During this series we have briefly alluded to the four general phases of the apostasy of the restored church-
Phase One- The Kirtland/Jackson County Apostasy- 1831-1838
Phase One Part A 1831-34
Saints Reject of the Fulness
Phase One Part B 1835-1838
Secret Ushering in of Gospel of Abraham-Mass Kirtland Apostasy
Phase Two- The Far West/Nauvoo Apostasy 1839-1844
God Rejects the Unfaithful Church
Phase Three- The First Utah Period of Apostasy-1845-1889
The Gospel of Brigham Young
Phase Four- The Second Utah Period of Apostasy 1889-to present
The Modern Church Abandons Brigham’s Polygamy and
“Fundamentalism” to Become More Popular with the World
It is interesting to note that the officially accepted doctrines of the church dramatically changed during the 3rd phase of the apostasy, during Brigham Young,s administration. Five of the notable, heretical doctrines that Brigham officially introduced into the church are as follows,
- Spiritual Wife Doctrine
- Adam God Doctrine
- Blood Atonement doctrine for eliminating threats to the church.
- Withholding the priesthood from Blacks
- God is always progressing in knowledge- He does not know all things
There are a host of other heresies that Brother Brigham introduced into the church however the above five provide a sampling of the more high profile dogmas.
Of the doctrines listed above, the only one that could be theologically linked to Joseph smith from historical documentation is the spiritual wife doctrine, or at least the practice of polygamy. But even that doctrine was never publicly introduced by Joseph Smith and was never officially accepted into the church under the law of common consent during his administration.
Furthermore, as with the other four doctrines, there is no basis for it from the scriptures. Section 132 is a blatant contradiction of the celestial law of monogamy as taught in section 42 and section 49 as well as the original section 101 Article on Marriage written by Oliver Cowdery which Brigham Young extracted from the canon of modern scripture when he had section 132 canonized. There is simply no way to link spiritual wifery or polygamy to the celestial law of the gospel as contained in the scriptures.
IT CANNOT BE DONE.
[BTW, years ago I joined a chat board that had the topic of polygamy. After doing so, I engaged an LDS fundamentalist on the topic of celestial polygamy. He was a veritable walking dictionary when it comes to the sermons and dogma contained in the Journal of Discourses.
During the conversation, I challenged him to put aside everything he had ever learned from the Journal of Discourse and try to prove the doctrine of Celestial Polygamy, exclusively using the Old Testament, New Testament and Book of Mormon.
(I use the term Celestial Polygamy to refer to the doctrine that a man needs multiple wives sealed to him for eternity to be exalted)
He enthusiastically accepted my challenge and said he would return with his response shortly.
A day passed.
Then a few days passed.
Eventually he returned to the conversation with me in the chat board and admitted that it would be more difficult than he realized. I then told him he was welcome to use the D&C as also, as long as he didn’t use section 132.
The reason I was disqualifying section 132 is because it contradicted sections 42 and 49, and because it had never been officially taught by Joseph Smith, and because it had never been accepted by common consent and canonized until one year before Brigham Young’s death.
I wanted him to realize that the entire doctrine he had espoused was based solely on one heretical revelation. The place and person from which the revelation originated from is completely irrelevant because it contradicts the holy and infallible word of God.
I never heard back from the guy.]
One way to characterize the 4th and last phase of the apostasy of the church is by acknowledging that the church began to become popular with the world. This happened in part, because the church leadership realized that to be more accepted by mainstream Christianity it needed to self correct with regard to some of the doctrinal heresies that had infiltrated the Church. Hence, it began systematically rejecting important doctrinal components of the gospel of Brigham Young.
Of course when that took place beginning in approximately about 1889, it created a polarization in the church. That is when those who refused to abandon the teachings of Brigham Young, or, in other words, what has become known as modern day LDS fundamentalism as we know it, began to break away from the main church and become separate and distinct religious entities.
The LDS fundamentalist community eventually split up into multiple warring factions of the movement. With the emergence strange dominant authoritative personalities like Ervil and Joel LeBaron, Ron and Dan Lafferty, Rulon Allred, Warren Jeffs, Jim Harston and a long list of delusional wing-nuts that have ruled over their little kingdoms of followers. It only makes sense that many of these factions began intimidating their followers in much the same fashion as brigham Young used threaten and intimidate the saints under his rule. Some of these leaders even ended up slitting the throats of those who challenged their authority using the masonic temple endowment of Brother Brig as their justification.
I must emphasize as I have done in previous posts that technically it is inaccurate to refer to the followers of Brigham Youngs doctrines and the polygamous offshoots of the church as fundamentalists because the doctrines they believe and practice do not in fact represent the fundamental doctrines of the LDS restoration movement.
By 1831 the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored and by late 1834 it had been fully rejected by the gentile church.
