Womanhood and Godesshood

I copy this paragraph from another blog as its question is quite thought provoking. If you are sensitive the Mormon Temple Ceremony specifics, do not read:

Often women are told that men have priesthood and women have motherhood.  Elder’s Oak’s talk alluded to the power of creating life as something only women can do.  However, the power to create life depends on a mother and a father (indeed, this is the basis for the Church’s arguments against gay marriage), so men are also endowed with the power to create life.  To complicate things, in the temple, the creative triad of Elohim, Jehovah, and Michael create life without women being present at all.  Elohim and Jehovah create Michael, not Elohim and a Mother in Heaven.  If motherhood/creation is a woman’s endowment of power, where is that exercised in the primal account of creation?  It is not mentioned.  Not only that, but Elohim and Jehovah also create Eve.  And they create Eve FROM Adam.  No woman was used to create man, or woman, and in fact according to the account, woman was created FROM, BY and FOR man.  Priesthood, it seems, can create life without a female input, so how am I supposed to take the argument that motherhood is a compliment to priesthood seriously?


(password: MormonPriestess)

RIP Rock Waterman – Apostate or Abinidi?

The excommunication of Rock Waterman is complete. Another Mormon pushed away, punished, and exiled from Mormonism for expressing his thoughts and exercising intellectual analysis. Some people call this border control or boundary maintenance. I call this an infringement on intellectual freedom of expression. Of course, there is no bill of rights when it comes to freedom of expression in a private institution like the LDS Church. Private clubs can set their own rules, but when the foundational documents invite all to come and partake, it seems counter-productive to exclude some who express their views.

A disciplinary council is where a group of volunteer ecclesiastical leaders gather together to judge a person who is accused of a serious offense. It is often referred to as a court of love. Rock said the only love in the room was the love he brought with him. He compared his excommunication experience, just as Paul Toscano once did, to being raped by a group of Care Bears. Rock’s wife described the scenario like a corporate firing: a dead feeling in the room followed by a series of charges, a moment to say something, and then the execution of said firing. Having been the victim of a corporate firing, I can relate to the deepest level of the deathly feeling of that room. I would likely go ape-nuts if I were to be called to a disciplinary council, so I can only imagine the gut-wrenching feeling of those who face up to it.

Back to the topic at hand: was Rock an apostate? Some would say that his refusal to follow every word of the living prophets constituted his apostasy. Others might say Rock appealed to a higher authority in his arguments. Some might say the situation is unfortunate, but a church can do as it pleases as a private institution (as long as it doesn’t cross federally protected lines). Others might say that the definition of apostasy is too broad and loosely applied.

It hurts to be part of a church that acts this way to those in dissent. I was so angry when John Dehlin and Kate Kelly were ex’d. I was enraged after reading about the September Six. Now, Rock Waterman has been handed the same fate. I cannot summarize all of Rock’s positions, but several ring true to me:

  • Getting married civilly should not carry a one-year ban from the temple sealing ordinance for those couples who wish to have family and friends of diverse faiths attend. There is no such ban in Europe where only civil marriages are acceptable, so the same should be worldwide. link
  • Tithing is based on one’s increase, not on one’s income. link
  • Corporate Church is not the same as the Church of Christ. link
  • Polygamy was a mistake and should be denounced. link
  • Word of Wisdom strictness may not be historically supported. link

John Dehlin calls Rock a “modern-day Abinidi” in his interview with Rock post-excommunication. I tend to agree. How about you?

The Calderwood Compilation

The following are taken from Carson and Marissa Calderwood’s blog, Conservative Cake Liberal Icing. The documents compiles by the Calderwoods document their defense against the charges of apostasy. (A great summary can be found on John Dehlin’s MormonStories.) Their unsuccessful defense led to their excommunication. Of course, “unsuccessful” is a relative term depending on your POV on disciplinary councils that effect the excommunications. Regardless, the handouts below are summarized by the Calderwood with links and the full copy/paste of each is below the links.


  1. http://bit.ly/cantblindlyfollow – This will have a bunch of quotes from prophets and apostles telling us themselves that we can’t blindly follow them.
  2.  http://bit.ly/errorsinchurch – A list of obvious errors committed by the prophets and apostles showing that we should listen the previous document.  Many of these are not known by the general membership.
  3. http://bit.ly/thinkforourselves – List of more quotes from the prophets and apostles saying that we have to think for ourselves and not let them do all the thinking.
  4. http://bit.ly/churchchanges – A list of changes in the church and implementation of various policies and practices which started at the grass roots level and were later adopted by the general church.  As you can see there, almost every program in the church started this way, almost never top down.  Combine that with the recent request from Elder Clayton Christiansen telling members to help make changes so the brethren can see what helps.
  5. With the above stated I hope they’ll see that doing what I have done for years (1-search for truth, 2-help others suffering from troubling church history know they are not alone, 3-show those demonizing doubts and doubters that there are legitimate church problems) is not only allowed in Mormon doctrine, but encouraged, and even recently.  To cap that all off, I’ll give them my list of top 7 questions about church history that I couldn’t solve to show them that these issues are legitimate.  I’ll give them only the first two pages, not the several pages of source material http://bit.ly/7LDSquestions.


Can’t Blindly Follow

  • “And none are required to tamely and blindly submit to a man because he has a portion of the priesthood. We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark, that they would do anything they were told to do by those who presided over them, if they knew it was wrong; but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God … would despise the idea. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the saints were told to do by their presidents, they should do it without asking any questions. When Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their minds to do wrong themselves.” (Joseph Smith, Millennial Star, vol.14 #38, pp. 593-95)
  • President Harold B. Lee, said, “It is not to be thought that every word spoken by the General Authorities is inspired, or that they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost in everything they write.”(Harold B. Lee, Stand Ye in Holy Places, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1974, 162.)
  • “With all their inspiration and greatness, prophets are yet mortal men with imperfections common to mankind in general. They have their opinions and prejudices and are left to work out their problems without inspiration in many instances.” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 608)
  • “The first presidency cannot claim, individually or collectively, infallibility,” and “infallibility is not given to men.” -President George Q Cannon, Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of PRES GQC
  • “Thus the opinions and views, even of a prophet, may contain error, unless those opinions and views were inspired by the Spirit.” (Bruce R. McConkie, “Are the General Authorities Human?” address delivered at the Institute of Religion Forum at the University of Utah, October 28, 1966)
  • “There have been times,” President Harold B. Lee pointed out, “when even the President of the Church has not been moved upon by the Holy Ghost…the Lord can move upon His people but they may speak on occasions their own opinions.” (Harold B. Lee, The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 542)
  • “When God makes the prophet He does not unmake the man.” (David O. McKay, in Conference Report, April 1907, 11–12; see also October 1912, 121; April 1962, 7)
  • “We recognize that our forebears were human. They doubtless made mistakes.” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Continuous Pursuit of Truth,” Ensign, April 1986, 5)
  • “I told them I was but a man, and they must not expect me to be perfect; if they expected perfection from me, I should expect it from them; but if they would bear with my infirmities and the infirmities of the brethren, I would likewise bear with their infirmities.” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet JS, 268)
  • “I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful that they settle down in a state of blind selfsecurity, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwa[r]t the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give their leaders did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, by the whisperings of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not.” (Brigham Young – Disc. of  BYoung, JD 9:150)
  • “I do not wish any Latter-day Saint in this world, nor in heaven, to be satisfied with anything I do, unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the spirit of revelation, makes them satisfied […] Suppose that the people were heedless, that they manifested no concern with regard to the things of the kingdom of God, but threw the whole burden upon the leaders of the people, saying, ‘If the brethren who take charge of matters are satisfied, we are,’ this is not pleasing in the sight of the Lord.” (Brigham Young – JD 3:45)
  • The logic that what is said in Conference is “scripture” or “official doctrine” is flawed. To claim that anything taught in General Conference is “official doctrine”, notes J. F. McConkie, “makes the place where something is said rather than what is said the standard of truth. Nor is something doctrine simply because it was said by someone who holds a particular office or position. Truth is not an office or a position to which one is ordained”(Joseph Fielding McConkie, Answers: Straightforward Answers to Tough Gospel Questions, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1998, 213–214).


