to knowledge. Ignorant of God’s righteousness. Seeking to establish their own righteousness. Not submitting unto God. Even Lucifer and his minions *appear* to manifest zeal for the glory of God (T&C 147:5) 

So zeal MUST be coupled with correct understanding of God’s righteousness. It is therefore instructive to consider a recent definition of righteousness given at a fireside dedicated to that topic:

[R]ighteousness can be defined in the most simple terms as hearing the voice of the Shepherd, the voice of the Son, hearing that voice, heeding it, and repenting…no matter where that voice comes from. (Denver Snuffer, Righteousness, p. 11)

This is where it breaks down, and the spark becomes a conflagration. Let’s consider Amalickiah’s instructive example.

Chapter 21 of Alma begins, ironically enough, with Alma’s very detailed and specific prophecy to his son Helaman, predicting the future annihilation of the Nephite civilization. Then after Alma’s departure, we get the story of Amalickiah. It began with a religious dissension among the believers, caused because of pride. Amalickiah was the leader of the dissenting group and he wanted to be king. 

It’s easy to read this account in a few sentences and pass it off as great wickedness on the part of Amalickiah and his followers. But it started in unity. All involved subscribed to the same religion, but understood it differently. I don’t expect Amalickiah gained followers by rejecting the religion wholesale, but rather by pushing a different interpretation, likely based on his own reading of scripture. And, finding that he could attract followers who viewed him as their leader perhaps led naturally to the notion in his own mind that he should be king. According to the text, he was large, strong, flattering, persuasive. Did he therefore assume this was all evidence he was right in his interpretation, and that he and his followers needed to set the rest of the believers straight? Did he naturally presume he was on a God-given quest of reform and redemption? And wouldn’t a righteous king be a benefit? After all, when Israel had righteous kings, they were blessed! And that’s scripture! So this MUST be God revealing his will that his mighty leader, Amalickiah, should be made king and right the ship of religion. 

My point here is that Amalickiah likely thought, believed, even KNEW he was on the Lord’s errand, and that the dissension and resulting contention was necessary in the fight to establish God’s manifest will. Messy, perhaps, but necessary.

The trouble is that the greater portion of the Nephite people saw things differently, which likely convinced Amalickiah he was in fact the victim of the larger Nephite body’s failure to accept his mandate. Meanwhile, Helaman and Captain Moroni saw Amalickiah and his cause for what they were: Zeal without knowledge. Amalickiah and his followers were zealous for a false idea, and became ever more zealous, hardened, and unpersuadable the further they pressed on in their cause.

When Amalickiah was unable to accomplish his desires among the Nephites, rather than recognizing he was deceived and repenting in abject humility, he simply changed sides and kept up the battle, seeking to become king of the Lamanites. I’m sure he STILL had persuasive scriptural arguments making him right, and he just needed to bring enough force to get the Nephites to consider his arguments and see the light. If they would just listen to him long enough, he could persuade them. But they wouldn’t listen! So he would force them…

On and on it goes, from one self-justified act of wickedness to another until it led to murder (hey, isn’t it better that one man should perish than a nation should dwindle in unbelief? That’s scripture!), deception, fraud, more murder, corrupt marriage, and war. By the time it was all over, Amalickiah may have dropped the facade of righteousness, or maybe not. At that point it didn’t matter. He was committed, beyond repentance, and had a fixed and zealous determination to enforce his will or die trying. Justifications could be manufactured at will. 

We could paint a very similar scenario for the conspirators who killed the Smith brothers. It may have all started with something small—Brigham’s admitted frustration with Joseph over Joseph’s leadership style and lack of good business management, as a possible example. From there, it would be natural, and accurate, for Brigham to presume he could do a better job than Joseph in those areas. And really, shouldn’t God’s kingdom have the best management? Wait, was that the whisper of the spirit telling Brigham he was indeed a better leader than Joseph and that the kingdom would one day all be his? 

Might it be possible to convince others by pointing out Joseph’s faults, promising them leadership and power when the time came? And from there, how hard is it to justify the removal of certain people who were loyal to Joseph, but stood in the way of Brigham’s ambition? And naturally the kingdom of God, and his king, need ample funds to run the enterprise, and hey, we have a printing shop…so we can print some counterfeit currency. Problem solved! 

