Updated: Mar 2
I have been through a series of experiences that lead me to begin a deep study of the scriptures. I have had thoughts impressed upon my mind, questions to study out, that as I’ve searched for answers from the scriptures and prayer, have had so much open up to me. I have memories of reading the scriptures as a child or youth and the spirit teaching me about what I was reading, but there was cognitive dissonance with what I learned in Sunday school. Unfortunately, I ultimately was dwindling in unbelief, trusting in the false authority a volunteer calling or leadership position as way more capable of hearing God for me than I was. ...Which is breaking both the first and second great commandments: Love, which includes trust, God, above all else! With all the energy of my soul! And like unto it, love my neighbor as myself; equally in need of our great and merciful Savior, and not to be esteemed as greater or less than myself. Not to be trusted over or instead of the very promptings of the Spirit of my God!
I have gained a richer and fuller testimony of my Savior, of just how important it is to repent and come unto Him with a broken heart and contrite spirit; to truly seek Him and to come into His presence in this life. This is the Doctrine of Christ and it is contained in the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith truly was given a gift to translate ancient records. He was also commanded not to pretend to any other gift. Instead, he established a church and set himself as the head of it as prophet, seer and revelator. Christ is the head of his church. Joseph unfortunately set a precedent that revelation for the church could only come through him, and we are now like unto the Israelites who looked to Moses to tell them what God said instead of seeking his face ourselves. Manifestations and gifts of the Spirit were common in the days before the organization of the church, and began to dwindle after that point.
Our current model is more accurately described as after the order of Nehor: Our top most leaders are popular and supported by the people, and, while Nehor said all mankind would be saved, we limit it to, "you must be LDS to be saved." I can show you the conference talk. Probably multiple.
What did Nehor teach?
3 And he had gone about among the people, preaching to them that which he termed to be the word of God, bearing down against the church; declaring unto the people that every priest and teacher ought to become popular; and they ought not to labor with their hands, but that they ought to be supported by the people. 4 And he also testified unto the people that all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life. 5 And it came to pass that he did teach these things so much that many did believe on his words, even so many that they began to support him and give him money. 6 And he began to be lifted up in the pride of his heart, and to wear very costly apparel, yea, and even began to establish a church after the manner of his preaching. Alma 1
In the days of Brigham, we can draw a very clear parallel between him and King Noah in Mosiah 11. If you're here and not familiar with LDS culture, below is an illustration from the gospel art kit depicting King Noah. For my LDS friends - make sure to clear your mind of this carefully crafted representation. I say crafted because it distorts our understanding of what’s truly being said. Spoiler alert: there are no actual jaguars …
1 And now it came to pass that Zeniff conferred the kingdom upon Noah, one of his sons; therefore Noah began to reign in his stead; and he did not walk in the ways of his father. 2 For behold, he did not keep the commandments of God, but he did walk after the desires of his own heart. And he had many wives and concubines. And he did cause his people to commit sin, and do that which was abominable in the sight of the Lord. Yea, and they did commit whoredoms and all manner of wickedness. 3 And he laid a tax of one fifth part of all they possessed, a fifth part of their gold and of their silver, and a fifth part of their ziff, and of their copper, and of their brass and their iron; and a fifth part of their fatlings; and also a fifth part of all their grain. 4 And all this did he take to support himself, and his wives and his concubines; and also his priests, and their wives and their concubines; thus he had changed the affairs of the kingdom. 5 For he put down all the priests that had been consecrated by his father, and consecrated new ones in their stead, such as were lifted up in the pride of their hearts. 6 Yea, and thus they were supported in their laziness, and in their idolatry, and in their whoredoms, by the taxes which king Noah had put upon his people; thus did the people labor exceedingly to support iniquity. 7 Yea, and they also became idolatrous, because they were deceived by the vain and flattering words of the king and priests; for they did speak flattering things unto them. 8 And it came to pass that king Noah built many elegant and spacious buildings; and he ornamented them with fine work of wood, and of all manner of precious things, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of brass, and of ziff, and of copper; 9 And he also built him a spacious palace, and a throne in the midst thereof, all of which was of fine wood and was ornamented with gold and silver and with precious things. 10 And he also caused that his workmen should work all manner of fine work within the walls of the temple, of fine wood, and of copper, and of brass. 11 And the seats which were set apart for the high priests, which were above all the other seats, he did ornament with pure gold; and he caused a breastwork to be built before them, that they might rest their bodies and their arms upon while they should speak lying and vain words to his people.
