Looking at Strang’s Letter of Appointment

By: Mormon Heretic
February 7, 2011

Just 9 days prior to his death, Joseph Smith sent a letter to James Strang.  Strang and his followers refer to this letter as the “Letter of Appointment”, believing that Joseph anointed Strang as a successor.  I have always wanted to read the actual letter, and I received an email from Tim Hansen, a high priest in the Strangite church with a copy of the letter.  He graciously said I could re-print it on my website, and also noted that it is available as a PDF on their website, along with the rest of an early church pamphlet called “The Diamond”, which outlines Strang’s call to prophetic office.

You may or may not have heard of Strangites.  The official name of the church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite) (no hyphen, capitalism different than the LDS church’s name.)  The church is still in existence.  I’ve blogged about the Strangites in the past, and there was quite a heated discussion about which website was the “official” church website (this or this).  In brief, Strang had an angelic visit ordaining him as prophet, and translated the Voree Plates and the Brass Plates.  Strang initially converted quite an impressive list of converts, though they all left him, including:

Book of Mormon witnesses

Apostles

Members of Joseph’s Family
  • Smith’s sisters
  • William Smith (already mentioned above),
  • and Joseph Smith’s mother, Lucy Mack Smith.

As you can imagine, there have always been questions about the authenticity of the letter.  While most experts agree that the postmark on the letter is genuine, Dale Morgan (as well as many other historians) believe the letter is a forgery.  (The actual document is housed at Yale University.)  However, I want to set aside these questions of authenticity and focus on the letter itself.  Assuming the letter is genuine, it seems to me that Joseph was merely establishing a stake in Voree.  In the beginning of the letter, Joseph refers to Strang’s previous epistle “proposing the planting a Stake of Zion in Wisconsin.”  Later in the letter Joseph says Strang “shall plant a stake of Zion in Wisconsin”.

It seems to me that Strang is reading more into this letter than it actually says.  I’m having a hard time reading this and assuming Joseph is appointing Strang as the head of the church.  In my mind, the story of and angel visiting Strang and appointing him as prophet, and his translations of the Voree plates and the Brass Plates are much more persuasive pieces of evidence than this letter.  What do you make of the Letter of Appointment?

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45 Responses to Looking at Strang’s Letter of Appointment

  1. JP on February 7, 2011 at 6:37 AM

    The letter does seem a bit vague. Maybe the word “stake of Zion” had a more significant meaning then, than it does today? There are lots of parallels between Strange and Smith in their claims of religious authority. Seems like his prophecies and translated scriptures would hold more clout among his followers than this rather vague letter.

    However, the fact remains (and this letter is a good piece of evidence for it) that JS did not make it at all clear who his successor should be. It’s not discussed much in the Church, (other than BY’s transformation in front of the Nauvoo saints while debating Sydney Rigdon) but the succession crisis was quite a fiasco. Brigham Young, in examining his tactics to squeeze out other competitors and elevate his own standing, comes off looking bad. Michael Quinn’s excellent book “The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power” is a good reference for this interesting chapter of Mormon history.

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  2. Mike S on February 7, 2011 at 9:36 AM

    I’ve heard about the letter – it was good to actually be able to read it. It does appear a bit vague, but at the same time, it is at least as credible as many of the other accounts from that era.

    A few comments:

    1) I think it does point out that the succession after Joseph Smith’s death isn’t as clear-cut as is presented in the modern LDS Church today. I’m sure there is certainly a portion of the “victors writing history” to it – even to the point where accounts of Brigham Young’s “transfiguration” have been written by people who, in retrospect, weren’t even there at the time.

    2) The one cool thing that I would have like to have been a part of is the nature of prophets in that era. People talked about seeing God and Christ, of having visions, of having angels appear with messages from God to man, etc. It has been a LONG time since we have had any official record of a prophet in the LDS Church actually testify to any of this – probably over a century. We get descriptions of our leaders studying things and praying for guidance and feeling good about some choices, but that’s the same thing that the rest of us do, both in and out of the LDS Church. I think it would be cool if prophets were more … prophetic.

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  3. mh on February 7, 2011 at 11:05 AM

    yes, I agree that it was not clear who would lead the church following joseph’s death. john hamer did a wonderful interview with john dehlin about the succession crisis. i’ll have to write up something on that interview. hamer says that hyrum was the most likely to lead, but he died with joseph. the second most likely to lead was sidney rigdon, but he was quite erratic. sidney did start his own church in pennsylvania, but it fizzled within a decade. however it was sort of revived by the bickertonites, who revere rigdon as the 2nd prophet (william bickerton is the 3rd), but sidney never joined the bickertonites.

    I agree that quinn’s book is awesome. I am intrigued by strang, because he fits the mold of a prophet better than anyone else. his movement rivaled brigham young’s church in size. while initially rejecting polygamy, he came to embrace a more limited form (limit 4 wives max). his polygamy and anti-alcohol stances got him assassinated just like smith. at the mha meetings last summer, larry foster noted the u.s. army came after brigham young, while the u.s. navy came after strang (on lake michigan).

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  4. Apmex on February 7, 2011 at 12:08 PM

    Mike:

    I did a bit of research on the word “prophet” this weekend and here’s what I found (it will require a bit of add’l reading, but it’s worth it) – but it relates to your wishing prophets were a bit more “prophetic”.

    Amos 3:7 – you know, the one about the Lord revealing his word through his duly ordained and set apart prophets – a classic missionary scripture. A couple of things (which will require further reading on your part) that coalesce together:

    1. A well laid out comparison of the differences between Priesthood and Authority:

    “Who can deny such a power to another? No man. Who can bestow it on another? No man. We like to think that the Church is divided into those who have it and those who don’t have it; but it is the purest folly to assume that we can tell who has it and who does not… The result is, that if there is anyone who really holds the priesthood, no one is in a position to say who it is—only by the power to command the spirits and the elements is such a gift apparent.”

    2. From there, head over to this discussion on 10 “tidbits” on both prophecy and prophets from the Old Testament

    “The word “prophet” is a very bad translation of an obscure Hebrew word, navi. Nobody knows what it means. But today they’d be called dissident intellectuals. They were giving geopolitical analysis, arguing that the acts of the rulers were going to destroy society. And they condemned the acts of evil kings. They called for justice and mercy to orphans and widows and so on.

    I don’t want to say it was all beautiful. Dissident intellectuals aren’t all beautiful. You read Sakharov, who is sometimes appalling. Or Solzhenitsyn. And the nivi’im were treated the way dissident intellectuals always are. They weren’t praised. They weren’t honored. They were imprisoned like Jeremiah. They were driven into the desert. They were hated. Now at the time, there were intellectuals, “prophets,” who were very well treated. They were the flatterers of the court. Centuries later, they were called “false prophets.”

    3. This led me to a search of the Hebrew meaning of the word, which is really the most important part of this discussion (if you ask me). For help, I emailed a couple of questions off to The Chronicle Project (those re-translating the Bible based on the assumption that Hebrew is a self-defining alphabet which is terribly hard to mis-translate, yet we’ve managed to do that – Strong’s Concordance, for example, has proven erroneous in between 40-50% of the references they’ve studied). Fantastic project, if you ask me. (I’d like it, but then it’d cue it up for moderation, so I’ll avoid that – but it’s www (d0t) thechronicleproject (dot) org – go there for more reading). Anyway, the owner of that site was gracious enough to reply to my question on just what the word “prophet” really means (I gave him Amos 3:7 as the reference). This is his reply, which gave me some joy:

    “Okay, on your word.
    NB means…to prophesy (you can find this on our two glyph set on the link above)
    The Y (this is by sounds) means…to manifest or have occur
    The A means…to activate, or to begin.

