Some Mormons Search the Web and Find Doubt- Evidence Ministries’ Take- Part One

Former Seventy, Hans Mattsson now doubts the historical claims of the Mormon Church.

This story is Huge. Hans Mattsson is a Mormon who was at one time a member of the third quorum of the seventy in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was the highest ranking official in Sweden and oversaw activities for the Mormon Church all over Europe. Because he was in a position of authority, members would come to him with questions about Mormonism that had come up during their study and preparation for teaching Sunday school lessons. These questions eventually led Mattsson to doubt the history and even some doctrines of Mormonism.

There are many other sources  (New York Times, Mormon Stories Podcast, MormonThink) which cover the details of the story, so I will not go into them in depth here. What I want to do is discuss the questions that came to my mind as I was studying through this issue. The most eye opening resources regarding this issue comes from a fireside meeting in 2010 when two Mormon Church historians (Elder Marlin K. Jensen and Richard E. Turley Jr.) came to Stockholm in an attempt to answer some of the troubling questions. You can read the transcript of the meeting here. (The transcript is copied as is, including typos.) The other, and in my opinion most important, resource concerning this issue is the audio recording of this fireside meeting. This fireside meeting was two and a half hours long and is divided into two parts.

Fireside in Sweden part one.

Fireside in Sweden Part two.

The recording is jaw dropping. As I read through the transcript I would listen to the recording. I was shocked to hear the tone of those asking the questions. The meeting was congenial, but the Swedish Mormons were not pulling any punches. They wanted answers and were not satisfied with the responses given by Jensen and Turley. I say “responses” because they were not answers. I honestly cannot imagine a thinking Mormon walking out of that meeting feeling that their testimony had been strengthened and their questions answered.

Read the New York Times article, then PLEASE take the time to listen to the audio recordings of the fireside. Reading through the transcript is one thing, but listening to the meeting puts the cherry on top of the sundae. The following are my thoughts while listening to the meeting.

Before they opened the meeting up for questions, Jensen stated, “It is a day of information, but with that comes the challenge of deciding what information is reliable, what information is true, what information is worthy of basing our life on it. And hopefully tonight we can at least offer some information in a reliable and loving way that will be responsive to some of the questions that you have.”

EM’s Take: If the LDS Church is led by prophets, seers and revelators who are in communion with God, then why would this be a challenge? Investigators are challenged to pray about receiving an answer from God as to whether or not Mormonism is true. Why can’t LDS leaders set the example and find these things out from God? Doesn’t He know what is reliable, true and worthy for us to base our lives on? Again, if the LDS Church is really led by prophets, why is this a problem in the first place?

Jensen: “How is it that someone ever becomes converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Well, after years of experience with this, brothers and sisters, it typically begins with a person who is a seeker.”

EM’s take: Since when are people supposed to be converted to a Church? God didn’t send a Church to die for our sins. He sent His Son. Jesus Himself said in John 5: 39-40, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.”  Conversion should be to Christ, NOT a Church. Jesus wants us to come to Him.

It is also interesting to note that before the audience was invited to ask their questions, Jensen warned them about the spirit of the devil. I found that very interesting. I could imagine being in that meeting, having sincere questions and then being warned that perhaps your questions could be inspired by the devil. Mormons are taught that their prophets are in communion with God so it only makes sense that if a Mormon has questions, they should be able to go to those in authority and get real answers. If these prophets are truly revealing facts, then the answers should be obvious. That was a hint that the “answers” which Jensen and Turley were going to provide, are not satisfactory. I think Jensen and Turley knew that before the meeting started and here is why.

Jensen: “So as we take your questions now and do our best to respond to the issues that you see in our history or in our doctrine, I just want to have you bear in mind that no matter how smart Brother Turley might be, no matter how good his answers might be, the only way that these answers can help any of us is if they’re spiritually discerned; If they’re given by the spirit and received by the spirit. If they somehow get deep into our hearts.”

EM’s Take: The question immediately came to mind, “Why in the world would I need the spirit to testify to me whether or not Joseph Smith really ‘translated’ the book of Mormon with his face in a hat? Exactly what about that fact needs to be discerned spiritually?” I can understand Jensen’s statement in the light of doctrine, but not history. Some doctrine is not easy to understand, I get that. But what I do not comprehend is why we would need the spirit to confirm historical facts. Either something happened or it didn’t. We should be able to look at the historical evidence, weigh it and come to a conclusion about what really happened. The fact of the matter is, Smith really did claim to “translate” the Book of Mormon with his face in a hat and Turley admits this. More on this later.

Once they got to asking the questions, the crowd did not hold back. The questions were very good and well informed. There were fifteen questions which were taken and addressed. Again, I cannot use the term, “answered.” One interesting thing of note was that Turley passed out a sheet of paper which contained five web sites which he stated, “are the five very best websites for authentic answers to those questions.” Some of the questions were questions like whether or not Brigham Young actually taught that Adam was God, archaeological evidence for the civilizations described in the Book of Mormon and the fact that DNA evidence does not support the idea that the peoples of the Americas are not of Jewish descendants and the Book of Mormon teaches.

