Decanonization has occurred in Mormon scriptures

(To see Cal Grondahl’s cartoon that goes with this post, click here) Remember the Lectures on Faith sections in the Mormon scripture, “Doctrine and Covenants?” No? But they were there for 86 years? I’m reading an 1918 “Doctrine and Covenants” and sure enough, there’s Lectures on Faith.” What about “Section 101″ in early D&C editions, the “Article on Marriage” that says men and women should only have one spouse? No, haven’t heard of that one either? It was eventually deleted by church leaders and replaced by Section 132, which details celestial marriage and having multiple wives. Decanonization of scripture is not talked about much in the LDS church, and it’s certainly far less frequent than examples of added scripture in Mormon canon, but it does happen.

In the fall 1987 issue of “Dialogue,” historians Richard S. Van Wagoner, Steven C. Walker and Allen D. Roberts explore “The ‘Lectures on Faith’: A Case Study in Decanonization.” (Read) The lectures, comprised of seven chapters and totaling 70-plus pages, were part of the “School of the Elders” that Joseph Smith had in Kirtland, Ohio. Most scholars believe church leader Sidney Rigdon wrote most of them, with Smith and another leader, W.W. Phelps, writing one each. According to the Dialogue article, Smith “accepted responsibility for ‘every principle advanced.’” However, in 1921, via a committee of church leaders, the Lectures on Faith were deleted from the D&C. The explanation given, the Dialogue authors explain, underscores the LDS Church’s muddled explanations for why canon is deleted. The committee wrote, “… Those lessons were prepared for use in the School of Elders … but they were never presented nor accepted by the Church as being otherwise than theological lectures or lessons.

Related to this issue is confusion from LDS authorities over what constitutes revelations. In testimony before a court and later before Congress, church presidents Wilford Woodruff and Joseph F. Smith stated that church members have the right to reject revelation and that true revelation needs to be accepted by the church. It’s likely those statements were part of efforts to avoid secular pressure on the LDS faith, which was dealing with the unpopularity of polygamy. Most other church leaders, including George Q. Cannon and Bruce R. McConkie, strongly reject the idea that a prophet’s revelations from God need to be approved by members. Even the D&C has conflicting advice on revelations. As the Dialogue article points out, Section 68:4 seems to indicate that once a prophet declares revelation, it is revelation. However, Section: 28:13 says that common consent is needed for church doctrine. (On a personal note, I’ve always been taught that when the LDS prophet claims revelation, debate ends.)

One reason the Lectures on Faith may have been decanonized, the Dialogue authors posit, is that its teaching as to the character of Heavenly Father — as taught by Smith in the 1830s — differ from later teachings. As the Dialogue authors explain, the Lectures on Faith read, “There are two personages who constitute the great matchless, governing and supreme power over all things, by whom all things were created, and made. … They are the Father and the Son — the Father being a personage of spirit, glory, and power … the son … a personage of tabernacle, made or fashioned like unto man.”

What the Lectures on Faith and its subsequent decanonization teach observers is that Mormon doctrine was in a constant evolution in the 1830s. It was not until 1841, more than a score of years after the First Vision, that Smith taught that God had a body of flesh and bone. This doctrine would later be expanded in Smith’s 1844 King Follett sermon, where, the authors point out, Smith taught: “God, who sits enthroned in yonder heavens is a man like unto one of yourselves,” and “You have got to learn how to be Gods yourself.”

Perhaps the most important thing to learn from the Lectures on Faith’s history, as well as the deletion of “Section 101″ of the early D&C, is that Joseph Smith’s understanding of the doctrine of the church he started grew over time. Yet, the majority of Latter-day Saints today, as the Dialogue authors concede, are quite unaware of these evolutionary changes.

As for the Lectures on Faith, while obscure today, are considered of value by the LDS Church and easily accessible to buy or read for free on the Internet. They are also available on the church’s website (click).

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47 Responses to Decanonization has occurred in Mormon scriptures

  1. Jacksn says:

    Josephs understanding grew over time… or ‘changed’? There is a difference. His various versions of the first vision show he changed things a lot. The lectures on faith show he changed things. Constantly changing stories is the hallmark of a liar.

    • Jeremy says:

      Why don’t you try to tell the same story about something that happened to you when you were 14 at 4 different occasions, spread throughout your adult life. You’re bound to have contradictions.

