Several years ago on one of my pilgrimages to Nauvoo Illinois I called upon a fellow by the name of Lachlan Mackay.
Brother Mackay is employed by the Community of Christ.
At the time I met with him he was the historic sites coordinator. He is also a church historian of sorts with a vast knowledge of the LDS restoration movement.
This year he was called to the quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the Community of Christ.
The interview I had with him several years ago was quite fascinating. I was a little taken back by how honest, authentic and transparent Brother Mackay was in divulging the brutal facts about the radical change in trajectory that the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints went through several decades ago. The radical change in trajectory resulted in rejecting much of the foundational dogma that the RLDS Church. It paved the way for a vastly different church mission focus, as well as the name change to the Community of Christ.
During this interview he indicated that one of the major foundational beliefs and teachings of the reorganized church that differed from traditional Mormonism had to do with the doctrine of polygamy. The RLDS Church had traditionally claimed that polygamy was wrong and that Joseph had been falsely accused of being a polygamist when in fact, he wasn’t.
The enmity between the two largest restoration churches on this issue in times past was not new to me. I remember as a young boy finding a fascinating pamphlet in my father’s library that contained a lengthy correspondence between Elder Joseph F. Smith of the LDS Church and Mr. Richard C Evans of the RLDS Church. In an ongoing exchange, these two leaders and scholars were both passionately presenting the evidence to back up each of their differing doctrinal and historical contentions.
A Defining Moment
During my discussion with Brother Mackay, he confided that once the modern scholarship about the polygamist life of Joseph Smith finally became so overwhelming that the leaders of the RLDS church could no longer deny it, they determined that many of the core principles and truth claims of their faith were not sustainable and could not be supported by the history of their movement. This realization provided a defining moment for the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints.
As a result of this epiphany, they had a hard decision to make.
Ultimately they did what very few leaders of a religious institution would have done in that circumstance.
They discarded many of the foundational truth claims of their religion that they considered to be the false religious traditions of their fathers.
In so doing, they set about to distance themselves from Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon and the restoration narrative that had long since been such an important part of their faith tradition. They also changed the official name of their church from the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints (RLDS), to the Community of Christ.
After the dust settled, the Book of Mormon was demoted from a legitimate canon of scripture to just a book of fiction with some inspired principles in it. The restoration of the true church narrative was discarded, and Joseph Smith became an embarrassing footnote in their history as they reinvented themselves into a protestant religion.
Joseph was secretly deemed by some of the reorganites as a fallen prophet while others questioned whether he had ever been a prophet at all. Joseph became somewhat of an embarrassment to the movement. Naturally there was fallout from members who would not discard their belief in Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the restoration narrative.
I remember realizing this change in direction years ago when I would visit some of the church history sites and speak to members of the Community of Christ.
Honorable Men: Integrity VS honesty VS Morality
After many years of studying these issues I also have determined Joseph Smith was indeed involved in the practice of polygamy, however I believe there is more to the story than most historians and scholars have uncovered. I have previously documented my research on this topic in my blog and in my book.
I believe that Joseph and others provided an intercession for latter day Israel much the way that Moses provided an intercessory offering for ancient Israel. This should not be surprising given the fact that Joseph Smith is referred to in scripture as a latter day type of Moses in prophecy.
Just as Moses provided an atonement for ancient Israel, Joseph Smith provided an intercessory atonement for latter day Israel.
Just as Moses took upon himself the sins of the people which resulted in him transgressing before the Lord, Joseph likewise transgressed before the Lord by introducing the spiritual wife form of polygamy during the Nauvoo era.
Although I do not agree with some of the ultimate conclusions that the leaders of the RLDS Church came up with regarding the validity of Joseph’s mission, his involvement in polygamy, the historicity of the Book of Mormon and other issues, I have to admire the intestinal fortitude they mustered up to change the course they were on and to do what they considered to be the right thing to do. They made a very tough and largely unpopular decision based on what they considered to be the truth. The decision they made was very risky in many different ways.
Again, in my opinion, they were not in possession of all the facts and did not understand the full truth behind Joseph Smith’s involvement in polygamy and the intercession that caused the eyes of the seers to be covered. (JST Isaiah 29:10, 2nd Nephi 27;5)
They ultimately rejected the LDS restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith because of an incomplete perception of the history and the issues.
As I have pondered the amazing risk they took in dismantling their existing religion and then reinventing it, based on their perception of the truth and their desire to be moral and ethical and honest in what they were proclaiming and teaching, the word integrity came to mind. I felt like it took a great deal of integrity for them to do what they did. This caused me to evaluate the definition of integrity.
What is integrity?
A modern definition of Integrity is as follows
“Integrity is the basic fundamental quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. It is generally a personal choice to hold oneself to consistent moral and ethical standards. In ethics, integrity is regarded by many people as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions”
I Have struggled to determine whether the term integrity describes the actions of the leaders of the Community of Christ Church.
