We are all the Rich Young Ruler


I wanted to express my heart as it pertains to something I’ve heard from LDS leaders previously — specifically because I heard it just heard it again from a member of the quorum of the 70 during this most recent General Conference.

It concerns a false interpretation of the story given in Matthew 19:

and behold
one came and said unto Jesus

good master
what good thing shall I do
that I may have eternal life?

and Jesus said unto him

why do you call me “good“?
there is none good
but one
and that is god
but
if you want to experience eternal life
then you must keep the commandments

he said unto him

which ones?

Jesus said

do not take life
do not cheat on your spouse
do not steal
do not speak falsely
honor your parents
love your neighbor as though they were yourself

the young man said

all these things have I done since my youth
what else am I lacking?

Jesus said

if you want to be perfect
go and sell all that you have
and give to the poor
then you will have treasure in heaven instead
and then come and follow me

but he went away sorrowful after hearing that
because he had amassed great wealth

This is a scripture with an obvious interpretation:  namely that if we want to follow Christ, we must first sell all of our material possessions and follow after Jesus.  And because of that, it’s something that has always been interpreted by modern men to have “some other” application that “doesn’t apply” to us today [just so we can get away from addressing what it really means for us as a society today].

Most recently, I heard Larry Lawrence [of the Quorum of the Seventy] teach false doctrine to the saints of Christ as it relates to this topic.  He said:

Let’s consider the New Testament account of the rich young ruler. He was a righteous young man who was already keeping the Ten Commandments, but he wanted to become better. His goal was eternal life.

When he met the Savior, he asked, “What lack I yet?

Jesus answered immediately, giving counsel that was intended specifically for the rich young man.  Jesus said unto him, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and … come and follow me.”

What Lack I Yet?

Note the part I bolded from Elder Lawrence’s talk he gave to latter-day saints.  The human inclination is to read this story and ass-u-me that the counsel that Jesus gave applies only to that man in question.  The proper position that a man of God would take is to let that scripture prick conscience of the people and convict us of sin, insofar as we withhold our surplus from the needy, impoverished, and destitute.

I want to state, unequivocally, by the power of the Holy Spirit which is in me — that the counsel of Jesus given to the rich, young man in Matthew 19 was not “intended specifically for the rich young man” — this is false doctrine, and what Jesus said is true for all people who want to truly follow Him.

It is true for each-and-every one of us — that if we want to experience eternal life, then we must cease to covet the abundance we have and be free-and-willing to share all that we have with the needy, impoverished, and destitute.  And, if we are not willing, then we will find ourselves with the rest of the “rich men” — in hell lifting up our eyes, being in torment.

Next Article by Justin:  Nothing From Without Can Defile You

Previous Article by Justin:  New Thoughts on Faith

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For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine


For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine
The higher Priesthood contains the Key of the Knowledge of God
© Onewhoiswatching www.threewatches.blogspot.com

“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” 2nd Tim 4:14

One of the great evidences that the Marvelous Work was to be a separate work from the foundation work of the 1830’s is the prophecy given by Paul in the above verses, that the time would come when the Saints would not be able to endure sound doctrine, but rather, they would turn away their ears from the truth and would be turned unto fables.

Obviously many of the Saints in the Meridian of Time drifted into apostasy and the dark ages followed, during that time men were unable to endure sound doctrine. However, as we have previously discussed, most if not all prophesies have a dual fulfillment. If it can be shown that Latter day Israel has not been able to endure sound doctrine following the restoration of the church in these latter days, then it provides another evidence that another great work is needed to restore true doctrine to Gods people.

We all have our opinions based on our own interpretation of the scriptures which doctrines are true and whitch are false. However  I want to begin this post by showing that modern LDS leaders have stated publicly and privately that false doctrines have entered into the Church.

