The Man of Sin is Revealed
In part one of this article we reviewed corroborating accounts of the calling of Lyman Wight and others to the High Priesthood of Melchizedek and his testimony of the Father and the Son.
He was the first Elder in this dispensation to be given the Holy Priesthood after the order of the Son of God, which has been named after Melchizedek, a great High Priest who established Zion and translated his people.
As we saw from the testimony provided, the spirit in Joseph would reveal who God wanted to ordain and then the spirit within Lyman would ordain that person. Lyman ordained 16 people including Joseph and Sidney. Joseph ordained Lyman and the remaining elders of the 23 who were ordained. Some were called by the voice of the Lord out of heaven and others were chosen by the voice of the Lord out of heaven.
The Man of Sin is Revealed
Shortly after Lyman Wight was filled with the Spirit and had the heavens opened to him, bearing witness of the Father and the Son, the spirit of Satan entered the room and possessed several of the brethren.
Interestingly, according to some of the testimony given, various people at the conference struggled with possession and evil spirits for the next two days!
“Joseph put his hands on Harvey Whitlock and Ordained him to the high Priesthood he turned as black as Lyman was white his fingers was set like Claws he went round the Room and showed his hands and tried to speak his eyes was in the shape of Ovil Oes. [Spelling?]
Hyrum Smith said Joseph that is not of God Joseph said do not speak against this I will not believe said Hyrum unless you inquire if God owns it Joseph bowed his head a short time got up and Commanded Satan to leave Harvey laying his hands upon his head at the same time.
At that very instant an Old man said to way two hundread and fourteen pounds sitting in the window turned a complete summersett in the house and came his back across a bench and lay helpless Joseph told Lyman to cast Satan out he did.
The man’s name was Leman Copley formaly a Shaker The evil spirit left him and as quick as lightning Harvey Green fell bound and screamed like a Panther.
Satan was cast out of him but imediately entered so I heared it continued all day and the greater part of the knight“. (Levi Handcock)
Here is the recollection of Ezra Booth;
“Another Elder, who had been ordained to the same office as Wight, at the bidding of Smith, stepped upon the floor. Then ensued a scene, of which you can form no adequate conception; and which, I would forbear relating, did not the truth require it.
The Elder moved upon the floor, his legs inclining to a bend; one shoulder elevated above the other, upon which the head seemed disposed to recline, his arms partly extended; his hands partly clenched; his mouth partly open, and contracted in the shape of an italic O;
his eyes assumed a wild ferocious cast, and his whole appearance presented a frightful object to the view of the beholder.— “Speak, Brother Harvey” said Smith. But Harvey intimated by signs, that his power of articulation was in a state of suspense, and that he was unable to speak.
Some conjectured that Harvey was possessed of the devil, but Smith said, “the Lord binds in order to set at liberty.“
After different opinions had been given, and there had been much confusion, Smith learnt by the spirit, that Harvey was under a diabolical influence, and that Satan had bound him; and he commanded the unclean spirit to come out of him.
It now became clearly manifest, that “the man of sin was revealed,” for the express purpose that the elders should become acquainted with the devices of Satan; and after that they would possess knowledge sufficient to manage him. This, Smith declared to be a miracle, and his success in this case, encouraged him to work other and different miracles.” (Ezra Booth)
John Whitmer’s recollection is consistent with the others;
“While the Lord poured out his spirit upon his servants, the Devil took occation to make known his power. He bound Harvey Whitlock <and John Murdock> > so that he could not speak and others were affected, but the Lord showed to Joseph the Seer the design of this thing, he commanded the devil in the name of Christ and he departed to our joy and comfort“
Zebedee Coltrin recalled;
“Harvey Whitlock was ordained next with the same promise but after his ordination, when standing on his feet, he seemed paralyzed. His mouth was drawn into the shape of an italic O, and his arm was stretched out as if nailed to a cross. Joseph rebuked the power that had seized him, and it left him”
Philo Dibble recalled;
“Then Harvey Whitlock stepped into the middle of the room with his arms crossed, bound by the power of Satan, and his mouth twisted unshapely. Hyrum Smith arose and declared that there was an evil spirit in the room. Joseph said, “Don’t be too hasty,” and Hyrum sat down.
Hyrum rose the second time, saying,
“I know my duty and will do it,” and stepping to Harvey, commanded the evil spirits to leave him, but the spirits did not obey, Joseph then approached Harvey and asked him if he believed in God. Then we saw a change in Harvey“
After the evil spirit was cast out of Harvey, he had the heavens opened and he saw the Son standing on the right hand of the Father just as Lyman had done.
The above accounts of this event seem to highlight both the powers of light and darkness that were manifest during the first bestowal of this highest priesthood.
Great miracles and the opening of the heavens and the testimony of Jesus Christ took place.
Conversely, as promised, the “man of sin” was revealed. The power of Satan possessing the bodies of some of the brethren was revealed in great power and those who had been given the priesthood and were faithful, now had power to discern and overcome evil spirits.
The Dynamics of Ego
Statements from leaders of the church in later years would indicate that jealousies and contentions would eventually evolve and manifest themselves as a result of this event. One can only imagine the amount of pressure everyone felt, realizing that those who were “worthy” would receive the endowment of the highest priesthood while everyone else watched.
Additionally, some of the Elders had a hard time accepting the experience as being from God and “some doubting took place“.
John Corrill makes reference of this in his reminiscence of the event;
“… there was a revelation received, requiring the prophet to call the elders together, that they might receive an endowment. This was done, and the meeting took place some time in June.
About fifty elders met, which was about all the elders that then belonged to the church. The meeting was conducted by Smith. Some curious things took place. The same visionary and marvellous spirits spoken of before, got hold of some of the elders;
it threw one from his seat to the floor; it bound another, so that for some time he could not use his limbs nor speak; and some other curious effects were experienced, but, by a mighty exertion, in the name of the Lord, it was exposed and shown to be from an evil source.
