Elden Watson

April 2012

For more than thirty years I have met and discussed religion with members of various groups of LDS Fundamentalism. In general I find them to be honest, industrious people striving zealously to live the precepts of the religious principles they have been taught, and which they fully believe. What is disappointing is that they have been deceived by multitudes of false doctrine. They honestly believe that they are living principles which will guide them into the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom, but in this they are deceived, and must necessarily fall short of that worthy goal. Exaltation cannot be achieved by strict adherence to false principles, no matter how earnestly they are believed. Describing the inhabitants of the terrestrial kingdom the Lord said:

These are they who are honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men. These are they who receive of his glory, but not of his fulness. These are they who receive of the presence of the Son, but not of the fulness of the Father. Wherefore, they are bodies terrestrial, and not bodies celestial, and differ in glory as the moon differs from the sun. (D&C 76:75-78)

It is to those honest and honorable men who are blinded by false LDS Fundamentalist principles that I am writing this, with the hope that once true principles are explained and understood, they will be believed and practiced with the same faith and vigor that are currently being devoted to misguided notions and concepts. It is my desire to bring people out of LDS Fundamentalism and bring them into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where they belong.

I understand full well that not everyone will accept my interpretations and explanations. For some who read this, these arguments will only serve to strengthen the ties which bind them into their particular bundles, ready to be burned, but the Lord has said that those good people who have been deceived will be reclaimed, and that this reclamation will be accomplished by reasoning together as one man reasoneth with another. —

Behold, verily I say unto you, there are hypocrites among you, who have deceived some, which has given the adversary power; but behold such shall be reclaimed; but the hypocrites shall be detected and shall be cut off, either in life or in death, even as I will; and wo unto them who are cut off from my church, for the same are overcome of the world. Wherefore, let every man beware lest he do that which is not in truth and righteousness before me.

And now come, saith the Lord, by the Spirit, unto the elders of his church, and let us reason together, that ye may understand; Let us reason even as a man reasoneth one with another face to face. — D&C 50:7-11

I have learned that it is testimony, witnessed by the Holy Spirit, which converts people. I have also learned that no one will listen to your testimony until you have demonstrated that you know what you are talking about. Therefore, the majority of this presentation will be demonstration from scripture, reason, and the teachings of holy men.

So, come now, and let us reason together.

Three Basic Gospel Principles

There are three basic principles of the Gospel, which when fully understood explain the origin of most of the false doctrines which are taught in LDS Fundamentalism. A proper understanding of these three principles can also help individuals so ingrained extract themselves from Fundamentalism and turn to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where they belong.

Principle 1

The first of the three principles of which I speak concerns the nature of God: God is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. Anyone who will think these attributes through will realize that conditions which exist in the Church today are precisely those conditions which God wants to exist in the Church today. The same conclusion holds for those conditions which exist in the world today. The logic behind this statement is that God is omniscient, so he knew long ago what conditions would exist today; the fact that God is omnipotent means that He has power to change anything He wants to change; so if God wanted things to be different now than they are, then he would have caused them to change, and I am forced to the conclusion that either God doesn’t care what’s going on in his Church, or else things are now just as he wants them to be now.

Principle 2

The second of the three principles is taught by the Prophet Joseph Smith as follows:

Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God. But we cannot keep all the commandments without first knowing them, and we cannot expect to know all, or more than we now know unless we comply with or keep those we have already received. That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another.

God said, "Thou shalt not kill;" at another time He said, "Thou shalt utterly destroy." This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted-by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed. Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire. If we seek first the kingdom of God, all good things will be added. So with Solomon: first he asked wisdom, and God gave it him, and with it every desire of his heart, even things which might be considered abominable to all who understand the order of heaven only in part, but which in reality were right because God gave and sanctioned by special revelation. (TPJS 255-256)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living church on the face of the whole earth (D&C 1:30). The word “living” means that the Church is not a static church, but a dynamic church, a church that can adapt itself, through revelation, to all of the changing circumstances in which the Church finds itself.

We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. (AoF 9.)

There is no necessity for any revelation which does not require some change or adjustment, which is the purpose of the revelation in the first place. So we believe that there are many changes and adjustments yet to be made in the Church. These changes will occur line upon line and precept upon precept, because that is how God always works.

Principle 3

The third principle concerns the nature of revelation itself. Comprehension of this particular aspect of revelation can be obtained by considering together, statements made by George Q. Cannon, Orson Pratt, and Brigham Young. Take careful note of the principle involved in rejection of a true revelation from God, as explained in the following four quotations:

George Q. Cannon:

There is one thing worthy of note in this connection, and that is, that when Joseph Smith first proclaimed to the people that God had spoken from the heavens and sent His holy angels to minister to him and bestowed upon him the knowledge and authority necessary to build up the Church, he met with opposition and ridicule on every hand. Scarcely a man whom he met would acknowledge that such a thing was possible or at all consistent with God's mode of dealing with the children of men in these days. It is true that he was successful in convincing a few that he had the testimony of Jesus. They obeyed God's doctrine taught to them and received the testimony; but for years after he started out to make this proclamation he had this kind of opposition to contend with. But he said the time would come when there would be strong delusion and lying spirits permitted to come forth among the people. He declared that God had restored the priesthood to the earth, and the ordinances of the Gospel, and had established His Church in its purity; and that those who did not believe the testimony of the servants of God and obey it, would be given over to hardness of heart and become subject to evil influences that were known nothing of previous to the establishing of the Church and the restoration of the priesthood. (31 Jan 1869, JD 12:368)

Orson Pratt:

Here, then, was a succession of manifestations of power from the celestial abode. God did not suffer, in those days, Satan to make manifestations of his power in a very great degree. No such things as spirit rappings in those days! No such thing as planchette — a little heart-shaped wooden thing that the devil makes use of in giving revelations, in those days. No such thing as tables dancing about the room by the power of Satan in those days! No such thing as a power seizing upon the hands of a man and using them independent of his control to write out what were termed revelations, in those days! But why didn't the devil manifest these powers long before that time? Because God would not suffer him: the devil is under the control of the Almighty in some respects. He has fallen, and the Lord will not suffer him to go any further than He permits; and when the people have not the Gospel and Priesthood in their midst, and light and knowledge from the heavens, He will not suffer the devil to show forth his power to deceive and lead them astray; therefore He determined that the preliminary manifestations should come from the celestial world, and that the Priesthood with its power and authority should be given from on high, before He would suffer the devil to come in and manifest his strong delusions! — (19 December 1869, JD 13:68)

Brigham Young:

It was revealed to me in the commencement of this Church, that the Church would spread, prosper, grow and extend, and that in proportion to the spread of the Gospel among the nations of the earth, so would the power of Satan rise. It was told you here that Brother Joseph warned the Elders of Israel against false spirits. It was revealed to me that if the people did not receive the spirit of revelation that God had sent for the salvation of the world, they would receive false spirits, and would have revelation. Men would have revelation, women would have revelation, the priest in the pulpit and the deacon under the pulpit would have revelation, and the people would have revelation enough to damn the whole nation, and nations of them, unless they would hearken to the voice of God. It was not only revealed to Joseph, but to your humble servant, that false spirits would be as prevalent and as common among the inhabitants of the earth as we now see them. — (October 30, 1870, JD 13:280-281)

Brigham Young:

When the Elders of Israel first commenced to preach the Gospel there was no such thing known on the earth as a belief in spiritual manifestations, which are now so general. I promised them years and years ago, when I commenced my career in the ministry, that, if they did not accept the revelations which God had delivered to the children of men, he would suffer the enemy of all righteousness to give them revelations to their hearts' content, and they would receive and believe them. What is the condition of the Christian world to-day? They are seeking after mischievous muttering spirits; they are seeking to know something that is not true, and to establish that which no true philosophy on earth will establish. The only true philosophy ever revealed to the children of men, whether pertaining to religion, science, art, mechanism, or to any and every department of human knowledge, was revealed by God. It is true that many who do not believe in Jesus possess more or less of this true philosophy which comes from God, whether they acknowledge it or not. — (August 7, 1870, JD 14:74)

The Heart’s Core of the Problem

The premise is clear: God does not allow Satan to teach falsehoods until after he has first presented true revelation. God gives true revelation, and if that true revelation from God is rejected, Satan is allowed to give false revelation and teach false concepts. Satan’s false revelations and teachings will be accepted because Satan reveals to them what they want to hear.

The heart’s core of most Fundamentalist deceptions originate with the rejection of the Wilford Woodruff Manifesto. The Woodruff Manifesto of 1890 was a true revelation from God to his people, but that revelation is rejected by LDS Fundamentalists, so Satan has been allowed to tell them, among other things, that Plural Marriage is absolutely essential to exaltation; that Celestial laws cannot be changed or altered under any circumstances; that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is in apostasy, and that priesthood authority can exist outside the Church. Nearly all of the false doctrines taught in LDS Fundamentalism stem from their failure to recognize the Wilford Woodruff Manifesto as a true revelation from God.

I will now review several major LDS Fundamentalist teachings, as well as some less significant but closely related teachings. I will point out in detail specific problems with Fundamentalist claims. I will examine these major teachings in the following order:

1. The Wilford Woodruff Manifesto of 1890.

2. Plural Marriage.

3. The Law of Consecration and Stewardship.

4. Priesthood Authority.

The primary source I will use for documenting Fundamentalist teachings will be Truth Magazine, which was a monthly periodical initially published by Joseph White Musser who was the most adamant defender and most prolific publisher of Fundamentalist precepts. He began publishing Truth Magazine in June 1935 and the monthly periodical continued through 21 volumes, the last issue being published in May of 1956. The periodical will be referenced as Truth Vol:page(s).

1. The Wilford Woodruff Manifesto of 1890

For a proper understanding of the manifesto it is important to be familiar with historical events leading up to its formation, development and presentation in the 1890 general conference. It is particularly important to examine the primary sources, that is, the writings and records of those who were there and participated in the events as they took place.

Events Leading to the Manifesto

Anti-Mormon sentiment at a national level began in 1854 with the adoption by the first Republican Party a platform which contained condemnation of the twin relics of barbarism: southern slavery and Mormon polygamy. Although the Republican Party lost the 1856 election, some high ranking Democrats decided it was politically expedient for them to come out against Mormonism as well. Rising public sentiment caused President Buchanan to send an army to Utah in 1857 to enforce federal law. Specific laws against plural marriage began with the passage of the Morrill Anti-bigamy Act of 1862. The act was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln, but it was never his intent to enforce it.

Having signed the bill, President Lincoln was apparently willing to let the matter rest, as attested by an interview with T.B.H. Stenhouse, then a Mormon in good standing. When Stenhouse asked the President what course he intended to pursue with reference to the Mormons, he replied, “Stenhouse, when I was a boy on the farm in Illinois there was a great deal of timber on the farms which we had to clear away. Occasionally we would come to a log which had fallen down. It was too hard to split, too wet to burn and too heavy to move, so we plowed around it. That’s what I intend to do with the Mormons. You go back and tell Brigham Young that if he will let me alone, I will let him alone.” (Gustave O. Larson, The ‘Americanization’ of Utah for Statehood, p. 60 n. 61.)

The 1862 Morrill anti-bigamy act was specifically designed to prosecute polygamists in the Territory of Utah, but it was largely ignored or circumvented by Utah Mormons, and government officials found it almost impossible to enforce.

There were a number of anti-Mormon bills presented in congress during the 1860s, but none of them ever made it into law. The most significant of these was the Cullom bill which would have subjected

the territory of Utah to federal control through diminishing the elective process by enlarging the governor’s appointive power to include all local judges, notaries, and sheriffs. It proposed to deny the probate courts all criminal jurisdiction and place the selection of jury panels in the hands of federal appointees; to exclude believers in plural marriage from jury service in polygamy and cohabitation trials, exempt these offenses from the statute of limitations, and permit wives to testify against husbands in cases involving plurality of wives; to prescribe fines and imprisonment for polygamy and cohabitation and bar polygamists from naturalization, voting, and holding office; and finally, to ensure effective operation of the above measures, it would empower the president of the United States to employ military force if and when deemed necessary. (Larson, The ‘Americanization’ of Utah for Statehood, p 65.)

The Cullom bill passed the House on March 23, 1870, but it was successfully kept from coming to the floor of the Senate. However, the near passage of the bill caused a great deal of excitement among the Utah Mormons. It remained for most of the provisions of the Cullom bill to be passed into law by the Edmunds law of 1882. The Edmunds law made polygamy a felony and allowed a maximum sentence of five years in prison or a $500 fine or both. By this law polygamists were also denied the right to vote, the right to sit on juries and the right to hold political office. In Utah the Edmunds law was interpreted to mean that not only were polygamists punishable, but those who professed a belief in polygamy also. Since with the absence of public records, polygamy itself was difficult to prove, the concept of unlawful cohabitation became the litmus test. Unlawful cohabitation was considered a misdemeanor and was punishable by six months in prison and/or a $300 Fine.

Angus M. Cannon tried to comply with the Edmunds Law. After it was passed he divided his home into separate apartments and discontinued living with his plural wives. The courts still found him guilty of unlawful cohabitation by deciding that providing food and shelter on a regular basis constituted cohabitation. Later, beginning with the trial of Lorenzo Snow the courts also decided that unlawful cohabitation could be divided into years, months or even weeks and that each period could be tried separately. More than 1300 men and a few women were sentenced to jail for polygamy or unlawful cohabitation or both.

Persecutions under the Edmunds Law of 1882 were restricted mainly to prosecution and imprisonment of individuals, but this was expanded by the Edmunds-Tucker bill of 1886 which went beyond the attack against polygamists themselves to the extreme measure of destroying the Church to which they belonged. It did this by (among other things) dissolving the corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; requiring women to testify against their husbands; abolishing woman suffrage in Utah, disinheriting polygamous issue; and causing forfeiture of all Church property both real and personal in excess of $50,000 to the Federal Government. The Edmunds-Tucker bill became law on March 3, 1887 without the signature of President Grover Cleveland. In November of the same year the federal courts appointed Marshal Frank Dyer as Receiver and almost immediately he applied to take possession of the Church’s real estate. He confiscated the President’s Office, the Temple Block, the Tithing Office, the Gardo House and the Church Historian’s Office. (Thomas G. Alexander, Things in Heaven and Earth, p. 253)

Marshal Dyer capitulated to some extent, and in an agreement worked out through the courts decided to leave “sacred places of worship” alone, the Temple Block was returned to the Church. The Church made an appeal to the Supreme Court in an attempt to have the other Church properties returned, but in May of 1890 the Supreme Court ruled that the Church had engaged in illegal activities and the federal government was justified in escheating Church properties. This decision justified the confiscation of all Church properties including all temples and houses of worship. (Ibid pp 264-5) At this point the Church was literally on the brink of extinction. The Receiver, Marshall Dyer, began the judicial process of taking over all of the properties and all of the money of the church in excess of $50,000. It was under these extreme circumstances that President Wilford Woodruff issued the 1890 Manifesto. And it had the desired effect.

The 1890 Manifesto

On September 25th, Wilford Woodruff made the following entry in his journal:

I have arrived at a point in the History of my life as the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints where I am under the necessity of acting for the Temporal Salvation of the church. The United States Government has taken a stand and passed laws to destroy the Latter-day Saints upon the subject of polygamy or Patriarchal order of Marriage. And after praying to the Lord and feeling inspired by his spirit I have issued the following proclamation which is sustained by my councillors and the 12 Apostles:

Sept. 25 1890

Official Declaration

To Whom it may concern:

Press dispatches having been sent for political purposes, from Salt Lake City, which have been widely published, to the effect that the Utah Commission, in their recent report to the Secretary of the Interior, allege that plural marriages are still being solemnized and that forty or more such marriages have been contracted in Utah since last June or during the past year, also that in public discourses the leaders of the Church have taught, encouraged and urged the continuance of the practice of polygamy--

I, therefore, as President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do hereby, in the most solemn manner, declare that these charges are false. We are not teaching polygamy or plural marriage, nor permitting any person to enter into its practice, and I deny that either forty or any other number of plural marriages have during that period been solemnized in our Temples or in any other place in the Territory.

One case has been reported, in which the parties allege that the marriage was performed in the Endowment House, in Salt Lake City, in the Spring of 1889, but I have not been able to learn who performed the ceremony; whatever was done in this matter was without my knowledge. In consequence of this alleged occurrence the Endowment House was, by my instructions, taken down without delay.

Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my intentions to submit to those laws, and to use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise.

There is nothing in my teachings to the Church or in those of my associates, during the time specified, which can be reasonably construed to inculcate or encourage polygamy; and when any Elder of the Church has used language which appeared to convey any such teaching, he has been promptly reproved. And I now publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land. Wilford Woodruff President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Statements made by some of those individuals who were present at the time the manifesto was introduced are useful in giving a little more insight into the preparation and issuance of that document. George Reynolds was one of those who were present, and in 1904 during the Reed Smoot hearings he bore explicit testimony of the involvement himself, Charles W. Penrose and John R. Winder had in the preparation of the manifesto:

Mr. WORTHINGTON. You said something about helping to write the manifesto. Will you explain that?

Mr. REYNOLDS. President Woodruff wrote it in his own hand—and he was a very poor writer, worse, I believe, than Horace Greeley—and he gave it into the hands of three of the elders to prepare it for the press I was one of those three.

Mr. WORTHINGTON Who were the three

Mr. REYNOLDS. C. W. Penrose, John R Winder, and myself.

Mr. WORTHINGTON. What did you do? You said you helped to write the manifesto, and I want to have an understanding of what you mean by that.

Mr. REYNOLDS. The answer came from the fact of the question coming to me whether I had read it and understood it, and I answered that I had assisted in writing it.

Mr. WORTHINGTON. Did you three, then, transcribe these notes of President Woodruff, or did you rewrite it, or what?

Mr. REYNOLDS We transcribed the notes and changed the language slightly to adapt it for publication.

Mr. WORTHINGTON. It contained the substance?

Mr. REYNOLDS Yes, it contained the substance.

Senator MCCOMAS. Did you, in transcribing the utterance of President Woodruff, make such change of phraseology as would make it ambiguous, so that it might apply to marriages subsequent and not to living with wives who had been married prior?

Mr. REYNOLDS. No, sir.

Senator MCCOMAS. It must have come to your mind when you were copying and changing the phraseology whether this is to apply to the future and whether the past is to be expected, did it not ?

Mr. REYNOLDS. No. sir; I have told you honestly what my feelings and opinions were.

Senator MCCOMAS. It did not occur to you then?

Mr. REYNOLDS. No, sir.

Senator MCCOMAS. That required years?