On the one hand, if integrity has to do with being honest and truthful about what they are teaching, then integrity is more than just intent. It is based on how truthful the teachings are, in which case, they are not acting with integrity even though their intent is sincere and honorable.
On the other hand, if integrity only has reference to the “truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions” based on their sincere understanding of the facts, then intent is the bottom-line and they would be acting with integrity.
In this situation regarding the leaders of the RLDS and the decision they made, I prefer to think of their actions based on good intentions as the appropriate definition of integrity.
I also think that the word “moral” applies as well.
One definition of moral is to be-
..concerned with the principles of right and wrong behavior and the goodness or badness of human character.. holding or manifesting high principles for proper conduct:
Again, it appears to me that a person or institution can be sincere and moral without being correct and truthful.
Honorable Men Can be Deceived
In Section 76 we are provided a listing of traits that characterize those who will receive a terrestrial inheritance. The following passage informs us that honorable men can be deceived:
These are they who… received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it. These are they who are honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men. (D&C 76:72-75)
What does it mean to be honorable? Below is a definition of the word honorable:
Possessing a high mind; actuated by principles of honor, or a scrupulous regard to probity, rectitude or reputation… Consistent with honor or reputation… Respected; worthy of respect; regarded with esteem… Proceeding from an upright and laudable cause.. as an honorable motive.
Obviously a person who is honorable is someone who has high ideals and good intent and a good motive. These types of people usually have a good reputation in society.
But having high ideals and good intent and a good motive and a good reputation does not mean that the person is right or that they know what the truth is. Honorable people can be deceived.
I believe that the leaders of the RLDS Church that made the difficult decision to change course once they became convinced that some of the long established claims of their institution were incorrect, were motivated by good intentions and good moral character. I believe they acted with integrity when they made the radical changes they made.
Nevertheless I do not think they understood the full truth behind Joseph Smith’s involvement in polygamy and it was incredibly sad to see the second largest faction of the LDS restoration begin to morph into just another version of Protestantism by attempting to purge Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the restoration narrative from their official doctrinal and historical narratives.
The Pendulum Swings Back
Thankfully, for reasons unknown to me, the pendulum has been swinging back a little bit in recent years in the Community of Christ and they are now beginning to cautiously reintroduce Joseph Smith and other aspects of the original restoration history and narrative back into their public narrative.
The following presentation by Lach Mackay about the history and mission of the Community of Christ demonstrates this change in narrative
It is possible that the pendulum has begun swinging back because it has become painfully apparent to the leadership that the restoration narrative is really the foundational glue that has held the religion together. If all they can offer is a protestant product to their membership, there are countless other options for people to consider.
Interestingly, brother Mackay’s calling into the council of the Twelve may also be a sign that the pendulum is swinging back. One of the original tenets of the Reorganized Church was the doctrine of lineal succession and the importance of lineal priesthood from descendants of Joseph Smith in the leadership of the church.
Apostle Mackay is a great-great-great-grandson of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Perhaps the winds of change are beginning to blow the other direction in the Community of Christ.
Needless to say, the changes that were implemented back in 2001 caused a huge division within the Reorganized Church of Latter day Saints as it became the Community of Christ. Many different factions of the more orthodox fundamentalist leaning believers left the mother church to form their own churches in an effort to keep Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon and the restoration narrative in tacked as a fundamental aspect of their religion.
As Lach and I we were discussing the painful divisions that had been caused by the distancing of Joseph Smith, he told me about a relative of his by the name of Frederick Niels Larsen who had created one of the dissenting factions of the RLDS church called the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
President Larsen is also a descendent of Joseph Smith and he claims to be the “Prophet” of God in this generation. Brother Mackay suggested that I pay President Larsen a visit which I did.
President Larsen and the Remnant church had left the RLDS church long before the radical changes that resulted in the name change in 2001. The following was taken from Wikipedia-
In the 1970s and 1980s, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now called the Community of Christ) was criticized from within its membership for various changes in policy and leadership. This included including female priesthood, the ending of doctrine of Lineal succession, and the construction of the Independence Temple.
This led to several branches of the RLDS Church to form a group of independent Restoration Branches. In May 1999, several members of this group met as the Conference of Restoration Elders, including Frederick Niels Larsen. They published the “Proclamation and Invitation to the Faithful”, which lead to the creation of the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on April 6, 2000.
In April 2002, as a descendant of Joseph Smith, Larsen was chosen to become the President of the High Priesthood of the Remnant Church. Members of the Remnant Church also believe that Larsen is the “One Mighty and Strong“, a person of unknown identity who was the subject of an 1832 prophecy by Joseph Smith.
In the Remnant Church published a timeline for the construction of a temple in Jackson County, Missouri. Ground-breaking for the temple is listed as by April 2016, with completion by April 2018. This would make the Remnant Church the eighth Latter Day Saint denomination to have built a temple.
I really enjoyed my visit with President Larson and concluded that he was also a good, moral, honorable man with good intentions. Based on the information that he has, he sincerely believes in the cause that he is associated with.
The Restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood at the Morley Farm
During my visit with brother Mackay in Nauvoo, I told him about my research and conclusions about the significance of the true restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood at the special conference that had taken place at the Morley Farm in 1831.
I asked brother Mackay if he knew of any scholars or historians who have also concluded that the real restoration of the Melchizedek priesthood took place in 1831 at the Morley Farm, not in 1829 as a result of a visit by Peter, James and John.
To my surprise, he highly recommended that I obtain a book about priesthood that is written by a Mormon!
The book is titled “Power from On High- The Development of Mormon Priesthood”
The book is written by Gregory A Prince, a very successful scientist who was instrumental in developing a preventative cure for Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), the primary cause of infant pneumonia by administering antiviral antibodies to high-risk infants. Prince is also a historian who has spent countless hours studying the LDS restoration movement.
Naturally, I purchased the book and devoured it in a matter of days.
In the book, brother Prince makes the following observations about the evolution of the LDS priesthood restoration narrative:
“As the Mormon restoration unfolded, the essence of the divine empowerment assumed a more concrete form. Almost six years after Mormoni’s visit, angelic beings bestowed authority on Smith and his assistant Oliver Cowdery by the laying on of hands.
Although in the Mormon church today the term “priesthood” refers to this bestowed authority, such a relationship did not develop until years after the foundation of the church.
Initially authority was understood to be inherent in what are now termed “offices”
Three offices-elder, priests, and teacher- are present by August 1829, as were the ordinances of baptism, confirmation, and ordination, but the word “priesthood” was not used in reference to these for another three years.
In June 1831 a modern Pentecost occurred in which supernatural powers similar to those reported in the new Testament book of the Acts o the Apostles, chapter 2, were bestowed upon latter day disciples through their ordination to the “high priesthood” thus coupling the concepts of “authority” and “power” …
The above statements represent a remarkable summary of the historical narrative of priesthood development that an unbiased historian would unearth while reading various historical documents.
Brother Prince claims that the restoration of Melchizedek Priesthood in 1831 represented a “modern Pentecost“. He claims that the event represented the fulfillment of the endowment of power from on high that was foretold in Section 38:
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….. See that all things are preserved; and when men are endowed with power from on high and sent forth, all these things shall be gathered unto the bosom of the church.
Dr. Prince claims that the same supernatural gifts of the spirit that were manifested on the day of Pentecost as documented in the 2nd chapter of the Book of Acts were present at the special conference in June of 1831.
I had arrived at the same conclusions during my research! The true restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood and the reception of power from on high did not take place in 1829 through an ordination by Peter James and John, it took place in 1831 at the special priesthood conference at the Morley Farm.
It is truly unfortunate that the real significance of that event has been obscured and covered up.
In a recent interview with John Dehlin, Dr. Prince claims that he has about 40 pages of historical information regarding the event which document the fact that all of the spiritual phenomenon that took place on the day of Pentecost as documented in the Book of Acts also took place at the Morley Farm.
Dr. Prince accurately observes that the priesthood restoration narrative of the LDS restoration movement was gradual in that the term priesthood did not emerge until years after many of these events took place.
The official teaching of the modern corporate Mormon Church is quite different from what Dr Prince. documented from his research. They greatly discount the importance of the special conference at the Morley Farm in 1831 and claim that Peter James and John restored the Melchizedek Priesthood in 1829 even though there is no credible evidence to support such a claim.
It is remarkable to me that an active Mormon in good standing would publish a historical and doctrinal narrative on priesthood that significantly differs from the official orthodox version that has been presented by the church for centuries. It took a lot of courage and integrity for Brother Prince to publish his research.
In reading the book by Dr. Prince, I rejoiced to find another historian who had identified the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood at the Morley Farm in 1831 as the true time of ordination to the “high priesthood” when “power from on high” was bestowed..
This restoration of Melchizedek priesthood is referred to in section 124 as the “fulness of the priesthood”. In the Book of Mormon it is referred to or very closely associated with the terms “fulness of the Gentiles” and the “fulness of the Gospel“.
When Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith prior to the restoration of the church, he quoted several passages of scripture to inform Joseph Smith about prophetic things that were about to take place during his ministry.
One of the things about to take place was the fulness of the gentiles:
And he further stated that the fulness of the Gentiles was soon to come in. He quoted many other passages of scripture, and offered many explanations which cannot be mentioned here..”
Unfortunately, the fulness of the gentiles wherein they would receive power from on high and enjoy the fulness of the priesthood would only last a few short years before the higher law and the higher priesthood would be rejected.
In 1841 the Lord informed the saints that the fulness of the priesthood that had been restored at the Morley Farm had been taken from the saints.
25 And again, verily I say unto you, let all my saints come from afar…and build a house to my name, for the Most High to dwell therein.
One can actually identify the exact 3 1/2 year period that the fullness of the priesthood was on the earth beginning with the special endowment that took place on June 5 1831 by a revelation given on December 5 1834.