95% of the revelations that Joseph smith received had been received by 1836 and yet NONE of the above five doctrines and a myriad of other future heresies of Brigham Young were taught in the church at that time nor were they contained in the fulness of the gospel or in the scriptures that had been received.
Even as late as 1841, the Lord put his seal of approval on the existing cannon of modern scripture which had three revelations mandating celestial monogamy. (That canon of scripture had no revelations that advocated polygamy). Indeed, Brigham Young did not insert section 132 into the canon of scripture until 40 years after the Nauvoo period of the church.
In section 124 the Lord gave a stern warning that anything more or less than the doctrines contained in that cannon of scripture and the Book of Mormon “COMETH OF EVIL“. (124:119-120)
“And again, verily I say unto you, let no man pay stock to the quorum of the Nauvoo House unless he shall be a believer in the Book of Mormon, and the revelations I have given unto you, saith the Lord your God; For that which is more or less than this cometh of evil, and shall be attended with cursings and not blessings, saith the Lord your God. Even so. Amen.”
Indeed, the practice of polygamy that crept into the church even during the time that the revelation in section 124 was given did represent something more or less than what had been revealed and commanded of God.
Unsurprisingly, the practice of it was accompanied with cursings rather than blessings. One only needs to read the countless references to the damnable practice in the many diaries of the LDS pioneers and early Utah saints.
The true fundamental doctrines of the restored gospel and church teach just the opposite of many of the doctrines Brigham Young introduced into the apostate church.
The majority of the church had been indoctrinated strongly enough in the “follow the brethren” theology to go with the changes in doctrine whether they agreed with them or not. Truth be known, the majority of the membership was doctrinally ignorant and largely indifferent to the changes. Most of them probably agreed with the changes simply because they were told to by the “authorities”.
Some undoubtedly went along with the changes in doctrine because the changes would bring about less persecution from the government and the world in general.
I suspect that there were a few that actually studied the scriptures and realized that there was NO scriptural foundation for any of them and they probably viewed the church as actually going through a period of self correction and doctrinal cleansing by dropping those practices and beliefs.
Two of the changes, the practice of polygamy and the priesthood ban on blacks were prompted by government threats and pending intervention. The government involvement pertaining to polygamy is well known, however, the government intervention relating to the change in the priesthood ban with regard to blacks is not so well known.
“Kimball’s announcement [reversing the LDS anti-Black priesthood ban] coincided with events which were adversely affecting the Mormon Church.”
“For a period of time immediately prior to Kimball’s declaration, several major universities, had announced that until such time as the Mormon Church reversed its policy of racial discrimination, they would no longer take part in athletic events in which BYU participated.”
“More importantly though, approximately two weeks prior to Kimball’s surprising declaration, President Jimmy Carter had phoned Kimball and informed him that the IRS was seriously considering removing the Mormon Church’s tax exempt status unless changes were made in their policy of discrimination.”
“In 1978, due to the urging of Carter and mounting pressure from pending lawsuits concerning racism, Spencer W. Kimball suddenly received a revelation that Blacks could now enter the temple and hold the Priesthood.”
President Carter sent a telegram commending Spencer W. Kimball “for your compassionate prayerfulness and courage in receiving a new doctrine.’‘
The discarding of many of Brigham’s doctrines is really one of the foundational themes of the fourth phase of the modern apostasy.
As one begins to evaluate the phases of the modern day apostasy, it is interesting to analyze the membership growth of the church to help formulate context.
Prior to the beginning of Brigham’s Reign in 1844 the church claims a membership of 26,146.
The membership in 1845 at the beginning of the reign of Young, as the President of the Twelve, was at 30,332. At the death of Young in 1887 it was 115,065.
President John Taylor curiously reigned over the church for three years as the President of the 12. Then he was finally sustained as the president of the Church in 1880. He died in 1887.
President Woodruff claimed to have received a revelation on November 24, 1889. In it the Lord warnes-
“Let not my servants who are called to the presidency of my Church deny my word or my law, which concerns the salvation of the children of men.”
Despite this supposed warning from the Lord to not discontinue polygamy, after a few years of immense pressure from the government, Woodruff finally conducted the historic press dispatches associated with what has become known as “Official Declaration- 1” in which he publicly claims to be submitting himself and the church membership, to the anti-polygamy laws of the US.
It was at this time that he introduced the scripturally unjustifiable doctrine of infallibility,
“the Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as the president of this Church to lead you astray”
Lets see, what is a politically correct term for BULLSHIT?
The apostasy of the church had begun long before brother Wilford took the helm… nevertheless I am sure he had good intentions in wanting to calm the nerves of the membership.
