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Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Mormonism 101/Chapter 9
Response to claims made in "Chapter 9: The Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price"
|Chapter 8: The Book of Mormon||
A FAIR Analysis of: Mormonism 101, a work by author: Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson
|Chapter 10: The Atonement|
Response to claims made in Mormonism 101, "Chapter 9: The Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price"
Jump to Subtopic:
- Response to claim: 125-126 - Doctrine and Covenants 84 "predicts" the establishment of Zion and the construction of a temple in Independence, Missouri
- Response to claim: 126 - if God was behind the revelation in D&C 84, then the Mormons could not have been driven out of Missouri by men
- Response to claim: 127 - The authors note that Great Britain never had to "call upon other nations, in order to defend themselves against other nations"
- Response to claim: 127 - The authors claim that the "prophetic failures" regarding the establishment of Zion and the return of Christ are the reason for Sidney Rigdon's loss of faith in Joseph Smith
- Response to claim: 127-128 - According to the authors, D&C 87, the "revelation and prophecy on war" has "numerous flaws"
- Response to claim: 128 - "many LDS leaders preached sermons during the Civil War anticipating the desolation of the United States. When that did not happen, Smith's prophecy on war was given a broader interpretation"
- Response to claim: 128 - "many LDS leaders preached sermons during the Civil War anticipating the desolation of the United States. When that did not happen, Smith's prophecy on war was given a broader interpretation"
- Response to claim: 128 - "Smith's prophecy on war did not become a part of the D&C until 1876, more than a decade after the Civil war had ended"
- Response to claim: 130 - "The fact that Joseph Smith was not an expert in hieroglyphics has led some LDS scholars to speculate that he translated the manuscript by divine inspiration"
- Response to claim: 131 - "Joseph Smith's interpretation of the facsimile #2 associated with the Joseph Smith papyri was determined to be incorrect by Egyptologists"
- Response to claim: 133 - The authors note that "vast evidence" claims that Joseph Smith didn't know how to translate Egyptian, and that LDS apologists have tried to "raise doubts" about the Joseph Smith papyri
- Response to claim: 113 - if Joseph couldn't translate the Egyptian on the papyri, then he couldn't have translated the "Reformed Egyptian" on the gold plates
- Response to claim: 134 - the discovery of the papyri "puts serious doubt on Smith's translating ability and his claim to being a prophet"
Response to claim: 125-126 - Doctrine and Covenants 84 "predicts" the establishment of Zion and the construction of a temple in Independence, Missouri
D&C 84 "predicts" the establishment of Zion and the construction of a temple in Independence, Missouri.
- Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses 13:362.
- Lorenzo Snow, Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, 186.
- Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 4:112.
There are two objections the authors give as to why they disregard section 84 as prophecy. First, is the term "this generation," and second is the fact that the Saints were forced out of the area, which, according to critics in general, indicates establishing Zion at that time and building the temple was not really God-ordained and thus it is a false prophecy. There are major flaws with both of these conclusions.
Question: Where is Zion located since the Mormons were driven out of Missouri?
The Church still looks forward to the time when the prophecies will be fulfilled concerning Missouri as it pertains to Zion
For those who want to argue that Zion is now in Salt Lake City, they would be wrong. There has been no other place appointed. Salt Lake City has not ever been appointed as the "center place" of Zion, or as Zion itself, and the Church still looks forward to the time when the prophecies will be fulfilled concerning Missouri as it pertains to Zion.
Since the Saints were driven out of Missouri, does that mean that Zion fell? However, the answer to this important question can be found in the Doctrine and Covenants.
And the nations of the earth shall honor her, and shall say: surely zion is the city of our God, and surely Zion cannot fall, neither be moved out of her place, for God is there, and the hand of the Lord is there. (D&C 97:19)
Remember that the Lord said a year before section 84 was given that the land of Zion would be an inheritance, (D&C 38:18-19) and later said that only the foundation was to be laid at that time. (D&C 58:7) D&C 97 of the Doctrine and Covenants tells more about Zion and the conditions of its establishment.
VERILY I say unto you my friends, I speak unto you with my voice, even the voice of my Spirit, that I may show unto you my will concerning your brethren in the land of Zion, many of whom are truly humble and are seeking diligently to learn wisdom and to find truth. (D&C 97:1)
Critics often ignore the first rule of interpretation: the fact that prophecies can be conditional. The principle of obedience is stressed by the Lord in D&C 97:18, but the promise is definite: "if zion do these things, she shall prosper."
In not reading the entire account of Zion in the Doctrine and Covenants, proper context cannot be understood. Obedience is the basis upon which all blessings are received. The Saints in Missouri were promised that they would prosper, become great, and not be moved out of their place if they would be obedient unto that which the Lord required of them in this revelation. Unfortunately, the Saints did not act as they should have, and as a result, were driven from Missouri. This is also what the Bible teaches us about people as they obey the Lord. (Jeremiah 26:4-6) Parley P. Pratt, in his autobiography, writes:
This Revelation was not complied with by the leaders of the Church in Missouri as a whole, notwithstanding many were humble and faithful; therefore, the threatened judgment was poured out to the uttermost, as the history of the five following years shows.
The disobedience of the Saints at the time resulted in the chastisement from the Lord: "And now I give unto you a word concerning Zion. Zion shall be redeemed, although she is chastened for a little season." (D&C 100:13) This chastisement was the removal from Missouri until such time as the Saints deserve to inhabit Zion. The Lord did the same thing to peoples in the past as the Bible tells us.
Joseph Smith's thoughts were continually on Zion, and at this time he must have felt very anxious about the Saints. The Lord, therefore, gives him the assurance that Zion will be redeemed (v. 13), and that all things shall work together for good to them that walk uprightly; and to the sanctification of the Church (v. 15). The Church will come out of the fire of persecution, purified, for God will raise up unto Himself a pure people (v. 16). How long a time it will take to raise up a people willing to serve God in righteousness, He does not say. But it will be done. Israel was in Egypt 400 years, and the Babylonian captivity lasted 70 years, does that make the Bible false? It does not, for the purposes of God were accomplished.
Joseph Smith knew what was going to transpire concerning Missouri
One more item on this subject: Joseph Smith wrote a letter in which we can gain an understanding of just what the prophet actually thought about Zion and the Saints. This letter is a response from the prophet after learning that members of the Church had been killed and driven from their homes by mobs.
Kirtland Mills, Ohio
December 10, 1833.
Edward Partridge, W. W. Phelps, John Whitmer, A. S. Gilbert, John Corrill, Isaac Morley, and all the Saints whom it may concern:
This morning's mail brought letters from Bishop Partridge, and Elders Corrill and Phelps, all mailed at Liberty, November 19th, which gave us the melancholy intelligence of your flight from the land of your inheritance, having been driven before the face of your enemies in that place.