As documented in previous articles and in my “Secret history of the Church” presentation on youtube, the fullness of the Gentiles lasted exactly 3 1/2 years.
It began in 1831 when the fullness of the priesthood was restored at the Morely Farm however three and a half years later after the saints failed to keep the law of the gospel and the law of consecration as contained in section 42, the Lord declared that the church was condemned.
“Verily, condemnation resteth upon you, who are appointed to lead my Chu[r]ch, and to be saviors of men: and also upon the church: And there must needs be a repentance and a refor[m]ation among you, in all things..” (UnPub Rev Pg 73, also recorded in the 7 vol History of the Church)
I had arrived at some of the same conclusions that Dr. Prince had arrived at prior to reading his book. In fact I had done a lengthy series on it.
The first two parts of the series can be found at the links below:
When the research of Dr. Prince and others emerged years ago, the Leadership of the Mormon Church also had a defining moment. Just like the Reorganized Church, they had the opportunity to make a tough decision that could have resulted in acknowledging that some false doctrines and historical assumptions about priesthood had been made in the past.
Of course such an acknowledgement would have been very embarrassing and painful and would have resulted in the loss of credibility.
The revelatory abilities of the Presidents of the Church from Brigham Young to Thomas Monson would have been brought into question along with many of the truth claims of the church.
Imagine having to announce that the Mormon Church did not actually have the Melchizedek Priesthood.
The ramification of such an announcement and associated course correction are outside the scope of this post.
Unfortunately, the true priesthood narrative that has come to light has not been embraced by modern leaders who are stubbornly attempting to preserve orthodoxy and the official storyline. Nevertheless, if they choose to reject the research and evidence that has been presented based on the sincere belief that the official narrative is true, or in the best interests of the membership, and that sticking to the established orthodox teachings of the church is in the best interest of the membership of the modern church, one could argue that they are still acting with integrity based on their sincere intent.
The Emergence of Elijah as the Restorer of Priesthood
The restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood is not the only controversial topic covered in the book by Brother Prince. One of the most disruptive and difficult to explain changes in the trajectory of priesthood development that Brother Prince addresses in his book about priesthood, has to do with the replacement of emphasis from John the Baptist to Elijah the Prophet relative to Aaronic priesthood restoration.
Here are some additional excerpts from the book
Perhaps the most important and certainly least understood development began in 1836 when Smith and Cowdery recorded a vision of Elijah, the Old Testament prophet.
Although Elijah did not become associated with priesthood for another two years, he gradually became the most important figure for Latter-day Saints authority.
Indeed, after 1840 Smith never associated Moroni, John the Baptist, or Peter James, and John- previous angelic ministers-with the concept of priesthood, opting instead to emphasize Elijah…
It is important to realize that Smith himself publicly associated John the Baptist and Peter, James and John with priesthood restoration only from 1835 to 1840, after which time Elijah pre-empted them in latter day Saint theology…”
As Dr. Prince points out, the initial emphasis on priesthood restoration is focused on John the Baptist and others who came and bestowed the priesthood by hand upon the heads of Joseph and Oliver. However, within a few short years, Joseph and Oliver are visited by Elijah the Prophet and shortly thereafter, when Joseph begins giving discourses in Nauvoo, it is Elijah the Prophet that is associated with revealing and restoring the priesthood instead of John the Baptist.
Strangely, Joseph and Oliver never publicly spoke about the vision behind the veil in the Kirtland Temple as contained in Section 110. It appears as if the Lord commanded them to to keep it a secret. Nevertheless, they documented it in a church journal, probably with the intention that it would eventually be found and published for the benefit of latter generations.
After having the vision, Joseph and Oliver walked past several brethren who were having a priesthood meeting on the main floor of the temple without saying a word about it. They secretly instructed Oliver’s brother Warren to write a brief account of the event in a church journal and then the record was sealed up and tucked away.
Years later the account would be noticed and published in the Deseret News by the saints in Utah. Eventually it would become canonized as section 110 in the current LDS version of the Doctrine and Covenants.
Joseph and Oliver’s desire to keep the event secret is not the only oddity associated with the account.
Another very strange detail regarding the secret visitation behind the veil has to do with the fact that Elijah the Prophet appears to Joseph and Oliver and declares that the prophecy contained in the book of Malachi about Elijah coming before the great and dreadful day of the Lord had now been fulfilled. This declaration makes no sense to many scholars and historians since there had been no visitation from Elijah the prophet prior to that time.
Note the following declaration by Elijah the Prophet when he appeared to Joseph and Oliver in the Kirtland Temple:
After this vision had closed, another great and glorious vision burst upon us; for Elijah the prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, stood before us, and said:
Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi—testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come—
To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse—
Therefore, the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands; and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors. (D&C 110:13-16)
In the above account, Elijah is declaring that the prophecy about him returning before the great and dreadful day of the lord, as recorded in Malachi had already been fulfilled!!!!!!
Again, that declaration has baffled scholars and historians for years because no known priesthood ordination by Elijah took place during that event and there is no known record of Elijah the Prophet appearing to Joseph Smith prior to that event.