Mr. REYNOLDS. Yes, sir. We wrote it as we understood the president intended, with his manuscript before us.

The CHAIRMAN. I do not know but I may have misunderstood. I understood this manifesto was inspired.


The CHAIRMAN. That is your understanding of it?

Mr. REYNOLDS. My understanding was that is was inspired.

The CHAIRMAN. And when it was handed to you it was an inspiration, as you understand, from on high, was it not?


The CHAIRMAN. What business had you changing it?

Mr. REYNOLDS. We did not change the meaning.

The CHAIRMAN. You have just stated you changed it.

Mr. REYNOLDS. Not the sense, sir; I didn’t state we changed the sense.

The CHAIRMAN. But you changed the phraseology?

Mr. REYNOLDS. We simply put it in shape for publication—corrected possibly the grammar, and wrote it so that—

The CHAIRMAN. You mean to say that in an inspired communication from the Almighty the grammar was bad, was it? You corrected the grammar of the Almighty, did you?

Mr. REYNOLDS. That was not a revelation—” Thus saith the Lord.” It was simply that the inspiration of the Lord came to President Woodruff, and he gave it in his own language. It had nothing to do with correcting what the Lord said.

The CHAIRMAN. Then was it inspired?

Mr. REYNOLDS. I consider it so. There are various degrees of inspiration, in some of which the man simply has the ideas and he writes it in his own language. I regard the manifesto as one of those.

The CHAIRMAN. Do you remember what it was before you changed it?

Mr. REYNOLDS. No, sir. I haven’t any idea whatever.

The CHAIRMAN. You have no idea what it was?

Mr. REYNOLDS. Do you mean to say I haven’t any idea—

The CHAIRMAN. Before you revised this revelation from the Almighty, can you state what it was?

Mr. REYNOLDS. No, sir.

The CHAIRMAN. You do not remember?

Mr. REYNOLDS. I believe the copy was destroyed right off.

The CHAIRMAN. Who destroyed it?

Mr. REYNOLDS. I don’t know; I suppose one of us three. When we had done with it, we probably—

The CHAIRMAN. After you had revised it, did you submit it to the president of the church?

Mr. REYNOLDS. Yes, sir; and he accepted it as his. (Reed Smoot Hearings 2:52-54)

Another contemporary witness was Elder Marriner W. Merrill, who records in his journal a meeting of the First Presidency and three members of the Quorum of the Twelve. The meeting was held the same day that the manifesto was issued, and in his account he states that President Woodruff had an article read “which he had prepared for the press.” This means that the events related by George Reynolds quoted above took place earlier on the same day the manifesto was written, because Elders Reynolds, Penrose and Winder were the ones into whose hands President Woodruff gave it to “prepare it for the press.” However, in Elder Merrill’s notes of the meeting he attended with the First Presidency and three of the Quorum of the Twelve, Charles W. Penrose, although an apostle, is not mentioned as being present. Therefore the meeting written of by Elder Merrill must have been at a later time, on the same day.

Elder Marriner W. Merrill’s journal records the substance of a meeting with three of the Quorum of the Twelve held the same date as the Manifesto: “I went to Salt Lake and met in council with President Woodruff, George Q. Cannon, Joseph F. Smith, F. D. Richards, and Moses Thatcher, where President Woodruff had an article read he had prepared for the press of the country declaring to the world that we did not celebrate plural marriages now in the Church and that he counseled the members of the Church not to break the law in relation to plural marriage. The article was approved by all the brethren present, including myself, which seems the only way to retain the possession of our Temples and continue the ordinance work for the living and dead, which was considered more important than continuing the practice of plural marriages for the present” (Melvin Clarence Merrill ed., Utah Pioneer and Apostle Marriner Wood Merrill and His Family [n.p.: Marriner Wood Merrill Heritage Committee, 1980], 127). As quoted in Dennis B. Horne ed. An Apostle’s Record, The Journals of Abraham H. Cannon, pp. 153-154 n. 19.

Just five days after the manifesto was written, September 30, 1890, the Twelve held a meeting of their quorum. This would have been the first opportunity that the Twelve had as a quorum to discuss President Woodruff’s manifesto. Their comments and feelings were recorded by Abraham H. Cannon in his Journals. Abraham Cannon’s recorded account of that meeting is as follows:

Tuesday, Sept. 30th, 1890. Salt Lake City. Rain in the forenoon, and cloudy after dinner. – I was at the office by 8 a.m. and was copying our Quorum meeting minutes nearly all day until noon. At 2 p.m. our Quorum meeting was held. There were present Lorenzo Snow, Franklin D. Richards, Moses Thatcher, Francis M. Lyman, John H. Smith, Heber J. Grant, John W. Taylor and myself. J. W. Taylor was called to act as clerk. Opened by singing “ Come let us anew,” etc. Prayer by John H. Smith. Pres. Snow was pleased to meet and felt that if we really deserve a blessing we will get it as the Lord is willing to bestow light and wisdom upon us, and in these meetings it is our privilege to receive great knowledge. – Business matters pertaining to Stake Conferences, missionaries and changes in Bishops, etc. were briefly discussed. – Referring to Pres. Woodruff’s late manifesto concerning plural marriage Pres. Snow said: the Lord will not permit any faithful Saints to lose blessings through the acts of the wicked or because of circumstances over which the individual has no control. Elder Lorenzo Barnes who was a faithful missionary many years ago in England, was at the time in correspondence with a young lady in Philadelphia whom he expected to marry, but he died while in the performance of his duty. Now, though he died without any wife he will not be the loser thereby for the lord will supply all that is [116] necessary to give him the salvation he merits. So also will it be with those who are prevented by no act of their own from fulfilling all the requirements of the gospel. – A faithful man, though he may have wayward wives or children, will doubtless have the power hereafter given him to bring them up to a plane of happiness and to exaltation, even though he may have no influence with them here. – God has a right to suspend His law, as He has done in the inspiration under which Pres. Woodruff wrote the manifesto, and as the Savior did when He suspended the law of Moses and permitted the disciples to pluck corn on the Sabbath day when they were hungry. The very important law concerning baptism is at times suspended as in the case of married women whose husbands are opposed to the gospel, or minors whose parents object to the baptism of their children. I can see great good and no inconsistency in this matter. Many honorable men in this nation have been opposed to us because they believed we were disloyal, but this declaration will remove stumbling blocks from the paths of such persons. –F. D. Richards: In the issuance of this manifesto I see good, and those who possess the spirit of revelation will understand and appreciate it. Before the War of the Rebellion slaves were refused baptism unless their masters consented, and because of the refusal of the latter to permit such things the gospel was withheld for 25 years from the Southern States. When Pres. Woodruff prepared his manifesto it was without the aid or suggestions of his counselors. He took a clerk and went to a room alone where under the spirit of inspiration [117] he dictated the declaration he desired to make, and there was only one slight change made therein when it was sent to Counselors Cannon and Smith. Therefore I feel it is from the Almighty. – The Lord is causing the wisdom of man to fail. The Supreme Court held the case of the Church property under advisement for over a year and then rendered so foolish a decision that when they began to consider the result, they vacated their own order, and in some matters will give a decision later. Thus the highest tribunal in this land is confused and disgraced when it seeks to do wrong to the Saints. – John W. Taylor: When I first heard of this manifesto I felt to say “Damn it,” but on further thought I felt it was not right to be so impulsive. I do not yet feel quite right about it. My father when President of the Church sought to find a way to evade the conflict between the Saints and government on the question of plural marriage, but the Lord said it was an eternal and unchangeable law and must stand. Pres. Woodruff lately received an encouraging revelation in regard to this principle, and now I ask myself, “Is the Lord a child that He thus changes?” Yet I feel that the Lord giveth a law and He can also take it away. --Moses Thatcher: in 1885 Pres. Taylor made a public statement in the Tabernacle that he had taken a course to place himself outside the reach of the law and many persons then felt and do feel that he was seeking to evade the issue, just as many now feel concerning Pres. Woodruff’s declaration. Yet I feel that both of these brethren acted exactly right. The law of God is not abrogated, but in order to try the nation which has [118] long called us traitors because of the practice of this principle, because of offenses is removed, so that the law makers and people may be left without just excuse in their persecution of the Saints. This manifesto will doubtless have the effect, however, to make the attacks upon us in other directions more bitter, and we may have to suffer greatly at the hands of the wicked, yet it is satisfying to my feelings. It may force us to make friends with the “Battle-axes” of the Lord in Canada and Mexico, and we will yet become the savior’s of the Constitution of our country. –In support of Pres. Snow’s statement that the Lord will amply provide for His faithful servants, I will mention the case of Feramorz Young who died on the ocean, when about 21 years old, while returning from a mission to Mexico. When he went to the latter country he had no testimony of the gospel though he believed it to be true. While there the Lord convinced him of its truth and included a knowledge of the principle of plural marriage. Of the latter he wrote in his journal that he would obey it if he had the opportunity, even though he should be required to sacrifice the love of Hattie Hooper, whose love he had gained and appreciated, but who, he feared, did not believe in the principle. After his death she married his brother Willard. Subsequently a young unmarried lady who died in this city appeared to her mother and requested that she be sealed to Feramorz, and it was done. Sometime thereafter a young lady who died in Philadelphia, and was not a member of the Church and had never seen Ferry as far as known, appeared to a Gentile acquaintance in this city and requested her to call [119] on Ferry’s mother, and get permission to have her sealed to him. Three times did this girl appeared to her friend and threw her arms about her neck and would not be dismissed until her friend had promised to do as requested. The lady called on Sister Young and related the affair, adding that she did not believe in any such ordinances, and the work was done as the dead girl desired. – FM Lyman: “I endorse the manifesto, and feel it will do good. I designed to live with and have children by my wives, using the wisdom which God gives me to avoid being captured by the officers of the law.” He gave a brief account of his recent labors. – We then adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. Benediction by John H. Smith. – I went to the office for a short time, and then to M. E. C’s.

Wednesday, October 1st, 1890. Salt Lake City. Cloudy day but no storm. – I was at the office by 6:30 a.m. and occupied the time until 10 in posting up the books. – At the latter time I went to my Quorum meeting in the Guardo House. In addition to the brethren of yesterday Antone H. Lund was present today. Singing: “Oh my Father,” etc. Prayer by Lorenzo Snow in which he asked that if it was the Lord’s will, we might be permitted to see his face even as Joseph and Oliver, and Moses of old did. – John H. Smith: I cannot feel to say that the manifesto was quite right or wrong. It may be that the people are unworthy of the principle and hence the Lord has withdrawn it. I cannot consent to cease living with my wives unless I am imprisoned. – Heber J. Grant: I approve of the manifesto, and feel that it is merely a public announcement of the course which we had already [120] decided in our private councils to adopt, and this being the case I do not know why we should not receive any possible benefits which may arise from a public declaration. Yet I believe greater trouble will follow the prominent Elders in the Church through the adoption of this policy. If this plan had been accepted in the beginning of this crusade the nation would not have been tried as it has been, and would not be worthy of condemnation such as it now merits, hence I feel this has come at the proper time. – Anton H. Lund: Sickness prevented my being here yesterday to my sorrow. I feel that the manifesto will result in good. – I gave my approval to what had been done. – Moses Thatcher: I think the brethren should so arrange their families that women bearing children shall not be in constant fear of capture. For this feeling is bound to affect the offspring both in mind and body to its injury. The troubles will perhaps cause us to seek refuge in Mexico where there are 12 millions of Lamanite’s to whom we can then turn our attention, and when they are converted they will form the Battle-axe of the Lord, and we will help them to redeem and build up Zion. – Lorenzo Snow: I am pleased at our unanimity of feelings, and know that the Lord will direct us aright. – We now clothed in our Temple robes and Anton H. Lund opened by prayer, John W. Taylor was mouth at the altar. We changed our clothing and Moses Thatcher then blessed the bread and wine and we partook of the sacrament. * * * About 3 p.m. we adjourned till Tuesday, December 2nd, 1890, at 2 p.m. Benediction by F. D. Richards. –(Abraham H. Cannon Journals, Brigham Young University, Volume 13 pages 115-122. See also Horne, An Apostle’s Record, pp 153-158.)

The next day Abraham H. Cannon recorded a meeting of eight members of the Quorum of the Twelve and the First presidency. His record of those things pertaining to the manifesto in that meeting are as follows:

Thursday, October 2nd, 1890. Salt Lake City. * * * At 12 o’clock our Quorum met with the First Presidency. Present: W. Woodruff, Geo. Q. Cannon, Jos. F. Smith, L. Snow, M. Thatcher, F. M. Lyman, J. H. Smith, H. J. Grant, J. W. Taylor, A. H. Lund and myself. * * * The manifesto was next discussed, and finally on motion of F. M. Lyman all voted to sustain and approve it. The question as to whether or not it should be presented to the Saints for their approval or rejection at our Conference was discussed at some length. Some felt that the assent of the Presidency and Twelve to the matter was sufficient without committing the people by their votes to a policy which they might in the future wish to discard. Joseph F. Smith presented the view that it would lack much force and would not bring the desired results unless accepted by the vote of the people. The manifesto had already been the means, he was convinced, of preventing the enactment of the Edmunds’ Bill, which passed the Senate, confiscating the Church personal property to the school fund. Now if we could convince leading men of the nation that it is the bona fide intention of the people to have no more plural marriages in this country in conflict with the laws, it would no doubt bring some concessions on the part of the government towards those who have already entered into the plural relation. The matter of presenting the manifesto to the Conference was left open for the present. It was, however, resolved that “we use our private influence at present to prevent our brethren from going into Court and promising to obey the law; and as soon as possible we take steps to get some favors from the government for those who already have more wives than one.”

Apparently it was not planned to present the manifesto in conference, but on October 5th, the second day of conference, a telegram was received stating that Mr. Noble, Secretary of the Interior, would not accept President Woodruff’s manifesto as authoritative unless it was accepted by the conference of the Church. It was therefore decided to have the manifesto presented in conference the next day.

The manifesto was presented on the third day of conference, Monday, October 6th, at the 10 a.m. session. The order of the presentation as summarized in the Deseret News was as follows:

The session began by singing “Come all ye Sons of Zion.”

The invocation was offered by President A. O. Smoot, of the Utah Stake.

The choir sang the hymn “Though Deep’ning Trials.”

The authorities of the Church were presented by President George Q. Cannon, and in every instance the vote was unanimous.

President Wilford Woodruff said:

I will say, as the question is often asked, “What do the Latter-day Saints believe in?” we feel disposed to read the Articles of Faith of this Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and should there be any strangers present, they may understand our faith in this respect. The question is often asked, “Do the Mormon people believe in the Bible?” so the principles that are read will show our faith and belief appertaining to the Gospel of Christ.

The Articles of Faith were then read by Bishop Orson F. Whitney. After the reading of the Articles of Faith, Apostle Franklin D. Richards said:

I move that we as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in General Conference assembled, do accept and adopt these Articles of Faith which Bishop Whitney has now read as the rule of our faith and of our conduct during our mortal lives.

It may be thought that it is superfluous to so offer it; but it must be borne in mind that we have a rising generation since this was last presented to us, that are coming to years of judgment and understanding; and we wish to have all old and young, rich and poor, bond and free, that have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in these articles to have a chance to express it by their vote, if they wish.

The vote to sustain Brother Richards’ motion was unanimous. President George Q. Cannon then arose and said:

President Woodruff, as doubtless the members of the Conference are aware, has felt himself called upon to issue a manifesto concerning certain things connected with our affairs in this Territory, and he is desirous to have their views or their expressions concerning it, and Bishop Whitney will read this document now in your hearing.

The Woodruff Manifesto was then read to the congregation. Following Bishop Whitney’s reading of the manifesto, President Lorenzo Snow made the following motion:

“I move that, recognizing Wilford Woodruff as the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints, and the only man on the earth at the present time who holds the keys of the sealing ordinances, we consider him fully authorized by virtue of his position to issue this manifesto which has been read in our hearing and which is dated September 24th, 1890, and that as a Church in General Conference assembled, we accept his declaration concerning plural marriages as authoritative and binding.”

The vote to sustain the foregoing motion was unanimous. (Deseret News Weekly, 525-526)

President George Q. Cannon’s Editorial

Following the acceptance by the Saints in conference, President Cannon described in a Juvenile Instructor editorial his feelings about the manifesto and its presentation in conference:


President Woodruff’s Manifesto


The exciting topic among us today, I suppose, is the manifesto issued by President Woodruff concerning plural marriage. No doubt this will give rise to widespread discussion and it may be that some difference of opinion will exist in regard to it. It is a grave matter, and calls forth deep thought upon the part of all true Latter-day Saints.

This is an instance which illustrates the constant necessity of men and women living so as to have the Spirit of God in their hearts that they may know for themselves concerning the correctness of doctrine which may be taught or the propriety of steps which may be taken. We are compelled, if we would progress as we should do, to live in this manner. Nothing can be clearer to people of experience in the Church than the truth of the words of the Lord through the Prophet Isaiah, that, “as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” We cannot measure, by our human wisdom and foresight, the purposes of the Almighty. The ways that we might think would lead to success might only result in disaster; and on the other hand, the ways that we would perhaps esteem injurious might be most beneficial. God has taken care of His work thus far, and his promise is that He will continue to do so.

The record which the Latter-day Saints have made in relation to this principle has not been lost upon the world. It is one of which none need feel ashamed. We have contended for our right to obey this principle as long as it has been wisdom or necessary to do so. We have protested in the strongest way possible, to us, against any interference with this part of our religion. We have employed the best legal talent that we could get to defend it upon constitutional grounds. There is nothing in this direction that could be done which we have not done, as we have been filled with anxiety to make our record a complete one. In addition, hundreds have gone to prison, and in doing so have testified to the world that they were sincere, that they believed the command concerning plural marriage to be from God, and the course which they pursued was prompted by conscientious motives. How easy it would have been, if our practices had been based upon lust, to have come out and renounced this doctrine and then followed the ways of the world, against which but little objection would be raised. The object, as it has been understood among us, in the Lord revealing plural marriage, was to save the race from the destructive influences that were sweeping over the earth like a flood. It was for the purpose of raising a righteous seed unto the Lord; to have a pure people, among whom virtue and chastity would be honored and preserved; to have a society where women would be pure and uncorrupted, and where man would be expected to conform to as high a standard of virtue as woman.

The nation has said that this system of our cannot be tolerated; that it is a foreign feature in its civilization, and it must be abolished.