Errors in Church

  • “I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam…Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him, but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, vol. 6, p.408-409).
  • “Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.” Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 10, p.110, 1863
  • Spencer Kimball utilized 2 Nephi 30:6 when he stated how the Indians “are fast becoming a white and delightsome people.” He said, “The [Indian] children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation” (Improvement Era, December 1960, pp. 922-3)
  • “And if any man mingle his seed with the seed of Cain the only way he could get rid of it or have Salvation would be to come forward and have his head cut off and spill his blood upon the ground…it would also take the life of his children.” Wilford Woodruff’s personal diary, 4:97
  • “The one-wife system not only degenerates the human family, both physically and intellectually, but it is entirely incompatible with philosophical notions of immortality; it is a lure to temptation, and has always proved a curse to a people.” John Taylor, Millennial Star, Vol. 15, p. 227
  • “This law of monogamy, or the monogamic system, laid the foundation for prostitution and the evils and diseases of the most revolting nature and character under which modern Christendom groans…” Apostle Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, v. 13, p. 195
  • “God will lay his hand upon this nation. There will be more bloodshed, more ruin, more devastation than ever they have seen before….We do not want them to force upon us that institution of monogamy called the social evil.” John Taylor, JOD, Vol 20, pp. 316-21
  • “The United States says we cannot marry more than one wife. God says different….Polygamy is a divine institution. It has been handed down direct from God. The United States cannot abolish it. No nation on earth can prevent it, nor all the nations of the earth combined.” John Taylor, January 4, 1880 quoted in book Under The Banner of Heaven
  • “It is much more difficult for wives to learn than it is for husbands, because women have not the degree of light and knowledge that their husbands have.” (The Blessings and Privileges of the Saints—Obedience to Counsel. A Discourse by Elder Lorenzo Snow, Delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, October 11, 1857, Volume 5, pg 315)
  • Despite the garments having already been through a few changes, in 1906, Joseph F. Smith characterized any attempt to modify the 1840s garment pattern, which he characterized as “sacred, unchanged, and unaltered from the very pattern in which God gave them” as a “grievous sin.” (“Editor’s Table”, Improvement Era 9)
  • “From the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith even until now, it has been the doctrine of the Church, never questioned by Church leaders, that the Negroes are not entitled to the full blessings of the Gospel.” Official statement from the First Presidency in 1947
  • Despite not allowing women to pray in Sacrament Meeting until the 1970’s and not allowing a woman to pray in conference until 2014, Elder Cook said, “From our earliest history both men and women pray, perform the music, give the sermons, and sing in the choir, EVEN IN SACRAMENT MEETING, our most sacred meeting.” (Elder Cook, April 2011 Conference)


We Must Think For Ourselves

  • “If we have the truth, [it] cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.” ( Reuben Clark: The Church Years. D. Michael Quinn, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1983, p. 24)
  • “If a faith will not bear to be investigated; if its preachers and professors are afraid to have it examined, their foundation must be very weak.” – George Albert Smith, Journal of Discourses vol. 14, pg. 216
  • Apr 8, 1843 – Joseph Smith preaches concerning the Nauvoo high council trial of Pelatiah Brown, Sr.: “I do not like the old man being called up for erring in doctrine. It looks too much like the Methodist[s], and not like the Latter-day Saints. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be asked out of their church. I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please. It feels so good not to be trammelled. It does not prove that a man is not a good man because he errs in doctrine.” (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 Vols. 5:340)
  • “I think a full, free talk is frequently of great use; we want nothing secret nor underhanded, and I for one want no association with things that cannot be talked about and will not bear investigation.” John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, Volume 20, Page 264
  • “The man who cannot listen to an argument which opposes his views either has a weak position or is a weak defender of it. No opinion that cannot stand discussion or criticism is worth holding. And it has been wisely said that the man who knows only half of any question is worse off than the man who knows nothing of it. He is not only one sided, but his partisanship soon turns him into an intolerant and a fanatic. In general it is true that nothing which cannot stand up under discussion and criticism is worth defending.” – James E Talmage
  • “President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel — said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church — that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls — applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall — that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves . . .” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith 237-238)
  • “Brothers and sisters, as good as our previous experience may be, if we stop asking questions, stop thinking, stop pondering, we can thwart the revelations of the Spirit. Remember, it was the questions young Joseph asked that opened the door for the restoration of all things. We can block the growth and knowledge our Heavenly Father intends for us. How often has the Holy Spirit tried to tell us something we needed to know but couldn’t get past the massive iron gate of what we thought we already knew?” (Elder Dieter Utchdorf, 2012 Worldwide Leadership Training)
  • “I do not wish any Latter-day Saint in this world, nor in heaven, to be satisfied with anything I do, unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the spirit of revelation, makes them satisfied…. Suppose that the people were heedless, that they manifested no concern with regard to the things of the Kingdom of God, but threw the whole burden upon the leaders of the people, saying, ‘If the brethren who take charge of matters are satisfied, we are,’ this is not pleasing in the sight of the Lord.” – President Brigham Young, JOD, v. 3, p. 45
  • Do not, brethren, put your trust in man though he be a bishop, an apostle, or a president. If you do, they will fail you at some time or place; they will do wrong or seem to, and your support be gone;” – George Q. Cannon, Millennial Star 53:658-59, quoted in Gospel Truth, 1:319
  • “President Wilford Woodruff is a man of wisdom and experience, and we respect him, but we do not believe his personal views or utterances are revelations from God; and when ‘Thus saith the Lord’, comes from him, the saints investigate it: they do not shut their eyes and take it down like a pill.” -Charles W. Penrose (Apostle), Millennial Star 54:191
  • “We talk of obedience, but do we require any man or woman to ignorantly obey the counsels that are given? Do the First Presidency require it? No, never.” (Joseph F. Smith, Journal of Discources 16: 248)
  • “President Wilford Woodruff is a man of wisdom and experience, and we respect him, but we do not believe his personal views or utterances are revelations from God; and when ‘Thus saith the Lord’, comes from him, the saints investigate it: they do not shut their eyes and take it down like a pill.” (Apostle Charles W. Penrose, Millennial Star 54: 191)
  • Convince us of our errors of Doctrine, if we have any, by reason, by logical arguments, or by the Word of God and we will ever be grateful for the information and you will ever have the pleasing reflections that you have been instruments in the hands of God of redeeming your fellow beings.” Orson Pratt, The Seer, p. 15


Changes in Church

Many of these examples are given in a talk by Elder Clayton Christensen telling members how the Lord usually inspires general members on how to make the church better and it is our responsibility to do that instead of waiting for the leaders to tell us how to do things. (2009 Boston LDS Education Conference, https://vimeo.com/7685569)