From previous letters we learned that a number of our brethren had been slain, but we could not learn from the letters referred to above, that there had been more than one killed, and that one Brother Barber; and that Brother Dibble was wounded in the bowels. We were thankful to learn that no more had been slain, and our daily prayers are that the Lord will not suffer his Saints, who have gone up to His land to keep His commandments, to stain His holy mountain with their blood.
I cannot learn from any communication by the Spirit to me, that Zion has forfeited her claim to a celestial crown, notwithstanding the Lord has caused her to be thus afflicted, except it may be some individuals, who have walked in disobedience, and forsaken the new covenant; all such will be made manifest by their works in due time. I have always expected that Zion would suffer some affliction, from what I could learn from the commandments which have been given. But I would remind you of a certain clause in one which says, that after much tribulation cometh the blessing. By this, and also others, and also one received of late, I know that Zion, in the due time of the lord, will be redeemed; but how many will be the days of purification, tribulation, and affliction, the Lord has kept hid from my eyes; and when I inquire concerning this subject, the voice of the Lord is: Be still, and know that I am God; all those who suffer for my name shall reign with me, and he that layeth down his life for my sake shall find it again.
Now, there are two things of which I am ignorant; and the Lord will not show them unto me, perhaps for a wise purpose in Himself I mean in some respects and they are these: Why God has suffered so great a calamity to come upon Zion, and what the great moving cause of this great affliction is; and again, by what means he will return her back to her inheritance, with songs of everlasting joy upon her head. These two things, brethren, are in part kept back that they are not plainly shown unto me; but there are some things that are plainly manifest which have incurred the displeasure of the Almighty.
When I contemplate upon all things that have been manifested, I am aware that I ought not to murmur, and do not murmur, only in this, that those who are innocent are compelled to suffer for the iniquities of the guilty; and I cannot account for this, only on this wise, that the saying of the Savior has not been strictly observed: "If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee; or if thy right arm offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee." Now the fact is, if any of the members of our body is disordered, the rest of our body will be affected with it, and then all are brought into bondage together; and yet, notwithstanding all this, it is with difficulty that I can restrain my feelings when I know that you, my brethren, with whom I have had so many happy hours sitting, as it were, in heavenly places in Christ Jesus; and also, having the witness which I feel, and ever have felt, of the purity of your motives are cast out, and are as strangers and pilgrims on the earth, exposed to hunger, cold, nakedness, peril, sword I say when I contemplate this, it is with difficulty that I can keep from complaining and murmuring against this dispensation; but I am sensible that this is not right, and may God grant that notwithstanding your great afflictions and sufferings, there may not anything separate us from the love of Christ.
Brethren, when we learn your sufferings, it awakens every sympathy of our hearts; it weighs us down; we cannot refrain from tears, yet, we are not able to realize, only in part, your sufferings: and I often hear the brethren saying, they wish they were with you, that they might bear a part of your sufferings; and I myself should have been with you, had not God prevented it in the order of His provident, that the yoke of affliction might be less grievous upon you, God having forewarned me, concerning these things, for your sake; and also, Elder Cowdery could not lighten your afflictions by tarrying longer with you, for his presence would have so much the more enraged your enemies; therefore God hath dealt mercifully with us. O brethren, let us be thankful that it is as well with us as it is, and we are yet alive and peradventure, God hath laid up in store great good for us in this generation, and may grant that we may yet glorify His name.
I feel thankful that there have no more denied the faith; I pray God in the name of Jesus that you all may be kept in the faith unto the end: let your sufferings be what they may, it is better in the eyes of God that you should die, than that you should give up the land of Zion, the inheritances which you have purchased with your moneys; for every man that giveth not up his inheritance, though he should die, yet, when the Lord shall come, he shall stand upon it, and with Job, in his flesh he shall see God. Therefore, this is my counsel, that you retain your lands, even unto the uttermost, and employ every lawful means to seek redress of your enemies; and pray to god, day and night, to return you in peace and in safety to the lands of your inheritance: and when the judge fail you, appeal unto the executive; and when the executive fail you, appeal unto the president; and when the president fail you, and all laws fail you, and the humanity of the people fail you, and all things else fail you but god alone, and you continue to weary him with your importunings, as the poor woman did the unjust judge, he will not fail to execute judgment upon your enemies, and to avenge his own elect that cry unto him day and night.
Behold, he will not fail you! he will come with ten thousand of his saints, and all his adversaries shall be destroyed with the breath of his lips! all those who keep their inheritances, notwithstanding they should be beaten and driven, shall be likened unto the wise virgins who took oil in their lamps. But all those who are unbelieving and fearful, will be likened unto the foolish virgins, who took no oil in their lamps: and when they shall return and say unto the Saints, Give us of your lands behold, there will be no room found for them. As respects giving deeds, I would advise you to give deeds as far as the brethren have legal and just claims for them, and then let every man answer to God for the disposal of them.
But, perhaps, the people in Liberty may feel willing, God having power to soften the hearts of all men, to have a press established there; and if not, in some other place; any place where it can be the most convenient, and it is possible to get to it; God will be willing to have it in any place where it can be established in safety. We must be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Again, I desire that Elder Phelps should collect all the information, and give us a true history of the beginning and rise of Zion, and her calamities.
Now hear the prayer of your unworthy brother in the new and everlasting covenant: O my God! Thou who hast called and chosen a few, through Thy weak instrument by commandment, and sent them to Missouri, a place which Thou didst call Zion, and commanded Thy servants to consecrate it unto Thyself for a place of refuge and safety for the gathering of Thy Saints, to be built up a holy city unto Thyself; and as thou hast said that no other place should be appointed like unto this, therefore, I ask Thee in the name of Jesus Christ, to return Thy people unto their houses and their inheritances, to enjoy the fruit of their labors; that all the waste places may be built up; that all the enemies of Thy people, who will not repent and turn unto Thee, may be destroyed from off the face of the land; and let a house be built and established unto Thy name; and let all the losses that Thy people have sustained, be rewarded unto them, even more than four-fold, that the borders of Zion may be enlarged forever; and let her be established no more to be thrown down; and let all Thy Saints, when they are scattered as sheep, and are persecuted, flee unto Zion, and be established in the midst of her; and let her be organized according to Thy law; and let this prayer ever be recorded before Thy face. Give Thy Holy Spirit unto my brethren, unto whom I write; send Thine angels to guard them, and deliver them from all evil; and when they turn their faces toward Zion, and bow down before Thee and pray, may their sins never come up before Thy face; neither have place in the book of Thy remembrance; and may they depart from all their iniquities. Provide food for them as Thou doest for the ravens; provide clothing to cover their nakedness, and houses that they may dwell therein; give unto them friends in abundance, and let their names be recorded in the Lamb's book of life, eternally before Thy face. Amen.
