By the late 1980’s my searching for the priesthood button began to jell as all the dust finally began to settle.
My journey had finally taken me to the very foundational years of the LDS restoration movement which is actually more appropriately referred to in modern revelation as the foundation movement because it was not the final restoration but rather it was a time for laying the foundation of the final restoration that would take place four generations later in the “third watch“.
One of the most significant things to happen in my life was the encounter I had with Delmar Edmands who was teaching about the timeline of the earth. I won’t go into the details of that encounter as I have already blogged about it previously. But the long and short of it is that I became obsessed with the ancient and modern prophesies of the last days and with the prophetic timeline of the earth. I delved deeply into those topics as I continued to search for additional missing pieces of the puzzle I was putting together.
Another providential thing that happened as a result of losing my naiveté regarding the state of the church is that I lost faith in the doctrinal credibility of virtually every General Authority of the church from Brigham Young to the present time. (I also question the words of Joseph Smith but he falls into a very different category that BY and those that followed him… more on that in a later part of this series)
What I mean by that is that I could no longer blindly accept any doctrine just because someone who was an “apostle” or “president of the Church” taught it.
I became a critical thinker.
I realized that the two keys for searching out truth as given in the holy word of God are contained in the following two verses;
- And whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived, for the Son of Man shall come, and he shall send his angels before him with the great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together the remainder of his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. JS Matt 1:37
- For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day. D&C 45:57
There you have it.
Those are the keys to discerning truth that I told you in the last post that I was going to address.
If I communicate nothing else in this series I hope I communicate that.
The scriptures identify those who will not be deceived as those who do two things, they treasure up GODS word, instead of mans word. And they do it under the influence of the Holy Spirit. The word of God must be read and understood under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit..
After realizing how critical the council given in the above two scriptures was to my salvation, I began to never take anything for granted again. Anytime I heard or read about a general authority teach doctrine, I would weigh it in the balance and measure it against the word of God.
The following acknowledgment and admonition by Joseph Field Smith pretty much became my mantra in studying the scriptures because it, in my opinion encapsulates what the previous two scriptures teach .
“It makes no difference what is written or what anyone has said, if what has been said is in conflict with what the Lord has revealed, we can set it aside. My words, and the teaching of any other member of the Church, high or low, if they do not square with the revelations, we need not accept them. Let us have this matter clear. We have accepted the four standard works as the measuring yardsticks, or balances, by which we measure every man’s doctrine. You cannot accept the books written by authorities of the church as standards in doctrine, only in so far as they accord with the revealed word in the standard works. Every man who writes is responsible, not the Church, for what he writes. If Joseph Fielding Smith writes something which is out of harmony with the revelations, then every member of the Church is duty bound to reject it. If he writes that which is in perfect harmony with the revealed word of the Lord, then it should be accepted“.
The above statement by Joseph Fielding Smith may have even more significance to you in the context of what we covered in part 2 of this series where Bruce R. McConkie and Joseph Fielding Smith had said that Brigham Young would be held accountable for the false doctrines he taught and each member would be held accountable for believing them.
Even if, at this point, you happen to side with Brigham Young regarding the heresies he taught about the nature and character of God and you feel that President Smith and Apostle McConkie are in error, regarding the specific doctrines we previously discussed, the principle being addressed here is still valid. One of those general authorities was authoritatively dead wrong.
Human beings are fallible. General authorities from the time of Brighamm Young to the present have disagreed with and contradicted each other… But the word of God is consistent and infallible.
I realize that what I just said about how to discern truth is terrifying to many members of the church who do not feel like they are proficient in their understanding of Gods word and who do not feel like they receive very much personal revelation. But that can easily be changed. Simply quit reading silly novels and watching American Idol and going to Jazz games and begin prayerfully searching the Word of God as if the eternal welfare of your soul depended on it!
Part of the problem with the modern church is that we have been conditioned and indoctrinated to believe that the lay membership is not capable of understanding the scriptures. This is why the brethren try to discourage people from reading Isaiah and searching the mysteries even though God has commanded us to read Isaiah and search the mysteries.
That of course is exactly what the Catholic Church was doing prior to the reformation. They taught that the sheeple were too ignorant to be entrusted with the responsibility of reading and understanding the scriptures for themselves and they tried desperately to prevent the masses from getting the word of God.
The modern LDS church has taken on many of the same characteristics as the Whore.
In addition to dumbing the saints down and making them think they need commentaries from General Authorities in order to understand Gods word, they teach that if your interpretation of the scriptures differs from that of the current brethren, you are in a state of apostasy.
They teach that you are to conform your beliefs and lifestyle and personal agenda to what they tell you it should be, which leads me to another fascinating event that took place during the 4th period of the apostasy of the modern church.
Perhaps one of the most embarrassing moments in modern church history has to do with the following dictum that was sent out in a home teaching lesson-
“Any Latter-day Saint who denounces or opposes whether actively or otherwise, any plan or doctrine advocated by the prophets, seers, revelators’ of the church, is cultivating the spirit of apostasy. One cannot speak evil of the lord’s anointed… and retain the holy spirit in his heart. This sort of game is Satan’s favorite pastime, and he has practiced it to believing souls since Adam. He wins a great victory when he can get members of the church to speak against their leaders
and to do their own thinking.”