After taking all these measures to make our views known, and to vindicate ourselves against the charges which have been so industriously circulated against us, the time has come when, in the mind of the Lord, it is proper for us to come forward and announce to the world that we are ready to submit to the decision that has been made and to conform to the law that has been enacted against us. The nation now has to bear the responsibility. We have done our duty, and, I believe, stand acquitted before the Lord. I have the best of reasons for believing that He has accepted of the sacrifices of the people for this principle, and now says, “It is enough, leave it now with the nation, and it will be for me to judge it.”

What is there that we could do that has not been done? It is true, we might have gone forward and become martyrs; persisted in carrying this principle out in utter defiance of all that this government or nation could do. We might have gone so far as to have our temples taken from us; our property, both Church and private, confiscated; our leading men incarcerated in prison, and perhaps killed, and the people subjected to a great many woes. But the Lord has not led His servant, whom He has placed to guide this people, to take such a course. His spirit has prompted every step that has been taken. His mind and will has been sought for diligently, and it has been communicated freely to His servants. In this late important step, also, the Lord has been appealed to, and He has shown the path to be pursued. The results are with Him. He will bring them about to suit His own purposes.

As to the Saints, especially to the women and children, I feel that all will be right. God has seen the offerings of His people. He knows their hearts, and the purity of the motives which prompted them in their actions; and He will sustain and comfort them, and in His own time will give them the promised reward.

Probably at no Conference for a long time has the Spirit of the Lord been poured out in greater power than at this conference which has just passed. The Elders who spoke did so with great plainness, and their teachings were accompanied by the power of god. No one could be present and hear the instructions without feeling, if he had the spirit of the Lord; that they were from God. There was a testimony accompanying that which was said that carried it home to the hearts of the people. It seemed necessary that this should be the case, because of the character of the business to be transacted. If there had been but little of the Spirit present, and the meetings had been cold and lifeless, the action of the conference would not have been so satisfactory, and many would have gone away doubtful in their hearts as to the propriety of that which had been done. But there was great unanimity shown in all the proceedings, and there never has been a gathering of the church of larger numbers and more union than at this recent Conference.

The Editor

Was the Vote Really Unanimous ?

Elder Marriner W. Merrill’s account of the presentation of the Manifesto and the subsequent vote was as follows:

“Singing, after which President George Q. Cannon presented the Authorities of the Church, who were unanimously sustained. Bishop Orson F. Whitney then read the Articles of Faith when they were adopted by the Conference by vote. Then President Woodruff’s late Manifesto regarding the cessation of plural marriages in the Church was read, and on motion of Apostle Lorenzo Snow President Woodruff was declared by the Conference as the only man in the Church holding the keys of the sealing power, hence has the right to issue or put forth such Manifesto to the people, and it was carried by a weak vote, but seemingly unanimous; after which President George Q. Cannon spoke on the plural relations for 30 minutes. Then President Woodruff spoke on the necessity of the issuing such Manifesto and said it was the impression of the Spirit of the Lord to him.” (Melvin Clarence Merrill, ed. Utah Pioneer and Apostle Marriner Wood Merrill and His Family [n.p.: Marriner Wood Merrill Heritage Committee, 1980], 128-129), as quoted in Horne, An Apostle’s Record, pp 162-163 n. 28.)

B. H. Roberts was one of those who did not vote either for or against the Manifesto when it was presented. He was not keeping a journal at the time, but on February 10, 1893 when he again commenced journalizing, he wrote from memory his feelings during and after the presentation and vote in general conference on the Woodruff manifesto.

The matter continued to disturb me until Conference approached. Bro. Woodruff had signed the paper himself and I concluded that he had determined to carry the responsibility alone, and I had began to be reconciled to the Manifesto on that ground. But during the conference I saw that movements were on foot to have the whole people support it, a proceeding I viewed with alarm. When the crisis came I felt heart-broken but remained silent. It seemed to me to be the awfulest moment in my life, my arm was like lead when the motion was put; I could not vote for it, and did not.

Well, as I was saying this matter continued a trial to me through the year 1891, and plagued me much, but I said but little about it; and by and by I began to remember the flash of light that came to me when first I heard of it, and at last my feelings became reconciled to it. Perhaps I had transgressed in pushing from me the first testimony I received in relation to it, and allowing my own prejudices, and my own shortsighted, human reason to stand against the inspiration of God and the testimony it bore that the manifesto was alright. When this fact began to dawn on my mind I repented of my wrong and courted most earnestly the spirit of God for a testimony and gradually it came. I did not understand the purposes for which the Manifesto was issued (I do not to this day, Feb 10 ‘93) but sure I am that it is all right; that God has a purpose in it I feel assured, and in due time it will be manifest. (John Silleto, History’s Apprentice, The Diaries of B. H. Roberts, 1880-1898 pp 226-227)

In Comprehensive History of the Church, published in 1930, some 40 years after the manifesto, B. H. Roberts states of the conference vote accepting the Woodruff Manifesto: “The vote in support of this motion was nearly unanimous.” (CHC 6:222). He cites as his source “Minutes of Conference in Deseret News, Weekly, of Oct. 11th, 1890, p. 526.” (CHC 6:222, n 20), but the source he cites contradicts his own statement, and says instead “The vote to sustain the foregoing motion was unanimous.” In his earlier publication Outlines of Ecclesiastical History, published in 1893, just three years after the Manifesto, B. H. Roberts declares “At the semi-annual conference in October following, the action of President Woodruff was sustained by a unanimous vote of the conference, and plural marriages are discontinued in the church.” (Roberts, Outlines of Ecclesiastical History, p 448) and in endnote 6 he quotes the conference minutes “The vote to sustain the foregoing motion was unanimous.” (Ibid. p 458.)

Julietta Bateman Jensen recorded how her father, Samuel Bateman, voted on that occasion:

More than once I heard Father say before other members of the family that when he went to that Conference he and some of his friends who had suffered exile and imprisonment had determined to vote against the Manifesto. “But,” said Father, “some power not my own raised my arm, and I voted to sustain President Woodruff in this matter. As soon as I had done it a sense of peace and contentment came over me.” (Juliette Bateman Jensen, Little Gold Pieces, p 130).

It should be remembered that this Samuel Bateman is the same person who was put forth in the Lorrin Woolley story as one of those five men whom President John Taylor supposedly set apart and placed under covenant to see that plural marriages would be perpetuated.

After the meeting referred to, President Taylor had L. John Nuttall and myself write five copies of the revelation. He called five of us together: Samuel Bateman, Charles H. Wilkins, George Q. Cannon, John W. Woolley and myself.

He then set us apart and placed us under covenant that while we lived we would see to it that no year passed by without children being born in the principle of plural marriage. We were given authority to ordain others when necessary to carry this work on, they in turn to be given authority to ordain others when necessary, under the direction of the worthy senior (by ordination) so that there should be no cessation in the work. He then gave each of us a copy of the revelation. (Truth 2:119; 6:135, 151; 14:345; 15:47, 236; 16:165; 20:31,230)

The fact that Samuel Bateman voted to sustain the Woodruff Manifesto in the October 1890 conference is additional strong evidence that the events described by Lorrin Woolley are fabrications and that they did not actually take place. (See J. Max Andersen, The Polygamy Story, Fiction and Fact.)

Although there were many who did not vote, there was apparently only one claim to dissent. William Gibson recalling his reaction to the voting testified; “I am not ashamed of my action on the manifesto. I voted ‘no’ in the conference. When George Q. Cannon announced a clear [unanimous] vote, I said ‘All but one, right here.’” (Deseret Evening News, 28 March 1896, p. 1; also quoted in Stuy, Collected Discourses, 2:128, note 1.)

It should be noted however, that in 1890 it was Lorenzo Snow who presented the motion to sustain the manifesto, not George Q. Cannon. In October conference of 1891 the manifesto was again presented as part of an objection to the majority report of the Utah Commission. However, in the 1891 conference it was George Q. Cannon who conducted the meeting. When William Gibson in 1896 recalled his negative vote, he said it was George Q. Cannon who announced the unanimous vote, to which he replied “All but one, right here.” It appears likely therefore that his objection was made in the 1891 conference and that the original 1890 vote on the Woodruff Manifesto was actually unanimous. (see Deseret News Weekly, October 10, 1891, p 27, 43:507)

Who Wrote the Manifesto?

By now it should be obvious to everyone that the manifesto was written by Wilford Woodruff. He says he wrote it:

I went before the Lord, and I wrote what the Lord told me to write... (Cache Stake Conference, Logan, Utah, Sunday, November 1, 1891. Reported in Deseret Weekly, November 14, 1891.)

George Q. Cannon said that Wilford Woodruff wrote it:

... on the 24th of September, President Woodruff made up his mind that he would write something, and he had the spirit of it. He had prayed about it and had besought God repeatedly to show him what to do. At that time the Spirit came upon him, and the [Manifesto] was the result" (Conference Reports, Oct. 1890)

F. D. Richards said that Wilford Woodruff wrote it:

... When Pres. Woodruff prepared his manifesto it was without the aid or suggestions of his counselors. He took a clerk and went to a room alone where under the spirit of inspiration he dictated the declaration he desired to make ... (Horne, An Apostle’s Record, p 155., quoted above)

George Reynolds said Wilford Woodruff wrote it:

. . . President Woodruff wrote it in his own hand ... (Reed Smoot Hearings 2:52 quoted above)

Even Senator Frank Cannon said that Wilford Woodruff wrote it:

He told me he had written it himself, and it certainly appeared to me to be in his handwriting. (Cannon and O’Higgins, Under the Prophet in Utah , page 100)

In fact, the authorship of the Manifesto was ascribed to Wilford Woodruff in all contemporary documentation by everyone associated with or concerned about its issuance for the first 45 years of its existence.

Ultimately it became critical for LDS Fundamentalists that Wilford Woodruff did not author the manifesto, because Wilford Woodruff was the one man on the earth who held the keys of the priesthood in their fulness and was therefore the one man on the earth through whom revelation for the entire church would come. It was felt that if Wilford Woodruff wrote the Manifesto then it must have been a revelation from God to the entire church; but if someone else wrote the manifesto and Wilford Woodruff merely signed it, then it would not have to be a revelation. Accordingly, various alternative theories began circulating among LDS Fundamentalists in the1930s about a different authorship of the manifesto. One of the most inventive of these was first published in July of 1935, in the second issue of volume one of Truth Magazine, Joseph Musser expressed Lorrin C. Woolley’s theory of authorship as follows:

Many of the Saints have been led into the error of believing the Manifesto to be a revelation from the Lord and that this is what the Lord told the President to write. But such is not true. President Woodruff did not write the Manifesto. It was written by Charles W. Penrose, with the assistance of Frank J. Cannon and John White. After being prepared, it was submitted to a committee of non-Mormon Federal officials, among them Judges Charles S. Zane, C. S. Varian, O. W. Powers, and others. A change in the alleged facts set forth was insisted upon by these parties, the document recopied by a Mr. Green, a non-Mormon Federal clerk, when it was returned to President Woodruff and received his signature. No sane person, after a casual reading of the document, will contend the Manifesto to be a revelation from the Lord. (Truth 1:20)

The source for this claim is from the original long version of the Lorrin Woolley story first published in 1931, which states:

After this the agitation continued. The Twelve finally held a meeting and we [7] were discussing the situation when it was finally suggested that the editor of the Deseret News, Charles W. Penrose, be asked to write a suitable document, For, said George Q. Cannon, "He can write and say more and mean less than any man in the Church." Brother Penrose got up one which was not satisfactory. Frank J. Cannon was then appointed to assist him. They too, failed and asked to be assisted by John H. White, the butcher, which was granted by the First Presidency.

After being prepared, a committee was appointed, consisting of George Q. Cannon, Francis M. Lyman, Erastus Snow [8] and Moses Thatcher, to present the manifesto to certain non-Mormon federal officials for their approval, among them Judge C. S. Zane and Judge Dixon, O. W. Powers and C. S. Varean, both groups being accompanied by body guards. (Daniel R. Bateman and Samuel Sedden being the guards of the brethren.) The meeting was in the office at the federal offices in the buildings now [1931] occupied by the Kenyon Hotel, Second South and Main. These men insisted upon a change in the text, adding to the statement, "I deny that either forty or any other number of plural marriages having during that time period been solemnized in our temples or in any other place, in the territory," the statement that "one case has been reported, in which the parties allege that the marriage was performed in the Endowment House, etc." as witnesses were then in the adjoining room who could testify to the fact. The document was then rewritten by Mr. Green, a court clerk, and non-Mormon and was presented and accepted by the church in that form.

This claim, written about 18 years after the event has a number of discrepancies which make it less than credible. Erastus Snow, who is listed as participating on this committee had been dead for two years. He died May 27, 1888. Frank Cannon acknowledges that a claim exists that he participated in creating the Woodruff Manifesto, and he flatly denies it, saying that

Here, shaking in the hand of age, was a sheet of paper by which the future of a half million people was to be directed; and that simple old man was to speak through it, to them, with the awful authority of the voice of God.

 He told me he had written it himself, and it certainly appeared to me to be in his handwriting. Its authorship has since been variously attributed. Some of the present-day polygamists say that it was I who wrote it. Chas. W. Penrose and George Reynolds have claimed that they edited it. I presume that as Mormons, “in good standing,” believing in the inspiration of the Prophet, they appreciate the blasphemy of their claim! (Cannon and O’Higgins, Under the Prophet in Utah , page 100)

C. S. Varian was the federal prosecutor and one of those who cross examined President Woodruff in his testimony before the Master in Chancery. If he had participated with other non-Mormon federal officials in getting the manifesto in a form that was acceptable to them, then why did he give President Woodruff such a bad time about the manifesto in cross examining his testimony? The record states that he became highly agitated and irate, raising his voice.

"They are not obeying the law of the land at all" (shouted Mr. Varian, his voice reaching an almost angry tone), "but the counsel of the head of the Church. The law of the land, with all its mighty power, and all the terrible pressure it was enabled to bring, with its iron heel upon the people, crushing them to powder, was unable to bring about what this man did in an hour in the assembled conference of this people. They were willing to go to prison; I doubt not some of them were willing to go to the gallows, to the tomb of the martyr, before they would have yielded one single iota." (Deseret News Weekly, 31 October 1891, vol 43, p 611.)

There is another spurious claim presented pertaining to the authorship of the manifesto which I present for completeness: Thomas J. Rosser wrote in a letter that he attended a missionary conference priesthood meeting on May 25, 1908 in Bristol, England, at which Charles W. Penrose was a visiting general authority. He states:

Salt Lake City, Utah

August 4, 1956

Mr. Robert C. Newson

Salt Lake City, Utah

"Dear Brother Newson:

"In response to your inquiry as to authorship of the Manifesto of 1890, the following events which occurred on my mission to England and Wales during 1907 and 1908, might give you a satisfactory answer. Should anyone be interested, I have also made this statement in the form of a sworn Affidavit, which was made and placed on file in 1935.

“The following is a true and correct statement of an occurrence that transpired in Bristol, England, on November 16, 17 and 18, in the year 1907, while I was on an LDS mission in that country:

“By request of Charles W. Penrose, I was transferred from Nottingham Conference to Wales, my birthplace, to finish the rest of my mission at this time. So on the dates named above, I was with President R.J. Smith of the Welch District, visiting Saints and investigators in Bristol during those three days. President R.J. Smith said to me: ‘I am glad to have you with me as I see that you have a strong testimony and implicit faith in God. With our faith and prayers, Brother Rosser, I desire you to go with me and testify of the knowledge and testimony which you [74] have of the gospel.

“‘We have one peculiar case here. The investigator believes in every principle of the gospel but Plural Marriage. Perhaps, through the help of the Lord, we can convince her that this is a true principle. I would like to have her baptized before the coming conference.’

“We then went to this Sister's home, and I was introduced to the lady by Elder Smith. After a few passing remarks, she said to us: ‘Brethren, I am ready for baptism!’ Brother Smith was much surprised, as well as myself. He then said: ‘What has now taken place?’ She then answered, ‘Brethren, only yesterday while doing my washing out there on the porch, I heard the voice of the Lord saying that Plural Marriage is true and was instituted from before the foundation of the world. Brethren, I am 55 years old ... I don't expect to enter the Principle, but nevertheless, I know it is true!’ Upon hearing this, brother Smith and I left, rejoicing because of the testimony she had borne to us.

“I then left for Treoracbry, Wales, my birthplace, and labored there until May 23, 1908. Then I went back to Bristol, my headquarters, to a conference, which was held Sunday, May 24, 1908. On Monday morning, the 25th, our Conference Priesthood Meeting was held, which lasted four hours and a half.        ... After the preliminary exercises, President Charles W. Penrose asked if any of the brethren had any questions on their minds, and if so, to present them now before he delivered his message to us.

“Up went my hand. ‘All right,’ he said. ‘President Penrose’ I said, ‘I have heard much discussion on the principle of Plural Marriage, some saying that it is withdrawn from the earth and that the Manifesto was a revelation from God. Dear President, what about this case?’ Then I related to him the testimony of the Sister, which is written above, and then I asked him, ‘Why should she receive this testimony if God has withdrawn that principle from the earth, and the Manifesto is a true revelation from God?’

“President Penrose then rose to his feet, scratched the side of his head with his right hand for a moment or so, then stretched out his right hand toward us and said, ‘Brethren, I will answer that question, if you will keep it under your hats. I, Charles W. Penrose, wrote the Manifesto with the assistance of Frank J. Cannon and John White. It's no revelation from God, for I wrote it. Wilford Woodruff signed it to beat the Devil at his own game. Brethren, how can God withdraw an everlasting Principle from the earth? He has not, and can not, and I testify to you as a servant of God that this is true.’

“The reason this statement is given is because I have heard so much discussion as to whether or not the Manifesto of 1890 is a revelation from God, and so I wish to relate here with the understanding given to us at the Bristol Conference by Charles W. Penrose on May 25,1908.” (Ogden Kraut, The Holy Priesthood, 6:263-265; See also Rulon C. Allred, Most Holy Principle, 4:74-75)

The 1935 sworn affidavit Mr. Rosser speaks of is less complete, and can be found in Francis M. Darter, 12 Patriarchs, p. 24.

Verification that there was such a meeting can be found printed in the Millennial Star.

 Minutes of the Bristol Conference

The Bristol semi-annual conference was held May 24th [1908], in the Wolseley Hall, Eastville, Bristol. [267] There were present President Charles W. Penrose, President C. G. Jarman and twenty-four traveling elders of the Bristol conference. After singing and prayer, President Jarman gave all present a hearty welcome. Expressed his appreciation at seeing so many saints and friends present from the outlying districts. * * * Elders R. J. Walker, Thomas J. Rosser, Frank I. Hill and John H. Bawden gave reports of their respective branches. The reports were very encouraging. (Mill. Star 70:348)

In view, however, of all of the contemporary evidence that Wilford Woodruff wrote the manifesto himself, the Rosser comments, first appearing 45 years after the manifesto and 27 years after Charles W. Penrose supposedly made the reported comment are simply not credible.