Clearly Elijah was not revealing the priesthood by hand during the visitation to Joseph and Oliver behind the veil in the Kirtland Temple, rather, he was declaring that he had previously come to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers.
The Secret Return of Elijah the Prophet
Another last days event that Moroni foretold of when he visited Joseph Smith prior to the restoration of the church was the return of Elijah the prophet as prophesied in Malachi. Moroni provided additional clarification to the prophecy in Malachi.
He clarified that Elijah the prophet would reveal the priesthood by hand. Remarkably, it would be this act of priesthood restoration that would make possible the knowledge of the gospel and the saving ordinances of the gospel that would seal God’s celestial family together in the gospel covenant and thus, turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers.
38 And again, he quoted the fifth verse thus: Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
Elijah appeared to Joseph and Oliver in 1836 to declare that the prophecy of Malachi had been fulfilled. Nevertheless, at the time that Elijah made that declaration in 1836, there had been no official record about Elijah restoring the priesthood by the laying on of hands or making any kind of appearance at all.
Since there had been no record of Elijah appearing to Joseph Smith to reveal the priesthood by hand prior to the secret vision behind the veil on April 3rd 1836, people like Denver Snuffer have questioned whether the visitation recorded in Section 110 really took place. Snuffer also claims that he knows of people in high places in the church who also question the historicity of Section 110.
Although this secret visitation behind the veil would never be publicly revealed by Joseph and Oliver for the remainder of their lives, shortly thereafter Joseph Smith began to associate the concept of priesthood restoration with Elijah the Prophet instead of John the Baptist.
While Dr. Prince, Denver Snuffer, and other historians find that change in priesthood development to be a glaring discrepancy, the Inspired Version of the Bible provides indisputable evidence that this apparent conundrum is really not a conundrum at all. It is a mystery that was revealed to Joseph Smith and clarified in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible that has now come to light.
The truth is that Joseph Smith was not changing the priesthood narrative with regard to the order of chronological events, nor was he changing the restoration of Aaronic priesthood narrative by John the Baptist to Elijah the Prophet, he was cryptically revealing that John the Baptist is Elijah the Prophet!
Indeed, in the above declaration contained in Section 110, Elijah the Tishbite was declaring that he had previously revealed the priesthood to Joseph and Oliver by the laying on of hands when he appeared to Joseph and Oliver seven years earlier.
According to Joseph Smith,
“the ordination was done by the hands of an angel, who announced himself as John, the same that is called John the Baptist in the New Testament”
The angel chose not to add that he was also known as Elijah, the same that was called Elijah the Tishbite in the Old Testament.
One can only speculate why the providence of God chose to keep this truth hidden until a future time.
When Elijah appeared in 1836 he was declaring that the patriarchal priesthood keys that he had bestowed on Joseph and Oliver by the laying on of hands seven years previously had now resulted in the final bestowal of other patriarchal priesthood keys such as the keys of the gathering of Israel delivered to Joseph and Oliver by Moses and the ushering in of the dispensation of the Gospel of Abraham by Elias.
These keys would result in the fulfillment of Christs’ prophecy in 3rd Nephi that the knowledge of the fulness of the gospel would be taken to the House of Israel following the rejection of the fullness of the Gospel by the Gentiles, preparatory to the return of the Lord.
10 And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel…shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.
12 And I will show unto thee, O house of Israel, that the Gentiles shall not have power over you; but I will remember my covenant unto you, O house of Israel, and ye shall come unto the knowledge of the fulness of my gospel.
The restoration of patriarchal priesthood keys by Elijah in 1829 and the restoration of keys and the dispensation of the Gospel of Abraham that followed seven years later in 1836, would now result in the taking of the KNOWLEDGE of the fullness of the Gospel as contained in the Book of Mormon, to the house of Israel. This would result in the turning of the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers.
Shortly after the visitation of Elijah Elias and Moses in the Kirtland Temple, Joseph Smith proclaimed that the Lord had revealed to him that something new must be one for the salvation of the church.
He then commissioned the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to begin establishing foreign missions across the great waters to take the knowledge of the fullness of the gospel to remnants of the House of Israel. (See the commission given to the Twelve in D&C 119)
few people realize that the influx of converts from across the great waters during the Nauvoo era was the direct fulfillment of Christ’s prophecy in 3rd Nephi 16.
I discovered the truth about John the Baptist being Elijah the prophet many years ago and then revisited the significance of it in relationship to section 110 of the D&C while preparing my rebuttal of a book by Denver Snuffer several years ago.
The Joseph Smith translation of the Bible had secretly revealed the fact that the New Testament personality known a John the Baptist represented the literal transmigration of the Old Testament prophet known as Elijah the Tishbite.
The only reason that most protestant and LDS Bible scholars do not accept John the Baptist as literally being Elijah the prophet from the Old Testament is because of one verse in the King James Version of the Bible that has John denying that he is Elijah the Prophet.