Oh, by the way, if you look in the Bible, you’ll see that one of the benefits of kingship is many wives, right? I mean look at David and Solomon! So naturally such things must be implemented and pursued. Secretly, at first, because Joseph has lost the spirit and is a fallen prophet, and he doesn’t understand and accept this new order of things and he’ll cast us out if he finds out. But it’s in the scriptures, so Joseph is obviously wrong. 

And ultimately, when the time came, Brigham’s doctrine of blood atonement provided all the justification needed for murdering the Smith brothers, who now stood in the way of God’s manifest will concerning Brigham, polygamy, money and power. Brigham stated that Joseph had no particle of the spirit at that point, so redemption through the shedding of blood would fit Brigham’s doctrine perfectly. Kill them to save them. It’s the most loving thing to do.

For both Brigham and Amalickiah, it all started with zeal for a bad idea, based on their own pride, pursued over the long term, justified by deceptive arguments, and pressed continually in an ever-increasing campaign to win—to be right—to stand vindicated when the bad idea was fully implemented. 

What lessons can we learn from these two examples, and how might we avoid falling into similar traps as we seek to assist in the Lord’s work now underway? 

Well first, discernment is hard, and none of us are as good at it as we think. There WILL be bad ideas. Many of them. And that’s perfectly fine if they are ultimately recognized as bad ideas and abandoned.

Second, self-awareness is key. I have no doubt Amalickiah and Brigham both thought they were righteous, justified, and on the Lord’s errand. Neither had the self awareness to realize the overt wickedness of what they were doing. They were SURE they were right, and I expect they both went to their graves expecting a parade in heaven to celebrate their accomplishments for the Lord. Stephanie Snuffer’s clarion call at the last conference, highlighting the need for self awareness, ought to inform us all.

Third, excessive zeal should be avoided. Given the lack of discernment and poor self awareness that mark human nature and especially the ambitious, we should guard carefully against excessive zeal in ANYTHING. By this, I mean that if an idea really is that great, and really does have God’s approval, it shouldn’t require many attempts through a years-long campaign to get others in the movement to listen and agree. 

Fourth, not all scriptural arguments are valid. I’ve encountered all sorts of foolish and false ideas promoted through tortured scriptural arguments that are just wrong. Remember, in Joseph’s day, everyone used the same Bible to oppose one another, and to oppose the Lord’s work when the restoration began. It’s no different now in the larger Christian world, or even among the ongoing restoration.

Why Does This All Matter to US?

In our movement, I’m aware of a number of ideas, initiatives, and proposals that have been put forward over the years, that have been considered and discussed, and that have been largely rejected or ignored by the body of believers. Some of these notions have gone away with no harm done, and others have stuck around. In the cases of those that have stuck around, they are promoted by a zealous few who simply cannot let their ideas drop, and who are willing to engage in attempt after attempt to press their desires on the covenant body, seemingly no matter what it takes, no matter how long it takes, and no matter how many other believers oppose them. The voice of the people in the covenant body appears to hold no sway at all with those who are zealous in the pursuit of a false notion.

Lest anyone should assume I’m singling them or their ideas out, rest assured I’m thinking of at least four separate initiatives in this category. I’ve noticed the following generalities about how each is promoted. 

  1. Each consists of something to which the entire covenant body is expected to subscribe. In other words, it’s not about something individuals should do, believe, or accept, but rather each calls for action by the entire body of believers. There is a noticeable desire to control others and the movement at large. 
  2. Each is promoted by scriptural arguments, in some cases arguing that the plain meaning of the scripture quoted is the exact opposite of the Lord’s intent and that we have to see past the Lord’s plain words to get to some deeper, opposite meaning.
  3. Each is also promoted with the argument that the Lord’s work cannot move forward until the specific idea, initiative or action is implemented. Common arguments include, “Zion can never come until we…(implement my idea)” or “The Lord won’t move things forward until we…(implement my proposal).” These arguments are designed to play upon fear and impatience, while simultaneously manifesting the pride inherent in the assumption that the Lord can’t do his work unless someone’s bad idea is implemented. 
  4. Each seeks to do something the Lord has not commanded, or alternatively, to add to or greatly expand what the Lord has commanded. 
  5. Each *claims* the implicit support of the dispensation head as a means to bolster acceptance, while there has never been any sort of overt approval given. There are explanations for this as well, together with assurances that he really does want this to happen and the Lord needs it done, but it won’t ever be announced generally.
  6. And finally, needless to say, each is promoted with a zeal bordering on a life’s mission and purpose for those doing the promoting. No opposition, no persuasion, no argument, no correction seems capable of convincing them to let up or let go. The same proposals just keep coming back.

