This will be a four part article due to the length and great amount of information contained in it.
If you missed part 1 here is the link: https://faithfulsaints.com/follow-the-living-prophet-and-excommunicate-joseph-smith-part-1/
We don’t know the origins of this article, other than it is a pdf we came across and felt it to be of benefit to the Saints or those that would call themselves saints.
Prophets’ Teachings Conflict
We have said that a mechanism of degeneration within a church is the amending or dropping of eternal laws. This is usually followed by the assurance that the words of the leaders are “infallible,” while the infallible word of God is changed. Such a leader becomes all things to all men. And most men blindly follow such a “living prophet.” We must say that we do not mind getting our “marching orders from the captain,” mentioned by the speaker at BYU, if such orders do not conflict with the general, General Joseph Smith Jr., and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Some of the contrasts between the teachings of past and present prophets are as follows:
We mentioned earlier that the Prophet Joseph made it clear that ordinances are not to be altered or changed, that all must be saved on the same principles, that those who will not receive all the ordinances will come short of the fulness of glory, if they do not lose the whole. (See History of the
Church. by B. H. Roberts, vol. 5, p. 423-4.)
However, some years later, President Stephen L. Richards countered Joseph’ s teaching by saying,
“I hold it entirely compatible with the genius of the Church to change its forms of procedure, customs and ordinances in accordance with our own knowledge and experience” (S.L. Tribune, Apr. 10, 1932).
Joseph Smith was a true prophet. We accept his position.
We present another about-face. Brigham Young often spoke of his concern when the Saints tended to drift toward friendship with the world.
“There is nothing that would so soon weaken my hope and discourage me as to see this people in full fellowship with the world, and receive no more persecution from them because they are one with them” (Jrnl, of Disc., vol. 10, p. 32).
President Heber J. Grant was on the other side of the fence.
“My greatest happiness I find in the good will and friendship that has developed among all classes of people at home and abroad toward the Latter-day Saints, during my lifetime; in place of everyday persecutions and bitterness, we now enjoy the high regard and happy association with all denominations” (S.L. Tribune, Nov. 22, 1938 ).
What we have here is an example of a living prophet who did not follow a living prophet. The Apostle John said, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own…” (John. 15: 19).
No normal person deliberately courts persecution. We don’t look forward to it. But we cannot see how we can possibly avoid experiencing it, if we walk the path the prophets walked, and if we expect to be where they are. Jesus promised persecution. It is a natural result of following truth. John Taylor understood the principle —
“There is still that same spirit of antagonism existing between truth and error… let a man join this Church… when he became a servant of God, the powers of darkness were let loose upon him; men began to persecute him and speak evil of him, and his name was cast out as evil. This is the lot of every man that receives the truth — I don’t care where he comes from” (Jrnl, of Disc vol. 7, p. 195).
From George Q. Cannon:
“It is an evidence, an infallible evidence, of truth to have persecution accompany it…” (Ibid., vol 20, p. 333-334).
President Cannon hits close to home again:
“…When all the chief features of the Gospel are obliterated, when we can float along the stream and do as the world does, then and not till then will persecution cease…” (ibid vol. 22, p. 374).
We have a specific appreciation for the following scripture. It applies to members in the Church, and to members lately in the Church.
“Blessed are ye, when men shal1 hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy; for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets” (Luke 6: 22-23).
Another important change, a disappointing one, has crept into another sacred corner of our gospel covenants. The temple ceremony has waded through many deletions and is now given in fragmented form. The garment formerly given to and sanctioned by the priesthood as its official pattern, bears little resemblance to the various patterns in use today. Attempting to forestall what has become a reality, President Joseph F. Smith said,
“The Lord has given unto us garments of the holy priesthood, and you know what that means. And yet there are those of us who mutilate them in order that we may follow the foolish, vain and indecent practices of the world.
…They should hold these things that God has given unto them sacred, unchanged and unaltered in the very pattern in which God gave them” (Imp, Era. vol. 9, p. 813).
Not so. A subsequent living prophet within the following years, in 1923, permitted changes in important features of the sacred garment. Apparently assuming that the living prophet in 1923 had not sufficiently improved upon the previous living prophet, the living prophet in 1980 has improved upon them both. An entirely new style has blossomed forth in a garment that was “not to be altered or changed but kept in the very pattern in which God gave it.” And that official pattern has been sentenced to the closet, labelled “no longer necessary.” Was Joseph F. Smith a false prophet? We view this as a contradiction of a contradiction.
And we regret it very, very much. President Joseph Fielding Smith said that Mormons who are not wearing the proper garment are missing the blessings, that every facet of it has a meaning.
Brigham Young said the prophets will never contradict one another if they speak under the influence of the spirit of God.
“…Do you know why some men give counsel different one from another? Because they undertake to give counsel without the Spirit of the Lord to dictate them. But when the Spirit dictates, then each one knows what to do, and their counsel will be the same.
