Recording by Mrs Watcher
I began this series by honoring three of the many players that took part in the deconstruction and radical transformation of the RLDS Church into the Community of Christ.
It was remarkable to witness a restoration church change its name, largely discard Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and morph into a protestant church virtually overnight.
Once the leaders of that church accepted the fact that Joseph Smith secretly taught and practiced the spiritual wife doctrine, they believed he was guilty of committing adultery, and intentionally deceiving his followers. At that point, they decided to reinvented their religion and their mission statement.
It is no wonder that the Reorganized church fragmented
It is understandable that a portion of the conservative faithful who could not reject the mission of Joseph Smith and the scriptures he brought forth, chose to leave the church and hang on to the iron rod.
It is no wonder that people like Richard and Pamela Price spent the remainder of their lives disputing the historicity of Joseph Smith’s involvement in polygamy and trying to redeem the reputation of their dearly beloved prophet.
It should be acknowledged that most of the research used by the numerous people who are now popping up to defend the reputation of Joseph Smith, came from the diligent and relentless research of that amazing couple.
Commonly Believed but Not True
One of the major points I want to emphasize is that it is commonly believed that from the beginning of the RLDS movement, it was believed that Joseph Smith was innocent of teaching and practicing polygamy.
That is simply not true.
Many if not most of the original founding leaders of the New Organization which eventually became the Reorganized Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, testified that Joseph was involved in polygamy. But that fact became obscured once Joseph Smith III was recruited to be the prophet of the movement and took a hard public stand against the belief that his father was involved.
It is commonly believed by some, that the Reorganized church began on April 6th 1860 at the inaugural address given by Joseph Smith III. However the New Organization that laid the foundation for the eventual recruitment of young Joseph, actually began about seven years earlier, in about 1853.
The Recruitment of Joseph Smith III to be Their Leader
The murder of Joseph Smith Jr left his wife Emma and her children in a very fragile and vulnerable state of confusion. The enormous humiliation and emotional suffering they went through cannot be fully comprehended by those of us who are simply historical spectators.
Add to that the huge pressure that Brigham Young and his associates in the quorum of the Twelve put on Emma to join them and to release the JST of the Bible to them.
Emma had been made the sacred keeper of the inspired version of the Bible. Her stewardship in this regard must have placed a great burden on her.
She had been entrusted with the Bible in which the inspired “translation” had been made and she refused to hand it over to Brigham Young and the Twelve.
Emma decided to stay in Nauvoo.
To survive in a man’s world, Emma married a man who seemed to be the antithesis of her childhood sweetheart. Although he was not a particularly religious man he was not without his redeeming qualities.
Emma had a hard life.
“When the Mormons left for Utah, she elected to remain behind. She moved away from Nauvoo for a while to avoid danger, but eventually returned to her former home. She was able to utilize the properties she owned to support her family, but with difficulty, particularly since she was left to cover Joseph’s many debts. She later married Major Lewis Bidamon, who had supported the Mormons during the trials, but was not a member.
He had one illegitimate child and after marrying Emma had another, which she raised, making her a most extraordinary woman. They had a reasonably good relationship despite these challenges.
When her son became an adult and headed up the Reorganized Church, as it was then known, she joined. However, she was never really an active member of that church, nor did she become active in any other church.
She admitted that she had been reluctant to give her children any formal religious life—just personal reading of the Bible and Book of Mormon—because she was afraid of a return to the many trials she had faced. She helped to care for Joseph’s mother and her mother-in-law noted that few women had endured as many trials as she had with so much grace.” (Ref)
Eventually, Emma’s youngest son, David Hyrum Smith, was struck with mental illness and institutionalized in the Northern Illinois Hospital.
In his earlier years David Hyrum Smith had became a prolific missionary for the reorganized Church and even served as a counselor to his brother Joseph Smith III, but in about 1870 he began to have a mental breakdown.
In a letter to his mother in 1769, at the age of 24 he said:
“..Mother I must tell you … I feel very sad and the tears run out of my eyes all the time and I don’t know why. … strive as I will my heart sinks like lead. … I must tell someone my troubles..”