It should be noted that there was another manifesto which was actually written by Charles W. Penrose, and which was dated December 12, 1889. This manifesto was signed by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, and can be read in full in Clark, Messages of the First Presidency 3:183-187. It deals with some of the false accusations made against the church in Judge Anderson’s decision and ruling in the John Moore and other alien cases. It may be that after the lapse of 56 years Thomas Rosser confused which manifesto Charles W. Penrose was speaking of. At any rate, there is no question but that Wilford Woodruff wrote the 1890 Manifesto.

Was the Manifesto a Revelation?

The simple answer is “yes.”

Wilford Woodruff said it was a revelation:

“I went before the Lord and I wrote what the Lord told me to write ...” (supra)

... but what I said to the people of our Church I said by inspiration, as I view it – by the mind and will of the Lord. (DNW 43:579)

Joseph F. Smith said it was a revelation:

“I have never disobeyed a revelation from God,” he said. “I cannot–I dare not–now.” He announced–with his head up, though his body swayed–that he would accept and abide by the revelation. (supra)

What do you understand to be the intention of President Woodruff in issuing the manifesto?
A.–I understand it to be to stop the practice of polygamy in the church.
Q.–Do you believe that President Woodruff was inspired by Almighty God to issue it?
A.– (emphatically)– Yes, I do. (DNW 43:580)

George Reynolds said it was a revelation:

Mr. REYNOLDS. That was not a revelation—” Thus saith the Lord.” It was simply that the inspiration of the Lord came to President Woodruff, and he gave it in his own language. It had nothing to do with correcting what the Lord said.

The CHAIRMAN. Then was it inspired?

Mr. REYNOLDS. I consider it so. There are various degrees of inspiration, in some of which the man simply has the ideas and he writes it in his own language. I regard the manifesto as one of those. (supra)

Lorenzo Snow said it was a revelation:

I believe the revelation communicated to President Woodruff was for the purpose of stopping its [plural marriage] practice entirely. (DNW 43:580, 24 October 1891)

W. Woodruff, Geo. Q. Cannon, Jos. F. Smith, L. Snow, M. Thatcher, F. M. Lyman, J. H. Smith, H. J. Grant, J. W. Taylor, A. H. Lund and Abraham H. Cannon voted to sustain and approve the manifesto:

The manifesto was next discussed, and finally on motion of F. M. Lyman all voted to sustain and approve it. (supra)

Frank Cannon said that the First Presidency and quorum of the Twelve accepted the manifesto as a revelation:

 Not one referred to the equivocal language of the manifesto or questioned it. They accepted it–as it was then and afterwards interpreted–as a revelation from God made through the Prophet of the Church (Frank J. Cannon and Harvey J. O'Higgins, Under the prophet in Utah)

George Q. Cannon said it was a revelation:

We might have gone so far as to have our temple's taken from us; our property, both Church and private, confiscated; our leading men incarcerated in prison, and perhaps killed, and the people subjected to a great many woes. But the Lord has not led His servant, whom He has placed to guide this people, to take such a course. His Spirit has prompted every step that has been taken. His mind and will has been sought for diligently, and it has been communicated freely to His servants. In this important step, also, the Lord has been appealed to, and He has shown the path to be pursued. The results are with Him. He will bring them about to suit His own purposes. (George Q. Cannon, Juvenile Instructor 25:629)

Musser’s Contrary Arguments

The most prominent reason behind the fundamentalist claim that the Manifesto was not a revelation is simply that they do not want it to be a revelation.

One reason some give as to why they do not consider the Manifesto to be a revelation is because it begins “To Whom it May Concern,” instead of “Thus saith the Lord.” ( See Truth 1:20-21, 82; 2:128; 3:10, 184; 4:5, 195, 210; 5:86, 91, 108; 6:182; 8:176; 9:42; 14:1, 212-13; 16:16, 180; 20:199.) When the Wilford Woodruff Journals were published in 1985 by Signature Books they provided the answer to this question by including a photo copy of the page in the Wilford Woodruff journals which contains the manifesto. It is found in Volume 9 page 115. Even a cursory examination of this photo copy makes it evident that the words “to whom it may concern” are not part of the original entry. The phrase has been penciled in between the lines at a later time. This is part of the changes that were made to prepare the Manifesto for the press, which was then officially sent as a telegram to John Noble, Secretary of the Interior.

Joseph Musser further argues against the Manifesto being a revelation by saying that if it were an actual revelation then the brethren of the church would have conformed to it, and he claims they did not. The examples he cites of the brethren violating the terms of the Manifesto are of President Heber J. Grant in 1899 paying a fine of $100 in district court for unlawful cohabitation, (Truth 6:212; 8:198; 8:257; 10:144, 242; 12:263; 16:188; 17:264) and later fleeing to Europe in 1904 because of another charge of unlawful cohabitation being brought against him. (Truth 6:212; 8:249) Also, of President Joseph F. Smith in fathering children by his plural wives after the manifesto, (Truth 8:198, 257; 10:144; 16:188; 17:264) which he admitted in the Reed Smoot hearings, (RSH 1:129-130) and of paying a fine of $300 in 1906 for unlawful cohabitation. However, the manifesto itself says nothing about unlawful cohabitation. That was a secondary charge, only brought up when a charge of plural marriage was found to be difficult to prove. It is true that unlawful cohabitation was illegal but probably more than half of congress was guilty of this particular infraction, and once the marrying of plural wives was stopped, the subject of unlawful cohabitation was not pressed. After this was realized, the brethren continued to live with their wives whom they had married before the manifesto. Despite all of the argumentation, there is nothing in this that in any way implies that the Woodruff Manifesto was not a revelation.

Why was Wilford Woodruff the only one who signed the Manifesto?

George Q. Cannon gave the reason why he, Joseph F. Smith and others did not sign the Manifesto:

There is only one man at a time on the earth who holds the keys of sealing, and that man is the president of the church [D&C 132:7], now Wilford Woodruff. Therefore, he signed that document himself. Some have wondered and said, "Why didn't his counselors sign? Why didn't others sign?" Well, I give you the reason--because he is the only man on earth that has this right, and he exercised it, and he did this with the approval of all of us to whom the matter was submitted. ( Deseret News, November 3, 1890, cited in Smoot Hearings, vol. 1, p. 345.)

Anecdotal Claims against the Manifesto

The Prophet Joseph Smith continued to visit Wilford Woodruff in visions and dreams until President Woodruff issued the Manifesto, after which time the visitations ceased.

Joseph White Musser makes this accusation several times in Truth Magazine (See Truth 3:77; 4:173; 5:110; 6:21-22; 11:422; 14:102, and 154). Musser cites a statement made by Wilford Woodruff in a discourse at the Weber Stake Conference Monday, October 19, 1896. "Joseph Smith continued visiting myself and others up to a certain time and then he stopped". He quotes this one phrase out of context and uses it to say that it was obviously President Woodruff’s issuance of the manifesto which caused the sudden cessation of Joseph Smith’s visits. The reference given for Musser’s citation is CD 5:237 and MS 67:637. The statement as quoted is indeed there, but his associating it with the issuance of the manifesto is totally unwarranted. During October conference of 1880, ten years before the manifesto was issued, Wilford Woodruff made the following statement:

After the death of Joseph Smith I saw and conversed with him many times in my dreams in the night season. On one occasion he and his brother Hyrum met me when on the sea going on a mission to England. I had Dan Jones with me. He received his mission from Joseph Smith before his death; and the prophet talked freely to me about the mission I was then going to perform. And he also talked to me with regard to the mission of the Twelve Apostles in the flesh, and he laid before me the work they had to perform; and he also spoke of the reward they would receive after death. And there were many other things he laid before me in his interview on that occasion. And when I awoke many of the things he had told me were taken from me, I could not comprehend them. I have had many interviews with Brother Joseph until the last 15 or 20 years of my life; I have not seen him for that length of time. (JD 21: 317-318, October 10, 1880)

So, the visits from Joseph Smith ended at least 25 or 30 years before the manifesto.

The date can be more precisely determined by comments from Wilford Woodruff’s journal. In the paragraph just preceding the one quoted above, Wilford Woodruff says:

Now I will give you a little of my experience in this line. Joseph Smith visited me a great deal after his death, and taught me many important principles. The last time he visited me was while I was in a storm at sea. I was going on my last mission to preside in England. My companions were brother Leonard W. Hardy, Brother Milton Holmes, Brother Dan Jones, and another brother, and my wife and two other women.

Wilford Woodruff’s Journal identifies the date on which he left on this mission in company with these individuals:

WWJ 2:498, January 1, 1845.

This new years day finds me on board of the Packet Ship John R Skiddy in the british Channel beating against head wind trying to get to Liverpool. I am on a mission to England to take charge of the affairs both temporal & spiritual concernc of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I am accompanied by Mrs Woodruff, & our youngest Child Susan Cornelia Also Elder Hiram Clark & wife Elder Dan Jones & wife Elders Milton Holmes & Leonard Hardy, all on a mission to England to labour in the vineyard of the Lord. We have been in the Irish Channel 5 days beating against head wind making but little progress. I pray the Lord to speed us on our way.

So Wilford Woodruff’s estimate was a little off. It had actually been 35 years since Joseph Smith had last visited him. Musser must have realized the fallacy of his argument because he used it only twice in this form. (Truth 4:173; 11:421). The third time he used this argument he actually modified Wilford Woodruff’s statement from “The last time he visited me,” to “the first time he visited me,” (Truth 14: 109) recognizing that if it was actually the “last” time Joseph Smith visited him, then the cessation of the visits could have nothing to do with the manifesto which was yet 35 years in the future. Musser never returned to this argument.

Other anecdotal falsehoods about the Manifesto

Musser claimed that Joseph F. Smith did not attend the October 1890 Conference so that he would not have to vote to sustain the Manifesto.

In the councils of the Church President Smith was opposed to the issuance of the Manifesto of 1890 abolishing plural marriage. His signature was not attached to the Manifesto; and, as we are informed, he absented himself from the October Conference of 1890 to avoid voting on the document. Not favoring it be did not wish to embarrass his brethren by voting against it, preferring the Saints exercise the fullest freedom in registering their votes either in acceptance or rejection of the measure. (Truth 9:93)

In actual fact, Joseph F. Smith had not attended general conference for many years. In January of 1884, while on a trip to the southern settlements, President John Taylor received word that warrants had been issued for members of the First Presidency and other leading men. Apparently the intent was to “wring out of them much coveted information or commit them for contempt.” (Life of Joseph F. Smith p 262.) President Taylor sent Joseph F. Smith on a mission to the Sandwich Islands to protect him from these warrants. He remained abroad for over two and a half years, returning in September 1886, just days before the passing of President John Taylor. In 1888 President Harrison appointed a more lenient Elliott Sanford to be chief justice of Utah Territory. After this appointment President George Q. Cannon was one of the first who gave himself up and plead guilty. He was sentenced to serve “175 days imprisonment and a fine of $450.” (Larson, Americanization of Utah for Statehood p 232.) So, by October Conference of 1890, President John Taylor had died and President Cannon had been arrested and sentenced to and served a jail term, but the federal warrant was still effective for President Smith. He could not appear in general conference without fear of being arrested and sentenced to a prison term.

During the years 1889-1891, he was much of the time at his daily duties with his brethren, but did not spend his time with his family but occasionally. There were times when he walked the streets without fear of being recognized, his chief disguise being the tucking of his beard under his collar. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Life of Joseph F. Smith, p 300.)

In May of 1890, seven months after ratification of the manifesto by conference vote, President Smith petitioned President Benjamin Harrison for amnesty. His amnesty was received in September of 1891 and the October conference of 1891 was the first general conference in seven and one half years that President Smith was able to attend. In the October 1891 Conference the Manifesto was again presented for a sustaining vote and President Smith, in that general conference, voted to sustain the Manifesto.


2. Plural Marriage.

The Works of Abraham

To an LDS Fundamentalist the blessings of Abraham can be obtained in only one way, and that is by doing the works of Abraham, which they equate with entering into the law of Abraham, which consists of plural marriage. They cite three major sources to justify this interpretation.

The most frequently cited reference is from the 1886 revelation to President John Taylor, and the portion of the revelation they quote in this regard says:

I, the Lord, do not change and my word and my covenants and my law do not, and as I have heretofore said by my servant Joseph: All those who would enter into my glory MUST and SHALL obey my law. And have I not commanded men that if they were Abraham's seed and would enter into my glory, they must do the works of Abraham. I have not revoked this law, nor will I, for it is everlasting, and those who will ENTER INTO MY GLORY MUST obey the conditions thereof.—September, 1886.

Use of this quote to justify living plural marriage can be found in Truth 2:8, 88, 117, 118, 160, 178, 179; 4:86; 5:95, 188, 232; 6:133, 206; 7:206; 8:14, 15, 185, 227, 254; 9:8, 140; 17:299; 19:49.

The second source cited in terms of frequency is D&C 132:31-35 (or sometimes a smaller portion, but always containing verse 32):

31. This promise is yours also, because ye are of Abraham, and the promise was made unto Abraham; and by this law is the continuation of the works of my Father, wherein he glorifieth himself.

32. Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved.

33. But if ye enter not into my law ye cannot receive the promise of my Father, which he made unto Abraham.

34. God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the law; and from Hagar sprang many people. This, therefore, was fulfilling, among other things, the promises.

35. Was Abraham, therefore, under condemnation? Verily I say unto you, nay; for I, the Lord, commanded it. — D & C 132:31-35.

Of course “this law” and “my law” are always interpreted to mean plural marriage. Such references can be found in Truth 4:227; 5:12, 66, 201; 6:71, 208; 9:18, 175; 17:215; 19:264.

Another favorite quote is from President Brigham Young. He said (the second paragraph is usually omitted.) :

Monogamy, or restrictions by law to one wife, is no part of the economy of Heaven among men. Such a system was commenced by the founders of the Roman empire. That empire was founded on the banks of the Tiber by wandering brigands. When these robbers founded the city of Rome, it was evident to them that their success in attaining a balance of power with their neighbours, depended upon introducing females into their body politic, so they stole them from the Sabines, who were near neighbours. The scarcity of women gave existence to laws restricting one wife to one man. Rome became the mistress of the world, and introduced this order of monogamy wherever her sway was acknowledged. Thus this monogamic order of marriage, so esteemed by modern Christians as a holy sacrament and divine institution, is nothing but a system established by a set of robbers.

The Congress of the United States have lately passed a law to punish polygamy in the Territories of the United States and in other places over which they have exclusive jurisdiction. In doing this, they have undertaken to dictate the Almighty in his revelations to his people, and those who handle edged tools, unless they are skillful, are apt to cut their fingers; and those who hand out insult to the Great I Am, in the end, are apt to get more than they have spoken for.

Why do we believe in and practice polygamy? Because the Lord introduced it to his servants in a revelation given to Joseph Smith, and the Lord's servants have always practiced it. "And is that religion popular in heaven?" It is the only popular religion there, for this is the religion of Abraham, and, unless we do the works of Abraham, we are not Abraham's seed and heirs according to promise. — (Brigham Young, JD 9:322, July 6, 1862).

This quotation can be found in TRUTH 5:268; 6:279; 7:131, 253; 9:18.

Early church leaders such as Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, John Taylor, Orson Pratt and many others believed in and lived plural marriage, so they had no difficulty in interpreting “the works of Abraham” as meaning plural marriage. Therefore, they apparently did not bother to look further and may not have realized that the works of Abraham cannot possibly be equated with or even include plural marriage.

Abraham took Sarai to wife while he was still in the land of Ur of the Chaldees, and she and his father Terah went with him into the land they designated as Haran.

 2 And it came to pass that I, Abraham, took Sarai to wife, and Nehor, my brother, took Milcah to wife, who was the daughter of Haran.

 3 Now the Lord had said unto me: Abraham, get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee.

 4 Therefore I left the land of Ur, of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and I took Lot, my brother's son, and his wife, and Sarai my wife; and also my father followed after me, unto the land which we denominated Haran.

 5 And the famine abated; and my father tarried in Haran and dwelt there, as there were many flocks in Haran; and my father turned again unto his idolatry, therefore he continued in Haran. (Abr 2:2-5)

It was in the land of Haran that the promises were made to Abraham, by which the works of the Father were continued. These promises are found in Abraham, verses 9 through 11 of chapter 2. I continue the quote from verse 6 for continuity:

 6 But I, Abraham, and Lot, my brother's son, prayed unto the Lord, and the Lord appeared unto me, and said unto me: Arise, and take Lot with thee; for I have purposed to take thee away out of Haran, and to make of thee a minister to bear my name in a strange land which I will give unto thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession, when they hearken to my voice.

 7 For I am the Lord thy God; I dwell in heaven; the earth is my footstool; I stretch my hand over the sea, and it obeys my voice; I cause the wind and the fire to be my chariot; I say to the mountains--Depart hence--and behold, they are taken away by a whirlwind, in an instant, suddenly.

 8 My name is Jehovah, and I know the end from the beginning; therefore my hand shall be over thee.

 9 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee above measure, and make thy name great among all nations, and thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations;

 10 And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father;

 11 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee (that is, in thy Priesthood) and in thy seed (that is, thy Priesthood), for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed, or the seed of the body) shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal. (Abr 2:6-11)

So, the promises made to Abraham are:
1. I will make of thee a great nation
2. I will bless thee above measure
3. I will make thy name great among all nations
4. All who receive this Gospel will be called after thy name
            a. They shall be accounted as thy seed
            b. They shall rise up and bless thee as their father
5. I will bless them that bless thee
6. I will curse them that curse thee
7. Thy seed shall have a right to the priesthood
8. In thee and thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed
            a. Blessed with the blessings of the Gospel
            b. Blessed with the blessings of life eternal

These constitute the promises which the Lord made to Abraham, and which are frequently called the blessings of Abraham. Now, in verse 14 Abraham makes a comment which is pivotal to the rest of this presentation. I continue from verse 12 for continuity:

12 Now, after the Lord had withdrawn from speaking to me, and withdrawn his face from me, I said in my heart: Thy servant has sought thee earnestly; now I have found thee;

13 Thou didst send thine angel to deliver me from the gods of Elkenah, and I will do well to hearken unto thy voice, therefore let thy servant rise up and depart in peace.