      • Emma says:

        Personally, if I saw God and Jesus in person that would make an impression on me that would last a lifetime.

        Yes, over time people’s memory changes. However most people retain an accurate memory of major components of important events. I may be inconsistent on the number and types of flowers I had in my boquet on my wedding day twenty years ago…but I remeber who I married.

        • Raymond Takashi Swenson says:

          Joseph smith’s first vision DID have a lasting impression on him. But he did not create a detailed narrative of the event, and then recite it verbatim from memory every time someone asked him about it. Joseph Smith’s various recollections of the event are just as consistent as the three versions of Paul’s vision of Christ in the Acts of the Apostles. Nothing of material significance varies in the various accounts that Smith or his scribes wrote down over the years.

          A professor who was a professional literary analyst. named Arthur Henry King, read Smith’s account of the first vision and was impressed by the straightforward nature of the narrative. It was not written to evoke emotions in readers, or impress them. It is a simple account of a real experience, not a mystical encounter that was ineffable and portentous. It was impressive enough that King investigated further and eventually joined the LDS Church, and joined the faculty at BYU.

      • efialtis says:

        Another thing that changes is the audience. For each audience, we may emphasize certain aspects of a story. The next audience, we may linger on other parts.
        This isn’t uncommon, or “bad”, it is just the way it is.

  2. Bob Becker says:

    Without venturing onto the quicksand ground of LDS teachings regarding changing/evolving/growing doctrine [on which topic I am wholly unqualified to comment on grounds of impressive ignorance], I’d merely note that the LDS faith is not the only one that has created problems for some followers by changing doctrine [or evolving deeper more nuanced understandings of the meaning of doctrine if you prefer]. The Geezer [my mom, now 93 and still feisty] began to have her Catholicism erode a bit around the edges when the Church decided that, actually, no, you wouldn’t in fact risk burning in hell if you ate meat on Friday and died before you could confess it and be absolved. Or if you missed mass on Sundays or holy days of obligation. And having been raised and spent decades in a church in which those receiving communion were told never, but never, to touch the host [accepted form kneeling at the communion rail was head back, tongue out so the priest could place the host directly on the tongue with no other contact], she never accepted the sudden decision that, well, you know, after all, it’s not only ok, it’s better for you to stand up instead and for the priest to place the host in your hands, and for you then to place it on your tongue. [She still refuses to do that.]

    When you’re in the Eternal Truth business [as churches are], changing what had previously been taught as Faith-Endorsed Truth [involving belief or practice] inevitably creates problems for at least some of the faithful… problems what can be summed up by the nagging question that stays nestled in the back of their minds: “What part of what they’re saying now is Eternal Truth will they decide isn’t next?”

    Good question.

    • Anya says:

      Look up the difference between doctrine and discipline and Tradition vs tradition.

    • Jeremy says:

      I think that the reason people make too big of a deal about change in religion is because they misunderstand the nature of religion. God can inspire a prophet, but that doesn’t mean that the prophet or the Church membership is going to understand everything all at once or that they is never going to make a mistake. Because of that, all religions should be allowed to change their beliefs and policies without so much ridicule.

      If the secular/academic community changes their beliefs on a subject, the world applauds their open-mindedness. If the religious community changes their beliefs, the world accuses them of having previously lied. Why can’t we accept that, just like secular leaders, religious leaders can make bad decisions and have incorrect opinions.

      • Emma says:

        Wow, God is not very good at communication.

        • efialtis says:

          Communication is a 2-way street. The Person conveying the ideas/thoughts/feelings, and the Person understanding the ideas/thoughts/feelings.
          If there is “miscommunication” it can be on both sides, or on any one single side.
          In the case of God, we have to be as good at understanding as he is at conveyance. And, as they say, we are only human…

      • Peter Mains says:

        To expand a bit on what Anya said (and I do recommend you look into the topics she brought up), the Holy Mass has been celebrated in many different ways over the centuries. It is not a matter of doctrine, but rather the way in which we express our love for God. The same goes for meat on Fridays. As far as going to Hell for skipping Mass, intentionally skipping Mass is still a mortal sin, so I think your mother is a bit confused on that point. In short, nothing in the examples you give leads me to believe that the Catholic Church changed its doctrine, although I am well aware that some people found the changes of Vatican II (not to mention their numerous misapplications) very jarring.