“Smith was confined to Northern Illinois Hospital and Asylum for the Insane beginning in 1877. He was held there for most of 27 years, and died in the hospital in 1904” Wiki
Again, the tremendous pressure and contradictions that Emma and her children experienced is hard to fathom.
Joseph Smith’s namesake, Joseph Smith III struggled to find his niche in life. Early on he showed very little interest in religion and rejected invitations to join various fragments of the restoration churches.
He rebuffed the entreaties made by Utahans to join the Brighamites he also rebuffed the attempts of other factions to enlist him in their cause including the reorganization when they sent a couple of representatives to try to win him over he reduced one of the elders to tears when he said firmly-
“Gentlemen I will talk with you on politics or on any other subject but on religion I will not allow one word spoken in my house.” (Ref)
With the passage of time, he finally felt inspired to accept the invitation to be the president and prophet of the Reorganization.
When he did decide to study about the legacy of his father, he did appear to sincerely believe in the “right of lineage” doctrine that arguably enabled him to claim the right to preside.
From the perspective of the Reorganized Church, there can be little doubt that Joseph Smith Jr. believed in the right of lineage, as “Old Testament” an idea as ever there was, and numerous statements abound about this particular aspect of his belief system.
An 1835 revelation to Joseph Smith Jr. proclaimed lineal priesthood: “The order of this priesthood was confirmed to be handed down from father to son, and rightly belongs to the literal descendants of the chosen seed, to whom the promises were made.”
In 1841 he announced another revelation making a direct statement about the favored position of his own descendants: “In thee and in thy seed shall the kindred of the earth be blessed.”
In this environment it would be difficult to argue that Joseph Smith Jr. did anticipate his sons entering the church’s leadership.
Joseph Smith III did not come to accept lineal succession easily. In 1856 when representatives of the Reorganized Church approached Smith officially for the first time, they presented him with a letter urging that it was Smith’s birthright to lead the church. It stated:
‘..we have shown the right of successorship to rest in the literal descendant of the chosen seed, to whom the promise was made,…We can not forbear reminding you that the commandments, as well as the promises given to Joseph, your father, were given to him, and to his seed.
And in the name of our master, even Jesus Christ, as moved upon by the Holy Ghost we say, Arise in the strength of the Lord and realize those promises by executing those commandments.’
The Grand Denial That Joseph Smith Practiced Polygamy
In his inaugural address given on April 6th 1860, young Joseph Smith III made the following remarks:
There is but one principle taught by the leaders of any faction of this people that I hold in utter abhorrence; that is a principle taught by Brigham Young and those believing in him.
I have been told that my father taught such doctrines.
I have never believed it and never can believe it. If such things were done, then I believe they never were done by divine authority.
I believe my father was a good man, and a good man never could have promulgated such doctrines. I believe in the doctrines of honesty and truth. The Bible contains such doctrines, and so do the Book of Mormon, and the Book of Covenants, which are auxiliaries to the Bible.
I am uncertain whether Joseph Smith III became a freemason, but the picture below suggests that he may have. Although some claim that the hand in vest pose is not strictly limited to the Masonic Fraternity.
At the time of the martyrdom, young Joseph III was obviously too young to personally know what his father’s involvement was, relative to polygamy. His beliefs were primarily instilled by his mother.
It is apparent from his remarks, that he left the window of possibility of his father’s involvement open, while stating emphatically that he did not and could not believe his father could have promulgated such doctrines. After all, said young Joseph, his father was “a good man“.
Although his statements implied uncertainty, he authoritatively declared that if his father was involved in polygamy, it was not done according to divine authority.
Little did Joseph Smith III realize that his statements and the statements of others would eventually come back to haunt future generations of the movement he felt inspired to preside over.
The uncertain declaration of young Joseph about his father’s involvement was no doubt caused by the fact that he had been informed by some, that his father was in fact involved in the practice during the Nauvoo era of the restoration movement.
Who exactly was he referring to that had informed him of his father’s involvement?
Those unfamiliar with the historicity surrounding his declarations might understandably assume that young Joseph was referring to Utah Mormons and people from other factions of the restoration that had testified to him of his father’s involvement.
However, such an assumption would not be entirely correct.
