Miscellaneous Musings # 5 Phineas Young

Church Discipline

We seem to be at another defining moment in Mormon history with the announcement that John Dehlin and Kate Kelly are facing disciplinary councils. The Church has done everything possible to avoid this confrontation, their hand is being forced, in my opinion. They don’t want the public relations nightmare and residual collateral damage that is going to result in holding church courts on people with high profiles. Obviously, they have come to the conclusion that doing nothing will result in greater collateral damage.

It is interesting how Mormon news now becomes national news as the NY Times, Huffington Post and other national media outlets are jumping on the story. America is having a warped fascination with things Mormon, particularly things that embarrass Mormonism.

I have mixed emotions about this topic because on the one hand, the church is totally within their right to cut off people who publicly disagree with official policies and doctrines of the church. In fact, if they don’t, the church could eventually implode as a result of the weight of internal skepticism and unbelief from within the church.

What troubles me is that the church falsely represents their own priesthood authority to represent the Lord and to judge others.

Although the media is suggesting that both of these individuals are being disciplined for their activism in womens rights and gay rights, LGBT, etc., I am not convinced that those are the primary issues for which John is being disciplined. I think John’s blatant mocking of the core beliefs of the LDS restoration and his use of mormonstories to embarrass the church on historical and doctrinal issues is really the real issue for his disciplinary council.

I also think it is not a coincidence that this action is taking place just prior to John’s upcoming interviews with Alex Beam, the author of American Crucifixion and Jeremy Runnells, the author of “Letter to a CES Director”.

One of my friends who teaches in elders quorum just read American Crucifixion and his comment was, “I don’t know how anyone can read that book and remain a Mormon without understanding the scapegoat doctrine“.

Although I believe John’s Mormonstories series has a profound calling in bringing issues and personalities to the public light of scrutiny, it has always bothered me that John presents himself and his series as being neutral. I think it is disingenuous of John to represent himself as a Mormon that loves the church and desires membership in it, while doing everything he can to embarrass the church and mock the core beliefs of the restoration.

I remain mystified how people that have lost all faith in God and the restoration fight to remain in the church and want sympathy when they are cast out of it.

I think Mormon stories would be much more powerful and authentic if the interviewer truly was neutral and objective and if they made more of an effort to balance things out and interview contemporary luminaries who believe in the Book of Mormon and the mission of Joseph Smith.

I noticed that at the end of his interview with Sandra Tanner, that he walked over and held up the replica of the gold plates and mockingly displayed how inconceivable the whole storyline behind the plates and the Book of Mormon is. He is definitely not a neutral interviewer.

John has a gi-normous following. He really knows how to play on people’s emotions and work an online crowd. He asked his followers to comfort his wife and children during the trauma of his upcoming church court and within 24 hours he has had over 1,000 comments from adoring fans.

According to my understanding, if a person submits a letter of resignation ANY TIME PRIOR TO THE CHURCH COURT, the church legally has to stop all proceedings and simply take the person’s name off of the records of the church. I suspect that Kate and John have no intentions of resigning, they want to become martyrs and to work the media for all it is worth.


A Blatant Lie

I noticed that Denver Snuffer has posted a blurb about the official response from the church regarding how church discipline is always conducted exclusively by local authorities. The official statement from the church states that:

“Decisions are made by local leaders and not directed or coordinated by Church headquarters.”


Snuffer’s response to the claim is as follows:

“The assertion by the church in their press release that “Decisions are made by local leaders and not directed or coordinated by Church headquarters” is false. In the case of public, controversial members, it is a lie.


Of course Snuffer is absolutely correct on this issue. It is shocking that the church would publish such a patently false statement. I have to wonder how the General authorities, not to mention the Stake Presidents, Bishops and regional authorities that have been caught in the middle of these disciplinary issues, feel in their hearts about this deception.

Is this justified under the topic of “lying for the Lord”?

The Book of Mormon is inspired fiction?

While perusing the Internet the other day I came upon a few sites that spoke about the fact that Van Hale, popular LDS apologist and talk radio show host, rejects the historicity of the Book of Mormon, but accepts it as “inspired fiction”.

He believes that God inspired Joseph Smith to create a false storyline with true doctrinal principles in it. He apparently believes that the Book of Mormon qualifies as divine scripture even though it’s claims to be a record of an ancient people are false.

How can a person maintain any personal integrity and self respect when claiming to believe that God inspired Joseph Smith to create a false storyline that is filled with lies about history and fictitious historic personalities?

The Book of Mormon is true. It is also an accurate record of the ancient inhabitants of North America.

William Smith Replaced Phineus Young as an Apostle?