Someone in the crowd asked if the LDS Church stands behind these web sites. The dialogue at this point was intense.

Question: Do the church stand behind these websites?

Jensen: Well they’re all church institutions. They’re either BYU or private institutions that are handled by very reliable and good Latter-day Saints.

Turley: So they’re not official church websites. We do have some official church things that are being developed for example—

Question: I tried to find the church own versions about these things.

Turley: They don’t exist.

Question: That’s my problem. I don’t care—what do the church say about this? Not what some —

Turley: Listen, we hope you’ll find more in the future to be helpful, one of the most helpful things I think you may find in time is that we’re taking our church history library catalog and we’re putting it on the Internet next year. And then we’re going to make digital images of many of the records and connect those to the catalogue, so that you can do— you don’t have to just listen to somebody’s summary, you can actually look at the original documents yourself and make your own conclusions.

EM’s Take: Exasperated in the word which comes to mind. Whoever this person was who asked the questions wanted official answers and none were given. Instead, Jensen and Turley point to sources which are not official in hopes of placating these troubled Swedish Mormons. The question which came to my mind as I heard this part of the discussion was, “Why did the LDS Church send two historians to ‘answer questions,’ when all they had to do was email them a short list of web sites which they neither officially endorse or deny?” Does that strike you as odd too? Why waste the time? Had I been a member of that audience who had serious questions about my faith, I would have been insulted at the idea that the best my church has to offer are web sites that aren’t even official. Either give me an official answer or admit that you don’t have an answer at all. Why do prophets, seers and revelators have to point you to unofficial sources to get unofficial answers? Do these men speak with authority or not?

Also, this fireside was in 2010. Here it is, 2013 now and the story is just now coming out. Why? Because these patient Swedish Latter-day Saints have waited three years for something which still does not exist. Turley promised answers “next year” which would address the concerns brought up during this meeting. Three years later, still nothing.

The whole affair reminded me of a video I once did about what is and is not official Mormon doctrine. Numerous Mormons have accused me of being “unChristlike” in this video. What they don’t understand is that the video accurately portrays how the LDS Church responds to serious questions.

Immediately after this part of the discussion Turley states, “these are issues that have been around for a very long time. They’re not new.”

EM’s Take: Is that supposed to comfort the audience, the idea that these are old questions and that other Mormons have asked them before? It wouldn’t comfort me in the least. If these are old questions, then why doesn’t the LDS Church have answers yet? New Questions? I can understand needing time to look into those issues, but old questions? Where are the old proven answers? I would not be surprised if that thought occurred in the minds of some Mormons in this meeting.

Regarding the fact that Joseph Smith “translated” the Book of Mormon with his face in a hat, the Swedish Mormons wanted to know why the LDS Church does not accurately explain this. The LDS Church portrays the story as Smith sitting on one side of a curtain with the plates in front of him. As he translates, he reads the words to a scribe who then writes them down. Yet LDS historians tell another story of Smith on one side of a curtain with his face in a hat reading illuminated words off of a seer stone. Sometimes the plates weren’t even in the same room.

When the question was first asked, the Swedish Mormon points out that in the Book of Mormon, there was great effort in securing the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated. Nephi had to Kill Laban to retrieve them, the plates were passed from father to son for 1,000 years, Moroni almost died trying to preserve them and then they were buried in a hill for hundreds of years. Once Smith finds the plates, sometimes he doesn’t even use them in his translation of the Book of Mormon. If you have plates, why use a hat to “translate” them? Turley’s answer was less than helpful.

Turley: “And why a hat? OK. We can take those three in order. First of all, why were the plates needed? The plates were needed because the plates were real and they were preserved and they were passed down from generation to generation. Once Joseph Smith got them, then the method of translation was up to the Lord and the Lord chose to use a method of translation that was far more efficient, far better, and far more accurate than anything Joseph Smith could have done letter by letter. Because it would have taken him — he didn’t know the language. How else was he going to translate it if God didn’t help him?

What were the other questions? Why the Urim and Thummim and why the hat? The Urim and Thummim — maybe I should answer the hat first. The hat was apparently to block light out so that Joseph so that Joseph could see what he was doing with the record. Sometimes the light, you know, affects your spirit. We don’t know exactly how it works, Joseph Smith said he wasn’t meant to know how it works.”

EM’s Take: The plates were needed because the plates were real. I don’t quite follow that answer and neither did one Swedish woman when she asked, “Can you see that we feel deceived? When you say translated, you had the record and you translated. Like with the papyrus, you know (unintelligible…) because he was translating them. But he wasn’t. It would be much better if you said he was sitting and praying and got the revelation. But it’s kind of deceiving to say it that way. Do you understand what I’m saying?