A summary and juxtapostion:
I endeavored to learn about polygamy from the Lord and have come away from that labor convicted that Joseph did not practice polygamy. If he did, there is an account by David Whitmer that witnesses that he was working to fix his error right before the time of his death. In any case, my salvation is not determined by any man, and I look to Christ alone. I do testify to the truth of the Book of Mormon, as through its teachings I have come to know Christ and also to know the errors of the church professing to believe in it. I also believe that it was the only work Joseph was called to perform.
The early church after Joseph was murdered was rotten with sexual sin through spiritual wifery and teachings that exaltation was increased and righteousness was added upon with each additional wife. (vs 2,4) Tithes were set up like with King Noah. (vs 3,6) In Utah, the people were turning green from eating weeds, starving, and Brigham was building his mansions for all of his wives, like the Lion House, off of the tithing that he treated as a debt or tax. This is not supported scripturally, and if you want some sources on that, check out this timeline on the history of tithing. The link to that is on Hemlock Knots were you can also find the documentary on the above claims.
Another parallel to King Noah is that Joseph and all the successors he named were murdered. Joseph's "chief priests," to borrow from the words of Mosiah, were excommunicated and Brigham kept his own inner circle about him. (vs 5)
We’re deceived by the vain and flattering words - How often are we told how we are, “a chosen generation,” “the only true church,” that “Zion prospers,” ...maybe it’s time to get off our rameumpton! Alma 31:13-23
So many elegant and spacious buildings made of so many precious things. (vs 8,9) Even our churches all have an elevated stand and a pulpit! (vs 11)
Laman and Lemuel would have declared to Lehi the righteousness of Noah and his priests, just as they had the Jews. “These are good church going people! You’re just judging them, dad.”
1 Nephi 17:22 And we know that the people who were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people; for they kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his commandments, according to the law of Moses; wherefore, we know that they are a righteous people; and our father hath judged them.
Side note, did you know that polygamy was one of the practices in Jerusalem at that time? And it was ripe for destruction.
Compare the scriptures about King Noah to the ones below about King Benjamin. In Mosiah 1, King Benjamin does not point to himself or even any of the prophets preceding him. He does not claim that by their word alone it would have been sufficient to keep the people from dwindling in unbelief! Today we practically discard the scriptures for what the most recent leader has to say. It is preached from the pulpits to do so! When I try to discuss the doctrine of Christ, I pull out the scriptures and get responded to with conference talks! Without the scriptures and the Spirit testifying to us, unfolding the mysteries to our view; we cannot suppose we would do any better than Lehi's people or King Benjamin's people to also be at risk to dwindle in unbelief and not believe the doctrine when it is plainly laid before us, because of traditions which are not correct.
Mosiah 1:3 My sons, I would that ye should remember that were it not for these plates, which contain these records and these commandments, we must have suffered in ignorance, even at this present time, not knowing the mysteries of God. 4 For it were not possible that our father, Lehi, could have remembered all these things, to have taught them to his children, except it were for the help of these plates; ... that thereby they could teach them to their children, and so fulfilling the commandments of God, even down to this present time. 5 I say unto you, my sons, were it not for these things, which have been kept and preserved by the hand of God, that we might read and understand of his mysteries, and have his commandments always before our eyes, that even our fathers would have dwindled in unbelief, and we should have been like unto our brethren, the Lamanites, who know nothing concerning these things, or even do not believe them when they are taught them, because of the traditions of their fathers, which are not correct.
Noah and his priests were supported by the people, the people themselves becoming idolatrous - lifting up and supporting and sustaining the people flattering them! (2023 edit: how is there not a public decry in the church against 32 billion being dishonestly handled? To quote Carl Sagan: "One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We're no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It's simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we've been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back." I will add: Except through the grace of God, and repenting and turning to Him. There is immense power in that.)
While Noah was supported off of taxation, this is how King Benjamin did it:
Mosiah 2:12 I say unto you that as I have been suffered to spend my days in your service, even up to this time, and have not sought gold nor silver nor any manner of riches of you; 13 Neither have I suffered that ye should be confined in dungeons, nor that ye should make slaves one of another, nor that ye should murder, or plunder, or steal, or commit adultery; nor even have I suffered that ye should commit any manner of wickedness, and have taught you that ye should keep the commandments of the Lord, in all things which he hath commanded you— 14 And even I, myself, have labored with mine own hands that I might serve you, and that ye should not be laden with taxes, and that there should nothing come upon you which was grievous to be borne—
Changing gears from King Noah, this is in contrast to Alma 1:4 above where the order of Nehor professes that everyone will be saved.
Mosiah 3:19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.