      • Ben says:

        “God can inspire a prophet, but that doesn’t mean that the prophet or the Church membership is going to understand everything all at once or that they is never going to make a mistake. Because of that, all religions should be allowed to change their beliefs and policies without so much ridicule.”

        Why align with something which is so verifiably false and unreliable? ALL religions claim some degree of unchangeable truth (especially the LDS church who claims to be the most current). THEY are the ones creating their own intolerant atmosphere. Why blame everyone else when it backfires?

        “If the secular/academic community changes their beliefs on a subject, the world applauds their open-mindedness”

        Absolutely not true. Have you ever witnessed any significant change/adjustment in the secular/academic community? They are criticized and peer reviewed relentlessly until there is a general consensus and even then there is always opposition. The reason you aren’t perceiving it is because in that community educated differences of opinion are welcomed, in religious communities it is often demonized to have an opposition.

        “If the religious community changes their beliefs, the world accuses them of having previously lied. Why can’t we accept that, just like secular leaders, religious leaders can make bad decisions and have incorrect opinions.”

        Because religious leaders claim to be the “mouthpieces of god”. This is THEIR claim. This is a HUGE claim for any man to make. When anyone in the secular/academic community is found lying, they lose all credibility. Why wouldn’t we hold a “prophet” to the same standard concerning matters of doctrine which are arguably infinitely more important.

        Any other questions…?

        • Anya says:

          The Catholic Church has never changed “beliefs” or Doctrine. It is always exploring the deeper meaning of Doctrine and striving to present it in a clearer fashion.

  3. Doug Gibson says:

    Bob, if you have time, the Dialogue article addresses the problems that LDS Church leaders have had in explaining changes in doctrine and the results, which are contradictory. Thanks for the comments; very interesting.

  4. todd says:

    Your mantra, when the prophet speaks, the debate ends, was debunked by Pres. George Albert Smith in 1945.

    More info here:

    • Doug says:

      Glad to hear that, although it says thinking in your link, not debate. I never liked that mantra, which you incorrectly wrote that I subscribe to. I have merely grown up hearing it, which I’m sure you would admit is not unique.

      • Ryan says:

        Steve Benson (Erza Taft Benon’s grandson) accentuated the statement during the 60 Minutes interview with President Hinckley and Mike Wallace (14 years ago): (about 4:50 mark)

        Same clip where disgruntled Steve got his famous line in when it comes to the prophet speaking on issues to the Church: “It becomes imperative that members pray, pay, and obey.” (something like that)

    • Jeremy says:

      Yes, and when you do this you are no longer temple worthy. Correct?

  5. Dave says:

    That’s the great thing about having a prophet, we can know the Lord’s will for the Church as we need to. God didn’t tell Adam to build an ark, yet when he came to Noah, he build one as he understood that revelation is how God works. The Lectors on Faith were removed as they were never scripture. They were not voted or approved as such by the body of the Church. They are among the books that we are encouraged to read though. The section that said one man to one wife was removed when the Lord revealed a new direction. Section 132 has not been removed as polygamy will return when the time comes and there are other doctrines in it relevant to the church today.

    • John says:

      Section 101 that was removed was never a revelation and never claimed to be a revelation.

      • Chuck Carpenter says:

        The problem with trying to dismiss Section 101 as simply “not scripture” is that it does not alter the reality of what occurred. For 40 years the LDS scripture contained a statement that said,

        “Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again.”

        This statement was a blatant lie. LDS leadership were secretly practicing and performing plural marriages at the time.

        The argument that this was a statement added by Oliver Cowdery without authorization might hold some water if an immediate reprint and recall of all the books were ordered. But did not happen. In fact the church continued to publish the lie through multiple editions and reprints of the Doctrine and Covenants for 40 years.

        So this is God’s one and only true church? Not by a long shot. Even the Baptists would know better than to publish a blatant lie in their literature for more than 40 years. And Mormons defame the holiness of the True God by claiming that His true church would allow such dishonesty to continue for decades without be rectified.

        No, it’s the Church of Joseph Smith, not the Church of Jesus Christ. And its actions reflect upon the character of Joseph Smith, not Jesus Christ.

        • Jeremy says:

          I think that you’re making a bigger deal about section 101 than you should. Section 101 was consistent with other scripture found in the Book of Mormon that preached against polygamy. Many members of the Church viewed polygamy as a temporary commandment to the Church and looked forward to the day when the teachings in section 101 and the Book of Mormon would practiced. Section 101 seemed like it fit.