    So the word you have is (remember western English states backwards to Eastern sentence structure)
    to begin to manifest to prophesy or a prophecy which comes true. To fulfill a prophecy

    It is translated as prophet, but [it is really] a description of an action, not a noun. So you can be known as one who prophesies, but not a prophet.

    This word should not be translated as prophet even though it is over 300 times. We checked a couple of the placements and none should have had the word prophet.

    This is the EXACT description from the Hebrew you sent. There is no other translation that can be pulled from it.

    Unfortunately it is not man’s power of observation that is his great weakness, but his ineptness at conclusion.

    So, you can be known as one who prophecies, but not as a prophet. So to be a “prophet” in LDS speak, you’d have to prophesy.

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  5. John Hamer on February 7, 2011 at 7:56 PM

    From a historian’s standpoint, just looking at the content, the fact that Joseph Smith is anticipating his own death is problematic:

    “I have long felt that my present work was almost done, and that I should soon be called to rule a mighty host, but something whispers me it will be in the land of spirits, where the wicked cease from troubling and the bands of the prisoner fall off. My heart yearns for my little ones, but I know God will be a father to them…”

    Obviously, it’s much more likely that successful prophecies are written “ex post facto”. (This, of course, is no problem to explain if you believe, as the Strangite faithful do, that Joseph Smith had supernatural insight into the future.)

    Even though the “appointment” here is modest, i.e., James is not outright appointed “successor,” nevertheless the letter still calls upon the apostles to proclaim “to all the saints of God in all the world, that they may be gathered unto and round about the city of Voree.” The implication seems to be that Voree is the successor to Nauvoo, i.e., headquarters stake that all are called to build up, and not just an additional stake like the one they organized in Springfield, Illinois.

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  6. Bishop Rick on February 7, 2011 at 8:46 PM

    I have a slightly different take on the letter than you do. To me, it appears as Smith is appointing Strang to establish a Stake in Zion located in Wisconsin by the name of Voree. I think that much we agree on.

    But, at the very end of the letter, Smith states that if anything should happen to him, that Strang should lead the people to Voree.

    Two problems there.

    1. Brigham Young ended up leading the people’s exodus.
    2. He didn’t take them to Voree as instructed by God.

    Some might say that there is a big difference between leading people to Voree and being their Leader (prophet), but I think people are interpreting that section of the letter to fit their paradigm, and that paradigm insists that what actually happened must have been the will of God. In other words, the conclusion is already decided, now let’s gather facts to support that conclusion.

    I think the closing statement in the letter gave Strang as much of a claim to be the prophet as anyone else claimed to have. Did it come out and say, “James Strang will be the next prophet upon the death of my servent Joseph.”? No, but that statement wasn’t made about anyone else either.

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  7. Bishop Rick on February 7, 2011 at 8:52 PM

    John, that is an excellent point. All existing stakes were dissolved with the exodus from Nauvoo, so it stands to reason, this would have been the case with Voree (like SLC).

    I also agree with your ex post facto observation regarding JS prophesying his death. This does call into question the authenticity of the letter. My question there is whether JS had made similar statements elsewhere. If he did, then it is much more likely that he could have put this foretelling into the letter.

    “I go like a lamb to the slaughter.” comes to mind.

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  8. Mormon Heretic on February 7, 2011 at 9:15 PM

    John, glad you came by! I know that historians by nature tend to discount prophecy and prefer to explain things by more natural means, but I am curious if you might expound on the famous “lamb to slaughter” comment. Is there a less prophetic explanation that would discount Joseph’s foretelling of his death?

    The opening paragraph of the letter does not seem very flattering to Strang. In my mind, this would argue for the authenticity of the letter.

    “I, with most of the brethren whose advice I called in, were of opinion that you was deceived by a spirit not of this world, great but not good. Brother Hyrum, however, thought otherwise, and favored the project, not doubting it was of God. I, however, determined to return you an unfavorable answer for the present.”

    This isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of Strang, and seems that Hyrum supported the idea of Voree as a place of refuge more than Joseph. (Such an unflattering comment would argue for authenticity, IMO.) Things were very volatile in Nauvoo, and it is clear that Joseph was scouting other places, including Texas, Oregon, and Voree. I don’t think Voree was at the top of the list, which explains why others questioned Voree as a gathering place.

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  9. Mike S on February 7, 2011 at 11:11 PM

    It seems to be that Joseph knew he was driving things to a crescendo. While polygamy started out with a few quiet things here and there, as the years passed, Joseph was being married to more and more people. He was sealed to already married women. He was ruffling feathers.

    In a way, it was kind of between a rock and a hard place. If he denounced polygamy, then his prior actions would be seen in an even more unflattering light. If he continued with both feet in, however, it rallied the forces against him. It is somewhat understandable that he felt like a lamb to the slaughter. There wasn’t really another “end game” in sight.

    Unless Joseph could have brought the Saints far, far away (like BY), it was ultimately his fate.

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  10. John Hamer on February 8, 2011 at 2:39 PM

    I don’t see much in Joseph’s behavior that he anticipated the end. He did nothing to settle his affairs; he took no care to provide for his family. There was no final, parting words of wisdom to his sons and daughters. Aside from the claimed implications of Strang’s letter, nothing was done about the succession. If Joseph was prophesying as a prophet “I am really going to die here, folks,” you would think that folks would spend the last few days they had with him asking him questions like, “so, like, when you’re dead, who gets to be in charge?”

    After Joseph’s unexpected death, his followers remembered him saying that he was going “like a lamb to the slaughter”. Do we have that quotation written in a journal before Joseph’s death? I don’t deny that Joseph may have said such a thing (looking just now I note that Bushman doesn’t repeat that quote). But, even if Joseph did say it, my take is not that he actually anticipated his death; rather, he was signaling the gravity of his situation and possibly making a bid for sympathy.

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  11. John Hamer on February 8, 2011 at 2:41 PM

    Ooops — that should say “daughter” singular (by which I meant his adopted daughter Julia Murdock Smith).

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  12. Debatable on February 8, 2011 at 8:09 PM

    I think you are all still making the false assumption that the saints of that generation made, namely, that there was an anointed successor that God wanted to lead the church.

    If that is true, God is one piss-poor communicator, giving us at least seven ways the appointment was made and seven different people making the claim!

    Based on the supposition that there was an appointed person in the batters box, you are all evaluating the strength of each of the claims by the would-be successors, and they all are found wanting after being weighed in the balance.

    Have you ever seriously considered the possibility that there was no successor?

    After all, the prophecy that Joseph would have a successor, appointed by him via revelation (section 43) had already been fulfilled in the replacement of Joseph with Hyrum. (section 124 and later the conference when Joseph stated that Hyrum was now the President/Prophet)

    It is often conveniently forgotten that Joseph was not the presiding prophet of the church when he died… Hyrum was. BY even publicly confirmed it.

    Our generation refuses to accept Hyrum’s new appointment by prophecy just as that generation had difficulty accepting Hyrum in that role.

    Why do we find it so difficult to believe that God meant what he said when he warned that the church would be rejected with their dead if they did not repent and complete the Nauvoo Temple in the appointed time.