EM’s Take: Yes, Ma’am. I hear what you are saying. Official teaching manuals show Smith actually translating when what is taught historically is that Smith had a “revelation” and did not translate anything. These Swedish Mormons felt deceived when they had to find out the truth about Mormon origins through suspect sources. If I was a Mormon and had to find out about the truth of the LDS Church from sources I am warned about, I would wonder why those who are supposedly lying about the Mormon Church are telling more of the truth than the supposed “one true Church” officially says about itself.

In response to this woman’s statement, Turley says, “I think that’s a difference in perception rather than in reality. When Joseph used the term ‘translate,’ he meant revelation. OK. And revelation comes in various forms. You yourselves who have received revelation recognize that it comes to you in various ways. Sometimes it’s a feelings, sometimes and impression, sometimes maybe a thought. In Joseph’s Smith’s case, when he translated the Book of Mormon, it wasn’t just a matter of kneeling and praying and getting words.”

EM’s Take: I agree with Turley here. There is a difference between translation and a revelation. What the LDS Church presents in its official teaching manuals describes a translation, but what supposedly happened historically was a revelation. The Swedish Mormons want to know, why the false portrayal of a translation? I find it disingenuous for Turley to say that Smith meant “revelation” when he said the word “translation.” Any prophet who does not know the difference between a translation and a revelation is not worth his weight in seer stone and hats.

The question still stands, if Smith really did receive a revelation with his face in hat, then why doesn’t the Mormon Church describe this in an official capacity? Why the false representation? To my knowledge, there is no official Mormon Church teaching manual which describes Smith’s face in a hat, yet there are pictures on display in temple square which show him using the plates. Why is that?

My friend Bart Pascoal created this infographic which shows the contrast of what is officially taught and what the Church would teach if they told the truth about how Smith actually “translated” the plates.

This concludes part one of my thoughts about the Swedish Fireside meeting. Part two can be read here.

23 thoughts on “Some Mormons Search the Web and Find Doubt- Evidence Ministries’ Take- Part One”

  1. Joseph gave us a treasure, and the Lord says, “He has translated the book, even that part which I have commanded him, and as your Lord and your God liveth it is true.” And Hans says, “But he used a peep stone, Lord! For crying out loud, why did he do that?”

  2. Excal,
    Do you know of any other scripture which translation required a peep stone? That actually isn’t the point of the question. The issue is, why doesn’t the Mormon Church honestly reveal this fact?

  3. I don’t know that they hid it necessarily. They knew he translated it by the gift and power of God, using different means at different times, but I don’t see that they had an obligation to make sure all the details were dipicted in art and illustration with perfect fidelity.

    The important thing to me is that the life of the Lord’s servant is in his hands, and though he shall be marred because of the unbelief of the Gentiles, the Lord will heal him and show unto the children of men that his wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil.

    The Lord compares the enemies of Mount Zion to starving and parched dreamers, who dream of eating and drinking, but eventually wake up to the awful reality of their true situation.

    I often wonder if this means that they will rejoice when they see the hedge broken down (which it nearly is today), the servants of the Lord rising up in fear and fleeing, their works destroyed and the Twelve broken down. One would surely think so, but then when Zion is redeemed, there will be no place found for them.

    It’s an awful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

    1. Excal,
      How do you know what the Swedish Mormons knew? Have you listened to the audio where the woman asks Turley if he can understand why they feel deceived? What possible reason could the LDS Church have for not accurately describing how it supposedly happened?

      1. Yes, I listened to the Hans interview and read the transcripts of the Jensen/Turley meeting. I think I know how the Swedes felt, because I went through it myself, in spades, while reading Gerald & Sandra in the 70’s.

        Yet, I never felt “deceived” by leaders of the church. In fact, I felt empathy for them, seeing that they were between a rock and a hard spot. Put yourself in their shoes. On second thought, you can’t, because, unlike them, you do not possess the conviction they do that Joseph’s work started the fullfillment of Isaiah 29.

        Most of them probably hadn’t even read Brodie, and if they did, I doubt they would have felt the need to do any more about it than to read Nibley. The great responsibility they shoulder is to get the word out to the Gentiles that God’s promise to perform a great work that would cause the wisdom of the wise to perish and the understanding of the prudent to vanish, and the mouths of kings to be shut, had begun, and that the words of the sealed book, that was prophesied to become “the vision of all,” is now available to all, so the meek can increase their joy in the Lord, and so the poor among can rejoice in the Holy one of Israel.

        Can you imagine how the suggestion of one of the Twelve, sitting in council in the temple, to commission an art piece or an illustration or a chapter in an instruction manual, publicizing, glorifying, or just acknowledging that the Whitmer family’s devotion to the importance of seer stones was justified, would have been received by that august body?

        There is no way to tell how much credibility should be given to the reports of the use of seer stones, given the cunning of the devil in causing many such stones to be found and used to divide and cause troubles for the saints. Is this why Joseph sought to defuse an explosive situation, by refusing to take sides? His answer that the record was translated by the gift and power of God, is the one we need to stick to today.