However, Joseph Smith corrected the passage to have John “deny not’ that he is Elijah the Prophet. Additionally, another clarification in the inspired version pertaining to the angelic visitation that took place on the Mount of Transfiguration informs us once again that Elijah and John the Baptist are one and the same person.
Once this information is understood, the correlation between the restoration of priesthood by John the Baptist in 1829 and the appearance of Elijah in 1836 is easily made.
It is obviously according to the providence of God that this vital information that has previously been hidden is now coming to light in preparation for the final restoration that is about to take place.
Denver Snuffer gives several reasons why he questions the historicity of Section 110. One of them has to do with the fact that Joseph and Oliver never publicly discoursed about it. However the New Testament shows that when Peter James and John experienced a very similar visitation, they were commanded by the Lord to keep it secret for an initial period of time.
Snuffer also claims that Joseph Smith’s Nauvoo sermons depict the return of Elijah to be a future event-
“Joseph taught in his sermons in the Nauvoo period that Elijah’s return was in the future. I believe him”
That statement by Snuffer is simply not accurate.
Although it is true that in his March 10 1844 sermon Joseph refers to the future return of Elijah, in his January 21st 1844 sermon he proves that the coming of Elijah in the last days had already taken place.
Notice in the following excerpts how Joseph first identifies the priesthood power and seal that Elijah was to restore and then he acknowledges that the saints are in full possession of that priesthood power and seal:
What shall I talk about to-day? I know what Brother Cahoon wants me to speak about. He wants me to speak about the coming of Elijah in the last days. I can see it in his eye. I will speak upon that subject then.
The Bible says, “I will send you Elijah the Prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord; and he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
Now, the word turn here should be translated bind, or seal. But what is the object of this important mission? or how is it to be fulfilled? The keys are to be delivered, the spirit of Elijah is to come, the Gospel to be established, the Saints of God gathered, Zion built up, and the Saints to come up as saviors on Mount Zion.
But how are they to become saviors on Mount Zion? By building their temples, erecting their baptismal fonts, and going forth and receiving all the ordinances, baptisms, confirmations, washings, anointings, ordinations and sealing powers upon their heads, in behalf of all their progenitors who are dead, and redeem them that they may come forth in the first resurrection and be exalted to thrones of glory with them; and herein is the chain that binds the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, which fulfills the mission of Elijah.
And I would to God that this temple was now done, that we might go into it, and go to work and improve our time, and make use of the seals while they are on earth.
The Saints have not too much time to save and redeem their dead, and gather together their living relatives, that they may be saved also, before the earth will be smitten, and the consumption decreed falls upon the world.
I would advise all the Saints to go to with their might and gather together all their living relatives to this place, that they may be sealed and saved, that they may be prepared against the day that the destroying angel goes forth; and if the whole Church should go to with all their might to save their dead, seal their posterity, and gather their living friends, and spend none of their time in behalf of the world, they would hardly get through before night would come, when no man can work..”
As you can see, Joseph is acknowledging that they had everything necessary because Elijah had already returned and revealed the priesthood by hand. At the time that joseph was speaking, the gospel had been established because Elijah had restored the priesthood!
According to Joseph’s sermon, the saints were in possession of the patriarchal priesthood power to-
-gather the saints
-build up Zion
-build temples and baptismal fonts for the dead (which they were currently doing)
-perform ordinances, washings, anointing’s, ordinations, etc.
The fact that the above patriarchal priesthood powers were on the earth despite the fact that the fullness of Melchizedek Priesthood had been lost, is noted in Section 124:28, 38-41, 91-93
There is nothing in Joseph’s sermon that indicated that they needed to wait for the return of Elijah to establish the gospel, gather Israel and build temples and baptismal fonts for the dead.
Quite the opposite.
He establishes the fact that those priesthood powers and seals had already been revealed by hand. The whole emphasis of the discourse was that the saints needed to hurry and make use of them before it was too late!
In that discourse it becomes apparent that Joseph could see that the window of opportunity was closing on the condemned church.
The Saints had what they needed for their salvation and the salvation of their dead but they needed to hurry. Notice the warning he gave in that discourse-
“..and my only trouble at the present time is concerning ourselves, that the Saints will be divided, broken up, and scattered, before we get our salvation secure; for there are so many fools in the world for the devil to operate upon, it gives him the advantage oftentimes.
No wonder the next sermon focused on the need for Elijah to come again. It was becoming apparent that there would need to be yet another final restoration. Another fulfillment of the Elijah prophecy would need to take place. The final restoration that would be conducted by someone coming in the spirit of Elias was prophesied of in the inspired dream that Joseph canonized in section 65 of the current Doctrine and Covenants:
Virtually all of the prophecies contained in the Bible have a dual fulfillment including the Elijah Prophecy.
The inspired version of the Bible explains that there were to be two Elijah messengers in the last days. One is referred to as “Elijah the preparer” the other is “Elijah the restorer”
“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things, as the prophets have written.