I’m not accusing anyone of being Amalickiah or Brigham, of having murderous intent, or even of intentional unrighteousness. I’m simply pointing out patterns of human nature, given in scripture and acted out on the stage of this existence from the beginning. We are fools if we think we are somehow immune to the same patterns, and God forbid, the same outcomes. 

Something Denver Snuffer said at the last conference is particularly applicable here. He taught that ALL institutions become corrupted, and that any form of power structure or hierarchy becomes the target of the adversary. This is because, “It's very easy to corrupt men. Vain and ambitious desires, lustful and covetous attitudes, they’re resident in every person in embryo, and the adversary knows how to excite that into corruption.” (What to Worry About, p.3)

Every person. Including you. Including me. We are fools to think otherwise. And therefore, we require acute self awareness, constant vigilance, and the robust direction of God’s spirit to keep us in the right way. But even more than that, there is, in fact a cure for the latent flaws in our nature that make us all potential tools of evil. That cure, like all cures, comes through our Lord:

As many as perceived the Light in Him, to them He gave knowledge to enable them to follow the path to become like Him, begotten children in the family of the Most High God. This is only possible for those who believe through His name. Those who believe through His name are no longer born of blood to follow the appetites of flesh, nor the ambitions of man, but are able to become, like Him, the offspring of God. (TSJ 1:3)

One of the first objects of our belief is to create a change within us, commonly called being born again. This event changes our very natures and enables us to overcome the latent flaws we carry. 

Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women — all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people — must be born again, yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters. And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. (Mosiah 11:28 RE)

And for those who have experienced this mighty change and become new creatures, Alma has a few questions:

And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now? Have ye walked keeping yourselves blameless before God? Could ye say — if ye were called to die at this time — within yourselves that ye have been sufficiently humble, that your garments have been cleansed and made white through the blood of Christ, who will come to redeem his people from their sins? Behold, are ye stripped of pride? I say unto you, if ye are not, ye are not prepared to meet God. Behold, ye must prepare quickly; for the kingdom of Heaven is soon at hand, and such an one hath not eternal life. Behold, I say, is there one among you who is not stripped of envy? I say unto you that such an one is not prepared. And I would that he should prepare quickly, for the hour is close at hand; and he knoweth not when the time shall come, for such an one is not found guiltless.


And again I say unto you, is there one among you that doth make a mock of his brother or that heapeth upon him persecutions? Woe unto such an one, for he is not prepared; and the time is at hand that he must repent, or he cannot be saved. Yea, even woe unto all ye workers of iniquity. Repent, repent, for the Lord God hath spoken it. (Alma 3:5-6 RE)


I began this series by talking about destruction, in hopes we would recognize the dire situation in which we find ourselves. Our nation and society have already been destroyed, and the decline toward the eventual sweeping off is underway. Time is short and we certainly can’t afford to be complacent, foolish, or wrong. As we close, there yet remains one final point we should consider regarding destruction: It always comes from within.

Historian Will Durant, who with his wife Ariel spent 40 years writing The Story of Civilization in 11 volumes put it thus:

A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself within.

He had cause to know. Every great civilization that eventually crumbled to ruin rotted from within before being conquered and destroyed from without. Captain Moroni was well aware of this when he wrote his fiery epistle to Parhoron, saying, “Now I would that ye should remember that God has said that the inward vessel shall be cleansed first, and then shall the outer vessel be cleansed also.” (Alma 27:9 RE) Moroni recognized there was no way they could repel the attacking Lamanites if the leadership and the populace were not valiant in the cause of truth. 

In the case of our civilization, pride and prosperity have made room for very bad ideas to be promoted with great zeal, justified with attractive arguments, and enforced upon the rest of us by force of law or abject lawlessness. 

The same fate overcomes religious movements. Whether the time of Abraham, ancient Israel, Christ, or Joseph Smith, nearly every dispensation has ended in corruption in ruin—not because of outside forces, but by forces from within. The blood of the prophets, ancient and modern, cries for vengeance and insists, even demands that we recognize the danger and repent. Christ began his Nephite ministry with a sharp warning against disputation for a reason. Sharp disputation is the first sign of excessive zeal. The signs that then follow have been outlined above. 