The Melchizedek priesthood was then for the first time introduced, and conferred on several of the elders. In this chiefly consisted the endowment—it being a new order—and bestowed authority.
However, some doubting took place among the elders, and considerable conversation was held on the subject. The elders not fairly understanding the nature of the endowments, it took some time to reconcile all their feelings.”
Doubts about the High Priesthood
Some characterized this holy event as not being of God, claiming that the New Testament and Book of Mormon Churches never had High Priests in them.
Oliver Cowdery and his brother in law David Whitmer became very jealous of Sidney Rigdon when he joined the Church and became so influential. They felt he had undue influence over Joseph Smith and that he was the instigator of this event.
Below are the remarks of David Whitmer after he left the church. He is among those who eventually rejected the introduction of the Highest Priesthood;
“The next grievous error which crept into the church was in ordaining high priests in June, 1831. This error was introduced at the instigation of Sydney Rigdon. The office of high priests was never spoken of, a revelation would always come just as they desired it. Rigdon finally persuaded Brother Joseph and never thought of being established in the church until Rigdon came in.
Remember that we had been preaching from August 1829, until June, 1831—almost two years—and had baptized about 2,000 members into the Church of Christ, and had not one high priest. During 1829, several times we were told by Brother Joseph that an elder was the highest office in the church….
In Kirkland, Ohio, in 1831, Rigdon would expound the Old Testament scriptures of the Bible and Book of Mormon (in his way) to Joseph, concerning the priesthood, high priests, etc., and would persuade Brother Joseph to inquire of the Lord about this doctrine, and of course to believe that the high priests which had such great power in ancient times, should be in the Church of Christ to-day. He had Brother Joseph inquire of the Lord about it, and they received an answer according to their erring desires..
High Priests were only in the church before Christ; and to have this office in the “Church of Christ” is not according to the teachings of Christ in either of the sacred books: Christ himself is our great and last High Priest.
Brethren—I will tell you one thing which alone should settle this matter in your minds; it is this: you cannot find in the New Testament part of the Bible or Book of Mormon where one single high priest was ever in the Church of Christ. It is a grievous sin to have such an office in the church. As well might you add to the teachings of Christ—circumcision—offering up the sacrifice of animals—or break the ordinances of Christ in any other way by going back to the old law of Moses..
In Kirtland, Ohio, in June, 1831,… the first High Priests were ordained…. When they were ordained, right there at the time, the devil caught and bound Harvey Whitlock so he could not speak, his face twisted into demon-like shape. Also John Murdock and others were caught by the devil in a similar manner. Now brethren, do you not see that the displeasure of the Lord was upon their proceedings, in ordaining High Priests? Of course it was” (An address to All Believers in Christ)
Whitmer brings up a great point about no High Priests being present in the New Testament Church. However what he didn’t grasp is that Joseph Smith was not just restoring the New Testament Church of Christ.
He was restoring many of the Old Testament priesthood gifts and preparing the Saints to establish Zion, just as it had been prophesied in the book of Mormon. He was doing just as the High Priest Enoch did with his people, just as the High Priest Melchizedek did with his people, just as the High Priest Jesus Christ did with the Nephites.
In order for the Church of Christ to establish Zion, the office of high Priest needed to be restored.
Brigham Young, like David Whitmer is another that struggled with the concept of a third and “highest” priesthood.
He had been comfortable with the first two priesthoods that had been restored in 1829. He was in a dubious position 3 ½ years after the martyrdom when he and the twelve created a first Presidency, having himself never been ordained a High Priest!
Undoubtedly, he was under intense pressure to explain how he could claim to be president over the Church and the High Priesthood when in fact, he had never been ordained a high priest.
He made the following statement;
“Now will it cause some of you to marvel that I was not ordained a High Priest before I was ordained an apostle? It was William McLellin who told Joseph that I and Heber were not ordained High Priests, and wanted to know if it should not be done.
Said Joseph, “Will you insult the priesthood? Is that all the knowledge you have of the office of an Apostle? Do you not know that the man who receives the apostleship receives all the keys that ever were, or that can be conferred upon mortal man?
When a man is ordained to be an Apostle, his Priesthood is without beginning of days, or end of life, like the Priesthood of Melchizedek; for it was his Priesthood that was spoken of in this language, and not the man. Ref Here
Brigham Young’s reminiscence that Joseph smith made the above remark and the claim that the Apostleship holds all the keys that ever were, is not consistent with the events that transpired in the history of the church or the teachings of Joseph Smith, or the scriptures.
Of course, it was not Joseph’s perogative to give the highest priesthood to Brigham or any other man. That priesthood is not given on the basis of lineage or according to “the will of man”. God alone determines who he wants to give that priesthood to.
Brigham makes it sound like an amazing thing that he could be ordained an apostle first, and therefore have no need to be ordained a high priest, priesthood, however, the simple fact of the matter is the Joseph Smith was an apostle in 1829 BEFORE the highest priesthood was conferred in 1831, yet God still saw a need to call Joseph Smith to be ordained a high priest, proving that there is more priesthood authority than that of the apostleship.
Joseph Smith made it clear that the office of High Priest indeed held a greater priesthood than that of a prophet or Apostle;
“That of Melchizedek who had still greater power even power of an endless life of which was our Lord Jesus Christ which also Abraham obtained by the offering of his son Isaac which was not the power of a Prophet nor apostle nor patriarch only, but of King & Priest to God to open the windows of heaven and pour out the peace & Law of endless Life to man &No man can attain to the Joint heirship with Jesus Christ with out being administered to by one having the same power and authority of Melchizedek.” Words of Joseph Smith 245
Clearly, what Brigham Young taught about the priesthood was not accurate or congruent with what the Prophet Joseph Smith had revealed. Although the Apostolic Priesthood holds all the keys necessary to govern the Church and dispense the ordinances of salvation, it is not as great as the priesthood that Melchizedek held.