    BTW Voree is a non-issue as a replacement for Nauvoo since the Lord gave the saints an unconditional promise that

    “..if my people will hearken to my voice… behold verily … they shall not be moved out of their place”

    There was no place to go as long as the saints hearkened to the voice of God, they were to stay in the cornerstone of Zion where the righteous were to be sealed in their foreheads… if they didn’t, they were to be REJECTED.

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  13. Bishop Rick on February 8, 2011 at 8:59 PM

    John,

    What you say about Joseph not settling his affairs, and was likely not actually prophesying his death, is likely true, but that is not the point. The point is that it was not outside of precedence for Joseph to make such statements…whether or not he actually thought he was going to die.

    Personally, I’m skeptical that the letter was meant to appoint Strang as the next prophet…extremely skeptical.
    That said, I think there is room for discussion.

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  14. Apmex on February 8, 2011 at 10:07 PM

    Rick:

    This may be semantics, but you simply don’t (nor can you) appoint someone to be the “next prophet.” The discussion is about appointing the next President.

    As I shared earlier, our notion of what a prophet is or isn’t is more than a bit misguided. I generally believe that D&C 107:92 is an admonishment that the President (specific) is to be a “prophet, seer, and revelator” before being called (i.e. those gifts are to manifest themselves in advance of an actual calling). Joseph seemingly experienced those things/gifts. Strang, likewise, seemingly experienced at least some of those things/gifts.

    Did BY? That’s debatable – on at least one occasion he disavowed himself of the notion that he was a “prophet.”

    I do agree with Debatable in that we overlook the idea that the Nauvoo temple was to be built within an appointed timeframe. Many of those families were busy building their homes, businesses, etc., while the temple failed to get built by the appointed time. The Saints proceeded to build Nauvoo and their own homes rather than the Nauvoo Temple from 1841 to June, 1844 when Joseph and Hyrum were killed. When Joseph was taken, the Temple walls had not yet been completed to the second floor.

    When the Twelve prayed in the Temple on February 8, 1846 that the Lord would bless the Saints to be able to complete the Temple, the Temple caught fire the next day.

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  15. Detestable on February 8, 2011 at 10:46 PM

    Debatable-

    Are you taking into consideration that the prophecy in section 43 states that the Lord would call a successor to Joseph via Joseph only if Joseph was to eventually loose his gift of receiving commandments and revelations for the church?

    Also, are you suggesting that there simply was not an appointed successor and is no successor or church today?

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  16. Bishop Rick on February 8, 2011 at 10:57 PM

    Apmex,

    Yea, that would be semantics. People use the two terms interchangeably because the two titles have never been mutually exclusive. Just assume President.

    Regarding Debatable’s comment about the Temple not being built on time, that seems ridiculous to me.

    Really? God had a temper tantrum because his kids didn’t clean their room before bedtime?

    All throughout the scriptures, God is shown to be an impatient, uncaring, self-centered, prejudiced, sexist, indescriminant murderer, who will just throw away “his people” because they didn’t finish the temple on time.

    Are we supposed to revere such a being?
    Are we supposed to believe such nonsense?

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  17. Debatable on February 8, 2011 at 11:29 PM

    Detestable-

    Yes, I think history supports and satisfies that demand.

    As I recall, Joseph was being accused of being a fallen prophet during the early Nauvoo days because revelation was drying up.

    He had received about 100 revelations during the first seven years of his public ministry and less than 5 or 10 during the last seven years of his life.

    When section 124 came along informing the saints that they had lost the fulness of the priesthood, it had been about 2 years since his last published revelation.

    After turning things over to Hyrum, he receive no revelations of any import during the remaining three years of his life.

    I think that pretty much satisfies the terms of the passages in 43.

    I am not saying there were no successors to Joseph, only that God had not called any.

    Utilizing the law of common consent, each of the leaders who led the various factions could potentially qualify as successors I suppose, although I personally believe that the twelvites that went to Utah had additional reason to be taken as serious candidates.

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  18. Bishop Rick on February 8, 2011 at 11:58 PM

    And we haven’t had a revelation since.

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  19. Debatable on February 9, 2011 at 12:06 AM

    Well, as much as I hate to agree with someone who holds the God of Isreal in contempt,

    Agreed.. we haven’t had a revelation since.

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  20. Mormon Heretic on February 9, 2011 at 12:23 AM

    John, that makes a lot of sense. I think Jesus exhibited similar behavior prior to his death, and left a lot of confusion as to who would lead. We probably read more into Joseph’s “lamb to slaughter” comment, just as Strangites probably read more into the Letter of Appointment than is actually there.

    Apmex, I appreciate the definition of a prophet. But there were a few revelations after Joseph, albeit much fewer. D&C 138 on the spirit world is from Joseph F Smith, the 1978 revelation, and section 136 is from Brigham Young, telling the saints to go west, and let’s not forget the Manifesto.

    If we want to look at the CoC, they keep adding to the D&C, with section 164 (?) recently passed last year. And if we look at the Church of Christ with the Elijah Message, they’ve had several visits from John the Baptist in the past decade. But yes, revelations have certainly curtailed a bit for the LDS church.

    Debatable, I think all of the commenters here acknowledge the fact that neither Joseph nor God made it clear who the next leader should be (or if there should be a leader).

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  21. Debatable on February 9, 2011 at 7:40 AM

    Yes MH, it is apparent that they (and most people interested in the topic) realize that the succession issue was not made clear, it is however, less apparent that the possibility exists that there was no chosen successor.

    I can’t remember to many posts or articles presenting that scenario as a viable one.

    That was the main point I was attempting to make.

    It would be refreshing to see a post that presents that possibility as something to be taken seriously and then provides possible implications associated with it, ie, that the latter day saints have been cast off forever and a different people will be chosen to redeem Zion, or that there will there be another restoration among the descendants of those who stumbled the first time around, etc.

    Just a thought.

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  22. Apmex on February 9, 2011 at 8:58 AM

    Debatable: what are your thoughts on that scenario (i.e. no successor chosen, the Church being rejected) and what follows? The scriptures are ripe with language about the gospel being given to others, that the marvelous work + wonder is yet to happen, etc., but I’m interested in what you might have to say on it.

    MH: I’m not sure about the rest, but I would neither qualify the Manifesto (OD #1) nor the Priesthood thing (OD #2) as revelations.

    OD #1 is written as a “to whom it may concern letter,” and our Quads contain “excerpts” from three Woodruff discourses that reference “revelation,” but I’m not sold on them…it seems more of someone being more than a little selective in putting something in the scriptures to back it up. Susan Staker, in her biography on Woodruff entitled Waiting the Worlds End presents a starkly different picture (especially in the Introduction to that book, if you have a copy). Whereas Woodruff had received a revelation the year prior with the Lord speaking in 1st person telling him to make “no further” compromises with the Priesthood, Woodruff gives in and issues the Manifesto with language such as “I am forced to act…”.

    OD #2 mentions that at “revelation had been received” by Kimball. However, the Saints have never seen that revelation and OD #2 simply can’t be that revelation because it uses that revelation as a reference point for writing OD #2.

    Rick: I agree that in today’s LDS lexicon, the differences between “prophet” and “President” are mere semantics, but I think there is a vast difference that should be highlighted so as to reduce the conflation.

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  23. Debatable on February 9, 2011 at 11:22 AM

    Apmex-

    Yes, my take is that the Lord had not chosen a successor beyond Hyrum.