Where’s our less than the dust mentality? We’re taught that we are so special we hardly even need a Savior! I mean, we were the Lord’s very best! People from earlier dispensations will be in awe of us who came in the last days! Is that not what we get taught?
But what do the scriptures say? The Lord does not esteem one above another. And we must not either. Love your neighbor as yourself. No pedestals. No pits. We are all less than dust. We are all beggars. We are all damned unless we work out our salvation before the Lord with fear and trembling. Not ritualistic 8 year old baptisms for children that cannot actually bear fruit meet for repentance. Look in the scriptures what that really means! Moroni 6 & 8. I'll do a post on baptism soon. It's so important! But what baptism ISN'T is something to be used to keep everyone in line as they grow, to then be sealed to another speck of less than dust, instead of seeking to be sealed up unto the Lord. And if we are not sealed to Him, guess who claims us? The devil will seal you his. Alma 34:35
This is all in the Book of Mormon, it’s all available for us, and Moroni has a big ol', "I told you so," waiting for us at the bar of God, for missing it, for misunderstanding his words! Mor 10:27
Because as long as we are baptized at the age of 8, and then married in the right place and go to church every week for the rest of our lives, we’re saved. Right? There’s really nothing more than that, according to lds theology that we actively teach and practice.
Where is that in scripture? It’s not there! I’ve been looking! What I have found is: 2 Ne 28:26,27 and 3 Nephi 11:38-40
Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost! Yea, wo be unto him that saith: We have received, and we need no more!
And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this builds upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods and the winds beat upon them.
Will you hearken unto the precepts of men when you read these words in 3 Nephi? The words of Jesus Christ teaching the very points of his doctrine? The precepts of men deny the gift of the Holy Ghost. Take off the precepts of men lenses and let the Spirit teach you.
If you believe you are saved because you are a member of a certain religion, you will also believe that you have no need to learn how to come unto Christ to be saved. I testify to you that that is the condition that woes are pronounced against. "Wo unto them that say we have received, and we need no more!" I would carefully re-examine that belief. And then work out your salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord. He is mighty to save, and denies no one who comes unto Him.
So as Alma, who heard Abinadi, lamented for participating in unrighteousness and serving its cause, I too lament and repent for not trusting the Spirit when God would try to show me disparity between the scriptures and my religious beliefs, and I would not look. I would not question. I questioned God. Because from a general conference pulpit it is often said, “Question prophet bad.” But it is also told from that pulpit who the prophet is. See the problem?
So in searching for the source of why so much implicit trust is placed in the leaders, I found this:
Found in the Official Declaration 1 of the D&C:
“The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty.“ (Sixty-first Semiannual General Conference of the Church, Monday, October 6, 1890, Salt Lake City, Utah. Reported in Deseret Evening News, October 11, 1890, p. 2.)
But that directly contradicts scripture! And, to reference Mosiah 11, is vain and flattering words spoken across a pulpit. I was always told that soothsayers were fortune tellers of some sort. But it feels like a red herring when there are so many sooth sayings passing to our ears from men that are in power.
The scriptures below directly challenge the Official Declaration 1:
2 Nephi 4:34 O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.
2 Ne 12:22
Cease ye from man whose breath is in his nostrils for wherein is he to be accounted of?
D&C 1:19 The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh—
20 But that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world;
2 Chronicles 32:7 Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him:
8 With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.
That 2 Chronicles reference is really excellent to compare against the entirety of the Declaration. It is not inspired of God. And just goes to show that God would have fought our battles if those who followed Brigham to practice polygamy had been in the right.
Trust God. Trust God. Trust God. Trust God. He is the only One. Do not even take my word for it. But if my experience leads you to look and finally hear what He’s been trying to teach you, like He was me, let me approach the stand like an Abinadi. Burn me at the stake, if you must, but I will declare God’s true doctrine to the best of my ability and humbly learn from my mistakes and correct them. I will preach against Babylon and secret combinations. I will be persecuted. I have been, and no doubt will continue to be, accused of being influenced by devils. So was Christ accused. Stone the prophets. That’s scriptural. It’s the antichrists that get the warm welcomes. Except, when the people have had a mighty change of heart and know the voice of their Shepherd. The people of Ammon bound and tossed out the guy who tried to preach against Christ. (Alma 30:20) We need to be as discerning! Because unless you can speak with the peace of Lehi upon his deathbed, "Behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love," or as the people in Mosiah who had no more disposition to do evil, or the people of Ammon who were born again, spiritually begotten of their Savior; not one soul should be at ease in their standing before God. That is the message of the prophets in the Book of Mormon.