The Savior in Kirtland
By Karl Anderson
Book Review and Critique by OWIW
OneWhoIsWatching [at] gmail.com
In part one of this series, I discussed my first three observations about Karl Anderson’s book, The Savior in Kirtland. These three observations had to do with how the heavens were opened but eventually closed during the Kirtland era of the LDS restoration movement. This resulted in at least 22 people documented as seeing visions or visitations of the Savior in the Kirtland era, however, no credible documented visitation or visions ever happend after the Kirtland Temple was defiled. The Savior never appeared to anyone during the Nauvoo era of the LDS restoration era.
I also discussed how the scourge that was prophesied to take place in Kirtland is yet a future event, not one that has come and gone as is sometimes taught by people such as Karl Anderson.
Lastly, I discussed a remarkable quote by Karl Anderson about Sidney Rigdon wherein Anderson said:
“Sidney’s phenomenal work for the Savior is recorded in many journals of those who joined the Church when it came to Kirtland, thus showing a successful fulfillment of his divine work” (pg 18)
Karl also concludes that “Sidney was one of the great leaders of hte Church, without whom the Church could not have been firmly established”
Now, we will cover my next 4-7 observations.
4- The Man of Sin was revealed in Fulfillment of 2 Thessalonians
In his new book, Karl continues to downplay the significance of the restoration of the Melchizedek priesthood at the special conference at the Morley Farm just like he did no his first book. He seems to agree with Brigham Young and the modern church that it only had to do with an “ordination” or “calling” to an “office” within the existing priesthood that Peter James and John had restored a few years earlier.
He rejects the characterization that Joseph, Lyman and others gave of the event; that the “Melchizedek priesthood” was literally being restored for the first time and not just the office of High Priest within the existing priesthood restored by Peter James and John as Brigham had speculated.
Karl’s stance on this comes as no surprise since it is the current theology taught by the LDS Church.
The other major event that took place at the special conference was the fulfilling of the prophecy in 2 Thes about the revealing of the Son of Perdition.
Regarding a short blurb about the special conference at the Morley Farm, Karl provides this amazing quote on page 76
“During the meeting the power of the darkness were made manifest in a remarkable degree… Joseph.. Rebuked the spirit.. from the house upon which the spirit left.. and went outside, among the crowd of men standing near the door and made a swath among them several feet wide, throwing them violently to the ground. Joseph said this was the fulfillment of the scriptures where it says the man of sin should be revealed…” pg76
This is really quite remarkable because it shows that the spiritual manifestation of Satan actually has physical power over physical bodies. This is consistent with the associated event of Satan literally throwing a 200 lb man across the room at the conference and other situations when people actually levitated because of evil powers.
The most significant thing about the above quote however is that it provides an exact time, place, event, and context for the literal fulfillment of the following prophecy.
“NOW we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition. Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”
Notice that the above prophecy by the apostle Paul directly links that end times apostasy with the Latter day Saints if Joseph’s declaration is true.
It also links the use of a temple with the apostate people that have had old Scratch revealed to them.
I have written about the fulfillment of the “man of Sin” prophecy in other posts and will not belabor that topic here.
5- Historical Revisionism about the Nauvoo Temple
On page 80 Karl quotes Brigham Young as saying
“..We completed a temple in Kirtland and in Nauvoo and did not the bells of hell roll all the time wer were building them?”
The statement from Brigham took place many years after Nauvoo, after the saints fled to Utah. It contradicted many other statements Brigham Young had made about the fact that the Nauvoo temple never being completed.
Karl knows better than that. Brigham did too.
In Brigham’s own journal he documents that the Nauvoo Temple was far from finished when the Saints fled Nauvoo. There is a wealth of credible historical information documenting the fact that the Nauvoo Temple was never completed.
I am really disappointed that Karl would knowingly provide a historical quote containing disinformation that will continue to perpetuate the myth that the Nauvoo temple was finished by the saints in the 1840’s.
6- At least 22 church leaders saw Christ or heard his voice. 11 can be identified by name (pg 129)
Karls points out that a minimum of 22 people saw or heard the voice of Christ during the Kirtland era and at least 11 of them can be identified by name.
This is one of the greatest and most profound observations that Karl shares in his book. His years of research have made this most notable observation possible and I think those of us that are truly interested in the Kirtland period of church history and the Saviors personal involvement in it, are indebted to him for taking the time to do this research.
He further breaks the stats down as follows: 8 of the 11 that can be identified saw Christ while three of them heard his voice.
Those that were documented as having seen Christ
- Joseph smith
- Sidney rigdon
- Lyman Wight
- Harvey Whitlock
- John Murdock
- Zebedee Coltrin
- Oliver Cowdery
- Martin Harris
Those that heard his voice but did not see him
- David Whitmer
- Newel K. Whitney
- Warren Snow
There are 12 additional documented but unidentified eye witnesses of Christ according to Karl. I believe we can guestimate who most of these people are by a profound discovery that Karl shares in his book. We will discuss this later in this book review.