    He allowed the “condemned” (84) “corrupt” (112) and “rejected” (124) church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints to choose their own leader via the law of common consent.

    He obviously knew who would be chosen since he has all time, past, present and future before his eyes.

    I am familiar with the passages you refer to about the Lord raising another people, however, although other branches of Israel will be involved in the redemption of Zion, Joseph later clarified that the kingdom would not be given to another people.

    I don’t have that particular quote handy..

    Add to that the numerous times that God says that the keys of the kingdom will remain with Joseph during this life and the next.

    Also the promise in section 101 that Zion shall not be moved out of her place notwithstanding her children are scattered.

    That promise was later reiterated and clarified in section 103 revealing that the redemption of Zion would take place after much tribulation-

    “I have decreed that your brethren which have been scattered shall return to the lands of their inheritances, and shall build up the waste places of Zion.

    12 For after much tribulation, as I have said unto you in a former commandment, cometh the blessing.

    13 Behold, this is the blessing which I have promised after your tribulations, and the tribulations of your brethren—your redemption, and the redemption of your brethren, even their restoration to the land of Zion, to be established, no more to be thrown down.”

    I think there is a multitude of passages in modern and ancient revelation to indicate that, as you have indicated, the Marvelous Work and a Wonder did not take place back when the church was restored but rather it is a future event.

    I believe the Marvelous Work constitutes, as David Whitmer said, another future great work of restoration just like the one that Joseph did, wherein additional records will come forth.

    The Book of Mormon recognized the fact that the gentiles would initially stumble and reject the fulness of the gospel the first time around but it reveals that at a later time, a remnant of righteous gentiles will repent and receive the same blessing that the brother of Jared received… ie, penetrate the veil of unbelief and enter into the presence of God.

    That is my opinion, which, if accompanied with 50 cents, can get you a coke if you are at the right pop machine.

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  24. Mormon Heretic on February 9, 2011 at 7:48 PM

    Debatable, so do you lean toward no successor, or toward the idea that God has chosen another group of people? If so, which group is the chosen?

    Apmex, OD1 and 2 are essentially press releases, but I believe that revelations were received. I think OD1 and its’ footnote should be swapped, because the real nuggets are in the footnote.

    I have had some revelations of late, and very important ones to me, and I will tell you what the Lord has said to me. Let me bring your minds to what is termed the manifesto. …

    The Lord showed me by vision and revelation exactly what would take place if we did not stop this practice. If we had not stopped it, you would have had no use for … any of the men in this temple at Logan; for all ordinances would be stopped throughout the land of Zion. Confusion would reign throughout Israel, and many men would be made prisoners. This trouble would have come upon the whole Church, and we should have been compelled to stop the practice. Now, the question is, whether it should be stopped in this manner, or in the way the Lord has manifested to us, and leave our Prophets and Apostles and fathers free men, and the temples in the hands of the people, so that the dead may be redeemed. A large number has already been delivered from the prison house in the spirit world by this people, and shall the work go on or stop? This is the question I lay before the Latter-day Saints. You have to judge for yourselves. I want you to answer it for yourselves. I shall not answer it; but I say to you that that is exactly the condition we as a people would have been in had we not taken the course we have.

    … I saw exactly what would come to pass if there was not something done. I have had this spirit upon me for a long time. But I want to say this: I should have let all the temples go out of our hands; I should have gone to prison myself, and let every other man go there, had not the God of heaven commanded me to do what I did do; and when the hour came that I was commanded to do that, it was all clear to me. I went before the Lord, and I wrote what the Lord told me to write. …

    I leave this with you, for you to contemplate and consider. The Lord is at work with us. (Cache Stake Conference, Logan, Utah, Sunday, November 1, 1891. Reported in Deseret Weekly, November 14, 1891.)

    Now, I really scratch my head why so much attention is drawn to OD1, when the real revelation is in the footnotes. It seems to me that the press release to the world was seen as more important than the text of the revelation; the footnote is much more impressive than OD1.

    As for OD2, I think a similar reasoning applies. It is obvious that SWK received a revelation, and the 12 received it too. It is odd to me that we have the press release in the D&C, rather than the revelation. But that is not without precedent. Section 132 was a secret revelation for years before it was selected for canonization by Brigham young in the 1850′s.

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  25. Debatable on February 9, 2011 at 8:32 PM

    I feel God did not call a successor.

    He allowed the saints to choose their own via common consent.

    I believe a righteous remnant of the gentiles will repent and be instrumental in taking the fulness of the gospel to the seed of Lehi and the other branches of Israel when it is time for the marvelous work to begin.

    Of course, in the mean time, the $64 question is, what keys and authority and dispensation was the apostate church in possession of when they fled to Utah.

    We know from section 128 that the dispensation of the fulness of times had not been ushered in prior to the Nauvoo era and that the completion of it being ushered in was predicated on the completion of the Nauvoo Temple, etc.

    This is the great secret that has been hidden all this time, pertaining to what the true mission of the church has been during the last four generations.

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  26. The Truth on February 10, 2011 at 1:39 PM

    Look guys… the promise of recieving the fulness of the covenant as a covenant people was lost to us in Nauvoo. Think of the removed penalties in the temple. What are the promises to a full covenant society that remains that way? God fights their battles and receive divine protection. What happens in scripture when people break the covenant or don’t receive it in full when they had the chance? Being scattered is a covenant curse. Joseph himself said to run.

    D&C 124 has the key. See 124:31-32. To what I say in time or be rejected along with your dead (temple works).

    And if my people will hearken to my voice and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed to lead my people, behold, verily I say unto you, THEY SHALL NOT BE MOVED OUT OF THEIR PLACE. (124:45)

    Don’t deny revelation, If the Temple and Nauvoo House are not finished you must RUN AWAY.” Words of JS 179

    Joseph and Hyrum where debating wether to RUN west or face the mobs, who had already threatened their lives if they returned.

    We are ran by common conset. The true authority and power in the priesthood is something different than the authority we think we have and pass around.

    Are we practicing Knowing the Lord in the temples and calling it good, or are we actually meeting Him and prophets past taught all should?

    There must be a problem. Must be a break somewhere. When will this gentile movement gone bad repent? When will Zion be redeemed by a repentant group in or out of the church?

    My few cents that might be worth more the most can afford to throw out.

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  27. Bishop Rick on February 13, 2011 at 3:11 PM

    Debatable,

    I don’t hold the God of Israel in contempt. I question the accuracy of the descriptions of God in the scriptures.

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  28. Debatable on February 14, 2011 at 11:17 AM

    Same thing.

    God has given you his word, in his scriptures, to describe and define to you who he is.

    He has told you he is a consuming fire.

    You can reject that if you want. But if you do, you will burn when the reality of it manifests itself in the day of burning.

    He has told you that he is a jealous God.

    You may reject that and mock him for having character traits that you deem to be childish, since you are so much wiser than he is about his nature and character, but if you don’t humble yourself before the day of burning, you will find that he was telling you the truth.

    While there are numerous scribal errors in the scriptures, the truth is there for those who have a desire to find it.

    You made the following comments-

    “Regarding Debatable’s comment about the Temple not being built on time, that seems ridiculous to me.

    Really? God had a temper tantrum because his kids didn’t clean their room before bedtime?”

    Lets assume that section 124 was a true revelation (I believe it is. perhaps you don’t, time will tell) and that God meant what he said about rejecting the saints and their dead if they failed to finish the temple, how offended do you think God may be at your ridiculous remarks?