        When the day comes that we all receive our own “peep” stone from God, we can look into it and see the truth about these things, right?

        1. Who needs to wait? The LDS Church is not shy about the idea that they believe they have prophets seers and revelators. With that kind of connection to God, why are Turley and Jensen bowing to FAIR, FARMS and BYU?

  4. The problem here, is that the “living God” had nothing to do with the Book of Mormon. In fact, one of Smith’s own “Apostles”, Parley P. Pratt, gave a prophecy in 1838 using his “Priesthood Authority” and said that if it did not come true the Book of Mormon was false:

    “Now, Mr. Sunderland, you have something definite and tangible, the time, the manner, the means, the names, the dates; and I will state as a prophecy, that there will not be an unbelieving Gentile upon this continent 50 years hence; [by 1888] and if they are not greatly scourged, and in a great measure overthrown, within five or ten years from this date, [1843-1848] then the Book of Mormon will have proved itself false.

    And furthermore, as Mr. LaRoy Sunderland has lied concerning the truth of Heaven, the fulness of the Gospel; and has blasphemed against the word of God, except he speedily repent, and acknowledge his lying and wickedness, and obey the message of eternal truth, which God has sent for the salvation of his people. God will smite him dumb, that he can no longer speak great swelling words against the Lord; and a trembling shall seize his nerves, that he shall not be able to write; and Zion’s Watchman shall cease to be published abroad, and its lies shall no longer deceive the public; and he will wander a vagabond on the earth, until sudden destruction shall overtake him; and if Mr. La Roy Sunderland enquires, when shall these things be? I reply, it is nigh thee–even at thy doors; and I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. I hope Mr. Sunderland, will no more complain of the jargon of the Mormon Prophets being unintelligible or indefinite.” (Parley P. Pratt, Mormonism Unveiled, Pamphlet, published by Orson Pratt, 1838, page 16).

    Of course, none of this ever happened. The Book of Mormon has proved itself false. Jo Smith set the date for the “Redemption of Zion” as September 11, 1836. That date has also long passed, so I would not worry about having a place to flee to. It won’t be there. Considering the fact that Mormon “prophets” predicted the destruction of America before the end of the 19th Century and that the American Indians would be instrumental in doing so and building Zion, I think you have far worse problems to worry about than “starving and parched dreamers” that want to “break down hedges”, Excal.

    Your “Prophets” are batting zero. They have fled long ago to their large and spacious Church Headquarters Building, where they can isolate themselves and dodge pesky questions about seer stones and hats.

    1. Good point Keith, but it seems a little disengenuous to “dis” seer stones as “peep stones,” in order to cast aspertions on the prophet, especially given the promise of God to someday give one to every Christian who overcomes the world.

      Now, the tone of grindael “sounds” to me like someone who has been overcome by the world, so maybe he won’t get one, but, then, who am I to judge those who fight against Zion?

      But I wish he could understand my words: The hedge that is almost gone now, is the Constitution. It was there to protect all flesh, including his, but especially to protect the religious freedom of Americans in general and the work of the Twelve, planted in the Lord’s vineyard, in particular.

      The enemy has come by night, undetected, and broken down the hedge. There is now no more protection for the Lord’s vineyard, and no more protection for grindael. The Lord said, in parable, this would happen, and it has. He also said that his servants disobeyed him in not building the watchtower, which he commanded them to build so that they could see the enemy while he was still afar off. Had they built it and seen the preparations of the enemy, they could have made ready and not suffered the Lord’s vineyard to fall into the hands of the destoyer.

      But, alas, they did not build it, because they couldn’t see the need for it. They fell asleep, but now they shall awaken, being very afraid, and they will flee away from the vineyard, and the enemy will break down the Twelve trees and destroy the works of the Lord’s servants.

      After that, the Lord of the vineyard comes and calls his servants together, asking, “What is the cause of this great evil?”

      You know the rest of the story, but consider the words of Jesus: “For if they do these things in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry?”

      1. Excal, you said about Grindael , ” I wish he could understand my words…”
        Well I would like to understand what are saying also , especially about the
        “Twelve” you mentioned . Are these the Mormon Twelve apostles and have
        they disobeyed the Lord in some very serious way ?

        1. Yes, Mike, they have. The Lord revealed it all before it happened. He alludes to it in the Book of Mormon. He says that his servant will be “marred,” because of the unbelief of the Gentiles, but the life of his servant is in his hands and he will heal him, showing unto the children of men that his “wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil.”

          In Section 101 of the D&C, he gives a parable to show what he means. Because his servants failed to finish building the watchtower in the midst of the vineyard, so that they could see the enemy while he was yet afar off, he comes by night undetected and destroys the Lord’s vineyard.

          After his servants arise from their slumber and flee the vineyard, the Lord comes and chastises them for not having kept his commandment, which would have enabled them to see the enemy coming and make ready in time to prevent “this great evil” from happening.