President Ezra Taft Benson once said:

“Not only are there apostates in our midst, but there are apostate doctrines which are sometimes taught in our classes and from our pulpits and which appear in our publications. The these apostate precepts of men cause our people to stumble. AS the Book of Mormon, speaking of our day, states: “..they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men” (Book of Mormon ref 2 Nephi 28:14 E.T. Benson ref CR April 1969 )

Not too many years prior to President Bensons statement President Joseph Fielding Smith had entered the following notation in his person diary:

“I attended sessions of meetings for the institute teachers, held in the assembly room on the fourth floor of he Church Office Building. I cannot say that I was very greatly edified. Too much philosophy of the worldly nature does not seem to mix well with the fundamentals of the gospel. In my opinion many of our teachers employed in the church school system have absorbed too much of the paganism of the world, and have accepted too readily the views of the uninspired educators without regard for the revealed word of the Lord. What to do about it I do not know. It is a problem for the Presidency to consider. It is a very apparent fact that we have traveled far and wide in the past 20 years. What the future will bring I don’t know . But if we drift as far afield from the fundamental things in the next 20 years, what will be left of the foundation laid by the Prophet Joseph Smith? It is easy for one who observes to see how the apostasy came about in the primitive church of Jesus Christ. Are we not traveling the same road?” (The Life of Joseph Fielding Smith 212. Deseret Book Co., 1972 )

Prior to that observation by President Smith, George Q. Cannon had made the following remark:

“I tell you we are beginning to follow along the course of the early Christian Church. So long as that church was persecuted from without, it prospered, but when it began to be polluted from within, the church began to wither. There is, creeping into our midst, and I warn you brethren about it, and urge you to meet, a great host of sectarian doctrines that have no place amongst us. The gospel in its simplicity, is to be found in the revelations… we must accept them as God gave them to us and there must be amongst us a unity of the faith.” ( CR October 1944 )

Erastus Snow made this observation:

Over fifty years have passed away since the light of the glorious gospel in its fulness began to dawn upon us, and still we are measurably walking in darkness.” (Annual Conf Report April 6 1883 )

Finally, let me share this sobering proclamation from John Taylor:

We are getting into such a condition that if we were to meet the Lord, we could not look him in the face and the way we are going, it will soon be impossible to tell what we do believe.”

As you can see from the testimony from numerous leaders of the Church, the restored church is plagued with false teachers teaching false doctrines.

Obviously we do not have time in this post to discuss and document the countless false doctrines that have snuck into the fold since the time of Joseph Smith’s 1st commission in the 2nd Watch.

But I do want to speak about one of the most important foundational doctrines upon which I believe all other doctrines rest.

The Prophet Joseph Smith said:

It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God” (Teachings, 345).

In other words, one of the foundation stones of the restored gospel is a knowledge of what kind of being God actually is. But not only do we need to understand what kind of being God is, we must come to know God. In the same sermon from which we just quoted, the Prophet Joseph further stated,

If any man does not know God, . . . he will realize that he has not eternal life; for there can be eternal life on no other principle” (Teachings, 344).

In His great high-priestly or Intercessory Prayer, the Savior confirmed that life eternal was to “know . . . the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom [the Father] hast sent” (John 17:3).

Joseph Smith also endorsed the following teaching taught in the School of the Prophets:

One of the three things necessary in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation, is to have a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes.” (Lectures on Faith, 3rd Lecture)

In modern revelation the Savior has stated that:

I give unto you these sayings that you may understand and know how to worship, and aknow what you worship, that you may come unto the Father in my name, and in due time receive of his fulness.” (D&C 93:19)

It seems to me that the first principle constitutes the foundation doctrine of the Gospel. It is the doctrine upon which all other doctrines are built. It sets the stage for learning additional truth. If one has a correct understanding of this fundamental doctrine one stands a reasonable chance of getting the next principle or doctrine right, and the next and so on. Conversely, if one begins with a false perception of who and what God is, it is likely that the belief system that follows will also have erroneous assumptions.

Realizing how important it is to have a knowledge of the true character of God, modern revelation tells us that the “greater priesthood” administers the gospel and holds the key of the knowledge of God:

And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.

Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest. And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not  manifest unto men in the flesh; for without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father and live.” (D&C 84:19-21)

Clearly, those who truly hold the higher priesthood are those who know God and can lead the Saints to him, teaching the truth about who he is and revealing his nature and character.

Having established the incredible importance of the true nature of God and having leaders who truly hold the key of the knowledge of God so that they can lead the Saints to him and protect the Saints from false teachings about God, let’s review an incredible event in LDS Church History:

According to a significant amount of historical documentation, some of which may have been suppressed for a time, it appears that on April 9th 1852 … my great great great grandfather Brigham Young shocked the church by teaching the following doctrine concerning the nature and character of God. In this sermon he declared:

Now hear it, O inhabitants of the earth, Jew and Gentile, Saint and sinner! When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is Michael, the Archangel, the Ancient of Days! about whom holy men have written and spoken—He is our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do. Every man upon the earth, professing Christians or non-professing, must hear it, and will know it sooner or later … (Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, pp.50-51).