Nevertheless, we must remember the following warning the Lord gave the church back in 1829 which he acted on within less than a decade, by the time the Kirtland Temple had been defiled and the Saints fled Kirtland,
if this generation do harden their hearts against my word, behold I will deliver them up unto Satan, (Book of Commandments Chapter 4)
it would appear that the Lord had a different understanding of the principle of infallibility with regard to human priesthood authority than Wilford had.
The above passage was deleted from the revelation now known as section 5 when it was later published in the Doctrine and Covenants because it was no longer applicable to the Latter day Saints as a future prophesy. It had already been acted upon by the Lord. He was in the midst of turning the Saints over to the man of sin as prophesied by the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1831.
Although the world began to soften towards the latter day church from the time of the “Special Declaration- 1” the most significant era of PR took place during the administration of President McKay which could be considered a distinguishable time period of its own because of the tremendous positioning that he did with the world and the changing image of the church that he was instrumental in portraying.
President McKay served as a general authority for 66 years. He served as president of the church from 1951 to 1970. The membership was 1,147,157 in 1951. It grew to 2,930,810 in 1970 under his able leadership.
Today the Church boasts a membership of about 13,500,000 and claims to be one of the fastest growing churches in the world.
Although the LDS church was one of the fastest growing churches during the nineties, that is no longer true.
The internet has had a devastating impact on the growth of the Church. It has made doctrinal and historical information way to accessible to everyone. The light of truth is there for those who sincerely want to find it.
Between all of the anti-Mormon sites and sites by those doing serious historical research and the apologetic’s of FARMS and FAIR, disturbing information about the LDS church is so prevalent that it simply cannot be hidden any longer.
According to one website,
“Mormons like to claim that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of the fastest growing religious denominations in the world. While it was true into the 1990s, the membership of the Mormons has in fact been shrinking in every US state including Utah.
While some 13 million members are on the membership roll, the actual number of people who consider themselves Mormons is considerably less. Many people that the church claims are members are not. According to John Dehlin’s “Why People Leave the Church” podcast, about two-thirds of the church members are inactive, and one-third of these people cannot be located by the church. The once meteoric growth of the Mormon church is now expressed as a negative number.
Mormon Church Growth Issues
According to charts that can be found on the LDS Church News website, the membership has gone up at a slightly decreased rate, while the number of converts has gone down. Most new members of the Mormon church now come from people being born into the faith, rather than coming from converts to the church.
Further compounding the issue is that the Mormon church cannot retain converts and many of the people who they claim as Mormons go inactive shortly after a baptism. A City University of New York Study and the Salt Lake Tribune confirm Dehlin’s numbers. Both sources report that the actual number of members is declining and nearly 100 percent of the converts who were baptized into the church report that they have left it.
Because the church does not take a member’s name off the rolls unless a member requests it, the 12 million member number is inaccurate in gaging Mormon church growth or the actual number of people who consider themselves Mormons worldwide.
The following youtube video is produced by John Dehlin, a 5th generation member of the Church and doctrinal lightweight with a very good heart and good intentions, living in Logan Utah, who attempts to give an objective presentation on why people leave the LDS religion.
He brings new meaning to the apostle Pauls warning that the time would come when the saints will not endure sound doctrine and he is successful in bringing up controversial issues that must be making church apologists blush 24/7
He does a remarkable job of detailing many of the troubling issues in church history and doctrine however his attempt to resolve the issues, if he ever made any attempt during his presentation, completely backfires and he ends up doing much more damage to the church than helping it.
I suspect the Lord has inspired him to do what he is doing as far as bring hidden things to light.
The bottom line of the interview is that he himself is extremely conflicted in his own mind. In fact, after listening to it, I am convinced that he has lost his own testimony if in fact he ever had one.
He provides no real doctrinal resolution in his presentation other than the logic of you are going to be better off staying with the local religious culture rather than alienating yourself from it because it is wise to continue being a member if you ever need help from the church and/or its members and it provides an opportunity for you to be of service to others.
The next video is an interview between John and an excommunicated Mormon who encourages Mormons to become spiritually “born again”.
I provide it for context.
Notice how at peace the interviewee is and how stressed the interviewer looks.
I believe both of the people in the above interview are sincere and both of them are very good candidates for accepting the fulness of the gospel once the light shines forth again when the Marvelous Work begins.
For those that continue moving backwards in time in their quest to learn about the origins of the apostasy, the period of Brigham Young’s reign from the expulsion of the Saints from Nauvoo till the end of John Taylors reign, the church appears to have been victimized and therefore has the appearance of having suffered for being true and faithful to their original covenants.
The trek west to Utah has been spun as being a righteous remnant that was ill treated by a wicked nation.
Although it is true that they were essentially cast out by a wicked nation, it was at least in part because the wicked nation could not tolerate some of the dark practices of the apostate church. The scriptures refer to the salt that has lost its savor..
The old testament reveals that God puts all ecclesiastical and political rulers in place based on the righteous or wicked acts of the people.