It was actually some of the early organizers and leaders of the RLDS church who knew, and served with his father in Nauvoo, that had publicly testified from personal knowledge, that Joseph Smith Jr. had been involved in polygamy.
Once again it must be emphasized that Emma Smith was not one of the founders of the Reorganized Church. Further, Joseph Smith III did not begin the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints on April 6th 1960.
That is simply the date he accepted his calling as their spiritual leader. However the foundational organization of the movement had begun about seven years earlier.
Originally the movement was called the “New Organization“.
The two men primarily responsible for beginning the Reorganization were Jason W. Briggs and Zenos Gurley Sr. Both had been members of the Church before the death of Joseph Smith, and both men initially followed the members of the Twelve headed by Brigham Young, and then later James J. Strang.
Jason Briggs later became dissatisfied with both groups. His concern about who held the true authority led him to seek divine guidance. He said that the answer to his prayers came in November 1851, in a revelation informing him that a descendant of Joseph Smith should rightly preside over the church.
Several months later a copy of Briggs’ revelation came into the hands of Zenos Gurley Sr.
Gurley attested to having received through the Spirit a confirmation of the revelation’s divinity. The message spread to existing branches of Latter-day Saints in the Midwest. Consequently, a conference was held in the summer of 1852 to consider the Briggs’ revelation. Of the conference, historian Roger D. Launius wrote:
“It was united only in its opposition to other Mormon factions, in its acceptance of the Briggs document as divine revelation, in its belief that Mormonism as set forth in the scriptures was correct, and in its affirmation that the proper successor to the prophetic office was growing to maturity in Nauvoo and would one day step forth to accept his calling.”
As you can see, the movement actually began in about 1852 by Jason Briggs and Zenos Gurley Sr.
It was predicated on a revelation allegedly received by Briggs and it did not name Joseph Smith III as the prophet of the church. Rather, it only indicated that a successor of Joseph Smith would one day arise to lead the church.
Briggs became the first President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the New Organization in 1853, seven years before the movement recruited Joseph Smith III to be their prophet/president.
Many Testimonies of Joseph’s Involvement
One of the most remarkable testimonies of Joseph Smith’s involvement in polygamy was Jason W. Briggs, the originator of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saint.
Following the martyrdom and succession crisis, Briggs had followed James Strang but eventually had a falling out with that movement and became a huge advocate of the doctrine of lineal succession in the presidency.
For this reason, he began supporting the claims of Joseph Smith’s brother, William Smith, who initially claimed that young Joseph Smith III would be the successor to Joseph Smith Jr. when be came of age, but eventually claimed that honor to himself.
However once William Smith began to publicly espouse the doctrine and practice of polygamy, Briggs became disillusioned and parted ways with William Smith. He also persuaded many others to do likewise.
It was in the aftermath of these experiences and with a strong belief in lineal succession that Briggs received a revelation that would eventually establish a new faction of the restoration and place young Joseph Smith III in a position of power over what was originally referred to as the new organization.
On November 18 1851, on a prairie near Beloit, Briggs experienced a vision and revelation informing him that William Smith and his spokesman Joseph Wood had despised the law of the Lord and committed adultery.
“..they have wholly forsaken my law, and given themselves to all manner of uncleanness, and prostituted my law and the keys of power intrusted to them, to the lusts of the flesh, and have run greedily in the way of adultery..”
The revelation went on to heavily imply that even Jason Briggs and his associates had also been deceived into believing in the celestial wives doctrine:
“..Behold, that which ye received as my celestial law is not of me, but is the doctrine of Baalam. And I command you to denounce it and proclaim against it..”
The revelation promised that someone from the seed of Joseph Smith would be called forth in due time to preside over the church-
“in mine own due time will I call the seed of Joseph Smith, and will bring one forth, and he shall be mighty and strong and he shall preside over the High Priesthood of my Church”
This revelation became known as the “first document of the ‘New Organization’“.
The Testimony of Jason Briggs
Needless to say, Jason Briggs was the most influential person in the creation of the new church that would eventually recruit the support of Emma Smith and install her son Joseph Smith III as the first “prophet” of the New Organization.
But here is the rub.