  • Lester Bush did research on the unknown history that Joseph had given the priesthood to some African Americans and that research when presented to President Kimball allowed him to feel comfortable asking God if the priesthood could be given to them because all the information he had before was previous prophets saying they would never have it because they were a cursed race.
  • Let Women Pray campaign request got brethren to consider that a woman had never prayed in General Conference and the unwritten policy was changed so that the first woman prayed in 2013.
  • The Primary was started independently by Aurelia Spencer Rogers, who had a revelation to do so, then approved by Eliza Snow, then later adopted by the Church when the prophet saw that it was having good results and standardized for the church.
  • The Sunday School program was started independently by a ward in Salt Lake City, by Richard Valentine and adopted by other wards; more than 100 wards were running their own Sunday Schools before Brigham Young saw the good it was doing and standardized it for the church..
  • The 3-hour Sunday meeting block came about because members in remote areas educated Utah-based church leaders about their issues with travel time and the cost of gas.  After hearing the logic of it the first presidency standardized it for the church.
  • Emma asked about how certain habits seemed bad in the School of Prophets and asked if Joseph could ask God if things could be different.
  • John A Widstoe created the Cache Valley Index Cards for the scriptures, he took it to Joseph F. Smith and requested that they consider using for the entire church and it was accepted as the Index to the scriptures and standardized it for the church.
  • Family Home Evening was started in Richfield, Utah.  A member of the Quorum of the 12 saw it and standardized it for the church.
  • Institute was started in Moscow, Idaho at the University of Idaho.  Saw students coming to school and losing testimonies so he started it and Heber J. Grant standardized it for the church.
  • Girls Camp was started by the Granite School District and later standardized for the church.
  • Single Adult and Student wards were the brainchild of BYU President Ernest L. Wilkinson, who took the idea to David O. McKay for his approval and standardized it for the church.
  • Women couldn’t go to the temple with out active husband having recommend but men could. This policy was pressured from below to change and made the new standard for the church.
  • Pioneer Stake President Harold B. Lee developed the welfare program for his stake and it was seen as good by Heber J. Grant and then standardized for the church.
  • The previously used six missionary discussions were created by a Zone Leader in Northwestern States Mission.  It was adopted by his mission then standardized for the church.
  • Early morning seminary was started by the stake president in Pasadena, California Stake, Howard W. Hunter and later standardized for the church.
  • Setting aside Monday night as FHE was started by the stake president in Pasadena, California Stake, Howard W. Hunter and later standardized for the church.
  • Young Single Adult program was started in two places independently, seen how good it was, then it was standardized for the church.
  • Ward mission plans were started in Massachusetts in 1985 then later standardized for the church.
  • The church used to say that gay people chose to be that way.  Research was presented in the 90’s to the brethren by BYU professors and they saw that there was a definite genetic component.  Also, after hearing several first hand accounts of the difficulty in being gay and not choosing it they changed the doctrine. Despite this, several general authorities, most especially Elder Packer continued to say that it was a choice.

Updated version of this list (last updated 5/8/15) can be found at http://bit.ly/churchchanges