Before Denver Snuffer started the Forty Years in Mormonism series of ten talks that initiated the movement now underway, he related a vision he received that has great application now. Consider this:

After great losses, many deaths, and terrible suffering, the people chosen by the Lord withdrew and departed from the mountain. After four and five generations, the Lord again brought some few back to the pass and again told them to stay at the mouth of the pass and wait on Him. But again there were those who tired of waiting, for they could see in the distance the glory of the Fathers and they desired to be there. These, being overtaken by their zeal, did not wait, but moved into the pass where again the beast killed or hurt them.

Among those who waited, however, was a man who knelt and prayed, and waited patiently for his Lord. After a great time, the Lord came to this man and took him by the hand and led him into the pass where the great beast guarded the way. As the Lord led, however, the beast was ever occupied with attacking others, and therefore its back was turned to the Lord and the man. And so they passed by unnoticed, safely to the top. (T&C 163:4)

In this vision, some tired of waiting on the Lord, and instead charged ahead, overcome with zeal, and reaped destruction. In contrast, one man knelt, prayed, and waited patiently. Zealous for truth, though he was, his greater attributes were humility, obedience, and patience to wait upon the Lord. 

At this point it all hangs in the balance. Destruction awaits for this world, and our only hope of safety and deliverance lies in kneeling humbly and waiting on the Lord. Otherwise those same forces of destruction from within will overcome and destroy the body of believers who call themselves the remnant. May we choose to overcome our zeal before it overcomes us all.

And they were numbered among the people of Nephi, and also numbered among the people who were of the church of God. And they were also distinguished for their zeal towards God and also towards men, for they were perfectly honest and upright in all things; and they were firm in the faith of Christ, even unto the end. And they did look upon shedding the blood of their brethren with the greatest abhorrence, and they never could be prevailed upon to take up arms against their brethren; and they never did look upon death with any degree of terror, for their hope and views of Christ and the resurrection…And thus they were a zealous and beloved people, a highly favored people of the Lord.

—Alma 15:9 RE


  1. I'm unpersuaded by what you present. You stated, "Meanwhile, Helaman and Captain Moroni saw Amalickiah and his cause for what they were: Zeal without knowledge. Amalickiah and his followers were zealous for a false idea, and became ever more zealous, hardened, and unpersuadable the further they pressed on in their cause."

    This appears to be a "tortured scriptural argument" (using your words above) to make your point. It doesn't look to me like zeal was the issue. "And it came to pass that those who were desirous that Parhoron should be dethroned from the judgment seat were called Kingmen, for they were desirous that the law should be altered in a manner to overthrow the free government and to establish a king over the land. And those who were desirous that Parhoron should remain chief judge over the land took upon them the name of Freemen; and thus was the division among them, for the Freemen had sworn or covenanted to maintain their rights and the privileges of their religion by a free government." (
    The issue was about maintaining freedom, not because Amalickiah had too much zeal. If you want a story about unwise zeal you can go to the story of Zeniff.

    What's the best way to address someone who has a lot of zeal and remains unconvinced by all the counter arguments? Is it by engaging in direct conversations or in writing a blog post without directly addressing the issue, but instead comparing those people to Amalickiah and Brigham?

    I imagine this is post is addressed to people who want to have business conferences to canonize scripture and people (like me) who believe there's some unfinished business with the statement of principles commandment. I don't agree with the scripture canonizing people, but hey, let them go ahead and talk about it. It only becomes a problem if they try to coerce. Conversation is not coercion. Recently a private statement of principles room was shut down because it was not tolerated that some of us could have a place to discuss the issue. We're told to be silent and go away. That doesn't resolve the issues. The issues will remain.

    On the other hand, I was involved in a meeting over the weekend where a small group of people gathered with differing opinions on the matter. I appreciate the host of the meeting willing to bring us into his home and hear us out. We had a wonderful conversation and ended with a prayer pleading with the Lord to know His part. That's the path forward. We can talk peacefully about differences. I believe we MUST be able to talk about our differences or we are not worth preserving. I don't see attempting to shut down conversation as a productive path forward.