“When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan–it is God’s Plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give directions, it should mark the end of controversy, God works in no other way. To think otherwise, without immediate repentance, may cost one his faith, may destroy his testimony, and leave him a stranger to the kingdom of God.”
Ward Teachers Message, Deseret News, Church Section p. 5, May 26, 1945
I won’t even comment any further upon the ridiculousness of the above quote which resurfaced many years later when apostle Dallen Oaks humiliated himself by repeating it, other than to point out that being in a position of authority can make you feel very threatened and paranoid when you are trying to control the hearts and minds of others and you don’t want anyone to scrutinize what you are teaching.
Losing my naiveté, beginning to question authority and learning to rely of the word of God instead of the arm of flesh is one of the greatest blessings that has ever happened to me in my spiritual progression. It greatly changed what I studied and how I studied it.
I found myself spending 95% of my gospel study time studying the four standard works, the JST and the teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith. I quit spending so much time reading commentaries and the Journal of Discourses and other books and articles, etc. I also began doing lots and lots of “Key word” and “key phrase” searches using scripture searching software. I honestly would not be surprised if I have done over 10,000 separate key word and key phrase searches over the years.
Once I began to gain a better foundation of the gospel, then I was able to go back to some of the more ancient texts such as the dead sea scrolls, nag hammadi, apocrypha, pseudepigrapha, and other esoteric writings etc. and could then glean incredible insights from them.
By 1992 my spiritual and doctrinal journey to understand the current state of the modern and increasingly popular restored church had enabled me to reach some conclusions. Conclusions which I continue to believe today.
In my backwards journey through LDS Church history I had made it past the modern era, drilled down through the turn of the century era having to do with the polygamy issue, and I finally found myself in Nauvoo!
I had discovered the incredibly revealing statements in section 124 about how the fullness of the priesthood had been lost before the saints even got to Nauvoo and how the previously condemned church would be rejected by God if they did not stay in Nauvoo and complete the Temple rather than being scattered. I discovered that contrary to the writings of some historical revisionists, the Nauvoo Temple was never even close to being finished before the Saints fled Nauvoo.
Finally, I went back even further in time and focused on the massive apostasy that took place in Kirtland. Finally, my investigative research had taken me through all four eras of apostasy and the four corresponding stages of loss of naiveté.
I had finally lost all my naiveté regarding the status of the restored church!
Well, much of it anyway.
One of the things I love about my journey is that I have come to realize that it is never finished. You never quit learning and growing in your study of the gospel.
The more you know, the more you realize just how much you don’t know.
Does that make sense?
Imagine a small circle on a very very very large chalk board. Now consider everything in the middle of the small circle line as the accurate knowledge that you have acquired and consider everything on the outside of the circle line as representing the accurate knowledge you have not yet learned.
Notice how insignificant the inside area looks compared to the outside area… and yet your perception of how much you don’t know is small because the only context you have is the outer side of the circle line. In fact the amount you don’t know seems comparable to the amount the you do know.
Now make the circle even bigger, representing more knowledge that has been acquired.
Notice that even though the knowledge you have gained on the inside is even greater than before, the outer part of the circle touching the outside area of un-acquired knowledge is also bigger and therefore you are capable of comprehending to a much greater extent just how vast the area of knowledge is that is yet un-comprehended and yet needs to be acquired.
I have found that the more knowledge I gain, the more humble and insignificant and ignorant I feel because the more I know, the more I am able to comprehend that I know virtually nothing compared to what I do know.
I realize I don’t come off sounding that way sometimes in the articles that I post and particularly when I get into a pissing match with people that want to argue with me over polygamy, etc. but within my own relationship with God, I truly feel like I have very little knowledge.
The cold hard fact of the matter is that someone with a small circle of knowledge can quickly ascertain when they are having a discussion with someone whose circle of knowledge is even smaller and it is easy to become impatient and frustrated when such people are presenting themselves as being more knowledgeable than they really are.
As a delusional person, I reserve the right to become impatient with those that I feel are more delusional than I.
The simple fact of the matter is that we are all beggars before God depending on his mercy when it comes to everything we have including the poultry amount of knowledge that we have obtained through the grace of God. I am convinced the He is significantly unimpressed with the most knowledgeable among us.
Another thing to realize is that the intellectual acquisition of knowledge in the form of intellectually understanding
information can be very deceiving.
There is a difference between the intellectual attainment of knowledge vs the pure, unadulterated light, truth and spiritual intelligence that one’s soul is filled with as a result of incorporation said knowledge into ones soul via the holy spirit.
The scriptures remind us that after all we can learn and do, if we have not acquired charity, it is to no avail.
In that area, I often feel as if my circle on the chalk board, as an indicator of actual light and truth so microscopically small it is indiscernible.