Finally, brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all until His coming in His kingdom. Amen.
JOSEPH SMITH, JUN.
This letter clearly shows that Joseph Smith knew what was going to transpire concerning Missouri. He knew the people would suffer ("I have always expected that Zion would suffer some affliction," and "after much tribulation cometh the blessing."), he did not think Zion would be redeemed any time soon ("Zion, in the due time of the Lord, will be redeemed," and "how many will be the days of purification, tribulation, and affliction, the Lord has kept hid from my eyes."), he encouraged the Saints to remain within the law ("employ every lawful means to seek redress of your enemies."), he knew legal redress would not be successful ("when the judge fail you," "when the executive fail you," "when the president fail you," and "and all things else fail you."), and he understood that the enemies of the Lord might not be destroyed until the judgement ("he will come with ten thousand of his saints," and "all his adversaries shall be destroyed with the breath of his lips.")
History has proven that Joseph Smith was 100% correct in what he said in this letter. Legal means of redress were not successful. The Saints remained within the law. Final judgement has not yet happened for those who are enemies of the Lord. What Joseph Smith had to say concerning Zion, even the timing, came true, thus Joseph Smith must be a true prophet of God.
Critics usually start out with the assumption of false prophecy, and then attempt, by not presenting any evidence, to assert that the lack of evidence is evidence of a false prophecy. The actual evidence, often from the very same source they are using (in this case the Doctrine and Covenants), brings more light to the picture.
There is plenty of evidence that Joseph knew the Saints would not stay in Missouri; thus he knew that Zion would not be built up in his day. In fact, he knew the Saints would be moving to the Rocky Mountains. This particular movement was even prophesied of in the Bible.
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:2-3)
It is evident that Joseph knew this prophecy concerned the church he had restored. In March of 1831, which was before section 84 was given, the Lord revealed to Joseph an event that would take place before the Second Coming: "Zion shall flourish upon the hills and rejoice upon the mountains, and shall be assembled together unto the place which I have appointed." (D&C 49:25) Better yet, it has been demonstrated that Joseph Smith knew, and correctly prophesied, the events that would take place. Why don't we look at some of the statements of others who also knew, and which bear witness of the validity of the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith, Jr.
- In 1832, Joseph Smith gave a blessing to Paulina Eliza Phelps who recalled, "In blessing me Joseph said that I should live to go to the Rocky Mountains. I did not know at the time what the term 'Rocky Mountains' meant, but I supposed it to be something connected with the Indians. This frightened me for the reason that I dreaded the very sight of an Indian."
- "The Prophet [Joseph] came to our home (in Nauvoo) and stopped in our carpenter shop and stood by the turning lathe. I went and got my map for him 'Now' he said, 'I will show you the travels of this people.' He then showed our travels through Iowa, and said, 'Here you will make a place for the winter; and here you will travel west until you come to the valley of the Great Salt Lake! You will build cities to the North and to the South, and to the East and to the West; and you will become a great and wealthy people in that land.'"
- "I want to say to you before the Lord [said Joseph] that you know no more concerning the destinies of this Church and Kingdom than a babe upon its mother's lap. You don't comprehend it. It is only a little handful of Priesthood you see here tonight, but this Church will fill North and South America- it will fill the world. It will fill the Rocky Mountains. There will be tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints who will be gathered in the Rocky Mountains, and there they will open the door for the establishing of the Gospel among the Lamanites.... This people will go into the Rocky Mountains; they will there build temples to the Most High. They will raise up a posterity there, and the Latter-day Saints who dwell in these mountains will stand in the flesh until the coming of the Son of Man. The Son of Man will come to them while in the Rocky Mountains."
- "In late August 1842 while at Montrose Iowa Joseph prophesied saying, "I prophesied that the Saints would continue to suffer much affliction and would be driven to the Rocky Mountains. Many would apostatize; others would be put to death by our persecutors or lose their lives in consequence of exposure or disease, and some of you will live to go and assist in making settlements, and build cities, and see the Saints become a mighty people, in the midst of the Rockv Mountains."":85-86
- "I had before seen him in a vision and now saw while he was talking his countenance change to white; not the deadly white of a bloodless face, but a living, brilliant white. He seemed absorbed in gazing at something at a great distance, and said: 'I am gazing upon the valleys of those mountains.... Oh the beauty of those snow-capped mountains! The cool refreshing streams that are running down through those mountain gorges!' Then, `gazing in another direction, as if there was a change in locality Joseph said 'Oh the scenes that this people will pass through! The dead that will lie between here and there!' Then turning in another direction as if the scene had again changed Joseph said, 'Oh the apostasy that will take place before my brethren reach that land! But the priesthood shall prevail over all its enemies, triumph over the devil and be established upon the earth, never more to be thrown down!'… It is impossible to represent in words the grandeur of Joseph's appearance. his beautiful descriptions of this land, and his wonderful prophetic utterances as they emanated from that glorious inspirations that overshadowed him. There was a force and power in his exclamations."
- "After the death of Joseph Smith, when it seemed as if every trouble and calamity had come upon the Saints, Brigham Young . . . sought the Lord to know what they should do, and where they should lead the people for safety, and while they were fasting and praying daily on this subject. President Young had a vision of Joseph Smith, who showed him the mountain that we now call Ensign Peak, immediately north of Salt Lake City, and there . . . an ensign [flag] fell upon that peak, and Joseph said, 'Build under the point where the colors fall and you will prosper and have peace.' "
Remember that the Lord has declared that His word will be established in the mouth of two or more witnesses. (Matthew 18:16,2 Corinthians 13:1) Joseph Smith said, concerning being driven from Missouri:
- They would be driven even by bloodshed
- They would go to the Rocky Mountains
- They would first lay the foundation of Zion (buying land)
- They would return to accept Zion as an inheritance
- He did not know the time of their return
Response to claim: 126 - if God was behind the revelation in D&C 84, then the Mormons could not have been driven out of Missouri by men
The authors' point in their charge, is that if God was behind the revelation in D&C 84, then the Mormons could not have been driven out of Missouri by men.
Question: Why did the Saints leave Missouri before the temple was built?
As far as the building of the temple, we still look forward to that day when it shall be built
Despite the fact that the Saints were forced to leave Missouri around a year after the "prediction" was given to build a temple in Independence, Missouri, they still hoped to return and see the prophecy come to fruition.
Everything Joseph Smith said concerning Zion and Missouri has come true. As far as the building of the temple, we still look forward to that day when it shall be built. To condemn D&C 84 as false prophecy is the same as condemning the Bible and all of its prophets, including Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith was a prophet of the Lord. He spoke the same language, using the same words, with the same meaning, as the ancient prophets did. The Bible vindicates Joseph Smith as a true prophet of God.