Related quotes and doctrines from Brigham Young are varied and to numerous to include in this article, among other things, Brigham taught that Adam is the father of Jesus Christ:

When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. And who is the Father? He is the first of the human family … I could tell you much more about this; but were I to tell you the whole truth, blasphemy would be nothing to it, in the estimation of the superstitious and over-righteous of mankind. However, I have told you the truth as far as I have gone…. Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven. Now, let all who may hear these doctrines, pause before they make light of them, or treat them with indifference, for they will prove their salvation or damnation” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, pp.50-51).

As a descendent of Brigham Young I have had a particular interest in knowing his place in the restoration movement, who he really was and what he really taught. There is a very large 4 volume document in the Church Historical Library containing every known discourse that Brigham Young ever gave. They don’t let you make copies of it but you can go into a secure room and read it. One day I sat down and read the entire thing. It took many, many hours to read.

I was surprised at how many times Brigham taught the exact opposite doctrines that Joseph Smith taught. I am compiling a list of these contradictions and perhaps will do a post on them someday.

One of the things Joseph and Brigham disagreed on that jumped out at me as I read this volume of discourses is how they both viewed the creation story in Genesis.

Joseph Smith was a biblical literalist. He was once asked how Mormonism differs from other Christian Churches and he answered We believe the Bible. His apparent use of sarcasm was somewhat uncharacteristic but provided a poignant way to point out how most protestant religions pick and choose which Biblical verse they want to take literally.

Although this must have seemed offensive, and condescending to protestants, I think he was simply making a very important distinction… simply that Latter day Saint theology believes the Bible literally as long as it is translated correctly. We have the JST of the Bible to show us any mistranslations in the Bible an it confirms that the creation story is literally true.

The Book of Mormon and the revelations contained in the Doctrine and Covenants reinforce a literal interpretation and belief in the Old and New Testaments.

Joseph Smith interpreted and believed the creation story in Genesis in the literal sense. So important was the literal interpretation of the creation story in Genesis to Joseph Smith that he provided two other versions of it. One was from the JST of Genesis and the other was obtained from translating the papyrus that became known as the Book of Abraham. Both of these accounts of the creation story are published in the Pearl of Great Price.  This provides two witnesses that the literal interpretation of the creation story in Genesis is true and that Adam was literally created out the dust of this earth and Eve was literally taken from his rib.

I was shocked while reading Brigham Young’s discourses to find that he discounted the creation story as a “fairy tale”.

Many members of the Church silently accepted the new Adam-God doctrine that Brigham Young taught, however, some prominent members of the church took issue with the doctrine. Most significantly, Apostle Orson Pratt, one of the greatest doctrinal scholars in the Church at the time, disagreed with the doctrine, and expressed that disagreement publicly and in private meetings with other apostles.

Pratt also published his disagreement in his east-coast publication The Seer. Pratt continued to debate the issue in public forums for months, despite being rebuked privately and publicly by Brigham Young on more than one occasion until 1860, when faced with possible disfellowshipment, he agreed to the language of a public confession as negotiated during a series of meetings among the church hierarchy.” Wikipedia

The following entry is found in the journal of Joseph Lee Robinson:

Oct. 6th attend Conference, a very interesting Conference, for at this meeting President Brigham Young said thus… that Adam was, God our Eternal Father, this as Brother Heber remarked was letting the cat out of the Bag, and it came to pass, I believed every word … our Beloved Brother Orson Prat[t] told me he did not believe it. He said he could prove by the Scriptures it was not correct. I feared lest he should apostetize [sic] …” (Journal of Joseph Lee Robinson, Microfilm copy in LDS Genealogical Library)

Pratt felt so strongly that the Adam-God doctrine was wrong that he expressed a desire to resign his position from the quorum of the Twelve. Brigham’s response to Pratt was “No you won’t Orson, I’ll rub your ears until I get you right..”(Pg 174 Unpublished Revelations by Collier)

Although I am related to Brigham Young through my fathers side of the family, ironically, I am also related to Father Edward Bunker and his son Bishop Edward Bunker Jr. through my Mothers side of the Family. Father Bunker was a contemporary of Brigham Young. In fact Brigham Young had called Father Edward Bunker to settle parts of Southern Utah.