    You also said the scriptures characterize God “to be an impatient, uncaring, self-centered, prejudiced, sexist, indescriminant murderer, who will just throw away “his people” because they didn’t finish the temple on time.

    Are we supposed to revere such a being?
    Are we supposed to believe such nonsense?”

    What if the God that you have rejected and mocked, which is described time and time again in the four standard works, is in deed the only true God with the character traits that you find to be so insufficient?

    Where does that leave you?

    Have you not attempted to discredit the word of in the eyes of his children.

    It is bad enough if you mock the word of God within you own heart but why do you feel compelled to try to destroy the faith of other people in God’s word?

    Yes Rick, we are supposed to revere the only true God that is described in the scriptures, even if it appears to you that he is displaying character traits that you don’t appreciate.

    Maybe the paradigm presented in the scriptures is more accurate than yours.

    You are free to believe whatever you want and to reject the word of God and to mock God all you want, this is your season to do so without noticeable consequence, You can even try to take people with you down the forbidden path you are on, but your attempts to discredit him and his holy word in my eyes are insignificant because you obviously are not a credible source of gospel knowledge.

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  29. Apmex on February 14, 2011 at 11:40 AM

    Debatable:

    The scriptures present, oftentimes, entirely contradictory statements on the nature of God. To you he’s a “consuming fire.” To you, he’s a jealous God.

    To me, by contrast, he’s like a hen that gathers her chickens all day long, every day, every year, all the time. To me, by contrast, he’s love.

    You can either love God because you fear him (because he’s jealous, vengeful, an all consuming fire), or you can choose a different way. In my mind, loving God because of fear or anything other reason other than love is to love a figment, and not the real thing. Loving God because we’re afraid he might throw me into hell won’t do anything to my heart, won’t change my motives, won’t invite me into His presence. It’s a necessary question of motivation, and I argue that a focus on “jealousy” or “hell, fire and damnation” will do precious little to bring anyone closer to Him.

    “A recent full-page advertisement for Evangelism Explosion in a popular Christian leadership journal quoted a popular television preacher: “If God would dip all pastors in hell for a fraction of a second and then yank them up by their shirttails—as they are standing there smoldering and their clothes and skin are full of black soot, and their shoes have half melted off, I think their commitment to the Great Commission would substantially increase.”

    Sadly, he’s probably right, but that may point more to our weakness than God’s intentions. The threat of hell may get people to evangelize more, to repeat a sinner’s prayer or even join a congregation, but in doing so it gives a sordid view of God as one who delights in searing the soles of our shoes in order to get us to do things his way. Such a view of him will not invite us into the depths of his love.

    Here is the problem, isn’t it? Scripture seems to paint two contradictory portraits of the Living God—a terrible judge and a loving Father. Which is it? Can he be both?

    We read not only that God has prepared hell for the unbelieving, but also that he commanded Joshua to practice ethnic cleansing in Canaan, poured out fire from heaven to consume Sodom and Gomorrah and opened the earth to swallow those who opposed Moses. Unapproachable in his purity, even the most righteous fell on their faces near his presence paralyzed by their unworthiness. He demanded unquestioning obedience and punished with unspeakable anguish those who did not comply.

    No wonder we’re at least a little confused when he appears in the New Testament telling us how much he loves us and inviting us to be his children. We see Jesus healing the sick, forgiving prostitutes and murderers, going into the houses of sinners. He invited children in his lap and portrayed his Father as so tender that the most wayward sinner could run to his side in absolute safety.
    So what happened to God? Did he get saved somewhere between Malachi and Matthew? Had he reinvented himself into a nicer, gentler God? Of course not! He is unchanging, the same throughout all eternity.

    So, then is he both? Is he kind and gentle to those who please him, and vengeful toward the wicked? That’s what many of us have been taught to think, which is why we end up playing he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not games. We sift through every event to try and figure out if we are in his favor or out of it. If we think we are in, we can relax and coast through life. If, however, we think our difficulties prove we are out of favor then we have to try harder to please him; a course of action, Paul warns us against. True righteousness cannot come from human effort.

    There’s the problem. I can’t please him until I’m certain of his love for me, but he will not love me if I cannot please him. This is an endless loop that offers no resolution. How can he be a mean and vengeful God one moment and a kind and tender one the next. Those portraits don’t depict the same God in different circumstances, but rather contradictory portraits that leave us confused and uncertain of God’s true nature.

    Unless we can glean from Scripture a cohesive view of God’s nature we’ll never know who he really is or have the confidence to embrace the relationship he desires with us. God did not change between Malachi and Matthew. Our perception of him, however, changed drastically.

    I’m cool with the reasoning you provide on D&C 124, but I likewise think it doesn’t say anything about a petulant God. I think our perceptions are just off kilter. God gave the saints in Nauvoo 5+ years to get their act together, to build the temple, etc. After that period of time, they would be rejected not out of hate, or jealousy, or fear, or hell, but it was the necessary result of the decisions being made. That is to say, the families/individuals were more focused on businesses, homes, profit/losses – in fine, Babylon, than they were Zion.

    Even so, I don’t doubt for a minute that there were probably individuals among the larger community who were not rejected with the larger church body, individuals who were focused on Zion and the building of it, individuals who weren’t dissuaded from their efforts to do their part, even though the majority didn’t care or put forth anything more than a half-hearted effort.

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  30. Debatable on February 14, 2011 at 12:22 PM

    Apmex

    you are missing the point I am trying to make.

    You said-

    “To you he’s a “consuming fire.” To you, he’s a jealous God.”

    The point is that God himself presents and declares himself as a jealous God… those are HIS words not mine.

    You can choose to reject those words because you cannot comprehend then as being true, but that does not mean that they are not true.

    Your lecture on the other aspects of Gods character and his love is self existent and self apparent by other statements that God makes about himself.

    I don’t disagree that God is a loving God as you pointed out. I didn’t address those characteristics because those were not the characteristics that Rick was mocking.

    I disagree with your following statement-

    “The scriptures present, oftentimes, entirely contradictory statements on the nature of God.”

    That is simply not true.

    You are doing the same thing Rick is doing, you are showing that you do not consider the scriptures as a valid and accurate standard of truth.

    When the scriptures don’t make sense it might be because you don’t understand them or don’t have the faith to believe them rather than them being contradictory and false.

    Yes it is true that there are a few scribal problems in the translation, which JS corrected, but they were pretty few.

    One of the main things Rick was mocking was modern revelation where the chances of scribal problems are quite slim.

    It would be more accurate to say that there are some things in the scriptures that may APPEAR to be contradictory about Gods charactor traits.

    God is a God a wrath and jealousy to the natural man and to those who hate and reject him and he is a God of love to those who love him.

    Further, I don’t consider the descriptive of being a “consuming fire” to be only negative.

    The word consuming is also a positive word.

    Here is what a Book of Mormon prophet said about the consuming love of God.

    “He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.”

    Is it possible that the consuming nature of Gods glory is what purifies the humble and repentance and what brings wrath upon the wicked?

    Do you reject all of the scriptures that speak of the wrath of God upon the wicked in the end times just because you want to believe that God is only love and never wrath?

    Has it ever occured to you that the consuming fire of his wrath and love come from the same consuming fire and is only received based on the heart of the recipient?

    Does it make sense to reject the fact that God chose to give the saints a drop dead date for getting the temple finished before rejecting the church with their dead for a season, just because we interpret God’s ultimatum to be childish?