Questions About Church History (last update 05/27/2015) – Link to this document http://bit.ly/7LDSquestions
Here is a collection of the seven main problems I encountered about the church as I tried to learn more in an effort to strengthen my testimony. Unfortunately, the more I learned, the more it fell apart and questions arose that I couldn’t answer in a faith promoting way. To show that these are not anti-Mormon lies, all citations are either from church publications or journals where possible and original sources or summaries of original sources that include the citations to original sources in their summary. There are other problems and questions, but these are the main seven.
A.        Why did Joseph Smith marry so many1 other women, many without Emma’s knowledge,2 sometimes with the pressure of salvation at stake,3 4 some with sexual relations,5 6 one third of whom where were already married to living men,7 including some men without their knowledge while they were away on missions,8 9 lie about his polygamous marriages10 11 12 13 and get others to lie about them too?14 Why did Joseph Marry Fanny Alger (1833)15 before he received the revelation about polygamy or sealings (1843)?16 Also, if the Book of Mormon says polygamy can only be for having more children17, why do people argue he didn’t have sex with some wives18 and why did Mormon polygamous women on average have fewer children than non-polygamous women?19
B. Why were the foundational events for the church not written down20 or talked about for so many years after they happened21 (First Vision 12 years later,22 Aaronic and Melchizidek priesthood 9 years later23 24 25 26 27 28) when almost everything less important was written down? Why did the first vision story change so much over time (changed from just Christ only29 to a spirit or angel,30 31 two angels,32 many angels,33 Moroni,34 even Nephi,35 36 and finally the Father and the Son)? He also changed the ages it happened from16,37 to 1438 and 1739. Wouldn’t such an amazing experience (to see God!) be unforgettable? Why did he join another church40 after being told not to join any?41 Why were so many others of that time were having similar visions?42 43 44 45Why did he never mention any these events until years later, but coincidentally ONLY when he needed something to give him more religious credibility and power?46
C. Why does the Book of Mormon contain things that are impossible for the time it was written such as Neoplatonism’s Dualism,47 Deutero-Isaiah quotations,48 KJV translation errors?49 50 Why did he fear people making changes to his first translation of the lost 116 pages? If he translated them again at a time of only hand written documents51 the changes would be obvious! Why do we not hear that he often told stories52 about the ancient inhabitants of America (stories about the common assumption at that time that the Native Americans were descendants of Jews53) years before he ever got the plates or saw Moroni?54 Why are there so many topics in the Book of Mormon that were hot topics in the 19th century55 56 and the folk magic57 of the time. Why are the only two prophecies in the book that happened supposedly after it was written (Joseph as translator and Columbus) things that happened before Joseph’s time and not after? Why are there so many parallels to other books58 59 that were available to Joseph? Why is it missing so many of the important doctrines that our church60 61 has today if it contains the “fullness of the gospel?”62
D.        For people like me (see My Story bit.ly/1FlJfkw) the Elevation Effect63 explains feelings of happiness better than what the church says are feelings of the spirit. If those feeling actually are the spirit, why do other people in other religions (or no religion) have the exact same experiences as Mormons and why have I felt the same feelings at the same strength when doing secular things like watching the movie Independence Day?64
E.        If prophets speak the will of God, why do they get so many things wrong?65 66 If they can make mistakes then why are we expected to trust them so much? If this is the pure truth from God, when the Lord gave fairly detailed and long explanations like in the Word of Wisdom, why didn’t he say something more useful like wash your hands or boil your water instead of explaining in such detail things like which grains are good for which animals?67 Especially, why are the prophets and apostles fooled about such things as buying the Kinderhook Plates68 69 70 and Hoffman forgeries,71 and since they tried to hide the Hoffman documents,72 what else have they hidden?
F.         Why did Joseph Smith say the Book of Abraham was written by the hand of Abraham73 and that the meaning of the symbols (see facsimiles74 75 76) have been shown to be completely wrong?77 78 79 Why does the church now admit these errors in translation (such as it never mentions Abraham’s name)80 without a public correction like conference?
G.        Why was the original temple ceremony so similar to the 1830 Masonic ceremony81 instead of the older ones? If the masonic ceremony is just a corrupted version of the temple ceremony that was copied anciently and assuming things slowly change away from the original over time, wouldn’t Joseph Smith have restored a temple ceremony that was closer to the older versions of the masonic ceremony? Why can’t we find any proof of Freemasonry before 1300 when there is plenty of it after then?82 Why has the temple ceremony changed so much83 84 since Joseph revealed it if it was directly from God?
Explanation Of Fairly Using Historical Data
You may be thinking that although I have a lot of sources, these sources are probably just anti-Mormon lies at worst or just things from church history that we can’t really know what was happening at best. Brushing these historical sources off as such would be a gross misunderstanding of history or an unfair, biased use of sources that only help your desired point of view. It is more accurate and honest to give weight to probability of validity instead of fitting in with what you want them to say. For example, if you value certain sources in Mormon history such as ones given by Lucy Mack Smith that were written decades after the fact over something written by someone at an event and in good standing with the church then you are using a poor algorithm for coming to know accurate history. Faithful, active church historian’s do not do this and all have a different view of the history than the one that is usually accepted and taught in Sunday School. You can still have a faithful view of the history, but you need to approach it in an honest and fair way instead of discarding away anything negative.
There are certain logical protocols given for how to rank the credibility of any historical statement. Combining that with techniques that increase the likelihood that something happened and you’ll paint a picture that is more likely accurate. Examples include frequency of use from different sources, opposing sources or an uninvolved source stating the same thing as a pro source. For example, if the Gospel of Luke says Jesus did something and it is also found in a Pagan believing Roman historian’s book, then it is more likely to have happened than if it had only appearing in the Book of Luke.
Just because the Book of Luke says something happened doesn’t mean it did happen, and likewise, just because something else says it didn’t happen, doesn’t mean it didn’t. We can’t know exactly what happened, but we can give relative odds of one version of a story being more likely than another. This is important because many of the version of Mormon history that you get in the Mormon church growing up has additional source or explanation that will at least slightly alter your view of how it happened.  Not that all Mormon history is false, but many parts of it are incomplete.
The closer in time something was written down to the original event the more likely it occurred. Similarly, first person has greater value than second, and second than third, etc. If person A experienced something and wrote about it in their journal that night after it happened, that would take precedent over person C saying they heard that person B saw what happened and told them 20 years after the event. Many of my citations that seem to disagree with what you’ve heard in church will in fact be backed up by sources that are closer in date and person than the story you have been told. Often, you don’t even know sources for the story you’ve been told, its just the most faith promoting view that has been passed down over time.  That is not to say that everything is false that you’ve heard. Yet, it is likely that your understood version is slightly off when it has many other sources of higher accuracy probability telling a slightly different version. For example, a church leader has said that he knew that Helen Mar Kimball was happy to be in a polygamous relationship with Joseph Smith and he said it 40 years after it happened. Despite his position of authority, you have to give greater weight to what Helen Mar Kimball wrote in her diary about it being a terribly difficult decision and she only did it because her family’s exaltation was at stake. She was there, the other guy wasn’t. She was writing in her journal with no intent to persuade other people towards a certain version of the story, he was.
Please consider this and don’t offhandedly dismiss my citations with comments such as, “Oh, we can’t really know what happened back then,” or, “We don’t really know what they were feeling or thinking.” Especially when you are not holding the faithful sources to the same scrutiny that you are holding these oft times more likely sources just because they counter your faithful ones.
Citations on next page
1      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Joseph_Smith%27s_wives
2      “Five of the women [that Joseph married] boarded in Joseph’s household when he married them. Emma probably knew nothing of these marriages at first…” (Richard Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, p.491)
3      “Without any preliminaries [my Father] asked me if I would believe him if he told me that it was right for married men to take other wives…The first impulse was anger…my sensibilities were painfully touched. I felt such a sense of personal injury and displeasure; for to mention such a thing to me I thought altogether unworthy of my father, and as quick as he spoke, I replied to him, short and emphatically, ‘No I wouldn’t!’…This was the first time that I ever openly manifested anger towards him…” The next morning Joseph visited the Kimball home. “[He explained] the principle of Celestial marrage…After which he said to me, ‘If you will take this step, it will ensure your eternal salvation & exaltation and that of your father’s household & all of your kindred.[’] This promise was so great that I willingly gave myself to purchase so glorious a reward. None but God & his angels could see my mother’s bleeding heart-when Joseph asked her if she was willing…She had witnessed the sufferings of others, who were older & who better understood the step they were taking, & to see her child, who had scarcely seen her fifteenth summer, following in the same thorny path, in her mind she saw the misery which was as sure to come…; but it was all hidden from me.” (Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, pgs 497 – 499)
4      Emily Partridge later wrote that in the spring or summer of 1842 Joseph Smith approached her about polygamy. ‘I … shut him up so quick,’ she said, ‘that he said no more to me until the 28th of Feb. 1843, (my nineteenth birthday)’ (Young, ‘Life,’ 185). On this date Smith approached her privately, saying, ‘Emily, if you will not betray me, I will tell you something for your benefit.’ When he asked her if she would burn a private letter he wanted to send to her, Emily replied that she could not accept it from him. But she reconsidered. On 4 March 1843 Smith sent a ‘friend to plurality,’ Mrs. Elizabeth Durfee, with a message. When Partridge asked the envoy what Smith wanted, Durfee replied ‘she thought he wanted me for a wife.’ At a clandestine meeting later that evening at the Heber C. Kimball home, Emily later recounted, Smith advised her that ‘the Lord had commanded him to enter into plural marriage, and had given me to him, and although I had got badly frightened, he knew I would yet have him, so he waited till the Lord told him.’ Emily agreed to Smith’s proposal and ‘was married there and then.’ ” (Richard S. Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy, p.52)