This event that took place at the first conference held in Kirtland Ohio was very disruptive. Not only did it demonstrate the literal power of the the man of sin, it challenged the existing doctrine of the priesthood.
Additionally, one can only imagine the dynamics that took place between so many strong personalities and the egos involved in experiencing this amazing event.
Keep in mind that the promise had been made that those who were worthy would be given the high priesthood.
What kind of pressure would that put on those attending?
How would you feel if you were one of the ones attending that got passed over for the endowment of High Priesthood? Would that mean that you were not worthy?
What if you were one of the ones that became possessed? Does that mean you are less righteous than others? Or was that experience an endowment in and of itself that gifts a person with discernment?
Lots of questions come to mind as one reviews the listing of those who are present and who were called to the High Priesthood and what transpired that day.
Why does this event create indigestion for many LDS scholars, authors and members?
One possible reason is that it contradicts our current two levels of priesthood belief system that has been perpetuated in the Church down to this very day.
David Whitmer brings up a very important point when he said; “During 1829, several times we were told by Brother Joseph that an elder was the highest priesthood office in the church..“
That statement was true at the time Joseph made it prior to the restoration of the Highest Priesthood at the Morley Farm. Things changed when the highest priesthood was restored. Yet even today it is taught in the Church that the Apostolic Priesthood is the greatest priesthood there is.
Another possible reason that the restoration of the highest priesthood causes indigestion is that several of the elders ordained to the High Priesthood almost immediately rejected the fulness of the gospel and the priesthood they had been given, and became critics of Joseph Smith and the Church. Others fell away later.
That is disturbing.
Yet, as we are told in the Book of Mormon, there must be opposition in all things.
The falling away of some who were called to the high priesthood gives greater insight into the Lords declaration that some were called and some were chosen.
Lyman Wight, however, had the heavens opened to him, testifies of God the Father and his Son and then spends the remainder of Joseph Smiths ministry as one of Joseph’s most loyal associates and passionate witnesses of Christ and the LDS restoration movement. With that resume, he then rejects Brigham Young’s leadership.
It is surprising that he was not considered an obvious candidate to lead the church during the succession crisis.
The fact that Lyman had been ordained to the Highest Priesthood and had seen the Father and the Son, while Brigham had not been so privileged seemed to be lost upon the majority of the Saints at the time of the succession issue. It did however, apparently seem significant to Lyman, who seems to have had very little regard for Brigham.
That reason alone would cause some to want to downplay the significance of this event and the role that Lyman Wight played in the work of the Lord up to the time of the Martyrdom.
But there are other issues pertaining to the restoration of the office of the High Priest that are curious as well.
What about high profile Elders who played such an important role in very early stages of the restoration such as William Smith, Levi Hancock, Orson Pratt, Zebedee Coltrin and Newel Knight that were present but passed over for the Highest Priesthood?
What about Zebedee Coltrin, who would eventually see God and Christ while attending the school of the prophets, why was he passed over? Was he later born of due time like Paul? BTW, the school of the prophets was not introduced until AFTER the HIGH PRIESTHOOD was introduced! Indeed these men were the designated prophets for which the school was instituted.
Apparently, Oliver Cowdery, one of the three witnesses and co-presidents of the Church, was not even present at this meeting, how odd it that? (was he to be the 24th High Priest to complete the quorum?)
How is it possible that word went out about this meeting enabling elders from the east, south, north and west to gather, yet Oliver could not be there?
Although the Far West Record records David Whitmer as being present, he apparently denies having been present in one of his later writings. Is his name in the Far West Record just a mistake made by some of the clerks, including his own brother who was the conference historian? If so, it is very strange that his name is listed in the Far West Record and stranger still that he is called as one of the Elders who is to travel to Missouri in section 52, the day after the conference is completed.
Curiously, Martin Harris, another of the three witnesses, who the Lord had previously referred to as a “wicked man” in one of the revelations, is the only one of the three witnesses that was ordained a High Priest on that occasion!
Of the 23 that were ordained High Priests, all had previously been ordained Elders except for Martin Harris who had been ordained a Priest… this takes on even greater significance when one remembers that his two brethren of the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon, Oliver and David had previously been called by revelation to choose and ordain the 12 apostles.
Was there a reason why Oliver and David should not have the highest priesthood in their stewardship in calling the Twelve Apostles? Since the quorum of the Twelve were going to take the preparatory gospel to the dispersed of Judah, one has to wonder.
How strange that Martin is ordained a High Priest, yet is not invited to participate with Oliver and David who were not High Priests, in choosing the Twelve Apostles!
What about Brigham Young?
Why was he missing when the Highest Priesthood was revealed at the Morley Farm?
It is interesting to note that Brigham Young learned about the Book of Mormon and the restoration of the Church of Christ and the fulness of the gospel in 1830, about the same time that Lyman Wight did. Yet Brigham Young did not participate in this great event at the Morley Farm because it took him two years to think things over before joining the church.
Young was eventually drawn to Mormonism after reading the Book of Mormon shortly after its publication in 1830. Samuel Smith, brother to the Prophet Joseph, tracted through the area where the Young family lived with a knapsack of the newly printed scripture.
Two of these copies made their way into the hands of Brigham’s siblings and began to circulate through the family.