And again I say unto you that Elias has come already, concerning whom it is written, Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me; and they knew him not, and have done unto him, whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of Man suffer of them.
But I say unto you, Who is Elias? Behold, this is Elias, whom I send to prepare the way before me. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist, and also of another who should come and restore all things, as it is written by the prophets. JST Matt. 17: 10-14
After preparing the way before Christ in the meridian of time, John the Baptist made an appearance on the Mount of Transfiguration and also during the restoration movement to bestow the keys of the patriarchal priesthood upon Joseph and Oliver.
He did this physically, by hand. (section 13 and JS history).
Joseph Smith received the patriarchal priesthood keys by hand from Elijah the preparer. This was preparatory to additional keys, commissions and dispensation from Moses and Elias. This made it possible to begin taking of the knowledge of the fullness of the Gospel to the House of Israel and resulted in the flow of converts to Nauvoo and eventually to Utah. The restoration of these keys will enable Joseph Smith to return in the spirit and calling of Elijah the Restorer.
Elijah the Tishbite came and revealed the priesthood by hand to prepare the way. He then transferred the keys and spirit of Elijah to Joseph Smith who would return in the end times to restore the priesthood powers and seals that had been lost.
The true identity of John the Baptist as the transmigration of Elijah the Prophet from the Old Testament is one of the most significant secrets that has been revealed as a result of Joseph Smith’s ministry. It is the missing piece of the puzzle that connects section 13 to section 110 along with numerous doctrinal and historical dots.
Notice the Elijah chronology of events that took place during Joseph’s ministry
- 1823– Moroni appears to Joseph and foretells that Elijah the Prophet was going to come before the great and dreadful day of the Lord to reveal the priesthood by hand.
- 1829– Elijah the Prophet appears to Joseph and Oliver and introduces himself as “he who was known as John the Baptist in the New Testament.” He then confers the priesthood of Aaron and associated keys by the laying on of hands.
- 1832– It is revealed to Joseph while translating the New Testament that John the Baptist and Elijah the prophet are one and the same person
- 1836– Elijah the Prophet appears to Joseph and Oliver behind the veil in the Kirtland Temple following the bestowal of the keys of the gathering by Moses and the ushering in of the dispensation of the Gospel of Abraham by Elias (Abraham). Elijah declares that the conferring of the priesthood by hand seven years previous had now resulted in the full patriarchal keys that would turn the hearts of the fathers to the Children
- 1844 Joseph reveals in a discourse that the saints were in possession of the powers and priesthood seals that had been delivered by Elijah . He spoke of the urgency to use them to seal the living with the dead in the gospel covenant.
- 1844-Joseph acknowledges that someone would need to come again in the spirit of Elijah again to restore that which had been lost
It has now been nearly five years since I documented this information and provided it to the folks over at the Interpreter (previously known as FARMS) with the challenge to review and refute it.
I am still waiting to hear back from them.
At the time I was refuting many of the doctrinal errors in Denver Snuffers controversial book and I felt that the leadership of the church should have the opportunity to review my research. I felt that the information would enable the church to correct some of the false doctrines they were teaching.
Additionally I felt that they could use the information contained in the Inspired Version to demonstrate the truthfulness of Section 110 and refute the claims of Snuffer.
Realizing that the leaders of the church are not well acquainted with the deeper issues of doctrine and history and that they rely heavily on a select group of LDS scholars and apologists for their information, I decided that I should present my findings to Dan Peterson, Brant Gardner and their associates over at the MormonInterpreter (Formerly known as FARMS)
The content of my email to these folks at the MormonInterpreter is as follows-
Here is the portion of my last rebuttal point that we have previously discussed. As I said in our last communication, I welcome any credible feedback from your board members or participating Apologetic Scholars regardless of whether it is positive or negative.
My core supposition is that the Inspired Version of the Bible reveals the true identity of John the Baptist and by so doing, proves beyond question that section 110 is true and that Elijah the Tishbite did in fact fulfill the prophecy of Malachi per the declaration in section 110.
If my thesis can be proven to be in error, I will not post my paper. However I am so confident that the supposition is accurate, that I am willing to allow your entire organization to scrutinize it and respond to it before I post it If you decide to afford yourselves of this opportunity. I would invite your staff and associated scholars to make every effort to debunk it. I don’t think it can be done.
It is my belief that the writings of Denver Snuffer as contained in his book, Passing the Heavenly Gift, has thrown many Latter day Saints into a crisis of faith regarding the veracity of Section 110. I think the current interpretations that are commonly taught in the church are not altogether accurate and have therefore put the church in a vulnerable doctrinal position in defending the historicity of Section 110. I think that if something is not done in a timely manner, to challenge Snuffers attack in a credible way, the fallout from his criticisms will possibly continue to grow at an alarming rate.
I believe that section 110 plays a critical and central role in the LDS restoration movement and Mormon theology. It interconnects with so many other LDS scriptures and historical events of the restoration movement, that destroying it’s credibility potentially has far reaching consequences, and may ultimately have a domino effect with a devastating impact on many people’s faith in the LDS restoration.