I believe that there is a special place in heaven for people like Orson Pratt and the Bunkers because they had the guts to QUESTION AUTHORITY. Bishop Edward Bunker was possibly the single biggest reason that the Church discontinued teaching the Adam-God doctrine.

For a number of years questions on church teachings had been agitated in the Bunkerville Ward. “Bishop Bunker had stated he did not believe Adam was our God and he had expressed his opinion that some teachings in the temples were wrong, notably part of the Lecture at the veil- That Father Bunker had the same views.” Father Bunker felt that the wrong teaching of God would negate the purpose of the sealing ordinances done in the temple… had stated that-

the principle of adoption would be of no avail as administered in the Temple. All such work would have to be done over again.”

Bishop Bunker created quite a stir in his ward when he began challenging the Adam-God doctrine. In 1891 he made the following declaration to the Stake Presidency when they called him to task for not believing in the doctrine taught by Brigham Young:

I do not believe that Adam is the father of Jesus Christ and the God we worship and the God of this earth…” “Pg 170 Unpublished Revelations)

After the Stake Presidency got an ear full from Bishop Bunker, they turned him over to the First Presidency of the Church. The President of the Church at the time was Wilford Woodruff.

Bishop Bunker got reprimanded by the First Presidency for challenging the official doctrine of the Church concerning God but curiously, shortly after that meeting with Bishop Bunker President Wilford Woodruff was quoted as saying:

“it was not wisdom for the Elders to contend about such matters and things they did not understand. And not to teach such things to the children in the Sunday Schools; they could not comprehend them.” (Pg 174 Unpublished Revelations)

President Cannon later said: “…it is not necessary that we should [teach] or endorse the doctrine that some men taught that Adam was the Father of Jesus Christ” (Pg 174-5 Unpublished Revelations)

Shortly after this, the Adam-God doctrine was no longer taught at all in the Church by the leaders.

A few generations later the Adam-God doctrine was virtually unknown to most members of the Church. When anti-Mormon documents would reference the doctrine some LDS apologists denied that the doctrine had ever been taught. Some have claimed that those who recorded the sermons of Brigham Young made mistakes.

In recent years, a private letter from Bruce R. McConkie to a BYU professor has been copied and made available to the general public. In it Elder McConkie made the following statement:

Yes, President Young did teach that Adam was the father of our spirits, and all the related things that the cultists ascribe to him. This, however, is not true. He expressed views that are out of harmony with the gospel.that is something he will have to account for…. I do not know all of the providences of the Lord, but I do know that he permits false doctrine to be taught in and out of the Church… If we believe false doctrine, we will be condemned. If that belief is on basic and fundamental things, it will lead us astray and we will lose our souls …. This clearly means that people who teach false doctrine in the fundamental and basic things will lose their souls. The nature and kind of being that God is, is one of these fundamentals. I repeat: Brigham Young erred in some of his statements on the nature and kind of belng that God is and as to the position of Adam in the plan of salvation …. If we choose to believe and teach the false portions of his doctrines we are making an election that will damn us: (page 7) (page 6 of McConkie’s letter)

Despite the fact that the Adam God doctrine was taught and believed for many years, it is really quite remarkable that the Church was able to “self correct” and put down the false doctrine that suggested that Adam is the Father of Jesus Christ and the only God with which we have to do. Even more remarkable is that the correction appears to have been initiated from individual Saints in both high and low positions who had the wisdom to compare a questionable doctrine to the word of God and then have the courage to question authority and challenge the doctrine by utilizing the laws of agency and common consent.

The Apostle Paul chastened the Saints of his day for allowing members from within the Church to pervert the true Gospel of Christ and gave a strict warning not to follow anyone… not even an angel from heaven if they preach any other gospel than the gospel of Jesus Christ:

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Gal 1) He later gave one of the most simple and concise definitions of the Gospel of Christ:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power  of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Rom 1:16)

Looking at our day the prophet Nephi observed that many of the humble followers of Christ would be led astray because they followed the precepts of men:

They wear stiff necks and high heads; yea, and because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations, and,  whoredoms they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of menCursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost. (2nd Nephi 28)

The Book of Mormon reinforces that most basic foundational belief that it is through faith in Jesus Christ that we are saved and there is no other name under heaven by which man can be saved:

And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.” (2nd Nephi 31)

There is no other cname given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ..” (Mosiah 5)