Brigham Young later reminisced his lengthy conversion process;
“When the [B]ook of Mormon was first printed, it came to my hands in two or three weeks afterwards. Did I believe, on the first intimation of it? . . . ‘Hold on,’ says I. . . . ‘Wait a little while; what is the doctrine of the book, and of the revelations the Lord has given? Let me apply my heart to them. . . . I considered it to be my right to know for myself, as much as any man on earth. I examined the matter studiously for two years before I made up my mind to receive that book. . . . I wished time sufficient to prove all things for myself.” He later recalled: “I was not baptized on hearing the first sermon, nor the second, nor during the first year of my acquaintance with this work.”
Besides studying the Book of Mormon, Brigham wanted to learn the character of those who professed to believe in it. He apparently found it important to judge the messengers as well as the message;
“I watched to see whether good common sense was manifest; and if they had that, I wanted them to present it in accordance with the Scriptures. . . . [W]hen I had ripened everything in my mind, I drank it in, and not till then.”
We can only assume that Brigham’s absence at the special conference and God’s unwillingness to have him ordained to the highest priesthood in later years was all part of Gods plan for him.
Perhaps one of the most curious things about this event is the order in which people were called and ordained to the High Priesthood. We know that God is a God of order. The very first man ordained obviously had a very significant position in this newly ordained quorum of High Priests. It seems probably that he would be the president of the quorum.
The fact that Lyman Wight was the first to be ordained to the High Priesthood and the first to have the heavens parted and to testify of seeing the Father and the Son after his ordination, instead of Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery or Sidney Rigdon is very, very significant!
Here is Lyman’s reminiscence of the event;
“On the 4th of June 1831, a conference was held at Kirtland, <Ohio> represented by all the above mamed [named] branches; Joseph Smith our modern Prophet presided; and here I again saw the visible manifestations of the power of God as plain as could have been on the day of pentecost and here for the first time I saw the Melchisedec priesthood introduced into the church of Jesus Christ as anciently; whereunto I was ordained under the hands of Joseph Smith, and I then ordainded Joseph and Sidney and sixteen others such as he chose unto the same priesthood. The spirit of God was made manifest to the heeling of the sick, cast<ing> out devils, speaking in unknown tongues, discerning of spirits, and prophesying with mighty power, After the two days the conference broke up receiving the revelation which appointed 28 elders their Mission to Missouri“
Lyman Wight is one of the best kept secrets of the restoration movement.
Few members of the Church have any comprehension of who he was and the sacrifices he made for the kingdom.
If you have not taken the time to familiarize yourself this amazing disciple of Christ who became known as the “Wild Ram of the Mountains” and who was given the cryptic title and military/priesthood title of “baneemy” in one of the revelations, please click here. He is among the first laborers of the last kingdom that will be returning soon. I strongly suggest you get to know him.
He probably expended more energy in trying to live the law of consecration for the duration of his life than any other personality in the movement. In a revelation given after his ordination as a high Priest the Lord said;
“And again, I say unto you that it is my will that my servant Lyman Wight should continue in preaching for Zion, in the spirit of meekness, confessing me before the world; and I will bear him up as on eagles’ wings; and he shall beget glory and honor to himself and unto my name.” Doctrine and Covenants 84: 21-26)
This revelation reminds us that the high priests were called to “preach for Zion”
If there is one major theme interwoven throughout Wight’s life-long ministry, it was his continual personal attempt to live consecration and facilitate others to do it.
He was passionate about living it and was quite critical of other leaders growing out of the succession debate such as Strang, Thompson and Young for their inability to personally live consecration, as well as their acquisition of wealth which he felt was extracted from their followers.
One writer made the following observation about Wight;
“There is one significant thing about Lyman Wight’s community efforts, which deserves attention because of its extreme rarity in Utopian experiments. Wight, as acknowledged leader, never desired or sought temporal or spiritual advantage over his fellows.
When he received letters from Strang, “King James I, president of the church”; from Brigham Young, telling of ecclesiastical honors acquired since the death of Joseph, and Thompson with his many titles, he was wont to sign his answer with profound sarcasm, “Lyman Wight, and nothing else.”
In scathing denunciation of those who he thought were acquiring wealth at the expense of their brethren, he wrote of the Melchisedec priesthood:
‘But those who aspire after this priesthood, and seek to obtain it while rolling in luxuries, and seeking the applause of men, I would simply ask them these questions, Have you drunk of the cup whereof Christ drank, and have you been baptized with the baptism wherewith he was baptized?
Have you followed the commandment that he gave to the young man and sold all that thou hadst, and give it to the poor?
Have you sold the last coat you had, and traveled in your shirt sleeves sooner than you would see the poor left to the ravages of a ruthless mob?
Have you traveled on foot hundreds and hundreds of miles and sought a place for the Saints to camp at, night after night, that they might seclude themselves from the hands of wicked and evil designing men, and then roll yourself in a blanket, and lay yourself in an open prairie, under the open canopy of heaven, in the cold night dews?
If you have not done all these, you have not yet fulfilled the saying of the Saviour where he says, If you would be greatest you must first become the least and servant of all….I again ask, when did the church flourish?
When the Nephites that dwelt upon this land did not call “aught they possessed their own; but it all belonged to the Lord.”
When did the people mourn and lament, and howl and weep?
I answer, when their priests were lifted up in the pride of their hearts, to the wearing of fine apparel and oppressing the poor and the hireling in his wages, riding in fine carriages, with cushioned seats, bristled carpets, leaving the poor to work out their own salvation among those who are their vital enemies; while the rich and opulent were permitted to increase in opulence by tithing and wringing from the hands of the peasant his hard-earnings.”
Lyman Wight was one of the few personalities that practiced what he preached… and one of the few that other leaders with strong personalities could not intimidate or control. His boss was a Jewish Carpenter!
