The Confounding of False Doctrines and Laying Down of Contentions

One of the prophecies contained in the “Joseph the Seer” narrative that is contained in both the Book of Mormon and JST Genesis, is that Joseph Smith would bring forth scripture that would confound false doctrines, lay down contentions and establish peace among all of the descendants of Joseph of Egypt-

11 But a seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins; and unto him will I give power to bring forth my word unto the seed of thy loins—and not to the bringing forth my word only, saith the Lord, but to the convincing them of my word, which shall have already gone forth among them.

12 Wherefore, the fruit of thy loins shall write; and the fruit of the loins of Judah shall write; and that which shall be written by the fruit of thy loins, and also that which shall be written by the fruit of the loins of Judah, shall grow together, unto the confounding of false doctrines and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins, and bringing them to the knowledge of their fathers in the latter days, and also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord.

13 And out of weakness he shall be made strong, in that day when my work shall commence among all my people, unto the restoring thee, O house of Israel, saith the Lord.

14 And thus prophesied Joseph, saying: Behold, that seer will the Lord bless; and they that seek to destroy him shall be confounded; for this promise, which I have obtained of the Lord, of the fruit of my loins, shall be fulfilled. Behold, I am sure of the fulfilling of this promise;

15 And his name shall be called after me; and it shall be after the name of his father. And he shall be like unto me; for the thing, which the Lord shall bring forth by his hand, by the power of the Lord shall bring my people unto salvation.

Needless to say, the above prophecy was never fulfilled during Joseph Smith’s life time.

The above prophecy contains an unconditional prophecy that Joseph the Seer would bring forth two canons of scripture that would “grow together“.

Other prophecies inform us that the two cannons of scripture would become ONE canon of scripture

5 ¶The word of the Lord came again unto me, saying,

16 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:

17 And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand (Ekek 37)

They would be jointly published into one canon of scripture. We assume this is why the Lord admonished Joseph to finish the Inspired Version of the Bible and for the Saints to provide the financial support to publish it with the record of the fruit of the loins of Joseph.

Publishing these two canons of scripture together was to result in the “confounding of false doctrines and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace..”

Personally, I don’t think the ancient prophecy was referring to the publishing of the Joseph Smith Inspired Version of the Bible that is in existence today along with the stick of Joseph as is generally supposed.

I believe the Stick of Judah that is mentioned in the Book of Mormon represents something more. I believe the stick of Judah being referenced is the Book of the Lamb of God that contains the testimony of the Twelve Apostles. Further, I am not convinced that that the record of the loins of Joseph that is to grow together with the book of the loins of Judah, is necessarily referring to what people generally suppose that it is referring to.

Regardless of whether my speculation is correct or not, the unconditional promise of confounding false doctrines and removing contention was not manifested in Joseph Smith’s first commission that took place back in the 1830’s and 40″s.

The fact remains that following the death of Joseph Smith, the saints split into many splinter groups that argued back and forth about doctrine. Furthermore, people within each of the splinter groups continued to argue about doctrine.

One of the high profile events among the Utah Saints that illustrates so poignantly that the LDS restoration movement did not bring the world or even the Utah Saints into a unity of the faith. has to do with the ongoing doctrinal disagreements that Brigham Young and Orson Pratt had with each other once they got to Utah.

During this very trying time in the life of Orson Pratt he made the following declaration in which he exclaimed in frustration that virtually no two people on the face of the earth saw eye to eye on doctrine-

“In the course of his continuing confession, Pratt made direct reference to his recent encounter with church leadership. As he gained the pulpit he asked his audience, “Where are there two men in the world who see eye to eye?— that are of the same mind? They can scarcely be found. I doubt whether they can be found in the world…. “

During this time of doctrinal contention, Brigham Young taught that God did not know all things and would always be learning and gaining more light and intelligence throughout all  eternity.

Orson Pratt taught that God knows all things and does not continually continue to gain more light and knowledge.

Brigham taught that we worship God the person who has a fulness of Godly attributes.

Orson taught that we worship the attributes of God.

Brigham taught that Adam is God,  the Father of Jesus Christ.

Orson challenged the Adam-God heresy and pronounced it to be a false doctrine. He said the doctrine can easily be proven wrong in the scriptures. He quoted a passage from Isaiah 28 and declared that Brigham had “erred in doctrine”.

During this ongoing controversy the leading quorums of the Church proclaimed that Brigham’s doctrinal views were doctrinally sound because he was the President of the Church and God would not allow the President of the Church to err in doctrine. Many years later Bruce R. McConkie would publish the book, Mormon Doctrine which claims to present the doctrinal beliefs of the Latter day Saints. In it he would side with Brigham on one of the above issues while siding with Orson on two of them.

In my humble opinion, Orson was much more accurate in his understanding of doctrine than Brigham Young.

The biggest doctrinal problem I have with Orson is that he believed in, and practiced polygamy and attempted to justify it in his publication called the Seer. However, what few people don’t realize is that Orson Pratt had great anxiety, confusion, and  doubt in his mind about defending that doctrine.

He admitted to Brigham that it was difficult to defend that principle when it so clearly contradicted so many of the revelations. Below is a quote from an article written by GARY JAMES BERGERA

His [Orson Pratt’s] treatment of plural marriage, for instance, was founded on the premise of its existence among the prophets and leaders of ancient Israel. .. “[N] either can I persuade myself, even now,” he wrote, “that minds accustomed to severe thought and meditation as yours have been these many years, can, after due reflection, and reading the vast number of revelations which seem most clearly to teach differently, still believe in a doctrine which appears to be so contrary to what is revealed.“16 He added, “It is not through self-will or stubbornness that I have published what I have upon this subject. I have published, whether right or wrong, what I verily and most sincerely believed to be the true doctrine revealed. . . .

It appears that poor Orson must have been apprehensive about teaching and practicing the plurality of wives doctrine as an eternal doctrine of exhalation because he knew the doctrine contradicted the scriptures that Joseph brought forth.

He realized that he did not have a scriptural foundation for teaching it, other than a very questionable revelation that Brigham Young canonized, and the fact that a few Old Testament patriarchs did so as a cultural practice, in very unique situations, without any indication that God had commanded them to do so…

For those that are interested in a fascinating read about Brigham Young and Orson Pratts 15 years of contentious doctrinal disagreements and how it ultimately promoted “prophet worship”,  and the mindless belief of the doctrinal infallibility of the President of the Church, I recommend the following article-

THE ORSON PRATT-BRIGHAM YOUNG CONTROVERSIES: CONFLICT WITHIN THE QUORUMS, 1853 TO 1868 GARY JAMES BERGERA

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