Jason Briggs maintained throughout his life that it was Joseph Smith Jr. that had originated the practice of polygamy in Mormonism and that God would punish Smith for his “transgressions.”
Briggs said that the church needed to simply deal with the issue and move on. ( Launius 1988, p. 277)
Remarkably, Jason Briggs, the founder of the New Organization which later recruited Joseph Smith III to be their Prophet, was a firm believer that Joseph Smith is the one that introduced the spiritual Wife Doctrine in Nauvoo.
But Jason Briggs was not the only early founding member of the reorganization that taught this.
The Testimony of Isaac Sheen
One of the most notable testimonies of Joseph Smith Jr’s involvement, was given in 1852 by Isaac Sheen another early member of the reorganization.
His statement was reprinted in the first number of the True Latter Day Saints Herald in January 1860, from the October 9, 1852, issue of the Saturday Evening Post:
“..the Book of Mormon condemns, ancient as well as modern polygamy. The Salt Lake apostles also excuse themselves by saying that Joseph Smith taught the spiritual wife doc-trine, but this excuse is as weak as their excuse concerning the ancient Kings and Patriarchs.
Joseph Smith repented of his connection with this doctrine, and said that it was of the devil. He caused the revelations on that subject to be burned, and when he voluntarily came to Nau-voo and resigned himself into the hands of his enemies, he said that he was going to Carthage to die.
At that time he also said, that if it had not been for that accursed spiritual wife doc-trine, he would not have come to that. By his conduct at that time he proved the sincerity of his repentance, and of his profession as a pro-phet. If Abraham and Jacob, by repentance, can obtain salvation and exaltation, so can Joseph Smith. Respectfully, ISAAC SHEEN
Clearly Sheen testified that Joseph Smith Jr had sinned but claimed that he repented.
Isaac Sheen had lived in Nauvoo during the time that various leaders of the church were getting involved in the practice.
Jason Briggs and Isaac Sheen were not alone in their conviction that Joseph Smith had been deceived about the practice of polygamy. An even more prominent player in the RLDS church who echoed the same claims was William Marks, who had been called by revelation and served faithfully as the President of the Stake in both Far West and Nauvoo.
Marks was one of the most noble leaders of the Latter day Saint Restoration Movement. It appears to be universally agreed upon by all LDS groups that President Marks was a man of uncompromising integrity. A man that would never lie to promote an agenda.
The Testimony of William Marks
The first published statement of President Marks regarding Joseph Smith’s involvement in polygamy was made in 1853, shortly after Isaac Sheen had published his testimony:
“When the doctrine of polygamy was introduced into the church as a principle of exaltation, I took a decided stand against it; which stand rendered me quite unpopular with many of the leading ones of the church..
Joseph, however, became convinced before his death that he had done wrong; for about three weeks before his death, I met him one morning in the street, and he said to me, “Brother Marks, … we are a ruined people.” I asked, how so? He said: “This doctrine of polygamy, or Spiritual-wife system, that has been taught and practiced among us, will prove our destruction and overthrow.
I have been deceived,” said he, “in reference to its practice; it is wrong; it is a curse to mankind, and we shall have to leave the United States soon, unless it can be put down and its practice stopped in the church.
Now,’ said he,’ Brother Marks, you have not received this doctrine, and how glad I am. I want you to go into the high council and I will have charges preferred against all who practice this doctrine, and I want you to try them by the laws of the church, and cut them off, if they will not repent and cease the practice of this doctrine.”
Interestingly, Marks published a second testimony about the evils of polygamy in Nauvoo, identifying it as one of the signs that the restored church had “departed from the pure principles of Christ“.
This second known testimony by President Marks was written in a letter to Martin Sheen and published in 1859, one year before he helped to recruit Joseph Smith III as the President of the New Organization.
Brother Sheen:- I feel desirous to communicate through your periodical a few suggestions made manifest to me by the Spirit of God, in relation to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
About the first of June, 1844, (situated as I was at that time, being Presiding Elder of the Stake at Nauvoo, and by appointment the presiding officer of the High Council,) I had a very good opportunity to know the affairs of the church; and my convictions at that time were, that the church in a great measure had departed from the pure principles and doctrines of Jesus Christ.