If the historical documentation about Brigham Young teaching the Adam God Doctrine is true and if Elder McConkie’s statement is accurate that Brigham Young did in fact teach a false doctrine about who the true God of Israel is, it is deeply disturbing to think that a presiding officer of the Lords Church could lead us incorrectly regarding such an important doctrine. It was Brigham Young himself that expressed his concern that a President of the Church might some day lead the people astray:

“What a pity it would be if we were led by one man to utter destruction! Are you afraid of this? 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 they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give to 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 whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not. This has been my exhortation continually.” (Brigham Young, January 12, 1862, Journal of Discourses, 9:151)

He also said:

“I have often said to the Latter-day Saints– Live so that you will know whether I teach you the
truth or not. Suppose you are careless and unconcerned, and give way to the spirit of the world,
and I am led, likewise,to preach the things of this world and to accept things that are NOT of God, how easy it would be for me to lead you astray! But I say to you, live so that you will know for yourselves whether I tell the truth or not. That is the way we want all Saints to live.” (Brigham Young, JD 18:248)

In previous posts I have noted that there was a difference between the “first elders” of the Church who were designated as the first laborers of the last kingdom vs Brigham Young and others who were called about five years later to serve in the quorum of the 12 apostles. They were identified as those who were not the first elders. According to latter day revelation, Brigham Young and the other members of the quorum of the twelve did not enjoy the same relationship with God that Joseph Smith and the First Elders enjoyed. In section 84 Joseph Smith and six others received an incredible confirmation of the higher priesthood by the voice of God out of the heavens… few people have ever received this endowment:

this priesthood which ye have received which I now confirm upon you by my own voice out of the heavens…” (D&C 84:40)

In section 88 Joseph Smith and the other First Elders were promised that God would send them again into the vineyard at a later time to testify and warn the Gentiles for the last time and to bind up the law and seal the testimony and prepare the Saints for the hour of judgment with is to come, however Brigham Young and the other members of the 12 who were not among the first elders and who were not clean from the blood of that generation, were to “continue in the vineyard until the mouth of the Lord should call them…” (D&C 84:74-85)

In the general charge given to the 12 Apostles in the month of April 1835 the Prophet Joseph Smith provided this counsel, admonition and charge:

You have been indebted to other men , in the first instance for evidence; on that you have acted but it is necessary that you receive a testimony from heaven for yourselves; so that you can bear testimony to the truth of the Book of Mormon, and that you have seen the face of God. That is more than the testimony of an angel…. never cease striving until you have seen God face to face, strengthen your faith, cast off you doubts, your sins, and all you unbelief… Your ordination [ as Apostles] is not full and complete till God has laid his hand upon you…  you have our most fervent prayers that you may be able to bear this testimony, that you have seen the face of God.” (DHC2:195-198 see also HC AD 1835 pg 195-6)

It is very important to understand that Brigham Young and his brethren of the 12 were ordained to be Apostles but their calling would not be full and complete until they had seen the face of God and been ordained personally by him..

Mary Rollins Lightner was a convert to the church who had seen an angel, she noted that Brigham Young had said to her in Nauvoo “he would give anything to have seen what I had.” (Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, Autobiography, in B. Carmon Hardy, ed., Doing the Works of Abraham: Mormon Polygamy: It’s Origin, Practice, and Demise (Norman, OK: Arthur H. Clark Co., 2007),

Susa Young Gates recorded that when asked if he had ever seen the Savior, Brigham responded that he hadn’t, and that he didn’t expect to until he died. ( Note, 1885, Susa Young Gates Collection, Box 11, Folder 1, Subfolder 1, Utah State Archives, Salt Lake City  )

Brigham Young was very open and honest about his own status as the President of the Church. He understood that the President of the Church did not necessarily need to be a prophet: “I am not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet…” (Fred C. Collier, ed., The Office Journal of Brigham Young, 1858-1863, Book D (Hanna, UT: Collier’s Publishing Co., 2006),

When responding to a skeptic that was expressing doubt that Brigham was a prophet seer and revelator he responded that he had never made such a claim:

“A person was mentioned to-day who did not believe that Brigham Young was a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator. I wish to ask every member of this whole community, if they ever heard him profess to be a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, as Joseph Smith was?”  (Brigham Young, Sermon, April 7, 1852, JD 6:319-320 See also a related post in By Common Consent)

One of the things that confuses people concerning the succession issue is that it appears that one can be the legal presiding officer of the Church, elected by the voice of the people without holding the key of the knowledge of God and without being a prophet, seer and revelator.