7- There Is a Difference Between a Visitation and a Vision!
In a footnote on page 129 Karl makes the following observation and warning:
“Some people try to draw a distinction between a vision and an appearance of Deity. This is difficult and perhaps unwise.”
I strongly beg to differ.
I think it is perhaps unwise to not draw a distinction.
I think the scriptures do make a contextual distinction between a vision, which often times shows past and future events as well as current ones, for instructive and faith promoting purposes, as opposed to the literal opening of the heavens for a literal, real time, visitation and communication with deity.
Why is this distinction or lack thereof important to people like Karl and me?
Why does he warn against making this distinction?
Why am I so passionate about the fact that there is a HUGE distinction that needs to be understood?
For one thing, it has to do with salvation and a person’s relationship with deity.
Secondly, because it provides a very important context for what was taking place in pre-1835 Kirtland events vs. post-1835 Kirtland events.
You see; my contention has been that the spiritual gifts and visitations being experienced during the time frame from 1831 to 1834 had to do with the restored “Church of Christ “and, in some cases, the restored, administrative Melchizedek Priesthood which was referred to as the “Church of God“, and the associated promises contained in the Book of Commandments.
The Melchizedek Priesthood that had been restored to the earth in June of 1831. Once this distinction is made, the D&C reads quite differently from section 52 on.
In my opinion, most of the spiritual endowments having to do with post-1834 events largely had to do with the “Church of the Latter day Saints” that was under condemnation and the instructions provided in the Doctrine and Covenants.
For those who are not aware, the name of the restored “Church of Christ” was changed in early 1834 to the “Church of the Latter Day Saints”. More on that later.
Among the many reasons that I feel the spiritual manifestations were of a lessor degree after the end of 1834, than prior to the end of 1834, is because the church in Kirtland and Nauvoo failed to live consecration and achieve temporal equality. The Lord had warned the saints that if they were not equal, He would withhold the abundance of the manifestations of the spirit:
“Nevertheless, in your temporal things you shall be equal, and this not grudgingly, otherwise the abundance of the manifestation of the spirit shall be withheld.” (D&C 70:14)
Clearly, the saints had discontinued attempting to live the law of consecration by the time the Kirtland Temple was ready to be dedicated and were therefore not equal temporally. According to the word of God, they were not worthy to enjoy the full abundance of the manifestations of the spirit from then on.
Having the Heavens Opened and Conversing with the Father and the Son
I believe the act of literally opening the heavens and penetrating the veil of unbelief to transcend temporal time and gaze into eternity and converse with the Father and the Son requires a person to be transfigured.
This spiritual endowment is a Melchizedek Priesthood endowment and it is clearly different and distinct from many of the lesser endowments.
The Book of Moses informs us that one must be transfigured to see God, otherwise their physical bodies would wither and die.
“But now mine own eyes have beheld God; but not my natural, but my spiritual eyes, for my natural eyes could not have beheld; for I should have withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me; and I beheld his face, for I was transfigured before him.”
Examples of this in Kirtland would be Joseph, Lyman and Harvey seeing the Father and the Son at the special conference when the Melchizedek priesthood was restored for the first time in 1831. During those visions, Joseph made a statement indicating that he had experienced a change in his body and would not even taste death if someone were to kill him. I believe he, Lyman and Harvey were all transfigured when they saw the Father and the Son. The above passage mandates that all three of them must have been transfigured.
Another example would be the experience that Joseph and Sidney had seeing and conversing with the Father and the Son which is now documented in section 76. Again, from the testimonies given of this experience, they were both quickened by the spirit and transfigured in order to behold the glory of God with their spiritual eyes without having their physical bodies destroyed.
Having a Visitation from Christ
I don’t think a personal, real time visitation and conversation with Christ (within the veil of mortality, without the presence of the glory of the Father) requires transfiguration, however, according the Joseph Smith, it does require a person who has become “pure”.
A perfect example of this is the appearance of Christ and three angels to Joseph and Oliver in the Kirtland Temple (section 110). I think the Melchizedek priesthood had been taken from the earth by the end of 1834 and that in 1836 Joseph and Oliver were functioning under the evangelical-patriarchal priesthood that Peter James and John had restored in 1829.
They did not penetrate the veil of unbelief to see the Father and the Son in eternity. Rather, Christ and three angels came into temporal time and into the temple behind the literal temple veil and conversed with Joseph and Oliver in this world, not in eternity.
Visions of the Past and Future that Provide Instruction
Carrying this scenario further, having a “vision” of Christ in a past historical setting, for example, seeing him on the Cross, or seeing him in a future, prophetic setting, for example seeing him riding on a white horse leading the armies of Israel in battle, in the future, etc., those types of visions are, in my opinion, lesser spiritual endowments than having either a- a literal, real time one on one conversation with Christ, or, b- gazing into eternity to see both Christ and the Father.