God changed His mind because the Saints were not obedient
Why would God give instructions for the building a temple if He knew the Saints would be driven out of Missouri? God changed His mind because the Saints were not obedient. The Lord can change His mind depending on the obedience, or disobedience, of His children.
Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the LORD your God; and the LORD will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you. (Jeremiah 26:13)
The Lord can change His mind while His command is in the process of being obeyed.
And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the LORD beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite. (1 Chronicles 21:15)
God will also change His mind if a prophet can convince Him that the change is warranted
Not only does the Lord change things in His own wisdom, He will also change His mind if a prophet can convince Him that the change is warranted (at least within the prophet's understanding):
And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:
Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.
And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?
Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.
Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.
And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people. (Exodus 32:9-14)
The Lord can even change His mind about the commands He has given
The Lord can even change His mind about the commands He has given. For example, what the Lord directed concerning circumcision changed.
He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. (Genesis 17:13)
Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God. (1 Corinthians 7:19)
The Law of what could and could not be eaten was changed.
Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. (Leviticus 11:4)
This chapter in Leviticus gives a list of what not to eat. It specifically mentions the camel, coney, hare, swine, eagle, ossifrage, ospray, vulture, raven, owl, hawk, cuckow, cormorant, swan, pelican, eagle, stork, heron, lapwing, bat, weasel, mouse, tortoise, ferret, chameleon, lizard, snail, and mole. Yet the Lord saw fit to change it.
Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.
But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.
And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. (Acts 10:12-15)
As circumstances change, what the Lord has directed will change also. The temple in Jackson County Missouri, the center place of Zion, the chief temple, did not have the necessity of being the first temple built. It has a specific purpose, which event will occur yet in the future. In December of 1990, plans were announced by the First Presidency of the Church to build a temple in St. Louis, Missouri. President Gordon B. Hinckley presided in the groundbreaking for this temple on October 30, 1993. The temple was dedicated in June of 1997. This temple marked the 50th operating temple and the first temple in Missouri. Although this is not the temple that is being discussed here, it is significant that temple building is taking place in Missouri.
That the Lord spoke of the future glory of Zion. The Saints were only to lay the foundation of Zion, not build it in its entirety. The foundation is the preparing for the event to take place. This "redemption" of Zion takes place in separate phases.
Christ did not utter false prophecy, but some of His prophecies just have not been fulfilled yet
Christ did not utter false prophecy, but some of His prophecies just have not been fulfilled yet. When the scriptures mention "generation," it has several meanings. Critics recognize this when speaking about the words of Christ or the ancient apostles and prophets, yet they deny any possibility of Joseph Smith having the same meaning, and restrict his mention of "generation" to approximately a hundred years. This double standard only shows the hypocritical arguments and deceptive means used to attack The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. So let's now examine the purposes of the Lord and the sayings of Joseph Smith concerning the Saints, Zion, and Missouri to see if these things will sustain Joseph as a prophet of God.
The first phase to take place has to be the foundation:
Behold, verily I say unto you, for this cause I have sent you-that you might be obedient, and that your hearts might be prepared to bear testimony of the things which are to come; And also that you might be honored in laying the foundation, and in bearing record of the land upon which the Zion of God shall stand; (D&C 58:6-7)
This revelation was given August 1, 1831, in Zion, Jackson County, Missouri, just over a year before D&C 84 was given to Joseph Smith (September 22 and 23, 1832). This shows the original intent of the Lord was to lay the foundation of Zion, not build it in its entirety. The question would then become, is there any indication of a time frame for these "things which are to come?" There most certainly is. A few verses later we read, "And now, verily, I say concerning the residue of the elders of my church, the time has not yet come, for many years, for them to receive their inheritance in this land." (D&C 58:44) So the time for the Saints to inherit Zion was not in their day, and wouldn't be for "many years."
There was also another term the Lord used to indicate that Zion would not be established during that time. "Therefore it is expedient in me that mine elders should wait for a little season, for the redemption of Zion." (D&C 105:13) By using terms such as "the time has not yet come," "many years," and "wait a little season" it is obvious that Zion would not be established during that time, only that the foundation would be laid.No matter how loudly or often McKeever and Johnson, or any other critic, say Zion was to be established fully by the Saints during the Missouri period, that was not the design of the Lord, nor was that the instruction given to Joseph.
So how was this foundation to be built? How could the land of Zion be built unless the Saints owned the land upon which to build? It couldn't! So the Lord told the Saints to purchase the land, so that the temple and other buildings could be legally built. That was the foundation. Zion cannot be Zion if someone other than the Lord's people owns the land. So the Lord gave instructions to buy the land, as a foundation, in preparation of the gathering.
Wherefore, I the Lord will that you should purchase the lands, that you may have advantage of the world, that you may have claim on the world, that they may not be stirred up unto anger. Wherefore, the land of Zion shall not be obtained but by purchase or by blood, otherwise there is none inheritance for you. (D&C 63:27, D&C 63:29)
How much land was bought? According to Lucien Carr in his history of Missouri, it was over 250,000 acres. The Lord was very clear that there were going to be hardships. "For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand." (D&C 58:4) And how severe would the tribulations be? "For Satan putteth it into their hearts to anger against you, and to the shedding of blood." (D&C 63:28) This is exactly what happened in Missouri. Businesses were destroyed. Over two hundred houses were burned down or otherwise destroyed. Twelve hundred people were driven out of Independence,:427 with about fifteen thousand total being driven out of the region. Hundreds were murdered, some very brutally,:494 and this included children. That the people would be driven out of "Zion" temporarily is without question. "Zion shall not be moved out of her place, notwithstanding her children are scattered." (D&C 101:17) The foundation of Zion is in place, as prophesied; thus proving that Joseph Smith made a true prophecy in D&C 84.
Zion was to be an "inheritance." An inheritance is something that passes from one generation to the next. An inheritance is not something that you obtain immediately, but only at a future time:
And I will give it unto you for the land of your inheritance, if you seek it with all your hearts. And this shall be my covenant with you, ye shall have it for the land of your inheritance, and for the inheritance of your children forever, while the earth shall stand, and ye shall possess it again in eternity, no more to pass away. (D&C 38:19-20)
They that remain, and are pure in heart, SHALL RETURN, and come to their inheritances, they and their children, with songs of everlasting joy, to build up the waste places of Zion. (D&C 101:18)
Again, let's look at the timing of these revelations, as it reveals a very important clue as to the intentions of the Lord. Section 38 was given on January 2, 1831, well over a year before section 84. Section 101 was given December 16, 1833, over a year after section 84 was given. The intention of the Lord never changed, only the expectations of man. The Saints will return to claim it. Their land was stolen from them. The members of the church still look forward to the day when they will return.