5      “…in a significant number of marriages, there is evidence for sexual relations.” (Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, p. 15)
6      “Besides proving the existence of plural marriage, the affidavits attempted to refute the hypothesis that Joseph’s relations with his plural wives were purely spiritual.” (Rough Stone Rolling, p. 494)
7      http://www.mormoninfographics.com/2012/09/the-many-wives-of-joseph-smith.html and in Rough Stone Rolling, Richard Bushman discusses the very likely 32 total polygamous marriages before Joseph’s death. (Richard Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, p.437)
8      “Polyandry is one of the major problems found in Smith’s polygamy and many questions surround it. Why did he at first primarily prefer polyandrous marriages?…fully one-third of his plural wives, eleven of them, were married civilly to other men when he married them. If one superimposes a chronological perspective, one sees that of Smith’s first twelve wives, nine were polyandrous. So in this early period polyandry was the norm, not the anomaly… Polyandry might be easier to understand if one viewed these marriages to Smith as a sort of de facto divorce with the first husband. However, none of these women divorced their ‘first husbands’ while Smith was alive…In the eleven certain polyandrous marriages, only three of the husbands were non-Mormon (Lightner, Sayers, and Cleveland) and only one was disaffected (Buell). All other husbands were in good standing in the church at the time Joseph married their wives.” (Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, pp. 15-16)
9       http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Marinda_Bates_Pratt#Plural_marriage_proposal_of_Joseph_Smith
10 “There is evidence that Joseph was a polygamist by 1835.” (Richard Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, p.323). “To safeguard his burdensome secret, Joseph publicly and repeatedly denied he was advocating polygamy.” (Richard Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, p.491) “Joseph and Hyrum taught against the doctrine from the pulpit.” (Richard Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, p.526)
11 “Fanny Alger, one of the first plural wives sealed to the Prophet.” (Historical Record, May 1887, vol. 6, page 233). was a 17-year-old orphan girl whom Emma had taken into the family, but after her secret marriage with Joseph was discovered, Emma drove her out of the house. Warren Parrish, the secretary of Joseph for a period of time, told Benjamin Johnson that he and Oliver Cowdery knew the report of an affair between Joseph and the girl to be true, for they “were spied upon and found together.” (Letter from Benjamin Johnson to George Gibbs, 1903; Joseph Smith the Mormon Prophet, pp. 103-104)
12 “What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers. I labored with these apostates myself until I was out of all manner of patience.” (Joseph Smith, “Address of the Prophet—His Testimony
Against the Dissenters at Nauvoo”, delivered Sunday, May 26, 1844. Printed in History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 408­412)
13 “Cowdery and Joseph aired their differences at a meeting in November 1837 where Joseph did not deny his relationship with Alger, but contended that eh had never confessed to adultery…that was all Joseph wanted: an admission that he had not termed the Alger affair adulterous.” Rough Stone Rolling, pp.324-5. Even though Joseph may have seen his version of polygamy as not adulterous, he did state several times before this that he has not marrying other women.
14 “…my [Joseph] feelings are so strong for you since what has passed lately between us…it seems, as if I could not live long in this way; and if you three would come and see me…it would afford me great relief…I know it is the will of God that you should comfort me now in this time of affliction…the only thing to be careful of; is to find out when Emma comes then you cannot be safe, but when she is not here, there is the most perfect safty…burn this letter as soon as you read it; keep all locked up in your breasts…You will pardon me for my earnestness on this subject when you consider how lonesome I must be…I think Emma wont come tonight if she don’t, don’t fail to come tonight…” (The Strange Marriages of Sarah Ann Whitney, p. 4-5)
15 http://www.wivesofjosephsmith.org/02-FannyAlger.htm
16 https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/132 The heading in D&C 132 shows the correct date that the revelation was written down (1843) but states that “evidence indicates that some of the principles involved in this revelation were known by the Prophet as early as 1831” in an attempt to explain that he MUST have known because he was marrying girls in 1833. There is no evidence for him receiving this revelation then. The only “evidence” is that he secretly married this 16 year old girl in 1831. Nothing else exists. The earliest revelation about anything relating to sealings was when Elijah restored the sealing power in 1836, three years after Joseph married Fanny.
17 https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/jacob/2.24-29?lang=eng#24-29
18 Yes, it is true that some were married for Eternity Only meaning that they would be together in the next life, but of those that were marriages for this life, why does anyone argue that he didn’t try to procreate with them when you had to or polygamy was wrong?
19 http://www.livescience.com/13010-polygamy-good-men-bad-women.html
20 There are no known records that state the date of when the Melchizedek priesthood was given. There are only a couple conflicting, much later reports giving approximate periods when it could have happened. Rough Stone Rolling, p.588.
21 The word priesthood was not used in any sermon or revelation until June, 1831. All offices were given in the church without any mention of holding a priesthood. This is despite the fact that the Melchizedek priesthood was supposedly restored two years previously. At the June, 1831 meeting everyone including Joseph thought they were getting the first bestowal of the priesthood. (Richard Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, pp.157-8)
22 Final account used by church today says it happened in 1820 (Joseph Smith-History 1:7). Wasn’t written down for the first time until 1832, twelve years later (JS History, ca. Summer 1832, pp. 1–3).
23 “Joseph did not tell anyone about John the Baptist at first. Summarizing the key events in his religious life in an 1830 statement, he mentioned translation but said nothing about the restoration of priesthood or the visit of an angel. The first compilation of revelations in 1833 also omitted an account of John he Baptist.” (Richard Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, p.75)
24 There is no mention of any priesthood found in the histories, diaries, or writings of church members until several years after it had already been established. David Whitmer, one of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon, said, “I never heard that an Angel had ordained Joseph and Oliver to the Aaronic Priesthood until the year 1834[,] 5. or 6—in Ohio.… I do not believe that John the Baptist ever ordained Joseph and Oliver…” (Early Mormon Documents, 5:137).
25 William McLellin, stated, I joined the church in 1831. For years I never heard of John the Baptist ordaining Joseph and Oliver. I heard not of James, Peter, and John doing so.” Some time later he repeated that “I never heard of it in the church for years…” (An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins, pp.224-25)
26 In “A Revelation on Church Government” that Smith received in April 1830, there was no mention of either priesthood (History of the Church 1:64-70). Some time later, Smith went back and added three verses to the revelation, one of which mentions a “high priesthood” (D&C 20:67). When the Book of Commandments was printed in 1833, it included no mention of these ordinations.
27 The account of the Melchizedek restoration is entirely missing. B.H. Roberts writes that “there is no definite account of the event in the history of the Prophet Joseph, or, for matter of that, in any of our annals…” (History of the Church, 1:40fn). Palmer confirms that “no contemporary narrative exists…. the date, location, ordination prayer, and any other circumstances surrounding this experience are unknown” (An Insider’s View, 229)
28 Even Joseph Smith’s own family did not know about the restoration of the Melchizedek priesthood. Quinn writes, “Smith’s own mother made no reference to angelic restoration of authority in an 1831 letter she wrote to her brother about the new church” (Origins of Power, p.19). Joseph Smith III, the son of the founder of Mormonism, admitted that “there is no historical evidence of such an event. Nor is there any evidence that Peter, James, and John were present…. It
is not safe then to write historically that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were ever ordained literally…” (Reorganized History of the Church 1:64-65).
29 The earliest known account of the First Vision was given in 1831 or 1832. As Joseph dictated to his secretary, Frederick
T. Williams, he saw Christ but there is no mention of God the Father in his vision. (Dean C. Jesse, “The Early Accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision,” Brigham Young University Studies, 9:280, 1969, from the “Kirtland Letter Book, 1829­1835”)
30 In at least seven places in the Journal of Discourses, early LDS leaders shared that it was only an unidentified angel that visited Joseph, not God and Jesus (2:171, 196, 197; 10:127; 13:78, 324; 20:167)
31 “The Lord did not come with the armies of heaven…But He did send His angel to this same obscure person, Joseph Smith jun…and informed him that he should not join any of the religions of the day, for they were all wrong;…” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 2:171)
32 In 1837, William Appleby recorded the vision story as given by Orson Pratt in his diary. In this version, the revival was not until 1822, Joseph was 17 again, and the visitors were not God and Jesus but beings who identified themselves only as angels who claimed to have forgiven Joseph’s sins (William I. Appleby, Biography and Journal, 30-31, LDS archives; as cited in Dan Vogel, Early Mormon Documents (5 Vols.; Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1996-2003), 1:145-147).
33 JS, Journal, 9–11 Nov. 1835, pp. 23–24
34 The name was also published in the Pearl of Great Price (1851 edition, p. 41) as “Nephi”. The original handwritten manuscript of the Pearl of Great Price dictated by Joseph Smith reveals that the name was originally written as “Nephi,” but that someone at a later date wrote the word “Moroni” above the line. All evidence indicates that this change was made after Joseph’s death. Walter L. Whipple, in his thesis written at BYU, stated that Orson Pratt “published The Pearl of Great Price in 1878, and removed the name of Nephi from the text entirely and inserted the name Moroni in its place” (Textual Changes in the Pearl of Great Price, typed copy, p. 125).
35 “He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Nephi.” (The Times and Seasons Vol. III, pp. 749, 753; Pearl of Great Price, 1851 edition, page 41). Joseph Smith lived for two years after the name “Nephi” was printed in Times and Seasons and he never published a retraction.
36 In 1853, Joseph’s mother, Lucy Mack Smith, also said the angel’s name was Nephi (Biographical Sketches, p. 79).
37 JS History, ca. Summer 1832, pp. 1–3
38 Dean C. Jesse, “The Early Accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision,” Brigham Young University Studies, 9:28
39 In the early LDS publication Times and Seasons for December 15, 1840 (Vol.2 pg. 241), Oliver Cowdery stated specifically that Joseph Smith, Jr. was 17 at the time of the first vision
40 “…When Emma Hale Smith’s cousin, Joseph Lewis, discovered Joseph’s name on the roll [of the Methodist Church], he ‘thought it was a disgrace to the church to have a practicing necromancer’ as a member. He took the matter up with a friend, and the following Sunday, when Joseph and Emma arrived for church, the two men steered Joseph aside and into the family shop. ‘They told him plainly that such character as he . . . could not be a member of the church unless he broke off his sins by repentance…’” Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, by Linda K. Newell and Valeen T. Avery, University of Illinois Press, 1994, p.25.