    Thank you for hearing me out :)

    Kevin Gillman

    1. Hi Kevin,

      Thank you for your comment! I disagree with your assertion that Amalickiah’s zeal wasn’t the problem. His unceasing desire to be king is what led to and encouraged the king-men. His zeal to be king led to all the wars and deaths. His unending zeal to be king ultimately almost annihilated the Nephite nation. Had he backed down at any point, the war and death would have come to an end, and he could have lived out his days as king of the Lamanites. But he would not back down. He insisted on pressing the fight, no matter what it took, no matter how many lives were lost. He even lost his own life, rather than back down. Is that not excessive Zeal?

      As for hearing out the arguments of others, I, and many others I know personally, have spent many hours, and in some cases months and years listening carefully to those who are not satisfied with the Guide and Standard outcome. All the “hearing out” has not resolved the issue because those who are dissatisfied want more than to be heard out.

      I acknowledge that some are dissatisfied, and that the entire project could have and should have gone better. But I also accept the Lord’s assertion that “I accept the statement you have adopted, and approve it as your statement to be added.” Those words, “accept” and “approve” bring the effort to a close, at least in my mind. Attempting to “continue” or “finish” the effort the Lord has already accepted and approved seems like pushing things too far and going beyond what the Lord has required.

      Our work now is to consider his next statement, “But I say again, there was honor in the labor of others. Whereas I look upon the heart and see faithful service, many among you do not look at, nor see, nor value what I, the Lord, love in the hearts of my people.” Certainly learning to see the value and honor in the labor of others is one of those things we “ought to have learned.” And at least in my opinion, considering what we learned and what we ought to have learned from this group effort is what the Lord has asked of us now.

      How else do we let the past be the past and move forward in a more positive way with future obligations the Lord may place on us?

    2. Regarding your assertion that “Recently a private statement of principles room was shut down because it was not tolerated that some of us could have a place to discuss the issue.” I believe a more accurate way to state it is that “the history of strident dispute, sharp disagreement, unkindness and anger manifest in discussing this topic led the hosts of the chat room to close it down.” Obviously it was “tolerated” that there could be a place to discuss the issue for years before the ongoing ugliness caused the site owner to pull the plug.

      Disagreement is fine, even healthy and needed. The problem is that some of those who disagree with the Lots statement seem unwilling to “respectfully disagree” and instead insist on disputation and confrontation, even to the point of accusing those who don’t wish to get involved in their dispute and therefore remain silent. Remaining silent and accepting what the Lord has said, we are told, IS the problem, and that those who do so are the real cause of the dispute. Silence is violence.

      I recently watched someone who had not been involved in the discussion jump in and kindly, humbly state his opinion. In response he was accused, castigated, and vilified simply for stating his view of the issue. Naturally, he withdrew, at which point he was accused of continuing the problem because he refused to engage with the opposition. It’s a No-win situation for those who do not wish to dispute.

      It seems very odd to me that there are MANY other discussion groups in this movement discussing and sharing opinions on a variety of topics without anger, disputation, or contention. Why is it that this particular topic seems so fraught with contention, anger, and intentional disputation? And why cannot we take the Lord at his word when he says “For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the Devil, who is the father of contention; and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another, but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.”

      I don’t know any other way to help other than calling it what it is and making a plea to all with excessive zeal regarding this topic. I believe the Lord wants to give a command to build a temple soon, but I also believe he will not give such a command to a people who are divided, contentious, and angry. Therefore it is in His hands to deal with, and I believe he is taking note of who is willing to live in peace and love one another and who is not. Insisting on continuing a fight for years with those who have no desire to fight can only lead to ruin.

  2. Thanks for writing this up, Adrian. I appreciated your thoughts as a lot of this has been in my mind. Zeal is definitely a concern, and I recognize its foolishness from its effects in my past. I know I have been susceptible to this. I have no desire to do that again. It’s probably something we all experience at some point or other, often when we are younger, but definitely not exclusive to youth.

    I can think of situations like this and the ensuing “sharp disputstions,” and one thing I find frustrating is that each side sees the instigator and hard hearted, etc. in the other side. Each side sees itself as the victim, and any opposition further cements this conviction that we are the victims of the other. With the covenant body, I‘ve been refusing to see myself as anyone’s victim, and take no offense, because I wish to see where I err, and not fall into a cycle of blame and accusation. So I’m glad you mentioned Stephanie’s comment about self awareness. How are we supposed to recognize we are the zealous ones who have crossed the line, if we are not self aware? We definitely need to be. Thankfully, the Spirit is a good guide in correcting this self-blindness. If the spirit we follow keeps telling us we are right instead of teaching us correction, it’s probably a false spirit. Also, the fruits such efforts grow, such as the ones you mentioned happening in the past are good things to reflect on. If our zealous efforts are continually resulting in bad fruit, that should really be a warning to us.