The Lord gave every indication that the Saints were to lay the foundation of Zion in Missouri
The Lord gave every indication that the Saints were to lay the foundation of Zion in Missouri; that they would be driven out, even "unto bloodshed;" and that the Saints would return and the land would be an inheritance. The words proclaimed by Joseph Smith correctly prophesied these events. Perhaps McKeever and Johnson should have researched some history in the matter as well as studied the Doctrine and Covenants to understand what happened, why it happened, what the Lord said, and what will happen.Just in case McKeever and Johnson would want to argue that the literal next generation of children of those Saints of the 1830's have not returned to receive an inheritance in Zion is evidence of false prophecy, let's examine that premise as well. There is a problem with this analogy. Children, just like the term "next generation," in scriptural terms, means any descendants, not necessarily the next literal generation. So, the "children" could be grandchildren, great-grandchildren, or any number of descendent generations. This is evidenced by the Bible.
Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee (Genesis 17:5)
And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran (Acts 7:2)
Even Christ referred to Abraham as a father to those who were descendents by several generations.
Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?
Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God:
Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? (John 8:53-57)
The authors note that Great Britain never had to "call upon other nations, in order to defend themselves against other nations."
Nowhere does the prophecy state that other nations will fight for the Southern States, only that the Southern States would call upon other nations. There is no statement of the results of the "call." The Confederacy did in fact, call upon Great Britain and France. This is a matter of historic record. This came true, no matter how you look at it. The authors are making assumptions based upon statements never made, something common among critics. In other words, they are trying to claim a false prophecy based upon what was not said.
For a detailed response, see: Joseph Smith/Prophecies/Civil War
The authors claim that the "prophetic failures" regarding the establishment of Zion and the return of Christ are the reason for Sidney Rigdon's loss of faith in Joseph Smith.
- Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess, 90.
Actually, Sidney Rigdon became disassociated with the church when he was not chosen to be the leader after the murder of Joseph and Hyrum. Since Joseph Smith made no false prophecies, it had nothing to do Joseph Smith's "prophetic failures." In addition, critics such as the authors ignore the statements Joseph Smith made concerning the Saints being driven out of Missouri, going to the Rocky Mountains, and that the Center Place of Zion (Missouri) would not be settled until another time.
According to the authors, D&C 87, the "revelation and prophecy on war" has "numerous flaws." The authors state,
It should be noted that Smith's prediction was not all that unique. One month prior to the alleged revelation, the newspaper Painesville Telegraph printed a story in which it predicted the secession of South Carolina and an eventual War Between the States. South Carolina had been making such threats for some time, and many felt it was only a matter of time before South Carolina would act on its threat.
The authors biggest concern seems to be that rumors of war were around during the time Joseph Smith made the Civil War Prophecy, and in their minds, this invalidates the prophecy.
The authors are correct that there was a threat of rebellion in South Carolina at the time of this revelation. But the rebellion never materialized the way in which the rumors indicated, and the threat ended shortly afterwards. After the threat was ended, Joseph Smith never retracted this prophecy, showing he still expected it to be fulfilled, and he was correct. The revelation containing the prophecy was given on December 25, 1832. The first shot fired in the American Civil War was fired on April 12, 1861. Hence, the prediction preceded the war by 28 years. Ten years before the war began, the prophecy was published in England and circulated both in that country and in the United States. There can be no question, therefore, as to the prophecy preceding the event.
Question: Was Joseph Smith's 1832 prophecy of the Civil War invalid because a civil war was "inevitable," and "anyone" could have predicted it?
There is no evidence that Americans were predicting a Civil War between 1832-1851
So, was the prophecy "so obvious" that anyone could have predicted it? The critics must prove this contention.
Where is the evidence that most Americans were predicting a Civil War between 1832-1851? Why was Orson Pratt ridiculed if this was obvious to everyone? This seems a desperate attempt by the critics to dismiss a "hit" by Joseph. Everything can look obvious in retrospect if one doesn't know history.
A newspaper article from 1857 reported a garbled version of the prophecy, but the author's scorn is clear:
New beauties are being revealed in the Mormon faith almost every day, and new prophecies of Joe Smith fulfilled. When any event of state occurs, or any remarkable circumstance happens, some of the Mormon apostles find a prophecy of Joseph’s (probably dated twenty-five years ago), which has just been fulfilled by the occurrence. These prophecies are never spoken of until after the occurrence. The fact is, the leaders frame the prophecy themselves after its fulfillment. Joe Smith did at one time prophecy that before the year 1860, the Union would be divided, the havoc of war spread over our glorious Republic, battles be fought whose equal was never before known, father would be arrayed against son, and brother against brother, and that our glorious Republic would be stained with human blood from North to South, the Constitution be trampled upon, and the Government fall to the ground; and then would the little band of Mormons rear the standard of their creed aloft, and proclaim to the world that the millennial year had been ushered in, and the reign of Christ begun. (emphasis added)
But methinks the Mormons can entertain but little hope of the fulfillment of that prophecy, as the Union has stood the strongest test and did not even shake. But when I shall see the above prophecy come to pass, I shall probably then change my mind about the truth of the revelation. At present, I see no chance of its verification within the time specified.
Response to claim: 128 - "many LDS leaders preached sermons during the Civil War anticipating the desolation of the United States. When that did not happen, Smith's prophecy on war was given a broader interpretation"
The authors claim,
D&C 87:8 says the day of the Lord would come quickly, and many LDS leaders preached sermons during the Civil War anticipating the desolation of the United States. When that did not happen, Smith's prophecy on war was given a broader interpretation.
- Talmage, The Articles of Faith, 26-27.
- Benson, Ensign (March 1994): 4.
The mistake: There are three points to this statement.
- The prophecy was given a broader interpretation. On the contrary, it is the authors, along with other critics, who "restrict" the interpretation of prophecy. Ignoring evidence, taking quotes out of context, dismissing LDS beliefs and history, and a refusal to be honest about the evidence metes out this restriction. Latter-day Saints have always had the same interpretation of these events, as the quotes used by the authors indicate.
- The day of the Lord would come quickly. Here again, the authors repeat their double standard. If Joseph Smith is a false prophet for so stating, then so are the New Testament writers. "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." 2 Peter 3:8 Who are we to judge the Lord's timing? His time is not our time. Joseph Smith never gave a time for the second coming. His words in this section of the Doctrine and Covenants are very much in accordance with Biblical prophecies and teachings in this regard. The Lord was only repeating to Joseph Smith what He had said before.
- The desolation of the United States did not take place. The casualties from the Civil War have been shown. But what does this have to do with the prophecy in question? The word "desolation" is not in the prophecy, neither is the term "United States." In fact, the revelation only makes reference to "the inhabitants of the earth," not the United States, when it speaks of destruction or suffering. Again, the authors are attempting to discredit this prophecy based upon words never uttered.The facts: However, there was desolation in the United States. Any student of American history is aware of that. The bloodiest war the United States ever went through, even to this day, was the Civil War. Natural disasters most certainly have occurred, and continue to do so. There was, besides the bloodshed of the Civil War, disease, and disasters.