41 “…must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” (Joseph Smith History, Vol. 1, p. 19)
42 Richard Bushman explains that many others were having very similar experiences where they would see God or see Christ, “in a glare of brightness,” all denominations were corrupt, God in the shape of a man, etc. (Richard Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, p. 41)
43 http://www.mormonstudiespodcast.com/joseph-smith-elias-smith-and-wilford-poulson/ 44 http://thoughtsonthingsandstuff.com/theophany-mine/ 45 “The Visionary World of Joseph Smith” BYU Studies.
46 “These events [arguments over polygamy] exhausted both Emma and Joseph. The the fall they stopped fighting…Three weeks later, Joseph told Clayton, Emma ‘was turned quite friendly & kind. She had been anointed.’ By ‘anointed’ Joseph meant Emma had received an ‘endowment,’ the first woman to take part in the ceremony offered to nine men a year a half before.” (Richard Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, pp. 496-7)
47 2 Nephi chapter 2 has a discourse on dualism. This philosophical idea did not exist in any writings or teachings that we have record of until after the Brass Plates would have been written and Lehi left for the Americas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dualism#History, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoplatonism_and_Christianity).
48 http://biblesummarybychapter.blogspot.com/2011/03/isaiah.html
49 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Book_of_Mormon_and_the_King_James_Bible#Perpetuation_of_KJB_translation_var iations
50 It takes more time and effort to translate the Golden Plates, notice that the translation matches KJV, keep translating everything to see where the translation switches back from Old Testament similarity to Nephi’s text, then go back and replace everything that you just translated (supposedly only in your head and not written down) with KJV verses instead of the Golden Plate’s version. Why not just write down what you are translating at the time you translate it? It had to be translated or he wouldn’t know where the quoting stopped.
51 https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/10 verses 9-19, especially verse 17 where it says even if the translation were perfect the evil men would have altered the words.
52 “During our evening conversations, Joseph would occasionally give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of traveling, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would to with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life with them.” (Lucy Smith, Biographical Sketches, p. 85)
53 That Native Americans descended from the Hebrews was a popular theory at the time Joseph lived. America’s most distinguished preachers -William Penn, Roger Williams, Cotton Mather, Jonathan Edwards -had all espoused the theory. A Jewish rabbi, M. M. Noah, summarized the parallels between the cultures of Hebraic and Indian customs in Joseph’s hometown paper on October 11, 1825. Joseph unquestionably had access to the Wayne Sentinel, for on August 11, 1826 his father was listed among the delinquent subscribers as owing $5.60. (Fawn Brodie, No Man Knows My History, 45-46)
54 Joseph told these stories well before his brother Alvin’s death in November, 1823. Yet he never got the plates until September, 1827.
55 Infant baptism, ordination, the phrase “cease to be God,” which church was right, anti-christs, the trinity, transubstantiation, fasting, church government, who may baptize, republican government and the rights of man. Revival camps (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camp_meeting) that were common in the day show up several times in the Book of Mormon, especially ones similar to what happened in Joseph’s day.
Grant Palmer documents that a Methodist camp meeting took place one mile from Joseph Smith’s hometown of Palmyra, New York, on June 7, 1826. Preparation for the meeting included consecrating the ground, which was then called the “temple” or the “house of God”. This meeting in Palmyra attracted 10,000 people. This particular gathering was privileged to hear the farewell speech of the beloved Bishop McKendree. The speakers stood on a raised platform. The scene, as described by those in attendance, is remarkably similar to the scene described in Mosiah 2-4 when the people gathered to hear the farewell speech of King Benjamin. Notice especially, the revival style of response found in Mosiah 4:1-3
Denunciation of Deists, Unitarians, Universalists, and agnostics. Strong passages denouncing secret groups as was happening a lot against the Masons at that time. Many names in book match names around Upstate New York. Lehi’s dream matches on almost exactly that his dad had a couple of years before the Book of Mormon was written.
56 Summary of 19th century topics in Book of Mormon is given in Rough Stone Rolling, p.92.
57 Slippery treasures, peep stone for translation (also mentioned in D&C), diving rods (also mentioned in D&C), treasures in the ground guarded by angels (Moroni and Golden Plates) http://www.mrm.org/early-mormonism-and-magic-world­view
58 The book “View of the Hebrews”
59 The Late War has an inconceivable similarity http://wordtreefoundation.github.io/thelatewar/
60 Temple Marriage, proxy work for dead, polygamy in heaven, difference between the priesthoods, pre-existence of man,
endowment, garments, three degrees of glory, word of wisdom, laying on of hands for gift of the Holy Ghost, etc.
61 Also, changes were made in the Book of Mormon to match later changes in doctrine such as the Trinitarian view of the godhead: In the 1837 printing of the Book of Mormon several passages were changed from the 1830 version of just “God” to the phrase “son of God” (1 Ne 18: 11, 21, 32, 1 Ne 11:32, 1 Ne 13:40)
62 “And again, the elders, priests and teachers of this church shall teach the principles of my gospel, which are in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, in the which is the fulness of the gospel.” (D&C 42:12), “Behold, this is wisdom in me; wherefore, marvel not, for the hour cometh that I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you on the earth, and with Moroni, whom I have sent unto you to reveal the Book of Mormon, containing the fulness of my everlasting gospel…” (D&C 27:5)
63 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elevation_%28emotion%29
64 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116629/combined
65 http://rationalfaiths.com/greatdivide/
66 Collection of mistakes by LDS prophets. https://www.dropbox.com/s/nepdmcijd9vdxmz/Mistakes%20of%20the %20Prophets%20-%20to%20share.doc?dl=0
67 “Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.” D&C 89:17
68 William Clayton quotes Joseph Smith in his journal. “I have seen 6 brass plates…covered with ancient characters of language containing from 30 to 40 on each side of the plates. Prest J. has translated a portion and says they contain the history of the person with whom they were found and he was a descendant of Ham through the loins of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the ruler of heaven and earth.” (William Clayton’s Journal, May 1, 1843, as cited in Trials of Discipleship — The Story of William Clayton, a Mormon, page 117)
69 The following is attributed to Joseph Smith in the church’s own record: “I insert facsimiles of the six brass plates found near Kinderhook…I have translated a portion of them, and find they contain the history of the person with whom they were found. He was a descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the Ruler of heaven and earth.” (History of the Church, Vol. 5 page 372)
70 “A recent electronic and chemical analysis of a metal plate (one of six original plates) brought in 1843 to the Prophet Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, Illinois, appears to solve a previously unanswered question in Church history, helping to further evidence that the plate is what its producers later said it was—a nineteenth-century attempt to lure Joseph Smith into making a translation of ancient-looking characters that had been etched into the plates.” (Ensign, August 1981, Stanley B. Kimball)
71 Long summary of Hoffman forgeries and the LDS church’s involvement
72 Joseph Fielding Smith tore out a page that showed the original version of the First Vision was not the same as the one the church was using. It was later replaced. https://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp­content/uploads/premium/Dialogue_V47N02_210.pdf
73 “Joseph the Seer has presented us some of the Book of Abraham which was written by his own hand but hid from the knowledge of man for the last four thousand years but has now come to light through the mercy of God.” (Diary of Wilford Woodruff, entry of February 19, 1842, LDS archives; also in Jay M. Todd, The Saga of the Book of Abraham (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co., 1969), p. 221)
74 Facsimile 1 https://www.lds.org/scriptures/pgp/abr/fac-1?lang=eng
75 Facsimile 2 https://www.lds.org/scriptures/pgp/abr/fac-2?lang=eng
76 Facsimile 3 https://www.lds.org/scriptures/pgp/abr/fac-3?lang=eng
77 “The Book of Abraham, it is hardly necessary to say, is a pure fabrication. Cuts 1 and 3 are inaccurate copies of well known scenes on funeral papyri, and cut 2 is a copy of one of the magical discs which in the late Egyptian period were placed under the heads of mummies. There were about forty of these latter known in museums and they are all very similar in character. Joseph Smith’s interpretation of these cuts is a farrago of nonsense from beginning to end. Egyptian characters can now be read almost as easily as Greek, and five minutes’ study in an Egyptian gallery of any museum should be enough to convince any educated man of the clumsiness of the imposture.” (Dr. Arthur Mace, Assistant Curator for the Department of Egyptian Art of the Metropolitan Museum, F.S. Spalding, Joseph Smith Jr., As a Translator, 1912, p. 27)
78 “It is difficult to deal seriously with Joseph Smith’s impudent fraud. The fac simile from the Book of Abraham No. 2 is an ordinary hypocephalus, but the hieroglyphics upon it have been copied so ignorantly that hardly one of them is correct. I need scarcely say that Kolob, &c., are unknown to the Egyptian language. Smith has turned the goddess into a king and Osiris into Abraham.” (Dr. A. H. Sayce from Oxford, England, Ibid., p. 23)
79 Fac-simile Number 2 represents a little disc…commonly called among Egyptologists a hypocephalus…These did not come into use until the late centuries just before the Christian era. They did not appear in any Egyptian burials until over a thousand years after the time of Abraham. They were unknown in Egypt in Abraham’s day.
Fac-simile Number 3…This scene again is depicted innumerable times in the funeral papyri, coffins and tomb and temple walls of Egypt. No representation of it thus far found in Egypt, though we have thousands of them, dates earlier than 500 years after Abraham’s age; and it may be stated as certain that the scene was unknown until about 500 years after Abraham’s day.” (Dr. James H. Breasted of the Haskell Oriental Museum, University of Chicago, Ibid., pp. 24-27)
80 “None of the characters on the papyrus fragments mentioned Abraham’s name or any of the events recorded in the book of Abraham. Mormon and non-Mormon Egyptologists agree that the characters on the fragments do not match the translation given in the book of Abraham.” (Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham, https://www.lds.org/topics/translation-and-historicity-of-the-book-of-abraham?lang=eng&query=abraham)
81 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormonism_and_Freemasonry
82 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Freemasonry#Early_Masonic_Sources
83 The temple ceremony has changed significantly since Joseph Smith’s death. Brigham young added in parts about preachers that were later removed. An oath against the United States’ government was removed. Many horrific penalties of death were removed. Women having to “obey” their husbands was removed.
http://www.ldsendowment.org/timeline.html 84 http://www.i4m.com/think/temples/temple_ceremony.htm