    Wo unto the arrogance of the natural man.

    I think it has become fashionable and politically correct in these times to question those old fashioned scriptures that don’t characterize God the way we want to characterize him.

    Please show me two characteristics about God’s nature that are given time and again in the four standard works (and not corrected in the inspired version) that truly contradict each other.

    I challenge you to support the statement you made by providing an example.

    I don’t think you can do it.

    Perhaps that would be a great blog idea for the heretic, to see what truly contradictory statements there are in the scriptures about the nature and character of God, that are not scribal in nature.

    I don’t believe there are any.

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  31. Bishop Rick on February 14, 2011 at 11:00 PM

    Debatable,

    Have you spoken to God? Has he told you that the words written in the scriptures are in fact his? That every word is accurate?

    I haven’t had that conversation with God, so he hasn’t told me anything.

    Do you really believe that ALL inhabitants of the earth were sinners at the time of Noah, save his family? So ALL the inhabitants outside of earshot of Noah were sinners? The children and unborn were sinners? The earth-dwelling animals were sinners? The whole earth deserved to be murdered, save Noah’s family?

    I don’t believe that nonsense. I think those are the words of man, not God. I can’t believe a loving father would be that callous and cruel.

    If you want to believe that rubbish, more power to you.
    The NT paints a much better picture of what a loving father should be. Much more believable. The OT has too many campfire stories being passed off as God’s word for my taste.

    Apmex has the right idea. I believe you are a bit off base.

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  32. Apmex on February 14, 2011 at 11:46 PM

    Debatable:

    I’m slightly bemused by your tone. Instead of using persuasion, reason, long-suffering or anything remotely resembling what the scriptures suggest you do when someone disagrees with you, you jump into a mini diatribe about arrogance and my supposed rejection of scripture.

    The same thing happened when Rick joined the conversation and you jumped on him saying that he held God “in contempt.” It was a ridiculous accusation then, and remains so today.

    What I saw in Rick’s statement is the same thing I see when I read the New + Old Testaments. There’s enough information out there about all the “scribal” errors and others which aren’t scribal to make anyone’s head spin. And all of these scriptures are based of some dude’s cultural interpretations. Yes, the majority of them are inspired. Yes, they are our standard works. Yes, I don’t hold them in contempt.

    But, when I meet people who don’t have my worldview, they jump on me as if I’m an “arrogant natural man” who holds the scriptures “in contempt.” When I first read that, I laughed. And I’m still bemused by it.

    To your “challenge”, I’d simply add this:

    “And this is The Gospel, the glad tidings, which the voice out of the heavens bore record unto us — That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness; That through him all might be saved whom the Father had put into his power and made by him; Who glorifies the Father, and saves all the works of his hands, except those sons of perdition who deny the Son after the Father has revealed him. Wherefore, he saves all except them…”

    “And this I do that I may establish my gospel, that there may not be so much contention; yea, Satan doth stir up the hearts of the people to contention concerning the points of my doctrine; and in these things they do err, for they do wrest the scriptures and do not understand them.
    Therefore, I will unfold unto them this great mystery; For, behold, I will gather them as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if they will not harden their hearts; Yea, if they will come, they may, and partake of the awaters of life freely. Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church.”

    As for some pretty ridiculous passages that (a) show what I believe is an errant view of God or His nature and (b) that I am “arrogant” and “contemptuous” enough to dislike them:

    1) Judges 11:30-35
    2) Deuteronomy 23:1
    3) Genesis 38:8-10
    4) Deuteronomy 25:11-12
    5) Jeremiah 19:9
    6) Psalms 137:9
    7) Deuteronomy 22:23-29
    8) Ezekiel 4:12
    9) Exodus 22:18
    10) 1 Tim. 2:12

    Shall I continue? Or, perhaps we should read Jesus, Interrupted and move on from there.

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  33. Debatable on February 15, 2011 at 4:20 PM

    No I haven’t seen God and I don’t need to in order to believe what he has told the world about himself through his prophets in the Old and New Testaments as well as the Prophet Joseph Smith.

    Faith comes first. Knowledge follows.

    In section 84 the Lord told the saints they had been brought under condemnation for taking lightly the things they had received… namely, the “Book of Mormon and the former commandments”

    The former commandments included the Old and New Testament as well as the new revelations being received by JS.

    God even instructed the first elders to prove the new revelations using the words of the ancient prophets from the Old and New Testament (D&C 20:26 27:6 35:23 42:12 45:60)

    In other words, the saints fell under condemnation for taking lightly God’s word in the scriptures.. including his character and attributes that are listed in the scriptures.

    That is exactly what the two of you are doing. You are taking lightly Gods word.

    You are promoting the idea that the scriptures are not credible and reliable.

    Further, Rick, you have said that the statements of God found in section 124 reflect a God who is having a “temper tantrum because his kids didn’t clean their room before bedtime”

    I am sure God will be happy to discuss this with you if you make it through the burning.

    You further mock God and his word by making the following accusations after God has commanded us to accept the teachings found in ancient and modern scripture as part of the law that we live by.

    “All throughout the scriptures, God is shown to be an impatient, uncaring, self-centered, prejudiced, sexist, indescriminant murderer, who will just throw away “his people” because they didn’t finish the temple on time.

    Are we supposed to revere such a being?
    Are we supposed to believe such nonsense?”

    God offered the scriptures to the saints as part of the law they are to go by but the two of you are wiser than God. (secgion 42)

    God had the Lectures on Faith canonized as the “Doctrine” part of the “Doctrine and Covenants” so that the character and attributes of God that are offensive to the both of you could be taught to those who wanted to know God and serve him.

    In them we are taught that along with love and many other character traits, JUSTICE and JUDGMENT is also a character traits.

    One of the main Purposes of the Lectures on Faith was to reinforce what the character and attributes of God are.

    You will notice that 90+% of the supporting documentation for the Lectures on Faith comes from the Old and New Testament.

    Apparently Joseph, Sidney and God did not find the scriptures to be as lacking as the two of you do.

    Section one (12-16) warned the world to “prepare for that which is to come… the ANGER of the Lord is kindled, and his sword is bathed in heaven, and it shall fall upon the inhabitants of the world”

    In those passages God further warned that those who do not give heed to the words of the ancient and modern “prophets and apostles” would “be cut off from among the wicked”

    He observes that each one that will be cut off is practicing idolatry-

    “every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own God, whose image is in the likeness of the world”

    The God of Israel is a God of Love but he is also a God of ANGER and WRATH and JUSTICE and JUDGMENT.

    The image of God that the two of you worship is an image that you have created yourselves because you are wiser than God and the words of his prophets and apostles in the scriptures

    Your God has been created in the image of the world.

    I love you guys.

    I am not trying to antagonize you for the sake of antagonizing you.

    I sincerely hope that someday you will begin believing in the scriptures in a serious way and drop the “you can’t trust the scriptures because they contradict themselves and describe God as being an angry judgmental God of wrath” bullshit.

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  34. Apmex on February 16, 2011 at 1:04 PM

    The image of God that the two of you worship is an image that you have created yourselves because you are wiser than God and the words of his prophets and apostles in the scriptures.

    Your God has been created in the image of the world.

    I love you guys.

    I am not trying to antagonize you for the sake of antagonizing you.

    I sincerely hope that someday you will begin believing in the scriptures in a serious way and drop the “you can’t trust the scriptures because they contradict themselves and describe God as being an angry judgmental God of wrath” bullshit.”