14 So I, Abraham, departed as the Lord had said unto me, and Lot with me; and I, Abraham, was sixty and two years old when I departed out of Haran. (Abr 2:14)

Abraham went from Haran into Egypt, where he sojourned for nearly 15 years before departing Egypt to continue his journey to the land of Canaan. After living in a tent in the land of Canaan for 10 years, Sarai was discouraged at being barren, and gave Abraham her Egyptian hand maid, Hagar, to be his wife. Hagar was Abraham’s first plural wife, and Abraham went in to Hagar, and she conceived, and bare Ishmael.

 1 NOW Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name [was] Hagar.

 2 And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.

 3 And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.

 4 And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes. (Gen 16:1-4)

The Biblical account gives us Abraham’s age when his son Ishmael was born to him of Hagar.

 15 And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son's name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael.

 16 And Abram [was] fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram. (Gen 16:15-16)

Now we will presume that it was only one year after Abraham took Hagar to wife before Ishmael was born. That would place Abraham’s age at the time he took his first plural wife at 85 years. But Abraham received the promises of the Lord before he left Haran, and when he left Haran he was 62 years old. That means that Abraham received the promises of the Lord at least 23 years before he took his first plural wife. The Lord does not give promises (the blessings of Abraham) 23 years before the works of Abraham upon which those promises are predicated.

There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated — And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated. (D&C 130:20-21)

It is therefore impossible that the works of Abraham included plural marriage. The works of Abraham must be something that Abraham did prior to receiving these blessings of the Lord.

With the knowledge we now have that the works of Abraham do not include plural marriage, D&C 132 can help us determine what “the works of Abraham” actually refers to. To repeat the quote for re-examination:

31. This promise is yours also, because ye are of Abraham, and the promise was made unto Abraham; and by this law is the continuation of the works of my Father, wherein he glorifieth himself.

32. Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved.

33. But if ye enter not into my law ye cannot receive the promise of my Father, which he made unto Abraham.

34. God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the law; and from Hagar sprang many people. This, therefore, was fulfilling, among other things, the promises.

35. Was Abraham, therefore, under condemnation? Verily I say unto you, nay; for I, the Lord, commanded it. — D & C 132:31-35.

The key statement here is “Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved.” We now know that the works of Abraham cannot include plural marriage, so what else can the “my law” that we must enter into have reference to? Excluding plural marriage from the choices, it can only have reference to the earlier portion of D&C 132 which specifies:

 3 Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same.

 4 For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.

 5 For all who will have a blessing at my hands shall abide the law which was appointed for that blessing, and the conditions thereof, as were instituted from before the foundation of the world.

 6 And as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant, it was instituted for the fulness of my glory; and he that receiveth a fulness thereof must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned, saith the Lord God.

 7 And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead. (D&C 132:3-8)

This must be “the law” spoken of, and since it cannot include plural marriage, it must refer to monogamous celestial marriage. Abraham must have been married to Sarai “through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power” in his day, and it must have been sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise. We are commanded to do the same, in order to received the same blessings that Abraham received. Brigham Young specified exactly how this is to be done:

President Young Spoke to the people 58 minutes. He said that the whole Curse of the Earth had got to be taken off from the Earth by the Latter day Saints. We have got to be sanctified & Sanctify all the Earth & we have got to begin by sanctifying our own hearts first & then spread out. How many of the Children of this people are Entitled to the Holy Priesthood & the Blessings of Abraham? All who are born after their parents have received their Endowments & are sealed & all others will have to be adopted to their parents. All who want the Blessings of Abram Isaac & Jacob go & get your Endowments before you get married. Then all your Children will be heirs to the priesthood. There is no Son has a right to the Priesthood & heirship unless their parents had their Endowments before they were born. Such must be adopted to their Parents or they have no right to heirship. Let no youth get married untill they get their Endowments & get sealed at the Altar. If young men knew what was for their good they would go hundreds of miles to get married right before they would do as many have. Our boys who are guided by a right hand will be mighty men /of God/ in the Earth. (WWJ 6:232, July 13, 1865)

Abraham’s taking a plural wife was not one of the works of Abraham upon which the blessings of Abraham were predicated, but rather “This, therefore, was fulfilling, among other things, the promises” which he had already received some 23 years earlier. Abraham’s plural marriage was a result of the blessings of Abraham, not a cause of them.

Our new knowledge better allows us to now understand the quotation from John Taylor’s 1886 revelation in its proper light. It says:

I, the Lord, do not change and my word and my covenants and my law do not, and as I have heretofore said by my servant Joseph: All those who would enter into my glory MUST and SHALL obey my law. And have I not commanded men that if they were Abraham's seed and would enter into my glory, they must do the works of Abraham. I have not revoked this law, nor will I, for it is everlasting, and those who will ENTER INTO MY GLORY MUST obey the conditions thereof.—September, 1886.

Here the covenants and “my law” which do not change as well as the “my law” that all must obey to enter into his glory and the “this law” which he has not and will not revoke “for it is everlasting,” cannot refer to plural marriage, so it has to refer to monogamous celestial marriage, which is the only choice left. This is the same conclusion I arrived at through a totally different path in my published examination of John Taylor’s 1886 Revelation.

The Law of Abraham

It is a common topic among LDS Fundamentalists that it was necessary for the Law of Abraham to be restored in this dispensation as a part of the restoration of “all things spoken by the mouths of all the holy prophets since the world began.” Joseph Musser made good use of this theme in emphasizing the importance of plural marriage. His favorite quote in this regard is from President Wilford Woodruff:

The reason why the Church and Kingdom of God cannot advance without the Patriarchal order of marriage, is that it belongs to this dispensation just as baptism for the dead does, or any law or ordinance that belongs to a dispensation. Without it the Church cannot progress. The leading men of Israel who are presiding over Stakes will have to obey the law of Abraham, or they will have to resign — Life of Wilford Woodruff, p. 542. (See Truth 2:179; 5:198; 8:227)

The actual quote in Wilford Woodruff’s journals is slightly different, which Musser also cites:

W. Woodruff said He was glad the Quorum of the Twelve & seventies was now to be filled and said that the reason why the Church & Kingdom of God Could not progress if we did not receive the patriarchal Law of Marriage was that it belonged to this dispensation as well as Baptism for the dead and any law or ordinance that belongs to this dispensation must be received by the Members of the Church or it Cannot progress. The leading men of Israel who are presiding over Stakes will have to obey the Law of Abraham or they will have to Stop. — WWJ 8:126, October 14, 1886. (See Truth 5:94; 11:115; 14:148; 15:136; 16:74, 78; 17:76, 358; 18:56, 195; 19:316; 21:148.)

It is clear from the quote that Wilford Woodruff equated the Law of Abraham with the patriarchal Law of Marriage or plural marriage, and from the context, the rest of the First Presidency as well as the members of the Quorum of the Twelve seem to have had the same understanding. The point is well taken and because Abraham was commanded to live plural marriage, it must necessarily be restored in our dispensation as part of “the restoration of all things spoken by the mouths of all the holy prophets since the world began.” (D&C 27:6; 86:10; see also Luke 1:70 and Acts 3:21)

But the reference is to those things spoken by the mouths of all the holy prophets, not just Abraham. In the present context we also need to look at the Law of Lehi.

The Law of Lehi

In order to properly understand the Law of Lehi, a review of the second chapter of Jacob in the Book of Mormon is appropriate. After the death of his brother Nephi, Jacob addressed the Nephite people and chastised them for the pride of their hearts. Then the narrative continues:

 22. And now I make an end of speaking unto you concerning this pride. And were it not that I must speak unto you concerning a grosser crime, my heart would rejoice exceedingly because of you.

 23. But the word of God burdens me because of your grosser crimes. For behold, thus saith the Lord: This people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures, for they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms, because of the things which were written concerning David, and Solomon his son.

 24. Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.

We know that the Lord commanded Abraham to take plural wives, therefore we know that it cannot be the principle of having many wives and concubines in itself which is abominable before the Lord, but it must be the manner in which it was being lived by those individuals which was abominable. The word of the Lord continues:

 25. Wherefore, thus saith the Lord, I have led this people forth out of the land of Jerusalem, by the power of mine arm, that I might raise up unto me a righteous branch from the fruit of the loins of Joseph.

 26. Wherefore, I the Lord God will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old.

The Lord declares that his purpose in leading the Nephites from Jerusalem is that he might raise up a righteous branch unto himself, and apparently this is not possible if the Nephites abuse the principle of having many wives and concubines as it was abused by them of old. Therefore the Lord gave unto the Nephite people a commandment:

 27 Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none;

 28 For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts.

In order to better prevent whoredoms among the Nephites and to preserve the chastity of women, the Lord commanded that they live monogamy. Lehi and his people were living the Law of Moses, which was in full force at that time. The Law of Moses permitted plural marriages, and in some instances required them as in the case of levirate marriage where if a man died childless, his brother was to marry the deceased’s wife and raise up seed to his brother, even if he was already married. The principle of plural marriage was overruled by the specific commandment of the Lord that Lehi and his descendants were to have but one wife, and concubines they were to have none. It has been claimed that the privilege of plural marriage was removed from the Nephite people at this time because of their wickedness, but this is not the case as will shortly be evident. The Lord now explains his use of the principle of plural marriage:

 29. Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes.

 30. For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.

Here the Lord orders the Nephites to keep his commandments or the land will be cursed. He then explains why He sometimes commands people to live plural marriage: he says it is when he wants to raise up seed unto himself He will command plural marriage, otherwise they shall obey the normal law that a man shall have but one wife and no concubines. It is important to note that there are two types of commandments which God gives: the standing law which is the general rule, and the special law when He orders departure from the standing law for some particular purpose. As an example, the standing law of God is “thou shalt not kill,” but the special law was that Nephi was to take up Laban’s sword and kill him so that a whole nation would not perish in unbelief. The special law is a departure from the norm. In this case it is demonstrated that the norm is one wife and no concubines, while the special law, when He wants to raise up seed to himself, is plural marriage, only to be lived when specifically commanded to depart from the normal condition.

 31 For behold, I, the Lord, have seen the sorrow, and heard the mourning of the daughters of my people in the land of Jerusalem, yea, and in all the lands of my people, because of the wickedness and abominations of their husbands.

 32. And I will not suffer, saith the Lord of Hosts, that the cries of the fair daughters of this people, which I have led out of the land of Jerusalem, shall come up unto me against the men of my people, saith the Lord of Hosts.

 33. For they shall not lead away captive the daughters of my people because of their tenderness, save I shall visit them with a sore curse, even unto destruction; for they shall not commit whoredoms, like unto them of old, saith the Lord of Hosts.

In conditions of mortality, it is not possible to live plural marriage completely righteously. The daughters of the Lord mourn and suffer when plural marriage is lived. Even in the prime example of Abraham and Sarah, Sarah was so pained by the circumstances that she banished Hagar and her son Ishmael from the camp and sent them into the desert alone.

Next in Jacob 2 follows the scriptural evidence that the privilege of plural marriage was not something that was removed from the Nephites because of their wickedness at the time of Jacob.

 34 And now behold, my brethren, ye know that these commandments were given to our father, Lehi; wherefore, ye have known them before; and ye have come unto great condemnation; for ye have done these things which ye ought not to have done.

 35 Behold, ye have done greater iniquities than the Lamanites, our brethren. Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them; and the sobbings of their hearts ascend up to God against you. And because of the strictness of the word of God, which cometh down against you, many hearts died, pierced with deep wounds.

The commandment to have but one wife and no concubines, and to commit no whoredoms was given by the Lord to Lehi, so the people had known them before; and Lehi was not a wicked man, so it was not something taken away from the Nephites because of their wickedness. It has been claimed that men cannot be saved in the Celestial kingdom without plural wives, but will they deny that Lehi was a prophet of God and died a righteous man? Will they exclude Lehi from the blessings of the Celestial kingdom of God because he was obedient to the commandments of God? How about kings Mosiah and Benjamin? Will Alma and Captain Moroni and Helaman and Samuel the Lamanite all be damned for obeying the commandment of God? It has also been claimed that the words “these commandments” must refer to something other than the law of monogamy, but this claim is completely discredited by verse 5 of chapter 3:

5. Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you; for they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father--that they should have save it were one wife, and concubines they should have none, and there should not be whoredoms committed among them.

This verse specifies that the commandment of the Lord which was given to Lehi was that he and his people should have save it were one wife, and concubines they should have none, and they should commit no whoredoms.

Therefore, that law which was given to Lehi which was to be lived by Lehi and all of his descendants throughout their entire dispensation was that they were to have but one wife, and concubines they were to have none. Throughout the entire Nephite dispensation this law remained intact.

In all talk of the necessity of restoring the Law of Abraham in our dispensation, never once is there a progression to the next logical step: that Lehi was also a prophet of God, so as part of the “restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began,” it was just as necessary that the Law of Lehi be restored, and that the Law of Lehi belongs to this dispensation just as much as it did to the Nephite dispensation. The Law of Lehi was restored on October 6, 1890 when the Woodruff Manifesto was accepted by the vote of the assembled general conference of the Church.

That it was as necessary for the Law of Lehi to be restored as it was for the Law of Abraham is emphasized by President John Taylor in a discourse given on March 5, 1882:

We are living in peculiar times; we are operating in an eventful era; we are associated with a peculiar dispensation, and we have a labor to perform which in many respects differs from that of all other ages or times. The dispensation that we are connected with is called in Scripture the dispensation of the fulness of times in which, it is recorded, God will gather together all things in one, whether they be things on the earth or things in the heavens. There are ideas associated with this dispensation that are in many respects distinct, and dissimilar from those that have been enunciated and proclaimed in former ages and dispensations; and inasmuch as the present dispensation is to embrace everything that has been connected with all past dispensations-all the prominent features as well as the minor ones that characterized the Church and kingdom of God in former days, that were essentially necessary to its growth and development-must re-appear in connection with the work of God in this our day. If the manifestations and developments of other dispensations have been made known to us, we have had revealed to us doctrines, theories, organizations and systems that have existed among the whole of them; because it is emphatically the dispensation of the fulness of times. If they had anything that was peculiarly characteristic in the days of the ancient Patriarchs, we have the same revealed to us. If they had anything prominent and important in the dispensation of Noah, we have it, and if Noah was called upon to preach the Gospel to the world in his day, before its destruction, so are we.

If in the Abrahamic or Mosaic dispensations God revealed important principles, we have a clear knowledge of those things made known to us, and the reasons, the whys and wherefores, pertaining to them. If they had anything among the ancient Prophets and men of God, we have the same principles developed. If in the days of Jesus they had manifestations, revelations, doctrines or organizations, those things are made known to us. Or if the people upon this continent, to whom God revealed his will-either the people that came from the Tower of Babel, or those who came from Jerusalem during the reign of Zedekiah-if anything was revealed to them, we have had it revealed unto us. And this is why certain things exist pertaining to organizations, etc., referred to by Brother Hatch. (President John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 23:28-29, March 5, 1882, emphasis added; Reprinted in Truth 21:168-169)

Nor was this the only time John Taylor addressed the Saints on this topic:

Having said so much on this point, we will return to the principle of legitimacy. God is our legitimate Father, and we are His children, and have a claim upon Him, and He has a claim upon us. We have come into this world to accomplish a certain purpose, and we have come in the dispensation of the fulness of times, when God decreed to gather all things together into one, whether they be things in heaven or on earth; and everything that has been in existence in any age of the world, or that is, or will be, which is calculated to benefit and exalt man, we shall have; consequently it is for us to look after anything and everything that ever has been true, or that has ever been developed in any period of the history of man, for it all belongs to us, and has got to be restored, for restitution means bringing back that which is lost. If the Antediluvians enjoyed anything that was good, true, and eternal, which is not yet made known to us, it has to be restored; or if anything existed among the ancient Patriarchs and Prophets, that has been lost, it has to be restored. If there are any people of God upon any detached part of this world, they with it have got to be restored. God's word will also be gathered into one, and His people and the Jews will hear the words of the Nephites, and the Ten Tribes must hear the words of the Jews and Nephites, and God's people be gathered and be one. All things will be gathered in one, and Zion be redeemed, the glory of God be revealed, and all flesh see it together. God's dominion will be established on the earth, the law go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem, and the kingdoms of this world will become subject to God and His Christ. (John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 1:231, April 8, 1853, Reprinted in Truth 20:186)

The 1890 Woodruff Manifesto was a revelation from God restoring the Law of Lehi to the Church, as a necessary part of the restitution of all things which God hath spoken “by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”

Let me conclude this section with a quote from President Brigham Young:

If it is wrong for a man to have more than one wife at a time, the Lord will reveal it by and by, and he will put it away that it will not be known in the Church. (JD 11:268, August 19th 1866)

Are Celestial Marriage and Plural Marriage the same?

One of the major arguments used by LDS Fundamentalists is that Celestial Marriage and Plural Marriage are one and the same thing. Between 1852 when plural marriage was accepted as a Church doctrine and 1890 when it was revoked, the two terms were used pretty much synonymously, but they are not identical. In 1890 when the practice of plural marriage was repealed in the sense that it was no longer permissible to marry an additional wife or wives if you already had one who was living, it became necessary to again distinguish between the two concepts. The Lord distinguishes clearly between plural marriage and celestial marriage in section 132 of the Doctrine and covenants when he introduces the principle of celestial marriage. Joseph Smith asked the Lord why it was permissible for Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as well as Moses, David and Solomon to have many wives and concubines. But in order to correctly understand the answer it was necessary that Joseph Smith first correctly understand celestial marriage and the eternity of the marriage covenant. The Lord introduces and explains celestial marriage in verses 3 through 27 of D&C 132.

Note in verse 15 as the Lord begins to explain a civil marriage which terminates at the death of either participant, he specifies “if a man marries a wife.” We are talking one on one here – one man, one wife. In verse 18 the Lord again uses the same terms “if a man marry a wife” as he describes a marriage in which the participants covenant with each other that their marriage shall continue after death, but because it is not properly sealed by priesthood authority and the Holy Spirit of Promise, it too will terminate with the death of either of the participants. Marriage will only continue past death if it is performed in the manner specified by the Lord in verses 19 - 20, which again begins with “if a man marry a wife” and hence again applies to one man and one wife, the pair who are making the covenant.

The Lord’s explanation of plural marriage, which the Lord calls “the law of my holy priesthood” does not begin until verse 28. It is thus the concept of celestial marriage – eternal marriage – which the Lord says must be lived once it has been revealed, and cannot be done away because it is an eternal principle.