I felt much troubled in mind about the condition of the church. I prayed earnestly to my heavenly Father to show me something in regard to it, when I was wrapped in vision, and it was shown me by the Spirit that the top or branches had overcome the root, in sin and wickedness, and the only way to cleanse and purify it was to disorganize it and in due time the Lord would reorganize it again. There were many other things suggested to my mind, but the lapse of time has erased them from my memory.
A few days after this occurrence I met with Brother Joseph. He said that he wanted to converse with me on the affairs of the church, and we retired by ourselves. I will give his words verbatim, for they are indelibly stamped upon my mind.
He said he had desired for a long time to have a talk with me on the subject of polygamy. He said it eventually would prove the overthrow of the church, and we should soon be obliged to leave the United States, unless it could be speedily put down.
He was satisfied that it was a cursed doctrine, and that there must be every exertion made to put it down. He said that he would go before the Congregation and proclaim against it, and I must go into the High Council, and he would prefer charges against those in transgression, and I must sever them from the church, unless they made ample satisfaction.
There was much more said, but this was the substance. The mob commenced to gather about Carthage in a few days after, therefore there was nothing done concerning it.
After the Prophet’s death, I made mention of this conversation to several, hoping and believing that it would have a good effect; but to my great disappointment, it was soon rumored about that Brother Marks was about to apostatize, and that all that he said about the conversation with the Prophet was a tissue of lies.
From that time I was satisfied that the church would be disorganized, and the death of the Prophet and Patriarch tended to confirm me in that opinion. From that time I was looking for a reorganization of the church and kingdom of God. I feel thankful that I have lived to again behold the day, when the basis of the church is the revelations of Jesus Christ. which is the only sure foundation
‘(RLDS History of the Church 2:733) ”
Although President Marks characterized the church as being “disorganized“, the Lord used a more poignant descriptive in section 124 when he said that the church would be “rejected as a church with their dead” if they failed to complete the temple within a sufficient period of time.
When viewed through the context of his earlier testimony which President Marks never denied, it is apparent from the above testimony that Joseph Smith himself had been involved in the evil practice of spiritual wifery and had been deceived.
According to President Marks, Joseph Smith Jr. desired to repent and try to correct the situation he had helped to create.
Marks observation that both “the top or branches had overcome the root, in sin and wickedness” categorically condemns the entire leadership of the church. Joseph Smith was the priesthood “root” and revelator of the restoration.
The statement that the “top of the branches had overcome the root” is an obvious reference to the prophetic allegory in Jacob 5 which we will address in greater detail in part 3 of this series.
Instead of saying that the Lord had convinced him by revelation that the practice was evil, Joseph stated that he was now “satisfied that it was a cursed doctrine”.
Satisfied indeed, from personal experience.
But why was Joseph admonishing President Marks to “prefer charges against those in transgression?
Is that the established order of the church when preferring charges before the high council?
The obvious person to name names and prefer charges would have been Joseph Smith, he knew who all of the transgressors were. President Marks had rejected the doctrine and was not invited into the secret meetings.
It would have been Joseph’s responsibility to bring charges before William Marks and the High Council rather than asking Marks to be the one to prefer the charges.
I believe the reason Joseph did not want to press charges is because had been in league with those who were in transgression!
Indeed, according to the testimony of some who had previously been brought before the high council for the practice of polygamy, it was Joseph that introduced them to the principle.
Joseph would lack credibility as their accuser, and it would make his own involvement public which he wanted to avoid at all costs!
Those two testimonies from President William Marks are powerful. But he also claimed to have seen Hyrum Smith read the polygamy revelation to the High Council in 1843.
Mark’s testimony that Hyrum Smith read the polygamy revelation before the high council under the direction of Joseph Smith Jr., was corroborated by multiple testimonies of others who had served on the high council and had been present on that occasion.
The Testimony of Thomas Grover
Another member of the Nauvoo high council that testified that the revelation on polygamy was read to the high council by Hyrum Smith, in behalf of Joseph Smith Jr., was Thomas Grover.
He was another member of the reorganization that testified of Joseph’s involvement in polygamy.