    I’m also grateful for your suggestion from Denver’s parable to pray and wait on the Lord. This seems to also be His solution to our disputations from the Answer to the Covenant: “Even strong disagreements should not provoke anger, nor to invoke my name in vain as if I had part in your every dispute. Pray together in humility and together meekly present your dispute to me, and if you are contrite before me, I will tell you my part.” I’m unaware of this being used to solve the greater matters we have. It seems like such a waste, when it has such a great promise tied to it, and it is, like what you mentioned, also prayerfully waiting on the Lord, contingent, of course, on our humility and meekness.

    Anyway, thank you for this post and it’s warning. It has given me something important to mull over.

    -Sarah S

  3. Adrian, in one of your replies to Kevin you mentioned, “Remaining silent and accepting what the Lord has said, we are told, IS the problem, and that those who do so are the real cause of the dispute. Silence is violence.” Are you referring to something I said on an email chain recently? Or was this something someone else has said? I won’t take offense if it is in response to me. I will hear you out if so. I definitely wasn’t saying it with that meaning. This was the part I said about silence: “But I do think our good intent to not dispute lacks some wisdom, and that it is coming at the expense of understanding each other, at the expense of learning how to respect each other when someone may have a different view than us. We have been returning silence instead of respect and understanding. I think this comes off more as shunning than respect. I know our intent is good, but this doesn’t appear to have the fruit of uniting hearts, and it doesn’t feel like equality.” Did I speak amiss in this?

    Sarah S

    1. Hi Sarah, I don't think it was in response to you, as I don't recall reading your statement anywhere before you put it here. I believe it was something someone else said elsewhere.

      As for your comment, I can only speak for myself. I have spent significant time listening and attempting to understand those who dispute the Lots document. I do not agree but I choose not to argue. I don't view this as shunning or ignoring, nor do I view it as disrespectful. In the end it's ok if we disagree and do so respectfully. It feels a bit like those who dispute are pushing the claim that they have not been respected or heard until the other side agrees with them. I find this claim hollow, as I personally know numerous people who have spent hours, weeks, even months listening, engaging in conversation, and attempting to understand, while still not being persuaded by the arguments of the Lots disputers. It appears the only acceptable definitions of "respecting" and "listening" and "equality" are wholesale agreement. Anything less is sold as ignoring, shunning, creating victims. I don't believe it's honest for someone to claim they are ignored when people have collectively spent hundreds of hours listening to and engaging with them.

  4. Sorry I need to send this in 2 parts

    You said:
    -largely rejected or ignored by the body of believers (see: why does this all matter to us)
    My take: 
    - I would say this point is not important, because if we heeded the Lord's command and took our disputes to him, it doesn't matter how many people are in the large body or smaller body, The lord will help us know his part and we can be one body. 

    You said:
    -There is a noticeable desire to control others and the movement at large. (see your#1)
    My take: 
    - absolutely! How does it always sneak in there? So let's stop that!
    Instead of finger pointing, could you please use your blog instead to say, let's pray together about that!

    You said:
    -“The Lord won’t move things forward until we…(implement my proposal).” (see:#3)
    My take:  
    -yes I do believe he won't move things forward, until we (insert the Lord's proposal)
    Take our disputes before him to hear his part.
    The Lord's part isn't any of our proposals, it's his. 

    You said:
    -These arguments are designed to play upon fear and impatience, while simultaneously manifesting the pride inherent in the assumption that the Lord can’t do his work unless someone’s bad idea is implemented. (#3)
    My take:
    -See response above. 
    We don't have an idea good or bad to implement, because we just want to pray with you or anyone that cares on the matter, for the Lord's part.

    You said:
    -Each seeks to do something the Lord has not commanded (#4)
    My take on this:
    -At this point it is my belief all that is wanted is to take it to the Lord to know his part. 
    Can we agree to do this together?

    You said:
    -No opposition, no persuasion, no argument, no correction seems capable of convincing them to let up or let go.(#6)
    My take on this:
    - should we let go of a command from the Lord, To take our disputes to him in prayer??
    No way! Please understand that is all I am asking. All that you said about not being able to persuad me, argue with me, or correct me, won't change the FACT that the Lord asked us to go to him with our disputes. 