          He then commands ONE of his servants (later identified as JS) to go and gather the strength of his house, his “warriors,” (which now number in the millions) and march against the occupying enemy, take back his vineyard, and build the holy city and establish its government and temple worship, in fulfillment of the scriptures.

          This scenario of the redemption of Zion is something the Jews have had handed down to them from days of old. It’s referred to as the preparatory work of Messiah Ben Joseph, who is Elias, or the forerunner of Messiah Ben David, the breaker of Micah 2, who breaks the sheep out of the lesser sheepfold called Bozrah, the Lord going before them.

          There’s more, if want to learn about it.

          1. Excal, thanks for the reply. Since you believe that the Mormon
            Twelve apostles are in serious error do you realize what you are
            implying ? I mean that’s a very serious charge to make and I’m
            betting it will get you a trip to a church court on possible charges
            of personal apostasy being leveled at you . So I’m thinkin that
            maybe you are not a member in good standing or you are not a
            member of the church headed by Thomas Monson , but rather a
            different “Mormon” group. Am I correct in this assumption ?

            1. No, Mike. I didn’t say it, the Lord said it, in D&C 101. Did you read it? As for me, I love and support the servants of the Lord, with all my heart, from my Bishop to my Stake President to the Prophet and the Twelve. I’m a Mormon, true blue, through and through.

              I know without doubt that the Lord has sent righteousness down from heaven above and that he has sent forth truth out of the earth, to bear witness of Jesus of Nazareth and to set his hand again, the second time, to gather in his ancient covenant people from the four quarters of the earth.

              Unfortunately, however, it is a fact that, for 180 years, the servants of the Lord have not kept his commandment to build the tower in the midst of the vineyard, as explained by the Lord himself in the parable.

              To understand the parable, it is necessary to realize that it pertains to our day, not to the 1830 and 40s. The hedge protecting the vineyard and its Twelve trees is the U.S. Constitution. The Twelve trees are the twelve offices of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, whose duty and responsibility is to preach the gospel and oversee the building of the kingdom.

              The tower, which was started, but never finished, is the Council of the Fifty, as it came to be called. This was a deliberative council that consisted of the Prophet (its standing president), the Twelve (standing members), and various others, including non-members, chosen by the leaders.

              The purpose of the Council was supposed to be, among other things, to inform and educate its members so they could understand the mind and will of the Lord regarding his great and marvelous work from a King’s perspective, or government perspective, though they had no legislative or executive powers.

              What they were to have was insight and wisdom into the machinations of the enemy of God’s work, his strange work of turning the things of the world upside down. They were to study and teach one another theory, principle, doctrine, and the law of the gospel. In short, they were to become expert in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, things expedient for them to understand; Things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms.

              The closest parallel that I can think of is the devil’s counterfeit, the CFR. However, at the time, on the frontier, the brethren thought they had much more pressing things to accomplish than to engage in what seemed to them little more than a ” debating school.”

              They had their hands full with taming the frontier, preaching the gospel and building the kingdom of God. They could not see the need to investigate theories of what the enemy was up to, or spend time studying the things of history and politics and war, as if they were academics. This was a time of peace. There was no need of these things, they thought.

              Unfortunately, as we all know now, they couldn’t have been more mistaken.

              1. Excal, from what you’ve said thus far you sound like a
                disgruntled Mormon who is accusing his leaders of
                disobeying God in a serious way, and wants to remind
                everyone of their error . So I have to either take to heart
                what you claim , or believe what they have claimed . I’m
                sure they see your accusations to be false and spiritually unhealthy for you .personally.
                But there is good news in all this for you .Since you
                already believe they’ve errored on an important issue, then
                it’s no huge leap to think what else have they also erred in ?
                Now, you mentioned that for 180 years they have disobeyed
                the Lord on this issue so it would be in your best interest
                and safety ( Matt 24:11) to test what they’ve also taught
                to see if they have been consistently reliable as guides in
                gospel preaching ( 1 Jn 4:1 ) . After all , in the latter days
                men will come claiming to hear from the Lord or to have
                “restored” the same gospel His original apostles taught—
                Rom 1:16 —but who instead only introduce their own ideas
                packaged up and presented as the gospel of salvation.
                Thankfully the Lord’s warnings ( Gal 1:8 ; 2Tim 4:3-4 are
                also valuable for us today .
                I like what you said near the end of your last post about
                your leaders : ” Unfortunately, as we all know NOW, they
                could’nt have been more mistaken .”

                This fits perfectly in with what I’m sharing with you about
                testing those who come in these latter days claiming
                to be true prophets and apostles endorsed by Jesus to
                teach , because I KNOW NOW ( after 180 years ) that
                Mormon prophets are whom Jesus pre warned us all
                about would come in the latter days —Matt 24:11 .
                That’s my testimony to you .
                Please dismiss them from your life . Isa 9:16 ,
                There is a better way .
                Take care.

                1. Well, thank you for your concern Mike, but I think your “slip” is showing, so to speak. It sounds like you haven’t read the parable.