In September of 1992 I published a 114 page book. It contained nearly 400 references from the scriptures, JD, history of the Church and numerous other sources. I realized that it was pretty sensitive information that would not be embraced by a very large group of people in or out of the church.
I only printed about 200 copies which I gave to friends and I sent about 20 to fundamentalists that I had met during my journey into the twilight zone. I sold the remainder at Sam Wellers Book store. They sold the rest relatively quickly.
I decided not to reprint for several reasons. One is that shortly years after publishing it I continued to learn and grow in my understanding and I came to realize that 10 to 20% of it is was not accurate and needs to be updated which I do not feel inclined to do at this time.
I have no idea how many copies have been made of it.
One fellow once told me that he had come upon countless people who had copied the book from friends and he speculated that that over 100,000 copies had been made and spread all over the world among underground and fringe groups.
However my estimation, from the impact it seems to have had on the world is that there are probably about 210 copies out there that have never been read by anyone.
A friend of mine who was a member of the Allred fundamentalist group was accused by them of being the real author of my thesis and he had his life threatened by them several times when he became disaffected.
After nearly 30 years of searching I still believe the basic premise of that book that I wrote way back in 1992… although I have learned a great deal more since then to further substantiate what I concluded back then.
I will say that I did not learn about the scapegoat doctrine and the intercessory offerings made by Joseph and Sidney and others until many years after the publication of the Book. That doctrine is a pearl of great price to me as I had been struggling with some of the things Joseph did and taught and I had now way of putting it all into context.
Additional clarity has since come to me on the significance of the restoration of the “Gospel of Abraham” and how that relates to the restoration of the lesser law including the curse of polygamy and the blood sacrifice(s) that Joseph and the terrestrial apostles offered up in the Kirtland Temple.
Additional clarity regarding the definitions of the “new and everlasting covenant” and the “fullness of the gospel” as well as the “man of sin” came during the investigative report on the special conference at the Morley Farm. That added significantly to my understanding of the foundation that had been laid concerning the climax of the first apostasy in 1837-8.
The book I wrote is unlike any other book or article about the apostasy of the church that I am aware in two ways-
- It identifies the first and most significant time of apostasy as taking place in Kirtland during the early years of the restoration movement.
- It provides documentation of the prophetic solution to the apostasy contained in the scriptures. It speaks of the redemption of latter day Israel that brings this current apostasy to an end. It provides resolution.
I think it is very unfortunate and counterproductive when people write articles about the apostasy of the restored church without explaining how the church went into apostasy and how it will ultimately come out of apostasy because it can leave people confused and without hope.
One of the reasons I encourage people to read all of the numbered evidences posted at the three watches blog BEFORE reading the deeper articles on this blog and particularly articles like this one, is because the threewatches blog focuses on documenting the GOOD NEWS regarding the current apostasy that we are in. It documents the solution and how it is going to come about.
It demonstrates that God, in his infinite foreknowledge foresaw the latter day apostasy and he has a plan with a happy ending for those who are found watching, waiting and willing.
It is much easier to read, understand and accept the current state of the Church if you understand that the darkness we are currently in is going to be dispelled! The LIGHT IS GOING TO SHINE FORTH AGAIN!
It will shine forth among those that sit in darkness.
The Marvelous Work and a Wonder is about to open up.
The FULLNESS OF THE GOSPEL IS GOING TO BE RESTORED AGAIN WHEN THE DISPENSATION OF THE FULNESS OF TIMES IS USHERED IN DURING THE THIRD WATCH!
As I realized that the original apostasy took place within the very first years of the church and that all of the great Pentecostal experiences and spiritual endowments also took place in those first few years, it occurred to me that the doctrines taught at that time must be the most holy and pure doctrines in order to bring forth such spiritual fruits. Athough many people believe that the church was evolving upwards in light and knowledge from the Kirtland years to the present time, I realized that the restoration began with the very most holy doctrines and then began to lose their purity as time went on.
As the minds of the latter day saints became more darkened, the doctrines that they embraced became more darkened.
As Paul prophesied, the time had come when the saints could not endure sound doctrine.
I began to realize how literally true it was that knowledge is power. More importantly, the proper use of knowledge is power.
I realized that the act of believing true doctrines conveys a mystical power to the believer. It allows the spirit to resonate and it opens up the channels of revelation.
Conversely I realized that believing false doctrine covers a person with a veil of darkness and prevents them from gaining additional light.
I noticed that the following five individuals all had the same thing in common,
- Joseph smith
- Sidney Rigdon
- Lyman Wight
- Harvey Whitlock
- Zebedee Coltrin
Do you know what these five people all had in common?
They all experienced the same spiritual epiphany in their lives, and they all did it before 1833.
There is no public documentation that anyone in or out of the church has done it since.
We shall address this in the final post on this series because if you are willing to give up all of your naiveté in a desire to know that truth at all costs, you may just become childlike before God.. and such an event might just restore you to a state of real naiveté.
And such naiveté and childlike faith may just lead to the acceptance of the fulness of the gospel and the acquisition of eternal life.
So keep watching.