The "plague," or Asiatic cholera, which first broke out in India, spread also throughout the United States in that same year. One historian, speaking of its ravages in the United States, says: "It was on the 21st of June, 1832, that the eastern plague, known as the Asiatic cholera, made its first appearance in the United states, in the city of New York. Its rapid spread produced universal panic, though it was less fatal in the South Atlantic states than in the north and in the valley of the Mississippi. Thousands of persons of all ages and conditions died of it within a few months. The most robust constitutions in many instances became victims of its malignancy within thirty-six hours from it first attack." (History U. S., Stephens, p. 450)
Natural disasters have taken their toll upon America as well. Since, as usual with critics being only partially forthcoming with evidence and documentation, the authors took their comment about "desolation" out of context and did not mention that when the early leaders of the church spoke about "desolation," they were usually speaking in reference to the redress of wrongs against the members of the church in Missouri.
How was Missouri affected by the Civil War? In 1861, the first year of the war, of the 157 engagements and battles listed in the Army Register, 66 were in Missouri (over 42%). Missouri saw more action than VA and WV combined in 1861. Speaking of the situation in Missouri in 1861, the outgoing governor, Robert M. Stewart, in his address to the legislature, and referring to Missouri and her right to be heard on the slavery question, said:
Missouri has a right to speak on this subject, because she has suffered. Bounded on three sides by free territory, her border counties have been the frequent scenes of kidnapping and violence, and this state has probably lost as much, in the last two years, in the abduction of slaves, as all the rest of the southern states. At this moment several of the western counties are desolated, and almost depopulated, from fear of a bandit horde, who have been committing depredations--arson, theft, and foul murder--upon the adjacent border.
Response to claim: 128 - "Smith's prophecy on war did not become a part of the D&C until 1876, more than a decade after the Civil war had ended"
The authors claim,
While Smith's prediction was published in the Pearl of Great Price in 1851, the Pearl of Great Price did not become a part of the standard works until 1880. Smith's prophecy on war did not become a part of the D&C until 1876, more than a decade after the Civil war had ended. (12 Encyclopedia of Mormonism "Civil War Prophecy.")
- Encyclopedia of Mormonism vol. 1, "Civil War Prophecy".
The spin: Without coming out and directly saying so, the authors are attempting to give the impression that the church withheld this prophecy from the public until after the Civil war was over.The facts: The prophecy was not "shelved" as as the authors insinuate here. There was no attempt to cover up the revelation as the authors are attempting to allude.
Section 87 was not published by the Church until 1851 and was not canonized until 1876. It was, however, copied and circulated by some Church leaders and missionaries in the 1830s. The Civil War prophecy became one of the most widely published revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants. Not surprisingly, it received greatest attention during the Civil War, as many viewed the conflict as a vindication of the prophetic powers of Joseph Smith.
Notice that this quote comes from the very same source the authors used. The authors use partial evidence, instead of the full account.
Brigham Young explained why D&C 87 was intentionally left out of the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants.
It was not wisdom to publish it to the world, and it remained in the private escritoire. Brother Joseph had that revelation concerning this nation at a time when the brethren were reflecting and reasoning with regard to African slavery on this continent, and the slavery of the children of men throughout the world. There are other revelations, besides this one, not yet published to the world. In the due time of the Lord, the Saints and the world will be privileged with the revelations that are due to them. They now have many more than they are worthy of, for they do not observe them.
Question: After the end of the rebellion in South Carolina, did the Church not mention the Civil War prophecy for many years?
Joseph Smith reiterated the prophecy in 1842, and added more detail, 19 years before the Civil War
12 I prophesy, in the name of the Lord God, that the commencement of the difficulties which will cause much bloodshed previous to the coming of the Son of Man will be in South Carolina.
13 It may probably arise through the slave question. This a voice declared to me, while I was praying earnestly on the subject, December 25th, 1832. (D&C 130:12-13)
Orson Pratt preached about the prophesy in 1832, 29 years before the Civil War
Orson Pratt testified that he began preaching the prophecy soon after it was given. In 1870, he said:
I went forth before my beard was gray, before my hair began to turn white, when I was a youth of nineteen, now I am fifty-eight, and from that time on I published these tidings among the inhabitants of the earth. I carried forth the written revelation, foretelling this great contest, some twenty-eight years before the war commenced. This prophecy has been printed and circulated extensively in this and other nations and languages. It pointed out the place where it should commence in South Carolina. That which I declared over the New England States, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and many other parts in the East, when but a boy, came to pass twenty-eight years after the revelation was given.
When they were talking about a war commencing down here in Kansas, I told them that was not the place; I also told them that the revelation had designated South Carolina, "and," said I, "you have no need to think that the Kansas war is going to be the war that is to be so terribly destructive in its character and nature. No, it must commence at the place the Lord has designated by revelation."
What did they have to say to me? They thought it was a Mormon humbug, and laughed me to scorn, and they looked upon that revelation as they do upon all others that God has given in these latter days—as without divine authority. But behold and lo! in process of time it came to pass, again establishing the divinity of this work, and giving another proof that God is in this work, and is performing that which He spoke by the mouths of the ancient prophets, as recorded in the Book of Mormon before any Church of Latter-day Saints was in existence.
Thus, Orson Pratt indicates that not only did he preach regarding Joseph's prophesy in 1832, but that he was ridiculed for it. He would also remember:
Now I am aware that it is almost impossible for even some of the Latter-day Saints to get that confidence and that strong faith in the events which God intends to accomplish on this land in the future to believe in such a thing, to say nothing about outsiders, that do not believe a word of it. Outsiders do not believe it any more than they believed me when I was a boy and took that revelation which was given in 1832, and carried it forth among many towns and cities and told them there was to be a great and terrible war between the North and the South, and read to them the revelation. Did they believe it? Would they consider that there was any truth in it? Not in the least, "that is a Mormon humbug" they would say. "What! this great and powerful nation of ours to be divided one part against the other and many hundreds of thousands of souls to be destroyed by civil wars!" Not a word of it would they believe. They do not believe what is still in the future.
The Church printed the prophecy in the Pearl of Great Price in 1851, ten years before the Civil War
The Church also printed the prophecy in the Pearl of Great Price in 1851, and continued to publicize it until the Civil War. Clearly, they did not keep it "under wraps" until the Civil War became inevitable.