“Adam, Seth, Enoch, Noah, all the Patriarchs and Prophets, Jesus and the Apostles, and every man that has ever written the word of the Lord, have written the same doctrine upon the same subject; and you never can find that Prophets and Apostles clashed in their doctrines in ancient days; neither will they now, if all would at all times be led by the Spirit of salvation.
“…There is no clash in the principles revealed in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants; and there would be no clash between any of the doctrines taught by Joseph the Prophet and by the brethren now if all would live in a way to be governed by the Spirit of the Lord. All do not live so as to have the Spirit of the Lord with them all the time, and the result is that some get out of the way” (Jrnl. of Disc. Vol 5, pg 329).
But we have modern disagreement with President Young.
“Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Canon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world” (B. R. McConkie, All Are Alike Unto God. BYU, 1978).
Was Brigham Young a false prophet?
We would not look forward to accounting to Brigham Young for such a statement.
Nor is the statement in harmony with one found in the Church News, by some one better informed.
“One of the most important things we learn about our religion is that God is unchangeable, the same yesterday, today and forever. Thus, we may know that the principles of salvation will always remain the same. We need not be disturbed by any new ideas or modern innovations in the gospel which may come our way” (June 5, 1965).
Another subject currently receiving its share of public ridicule is the Adam-God doctrine. It never was a “theory.” D&C 93 tells us to know how to worship and know what we worship, that we may come unto the Father. Brigham Young simply got up in 1852 and told them. And he repeated it to them for the next 25 years. Some say he was misquoted. But Brigham Young was much too meticulous about the publication of his sermons to remain misquoted for 25 years. Said he,
“I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call it scripture. Let me have the privilege of correcting a sermon, and it is as good as Scripture as
they deserve” ( Jrnl. of Disc., vol. 13, p. 95).
Wilford Woodruff said,
“I have read the sermons of Brigham Young published in the Journals of Discourses… and I presume are considered correct as published” (Temple Lot Case, p. 309).
He also said his own were published correctly.
The Adam-God doctrine is a true teaching, a meaningful and sensible one. It was gradually discarded by the Church. The doctrine was also taught by Heber C. Kimball, Hosea Stout, Samuel W. Richards, L. John Nuttall, James A. Little, Franklin D. Richards, George Q. Cannon, Joseph F. Gibbs, Daniel H. Wells, Wilford Woodruff, Abraham H. Cannon, Benjamin F. Johnson, and even by Eliza R. Snow, to name a few. We will not take space to list the references, but they are easily available.
If Brigham Young “spoke with a limited understanding,” Heber C. Kimball didn’t know it. He said of Brigham Young,
“Do you suppose that he is so unwise as to say a thing which he does not know to be true? He understands what he speaks, and he looks before he jumps, and God Almighty will lead him straight, and he will never stumble — no, never …” (Jrnl. of Disc., vol. 5, p. 32).
And we are in complete harmony with Hugh W. Nibley’ s praise of the great prophet:
“Brigham Young was the prophet Joseph’s most faithful disciple; their teachings are one as the minds of the Saints and Prophets have always been one” (The Timely and the Timeless, p. 234).
Now the conflict… The present living prophet has told as that the past living prophet, Brigham Young, was a false prophet, in these words:
”We warn you against the dissemination of doctrines which are not according to the scriptures and which are alleged to have been taught by some of the General Authorities of past generations. Such, for instance, is the Adam-God theory. We denounce that theory and hope that everyone will be cautioned against this and other kinds of false doctrine” (S. W. Kimball, The Ensign, Nov. 1976, p. 77).
In the light of all the evidence in many writings through the years, this seems an irresponsible statement. So determined were some of the previous leaders to erase all trace of the Adam-God doctrine, that even the temple ceremony had to be altered. Certain deletions had to take effect, since the temple ceremony taught the Adam-God doctrine in specifics. With more and more evidence surfacing, only the uninformed would bother to refute the fact. In view of such serious digressions from the gospel taught by Joseph Smith, it seems to us that the repeated, blanket urging from Church leaders to “follow the living prophet,” becomes a self-indictment.
Mormons face quite a dilemma if we are to pick our favorite living prophet out from among all the others, on the basis of who taught the nearest to our beliefs. How can we be certain that our present prophet is advancing true doctrine? We have thought that truth always outlives the succession of Church prophets. But it is entirely possible that the present teachings of the living prophet will be tomorrow’s false teachings of a dead one.
Onward to another contradiction; it is a major one.
“It is the most holy and important doctrine ever revealed to man on the earth, and that without obedience to that principle, no man can ever attain to the fulness of exaltation in celestial glory” (Wm. Clayton, Hist. Record, vol. 6, p. 225 ).