                  Even though the Lord chastises his servants, for failing to build the tower and suffering his vineyard to fall into the hands of the destroyer, he doesn’t forsake them, he rescues them.

                  I don’t know how the Lord’s parable makes me a “disgruntled” accuser, in your mind. Seeing as how the scripture came from Joseph, and is literally being fulfilled before our eyes, as is Section 87, my faith is strengthened, not weakened.

                  If you understood, I would think that you would react as the kings are described as reacting, when they are told things they never saw before, and they consider things they never heard before.

                  But, as Jesus said “For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”

                  With eyes and ears open, we understand two things: 1) Jesus died for us and rose the third day with healing in his wings, and 2) He shall sprinkle many nations and kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.

                  When the Lord sets his hand, again, the second time, to recover his people, it is when they have gone down into “Egypt” to sojourn there and the Assyrian oppresses them without cause.

                  “Now therefore, what have I here,” saith the Lord, “that my people is taken away for nought? they that rule over them make them to howl, saith the Lord; and my name continually every day is blasphemed.

                  “Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I.”

                  Then it comes to pass that the meek increase their joy in the Lord, Mike. The poor rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. They exclaim, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!

                  “Thy watchmen lift up the voice; with the voice together they sing: for they see eye to eye, as the Lord brings again Zion.

                  “Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.

                  “The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.”

                  But, “as we all know now,” those whose works are in the dark say to the Lord, “Surely, your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay,” but the Lord will show unto them that his wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil.

                  “For shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?”

                  Mike, the enemy has now broken down the hedge. This is what “we all know,” if we are awake.

                  The Lord said building the tower and watching from it was to be our defense, but, alas, we didn’t give heed to his commandment, and now a “great evil” awaits the vineyard and the servants of the Lord, who have labored in it for nearly two centuries now.

                  Yet, as I asked you before, if this is what awaits the green tree, what awaits the dry?


                  1. Excal, you’re not convincing . You’re trying to tell
                    me that your leadership is disobedient to God in
                    how they have led your church , and a parable
                    supposedly validates this . But it’s easy find a
                    meaning to support our beliefs in looking to some
                    parable , so I can’t take your opinion to far . I find
                    your whole reasoning odd given the fact that your
                    view about your leaders is something THEY would
                    find very disturbing .They have said in no uncertain terms that their membership can trust
                    the teachings and the path they take in guiding
                    the church body .You sound a lot like those in the
                    polygamist groups today who believe their leaders
                    erred in giving up the practice of polygamy in 1890, they think their leaders were’nt listening to
                    God , etc. Now as I also tried to explain, by the
                    fact you believe your leaders have been in serious
                    err for the 180 years ,that can be a good thing in
                    that you need to follow through with that thinking
                    and evaluate their teaching behavior .What was
                    taught about God / the gospel during that time ?
                    THAT my whole point here, i.e. in light of Jesus’
                    warning in Matt 24:11 and Paul’s counsel in Gal 1:8 , Mormons need to test their prophets teachings—1Jn 4:1 . Your spiritual safety is at
                    stake . There is a track record of ” gospel preaching ” by men in S.L.City who claim to be
                    prophets of these latter days , it is available for
                    anyone to evaluate . I have done so . I only hope
                    the dear Mormon people will take the time also
                    because life’s to short to be detoured by
                    counterfeit prophets .

  5. I think the greater problem – the meta-problem if you will – is that Mormon History and Theology are so intertwined that, like siamese twins, if you remove one the one may die. As the Ostlings said well in Mormon America (highly recommend reading for Mormon and non-Mormon alike BTW):

    “History, for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is more than pageants, parades, trail markers, monuments, and restored homesteads. There is a very real sense in which the church’s history is its theology, and that not merely the supernatural events surrounding the church’s beginnings with the Angel Moroni and the golden plates at Hill Cumorah. In a body that believes itself the recipient and expression of continuing revelation, it is everything that has happened to the church ever since. And just as creedal churches have official statements of faith, the Mormon Church tends to have official versions of sacred history.”
    (Richard & Joan Ostling, “Mormon American (Rev. Ed.)”; Kindle Edition position 638.8-640.0/1200)

    Hence, if true history isn’t told then it casts aspirations on LdS theology as well – as Excal’s postings are both directly and indirectly demonstrating.

  6. Mike R wrote,

    Excal, you’re not convincing . You’re trying to tell me that your leadership is disobedient to God in how they have led your church, and a parable supposedly validates this . But it’s easy find a meaning to support our beliefs in looking to some parable , so I can’t take your opinion to far . I find your whole reasoning odd given the fact that your view about your leaders is something THEY would find very disturbing…

    Though I’ve already asked you several times, you haven’t answered me, Mike. So, I’ll ask you again: Have you read the revelation in Section 101 of the D&C?

    The parable starts with verse 43: “And now, I will show unto you a parable, that you may know my will concerning the redemption of Zion.”