LDS Fundamentalists, being unable to distinguish between celestial and plural marriage have wrongly attributed the principle of irrevocability to plural marriage, to which it does not apply. They completely ignore the prime scriptural example of the Law of Lehi. Lehi lived under the Law of Moses, which both recognized and in some cases requires polygamy, and the Lord revoked it for Lehi and for all of his progeny. Lehi and his posterity were commanded that they should have but one wife and concubines they were to have none. The principle of plural marriage which had been practiced by the children of Israel since the days of Abraham was revoked by God to the entire Nephite nation, extending through a period of a thousand years.

Law of Plural Marriage Irrevocable?

In order to bolster their false and deceptive claim that plural marriage cannot be revoked, LDS fundamentalists resort to two basic arguments, which are reiterated over and over and over again, ad naseum. (see Truth 1:18, 32, 33; 2:8, 88, 117, 118, 160, 179; 3:52, 55, 87, 132; 4:86, 143, 196, 213; 5:65, 87, 90, 95, 122, 188, 189, 232; 6:95, 158, 181, 206, 280; 7:108, 206; 8:14, 45, 185, 227, 254, 255; 9:8, 140, 142, 176; 10:21, 10:124, 170; 11:60, 61, 14:3, 61, 103, 133, 148, 188, 213, 266, 296, 341; 15:14, 43; 15:118, 119, 283; 16:160, 178, 308; 17:104, 197, 299; 18:190, 233, 277; 19:49, 84, 295; 20:198; 21:214, 219.)

The first argument is to quote a portion of John Taylor’s 1886 revelation in which the Lord says:

All those who would enter into my glory MUST AND SHALL obey my law. And have I not commanded men that it they were Abraham's seed and would enter into my glory, they must do the works of Abraham? I have not revoked this law, nor will I, for it is everlasting, and those who will enter into my glory must obey the conditions thereof; even so, Amen.

As we have shown above, the law which cannot be revoked is that of celestial marriage, and we have also demonstrated that the “works of Abraham” cannot include plural marriage. But being unable to distinguish between the two laws, LDS Fundamentalists apply it to plural marriage, frequently inserting in parentheses that interpretation which does not belong:

All those who would enter into my glory MUST AND SHALL obey my law. And have I not commanded men that it they were Abraham's seed and would enter into my glory, they must do the works of Abraham? I have not revoked this law (of plural marriage) NOR WILL I, for it is everlasting, and those who will enter into my glory MUST obey the conditions thereof.

This parenthetical insertion completely obfuscates the actual meaning and therefore seems to support their claim that is plural marriage which is irrevocable.

The second tactic used in support of their belief is to quote a substantial panel of authorities, all supporting the claim that plural marriage will not be revoked, but is essential to salvation. Several of the authorities quoted, such as Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball, died before Wilford Woodruff’s 1890 revelation which invoked the Law of Lehi, and which we have in the form of the Woodruff Manifesto. The statements quoted are all anachronous because at the time the quote was spoken, plural marriage was in full force and was indeed a requirement of salvation, and at that time there was seemingly no indication that God would revoke it. Other authorities quoted lived through the period of the 1890 Manifesto. The interesting thing is that every citation quoted is from a time predating the 1890 revelation. There are no quotes at all by any general authorities of statements made subsequent to the Manifesto which at all support the necessity of plural marriage. Thus, although the voluminous quotations appear to support the necessity of plural marriage, nevertheless they do not. All of the general authorities recognized the word of God to them and they and the Church sustained the Woodruff Manifesto.

There is one frequently misquoted statement which bears further analysis because it seems to exclude itself from the charge of anachronism. The statement is from Bishop Samuel Woolley and appears (with slight modifications) several times in Truth Magazine. It is interesting that almost every time he quotes it he quotes a little bit differently, and none of the statements are completely accurate quotes. (See Truth 5:42; 9:20; 14:132; 15:73, 293; 17:118).


It was there (at my house in Nauvoo), one afternoon when the Prophet and Patriarch Hyrum Smith called in, and the latter read a revelation on eternal marriage and plurality of wives, told me * * * that that revelation was of God and that no man could or would receive a fulness of the Celestial Glory and eternal life EXCEPT HE OBEYED THAT LAW AND HAD MORE THAN ONE LIVING WIFE AT THE SAME TIME. --Historical Record, 6:231.

What none of these six accounts bothers to mention is that Bishop Woolley was not in the room when this supposed event occurred. He was in an upstairs room, sick in bed with a high fever. The account is of what he thought he saw and heard in his delirium. Later, after he recovered, he spoke with his sister Mary and a boarder Sister German both of whom he thought he saw at the supposed meeting, and neither of them knew what he was talking about.

The actual full citation from which the excerpts were taken is as follows:


"In September, 1843, at Nauvoo, Ill., I was taken very sick, so much so that most of my folks thought I could not recover. During the time of my illness the Prophet Joseph and Patriarch Hyrum Smith came and administered to me frequently. Father Joseph Smith, in a blessing previously given me, had made me a certain promise in regard to living, in which I had the most implicit confidence; and when I heard friends say (although so far gone that I did not recognize any one) that I would never get well, I would whisper 'Yes, I will, Father Smith promised that I should live to see the coming of the Son of Man.' Brother Hyrum said, because of my faith in that blessing, I would not die at that time. The house, in which we lived, was a two-story one, and on the east side was built a store, from which a door opened into the sitting room. During my sickness I occupied one of the up-stair rooms.

One afternoon in the month of October, A. D. 1843, I think on a Tuesday, about 2 o'clock (I cannot explain just how I knew it was 2 o'clock, but I knew it), I found myself in the sitting room down stairs, and walking to the door leading into the store, I saw my brother Edwin D. putting up the shutters of the store as though it was night. I turned around, saw Mary, his wife, putting down the blinds of the windows in the sitting room. I stood and looked and wondered what was to be done. I saw two or three other persons there; and presently some others, including Patriarch Hyrum Smith, came in. The fireplace was in the north end of the room, and Hyrum sat down at the east end of the grate with his face turned to the northwest. Presently I saw him take a paper out of his coat pocket, and I walked up to his left hand side, looked over his shoulder, and, as he opened the paper, I read 'A Revelation on Eternal Marriage and Plurality of Wives,' etc. He then commenced to read what is now known as the revelation on plural marriage. I also read it myself as fast as he did. He stopped and explained as he went along. There was a sister present by the name of German, who, when he had read to a certain point, went to the southwest window, raised the curtain, looked out, then turned around and said, 'Brother Hyrum, don't read any more, I am full up to here,' drawing her hand across her throat. It was there told me by the same power that informed me it was 2 o'clock, that that revelation was of God, and that no man could or would receive a fulness of celestial glory and eternal life, except he obeyed that law, and had more than one living wife at the same time. From this time I commenced to get well, and did so very speedily. In the course of a few days I was down in the sitting room, and one day, as we sat by the fire, my sister-in-law (Mary) and Sister German, who boarded there, were taking about that principle allegorically. I remarked, 'Mary, thee need not be afraid to talk right out about that principle, for I know more about it than thee does.' 'What principle?' said she. 'Why, that principle about [232] a man having more wives than one,' I replied. She looked with amazement and said, 'What does thee mean?' (We were raised Quakers.) 'I mean,' said I, 'that I stood right there (pointing to the place) when Brother Hyrum read that revelation the other day.' 'What revelation?' said she (seeming very incredulous). 'Why, the one on plural marriage.' I answered. My brother Edwin D. testified in a public meeting in Manti, Sanpete Co., a number of years ago, that the revelation was read by Bro. Hyrum just as I said, but he (Edwin D.) did not see me there, and he could not relate it as accurately as I have done. Were I to go back on every other principle of what the world call 'Mormonism,' I would have to acknowledge that the principle of plural marriage is of God. I, like Paul of old, whether in the body or out, saw and heard things which were unlawful to utter at that time, for I understood that I was not to tell anyone, or to talk to anyone about it, except those who already knew about it." (Jensen, Historical Record 6:231-2)


3. The Law of Consecration and Stewardship

Almost all Fundamentalists consider the Law of Consecration to be a Celestial law, and hence esteem it quite highly, although most of them do not distinguish between the United Order, the Order of Enoch, and the Law of Consecration. John M. Whittaker had a meeting with the First Presidency about which he wrote in his journal:

On the 20th, had an interview with President Jos. F. Smith on the Law of Tithing, United Order and Order of Enoch, and [he] invited me to come to his office, the brethren mentioned together with Apostle Anton Ivins and Bishop Wm. B. Preston and here for a long time the brethren explained, Tithing, United order, The Law of Consecration and the Order of Enoch. The Presidency believes that the Law of Consecration is the highest law of all. (John M. Whitaker Journal, Vol II p 360) September 20th, 1897

From this quote it is clear that tithing, the united order, the order of Enoch and the law of Consecration are four distinct laws. Still, Fundamentalists in general consider the united order, the order of Enoch and the law of Consecration to be different expressions for the same thing. Tithing is considered separate but is seen as a lesser law designed to lead one to be able to live the higher law. Tithing is good enough for the Church, but is disregarded by the Fundamentalists as they intend to live the higher united order instead. It is neither understood nor recognized that there is no one law which is higher than any other. Brigham Young said it this way:

I do not know of one commandment that may be preferred before another; or of one ordinance of the house of God, from the beginning to the end of all the Lord has revealed to the children of men, that is not of equal validity, power, and authority with the rest. (JD 2:5) October 23, 1853

The Savior himself said:

Wherefore, verily I 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, September 1830)

Now the word temporal means timed or in time so the word spiritual which is used here in apposition to temporal means untimed, or in other words eternal. The law of tithing is expressly depicted as being an eternal law:

Verily, thus saith the Lord, I require all their surplus property to be put into the hands of the bishop of my church in Zion, for the building of mine house, and for the laying of the foundation of Zion and for the debts of the Presidency of my Church. And this shall be the beginning of the tithing of my people. And after that, those who have thus been tithed shall pay one tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever, for my holy priesthood, saith the Lord. (D&C 119:1-4, emphasis added)

The Fulness of the Gospel

Fundamentalists ignore tithing in favor of the united order. I believe one of the major reasons for this is a false quote attributed to President Brigham Young. The quote states:

"Hear it ye Elders of Israel, and mark it down in your log-books, the fullness of the Gospel is the united order and the order of plural marriage, and I fear that when I am gone, this people will give up these two principles which we prize so highly, and if they do, this Church cannot advance as God wishes for it to advance." (Extract from sermon of Brigham Young, at dedication of St. George Temple.)

The statement itself is incorrect. The Prophet Joseph Smith defines the fulness of the gospel in the Doctrine and Covenants:

We, Joseph Smith, Jun., and Sidney Rigdon, being in the Spirit on the sixteenth day of February, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty-two - By the power of the Spirit our eyes were opened and our understandings were enlightened, so as to see and understand the things of God - Even those things which were from the beginning before the world was, which were ordained of the Father, through his Only Begotten Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, even from the beginning; of whom we bear record; and the record which we bear is the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the Son, whom we saw and with whom we conversed in the heavenly vision. (D&C 76:11-14, emphasis added)

The fulness of the gospel is the testimony or witness of those who have been shown the plan of salvation from the beginning and who saw and conversed with Jesus Christ. That is why both the Bible and the Book of Mormon contain the fulness of the gospel. They both contain the testimonies of men who saw and conversed with Jesus Christ and then bore witness of him.

The incorrect quote falsely attributed to Brigham Young first appeared in 1927, forty years after Brigham Young's death, in a thirty page pamphlet published by J. Leslie Broadbent entitled "Celestial Marriage ?" He published it anonymously because he was afraid he might be excommunicated for writing it. After his excommunication in July 1929 that issue became moot so in subsequent reprints of that pamphlet he added his name as the author. The false quote appears on page two. Joseph Musser picked up the quote and reprinted it multiple times in Truth Magazine. (See 1:19, 25-26, 99; 3:74, 166; 4:11; 5:195; 8:184, 226; 9:249; 11:67; 14:102; 15:102, 104, 135; 17:357; 18:85; 20:359.) It is one of the better known quotes among the Fundamentalist population.

Fundamentalists and anti-Mormons alike have been diligently seeking for the source of that statement for over 80 years, but without success. Then, in 2009, the Smith-Pettit Foundation published a five volume set of books entitled The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young, edited by Richard S. Van Wagoner. This publication contains 3,160 pages of comments made by Brigham Young from every source Mr. Van Wagoner could locate. The "log-books" statement appears on page 3,112 where he also gives the original source of the elusive statement as "Celestial Marriage, Broadbent." He gives that as a source because there is no other source. The entire statement is fictitious. Interestingly Mr. Van Wagoner immediately appends to the "log-books" statement two more fictitious sentences supposedly by Brigham Young, which he therefore also ascribes to the Broadbent pamphlet. But these additional statements are not in the Broadbent pamphlet at all. They do appear several times in Truth Magazine, but never as a continuation of the original falsified statement. Here is the complete statement as found in The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young 5:3112:

Celestial Marriage, Broadbent, 1927; CA
Hear it, ye elders of Israel, and mark it down in your log books: the fulness of the gospel is the United Order and the order of Plural Marriage, and without these two principles, this gospel can never be full, and I much fear that when I am gone, this people will give up these two principles which we prize so highly; and if they do, this church cannot advance as God wishes it to advance. If this people do not accept and live the principles of the United Order, they will not be aceptable to the Lord. I do not want to live to see the sufferings that this people will have to pass through if they reject the United Order. (Various portions of the last two sentences can be found in Truth Magazine 4:104; 7:135, 177; 12:177, 13:154)

The date ascribed by Mr. Van Wagoner to these statements is the afternoon of 8 April 1877 because that is the only place where they might even remotely fit. However this was at a General Conference of the Church held in St. George, Utah, and there were three church reporters on the stand with Brigham Young during his discourses of that date. According to the quote, President Young supposedly specified that this was a comment which he particularly wished recorded, yet none of the church reporters recorded the statement, nor any statement even vaguely similar to it. Mr. Van Wagoner publishes for that date the minutes of James G. Blake the official clerk of the conference, and also the journal entry of L. John Nuttal who was the private secretary of the First Presidency. Wilford Woodruff was also on the stand during that meeting and he does not make any mention of the statement which Brigham Young supposedly so strongly declared he wanted recorded. Mr. Van Wagoner also prints the report of the same talk by diarist Charles W. Walker who joins the other reporters in his resounding silence on the issue, although perhaps he could be excused because he says he was far from the stand and could not hear all that was said. That excuse won't work for the three official church reporters who were on the stand with President Young. The fact is that the statement was not reported because Brigham Young never made it.

Revelation and Revocation

 The Law of Consecration was first revealed in Section 42 of the Doctrine and Covenants on February 9, 1831, but it was not lived by members of the Church at that time. In March of 1832 Joseph Smith organized in Kirtland the "United Order" which was to regulate the economic affairs of the Church under the Law of Consecration. By 1833 there were 5 branches of the Church established in Jackson County Missouri, the largest consisting of around 230 members. In November of 1833 a terrible clash erupted between the old settlers and the Saints and a large mob drove the Saints from their possessions in Jackson County. In May of 1834 Zion's Camp was organized and left Kirtland to take supplies, provisions and aid to their brethren who had been driven from Jackson County. During this march, on June 22, 1834 Joseph Smith received the Fishing River revelation in which the Lord suspended the Law of Consecration.

... to fulfil that which I have commanded concerning the purchasing of all the lands in Jackson county that can be purchased, and in the adjoining counties round about. For it is my will that these lands should be purchased; and after these lands are purchased, I will hold the armies of Israel guiltless in taking possession of their own lands, which they have previously purchased with their moneys, and of throwing down the towers of mine enemies that may be upon them, and scattering their watchmen, and avenging me of mine enemies unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me. But first let my army become very great, and let it be sanctified before me, that it may become fair as the sun, and clear as the moon, and that her banners may be terrible unto all nations; that the kingdoms of this world may be constrained to acknowledge that the kingdom of Zion is in very deed the kingdom of our God and his Christ: therefore, let us become subject unto her laws. Verily I say unto you, it is expedient in me that the first elders of my church should receive their endowment from on high in my house, which I have commanded to be built unto my name in the land of Kirtland. And let those commandments which I have given concerning Zion and her law be executed and fulfilled, after her redemption. (D&C 105:28-34, emphasis added)

Zion is not yet redeemed, so we are still living under the Lord's suspension of the Law of Consecration. Orson Pratt spoke of this revocation of the Law of Consecration. On April 7th, 1873 in the Salt Lake Tabernacle he said:

Did the Lord forsake us? No; he had compassion upon us, as he had upon ancient Israel, when they were cast away out of their land from time to time. In what respect did he have compassion upon us? When he saw the hold that the traditions in which we had been trained had upon our hearts, he revoked, for the time being, the law of full consecration. Says one, "What! God revoke a commandment? Yes, that is the way he did in ancient times and he is the same God yet. He did it for our good; for if that law had been in full force this people would not have been in these mountains this day. Our selfishness and covetousness are so great that, as a people, we never would have complied with it. A few amongst us might have done so, but as a people we should have been overcome and ruined; but owing to that law being revoked, many of us will now, perhaps, be saved.

In the year 1834, a few months after, we were driven out from that goodly land, God said unto is in a revelation, given on Fishing River, "Let those laws and commandments which I have given concerning Zion and her properties, be executed and fulfilled after her redemption." Thus you see, Latter-day Saints, that we are not under the law of full consecration, and if not under the law we are not under the penalty thereof. (JD 16:5-6)

Functions of the United Order were hampered when persecution drove the prophet from Kirtland. On January 12, 1838, the same day that Joseph left Kirtland, he received three revelations which related to the Law of Consecration (See HC 3:44). These revelations have since been lost, but they were read aloud in a public meeting held at Far West on Sunday, July 8, 1838 (See Far West Record p. 201, n1). A vote was then taken to see if the Saints were willing to accept the Law of Consecration and the assent was unanimous. Joseph then inquired "O Lord! show unto thy servant how much thou requirest of the properties of thy people for a tithing" and in response the law of tithing was received (D&C 119). Tithing was to work in conjunction with the Law of Consecration when it was reinstated.

Persecutions in Missouri worsened and on October 27, 1838 Governor Lillburn Boggs issued the infamous exterminating order and the Latter-day Saints were driven from the State of Missouri. Joseph Smith with several associates ended up in Liberty Jail from whence on March 25, 1839 he wrote a lengthy epistle to the Church. It was from this epistle that D&C 121, 122 and 123 were gleaned. In it he also gave instruction pertinent to the united order, the united firm, the law of consecration and any other united bodies of the Saints:

And again, we further suggest for the considerations of the council, that there be no organization of large bodies upon common stock principles, in property, or of large companies of firms, until the Lord shall signify it in a proper manner, as it opens such a dreadful field for the avaricious, the indolent, and the corrupt hearted to prey upon the innocent and virtuous, and honest.