Orson Pratt also included the full prophecy from December 1832 on the front page of his publication The Seer in April 1854, seven years before the Civil War
Orson Pratt also included the full prophecy from December 1832 on the front page of his publication The Seer in April 1854, with interpretation and editorial comment for 6 pages. There are also many extant manuscript copies of the prophecy, in the handwriting of men who left the church before Joseph Smith died, and some who didn't (WW Phelps, Thomas Bullock, Willard Richards [who died before the Civil War], Edward Partridge, Algernon Sidney Gilbert, Frederick G. Williams).
The Philadelphia Sunday Mercury quoted the prophecy in 1851, ten years before the Civil War
Robert Woodford's Ph.D. thesis also located a an article in a Philadelphia paper quoting the revelation from 1851, with comments, from May 1861; it was reprinted in England a month later:
Philadelphia Sunday Mercury, Sunday May 5, 1861
A MORMON PROPHECY
We have in our possession a pamphlet, published at Liverpool, in 1851, containing a selection from the ‘revelations, translations and narratives’ of Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism. The following prophecy is here said to have been made by Smith, on the 25th of December, 1832. In view of our present troubles, this prediction seems to be in progress of fulfilment, whether Joe Smith was a humbug or not:
‘A REVELATION AND PROPHECY BY THE PROPHET, SEER, AND REVELATOR, JOSEPH SMITH. Verily thus saith the Lord…. Amen [complete text quoted]’
The war began in South Carolina. Insurrections of slaves are already dreaded. Famine will certainly afflict some Southern communities. The interference of Great Britain, on account of the want of cotton, is not improbable, if the war is protracted. In the meantime, a general war in Europe appears to be imminent. Have we not had a prophet among us?
Clearly, members of the Church did not hide the prophecy, and spread it far and wide among themselves and among others from the 1830s until its fulfillment in the 1860s.
Question: Did the Church cover up the fact that the Civil War prophecy was made during the 1832 rebellion in South Carolina?
No American statesman in 1832 believed that the doctrines of secession then talked of would result in a great civil war
It is claimed that Mormons "cover up the fact that the 'prophecy' was made in the midst of an earlier rebellion in December 1832. That rebellion ended quietly a few months later."
This claim, however, is false. Gil Scharffs noted that critics "are correct when they say Joseph Smith announced the Civil War prophecy when rebellion in South Carolina was threatening. A large 1832 rebellion never materialized and the threat ended a few months later."
No American statesman in 1832 believed that the doctrines of secession then talked of would result in a great civil war. None of them had the foresight to see that a great rebellion would occur, beginning in South Carolina; that it would terminate in the death and misery of many souls; that the Southern States would be divided against the Northern States; that the Southern States would call on Great Britain, and that war would eventually be poured out upon all nations. No one foresaw that this would be the result except Joseph Smith--when but twenty-seven years of age--and he saw it only by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. To be required to believe that the prophecy was merely the fortunate conjecture of a more than ordinary astute mind, requires a greater amount of credulity than to concede the inspiration of the Prophet; and then the question would still remain, why is it that sagacious minds in other generations have not paralleled this astuteness of Joseph Smith's? Why did not some of the brilliant minds in the Senate or House of Representatives in 1832 make such a prediction? There was not a lack of brilliant minds in either Senate or House at that time, yet none seemed equal to the task.
The fact that there were rumors of war is in fact a fulfillment of prophecy itself! (Matthew 24:6-7) The question is not were there rumors of war, but the question should be, did the events take place just as Joseph Smith said they would. As soon as Joseph uttered the words "Thus saith the Lord" he was tied to the prophecy being true or false, and if the events did not happen as he said, then, and only then, could it be declared a false prophecy.
Wars would shortly come to pass, beginning with the rebellion of South Carolina, which would eventually terminate in war being poured out upon all nations and in the death and misery of many souls
It was because of this fact that the Lord made known to Joseph Smith this revelation stating that wars would shortly come to pass, beginning with the rebellion of South Carolina, which would eventually terminate in war being poured out upon all nations and in the death and misery of many souls. It may have been an easy thing in 1832, or even 1831, for someone to predict that there would come a division of the Northern States and the Southern States, for even then there were rumblings, and South Carolina had shown the spirit of rebellion. It was not, however, within the power of man to predict in the detail which the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith, what was shortly to come to pass as an outgrowth of the Civil War and the pouring out of war upon all nations. It must be conceded that no one, except Joseph Smith, ever entered into such detail in relation to this conflict or stated with such assurance that the time would come when all nations would be involved in war, The revelation begins with these words: "Verily, thus saith the Lord, concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls; and the time will come that war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at this place." This, certainly, is a bold prediction which no one, other than Joseph Smith, dared to make.:2:123
Response to claim: 130 - "The fact that Joseph Smith was not an expert in hieroglyphics has led some LDS scholars to speculate that he translated the manuscript by divine inspiration"
The authors state,
The fact that Joseph Smith was not an expert in hieroglyphics has led some LDS scholars to speculate that he translated the manuscript by divine inspiration.
Joseph didn't know how to translate Egyptian. He had no other choice but to translate the Book of Abraham by divine inspiration, and LDS scholars were not "led" to that conclusion.
- For a detailed response, see: Book of Abraham/Papyri/Long article
Response to claim: 131 - "Joseph Smith's interpretation of the facsimile #2 associated with the Joseph Smith papyri was determined to be incorrect by Egyptologists"
Joseph Smith's interpretation of the facsimile #2 associated with the Joseph Smith papyri was determined to be incorrect by Egyptologists.
- Richard A. Parker, "The Joseph Smith Papyri: A Preliminary Report," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 3, no. 2 (Summer 1968): 86.
- Stephen Thompson, "Egyptology and the Book of Mormon," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 28, no. 1 (Sprint 1995): 149-150.
- For a detailed response, see: Book of Abraham/Papyri/Long article
The authors note that "vast evidence" claims that Joseph Smith didn't know how to translate Egyptian, and that LDS apologists have tried to "raise doubts" about the Joseph Smith papyri.
- Peterson, Ensign (January 1994): 20.
- Charles M. Larson, By His Own Hand upon Papyrus, 36.
- Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church, 2:138.
LDS apologists know full well that Joseph Smith didn't know how to translate Egyptian, and that he translated the Book of Abraham by the "gift and power of God" in the same manner as he did the Book of Mormon.
Response to claim: 113 - if Joseph couldn't translate the Egyptian on the papyri, then he couldn't have translated the "Reformed Egyptian" on the gold plates
The authors claim that if Joseph couldn't translate the Egyptian on the papyri, then he couldn't have translated the "Reformed Egyptian" on the gold plates.
Note that it should be "reformed Egyptian," rather than "Reformed Egyptian." It is a description of the written language, not the name of the language. Moreover, Joseph translated the plates by the "gift and power of God." He had no ability to "translate" the "reformed Egyptian" in a manner which would have been used by men.