          It wasn’t until decades later that the Church started to reexamine their qualifications on what was to be interpreted as canon scripture that they decided that Section 101 was out of place because it wasn’t authorized.

          Interestingly, there is still one section of the Doctrine and Covenants that was not ratified by the Church membership and was not written by a president of the Church–section 134. However, the rhetoric of this section is not controversial (as was section 101) and it seems like the Church decided to just keep it because it would do more harm than good to take it out. Readers are just informed to take what they read in that section with a grain of salt.

    • auteur55 says:

      Personally there is no evidence that Polygamy will return that is not taught anywhere. I think Plural marriage served it’s time and place for a period of time but is not the norm. The reason we’ve kept 132 is it is also the revelation on Eternal Marriage–we definitely don’t want to get rid of that.

      • Jeremy says:

        I hope your right. Plural marriage is an abomination and the people who still practice it are a testament to perversion. It is greed and demeans the value of women.

  6. JShope says:

    It comes down to this; do you believe that God has a church on the earth, run by men, or do you believe in “the church”?

    • Jeremy says:

      God calls people to serve in positions in the Church and gives them his authority (or permission) to do so. God directs these people about what to do, but the people are still liable to make mistakes.

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  8. Neal Cassidy says:

    One question I have always had. The LDS teach that the bible is the word of God as translated by men into a different language. Does’t the same problem occur with translating various Mormon holy books into other languages? Because languages are differnt in some respects isn’t the original meaning lost or changed when translated into another language?

    • Greg says:

      Could be that there are issues. I think that would be natural. I know that man in charge of translations. I don’t think he would say that every translation is “perfect”. Just the best they could do with prayer, good intent, the Spirit, and the faculties of their own minds through experience and capacity.

    • Raymond Takashi Swenson says:

      As you noted, some people ignore the fact that any English version of the Bible is not the original language. They think that anything that pops into their heads when they read an English translation is what God meant. The residual uncertainty about the meaning of scripture is significant. It means we should be careful about spinning out implications from a single passage of scripture, and need to read every passage in context with other passages so we have a more accurate idea of what the authors meant, and what God meant. The difference is that the English text of the Book of Mormon was produced through a process that was more closely supervised by divine authority and therefore more reliable than a translation prepared by a human translator. The Greek and Hebrew texts of the Old and New Testaments are NOT the originals, but are all copies, with variations from one to another.

      Translations of the Book of Mormon in other languages are clearly derivative from the English version and therefore less reliable. If there is any uncertainty about a doctrine taught in, say, the Japanese version, then the English version of the Book of Mormon would be referred to. The Japanese translation has been revised within the last few years because the modern Japanese language itself has changed from a century ago, as well as from the older style Japanese that was originally used in the translation from English.

  9. robert bridgstock says:

    In reply to Dave; yes, that all sounds correct, but God help the saints if polygamy was ever brought back. In order for it to happen, either society will have gone backwards in its value and appreciation of women (unlikely) or the millenuim will have arrived… frankly, even more unlikely. Either way, section 132 stands as a disgrace and as an affront to the dignity of both men and women.

  10. D. Michael Martindale says:

    To go from “God is a being of spirit” to “God has a body of flesh and bone” is not an evolution, is not revelation tailored to the needs of a specific time frame. It’s a blatant contradiction where one of those statements must be false

    Nor does it work to claim the one was not canonized scripture and the other is. They were both taught by Joseph Smith who claimed to know God and be a prophet.

    I remember one conference where Gordon Hinckley preached on what the First Vision taught us. (Of course he chose the Pearl of Great Price version of that story among all the possible versions he could have chosen.)

    One of the things he says the First Vision taught us was that God had a body of flesh and bone.

    Okay, so that means Joseph Smith must have known all along that God wasn’t only a being of spirit, yet he’s teaching that in the Lectures on Faith. Or maybe the P of GP version of the First Vision was a huge embellishment on what really happened that day.

    Either way, Joseph Smith is contradicting himself. Not growing or evolving in his understanding. Not receiving revelation adjusted to the needs of the time period. Flat out teaching falsehoods at some point (pick which doctrine you want to label a falsehood–it’s up for grabs.)

    • Matt says:

      I think you are overstating your case. The fact that Smith claimed to have seen two personages in the P of GP version of the first vision does not preclude the fact that Joseph could have originally perceived one or both of those personages to be spirit.