The timing of the special conference at the Morley Farm is very significant. We must remember that it was the first conference of the church in Kirtland. The church was in its infancy and had just migrated to Kirtland as a result of the Lord’s admonition to gather there so that he could give them the law of consecration and an endowment which would enable them to escape the power of the enemy;
“And that ye might escape the power of the enemy, and be gathered unto me a righteous people, without spot and blameless— Wherefore, for this cause I gave unto you the commandment that ye should go to the Ohio; and there I will give unto you my law; and there you shall be endowed with power from on high“
It is amazing to realize that today the Saints are in a scattered condition among the gentiles and are now at the mercy of secret combinations because we failed back then to live consecration and enjoy the protective priesthood hedge that was being offered.
The LAW of consecration was given to the Saints shortly after they arrived in Kirtland on January 2nd 1831. This law is what will enable the Saints to establish Zion once they are endowed again with the highest priesthood. That is why it is called the law of the celestial kingdom and it is the law upon which Zion is built;
“And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself.” D&C 105: 5, 32, 34
Now, in this first conference of the Church held just two months after the law of the Gospel was given, the Lord was restoring the priesthood that Enoch and Melchizedek held. Why? So that the Saints could be gathered, sanctified and establish Zion just as the people of Enoch and Melchizedek did.
Having detailed what happened at the special conference having to do with the restoration of the Highest Priesthood and the revealing of the “man of sin“, we need to review the content in sections 52 through 65 now that we have the proper context for these revelations.
Amazingly, section 52 which is given the day after the conference ended, and was specifically addressing the conference attendees, begins by saying;
“Behold, thus saith the Lord unto the elders whom he hath called and chosen in these last days, by the voice of his spirit- saying: I, the Lord, will make known unto you what I will that ye shall do from this time until the next conference, which shall be held in Missouri, upon the land which I will consecrate unto my people, which are a remnant of Jacob, and those who are heirs according to the covenant“
How many times have you read section 52 without realizing that those elders who had just been called and chosen were the 23 High Priests that had just receive the Melchizedek Priesthood?
Context is critical. Read this section now with the information you have just read about this amazing conference at the Morley Farm and it will become much more meaningfully to you!
In part three we will briefly review sections 52-65 in the context of what had just happened at that conference.
Following that, we will address the seriousness of the failure on the part of the Saints to successfully consecrate and establish Zion.
We, Latter day Saints, have been lulled into a sleepy state of believing that our inability to ultimately live the law of consecration back at that period of time was unfortunate, but not really that big of a deal.
We just assume that things moved forward without any significant consequences. I even had a visitor to one of my blogs postulate that the law of consecration is optional. He opined that one can still repent and be baptized and make it into the celestial kingdom without choosing to live the higher law of consecration.
In part three of this article we are going to have a sobering reality check. We are going to review what God has told the church about the law of consecration. We are going to find out that it is not optional and the consequences upon the church for not living it were immediate and harsh, with long reaching ramifications that continue to affect the posterity of the Saints unto the third and fourth generation.
To be continued…
Melchizedek Priesthood required to Establish Zion
Great continuation. I have to admit that your first post piqued my interest and motivated me to do some personal study on Lyman Wight. I found a great site that has a ton of the info that you wrote on (it was still very nice to hear you put it in your words).
It was interesting to me to discover how devoted Lyman was to living consecration and also to living so that no man had more than his neighbor.
Describing his community in Texas Lyman said:
“When one has enough, all have the same. Our houses are as near alike as they can well be” (they wanted to live consecration so much that they even built their houses the same=))
I remember reading a blurb on Lyman Wight in the green colored church history manual on my mission and it said that he had apostatized after the death of Joseph. I was glad to get nearer the true story with what you have written and with my own (albeit small) research.
I was also fascinated to learn that Lyman and his group that traveled to Texas actually built the first temple west of the Mississippi river in Zodiac, Texas.
On an unrelated note:
How could someone truly study the gospel and not believe that consecration was a requirement for exaltation? That astounds me. Consecration being optional for entry into the celestial kingdom, now I have heard it all.
Comment by NEPT on July 9, 2009 8:34 pm
Great post Watcher!
I was just hoping to clear my head a bit. The “Apostolic Priesthood holds all the keys necessary to govern the Church and dispense the ordinances of salvation.” However, High Priests of Melchizedek are needed to establish a consecrated Zion, which is necessary for entrance into the celestial kingdom. Given these two criteria, it seems that “salvation” and the glory of the celestial kingdom are not equivalent. Now, this is a no-brainer for mainstreamers (salvation < exaltation), but I thought we heretics had broken down those walls. That is, when Nephi claims that if we “do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost. And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life;”then shouldn’t we believe that these are the true requirements for eternal life?
Now, let me go on record as stating that I also believe consecration is essential for entrance into the celestial kingdom, for we must live the laws of that kingdom. I’m only trying to reconcile the two aforementioned thoughts. Are we saying that, while the Apostolic Priesthood maintains authority to DISPENSE the ordinances of salvation, it does not have the authority to DELIVER salvation? In this case, salvation = eternal life, which would be dependent on dispensing of the ordinances and deliverance through consecration under the Melchizedek Priesthood. Or are we defining salvation as something less than eternal life, like modern LDS thought? In that case, apostolic authority would be sufficient for deliverance into the terrestrial and telestial kingdoms (aka salvation). Anybody get what I’m attempting to ask?
Thank you for doing that research and sharing that statement from Lyman about the houses. That really gives us a glimpse into how detailed and how serious they were about living the principle of consecration and equality.
I really think he and his group came closer to successfully living in temporal equality than any other LDS splinter groups I am familiar with.
Brigham kept sending groups of the Saints away from the main body to experiment with it, but few of them had success for very long.