Question: How exactly did Joseph Smith translate the gold plates?
Joseph Smith only stated that he translated the Book of Mormon by the "gift and power of God"
All that we know for certain is that Joseph translated the record "by the gift and power of God." (D&C 135:3) We are given some insight into the spiritual aspect of the translation process, when the Lord says to Oliver Cowdery:
"But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right." (D&C 9:8)
Beyond this, the Church does not take any sort of official stand on the exact method by which the Book of Mormon translation occurred. Joseph Smith himself never recorded the precise physical details of the method of translation:
"Brother Joseph Smith, Jun., said that it was not intended to tell the world all the particulars of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon; and also said that it was not expedient for him to relate these things"
It is important to remember that what we do know for certain is that the translation of the Book of Mormon was carried out "by the gift and power of God." These are the only words that Joseph Smith himself used to describe the translation process.
Response to claim: 134 - the discovery of the papyri "puts serious doubt on Smith's translating ability and his claim to being a prophet"
The authors claim that the discovery of the papyri "puts serious doubt on Smith's translating ability and his claim to being a prophet."
If this is such an issue, why did the Church feature the recently discovered papyri in the January 1968 Ensign with an article that described it as being an Egyptian funerary document?
Question: Was the Church forthright in identifying the rediscovered papyri prior to their examination by non-LDS Egyptologists?
The January 1968 issue of the Improvement Era demonstrates that the Church was very forthright about this issue
The Church announced that the fragments contained a funerary text in the January 1968 Improvement Era (the predecessor to today's Ensign magazine). Of the 11 fragments, one fragment has Facsimile 1, and the other 10 fragments are funerary texts, which the Church claimed from the moment the papyri were rediscovered. There is no evidence that the Church has ever claimed that any of the 10 remaining fragments contain text which is contained in the Book of Abraham.
The critics are telling us nothing new when they dramatically "announce" that the JSP contain Egyptian funerary documents. The Church disseminated this information as widely as possible from the very beginning.
The timeline of events
A review of the time-line of the papyri demonstrates that the Church quickly publicized the nature of the JSP in the official magazine of the time, The Improvement Era.
There were 11 fragments discovered and given to the church. The Church was very quick in releasing this information to the membership and the world.
- November 27, 1967
- Church receives papyri.
- December 10–11, 1967
- Deadline to submit material for the January 1968 Improvement Era.
- December 26–31, 1967
- January 1968 Improvement Era issue mailed to subscribers.
- February 1968
- Another fragment was discovered in the Church historian's files, and publicized in the February 1968 Improvement Era.
- Parley P. Pratt, The Autobiography of Parley Parker Pratt (Salt Lake City, Deseret Book Company, 1985), 77.
- Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl, The Doctrine and Covenants Commentary (Salt Lake City, Deseret Book Company, 1954), 634.
- Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 33. off-site
- McKeever and Johnson use only two verses of D&C 84 in their argument. However, to adequately understand the LDS view of Zion, one must also read D&C sections 38:, 49:, 58:, 63:, 84:, 87:, 88:, 94:, 95:, 97:, 100:, 101:, 105:, 124:, and 128:. To leave out all of this information misleads readers about what Joseph Smith really said.
- Photocopy of a signed affidavit by Paulina Elizabeth Phelps Lyman, witnessed on 31 July 1903 by James Jack, notary.
- Mosiah Hancock Autobiography, Typescript, BYU Library, Special Collections, 28-29.
- Wilford Woodruff, Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, compiled by G. Homer Durham (Salt Lake City, Bookcraft, 1946), 38-39.
- History of the Church. Volume 5 link
- Autobiography of Anson Call, BYU Library, Special Collections, 6-7, 18-19.
- George A. Smith, Journal of Discourses 13:85. (12 August 1866).
- Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 3:XLIII, footnotes. Volume 3 link States as follows: "These estimates are by the late President George A. Smith, Church Historian, and hence are entirely reliable. They are quoted by Lucien Carr in his History of Missouri, "American Commonwealths," p. 181, and are also to be found in an Historical Address by George A. Smith, Journal of Discourses, Vol. XIII. pp. 103. et seq."
- History of the Church. Volume 3 link
- See also Luke 1:73, John 8:39, Romans 4:1, 4:16, and James 2:21 for scriptural understanding of this principle that children can be a descendant in any number of generations.
- "O.P.M.," "Mormonism and its Origin, Number 4," The Golden Era San Francisco (18 October 1857). [Thanks to Ted Jones for this reference.]
- Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 1:312, notes. Volume 1 link
- http://www.usmo.com/~momollus/battles.htm [needs work] (broken link)
- History of the Church, 3:LXIII. Volume 3 link.
- Paul H. Peterson, "Civil War Prophecy," in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow, (New York, Macmillan Publishing, 1992), 1:288.
- Brigham Young, "Privileges of the Sabbath, Etc.," (20 May 1860) Journal of Discourses 8:58.
- Orson Pratt, (10 April 1870) Journal of Discourses 13:135.
- Orson Pratt, (27 December 1868) Journal of Discourses 12:344.
- Paul H. Peterson, "Civil War Prophecy," in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow, (New York, Macmillan Publishing, 1992), 1:288.
- Editor [Orson Pratt], "A Revelation and Prophecy by the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, Joseph Smith," The Seer 2/4 (April 1854): 241–247.
- Robert Woodford, The Historical Development of the Doctrine and Covenants, Ph.D. Dissertation, Brigham Young University, 1974, 1104–1124.
- Woodford, "The Historical Development of the Doctrine and Covenants," 1110, 1111 (figures 12 and 13) [figures contain photocopy of the masthead of each newspaper, and the article itself].
- The God Makers, 224, lines 21-24; cited by Gilbert W. Scharffs, The Truth about ‘The God Makers’ (Salt Lake City, Utah: Publishers Press, 1989; republished by Bookcraft, 1994), Chapter 15. Full text FairMormon link ISBN 088494963X. direct off-site
- Gilbert W. Scharffs, The Truth about ‘The God Makers’ (Salt Lake City, Utah: Publishers Press, 1989; republished by Bookcraft, 1994), Chapter 15. Full text FairMormon link ISBN 088494963X. direct off-site
- Brigham H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God, 3 Vols., (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1909[1895, 1903]), 1:319. ISBN 0962254541.
- Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Co., 1947).
- History of the Church, 1:220. Volume 1 link
- Jay M. Todd, "Egyptian Papyri Rediscovered," Improvement Era (January 1968), 12–16.
- Jay M. Todd, "New Light on Joseph Smith's Egyptian Papyri: Additional Fragment Disclosed," Improvement Era (February 1968), 40.; Jay M. Todd, "Background of the Church Historian's Fragment," Improvement Era (February 1968), 40A–40I.