      Taking that version as true, it is still entirely possible that even after that experience Joseph continued to believe, as most other Christians do, that the Father was a spiritual being, and the contrary was later revealed to him. It might be different if he had changed his story on whether the Father and the Son were two separate beings.

      Nor, indeed, do I see how logic, or anything else, dictates that a prophet would not learn and grow in his understanding just like everyone else.

      • Emma says:

        God could have really avoided a lot of confusion had he simply said, “Joseph, look dude, I have a body of flesh and bone. Don’t go thinkin’ I’m a just a spirit!”

        See how tricky God is. He made everything so jumbled and unclear so that people would have to rely on apologists to explain all this away if they even look deeply enough into their religion to discover any problems. For some reason it seems that the church discourages in depth inquiry from non correlated church sources into its own history. Hmmm…I guess that some truths are just not useful and Warning! May lead some into the clutches of Satan. Oh, God you Devil!

        If God is really the keeper of Eternal Truth, He sucks at communication skills.

        Joseph Smith must not have been as smart as he seemed to be later on (Nauvoo Period) if God had to start his progression as a prophet with treasure hunting and seer stones. If I were God I would have told Smith to put his toys away now, and start playing like the big boys: Old Testament prophets had cooler means of communicating with deity.

        Was it God’s intention to make this all seem like a hoax? Because I can’t tell if God purposely made church history confusing and contradictory to weed out the sheep from the goats or if it really is all a product of the second great awakening and the magical thinking typical of that period.

        If the former is true, then God is not the type of deity I would like to worship. If the latter is true, then the truth is self explanitory. If that is too dichotomous- I can’t really see a viable middle ground that takes into account the types of statements made by God ex..”The fullness of truth” “The one true church” “Eternal, unchanging truth.” And the dichotomous statments made by prophets like Gordon B. Hinkley, “its either all true or all false.”

        In the end, I find Mormonism no different from other religions and their changing doctrines. And this makes me wonder…who is really the good guy of monotheistic religions? I think that Satan just has bad PR. After all, God killed over a million people in the Bible, and Satan just seven (with the permission of God). Satan should take a lesson from the one true church and hire some people to fix that public image.

    • BillRichardsonMesa says:

      DMM, see my comment above. I intended to reply to your contention that there was a contradiction.

      And my answer, boiled to its essence, is: so what. Again, I think it more amazing that JS got as much right as he did, and that he didn’t make even more mistakes. That is, I suppose, one of the great ironies that attaches to Mormonism. Unlike many sects, there was a constancy in the writings that the Church produced, writings which necessarily open Mormonism up to criticism from within and from without. Criticize away. I, for one, am grateful for what the church has given me and my family.

    • Jeremy says:

      So how was Joseph Smith supposed to know that God has a body of flesh and bone after just his first vision. He never said that he tried to shake God’s hand. If you had a vision where you saw God standing above you in air, shining brightly, you might think that God is just a spirit, too. But, Joseph Smith had later revelations that helped clarify the nature of God. Joseph probably looked back on his first vision experience and thought, “Oh yeah, that’s why God looked like he had a definite body instead of being a fuzzy ghost.” His vision was evidence that God has a physical body, but Joseph just didn’t understand it at first.

  11. Greg says:

    D. Michael, I don’t think there is any contradiction. He is Spirit. So are we. In other words, we come from Him. Are you Spirit?

    And by the way, not only were the Lectures on Faith part of the Doctrine & Covenants, they were the “Doctrine” of the Doctrine & Covenants. Like all things, I believe we should judge things, including people, on merit. If you read the Lectures, they are incredible. Trying to nitpick them is like anything else, you will find what you are looking for.

    • Jeremy says:

      The Doctrine and Covenants was originally published as “The Book of Commandments” and only contained the revelations of God to Joseph Smith. The next edition of the book also included a series of essays called “Lectures on Faith”, which was just a series of essays on basic doctrines (faith, repentance, etc.) that an apostle at the time had written, much like the books written by the modern Apostles like M. Russell Ballard’s “Our Search for Happiness”. It wasn’t incorrect doctrine, but it wasn’t scripture. I’m not sure why they put it in, maybe it’s because the young Church was overenthusiastic about the Lectures because they were the first successful religious commentary by a Church member. Maybe they thought that the young Church memberships could benefit from a regular reading of basic principles of the Church (remember, this is long before the things like the Sunday School lesson manuals came along).