So said Joseph Smith concerning the principle of celestial plural marriage. This principle separates the sheep from the goats. Brigham Young said it is the only kind of marriage the gods live. Church leaders at one time taught that exaltation was impossible without living that law. They teach now that exaltation is impossible if we do. Let us look at the contrasts.
“…You might as well deny ‘Mormonism,’ and turn away from it, as to oppose the plurality of wives. Let the Presidency of this Church, and the Twelve Apostles and all the authorities unite and say with one voice that they will oppose that doctrine, and the whole of them would be damned” (Heber C. Kimball, Jrnl. of Disc., vol. 5, p. 203).
“Plural marriage is not essential to salvation or exaltation” (B. R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 1958, p. 523).
“We won’t quit practicing plural marriage until Christ shall come” (W. Woodruff, May 1888, Manti Temple, Utah Hist. Otrly., Fall 1971).
“… But of celestial marriage, plurality of wives was an incident, never an essential” (J. E. Talmage, Story and Philos. of Mormonism, p. 89).
Were Heber C. Kimball and Wilford Woodruff false prophets?
“We cannot withdraw or renounce it. God has revealed it, and He has promised to maintain it and to bless those who obey it…” (Mill. Star. vol. 47, p. 707, Oct. 6, 1885).
“It is an eternal principle and was given by way of commandment and not by way of instruction” (Joseph Smith, Contrib., vol. 5, p. 259).
Considering the high esteem the principle of celestial plural marriage enjoyed among the Church leaders, the following is not surprising. President Joseph F. Smith and B. H. Roberts were subjected to questioning during the Smoot investigation in Washington, D.C., in 1904. Senator Smoot’s seat in Congress was in question. Several items of information were forced from the Church leaders at that time.
The Chairman: “Do you obey the law in having five wives at the same time, and having them bear you eleven children since the Manifesto of 1890?”
J. F. Smith: “Mr. Chairman, I have not claimed that in that case I have obeyed the law of the land… I do not claim so, I have said that I prefer to stand my chances against the law…. and I wish to assert that the Church has obeyed the law of the land and that it has kept its pledges with this government; but I have not, as an individual, I have taken that chance myself.” (Smoot Investigation vol. 1, p. 99 et seq)
Chairman: “In living in polygamous cohabitation you are in defiance of the Manifesto of 1890, are you not?”
B. H. Roberts: “Yes sir. In defiance of the action of the Church on that subject.” (Ibid., vol. 1, p. 718)
We must observe that since the Manifesto was issued in 1890, and the Smoot investigation was in 1904, it seems that the living prophets were not following themselves…unless, of course, the Lord made provision for His priesthood to obey all of His laws until Christ shall come again.
Lorenzo Snow gives us more insight:
“Question: Well, is it not a fact that it was a rule in the Church that if anybody should undertake to follow a principle that was not accepted, and was not accepted as a principle and true doctrine in the Church, that they would be violators of a law of the Church? Answer: Yes sir. But there are exceptions to all law” (Temple Lot Case, March 1892).
Previous to his sentence in 1886 for violating the Edmunds law, President Snow told a Mormon congregation,
“Better suffer a thousand deaths than succumb to the force of persecution by promising to discard a single principle which God has revealed for our glory and exaltation” ( Jrnl. of Disc., vol. 26, p. 368).
There is an interesting sidelight to the perpetuation of plural marriage. Some of the latter living prophets covered up a sizeable chunk of Church history. Significant events transpired during the 1885-87 period, but records and diaries of that period have been closeted. Much to the dismay of some, however, the 1886 revelation to John Taylor has surfaced. It pertains to the perpetuation by the priesthood (not by the Church) of “the most holy and important doctrine ever revealed,” or plural marriage.
Church leaders were good record keepers , or often had secretaries recording for them. The personal diary of John Taylor, the personal diary of George Q. Cannon, and the diary of secretary L. John Nuttall are under lock and key. So are the Nuttall diaries covering the underground period. The Taylor and Cannon diaries are presently put away in the vault of the First Presidency. Access is denied to anyone seeking to examine them. Why? The four most significant records relating to a fascinating and critical time in Church history, have been locked away. Why?
A number of years ago, Samuel W. and Raymond Taylor, grandsons of John Taylor, were researching material in preparation for writing a biography of their grandfather. Upon attempting to gain access to the Taylor 1885-1887 diaries, they ran into the same snag experienced by other researchers. This prompted Sam Taylor to say,
“The only thing he (Raymond) didn’t get before he died was the John Taylor Journals, which of course would be invaluable in doing a biography. From excerpts B. H. Roberts had used, it was evident that Taylor had kept a most detailed personal record. Yet these journals of the Church president had mysteriously vanished. Where? And, perhaps equally important, why?