We have reason to believe that many things were introduced among the Saints before God had signified the times; and notwithstanding the principles and plans may have been good, yet aspiring men, or in other words, men who had not the substance of godliness about them, perhaps undertook to handle edged tools. Children, you know, are fond of tools, while they are not yet able to use them. (HC 3:301)

Joseph and his prison associates were allowed to escape from Liberty Jail on July 4, 1839 and made their way to Illinois where the city of Nauvoo was established. On March 6, 1840 the topic of the law of consecration was again considered and Joseph Smith gave the following instructions:

President Joseph Smith, Jun. addressed the Council on various subjects, and in particular the consecration law; stating that the affairs now before Congress was the only thing that ought to interest the Saints at present; and till it was ascertained how it would terminate, no person ought to be brought to account before the constituted authorities of the Church for any offense whatever; and [he] was determined that no man should be brought before the Council in Nauvoo till that time, etc., etc. The law of consecration could not be kept here, and that it was the will of the Lord that we should desist from trying to keep it; and if persisted in, it would produce a perfect defeat of its object, and that he assumed the whole responsibility of not keeping it until proposed by himself. (HC 4:93, emphasis added)

Joseph Smith never reinstated the law of consecration. It is interesting to note that neither Joseph Smith nor Brigham Young ever lived the law of consecration and stewardship.

The Order of Enoch

The term "Order of Enoch" appears only once during the Joseph Smith era, and it applies to an order of priesthood rather than a communal type order (See D&C 76:57). The expression Order of Enoch, as a communal organization belongs to President Brigham Young. President Young said several times that the Latter-day Saints had made more progress than the followers of Enoch had during an equivalent period of time. (See The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young 1:547 [26 July 1852]; 3:1511 [8 Oct 1859]; 4:2443 [2 June 1867]; 4:2483 [25 Aug 1867]; 5:2588 [19 Aug 1868]).

Brigham Young was particularly impressed by an experimental cooperative community set up in Brigham City in 1864 by Lorenzo Snow. The community was a great economic success. Lorenzo Snow reported Brigham Young as saying "Brother Snow has led the people along and got them into the United Order without their knowing it." (JD 19:347) President John Taylor said that the things Lorenzo Snow was doing in Brigham City were very credible, but it was not the United Order (JD 20:44). It was during the economic depression following the panic of 1873 that President Brigham Young felt the need to organize the United Order of St. George during his annual visit south. While still in southern Utah he visited about 20 other cities which he organized into United Orders. In the spring of 1874 as he returned to Salt Lake City, he organized another 30 cities into United Orders, one at each stop on the way home. After arriving in Salt Lake City he organized each of the 20 stakes there into a United Order. President Young then had teams of apostles visit the northern communities and they established another 30 United Orders there and in Idaho. The organization of United Orders soon spread to northern Arizona and southern Nevada. In all approximately 200 United Orders were organized. Nearly one half of these United Orders were disbanded within the first year of their organization, and others followed at a rapid rate. Few of these organizations survived past the death of President Brigham Young in 1877 and none of them survived the polygamy persecutions of the 1880s.

After his return from the south President Young spoke in the Salt Lake 3rd ward on 21 June 1874 and in that discourse he said:

 "We are trying to unite the people together in the order that the Lord revealed to Enoch, which will be observed and sustained in the latter days in redeeming and building up Zion; this is the very order that will do it, and nothing short of it." (JD 18:244)

At a talk in Lehi just seven weeks later President Young indicated that his actions were directed by the Lord:

With regard to those who wish to have new revelation they will please to accommodate themselves and call this a new revelation. On this occasion I will not repeat anything particular in respect to the language of revelation, further than to say—Thus saith the Lord unto my servant Brigham, Call ye, call ye, upon the inhabitants of Zion, to organize themselves in the Order of Enoch, in the New and Everlasting Covenant, according to the Order of Heaven, for the furtherance of my kingdom upon the earth, for the perfecting of the Saints, for the salvation of the living and the dead.

You can accommodate yourselves by calling this a new revelation, if you choose; it is no new revelation, but it is the express word and will of God to this people. (Brigham Young, August 9, 1874, JD 17:154)

In his examination of the economic orders of Enoch, Leonard Arrington said:

While it was (and is) common to say that the United Order was a failure because so many orders were disbanded so soon after their organization, there is much evidence in favor of the idea that they were originally designed as temporary organizations, and that no hope was held out that they would last longer than the depressed conditions which followed the Panic of 1873. ... Regardless of the fate of individual organizations, therefore, the United Order movement may be said to have promoted thrift and made possible a more rapid accumulation of funds with which to buy machinery and equipment; created additional employment for the Mormon people; and assured a more rapid development of resources, particularly in areas where Utah had a comparative disadvantage. The United Order, in other words, helped to keep Utah economically independent of the East longer and more completely than would otherwise have been the case. (Leonard J. Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom, p 338.)


4. Priesthood Authority

Various Claims to Priesthood Authority

It is rather difficult to trace those claims to priesthood authority made by the various groups. That is because each group has to figure out some way to wrest the keys of the priesthood from the LDS church and then find a way to redirect those priesthood keys uniquely to their own group to the exclusion of all other Fundamentalist groups. After all, “there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred” (D&C 132:7). The Prophet Joseph Smith prophesied that the keys of priesthood authority would never leave the Church:

An angel, said Joseph, may administer the word of the Lord unto men, and being intelligence to them from heaven upon various subjects; but no true angel from God will ever come to ordain any man, because they have once been sent to establish the priesthood by ordaining me thereunto; and the priesthood being once established on earth, with power to ordain others, no heavenly messenger will ever come to interfere with that power by ordaining any more. He referred to the angel that came to Cornelius and told Cornelius to send for Peter; but if there had been no Peter with keys and power to administer, the angel might have done it himself; but as there was, the angel would not interfere. Saul was directed to go to Ananias for instruction and to be administered to by him; but if there had been no Ananias with power and authority on the earth to administer in the name of Christ, the Lord might have done it himself. You may therefore know, from this time forward, that if a man comes to you professing to be ordained by an angel, he is either a liar or has been imposed upon in consequence of transgression by an angel of the devil, for this priesthood shall never be taken away from this church. (MS 8:139; also quoted in Truth 15:241-242; 19:35.)

Yet despite this direct prophesy by the Prophet Joseph Smith, Fundamentalists universally claim that the authority of the priesthood was removed from the Church. The most common claim is that President Wilford Woodruff lost those keys when he issued the 1890 Manifesto. They say he issued the manifesto against the will of God and hence Wilford Woodruff fell and God withdrew those keys from him. There are several problems with this line of thinking: First, President Woodruff said he wrote in the Manifesto what the Lord told him to write, so it could not have been against the will of God. Second, the Lord is very specific in D&C 43 of what must happen if he who holds the keys falls:

But verily, verily, I say unto you, that none else shall be appointed unto this gift except it be through him; for if it be taken from him he shall not have power except to appoint another in his stead. And this shall be a law unto you, that you receive not the teachings of any that shall come before you as revelations or commandments; and this I give unto you that you may not be deceived, that you may know they are not of me. For verily I say unto you, that he that is ordained of me shall come in at the gate and be ordained as I have told you before, to teach those revelations which you have received and shall receive through him whom I have appointed. (D&C 43:4-7)

Now, I ask, if Wilford Woodruff fell, whom did he appoint in his stead? The revelation also specifies “that he shall have no power except to appoint another in his stead.” But President Woodruff did have continuing power. For example, four years after issuing the Manifesto President Woodruff dedicated the Salt Lake Temple. During that dedication the Lord Jesus Christ himself appeared to President Woodruff and said that he accepted the temple and he accepted the dedicatory services for that temple:

President Wilford Woodruff told some of the saints that our Savior had appeared unto him in the east room in the Holy of Holies, and told him that he had accepted of the Temple and of the dedicatory services, and that the Lord forgave us his saints who had assisted in any manner towards the erection and completion - that our sins were forgiven us by the Lord Jesus Christ. He said the light and power of this Temple would be felt all over the earth, that our enemies should not have power over his saints. The Lord is going to give his saints the good things of the Earth in greater abundance. (Diary of John Lee Jones as quoted in Brown and Smith, Symbols in Stone p 136.)

President Wilford Woodruff did not appoint anyone in his stead but held the keys of the priesthood until his death. Those priesthood keys passed on in normal succession to the president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as was confirmed by the Savior himself in his appearance to Lorenzo Snow in the Salt Lake Temple:

"One evening while I was visiting grandpa Snow in his room in the Salt Lake Temple, I remained until the door keepers had gone and the night-watchmen had not yet come in, so grand-pa said he would take me to the main front entrance and let me out that way. He got his bunch of keys from his dresser. After we left his room and while we were still in the large corridor leading into the celestial room, I was walking several steps ahead of grand-pa when he stopped me and said: 'Wait a moment, Allie, I want to tell you something. It was right here that the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to me at the time of the death of President Woodruff. He instructed me to go right ahead and reorganize the First Presidency of the Church at once and not wait as had been done after the death of the previous presidents, and that I was to succeed President Woodruff.’ "Then grand-pa came a step nearer and held out his left hand and said: 'He stood right here, about three feet above the floor. It looked as though He stood on a plate of solid gold.'

"Grand-pa told me what a glorious personage the Savior is and described His hands, feet, countenance and beautiful white robes, all of which were of such a glory of whiteness and brightness that he could hardly gaze upon Him.

"Then he came another step nearer and put his right hand on my head and said: 'Now, grand-daughter, I want you to remember that this is the testimony of your grand-father, that he told you with his own lips that he actually saw the Savior, here in the Temple, and talked with Him face to face.'" (Improvement Era 36:667, Sept 1933; )

 Thus, all claims that President Woodruff lost the priesthood keys and that they passed outside the church to any of the Fundamentalists is simply bogus. They passed within the Church by normal succession of seniority in the Quorum of the Twelve to Lorenzo Snow, and at his death to Joseph F. Smith. Those keys remain in the Church today.

The One Mighty and Strong

Many Fundamentalists recognize that none of the groups have any priesthood authority. Some of them feel that if they try as hard as they can to live what they call the fulness of the gospel, the Lord will eventually come and say "Well done thou good and faithful servant, you have lived so well for so long that I will now give you the keys of the priesthood that you have so long lived without." Others of the Fundamentalists have similar feelings but believe that it is the One Mighty and Strong promised in the 85th section of the Doctrine and Covenants who will come and set the Church in order and then they will be recognized as the faithful ones who lived the higher laws. It sounds honorable and almost noble when expressed in those terms. When expressed realistically the statements do not sound so noble: These individuals are anticipating that the Lord or the One Mighty and Strong will come and say "Well done thou good and faithful servant, you have committed adultery so well and for such a long time that I will now give you the keys of the priesthood so that you can be legitimately married to the women with whom you have for so long been living in sin ." For some the situation is even worse than that. If there are any of those among the Fundamentalists who had their first wife sealed to them in a temple and by the authority of the priesthood, then by taking a plural wife they break their temple covenants, the Holy Spirit of Promise is withdrawn, their sealing becomes invalid and they are left single and alone in the eternities. And the One Mighty and Strong will not come to save them.

Bishop Edward Partridge

The subject of the One Mighty and Strong has caused much speculation among members of the Church over the years, with several individuals trying to bolster their ego by claiming to be the One Mighty and Strong. In order to mollify the public mind and ease speculation, the First Presidency of the Church issued a message on November 13, 1905 entitled "One Mighty and Strong," signed by Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder and Anthon H. Lund. This message was reprinted in the Improvement Era of October 1907 (IE 10:929-943) and can also be found in Messages of the First Presidency (4:108-120). In this message the First Presidency examined in great detail and in full context Joseph Smith's letter to W. W. Phelps, dated Kirtland, Nov. 27th, 1832, from which D&C 85 is excerpted. They paid particular attention to D&C 85:7 which is the verse that causes so much speculation.

7 And it shall come to pass that the Lord God, will send one mighty and strong, holding the scepter of power in his hand, clothed with light for a covering, whose mouth shall utter words, eternal words; while his bowels shall be a fountain of truth to set in order the house of God, and to arrange by lot the inheritances of the saints whose names are found, and the names of their fathers, and of their children, enrolled in the book of the law of God;

The First Presidency demonstrated from historical context that the One Mighty and Strong here referred to was Edward Partridge, who was himself at the time out of order, neglecting his responsibilities and was told that "another 'one mighty and strong' would be sent, to take his place, to have his bishopric." But afterwards Edward Partridge repented and performed his duty, and through his repentance he

...undoubtedly obtained a mitigation of the threatened judgment against him of falling "by the shaft of death, like as a tree that is smitten by the vivid shaft of lightning," so the occasion for sending another to fill his station -- "one mighty and strong to set in order the house of god, and to arrange by lot the inheritances of the saints" -- may also be considered as having passed away and the whole incident of the prophecy closed. (MFP 4:117)

In support of their explanation they referred to a statement by Orson Pratt

...Orson Pratt, one familiar with Edward Partridge, and an active participant in all these historical matters, publicly declared from the pulpit in Salt Lake City, about the time of the death of President Young, that the man referred to in that passage of the revelation in question, was Bishop Edward Partridge. (MFP 4:117)

Joseph Musser took umbrage at the First Presidency message and responded in Truth Magazine. He said that the First Presidency were wrong and that Edward Partridge could not be the person referred to.

Then, again, as good and faithful a man as Edward Partridge was, he could hardly answer to the qualifications the Lord mentions, (nor could any mortal man) as;"holding the scepter of power in his hand, clothed with light for a covering, whose mouth shall utter words, eternal words; while his bowels shall be a fountain of truth.” This doubtless describes an immortal and resurrected being. (Truth 9:116)

He goes on to say he doubts that Orson Pratt ever made the statement cited above. The First Presidency does not give a reference and he (Musser) has searched the Deseret News and Journal of Discourses for any such statement around the time of the Death of Brigham Young, and cannot find it. The First Presidency was simply wrong. In Musser's opinion the "One Mighty and Strong" will most likely be the Prophet Joseph Smith himself as a resurrected being.

Musser's squabble died in 1974 when Robert J. Woodford prepared his dissertation on the Doctrine and Covenants. In his discussion of D&C 85 he states the following:

In light of the many claims made concerning the one mighty and strong in verse 7, the following is important in identifying Edward Partridge as that person:

"At his [Edward Partridge's] funeral says mother Partridge John E. Page was speaking and refered to the revelation, predicting the raising up of one who should be mighty, who should devide the inheritance as to the saints, and said he did not know but the one should be Bishop Partridge. The Prophet Joseph Smith spoke up and said he was the one referred to. (Edward Partridge Journal (Typescript), p. 70, located in the HDC)

(Robert J. Woodford, "Historical Development of the Doctrine and Covenants" pp 1080, 1083.)

Here is a statement much more significant than the one by Orson Pratt referred to above. Here is the Prophet Joseph Smith himself identifying the person referred to in D&C 85:7, the one mighty and strong, as Edward Partridge, and Joseph Smith was the one who wrote that statement in the first place.

Joseph Smith's statement verifies the findings of the First Presidency and repudiates the speculations of Joseph Musser. The "One Mighty and Strong" was Edward Partridge.

The Lorrin Woolley Story

A prophecy concerning the One Mighty and Strong is related in the Lorrin Woolley story. It is a statement reportedly made by President John Taylor during the supposed meeting of 28 September 1888. As related by Lorrin Woolley the statement says:

He [President John Taylor] said that in the time of the seventh president of this Church, the Church would go into bondage both temporally and spiritually and in that day (the day of bondage) the One Mighty and Strong spoken of in the 85th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants would come. (See Truth Magazine 1:58; 2:120; 14:152; 15:47, 237; 16:103, 166; 20:31, 230-231).

Since we are now in the time of the 16th president, we can put this down as just another proof that the Lorrin Woolley story was nothing more than a fabricated tale.

Another False Quote

 In his new publication The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young, editor Richard Van Wagoner cites the following statement supposedly from President Brigham Young:

 "Brethren, this Church will be led onto the very brink of hell by the leaders of this people. Then God will raise the one mighty and strong spoken of in the 85th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants, to save and redeem this church."

 Mr. Van Wagoner cites Truth Magazine for this statement because there is no other source for it. The statement is actually cited 12 times in Truth: 1:135; 3:163; 6:109; 6:231; 7:233; 9:253; 10:15; 14:70; 15:104; 15:128; 16:103; 19:255; but the only source Musser ever gives, other than citing his own previous publications, is that it was said at a conference in Provo shortly before the death of Brigham Young. Mr. Van Wagoner ascribes the statement to a date of 24 August 1867 although 10 years hardly sounds like "shortly" before the death of Brigham Young. This statement first appears in the June 1944 issue of Truth Magazine, some 67 years after the death of Brigham Young. The statement does not appear in any earlier source because Brigham Young never said it.

Other False Claims Related to Priesthood Authority

Priesthood Authority, Once Conferred, Cannot Be Taken Away Except Through Iniquity.

It is contended that someone who has been excommunicated for practicing plural marriage does not lose his priesthood because according to LDS Fundamentalist teachings, practicing plural marriage is not iniquity. The contention does not make sense, because anyone who has authority to bestow priesthood must also have the authority to remove priesthood. In giving the authority to his apostles, Jesus said:

Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matt 18:18)

The authority to bind and the authority to loose come at the same time (see Matt. 16:19; 18:18; D&C 124:93; 127:7; 128:8, 10)

There is only one citation which is used to bolster this false claim and that is from President Joseph F. Smith, in an Improvement Era editorial (see Truth 5:209-210, 283; 7:86; 8:105 and Most Holy Principle 4:247). It is always only the same partial quote which is given. All that is necessary to refute the claim is to cite the entire statement. Here is the entire statement, in which I italicize that brief portion of the quote used by the Fundamentalists to substantiate their claim:

Order of the Priesthood.

An officer in the Church in one of the stakes of Zion asks whether a man's Priesthood may be taken from him in any other way than by excommunication. In other words, can a man's ordination to the Priesthood be made null and void, and he still be permitted to retain his membership in the Church; or must he be excommunicated before the Priesthood can be taken from him? The reply must be that only by excommunication in the appointed way can the Priesthood be taken from a person. We know of no other means provided by which a man who has had the Priesthood conferred upon him can be deprived of it. The constituted authorities of the Church may, however, after proper authorized hearing, decide that a man has forfeited his right to act in the Priesthood, and for this cause, he may be silenced, and his certificate of ordination be taken from him, and thus have his right suspended to officiate in the ordinances of the gospel, or to exercise the Priesthood which has been conferred upon him. Then, if he persists in exercising his Priesthood and former calling, he may be taken to account for insubordination and excommunicated.