Speaking in Tongues
A forth division of spiritual endowment might be the visitation of angels and yet another one might be the speaking in tongues.
One might have the spirit fall upon them and begin speaking in tongues which would be a wonderful spiritual endowment, however, it probably is not in the category of having a vision of Christ and it definitely is not in the category of having a literal visitation and conversation with Christ, let alone, being transfigured to see Christ standing on the right hand of God.
Since the church has not enjoyed any of the above types of spiritual endowments for over one hundred years, it is easy to minimize any possible distinction between them and to also marginalize the importance of having them happen.
Christ categorically appears to ALL the pure in heart
I believe that one of the interesting things that Joseph taught, and that was documented but not emphasized in Karl’s book, is that the spiritual endowment of seeing Christ in the Kirtland Temple was not a random event.
Joseph promised the newly called quorum of 12 apostles that “ALL who are prepared and are sufficiently pure to abide the presence of the Saviour will see him in the solemn assembly. (Pg. 225)
“all who are pure will see Christ… in solemn assembly” (Pg. 242)
Similar statements to other saints are documented in the book (pages 129, 139, and 141.
I believe the scriptures and some of the passages documented in Karl ‘s book indicate that it is a the mandatory requirement to see God in the flesh in order to obtain the highest degree of glory. (I think many people who have died when the fulness of the gospel was not on the earth will be returned to the earth prior to the end of probation to have this endowment)
This is something that is greatly minimized in church commentaries and histories. One of the primary goals and commandments and ultimate fruits of the gospel is the seeking of the face of deity. This is not a random experience. It is not an optional possibility. It is ultimately required for salvation in the highest kingdom. It is incredibly important and it was a major underlying theme of temple theology, in fact, it was one of the main purposes of the temple is for seeing God and conversing with him. This is alluded to in section 124:
“And again, verily I say unto you, how shall your washings be acceptable unto me, except ye perform them in a house which you have built to my name?
38 For, for this cause I commanded Moses that he should build a tabernacle, that they should bear it with them in the wilderness, and to build a house in the land of promise, that those ordinances might be revealed which had been hid from before the world was.
39 Therefore, verily I say unto you, that your anointings, and your washings, and your baptisms for the dead, and your solemn assemblies, and your memorials for your sacrifices by the sons of Levi, and for your oracles in your most holy places wherein you receive conversations, and your statutes and judgments, for the beginning of the revelations and foundation of Zion, and for the glory, honor, and endowment of all her municipals, are ordained by the ordinance of my holy house, which my people are always commanded to build unto my holy name.
40 And verily I say unto you, let this house be built unto my name, that I may reveal mine ordinances therein unto my people;
I believe everyone going to the temple in Kirtland understood that they were, in a sense, being tested for purity.
Those that saw Christ, past the purity test.
Those that did not, needed to continue seeking his face after the temple experience. Some responded in a positive way while others became discouraged or skeptical or angry, etc.
There was a huge and very explicit distinction between the elders who saw the face of deity and those who did not.
This was clearly understood among all of the leaders of the church. According to section 67, the jealousies between the early brethren that were ordained High priests was significant. The jealousies had to do, in part, with who had seen God and who had not.
The natural tendency was for those who hadn’t seen God to be skeptical and jealous of those who did, and perhaps some of those who did see God, to be judgmental of those who had not, was horrendous. This amazing pressure resulted in doubts and jealousies between the brethren.
It is interesting to note that there were some brethren at the Morley Farm that got past by and were not ordained and did not see the Father and the Son, and yet, they were motivated to exercise greater faith in the future and eventually did get ordained to be a High Priest and to see the father and the Son.
One example of this was Zebedee Coltin. His testimony of the Father and the Son while in the school of the prophets is one of the most instructive and proves that the Father can in fact come through the veil and appear in this sphere.
Here is what section 67 says about those who became jealous and the promise that one can see God:
“And again, verily I say unto you that it is your privilege, and a promise I give unto you that have been ordained unto this ministry, that inasmuch as you strip yourselves from jealousies and fears, and humble yourselves before me, for ye are not sufficiently humble, the veil shall be rent and you shall see me and know that I am—not with the carnal neither natural mind, but with the spiritual.”
The above passage is linking the jealousies and fears with the hope of seeing God.
It ends with the reminder that one must be quickened by the spirit to see God:
“For no man has seen God at any time in the flesh, except quickened by the Spirit of God.”
That provides a second witness to the passage in Moses that one must receive a temporary change in order to see God without being destroyed.
Another distinction that Karl appears to have not noticed or to intentionally obscure, was that only those being called to be High Priests in Kirtland could see the Father and the Son. We shall explore this and other fascinating things as we continue.