    Thank you, Apmex, for your concern.

    What I find funny about this whole situation (and many, many similar situations) is that the minute someone disagrees with anything in scripture, they’re lambasted for thinking that they “are wiser than God and the words of his prophets and apostles in the scriptures.”

    Please, spare me the melodramatics. God gave me a brain, a heart and expects me to use it. If I see something that I disagree with or simply doesn’t resonate with me, then it is not only my right, but my obligation to do so. Someone can disagree with something and no do so based on prideful motives (i.e. I’m “wiser” than them).

    Please don’t assume that what you think you know is applicable, part and parcel, to me. What you receive as revelation and knowledge may not fit the path that I am asked to trod. You’re approaching this conversation from an extremely dogmatic viewpoint – that it’s your view of the scriptures, or your way of thinking, or nothing.

    I posted this elsewhere, but think it’s worth re-reading:

    “It is now possible to be a “Mormon heretic” for believing doctrine which someone else has determined should be discarded — a thing which was unimaginable at the time of Joseph Smith, even as a result of an actual error in doctrine. For Joseph, the way to reclaim some errant Saint was, well, confined to the means permitted by revelation: “only by persuasion, by long–suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile.” (D&C 121: 41-42.) …

    …To become a Mormon, if you aren’t born one, you must go through a conversion process which is grounded in the bedrock of revelation. You must pray and ask God if the Book of Mormon is true, and then you are to get an answer from God. We expect you to have a revelatory experience to join. But, once you have joined, then the scope of your revelatory experience is strictly limited. You must NOT question any leader, nor ever expect God to tell you something about any subject over which you do not preside, nor to ever realize through the inspiration of the Spirit that there are foolish, vain and wrong notions circulating about. You must NOT notice that Deseret Book has become a repository of false and foolish books parading sentimentality as if it were salvific. You should never consider God’s revelations to you as something to be honored apart from what the institution says, does, does not do, or does poorly. Indeed, the voice of God will come to you solely and exclusively through the institution. If you need to know something, then the institution will tell you. Unless you hear your orders from it, then stay as you are. …

    Now that we have chosen to establish “orthodoxy” we are risking the freedom to be individually accountable for our beliefs before God. We have also lost doctrinal adventurism. This is because of our critics.

    You see one of the harms of tolerating divergent opinions about doctrine is the clamor of the critics. They take a quote here and juxtapose it with another quote there, and say that Mormonism is a bundle of confusion. We targeted that in the Correlation process and have attempted to entirely stamp out the divergent or disagreeing doctrinal statements or positions. We want “oneness” in a different way than Paul suggested it in the post I referenced above. In doing so, we have conceded the point to our critics, and now make unity of doctrine a greater virtue than freedom to progress and develop our own understanding by degrees.

    Sometimes what you understand at one point is not what you understand at another. Hugh Nibley, for example, said nothing he wrote ten years earlier would be binding upon him because he continued to discover and learn. We would be benefited from a similar approach all the way from the top to the bottom. New converts will, by degrees, leave their earlier faith traditions behind them. Or they won’t. Instead they will bring with them an understanding from those traditions which have a resonance with the Book of Mormon or something in the Doctrine and Covenants which had escaped all our notice before. And we will all be “added upon” by tolerating their view, even embracing their view. Freedom always pays dividends which control cannot.”

    And this:

    “I did not like the old man being called up for erring in doctrine. It looks too much like the Methodist, and not like the Latter-day Saints. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be asked out of their church. I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please. It feels so good not to be trammeled. It does not prove that a man is not a good man because he errs in doctrine.” – Joseph Smith

    So I think I’m done for this conversation. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe you’re wrong. I don’t really care that much, to be honest, especially with how you approach the conversation and the carefully crafted words you use which are aimed at undermining my side of the equation. Unless – and until – you can have a conversation that is free from mini-diatribes about my “arrogance,” “ignorance,” “wiser than” they, or anything else, I’ll go my separate way and be “arrogant,” “ignorant,” foolish and a bullshitter.

    Thank you very much for reminding me why I loathe dogma.

    P.S. As to your thoughts on the Bible, I simply have a different outlook. I guess that makes me ignorant, arrogant, foolish and a devil worshiper. Thus saith Debatable.

    Apostolicity: … for a book to be considered Scripture it had to have been written by an apostle or a companion of an apostle … Scripture was not acceptable if it was anonymous or if it had been written by any ole person. In many cases it was difficult to make a judgment. Serapion decided that the Gospel of Peter was not really written by Peter, even though it claimed to be. He did not reach this conclusion by the kind of historical analysis that a modern critic might use. The basis of his decision was quite simple – his preexisting ideas: the book was not sufficiently orthodox, and so could not have been written by Peter.

    Orthodoxy: Serapion’s use of a theological criterion is indicative of how such judgments were typically made. The most important gauge for whether a book could be considered sacred Scripture was whether it promoted a view that the proto-orthodox considered to be acceptable theologically. Books that were not orthodox were nonapostolic; and if they were nonapostolic they could not be scriptural.

    In the long and protracted debates over canon, it was not hard for the proto-orthodox to weed out books that were clearly unorthodox, including all of the Gnostic Gospels, for example. Even though it was claimed that Gospels had been written by Thomas, Philip, Mary Magdalene, and others, these claims could not be sustained. The evidence was a priori: the books were heretical, and apostles would never write heresy. [Source]

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  35. Apmex on February 16, 2011 at 1:08 PM

    Should say, “Thank you, Debatable, for your concern…”. Fat head + fat fingers = a contemptuous figure.

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  36. Al Thompson on April 1, 2011 at 10:49 AM

    I have read that Smith’s wife believed that Strang was the rightful successor to her husband, but also read that she did not go with Strang to Voree. What’s the truth about this?

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  37. MH on April 1, 2011 at 11:09 AM

    While many of Joseph Smith’s family (most notably his brother William) embraced Strang and joined his movement, Emma did not join with any of the schismatic groups. As I recall, she discouraged her sons from joining or starting any movements. When Joseph Smith III felt called to start the RLDS church, she did a attend some meetings. Her prior baptism was considered valid and she was considered a member of record for both LDS and RLDS churches, but Emma did not make any attempts to endorse Strang to my knowledge. I have also heard that she was interested in his claims. Certainly many schismatic leaders tried to get her endorsement. Of any of the groups, she seems to have given the RLDS the most support, IMO.

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  38. Rick Hurd on April 24, 2013 at 3:08 AM

    “Yale University claims that Joseph’s signature is a forgery.” Please cite references so that these claims can be verified.

    An independent group of handwriting experts c
    came to the conclusion that the signature was genuine (THE TEACHINGS OF A MORMON PROPHET p. 250-263.)

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  39. Rick Hurd on April 24, 2013 at 3:15 AM

    The Letter of Appointment clearly states that James J. Strang would be like Joseph Smith Jr. who was “the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel.” And to make this even more clear, the letter goes on state that Joseph Smith Jr. was the “the Shepherd and Stone of Israel.”

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  40. Mormon Heretic on April 24, 2013 at 7:06 PM

    Ah, I see that wasn’t the most eloquent wording. I will fix the OP. As for a reference, Lawrence Foster’s writes in his book “Religion and Sexuality: The Shakers, the Mormons and the Oneida Community” – Page 325, footnote 27.