  5. You said:
    -We are fools if we think we are somehow immune to the same patterns, and God forbid, the same outcomes. 
    My take on this:
    -I agree! Can we please pray together so he can give us his part?

    You said:
    -In this vision, some tired of waiting on the Lord, and instead charged ahead, overcome with zeal, and reaped destruction. In contrast, one man knelt, prayed, and waited patiently. (See: after T&C 163:4 reference)
    My take on this:
    -Isn't asking to pray together being the man that knelt? The Lord asked us to pray together... that seems waiting patiently.  
    We are capable of that, because we all want to be the man that knelt, prayed, and waited patiently. 
    And we can do it together.  

    You said to Kevin:
    -All the “hearing out” has not resolved the issue because those who are dissatisfied want more than to be heard out.
    My take:
    - there were feelings hurt. 
    Did we consider each other's feelings? Should we have done better? (This is the "hearing out")
    Now, all that is wanted is to understand that above👆 and bring our disputes to the Lord, together.

    You said to Kevin:
    -Certainly learning to see the value and honor in the labor of others is one of those things we “ought to have learned.”
    My take on this:
    - can we still learn this? 
    There are faults on both sides. Let's now, hear each other as equals, that we each have a desire to be understood, then...
    Together take our disputes before the Lord.

    You said to Kevin:
    -How else do we let the past be the past and move forward in a more positive way with future obligations the Lord may place on us?
    My take:
    -We have to pray for his part on this assignment, then I hope he will have us move forward. 

    You said to Kevin:
    -Why is it that this particular topic seems so fraught with contention, anger, and intentional disputation?
    My take on this:
    - because we haven't seen, or treated each other as equals. We each have valid complaints and would like to have our opinions valued. Can we get together face to face, have discussion then pray to know the Lord's part?
    That should negate all the need for disagreement. 

    From Sarah S.
    -Pray together in humility and together meekly present your dispute to me, and if you are contrite before me, I will tell you my part.” I’m unaware of this being used to solve the greater matters we have. It seems like such a waste, when it has such a great promise tied to it,
    My take:
    the end. No finger pointing necessary. 

    Can we plan a date we can meet face to face to have a discussion of each other's differences and then bring them to the Lord together in prayer??

    We all:
    - are on the same team
    - want to follow the Lord
    - want his part
    I believe your heart is good. I also feel my heart is trying to be good. 

    Holly Wilde

    1. Hi Holly,

      Thank you for your comments. It’s very clear from your comments you have a dispute and you want to take it to the Lord. I’m sincerely willing to do so, but I need to understand more clearly about the dispute.

      Any dispute, by definition, requires at least two parties. You have identified yourself as one of those parties. Who is the other? Forgive my confusion, but I truly don’t know, and I’m trying to ask as directly and humbly as I know how. Can you please tell me who your dispute is with? This matters a great deal as you are requesting that the parties to the dispute take it to the Lord, so it’s fundamental to know who must do this.

      Second, will you please tell me, simple and directly, what you dispute? Again, forgive my confusion, but all my attempts to get this question answered have failed. So please explain it to me in the plainest terms and fewest words possible. A single sentence that begins with “I dispute…” and states what you dispute would be most helpful.

      If you can start by stating specifically who you are disputing with and what you are disputing, this will be an excellent start in being able to do as you request and take it to the Lord.

      Thank you,


    2. Hi Holly,

      It occurs to us that it may be difficult to put your dispute into a simple, straightforward definition because it’s no doubt complex. As we’ve listened to others, the issue sometimes really gets down to feeling marginalized, unheard, undervalued and hurt, rather than a direct dispute about a specific issue.

      If this is the case for you, we just want you to know how much we love and value you, and if we have personally done anything to hurt you, we are so sorry and sincerely ask your forgiveness. We know that even with the best of intentions we all rub against each other and knock off sharp edges, inflicting pain in the process. Please believe we have never intended to cause you, or anyone else, pain or anguish through this process. But good intent isn’t enough when damage has been done. We sincerely desire and hope that you can let go and heal from the wounds we and others have inflicted upon you. We love you and truly desire to be unified with you.

      Please, reach out If there is anything we can do to help you come to peace.