I have a great quote somewhere by Brigham where he assured the Saints that he would live it as soon as he could find a Bishop that he could trust. LOL
“Are we saying that, while the Apostolic Priesthood maintains authority to DISPENSE the ordinances of salvation, it does not have the authority to DELIVER salvation?”
That is an interesting question.
I love how analytical you are and how deeply you are dissecting the distinction between the patriarchal/apostolic priesthood and the highest priesthood named after Melchizedek.
It is interesting how some of the scriptures address the concept of “individual salvation” and other focus on “group salvation”.
When I get to the part in this series where I break things down as far as the three priesthoods, it will be interesting to see what your take on it is.
I am evolving in my comprehension and views of this most important topic of priesthood.
I think we need to remember that both of those priesthoods can be bestowed through an ordinance, but the degree of power that comes from it is totally dependant on the righteousness of the candidate.
I think there is much more power available through the 2nd priesthood than what was normally being exibited during those very trying times in the early history of the Church.
I currently believe that the apostolic priesthood has the ability to provide us with all of the ordinances of salvation to make it into the celestial kingdom if we are righteous.
In other words, if one truly has been baptized by the proper authority and been born of fire and the Holy Ghost and has the gift of the holy ghost and is righteous, one can have the “constant companionship” of the holy ghost and make it into the “gate”.
One could speculate that making it into the gate incorporates the highest priesthood, but regardless, entrance into the gate is the ultimate goal from the eternal perspective.
We hear the term “constant companionship of the Holy Ghost” frequently in the church but frankly, I don’t think I have ever met anyone who has the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. I don’t think there is anyone on the earth at this time that has it. Anyone that has it would, by definition be holy, and very probably translated within a matter of a very short time, in my opinion.
I think we live during a time of “hidden darkness” when we all have the “constant oscillation of the Holy Ghost”, at best. Where we have the promptings of the Spirit come and go as we struggle with the preparatory gospel which constantly reminds us how badly we need a deliverer and the fulness of the Gospel.
I speculate that there have been periods when the fulness of the gospel was on the earth but Zion was not necessarily required. During those times the apostolic priesthood was adequate in dispensing everything necessary for salvation.
Having said all of that, I am still trying to unlearn what I have been taught all of my life by well meaning people so that I can open my spiritual eyes to this amazing endowments that will be returning to the earth in the near future.
That is some crazy *ahem* stuff goin’ on at that conference! I seriously understand why people would doubt or have issues with it. Wow.
I would really like to know if they partook of the sacrament before the spiritual manifestations occured. Is that recorded in any of the journals or documents?
I find this all confusing and look forward to the next article.
The conference lasted several days so I wouldn’t be surprised if they had the sacrament, however, the journal entries that describe the ordinations and the demonic possessions did not make mention of it.
I think that as we discuss the revelations that followed and look at the bigger picture of what took place and why, it will make more sense and you will feel more comfortable with it.
Comment by Derek P. Moore on July 14, 2009 11:11 am
I can’t find the reference right now, but it is either in the Book of Commandments or the 1st Edition D&C. The scripture refers to apostles, I think. Saying that there is an apostle for every hour, and each apostle in his hour, etc. I took it to mean there are to be 24 apostles, as when Christ came to the Nephites and established 12 apostles in the New World, totaling 24 including the 12 apostles he had established in the Old World.
The Quorum of the Twelve wasn’t established until after all this stuff you’re talking about, right?
If Joseph Smith was a high priest also, would that make 24?
Also, I don’t see the distinction you’re trying to make about when exactly the Melchizedek priesthood was established. If the fulness of that priesthood wasn’t established until the bestowal of the office of high priest, then that would be the first time the Melchizedek priesthood was bestowed on Earth in fulness since ancient times, even if they had been given office of elder so as to possess the office of bishoprics in the priesthood of Aaron (for men not descended from Aaron can only hold the post of bishop through their authority and office in the higher priesthood).
Our own version of D&C refers to a third priesthood that will be expounded upon at a later date, which it refers to a patriarchal priesthood.
Certain Gentile royal dynasties claim lineal descent from Melchizedek. The Crusades were much about these bloodlines and regaining authority over Jerusalem. I can possess the Melchizedek priesthood by lineal right even if I am not ordained to an office in that priesthood (as a matter of fact, I am only ordained to offices in the Aaronic priesthood).
“The Quorum of the Twelve wasn’t established until after all this stuff you’re talking about, right?”
That is correct, the quorum of the 12 that was called in 1835 by Oliver and David had not yet been called, however, section 20 indicates that Joseph already held the apostleship. Oliver and others did as well, before the high priesthood was bestowed at the Morley Farm.
It is interesting to note that on the day that the quorum of the 12 was called they were warned that the fulness of their apostleship would not be achieved until they saw Christ and were ordained personally by him.
“If Joseph Smith was a high priest also, would that make 24?”
Actually, Joseph was included in the 23. Shortly after his return from Independence, Oliver was ordained a high priest by Sidney Rigdon and shortly after that David Whitmer was ordained a high priest by Oliver Cowdery.
I have not really done a study on everyone that was ordained a high priest after that point in time.
“Also, I don’t see the distinction you’re trying to make about when exactly the Melchizedek priesthood was established. If the fulness of that priesthood wasn’t established until the bestowal of the office of high priest, then that would be the first time the Melchizedek priesthood was bestowed on Earth in fulness since ancient times, even if they had been given office of elder so as to possess the office of bishoprics in the priesthood of Aaron (for men not descended from Aaron can only hold the post of bishop through their authority and office in the higher priesthood).”
The distinction I am making is simply that according to the understanding of Joseph, Lyman and others, the fulness of the Melchizedek priesthood was bestowed for the first time in this dispensation at the Morley Farm, not at the time that Joseph and Oliver got the patriarchal priesthood.
man, you gotta comment quick to get a word in around here.