Thomas Grover came from six generations from Puritan emigrants and the grandson and great-grandson of Revolutionary War veterans. Thomas Grover was an instrumental figure in the early days of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Section 100 of the Doctrine and Covenants was received about forty miles from where Thomas Grover was living. In the revelation the Lord told Joseph that,
“I have much people in this place, in the regions round about, and an effectual door shall be opened..”
At about this time, Joseph and Sidney preached to large congregations in the area. Family histories indicate that Thomas Grover was taught the gospel during a visit by Joseph Smith when he was accompanied by Sidney Rigdon.
Again, Thomas Grover served on the High Council in Nauvoo when the polygamy controversy arose.
Thomas Grover would eventually join the RLDS church and like, other leading organizers of the reorganized church, he provided a personal witness that Joseph Smith taught the celestial wives doctrine.
After joining the reorganization, Thomas Grover reminisced as follows.
“The High Council of Nauvoo, was called together by the Prophet Joseph Smith, to know whether they would accept the revelation on celestial marriage or not.
“Brother Hyrum was called upon to read the revelation. He did so, and after reading it said
“Now, you that believe this revelation and go forth and obey the same shall be saved, and you that reject it shall be damned“ (See “The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes” by John S. Dinger)
“..Of the Presidency of the Stake, William Marks and Father [Austin] Coles [Cowles] rejected the revelation; of the Council that were present, Leonard Soby rejected it. From that time forward there was a very strong division in the High Council..”
The Testimony of James Whitehead
James Whitehead was also a member of the reorganization who served as a clerk to Joseph Smith III. He also affirmed that he witnessed Emma give plural wives to Joseph Smith Jr on several occasions. (Quinn 1994, p. 237,442; Launius 1988, p. 207)
As you can see, when young Joseph Smith III stated in his inaugural speech that he had been informed by some that his father Joseph Smith Jr. had been the one to introduce polygamy into the church, he was not referring to just the Brighamites in Utah or any other outside factions besides the Reorganization.
He was primarily referring to the very leaders of the reorganization that had recruited him to lead the New Organization.
It must have been a very difficult and delicate process for people like Jason Briggs and William Marks to negotiate with Joseph Smith III, given the fact that these leaders knew from personal knowledge that Joseph had been involved in polygamy, yet Joseph Smith III did not want to hear it and was in total denial.
Clearly there were some difficult communications and negotiations that took place.
All of these founders of what would become the Reorganized Church, agreed with Joseph Smith III that polygamy was wrong.
It appears that they were willing to allow young Joseph to believe whatever he wanted to on the matter.
It was ultimately the doctrine of linear decent that enabled both groups to rationalize and compromise their opinions on the matter.
As you can see, when Joseph Smith III said in his inaugural speech:
“I have been told that my father taught such doctrines..”
He was obviously speaking about the very men of the reorganization that recruited him such as Jason W. Briggs, Austin Cowles, Thomas Grover,
Isaac Sheen, James Whitehead and William Marks
Every single testimony above is from one of the founders or early participants of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints.
There are obviously others that could be added to the list.
I have not needed to draw upon any of the Utah Mormons to show that it was not just those that followed the leadership of Brigham Young that testified that Joseph Smith Jr. was the secret instigator of the polygamy practice in Nauvoo.
Historians have been aware that the early founders and leaders of the Reorganized Church knew that Joseph Smith Jr practiced polygamy. This what
“..while reorganizers were united in their opposition to polygamy they were not of one mind regarding the martyrs involvement in it. Launius notes that high church leaders, the ones most knowledgeable about Nauvoo knew that young Josephs father had practiced polygamy but joseph believed his father a good man and also that a good man would not practice polygamy.
He had to deny it. As the older leaders who knew better, died off young Joseph became more vigorous in his denials of his father’s involvement. Gradually the church committed itself to this historical coverup
And this brings us full circle to the beginning of this series.
If we fast forward, to the remarkable desire and commitment of modern leaders and historians of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints to have “a goal of producing more honest, less defensive history”.
I have now documented in this episode, some of the most compelling testimonies from the founders and leaders of The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints which has now changed it’s name to The Community of Christ.
However, it is also worth noting in this episode that two of Joseph Smith’s councilors who knew his workings intimately were Sidney Rigdon and William Law.