This doctrine was true in Book of Mormon times as well as pertaining to church government in modern times:

“Thou shalt not leave this place until after the conference; and my servant Joseph shall be appointed to preside over the conference by the voice of it, and what he saith to thee thou shalt tell…. For, behold, these things have not been appointed unto him, neither shall anything be appointed unto any of this church contrary to the church covenants. For all things must be done in order, and by common consent in the church, by the prayer of faith.” (D&C 28 see also D&C 20:63 102:9 )

Brigham Young states that on December 27 1847 he was “unanimously elected president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints” (HC 7:621 see also HC pg 82 )

As we consider the doctrines taught by Brigham Young, we must not hold him to a higher standard than what would be appropriate. It is not fair to accuse someone of being something they have never claimed to be.

Brigham Young never claimed to be the legal successor of Joseph Smith in reference to holding the keys of the kingdom or of being a prophet seer and revelator, those claims became a tradition within the Church over time. By his own admission, it appears he felt he was simply trying to steady the ark until he who had the higher authority rose up:

“The brethren testify that brother Brigham is brother Joseph’s legal successor. You never heard me say so. I say that I am a good hand to keep the dogs and wolves out of the flock. I do not care a groat who rises up. I do not think anything about being Joseph’s successor. That is nothing that concerns me” (Journal of Discourses 8:69).

Years ago I walked into Sam Wellers Book Store and saw a large poster on the wall having to do with the genealogy of the 12 tribes of Israel and I felt compelled to find out who had created it and speak with him. The book store gave me his number… we became fast friends. He is a fascinating personality that has provided me with a differing perspective of the gospel as we have studied the gospel together and debated various aspects of it during the last two decades.When I first met him he was a Jewish Mormon Fundamentalist who had worked for the Boarder Patrol and then served as a security officer at he White House. After joining the LDS church he worked as a security guard at the Washington Temple. He was also a veil worker. Eventually he joined the Allred polygamous group and took on two more wives.

Eventually it occurred to him that he had been deceived about the so-called doctrine of Celestial Plural Marriage and he left the Allred Group.

A friend of his in the Allred Group believed that I had been a bad influence on him but felt that if I would be willing to meet with Owen Allred, the leader of the group, that perhaps I would see the light and join their group. She brokered a meeting between Brother Owen and myself.

After being introduced to Owen, he quickly began speaking about the Adam-God doctrine and began quoting profusely from the words of Brigham Young out of the Journal of Discourses. I sat quietly and listened. After a while he divined that I was extremely unimpressed and he asked why the words of Brigham Young did not have more impact on me.

I replied that I use the Word of God in the Four Standard Works to measure the words of every man regardless of his position.

I quoted the statement by Joseph Fielding Smith to him:

It makes no difference what is written or what anyone has said, if what has been said is in conflict with what the Lord has revealed, we can set it aside. My words, and the teachings of any other member of the Church, high or low, if they do not square with the revelations, we need not accept them. Let us have this matter clear. We have accepted the four standard works as the measuring yardsticks, or balances, by which we measure every man’s doctrine. You cannot accept the books written by the authorities of the Church as standards in doctrine, only in so far as they accord with the revealed word in the standard works.” ( Doctrines of Salvation 3:203)

I then said lets take the doctrine that Brigham Young thought that Adam is the Father if Jesus Christ and lets measure that doctrine against the holy and infallible word of God to see if it squares with the scriptures. I then opened the D&C to section 29 verse 34 and handed it to Brother Owen asking him to read it.

Wherefore, verily I (Jesus Christ) say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created.” (D&C 29:34)

The look on Owen’s face was priceless. Talk about a deer caught in the lights of an oncoming car! He kept reading the scripture over and over again to himself as if to see if there was another way to interpret it. I could see the wheels turning in his mind trying to come up with an answer to the doctrinal dilemma he was facing.

As he sat there confused I asked: “How can Adam be the father of Jesus Christ if Jesus Christ is the one who created Adam?

I got the distinct impression that was the first time Owen had ever read that scripture… although I was excited to review additional scriptures with him, lost interest in the discussion and had me ushered to the door.

I don’t mean to single out Brother Allred, I mention this experience with him simply to demonstrate what has been the rule rather than the exception as I have conversed with LDS Fundamentalists on doctrinal issues. They tend to be very knowledgeable when it comes to the doctrines taught by Brigham Young, John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff in the Journal of Discourses, but less knowledgeable about the holy and infallible word of God as contained in the Bible and Book of Mormon and virtually illiterate in the D&C.