    In his Calendar of the Strang Papers, pp. 21-28, Dale L. Morgan points out a number of factors which suggest a forgery. First, the letter is hand printed. Second, the signature of the letter, written by the same hand as the text of the letter, bears not the slightest resemblance to Joseph Smith’s distinctive signature. Finally, the content of the letter itself is extremely uncharacteristic of Joseph Smith’s writing style, but is strikingly similar to a beautiful passage in Strang’s own diary for March 20, 1833. For these and a number of other complex reasons, Morgan concludes that the letter was probably a forgery by Strang. I have carefully examined the original “letter of appointment” and fully concur with Morgan’s judgment.

    Here is the link to Lawrence Foster’s opinion: http://books.google.com/books?id=aPrEwTzypR0C&pg=PA325&lpg=PA325&dq=dale+morgan+strang+forgery&source=bl&ots=x-B2lVSwHr&sig=QhS6PNsfFKOSwwseQHuhZN2oa0M&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Jn94UdWxL8GFrQHwwoCwAw&ved=0CDkQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=dale%20morgan%20strang%20forgery&f=false

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  41. Rick Hurd on April 25, 2013 at 7:01 AM

    I have examined the signature with other known signatures of Joseph Smith, and have concluded that it looks the same, but I am not a hand writing expert, and I doubt that either Lawrence Foster or Dale L. Morgan are either. Again, for serious researchers, an independent group of handwriting experts came to the conclusion that the signature was genuine. There findings can be examined in the book compiled by William Shepard, Donna Falk and Thelma Lewis (p. 250-263). You can find that book at the following web address: http://www.worldcat.org/title/james-j-strang-teachings-of-a-mormon-prophet/oclc/5708816/editions?referer=di&editionsView=true

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  42. MH on April 25, 2013 at 11:59 AM

    Rick, the signature is just one aspect. Morgan talks about paper, the wording of Strang’s journal, block letters instead of script, and other factors. I’m no handwriting expert either, but the signature looks suspicious to me as well. It is possible the letter was written by one of Joseph’s scribes, but no known scribe ever wrote in block letters. If you could find block letters from one of Joseph’s known scribes, that would really help your case.

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  43. Rick Hurd on April 26, 2013 at 2:47 AM

    Joseph Smith had numerous scribes who could have copied the letter:

    “As Joseph transitioned into his role as prophet of God, capable men served has his personal scribes, assistants and secretaries until, at the time of his death, he had amassed an entire office staff. In his collection of 10 journals alone, which consist of 1,500 pages, a mere 35 — or 2 percent — are in the prophet’s own handwriting.” http://www.ldsliving.com/story/1580-joseph-smiths-scribes-recorded-his-crooked-broken-language?fm=1

    Anyone of these scribes could have copied the letter. The fact remains that an independent group of handwriting experts came to the conclusion that the signature on the letter was genuine. (THE TEACHINGS OF A MORMON PROPHET p. 250-263.)

    Hear is a different post narrative that researchers should consider:

    “Mrs. Emma Smith recollects well of her husband receiving a letter from Mr. Strang, and holding a council on the subject, and names Hyrum Smith, Willard Richards and John Green as present at that council, and also that a letter was sent to Mr. Strang in answer, but of the import of the answer she was not informed.
    Immediately after the martyrdom of Joseph, John Taylor, Willard Richards and William W. Phelps took a kind of temporary direction of that affairs of the church, instruction the saints to wait patiently the hand of the Lord; assuring them that he had not left them without a shepherd, and that all things would be made known in due season. To every question of the saints, who is the prophet replies were made in substance that the saints would know in due season, but that nothing could be done till the Twelve got home, because the appointment of a prophet and the directions for salvation of the church of the church from the perils they were in was contained in sealed packages directed to them. Orson Hyde and others of the Twelve who were then in the east stated in public congregations in New York, Philadelphia and others cities that Willard Richards had written to them that the appointment of a prophet was left with him under seal, to opened on the return of the Twelve. This assertion was so often made that the whole church were daily expecting to hear a new prophet proclaimed. On the eighth of August, 1844, when Sidney Rigdon endeavored to obtain authority to lead the church, John P. Green, marshal of the city of Nauvoo, told them “they need not trouble themselves about it for Joseph had appointed one James J. Strang, who lived up north, to stand in his stead.” The sudden death of John P. Green immediately after this declaration (under very extraordinary circumstances) left Willard Richards and John Taylor sole repositors of all documents on this subject except this letter. They had simply to suppress documents in their hands to set themselves up in power, or overthrow themselves and their pretensions by publishing them. These and many other facts, which we have not room to state, make an array of testimony of the strongest kind in favor of this letter. It is worthy of consideration that no one fact has been relied on against it, but that in various quarters different false tales have been told to disparage it, which a mere inspection of the letter or of public records would prove false. The only reason which can be given for this continual resort to falsehood is that there in no truth against it.”(Diamond p. 6-7 http://web.archive.org/web/20011207155648/http://members.aol.com/strangites/index.htm)

    Joseph Smith’s younger brother, William Smith, who was one the Twelve Apostles at the time of Joseph’s death, wrote: “It is to remembered that, soon after Joseph and Hyrum’s death, brother Green died, and he was heard by numerous individuals to say that Joseph had appointed Strang.” (http://web.archive.org/web/20011014003356/http://members.aol.com/strangites/WilliamSmith.htm)

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  44. Rick Hurd on April 26, 2013 at 8:27 AM

    The Letter of Appointment serves as one of the few sacred symbols of Strangitism that has survived. Rhetoric directed against it is considered as anti-Mormon rhetoric by adherents. When that rhetoric is broad casted over media outlets owned by an institution, such as BYU TV, than that rhetoric becomes institutionalized. Thus you have institutionalized anti-Mormon rhetoric. The same could be said of the Voree Plates, but that is another subject that I will not get into here.

    The Letter of Appointment is also sort of a grand narrative. The 1848 periodical “published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints” titled the Diamond lays out some of those grand narratives, i.e. Joseph Smith receives a revelation appointing James Strang his successor; parts of that revelation along with a letter called the Letter of Appontment was mailed to James Strang; only Hyrum Smith, Willard Richards and John Green witnessed that event; Joseph and Hyrum Smith were martyred; John Green was murdered because he wouldn’t keep his mouth shut; Brigham Young lied and murdered his way to power, and etc.

    Researchers may want to add the Diamond to their collection for their studies of Mormonism, because, regardless of anti-Mormon rhetoric, Strangitism is here to stay.

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  45. rickhurd on May 10, 2013 at 9:20 AM

    The Doctrine and Covenants clearly defines the criteria for Joseph Smith’s successor:

    Joseph Smith would be followed by another prophet appointed by Joseph Smith himself, D&C 35:17-18, 90:3-4.

    Joseph Smith’s successor had to be chosen by revelation, D&C 102:9.

    The revelation could only come from Joseph Smith himself, D&C 28:2,7, 43:3.

    This requirement, that the successor would be appointed by Joseph Smith himself, was made so that the church would not
    be deceived by a false leader, D&C 43:4-6.

    The successor had to be ordained in the manner previously told by God, D&C 43:7.

    God had previously told that Joseph Smith was ordained by angels, D&C 27:7-8,12.

    Of all those who have claimed to be the successor to the prophetic office, only James Strang claimed to be both appointed by Joseph Smith and ordained by angels. None of the others who wanted leadership of
    the church even claimed to fulfill the minimum requirements.

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