Both of those amazing leaders rejected the doctrine of polygamy and the leadership of Brigham Young and yet both of them testified that Joseph Smith was the instigator of the practice.
Both of these men have been the victims of character assassination by LDS authors, historians and leaders.
However, my research convinces me that these men along with Stake President William Marks were three of the most noble and honest men of the restoration.
None of them would have lied about Joseph Smith’s involvement nor would they have anything to gain from it.
According to William Law, the church in Nauvoo had departed from the pure principles that had been revealed and taught in Kirtland.
He and others had petitioned Joseph to publicly confess and repent of the abominations he was involved in without having to have all of the details exposed to public scrutiny.
However Joseph emphatically refused to publicly acknowledge his personal involvement for fear that the public confession would cause the ruin and total overthrow the restored church. The following is taken from the much maligned Nauvoo Expositor that had been published to shine a light on the corruption taking place:
“We are earnestly seeking to expose the vicious principles of Joseph Smith, and those who practice the same abominations and whoredoms; which we verily know are not accordant and consonant with the principles of Jesus Christ and the Apostles…
Many of us have sought a reformation in the church, without a public exposition of the enormities of crimes practiced by its leaders, thinking that if they would hearken to counsel, and shew fruit meet for repentance, it would be as acceptable with God, as though they were exposed to public gaze..
.. but our petitions were treated with contempt; and in many cases the petitioner spurned from their presence, and particularly by Joseph, who would state that if he had sinned, and was guilty of the charges we would charge ..him with, he would not make acknowledgment, but would rather be damned; for it would detract from his dignity, and would consequently ruin and prove the overthrow of the Church.”
Lets not forget that it is a matter of public record that Joseph’s brother Hyrum Smith presented the revelation on polygamy to the Nauvoo High Council making him one of the most prolific witnesses of Joseph Smith’s involvement.
There are numerous other witnesses of Joseph smith’s involvement that did not follow Brigham Young to Utah. Here are just a few
John C. Bennett
Chancy L. Higbee
Robert D. Foster and his brother
Don Carlos Smith
There is a bigger picture at Play
This concludes my documentation of the founders and leaders of the Reorganization that testified of Joseph’s involvement in polygamy.
It is astounding to me how people with very little historical knowledge and even less understanding of prophecy are rising up as historical revisionists to claim Joseph Smith has been unfairly accused of his involvement in the practice of the spiritual wife doctrine.
It is particularly curious how so many of the fringe groups have latched on to this fairy tale.
Those who are familiar with the secret history of Mormonism can see a much bigger picture, realizing that both the leaders and members of the church were condemned in 1834 because they broke the everlasting covenant.
Indeed, all of this had been foretold in ancient and modern revelation. The following warning came in one of the very first revelations that Joseph Smith received, and yet, less than 1% of Mormons are familiar with the following passages which have been suppressed:
“And thus, if the people of this generation harden not their hearts, I will work a reformation among them, and I will put down all lyings, and deceivings, and priestcrafts, and envyings, and strifes, and idolatries, and sorceries, and all manner of iniquities, and I will establish my church, like unto the church which was taught by my disciples in the days of old.
And now if this generation do harden their hearts against my word, behold I will deliver them up unto Satan,
for he reigneth and hath power at this time, for he hath got great hold upon the hearts of the people of this generation”
Ancient Prophecy Supports the Testimonies
The above testimonies of Jason W. Briggs, Austin Cowles, Thomas Grover,
Isaac Sheen, James Whitehead and William Marks are beyond compelling. They were not associated with Brigham Young and the Utah Mormons and they had no reason to lie about Joseph Smith’s involvement in polygamy.
In addition to those testimonies from the founders of the RLDS Church, there are numerous testimonies from people like Hyrum Smith, Sidney Rigdon and William Law who also had no reason to lie about Joseph Smith’s involvement.
However, the testimonies that have been presented in this episode are not nearly as compelling as the testimonies of the ancient prophets who foretold about the Davidic Servant that would commit iniquity and be chastised by the rod of man.
As we continue in this series we will show from modern and ancient prophecy that the testimonies shared in this episode are backed up by scripture.