Like troy, I found the lyman wight stuff interesting also, though I have a couple of thoughts.
Considering that the highest priesthood is not a church called and chosen priesthood, being appointed by the word of God literally and ordained directly so there is no mistake, it is also not an office ‘within’ the church, but without. Succession issues etc would seem irrelevant, as the Apostolic priesthood is all that is necessary to run the church of Christ. Brigham and the 12 later organized hold that priesthood. However, the church of the firstborn which was organized some time later would need these high priests as missionaries for Zion.
Comment by Derek P. Moore on July 15, 2009 11:28 am
I don’t see any problems with onewhoiswatching’s reply to my comment… Maybe we’re reading his words differently.
onewhoiswatching: Joseph & Oliver didn’t receive the patriarchal priesthood, they received the office of elder after the order of Melchizedek. As far as I know, it was Joseph’s father Joseph who received some semblance of the patriarchal priesthood and then Hyrum (which priesthood is not yet fully understood, at least not publicly). The Melchizedek priesthood was restored in two phases, first partially to Oliver & Joseph, and second in its fulness at John’s farm.
I was mistaken in saying our own D&C talks about the 3 priesthoods; it doesn’t. It is the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith that touches upon the subject, p. 323:
“The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the right from the eternal God, and not by descent from father and mother; and that priesthood is as eternal as God Himself, having neither beginning of days nor end of life.
“The 2nd Priesthood is Patriarchal authority. Go to and finish the temple, and God will fill it with power, and you will then receive more knowledge concerning this priesthood.
“The 3rd is what is called the Levitical Priesthood, consisting of priests to administer in outward ordinances, made without an oath; but the Priesthood of Melchizedek is by an oath and covenant.”
Here’s how I see it: The Presiding Patriarch as head of the Patriarchal priesthood is to be considered the pater familias who holds the potestas or imperium of the church. The Prophet as head of the Melchizedek priesthood is to be considered the auctoritas or authority of the church.
In the first days of the church it worked like this: Joseph Smith, Jr., would reveal what the church was to do. Joseph Smith, Sr., would say, “Okay, this is what the church is going to do.” When Senior passed away and Hyrum took his stead, Hyrum played the same role of commanding the church to do as his younger brother revealed they should do.
Comment by Derek P. Moore on July 15, 2009 11:55 am
Er… I mean:
The Melchizedek priesthood was restored in two phases, first partially to Oliver & Joseph, and second in its fulness at Isaac’s farm.
Comment by Derek P. Moore on July 15, 2009 11:58 am
Concerning the two stages in which the High Priesthood was restored, the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith has this to say, p. 21:
“The duty of a High Priest is to administer in spiritual and holy things, and to hold communion with God; but not to exercise monarchial government, or to appoint meetings for the Elders without their consent. And again, it is the High Priests’ duty to be better qualified to teach principles and doctrines, than the Elders; for the office of Elder is an appendage to the High Priesthood, and it concentrates and centers in one.”
Derek, I was referring to Watcher’s tendency to not put up his articles on this blog because he doesn’t want to take the first position away from another contributor. He put his next installment on another blog so that the split brain post could stay at the top spot. I asked, “Capeesh?” to see if he understood what I was referring to. As you didn’t get what I was saying, he also may have misunderstood my words. Hopefully this new comment has cleared it up.
Yes I understood what you were saying Anarchist, and I know it drive you crazy when I do this, however, let me remind you that my nasty habit of putting different parts of the same article on different blogs fits the “anarchy” protocol quite nicely. Additionally, it fits nicely with my mantra that everyone needs to continually be on the alert and be “watching” so as to not miss anything.
Comment by Derek P. Moore on July 15, 2009 2:09 pm
“Baneemy” appears to be an Old English (beneme) and Irish Gaelic (bainimdh) word meaning “to deprive of”, “to take away from”, “to remove”, or “to cut or strip off”.
In the first reference to Lyman Wight in the Book of Commandments it reads (54:5-6,12):
“5 And inasmuch as they are not faithful, they shall be cut off, even as I will, as seemeth me good. 6 And again, verily I say unto you, let my servant Lyman (W.,) and my servant John (C.,) take their journey speedily: 12 And let my servant Lyman beware, for satan desireth to sift him as chaff.”
At the risk of summarizing the remaining portions of part 4 and 5 before publishing them….
Regarding the following statement you referenced in your reply;
“The polygamy angle is practically a moot point when critiquing the Venn diagram as Joseph did not give the fulness of the priesthood (the inner-most circle in the Venn diagram) to anyone who was opposed to polygamy in theory or practice. In other words, only those who were either practicing polygamists or who at that time (1843-1844) assented to the doctrine were given the fulness of the priesthood by ordinance.”
I strongly beg to differ.
Although that statement does in fact reflect the wishful thinking of both the mainstream apologists and the LDS fundamentalists, it has no connection with reality.
The profound significance of the event at the Morley Farm is apparently not resonating with you.
That was the fulness of the priesthood that was given.
In fact, as I recall, Joseph Smith referred to the Melchizedek priesthood that was bestowed that day as the “fulness of the priesthood”.
That phrase is extremely significant. It only shows up one time in the four standard works. I suggest you do a key word phrase search on that phrase to see what it says… it may surprise you what it brings up and the associated implications of it.
BTW NONE of the 23 high priests were living polygamy in 1831 when the fullness of the priesthood was restored… nor were they commanded to live it.
As will be further pointed out and documented in parts 4 or 5 of the article, the fullness of the priesthood that was restored at that conference in 1831 was lost once the Saints failed to accomplish the very purpose for which it was restored.
I invite you to be patient and wait for the conclusion of the series at which time I will be fascinated to hear any rebuttal you may have.