“After Raymond’s death, I was informed… that when the Church archives were moved to the new office building, someone ran onto the John Taylor Journals. Immediately I wanted to see them — I was a grandson — so I got the official letter saying they weren’t in the archives. But I knew who found them, and where they were put, despite official denials… So I kept trying, and got a phone call just a week or so ago, and a man said, ‘I know where they are, they’re in this safe…’ Well, you know, the U.S. Government tried for three years during the Smoot investigation of 1904-7 to get into that safe and couldn’t do it, and I don’t think I have quite as much clout” (Samuel W. Taylor talk, Univ. of Utah, John Taylor, Forgotten Man of Mormon History, March 26, 1974).
“Follow the living prophet,” and encounter contradiction. Let us examine one final and recent example. If the Church became a reproach to the public tranquility in the late 1800’s, whereupon she compromised ordinance and principle, she has repeated her action in 1978. For several years, Church leaders had been pressing the Lord to make concession to the Negro and to appease the government again. Pressure groups were exerting their influence upon the Church, and lawsuits were pending. It is characteristic of the Lord that when man presses Him on issues which He has already answered plainly, man will receive answers and manifestations to his heart’s content. Compromise once again insinuated its way into the once pure gospel. But such entrenched policy to appease does more to debase than to relieve the Church, for lineage will not remain pure. Such a course is as degrading to men of the priesthood as it is an affront to God. It would have been far better that they who had been called to defend the truth had preserved to themselves the honor of being among those Saints who were persecuted for their religion.
The Church has attempted to give the priesthood to the Negro. The tragedy is compounded by encouraging the Negro to think he has something which he has not. God’s rule for Israel, His chosen people, has been too separate from the black race; and modern Israel has been similarly directed. We have become the House of Israel-Canaan, and the “chosen people” concept no longer has meaning within the Church.
According to Brigham Young, if the Church ever made such a move, it would lose priesthood.
“Let my seed mingle with the seed of Cain, that brings the curse upon me and upon my generations… Let this Church which is called the Kingdom of God on the earth; we will summons (sic) the First Presidency, the Twelve, the High Council, the Bishoprick (sic), and all the Elders of Israel, suppose we summons them and appear here, and here declare that it is right to mingle our seed with the black race of Cain, that they shall come in with us and be partakers with us of all the blessings God has given to us. On that very day and hour we should do so, the priesthood is taken from the Church and Kingdom and God leaves us to our fate. The moment we consent to mingle with the seed of Cain, the Church must go to destruction…” (Brigham Young Addresses, dated 1852, Ms. d 1234, Box 48, folder 3).
Concerning some of the prophets of Israel, Ezekiel said, “Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing” (Ezek. 13:2-3).
The action of the Church in 1978 on this issue was a contradiction in the extreme. The writings of all former prophets indicate that this action was premature. Men have now presumed upon the Lord. We can very nearly see the reason why the Lord has permitted some drastic changes in His Church through the years. Those things given to most Church members, but which are only portions of the truth, may be best after all. A few may seek beyond the arm of flesh to find all of the restored gospel, which is still alive and available, and protected from general distortion.
Pressing the Lord for a revelation on a matter about which revelation has already been given, reminds us of a comment by Joseph Smith.
“And again, we never inquire at the hand of God for special revelation, only in case of there being no previous revelation to suit the case” (Hist. of the Church, vol. 1, p. 339).
If the change in policy on this issue came from God at all, it was very likely on the same basis that Joseph finally gave 116 pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript to Martin Harris. One wonders if the enemies of righteousness have finally succeeded in crippling the strength, pride and priesthood of the Lord ‘s true Church. Truth, at one time her great ally, seems to have become one of the Church’s more formidable enemies.
In connection with seeking revelation from God, one of the speaker’s “Fundamentals” was, “The Prophet Does Not Have to Say, ‘Thus saith the Lord, ‘ to Give Us Scripture.” That isn’t what Joseph Smith said.
”From Liberty Jail (he) told the Church that unless suggestions are made or names mentioned by commandment or ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ he did not consider it very binding as to the general affairs of the Church” (Ibid., vol. 3, p. 295).
However, the revelation to give priesthood to the Negro must have been so important that God could not put it into words. We have not received it in writing. We are left to assume that God, in the stead of normal procedure, inspired Church leaders to announce the shift in policy through press dispatches, since “thus saith the Lord,” according to the BYU speaker, is not necessary.
The way things are going, with the pressures of the world coupled with the Church’s momentum in capitulating under fire, with advocates of E.R.A. putting the Mormon Church to shame, it is possible that the Church will bow the knee and attempt to endow women with priesthood, long before the Roman Catholic Church does.
In reviewing some of the many changes in the gospel, it ought to become clear as to why we say that if the Prophet Joseph were to return today, teaching the same gospel he taught years ago, he would have to be excommunicated, and the Lord Jesus Christ right along with him, for having taught the same things.
…continued in part 3 to be released on December 25, 2020.