I am reading a few interesting books. One of them is “Lost Apostles”. It is about the six original members of the quorum of the Twelve that left the church early on. As you know, I believe these guys are awesome folks, most of whom will return to complete their stewardships.

It is always fun to come across historical tidbits that are new to me. I was shocked to find out that when the three witnesses chose the twelve apostles, per their divine mandate from the Lord, Brigham Young’s brother Phineas young was one of the twelve they selected and William Smith, Joseph Smith’s brother, was NOT!

According to the testimony of Phineas, he was the FIRST one picked.

p young

Joseph intervened AFTER Phineas was selected and asked him to give up his position to his brother William Smith..




Here is a letter from Oliver Cowdery to Brigham Young


Elkhorn, Walworth County, Wisconsin February 27, 1848

Dear Brigham [Young]:

By the hand of Brother Phineas H. Young I received your epistle of December last, and after reading it carefully and conversing freely with Brother Phineas, I have thought that if circumstances would permit I would visit you in the early part of the spring say as soon as the 6th of April, if possible. This will give me an opportunity of seeing my valuable old friends, and time too of conversing upon interesting subjects. I have concluded to do so for many reasons; One is, it is difficult communicating as fully by writing as one would often wish, and also it will give time to say orally what one can hardly communicate in any other way as well. I have said above, that if possible I would see you the 6th of April: this my be prevented on account of certain business, of which Brother Phineas will fully acquaint you, which I may find myself under an honorable obligation of doing.

Brother Phineas informs me that you talk of going into the [Salt Lake] valley this summer. After conversing with Brother Phineas upon some matters of importance, you may think best not to, till you shall have seen us. I refer you to Brother Phineas for full particulars, upon which you will act as wisdom may direct. Brother Phineas will also inform you of the substance of what I have just written to Brother David Whitmer, advising him for reasons given by all means to be at Winter Quarters on the 6th of April.

As I may not be with you at the conference, and as this is a confidential communication, I may be permitted to say a word in relation to a matter long since past, but which is due Brother Phineas. At the time the Twelve were chosen in Kirtland, and I may say before it had been manifested that Brother Phineas was entitled to occupy the station as one of the number; but owing to Brother Joseph’s urgent request at the time, Brother David and myself yielded to his wish, and consented for William to be selected, contrary to our feelings and judgment, and to our deep mortification ever since. Brother Phineas occupied at that time a relation to myself that caused me to feel delicate about urging his name and besides Brother Joseph, about that time was bearing down heavily upon Brother Phineas. The time has now come when Brother Phineas can occupy the place where he ought to have been from the first, and I cannot but hope he may have justice done him as far as possible. You and others may think that it is a matter about which I have no right to speak, but this shall not prevent my saying the truth, for it one to a worthy man, though he be my brother-in-law.

As to other matters, I refer you to Brother Phineas. I will in great haste subscribe myself.

Yours in the new covenant,

Source: Oliver Cowdery to Brigham Young, February 27, 1848 in Gunn (1962).


According to the Wilford Woodruff Journal, in 1854, Phineas Young told the brethren in Utah about the switch:

“May 15, 1854: Near Fillmore, Utah.


Phineas Young said that he was the first that was chosen in the organization of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, but Brother Joseph said he wished I would let Wm. Smith have that place, so I gave way to him. The above shows Phineas Young’s feelings

“Some fifty years after the formation of the quorum, in an interview that Zenas Gurley conducted with David Whitmer in January 1885, Whitmer corroborated Cowdery’s and Young’s recollections and confirmed that Phineas was the man who was originally selected for the position” (Cook, David Whitmer Interviews, 157.)  See http://signaturebooks.com/2014/04/lost-apostles-excerpts/#apostle9




young brothers



Pictured above, are Brigham Young and his four brothers, Lorenzo Dow,  Brigham, Phineas H.,  Joseph, and John

 Choosing the President of the Quorum of the Twelve

Back at that time, the president of a priesthood quorum was picked according to age. The oldest member of the quorum was the presiding member of the quorum. There was some discrepancy between who was older, between Thomas Marsh and David Patten because one of them could not remember his birth date.

It is believed that Thomas Marsh was born in on November 1 1799. David Patten was born November 14th 1799.

Interestingly, Phineas Young was born February 16 1799!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

One can only wonder what would have happened and how the trajectory of the history of the church would have been affected had Phineas remained as an apostle and as the presiding apostle. He ended up living a few years longer than Brigham.

Would Phineas have wrested the kingdom from Sidney during the succession crisis?

I don’t know that much about Phineas, but I suspect he was a good and humble man.

I would not be surprised at all if he returns and takes his rightful place as a member of the Twelve and perhaps even as the president of the quorum of the Twelve when the marvelous work begins.






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