    This expression of the Lord’s will is prefaced by 42 verses explaining why the saints were afflicted and cast out of the land of their inheritance in MO. It was because they “polluted” their inheritance by their sins and transgressions, and they were slow to hearken unto the “voice of the Lord,” so he was slow to hear their prayers.

    However, the Lord was merciful to them, explaining that the Bible’s great promise that the Lord would “bring again Zion,” the Lord’s work in the latter days, wrought by the hands of those whom he should call in the last days, who should hold the power of priesthood to bring again Zion, and the redemption of Israel; and to put on her strength, which is to put on the authority of the priesthood, which she, Zion, has a right to by lineage, and also to return to that power, which she had lost, would be fulfilled to the letter (to the jot and title, actually).

    16 …let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God.

    17 Zion shall not be moved out of her place, notwithstanding her children are scattered.

    18 They that remain, and are pure in heart, shall return, and come to their inheritances, they and their children, with songs of everlasting joy, to build up the waste places of Zion.

    19 And all these things that the prophets might be fulfilled.

    20 And, behold, there is none other place appointed than that which I have appointed; neither shall there be any other place appointed than that which I have appointed, for the work of the gathering of my saints—

    21 Until the day cometh when there is found no more room for them; and then I have other places which I will appoint unto them, and they shall be called stakes, for the curtains or the strength of Zion.

    22 Behold, it is my will, that all they who call on my name, and worship me according to mine everlasting gospel, should gather together, and stand in holy places;

    This is what is meant by “flee to my holy mountain.” Mount Zion is where the people worship Jehovah, according to his everlasting gospel. However, there is a caveat:

    39 When men are called unto mine everlasting gospel, and covenant with an everlasting covenant, they are accounted as the salt of the earth and the savor of men;

    40 They are called to be the savor of men; therefore, if that salt of the earth lose its savor, behold, it is thenceforth good for nothing only to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men.

    41 Behold, here is wisdom concerning the children of Zion, even many, but not all; they were found transgressors, therefore they must needs be chastened—

    42 He that exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that abaseth himself shall be exalted.

    With this as background, the Lord then gives them the parable, saying: “And now, I will show unto you a parable, that you may know my will concerning the redemption of Zion.”

    It is astounding, is it not? To this day the Church has never expounded upon it, the General Authorities seldom, if ever, refer to it, other than to explain in general the importance of watchmen upon the tower.

    But they never get into the specifics of explaining the meaning of the different parts of the parable, such as the hedge, the twelve trees, the tower, etc. The only explanation ever given is by Sydney Sperry, which is taught in the Church Education System, but not in the Church Priesthood and Sunday School manuals.

    Sperry’s explanation is only partial and sorely lacking. He regards the parable as a sort of “retro prophecy,” to coin a phrase, because it was given after the saints were driven out, after “the servants of the nobleman arose and were affrighted, and fled; and the enemy destroyed their works, and broke down the olive trees,” according to his interpretation.

    Subsequently, he regards the part of the parable that pertains to the Lord’s redemption of his vineyard, wherein he calls one of his servants to go and gather the “residue” of his people to reclaim it, as future for the saints in Joseph’s time, but not future for the saints in our time.

    This explanation has gone unchallenged, even though it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, because Joseph did organize a few saints and marched as Zion’s Camp to MO, ostensibly to redeem Zion. But, if Sperry, or anyone else regards this as the fulfillment of the prophecy implicit in the parable, I think it’s quite clear that they are mistaken.

    Far from redeeming Zion, the leader of Zion’s Camp, Joseph, was thrown into jail, some of the saints were murdered, their lands were confiscated, and the work of building the holy city in MO ended.

    This history does not fit the parable at all, because in it, the twelve trees are planted, the vineyard becomes fruitful and profitable enough to become the object of the enemy’s covetousness, and the hedge, the trees and the works of the servants are broken down and destroyed, by an enemy determined “to take upon themselves the fruit of [his] vineyard.”

    If Sperry’s explanation were to be taken seriously, and “this great evil” has already happened to Zion, and the enemy has already come, hardly gaining anything worth the effort, then why isn’t Zion now redeemed and the holy city built, with its glorious civil government and temple worship and all that glory that the holy prophets in the Bible saw concerning it, now fulfilled?

    We can’t have it both ways, can we? Either the parable is truly the word of God, or it is not. If it is true and Sperry’s explanation of it is correct, then the HQ of the saints should now be in MO. If it is true, but Sperry’s explanation is not, then there has to be another explanation.

    If it is not truly the word of God, but a figment of Joseph’s imagination, then there never was an enemy coming to destroy Zion, there never was a hedge to protect Zion, that the enemy breaks down, because the servants failed to build the watch tower, there never were twelve trees planted in the vineyard for the enemy to break down, and the servants of the Lord never fall asleep and never arise “affrighted” and flee for their lives, while their works are destroyed.

    BTW, can you imagine a controversy of Zion like this building over the Baptist, Presbyterian, or Evangelical claim to be the “right way” for Christians to worship Christ? Of course, there is always the Latter Rain movement, the New Apostolic Reformation and IHOP to consider, but they are a little late coming to the game.