      They changed the name “The Book of Commandments” to “The Doctrine and Covenants” because the Lectures on Faith were said to provide the doctrine (simple essays on the basic beliefs of Christianity) and rest of the book had previously been called The Book of Commandments (the words revelations, commandments and covenants were often used interchangeably in 19th century English). Decades later, as the Church matured, they admitted that the Lectures were out of place among the other scriptures and they removed them. Interestingly, the name “Doctrine and Covenants” still remains.

  12. BillRichardsonMesa says:

    There was a time when I might have considered the “de-cannonization” mentioned in the article, disturbing. I don’t now. I thank Richard Bushman for his book “Rough Stone Rolling” for this. I had been taught, like most kids from my era, a rather simple history of the history of the church. I have never thought that the history I was taught was in any way misleading. However, it was because of the simplicity of the story, that I had my doubts. It seemed to me that there had to be something more than was typically explained. When reading Bushman’s supposed expose of Smith “warts and all,” I found Joseph Smith, ironically, much more believable. That he could have had doctrinal “fits and starts,” is entirely rational to me. The prophets through the eons were men (and sometime women) who were blessed or plagued by their own strengths and weaknesses. Why should it be any different for Joseph Smith? To me, it is a testament to his prophethood that he had to grow in knowledge and wisdom, despite the heavenly visitations and communing with deity. Those experiences certainly gave him a start, but he still had much to figure out. In reflecting on his own experiences, I think it likely that there were many interstices that he could fill only upon later reflection, and only upon receiving increased knowledge and understanding. To me, the miracle is that he did not make many more mistakes.

  13. Jeremy says:

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encourages its members that do not speak English to try to learn it where possible. The Mormon Church wants its members to be able to read the Book of Mormon in the form Joseph Smith provided it and also because learning English can be a very useful, job boosting skill in foreign countries. Mormon missionaries from foreign countries often learn English from their American missionary companions. Currently, foreign LDS missionaries that do not speak English as their first language can take an accredited test to certify their English fluency, potentially as a resume builder.

  14. Jeremy says:

    So the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has made some changed some of their policies over the years and reexamined what they thought ought to be called scripture. So what? Everybody changes once in a while.

    The problem that I see is that the general populace doesn’t believe that churches should change their beliefs, ever. Presumably, this is because people expect religious belief to be perfect right from the start because religion is led by revelation from God. What people need to understand is that Mormons don’t claim that God tells them everything to do and exactly how to do it. The “one true Church over the face of the Earth” has gotten way too much mileage and is taken way out of context. Mormons admit that they and their ancestors have made a lot of mistakes and that the Church is constantly improving.

    What bugs me is that anytime the scientific community changes their opinion on something, the public applauds their open-mindedness and free thinking. Whenever a religious community reexamines their policies or beliefs, the public rebukes them as liars.

    • Chuck Carpenter says:

      The difficulty with these changes is the way the evolution takes place. The church has consistently shown through it’s history that it believes its leadership is entitled to violate any or all of God’s laws in pursuing revealed practices. While rank and file membership would be disciplined for violating civil laws or publicly lying, church leadership gets a pass.

      Here’s a quick overview of the evolution of polygamy and the church’s handling of it:

      1. 1831: Joseph Smith secretly initiates the practice of polygamy in a barn with a teenage servant girl. His wife learns of the practice when she views their marital consummation through a crack in the barn’s door.
      2. 1831-1844: Smith initially advances polygamy mostly with other men’s wives. About 10 of his eventual 30+ wives were already married when Smith approached them. He told some he was under the threat of death from a destroying angel if they refused him.
      3. 1835: The church publishes a Marriage Section in the Doctrine and Covenants stating that polygamy is a crime and the church believes only in one man – one woman marriage.
      4. 1844: Smith orders the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor’s presses when their inaugural issue is slated to expose the practice. He is arrested for this crime and dies in a gunfight while imprisoned in the Carthage, Illinois jail. By one account, he killed two of his attackers.
      5. 1852: Brigham Young publicly embraces polygamy claiming Joseph Smith received a revelation commanding it.
      6. 1876. The church issues a new edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. Without comment, the church removes the 1835 Marriage Section condemning polygamy as a crime. The Marriage Section was published continuously for 41 years and translated into 2 additional languages while the church was practicing polygamy. It is replaced with section 132 claiming polygamy is commanded by God.
      7. 1890: President Wilford Woodruff cites political pressures as a reason to cease practicing polygamy. He issues “The Manifesto” falsely claiming the church doesn’t teach polygamy.
      8. 1890-1904: The church continues to practice polygamy and perform new plural marriages in secret.
      9. 1904: Joseph F. Smith issues the “Second Manifesto.” Bizarrely written and containing blatant lies, Smith essentially claims that there have been no new plural marriages since 1890, and he promises there won’t be any more new plural marriages. We’re not doing it, and we promise to stop doing it.
      10. 1905- Present: Begin a new legacy of denying any wrongdoing in the face of clear lies and deception by LDS prophets and leaders — claim God justifies the subterfuge with catchy phrases like “milk before meat,” or we “don’t cast pearls before swine.” Or embrace one truly bizarre explanation for the lies: “God was testing the Saints.”
      11: 1990′s – Present: Wherever possible, obscure or remove any prior references to the lies and deceit by church leadership. Begin the process of scrubbing the practice from history. Form a website devoted to Joseph Smith (, but remove all references to his plural marriages, noting only his first wife, Emma. Provide eye witness accounts from Eliza Snow on the site, and even provide her biography. But fail to mention that she was married to Smith. Could you imagine anybody publishing a biography of a married man that quotes his wife, provides a brief biography of her, but fails to mention that she is his wife?
      12. 1990′s – Present: Personally attack those who persist in taking issue with the documented lies and deceit by church leadership regarding the practice. Dismiss their arguments as “old news,” or the product of some raging “anti-Mormons.”
      13. 2000′s – Present: If the criticism persists, label it as religious persecution or bigotry, and try to align your plight with the history of the Jews. Resort to secular arguments for civil disobedience to justify the legacy of deception.

  15. Mike Bennion says:

    The greatest internal consistency in both Christian and Mormon Scripture is the consistency of change guided by revelations from God to men. Noah was commanded to build an ark. No one else is expected to follow that commandment. The returning tribes of Israel were given the Law of Moses. Christ said that he came to fulfill the law and give new commandments. The gentiles were first proscribed from receiving the gospel, then through a revelation recorded in Acts chapter 10, Peter, the chief apostle was told that they should now be taught. See the verses below as additional support.

    Old Testament, Isaiah 28:10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:
    11 For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.
    12 To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.
    13 But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.

    Book of Mormon, Mormon 9:7 And again I speak unto you who deny the revelations of God, and say that they are done away, that there are no revelations, nor prophecies, nor gifts, nor healing, nor speaking with tongues, and the interpretation of tongues;
    8 Behold I say unto you, he that denieth these things knoweth not the gospel of Christ; yea, he has not read the scriptures; if so, he does not understand them.
    9 For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing?
    10 And now, if ye have imagined up unto yourselves a god who doth vary, and in whom there is shadow of changing, then have ye imagined up unto yourselves a god who is not a God of miracles.

    Just because others believe in a static, fixed canon of scripture, Mormons are not required to adhere to those beliefs. Indeed the Bible supports the continued, sustaining flow of revelation between God and men. If revelation ceases, then men have refused it.

  16. Pingback: Thought of the Day about Mormonism « Life After Ministry

  17. Camden says:

    I remember every detail of the day that I first heard Ephesians 2:8-9. What my wife was wearing, what I was wearing, where I heard it, by whom I heard it, what my wife said to me that morning before I heard it, how the Holy Spirit softened my heart after hearing it and prompted me to investigate Biblical Christianity, etc…
    My conversion experience, by the way, was over 16 years ago…

  18. Mahonri says:

    Won’t be long and the “Book of Abraham” will be tossed in the toilet. One can only hope the fable known as Book of Mormon will follow.
    Not ONE lamanite anywhere. Not ONE location from the book can be shown to have anything to do with it. Not ONE artifact of ‘reformed egyptian’ has been found in the Americas. Yet more than a thousand artifacts have been found of a Norse settlemen of about 100 souls from about 1,000 years ago.

    Dumping old “inspired” religious writings because they are baloney is par for the course. LDS, inc is just slow because it is really a Real Estate Corporation masquerading as a church and does not want to harm the flow of money to pay BigTom and the Terrible 15 at the top. You know, the paid ministry?

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