Comment by Derek P. Moore on July 17, 2009 10:53 am
All the rebuttal needed is contained within the first seven sections of the 1st Edition of the Doctrine & Covenants. There are six offices in the priesthoods of which we know a great deal, three offices in each of the two priesthoods. The offices of the high priesthood are highpriest, elder, and bishop. The offices of the lesser priesthood are priest, teacher, and deacon. A third priesthood is little understood in this day, and this priesthood is patriarchal. A highpriest after the order of Melchizedek is still bound to the hierarchy of the those who hold the keys on Earth, and he must be set apart, anointed, and ordained by those who have the authority to do so (and those who have the ability to receive his appointment from the parted heavens and the voice of God [that is, by the still small voice of the Holy Ghost]).
The 3 priesthoods necessarily work in concert, and the only priesthood neglected today is patriarchal, which priesthood gave the Smith family something akin to monarchic power and the authority to part the heavens and to speak on behalf of God.
Comment by Derek P. Moore on July 17, 2009 11:56 am
Also, there are 3 independent bodies within the high priesthood of Melchizedek that possess the highest authority in the church, to which bodies all highpriests are subject to be obedient: 1st) the quorum of three presidents or highpriests, 2nd) the quorum of twelve apostles or elders, and 3rd) the quorum of seventy highpriests. Other bodies also possess the same authority, but over the stakes organized and over Zion only, and not over all the church: the quorum of the high councils of the stakes and the quorum of the high council of Zion.
“The order of this priesthood was confirmed to be handed down from father to son, and rightly belongs to the literal descendants of the chosen seed, to whom the promises were made.” — 1st Ed. D&C 3:19
Comment by Derek P. Moore on July 17, 2009 11:59 am
Oops… Er: 1st Ed. D&C 3:18
For those wanting a good foundation to prepare them for parts 4 and 5, read the words of Joseph Smith from his discourse on the priesthood which was building on the foundation provided by Hebrews 7, which is consistent with everything that happened in the history of the church-
The Patriarchal priesthood is NOT the highest priesthood. It is the second highest priesthood.
Greg has a point. There is more to this than just the calling and choosing that we are witnesses of at the Morley farm. I am in no way “mainstream” yet he has a point. The point though has more to do with temple rites, ordinances and covenants than with conferral of priesthood, though they are rather inseparable. This highest priesthood is meant to transcend even gender, as another comment stated. But, this doesn’t happen till the fulness of the priesthood ordinances are administered, which is done in a temple and not till the last 2 years of Josephs life, finally he had done what he needed and left for a future time.
In September 1843, in an upper room of Joseph Smith’s new mansion, the ultimate powers and highest ordinances of the Gospel — “even the fulness of the priesthood” (D&C 124:23) — were first administered.
Also he stated,
“If a man gets a fullness of the priesthood of God he has to get it in
the same way that Jesus Christ obtained it, and that was by keeping all
the commandments and obeying all the ordinances of the house of the Lord.
Where there is no change of priesthood, there is no change of
ordinances, says Paul. If God has not changed the ordinances and the
priesthood, howl, ye sectarians! If he has when and where has He revealed
it? Have ye turned revelators? Then why deny revelation?” (TPJS)
And this conferral of the fullness via temple ordinance and anointing was only given to those prepared to live polygamous marriages. He even waited for Emmas and hyrums acquiescence before revealing it.
So, the ‘Fullness of the Priesthood’ requires eternal union in celestial marriage, as the second anointing is one of the ordinances performed.
Those who were anointed and received this fullness were part of “quorum”, even the women.
Comment by NEPT on July 17, 2009 7:31 pm
Allow me to interrupt the back-and-forth for a moment to diverge into a little subtlety I noticed in one of our poster’s comments, which originates from TPJS, p.323, “The MIssion of Elijah” (under “Three Grand Orders”). In the sermon to which Watcher alluded, JS suggested that if the saints were to have finished the Nauvoo temple, God would have filled it with power and they would have received more knowledge concerning the Patriarchal order of the priesthood. Given that most of us here seem to agree that very little is known about this “2nd Priesthood”, that would suggest the Nauvoo temple never was finished, much less, filled with power. Hence the confusion about why subsequent temple dedications failed to meet pentecostal expectations.
Comment by Derek P. Moore on July 17, 2009 8:05 pm
I’m not trying to say the Patriarchal priesthood is the #1/1st/highest priesthood (there is not highest vs. high, onewhoiswatching). The Patriarchal priesthood is not the high or the lesser, is my point, and it is what onewhoiswatching seems to not get by insisting upon calling the high priesthood the highest priesthood.
Like the lineal Aaronic high priests have legal right to the presidency of the lesser priesthood and the bishopric thereof, I might speculate that the lineal Patriarchal high priest has legal right to the presidency of the high priesthood (of Melchizedek) and the theocracy thereof, but that does not suggest that the Patriarchal equals the “highest” priesthood. It suggests the Patriarchal priesthood’s role in the “highest” high priesthood, just as the Aaronic priesthood is suggested to have a specific role in the “highest” high priesthood.
Anyways: The “highest” high priesthood (of Melchizedek) is a lineal priesthood, we have it by right of our Father in the spirit, God, and by right of our father in the flesh, Adam; we have it by right of our eternal race. So Joseph says it is not by father or mother because anyone can attain it regardless of bloodline specifically because we are all of the bloodline (it is everyone, whereas the so-called 2nd & 3rd are not everyone, but they still have right to certain offices in the 1st). So Joseph Smith picked a different semantics to argue the same the point that everybody was born of the Father and descends from Adam, is all.
Comment by Derek P. Moore on July 17, 2009 8:08 pm
Oops: Like the lineal Aaronic high priests have legal right to the presidency of the lesser priesthood and the bishopric of the highest priesthood…