    No, there are no good choices here for the controversy of Zion, unless one considers that the twelve trees that the servants were commanded to plant were planted some 175 years or so ago. The trees have borne much fruit since then, the hedge being their protector all this time, permitting watchman placed upon it to warn and ward off immediate danger, but not long-range danger that requires a higher vantage point to see.

    The watchman upon the tower would have had that high vantage point, and he would have been able to see that enemy, invisible to the watchmen on the hedge, which was maneuvering to take over the issuing of the currency of this country, who was subverting the educational system of this country, who was corrupting the governing bodies of this country, and who was plotting to establish a one world government, with a one world religion and a one world view of humanity that sees man as a serf of the elite and a resource for them to cultivate and husband through a scientific dictatorship.

    The saints would have then understood the Lord’s command to not suffer these evil cabals to get above them, who are to be recognized by their taking up the riches of the earth, and with gold and silver buying up armies, navies, popes and priests to reign with blood and horror on this earth, overthrowing the freedom of all lands, nations and countries, and seeking the destruction of all people.

    But, alas, the servants of the Lord did not build the tower. Consequently, the watchman did not have the required high vantage point to see what was happening long range, and the servants fell asleep, not seeing the danger, until the enemy’s work of destruction woke them up. What can they do now, but flee? I’m sorry to say, the trees are doomed, brethren, the works of a 175 years are doomed, according to the parable, because the hedge is being broken down and very soon none can prevent the enemy from spoiling the Lord’s vineyard.

    But if this bad news part of the parable is obviously being fulfilled to the letter, before our very eyes, so too the good news part will be fulfilled to the letter. After this great evil has run its course, the Lord will come and will require it at the hands of his servants, and surely the servants of the Lord will mourn for their transgression in not keeping the command of their Lord to build the tower, but he is still their Lord, and, now, his army is very great, numbering in the millions throughout the world.

    Will he not send his servant, Joseph, to gather the strength of his house, break them out of captivity in Bozrah, and march to Zion to redeem the land, as he promised? We can see a picture of it in the skies, and we can see it in the prophecies of the Bible, and we can learn about it from voices out of the dust and hear it by the voice of the Lord himself in our own day.

    Verily, verily, It is true: The Lord God will do nothing save he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.

  7. Sorry, I guess I messed up the quotes in the above comment. I hope its still readable, but sometimes it happens when there is no preview option for comments.

    1. Excal, my you are passionate about this parable , that was practically a book you
      posted in your last reply to me 🙂
      Seriously though , while I understand what are saying about this , and yes I did read
      the parable , I simply can’t delve deeply into your explanations of the words in it
      ( “tower”, ” vineyard”, etc,) . That would take me way off course from what I believe is
      the most crucial question which arises out of the things you have said thus far ,
      namely , if your leaders have erred by not obeying the commandment of the Lord
      to build a tower , then what else have they been disobedient in ? Your accusation
      against them according to how you understand this parable strikes at the very heart
      of their claim to be personally directed by the Lord and faithful to interpret His will
      to their followers , in short they have never led the Saints astray . Now it’s not very
      often I here from Mormons who admit his/her leaders are ignorant of or in denial of
      being in err on a important matter for the last 180 years . By your reasoning
      I hoped you would think even further about your leaders , specifically , what they
      have introduced in their “gospel preaching ” during all this time , did they stay
      true to what the Lord as revealed about the true gospel of salvation which He gave
      to His apostles ( Rom 1:16) or have Mormon apostles succumbed to, ” teaching
      for doctrine the commandments of men ” [ 2Tim 4;2-4 ; 2Cor 11:3-4 , etc . ] .
      Since you said this about Mormon apostles : ” These trees have borne much good
      fruit since then….” If by ” fruit ” you mean accurate doctrines , then we need to
      validate this claim by looking at the record . It’s my hope that you will do this soon.

      Lastly , you said , ” Either this parable is truly the word of God or it is not .”

      I do not believe it is scripture , neither do I believe it came from a true prophet
      of God . I know that Mormon prophets/apostles have not been appointed by the
      Lord to restore His gospel of salvation , rather they are whom Jesus long ago
      pre warned all of us to watch out for in these latter days —-Matt 24:11 .

      I can’t say much more on this thread . I’m praying for your eyes to be opened and
      you come to discover that receiving salvation from God is all about Jesus .
      Joseph, ( and his successors ) are’nt in the equation .
      Take care

      1. Mike, it would be helpful to know of any other candidates. I know not any. Like the apostles, whom the Lord asked, “Will ye also go away?” when many were offended at his doctrine, and forsook him, I answer, as did Peter.

        “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”

        Jesus said, “Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.”

        I can find no one who understands and believes that more than the Mormons do, and I can find no one who sanctifies his holy name more than they and their leaders do.

        If you know of any, Mike, please let me know. I would like to get to know them too.

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