Just as the Lord has put the President Elect at the helm of this nation based on what we as a nation deserve, the Lord also put President Young at the helm of the restored church based on what the collective church membership wanted and deserved.
Very few people get past this 3rd period of apostasy as they are working their way backwards in church history.
Therefore they quit traveling back in time to take a critical look at what happened in Nauvoo.
Those that do continue their research can find a very clear cut stop off in Nauvoo. Section 113 and sections 124 pretty much lay it all out. Verse 28 in section 124 reveals that the fullness of the priesthood had been lost before 1841. Verse 48 reveals that the Saints were currently practicing abominations before the Lord. Verse 45 promises that if the saints “will hearken” unto the voice of the Lord, they will not be moved out of their place in Nauvoo.
And finally, the ominous warning that if the church failed to complete the temple within the appointed time, they will be rejected as a church is found in verse 32.
Making the transition from the 2rd period of apostasy in Nauvoo to the 1st period of apostasy in Kirtland is actually not very difficult if one keeps diligently searching because section 124 makes it clear that the Saints were in apostasy when they got to Nauvoo.
If a person backs up far enough in time to finally begin focusing on the actual restoration of the Church in New York and the gathering of the church during the Kirtland era, they will find that the initial apostasy of the church took place back during those early years of the restoration of the church. In fact they will be shocked just how quickly the light of the fullness of the Gospel left after it began to shine forth.
Once this is realized, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th periods of apostasy make so much more sense.
The following passage of scripture in section 45 provides a perfect description of how quickly the fullness of the gospel light shined forth and then was rejected by the gentile church. This passage of prophesy has a dual fulfillment.
28 And when the times of the Gentiles is come in, a light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness, and it shall be the fulness of my gospel;
29 But they receive it not; for they perceive not the light, and they turn their hearts from me because of the precepts of men.
According to the official D&C commentary by Smith and Sjodahl, (which has been greatly modified by the modern church) verse 28 is referring to the Saints of the 2nd watch at the time Joseph Smith was living. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, no commentary is provided for verse 29!
I personally agree that it applies to the Saints of the 2nd watch, however, I believe it is typological. The literal fulfillment of the passage has to do with the third watch.
I believe that when the marvelous work begins and the servants return, the vast majority of the church will reject the light just as the majority of the church rejected it during the 2nd watch.
In another post I will provide about 10 evidences why that prophesy in section 45 has to do with the 3rd watch.
One of the problems that we have that obscures our perception of when the apostasy took place is that God has varying degrees of light and gospel law that he offers which enables him to continue speaking to his people even after they have rejected the higher law.
The same is true with the latter day saints. After they rejected the fullness of the gospel, God greatly reduced how often he sent communications to the church, but he did nevertheless continue providing direction for a time.
Although it is a natural tendency to assume the Lord was not speaking of the saints but rather of the wicked non members of the church, a close reading of that section reveals that it was primarily the wickedness of the saints that was being addressed throughout the section. Section 63 was addressed to the Saints and focused on the saints and their difficulties.
“The Lord declared to His servants, some eighteen months since, that He was then withdrawing His Spirit from the earth and we can see that such is the fact for not only the churches are dwindling away, but there are no conversions, or but very few” [D&C 63:32 was given 18 months prior to the above statement that was made January 4th, 1833]
As you can see, Joseph Smith interpreted section 63 as stating that God was withholding his spirit from the Saints as well as from the rest of the world! He acknowledged that the dwindling away of the existing LDS churches and the reduction in new LDS conversions was a direct result of the withholding of Gods spirit!
Section 63 and the withholding of Gods spirit from the Saints was less than 3 months after the opening of the heavens and the special endowment that was given at the special conference at the Morley Farm!
If you have not read the series on the Morley Farm entitles Searching for the Holy Order and 23 High Priests, you need to read it in order to appreciate what we are going to addressing in the next part of this series!
Part 5- Possessor of All Things Part 5- Patriarchal Priesthood Administers New and Everlasting Covenant
I ended the last post asking you if you knew what the following five people all had 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 an amazing supernatural spiritual epiphany in their lives. It is an epiphany and endowment that is not spoken of frequently in the scriptures. Possibly because it happens so rarely and possibly because the bible had it removed and the sealed portion of the plates that speak about it in detail were never brought forth.
These three men had the heavens opened and they saw both the Father and the Son. The event was part of their true baptismal covenant. And they all experienced this before 1833. There is no account of anyone in the church experiencing that sacred event anytime from 1836 to the present time… do you think that is a coincidence?
What they began experiencing has to do with the very definition of what the fullness of the gospel is.
In the next part of this series we are going to address the definition of what the fullness of the Gospel is because we cannot fully appreciate when and how the church apostatized until we now what it apostatized from!
If you think you know exactly what the fullness of the gospel is, you just might be surprised.