I believe it needs to be responded to in a timely, powerful, authoritative, and decisive manner.
There is some dark irony in a person claiming to have been taught by Christ and angels who is essentially rejecting the account of Joseph and Oliver being taught by Christ and angels in the account contained in section 110. If 110 is clearly shown to be true, it brings into question, Snuffers claims about his own personal visitations from true messengers.
I believe that by putting the historicity of this very important section in question, Snuffer will ultimately undermine countless people’s faith in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ as his following continues to grow. While the church had no other option than to expel him, his martyr status is attracting a lot of attention and I think it may be working to his advantage to some degree in furthering his movement.
Please let me know if your organization plans on providing a response to the premise of the attached paper. If I do not hear back from you in a timely manner, I will move forward on posting it.
Thank you for your consideration.
As you can see, I was very confident that Dan Peterson, Brant Gardner and the 100+ LDS scholars and apologists that have written for FARMS and the Interpreter could not refute the amazing truth that the Lord had revealed in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible.
Of course the scholars at Mormon Interpreter who are the main defenders of the faith for the LDS Church could not and did not respond to the doctrinal supposition I was sharing with them.
Despite their mission statement that claims their intention is to “publish articles advocating the authenticity and historicity of LDS scripture and the Restoration“, they refused to respond to the research I presented them which proves the truthfulness and historicity of Section 110 and the true identity of John the Baptist.
The research I presented them provides the answers to many questions and proves the historicity and doctrinal accuracy of Section 110. It contextually ultimately proves that the LDS restoration is true even though it challenges many of the truth claims of the modern corporate church.
There is no way they could deny the credibility of the source material provided. Yet to admit to the veracity of what is revealed in the Inspired Version of the Bible would turn the church upside down from a doctrinal point of view. It would show that their official narrative and truth claims regarding priesthood authority are patently false.
It would destroy the credibility of the modern leadership of the church . (the modern LDS church has never questioned the authenticity and doctrinal credibility of the JST version of the Bible, indeed they have obtained permission from the RLDS church to provide passages from the Inspired Version as footnotes in their own official scriptures.)
One can only imagine the discussion that went on at the Interpreter after they reviewed the information that was provided them five years ago. The conversation depicted below represents my speculation:
Grant: Hey Dan, did you get the email and attachment that I sent you that proves from the JST that John the Baptist from the New Testament is Elijah the Prophet from the Old Testament?
Dan: Yes I got it.
Grant: What do you think?
Dan: It is extremely disruptive to the official narrative that we provide. Although it would prove Denver Snuffer to be a false prophet, it would also put our own prophets in a very poor light. Frankly, it challenges everything that we currently teach about the restoration of priesthood. It is very, very, problematic.
Grant: Shall we publish it on the blog or send it to our listing of contributors and have them do a peer review to see if they can refute the conclusions of the article?
Dan: Hell no. Who can refute the credibility of the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible? It would only create confusion and cause our fellow scholars to question the official storyline of the Church! The last thing we need is for more of our apologists to lose faith and leave the church. Eventually this information would trickle down to the membership. We already have a huge crisis of faith regarding the truth claims of the Church taking place right now without complicating things with this information.
Grant: Yes but if this is true shouldn’t we present it to the brethren as something they should be aware of ?
Dan: Hell no! It is not our responsibility to bring to light information that challenges the official storyline, even if it is true. Our sacred mission is to defend the faith as it currently is presented in the official publications and conference talks presented by the brethren regardless of whether it is true or not. To many people lose faith in Christ and His Gospel once they lose faith in the modern church leaders, I sincerely feel that it is clearly in the best interests of everyone involved if we suppress that information.
Grant: how shall I respond to the Watcher?
Dan: Don’t respond. Or better yet, tell him that we will consider publishing his thesis on our blog if he will reveal his true identity. Tell him that it is against our policy to publish articles from anonymous authors. If he does reveal who he is, make up an excuse as to why we cannot publish it. Do whatever you need to do to make this thing go away.
Interestingly, there are LDS apologists that have accused some of the ex-Mormon historians of engaging in one-sided scholarship. For instance, the following has been said about Grant Palmer”
“Palmer consistently presents only one side of a question and only uses evidence that supports his views. He consistently avoids evidence that would be contrary to his point of view.” (See the following comment about Grant Palmer by and also the comment by on FAIRMark Ashurst-McGee, on Wikipedia)
The LDS Church has had the same opportunity that the RLDS church has had to review indisputable proof that some of their doctrinal and historical claims are erroneous and to correct the errors.
They have obviously reacted differently to the disruptive information that has been brought to their attention.
Nevertheless, if we choose to define integrity based on INTENT, an the sincere desire to do what is best, instead of basing the definition strictly on the cold hard truth, one can suggest that the LDS scholars that have chose, to discard and suppress the documentation about the true Priesthood restoration narrative, acted with integrity.
I leave it to my readers to make that determination for themselves.