      Adrian & Tausha

  6. Adrian, one of the sobering points this post makes is the possibility that the disputes among the first generation of Lehi's children, eventually evolved into warfare among their posterity--likely over the amplified issues from the begining. It highlights that strong disagreements among family and brothers/sisters can evolve over time to stronger levels of dispute. The BoM describes warm disputes but not unto bloodshed, meaning I take that as fist fights. But disputes can turn to contentions (which etymology has a similar root as contempt), and further to war and destruction of another or murder--the worst and final outcome. It's a sobering thought as to how we handle strong disagreements now to avoid such things down the road.

    Two people on opposite sides of the debate (I will not name them without their permission) recently made a vary valid point that we all share around 85% in common with eachother in this movement. We are a small peculiar group of believers in Christ that have faith in an eventual House of God to be built in the Rockies, that will open the heavens to great revelations, resulting in a city of peace, where God and angels can eventually duel there as fellow citizens. It's a strange and peculiar belief system and group of believers. And all we have is eachother to assist and labor alongside eachother to try and fullfill the covenant together. We have, many of us, been cast out of our former religious institutions for simply believing what the scriptures say about these and other important subjects of the BoM and the restoration through Joseph Smith. Being utterly rejected prior to being dedicated and faithful life long members of those institutions. We are, generally, misunderstood by family and friends who don't hold similar beliefs. We have produced what we believe to be the most accurate version of the scriptures and revelations we have recieved through a joint effort of volunteers to recover the originals. And many more things that represent common ground among all of us, even as we share unique life, cultural, educational, and geographic differences.

    This common ground is a good basis to focus on becoming one heart first. We should spend more effort and time building our relationships here. It would give way to being able to persuade eachother of the remaining differences we hold.

    We could estimate the differences represent the other 15%, although I realize these numbers are arbitrary and do not represent an exact accuracy. The point is we have more in common than we have uncommon. Yet the focus at times seems to be on the 15% and it often fails to render good fruit because we have not yet become of one heart. Which is relationship based, trust based, and understanding based. That relationship can only come about naturally over time as we labor alongside eachother against the great tasks we've been given. There can be no shortcuts with it in my experience--it cannot happen through haste. Mistakes of the past should inform us of the great need to become of one heart first, giving space and tolerance for the remaining disagreements before any hope of resolution can ever be reached.

    I made a recent post on a chat board that described the Lord's Longsuffering. The best example I could recall was from the parable of the Great Competition, when the King invites all those who had rejected His plan back to the great feast at the end. This decision had a polarizing effect on everyone with arguements about injustice, etc. It's worth careful review. To me it highlights the longsuffering of our God. It stretches, as it where, almost beyond time and space. Where lost and fallen souls were given another opportunity to return and repent, after all the bad choices, deception, and errors that had trapped them in prison for centuries. Yet God's mercy and longsuffering had not lost power to reclaim them if they would.

    We should attempt to mimic in our own small and imperfect way this great attribute of our Lord. I believe we would learn even more about Them as we do.

    1. I love this, Russ. Great points. Thank you!

  7. “Woe be unto the gentiles, saith the Lord God of Hosts, for notwithstanding I shall lengthen out mine arm unto them from day to day, they will deny me. Nevertheless, I will be merciful unto them, saith the Lord God, if they will repent and come unto me, for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long, saith the Lord God of Hosts.”

  8. Very noteworthy that even the Lord doesn’t attempt to overpower the beast, but favors outsmarting it, ironically using its own strength in favor of the Lord’s own purpose.

  9. Perhaps it should be "Joseph, Hyrum, and Samuel." For me, it was Samuel's death that was the smoking gun. He died 3 weeks after Joseph and Hyrum. I believe he was poisoned by Hosea Stout - a member of Brigham's cabal.

    I think Samuel claimed, in a meeting after Joseph's death, that Joseph told him (Samuel) that he was to lead the Church should something happen to he (Joseph) and Hyrum. Whether Joseph said that is not important - Samuel's claim would have been sufficient for Brigham to get him out of the way.

    At BYU, I took Susan Black's Church history class. She said that Samuel likely died due to internal injuries from riding a horse (the saddle horn pushing into his stomach as hunched over the saddle while fleeing mobs). I, now, think that's silly. Anyway...

    Joseph, Hyrum, and Samuel. Pretty sure all three were murdered.


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