I had a similar experience in an LDS fundamentalist chat board a few years ago. A fellow who considered himself to be an authority on the fundamentalist view of the everlasting covenant of Marriage (Plural Marriage) was jousting back and forth with me and I pointed out the distinction between the “Biblical Doctrine of Plural Marriage” vs the “Spiritual Wife Doctrine” that originated in Nauvoo in the 1840’s… which teaches that you must be sealed to multiple wives in order to attain the highest degree of exaltation. The former was purely for the purposes of procreation while the other was a prerequisite of the Gospel to enter into the highest exaltation.

I then challenged him to prove the spiritual wife doctrine from the Old and New Testament without using any of the teachings from the Journal of Discourses. He enthusiastically accepted my challenge and assured me his response was forthcoming soon. A few hours went by.. then a few days. Eventually he returned to the chat board with a humble acknowledgement that he could not prove such a doctrine in the word of God contained in the Bible. I could tell he was surprised at this realization.

Obviously this did not change his beliefs. My father had a favorite saying that really annoyed me when I was growing up but I have come to realize there is a lot of truth to it.

“A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still”

Even many members of the restored church believe that Celestial Polygamy is a true doctrine that will be lived someday by the Saints. False doctrines have infiltrated the Saints in the latter days as was prophesied by the Apostle Paul. I have provided the testimony of several latter day Presidents of the Church and general authorities to this end. I have even provided an example of one of the most blasphemous false doctrines that was apparently introduced pertaining to the true nature of God. Thankfully the Church self-corrected and later rejected it.

This is another sign that the Marvelous Work and a Wonder did not take place in the 2nd Watch at the time the church was restored to the earth in 1830, rather it is to be a future work that takes place in the 3rd watch when the fulness of the Gospel and the fulness of the scriptures will be restored to the earth.

In closing I want to provide a most remarkable testimony from one of the early members of the restored church who really did know who God the Father and his son Jesus Christ were because he held the key of the knowledge of God and he saw them:

Brother Zebedee Coltrin is one of about 9 people  that has been documented from credible historical sources as having seen God the Father and/or Jesus Christ during the Kirtland Era of the Church. Many years later, after coming to Utah, he was asked to give the following account of what happened in the School of the Prophets in Kirtland:

At one of these meetings after the organization of the school, (the school being organized_ on the 23rd of January, 1833, when we were all together, Joseph having given instructions, and while engaged in silent prayer, kneeling, with our hands uplifted each one praying in silence, no one whispered above his breath, a personage walked through the room from east to west, and Joseph asked if we saw him. I saw him and suppose the others did and Joseph answered that is Jesus, the Son of God…. Afterward Joseph told us to resume our former position in prayer, which we did. Another person came through; he was surrounded as with a flame of fire. He (Brother Coltrin) experienced a sensation that it might destroy the tabernacle as it was of consuming fire of great brightness. The Prophet Joseph said this was the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. I saw Him. When asked about the kind of clothing the Father had on, Brother Coltrin said: I did not discover his clothing for he was surrounded as with a flame of fire, which was so brilliant that I could not discover anything else but his person. I saw his hands, his legs, his feet, his eyes, nose, mouth, head and body in the shape and form of a perfect man. He sat in a chair as a man would sit in a chair, but this appearance was so grand and overwhelming that it seemed I should melt down in his presence, and the sensation was so powerful that it thrilled through my whole system and I felt it in the marrow of my bones. The Prophet Joseph said: Brethren, now you are prepared to be the apostles of Jesus Christ, for you have seen both the Father and the Son and know that they exist and that they are two separate personages.

This appearance occurred about two or three weeks after the opening of the school. After the Father had passed through, Joseph told us to again take our positions in prayer. We did so, and in a very short time he drew our attention and said to us that Brother Reynolds Cahoon was about to leave us, and told us to look at him. He (Brother Cahoon) was on his knees and his arms were extended, his hands and wrists, head, face and neck down to his shoulders were as a piece of amber, clear and transparent, his blood having apparently left his veins. Upon the attention of the brethren being thus called to Brother Cahoon, the change seemed to pass away and Joseph said that in a few minutes more, Brother Cahoon would have left us, but he came to himself again.” (Minutes, Salt Lake City School of the Prophets, October 3, 1883)