Divining Rod, Gift of Aaron, or Both?

I am highly confused about the editing of the Book of Commandments into the D&C. Surely you’re aware that the D&C and its revelations is not in its original form. Some changes are typography or orthography, but others are meaningful, contextual, revelation-altering changes.

There is an issue about the current status of D&C 8:6 and Oliver Cowdery’s divining rod.

Compare the two official LDS links below. One that claims Oliver’s rod was a gift of God whereas the other claims his “Gift of Aaron” was of God.

Book of Commandments:

Doctrine & Covenants:

Those sympathetic to Mormonism say the gift of Aaron is a companionship gift like Aaron, brother of Moses displayed in Exodus.

D&C 8 approves a rod only for sacred information. It also suggests the rod that displayed God’s power in the Egyptian plagues, in striking the rock for life-giving water or in calling down strength on Israel’s warriors. That rod was a straight shaft, the shepherd’s staff possessed by Moses at his call (Ex. 4:2-4). Used by both Moses and Aaron, it was foremost the “rod of God,” also Moses’ rod, but formally called the “rod of Aaron.” It functioned as a visible sign of authority, just as Judah’s “scepter” was a sign of divine kingship in Jacob’s blessing or Elijah’s staff held by the servant who went in his name. Thus the rod of Aaron was a staff of delegated agency, and the 1835 revision to “The gift of Aaron” suggests Oliver’s spiritual power to assist Joseph Smith as Aaron assisted Moses. [REF]

Those unsympathetic to Mormonism say Cowdery’s interest and practice in “folk magic” attracted him to Joseph Smith’s interest and practice of “folk magic”. (Fold Magic is a charged term, and should be generally described and physical manifestations through physical objects; however, that term is very long.)

I suppose if one believes all the craziness in the Bible, a modern-day divining rod isn’t that far-fetched.

Some people have balked at this claim of physical instruments used in the divine translation process, but such aids to facilitate the communication of God’s power and inspiration are consistent with accounts in scripture. In addition to the Urim and Thummim, the Bible mentions other physical instruments used to access God’s power: the rod of Aaron, a brass serpent, holy anointing oils, the Ark of the Covenant, and even dirt from the ground mixed with saliva to heal the eyes of a blind man. [REF]

However, if one is skeptical of the seemingly unnatural occurrences in the Bible, then it makes no sense to believe in Cowdery’s rod or Smith’s peepstone.

How does one reconcile a belief in an all-powerful God with the distrust of what appears to be folk tales in scriptures? That’s the question I need answered.

Additional links:







RE: Spiritual Watering Holes Part 1. Rational Faiths.

I was listening to a Rational Faiths podcast about spiritual watering holes, and one guest said she relates the last two lines of a poem by Emily Dickinson (full quote at end):

narcotics cannot still the tooth
that nibbles at the soul –


Once something is learned, it cannot be unlearned. Like grooves on a record, information is permanent. More information can be added to correct, to clarify, or to add information, but the original information will always be there. In the Faith Crisis Era, it seems like certain bits of Mormon history that get grooved into our records have a lot of sway over all the previous grooves. Whatever the issue, those experiencing a faith crisis feel that nibbling in their soul by the tooth of new information.

When reaching out to their TBM friends, the only help given in to “read scriptures, pray, fast, attend the temple.” As it is often the case, those experiencing a faith crisis are already doing those to an extent. This information is not new. However, Emily Dickinson exposes the reason WHY those activities have lost their efficacy: narcotics can’t silence the itch of the soul.

“Religion is the opium of the masses [or people, depending on your German]” said Karl Marx. Could it be that the daily to-do list is our daily dose of opium? But if so, how could a faith crisis make us immune to the effects of our daily opium intake? Does the new information learned during a faith crisis make one immune to it or do we inhibit our ability to feel the effects because of one’s loss of faith?

Whatever the reason, I feel that nibbling, and/but the opium isn’t cutting it anymore.

This World Is Not Conclusion

by Emily Dickinson

this world is not conclusion
a species stands beyond –
invisible, as music –
but positive as sound –

it beckons, and it baffles
philosophy – don’t know –
and through a riddle, at the last –
sagacity must go –

to guess it, puzzles scholars –
to gain it, men have borne
contempt of generations
and crucifixion, shown –

faith slips – and laughs, and rallies –
blushes, if any see –
plucks at a twig of evidence –
and asks a vane, the way –

much gesture, from the pulpit –
strong hallelujahs roll –
narcotics cannot still the tooth
that nibbles at the soul –


“One True Church” is not proprietary

Why do Mormon’s lean so heavily on the phrases “One True Church” or “THE True Church” or “The Church is TRUE”? Whether or not you believe this statement to be true, there are a few points to consider:

⊗ This appeal to authority is automatically diminishing of all other organizations. If I were to walk in a room of strangers and say, “I am the most beautiful person in this room. Who would like to compare their beauty with mine?” I’m sure I wouldn’t get too many takers.

⊗ The Book of Mormon clearly states that God is managing more than one group at once.

3 Nephi 16:1 And verily, verily, I say unto you that I have other sheep, which are not of this land, neither of the land of Jerusalem, neither in any parts of that land round about whither I have been to minister. (REF)

God is running several civilizations at once, so before Mormons go Sid Meier on the rest of the world, Mormons ought to be careful in considering themselves the only ones.

⊗ Adam Miller, the brightest mind in Mormon Thinkdom, knows this concept is silly:

The gospel is not a proprietary system. It’s open sourced and many of the ideas and practices that are most decisive in living a joyful life are shared broadly across the world’s traditions and cultures. (REF)

So let’s drop the vernacular of a one, true church, and let’s start living like we deserve to be called disciples of Christ.

Thoughts sparked while reading Times & Seasons.

Sifting: Reason and Revelation

Revelation: It’s so vague it’s hard to say if I’ve experienced it. I can’t think of a single instance in receiving “a still, small voice” in reply to a question. I can think of a couple of journal entries during my mission where I had abnormal experiences. I’d argue then it was revelation, but now I’m not so sure. That’s what makes this topic difficult for me. Was my dabbling in receiving spiritual information an illusion created by the need to bridge my spiritual dissonance, or did I really experience what I said I experienced?

A friend of mine sent me a BYU-H devotional featuring Kerry Muhlestein, Associate Professor of Ancient Scripture, that had some interesting points:

We must sift our learning through the gospel rather than sift the gospel through our learning…Those who deride revelation do so because they have not had experience with it, and thus, it makes no sense to them. As Paul taught, “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). However, we cannot let the world’s views on the validity of our revelatory experiences cause us to abandon that most reliable way of learning and knowing. As Paul goes on to say, “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man” (1 Corinthians 2:15).

Sometimes I feel like because I have embraced my ‘natural man’ I have lost my ability to discern spiritual things, and now it has become foolishness to me. I feel like I am being cautioned against the very feeling I am having.

The devotional goes on to point out the validity of the source of where we put our trust: man or God:

Work hard to discern between man’s ideas and God’s. Trust in what you learn through revelation. If something you learn from the world seems to contradict what you have learned through revelation, carefully question all your assumptions, but never forget the validity of what God has taught you through revelation. Remember that “unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom, but unto the world it is not given to know them” (D&C 42:65).

This is fantastic, but I don’t feel like I am privy to revelation. Whether it’s my natural man or my naturally skeptic POV, it just doesn’t come. So as powerful as this statement is, what is its worth if it is out of my reach? Upon what source of truth do I depend? Others who receive it for me? If you’ve ever sat through a testimony meeting (nice YouTube parody), I trust someone else’s revelations as much as I trust a used car salesman.

But the invitation is still appealing. It’s a call for reason and revelation.

Go out and do everything you can to learn about them using every kind of ability you have, but when you do so, remember the limitations of your own mind and the limitations of the academic process, and contrast that with the trustworthy and unvarying nature of that God who speaks to you through the Holy Ghost. Because He does not vary, you can always trust what He tells you.

I like the content, but the phrasing, “limitations of your own mind” jumps out at me. I again refer to a typical testimony meeting. “Trustworthy” and “Unvarying” are not present when listening to a few Mormon whacks tell about how the received revelation to do something like call a friend who was depressed or how they felt the Holy Ghost so much during nursery. If I can’t trust everyone else’s interpretation of the Holy Ghost, how am I to trust mine? If I learn to trust mine, how can I minimize the promptings of others. It’l a lose-lose. UNLESS I acknowledge the all the crazies and their wacky revelations. I am too skeptical to accept that.

It boils down to “trust in your feelings as long as they correlate with what we’ve said is OK.”

How do you get revelation?

RE: I’m Not Struggling. I’m Just Different. by Rational Faiths

Before I starting thinking differently about religion, I took a vacation from it. It started one day when I decided that, as a divorced person, I no longer wanted to restrain and suppress my sexuality. I was at my sexual prime, and gall-darnit, I was going to make the most of it. At that point, I found myself at a place where I needed to humbly beg forgiveness or enjoy the new found freedom. I chose the latter. My belief system didn’t change, I just stopped going to church. It was easy to avoid the radar because singles wards are shit-show to be brief (see YSA Wards – Single Segregation Syndrome).

When I decided I wanted to come back to church, I wanted to do it slowly, but I kind of got impulsed to return more quickly than I wanted to (long story). However, my reluctance was magnified by my recent interest in Church history that a friend of mine implanted several years back. This led to some amateurishly exhausting research that led me to question a thing or two. That led me to reject several callings, and I usually don’t answer questions due to fear of letting the cat out of the bag.

I am very open about my feelings with my spouse, but we’d like to be sealed. Therefore, I don’t want the mark of “unbeliever/heretic/sinner” stamped on my forehead as I’m going through the sealing of a two divorcees. So, there I am, in the shadows, unable to speak my mind about things that are wrong or need debate. Although I did say something about the opposing votes in Elders’ Quorum, and I got several disapproving glares.

So when I read James Patterson’s post “I’m Not Struggling. I’m Just Different.” on Rational Faiths, I felt a longing to be who he is being.

I will embrace a new discipleship of Jesus Christ that includes rejecting ecclesiastical authority when/where appropriate, loving service more than rote attendance, and embracing those who are the most outcast of our religious society. I will dine with Mormonism’s publicans and stand in defense Mormonism’s harlots.

In embracing this new approach to faith that seems foreign to so many who share my religion, I will make no apologies for being a “radical” Mormon in the same sense that Jesus of Nazareth was a radical Jew.

Oh, I like the radical Jew line. I often think of Martin Luther when doctrinal issues are raised and think of how we praise him, yet martyr his contemporaries. RIP John Dehlin.

But most of all, I will be humble and recognize that I don’t have all the answers and likely never will. I will embrace love, compassion and kindness as the answers to most of life’s difficult questions.

This line says it all. Why did Joseph Smith embrace polygamy? Why did Brigham Young teach Adam-God? Who cares. I’m too busy trying to be more loving and compassionate with the Mormon publicans and harlots.

Revelations: Foundational vs Directional

I’d like to share a letter I asked a good friend of mine. I’ll share the response in the comments later. How would you respond to my email?


You describe Joseph Smith’s revelations as foundational and subsequent revelations a directional. Here’s my question:

How did the 20th century prophets ask and not get an answer about blacks/priesthood? David McKay asked and didn’t get any revelation to correct the situation. Yet, Joseph Smith asked questions all the time and got answers even to seemingly unimportant questions like in section D&C 40, which are pretty much pointless but nevertheless God offered a timely response. Why can’t modern prophets get that kind of turnaround with God?

Even the method seems so different.

David McKay’s biography says, “In 1954 President McKay is said to have appointed a special committee of the Twelve to study the issue. They concluded that the priesthood ban had no clear basis in scripture but that Church members were not prepared for change.” (ref)

The committee method is much different than Joseph Smith’s direct method asking himself and getting a response.

I’ve heard a comparison to the Children of Israel having the lower law due to their unpreparedness/rejection of the higher law. However, this was neither a law nor a supported doctrine. It was not implemented by God and then removed by Him like the law of consecration and polygamy.

Even if the priesthood ban was secretly implemented by God through a secret revelation to BY, there would still be problems with the “unprepared” argument. My internal counter argument is that the saints weren’t prepared for either Law of Consecration or polygamy but those got thrust on the saints regardless. So the “lower law” line of thinking is not consistent historically.

The point is this: when I hear foundational vs directional revelation arguments, I find it directional revelation more likely to be social pressure vs revelation. Polygamy was not socially convenient, so it seems more like a revelation. Disavowing it seemed socially convenient. Instituting a ban on blacks/priesthood was socially convenient due to the political climate in Utah. It was the only territory that allowed black slaves (ref). Disavowing previous positions regarding blacks/priesthood seems socially convenient in post civil rights America.

But my own counter argument is that sometimes the Lord lets his people do what is socially convenient, like having a king instead of judges like in 1 Samuel 8. If so, the selective nature of God’s blessings comes back into play.

In other words, I am enamored by the thought of prophetic leadership but am clouded in my understanding of modern prophetic leadership examples. I get that God has a history of being exclusive, and there are plenty of biblical examples, especially Christ’s limited ministry to the Jew and then lifting of the preaching ban to include all Gentiles. But none of that came from parallel social pressure from what I can tell. Maybe I’m wrong.

So as I prepare for this talk about prophets, and I consider the role of modern prophets, I am just trying to come to grips with a concept that I have struggled with for some time. I suppose you may not have the magic answer, but it’s something that I just don’t get.