Several examples have occurred in the history of the Church where men through transgression, duly proved and decided upon by the constituted authorities, have been stopped from acting in the Priesthood, which is just as effectual as taking away their Priesthood would be, if it were possible; but this has taken no ordination from them, and if in such cases the transgressors should repent and make complete and satisfactory restitution, they would still hold the same Priesthood which they held before they were silenced, or stopped from acting. A person once ordained a bishop, an elder, or high priest, continues to hold those offices. A bishop is still a bishop though he may remove to another ward, or for other reason temporarily lose his calling. But in case he is wanted to act in a new office, or place, and the proper authorities call him to act, it is not necessary to re-ordain him a bishop; he would only need to be set apart for his new calling. So with other officers in the Priesthood, once having received the Priesthood, it cannot be taken from them, except by transgression so serious that they must forfeit their standing in the Church. But, as stated, their right to officiate, may be suspended or stopped. The Lord can take away the power and efficacy of their ordinations, and will do so if they transgress. No endowments or blessings in the House of the Lord, no patriarchal blessings, no ordination to the Priesthood, can be taken away, once given. To prevent a person for cause from exercising the rights and privileges of acting in the offices of the Priesthood, may be and has been done, and the person so silenced still remain a member of the Church, but this does not take away from him any Priesthood that he held.

JOSEPH F. SMITH. (IE 11:466, April 1908)

To use this partial quote to claim that an excommunicant does not completely lose all priesthood as well as church membership and all related blessings is a willful misrepresentation.

Priesthood, improperly conferred is invalid

It is a common fundamentalist teaching that there was a time in church history, during the administration of President Joseph F. Smith, when the priesthood was not conferred properly. Those who had the priesthood improperly conferred did not actually receive the priesthood, they only thought they did. This problem propagated itself when those who only believed they had the priesthood tried to confer priesthood on others, without actually having that authority themselves. The problem, they claim, was that there was a period of time during which many individuals did not have the priesthood conferred upon them before being ordained to an office in the priesthood. (Truth 1:70; 3:153; 4:144, 175; 7:66; 8:105; 9:95, 117; 18:82-83, 249-250; 20:353-354.)

The basis for their views is a statement said to have come through President Joseph F. Smith directly from the Prophet Joseph Smith, but no source is given for any such claim.

We are informed that Joseph F. Smith once related that it had been revealed to him by mouth of his uncle Joseph Smith, the Prophet, that offices in the Priesthood, such as Deacon, Teacher, Priest, Elder, etc., were but appendages to the Priesthood, and that the Priesthood itself MUST be conferred before the office is given. Learning from his counselor, (Joseph F. Smith) of this revelation, President John Taylor said, "Of course that is the proper order"; I. e., to confer the Priesthood before ordaining to the office. (Truth 3:152)

Numerous quotes are given from Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff and others indicating how priesthood was conferred in their day.

      To give a bit more history on this subject, President Joseph F. Smith printed a proper procedure for conferring the priesthood in the March 1901 Improvement era. This was also included in Gospel Doctrine (a compilation of Joseph F. Smith’s sermons and writings) on pages 136-137 (13th edition) as follows:

Conferring the Priesthood.

The revelation in section 107, Doctrine and Covenants, verses 1, 5, 6, 7, 21, clearly points out that the Priesthood is a general authority or qualification, with certain offices or authorities appended thereto. Consequently the conferring of the Priesthood should precede and accompany ordination to office, unless it be possessed by previous bestowal and ordination. Surely a man cannot possess an appendage to the Priesthood without possessing the Priesthood itself, which he cannot obtain unless it be authoritatively conferred upon him.

Take, for instance, the office of a deacon: the person ordained should have the Aaronic Priesthood conferred upon him in connection with his ordination. He cannot receive a portion or fragment of the Aaronic Priesthood, because that would be acting on the idea that either or both of the (Melchizedek and Aaronic) Priesthoods were subject to subdivision, which is contrary to the revelation.

In ordaining those who have not yet received the Aaronic Priesthood, to any office therein, the words of John the Baptist to Joseph Smith, Jr., and Oliver Cowdery, would be appropriate to immediately precede the act of ordination. They are:

"Upon you my fellow servants [servant], in the name of Messiah, I confer the Priesthood of Aaron."

Of course, it would not necessarily follow that these exact words should be used, but the language should be consistent with the act of conferring the Aaronic Priesthood. (IE 4:394, March, 1901)

In April of 1919 the First Presidency found the question sufficiently important to place the following Addenda in the back of Gospel Doctrine: (Page 541; this may also be found in MFP 5: 120-121)


To prevent disputes over this subject that may arise over the procedure presented on page 169 [136, 13th ed], we draw attention to the fact that until recently, from the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith, ordinations to the Priesthood were directly to the office therein for which the recipient was chosen and appointed, in form substantially as follows:

As to the Melchizedek Priesthood-"By authority (or in the authority) of the Holy Priesthood and by the laying on of hands, I (or we) ordain you an Elder, (or Seventy, or High Priest, or Patriarch, or Apostle, as the case may be), in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and confer upon you all the rights, powers, keys and authority pertaining to this office and calling in the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen."

As to the Lesser Priesthood-"By (or in) the authority of the Holy Priesthood I (or we) lay my (or our) hands upon your head and ordain you a Deacon (or other office in the Lesser Priesthood) in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and confer upon you all the rights, powers and authority pertaining to this office and calling in the Aaronic Priesthood on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen."

In reference to the form of procedure mentioned on page 169 [136 13th ed], and that set forth in this addendum as adopted by the leading authorities of the Church from the beginning, our beloved and departed President, Joseph F. Smith, when questioned concerning them, decided, as of record, "It is a distinction without a difference," and "either will do."

Persons, therefore, who have been ordained in either way hold the right to officiate in all the duties of their respective offices in the Priesthood.

First Presidency.

LDS Fundamentalists are quick to point out that although Joseph F. Smith decided “as of record,” no such record can be found. I have personally made a search for such a record, and have also been unable to find one.

The LDS Fundamentalist claim is that by the time of the 7th President (Heber J. Grant) there will be thousands of men in the LDS Church who think they hold priesthood, but they actually do not, and they believe the situation will continue to worsen. (Truth 2:120; 3:153; 4:144; 6:136; 8:45; 10:214; 12:45; 14:12; 14:152; 14:323; 14:346; 15:47; 15:237; 16:78; 16:103; 16:166; 18:82; 18:250; 20:33; 20:231; 20:354.)

In resolution of the supposed problem I present comments by President George Q. Cannon from the pages of the Juvenile Instructor. Before doing so, I wish to cite the following statement by Joseph Musser indicating that the editorials of the Juvenile Instructor are a most authoritative source; it was a source from which he frequently quoted.

In the early history of the Church, in the mountains, the Juvenile Instructor, edited by President George Q. Cannon, was frequently used as a channel through which questions were propounded and answered pertaining to the doctrines of the Church as revealed in the present dispensation. It is axiomatic with Latter-day Saints that statements occurring in that publication under the heading of “Editorial Thoughts” or “Topics of the Times”, carried official sanction of the First Presidency of the Church (John Taylor being President) and consequently could be relied upon as correct doctrine. (Truth 9:65)

The editorial by George Q. Cannon to which I refer is as follows:

Ordaining to the Priesthood.

We have been asked by several different persons whether in ordaining a brother it is right to confer the Priesthood first and then ordain him to the particular office to which he is called, or to directly ordain him to that office in the Priesthood. That is, in ordaining a man an Elder, should the one officiating say: I confer upon you the Melchisedek Priesthood and ordain you an Elder, or, I ordain you an Elder in the Melchisedek Priesthood, or whatever the office conferred may be?

So far as we know, the Lord has revealed no particular form, or words to be used in the ceremony of ordination to the Priesthood, as he has done in the rite of baptism, neither has He given any direct instructions on the point presented by the enquirers. Certain it is that both forms have been and are being used by those officiating, and it is equally certain that the Lord recognizes and honors those ordained in either way. Consequently, we are of the opinion that both are acceptable to him, and will be until it pleases Him to give the Church further light on the subject, either by direct revelation or by inspiring His servants of the first Presidency of the Church to direct exactly what shall be said. (Juvenile Instructor, 29:114, February 15, 1894.)

In the Book of Mormon we have an account of the manner in which the Nephites ordained teachers and priests (Moroni 3.)

 1 THE manner which the disciples, who were called the elders of the church, ordained priests and teachers--

 2 After they had prayed unto the Father in the name of Christ, they laid their hands upon them, and said:

 3 In the name of Jesus Christ I ordain you to be a priest, (or, if he be a teacher) I ordain you to be a teacher, to preach repentance and remission of sins through Jesus Christ, by the endurance of faith on his name to the end. Amen.

 4 And after this manner did they ordain priests and teachers, according to the gifts and callings of God unto men; and they ordained them by the power of the Holy Ghost, which was in them.

We have an even more authoritative source: that of the Lord Jesus Christ himself. When he appeared to the Nephites after his resurrection, he took twelve disciples and conferred the Melchisedek Priesthood upon them.

And it came to pass that when Jesus had made an end of these sayings, he touched with his hand the disciples whom he had chosen, one by one, even until he had touched them all, and spake unto them as he touched them.

And the multitude heard not the words which he spake, therefore they did not bear record; but the disciples bare record that he gave them power to give the Holy Ghost. And I will show unto you hereafter that this record is true. (3 Ne 18:36-37)

The multitude did not hear the words which Jesus used in conferring the Melchisedek Priesthood upon these disciples, but whatever he said did work, because they then had the power to give the Holy Ghost. Fortunately the exact words Christ used in giving these men the priesthood have been preserved for us by Moroni, and they were:

THE words of Christ, which he spake unto his disciples, the twelve whom he had chosen, as he laid his hands upon them--

And he called them by name, saying: Ye shall call on the Father in my name, in mighty prayer; and after ye have done this ye shall have power that to him upon whom ye shall lay your hands, ye shall give the Holy Ghost; and in my name shall ye give it, for thus do mine apostles.

Now Christ spake these words unto them at the time of his first appearing; and the multitude heard it not, but the disciples heard it; and on as many as they laid their hands, fell the Holy Ghost. (Moro. 2:1-3)

I wish to point out the fact that Christ did not use the words “confer” or “ordain” or “priesthood.” His simple statement was that after they called upon the Father in his name, they would have power. It should be obvious to everyone that it is not the precise statement or sequence of particular wording that directs bestowal of the priesthood, but it is the intent of the individual who holds the keys. I wish to point out that when the President of the High Priesthood, who does hold the keys, specifies a procedure to be used, then the priesthood must be bestowed in accordance with those directions.

Missionaries Should Preach the Gospel Without Purse and Scrip.

This is a favorite complaint of LDS Fundamentalists against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (See for example Truth 1:143-148, 164-165, 190; 3:98, 145-146, 162; 4:111-112, 144-145, 224-225, 232; 7:13, 156; 9:231; 17:79-87, 234; 18:357; 20:26, 269, 355-356). It is reiterated every time there is an opportunity. The basic argument is this: The Lord said in D&C 84:86:

 86. Therefore, let no man among you, for this commandment is unto all the faithful who are called of God in the church unto the ministry, from this hour take purse or scrip, that goeth forth to proclaim this gospel of the kingdom. (D&C 84:86)

They then quote from lots of early church leaders who talk about their preaching the gospel without purse or scrip, and how the laborer is worthy of his hire (D&C 84:79) etc. Frequently they will add support to their argument by quoting Matthew 10: 6-10, Mark 6:8 or Luke 10:4, pointing that Christ, when he sent his disciples out to preach the gospel, sent them out without purse or scrip.

But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, Nor scrip for [your] journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. (Matt 10:6-10)

And commanded them that they should take nothing for [their] journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in [their] purse: (Mark 6:8)

Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way. (Luke 10:4)

I find it interesting that they never bother to quote Luke 22.

And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take [it], and likewise [his] scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. (Luke 22:35-36)

It is true that in the beginning of his ministry, Christ sent his disciples out without purse and without scrip. However, when he sent these disciples out near the end of his ministry, he sent them out with purse and with scrip.

When did the Church stop sending missionaries out without purse or scrip, and begin sending them with purse and scrip? It was on September 13, 1860 that Brigham Young arose in a meeting and made the following comments, as recorded in Wilford Woodruff’s journal:

We have missionaries going abroad upon their missions. We are all acquainted with the situation & Locations of this Country. The revelations says take neither purse nor scrip. That is go without taking food or money. Now this revelation was given to the Twelve in Jerruselem a City filled with the wealth of the Nations. It is like giving the same commandment to Elders in New York City but it Cannot be Expected that Elders will start from this City to walk a thousand miles to settlements without food or to kill there game by the way. But they have got to be supplyed with means to go to there Field of Labor. . . .

I intend this people hereafter shall find means to send the elders to their fields of labor and if necessary to bring them back again. . . .

From the day that P. P. Pratt commenced begging in England up to the present time there is not one of that class of Elders but what have become beggars. And hell is full of such Elders and I don’t care how soon the rest go there. (WWJ 5:497-501)

Then, in 1867, Elder John Taylor made the following remarks on the same subject:

In relation to these missionary operations which have been alluded to, I should like to see something done, I do not know that it is necessary to talk about it. We used to be in the habit of going without purse or scrip. That is the way I have travelled hundreds and thousands of miles, but then we felt as the disciples of old did. When we returned, if asked if we had lacked anything, we could say verily no. But there was a time afterwards when Jesus said-"Let him that has a purse take it with him, and let him that has no sword sell his coat and buy one." We do not always remain in status quo. At that time we were the poorest people in the world, but now we are better off than the generality of mankind, and we are able to help one another, and there is no necessity for our missionaries to go under the circumstances they have done heretofore; and since it is the counsel that they shall not, why let us do what we can to help them. (JD 12:49)

It was during the administration of President Brigham Young and at his direction, and with the full support of John Taylor that the Elders of the Church stopped going out without purse and scrip and first began paying their own way. There were later times and places when Elders were permitted to proselyte without purse and scrip, but it was never again a general policy and practice for the whole church.

Brigham Young and John Taylor recognized a very important principle taught by the Prophet Joseph Smith and they adapted it to their existing situation. Joseph said:

God said, "Thou shalt not kill;" at another time He said, "Thou shalt utterly destroy." This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted — by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed. Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire. If we seek first the kingdom of God, all good things will be added. (TPJS 256)

This is a practical example of a direct commandment of the Lord in a published revelation, which was later countermanded by a subsequent prophet because the circumstances in which the Saints found themselves had changed.


These are not the only problems by any means, but I feel that these are the most significant ones: the ones keeping a lot of honest people from leaving Fundamentalism and coming into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. An open heart and fervent prayer will testify of the truth of these things, and of my sincerity. Further comments or questions can be addressed to:


Before leaving this topic I wish to present one more pertinent item. Joseph Smith told the Saints in Nauvoo how to always be able to distinguish the true church, and he gave it as a guide to them that they could use ever afterwards. There was no stenographer present so we do not have the full account of his discourse, but there were many present who heard his comments, understood their importance, and recorded them. I leave you the testimonies of five men who were there and left an enduring witness:

Edward Stevenson

At the time of the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph, the Saints were being gathered and were building a Temple, baptizing for the dead, etc., which work unceasingly has been kept up by those who under the leadership of the Twelve came to the Rocky Mountains notwithstanding the various factions which have separated themselves from the true Gospel tree. The writer (Elder Stevenson) heard the prophet say on a stand at the east end of the Nauvoo Temple, that the time was coming when there would be many dissensions from the Church. "But," said he, "I now see the time which I have long desired to see. Let me go where I may, the Gospel tree is planted never more to be rooted up, for there are those present who are prepared to carry on the Gospel, whatever may become of me." He also said: "I will give you a key by which you may never be deceived, if you will observe these facts: Where the true Church is, there will always be a majority of the Saints, and the records and history of the Church also." (Infancy of the Church p 5)

Lyman Littlefield

Once in Nauvoo I heard the Prophet declare to the people how they might always know where to find the true Church. He gave it as a guide for them ever afterwards, and said the day would come when they would need it. He said: "Factions and parties will arise out of this Church, and apostates will lead away many. But in the midst of all this, keep with the majority, for the true leaders of God's people will always be able to have a majority, and the records of the Church will be with them. Keep with the majority, for where the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together." (Lyman O. Littlefield, Millennial Star, 45:389)

Ezra T. Clark

I bear you this my testimony:

Before I left Nauvoo, I heard the Prophet Joseph say he would give the Saints a key whereby they would never be led away or deceived, and that was: the Lord would never suffer the majority of this people to be led away or deceived by imposters, nor would he allow the records of this Church to fall into the hands of the enemy. I heard Joseph say this, and I also heard him say that he would roll the burden of the Apostleship upon the quorum of the twelve. I heard Joseph preach many times; heard him, in the last sermon he ever delivered, bear testimony to the truth of the work that God had called him to; also that the Lord had never suffered him to be slain by his enemies, because his work had not been done, until a short time ago. He had now laid the foundation of this work, and rolled the burden of the priesthood upon the Twelve; and, having given them their washings and anointings, they would now bear off this work triumphantly, and it would roll on faster than ever before; and, if the Lord was willing to accept of him, he was willing to go. (Ezra T. Clark, Improvement Era, 5:202, written July 24, 1901.)

Orson Hyde #1

Now I look around this congregation, and contemplate that there are, perhaps, some ten or twelve thousand persons, and it may be more, I do not know, there is a very large number; then when I think that numerous as we are here we are but the representatives--not more than a tithing of those left behind, of the same stripe, it reminds me of the words of Joseph the Prophet, when he said, "Brethren, remember that the majority of this people will never go astray; and as long as you keep with the majority you are sure to enter the celestial kingdom." (Orson Hyde, Journal of Discourses 13:367, May 5, 1870)

Orson Hyde #2

Elder O. Hyde said that God had placed in the church first apostles, not first the Bible. The Word of the Lord came through the channel of the Priesthood. He inspired His servants to write the Scriptures. And His purpose is to establish His authority on the earth, and He has the power to do it. I should not deviate from the truth were I to say that the living Priesthood is greater than the written word. You are favored with a visit from the President of the church and his co-laborers, their purpose being a disposition to bless you. Some would confine us entirely to the Scriptures; herein the Christian world have made shipwreck of faith; they have no living oracles, and they live in darkness. We sometimes may form our opinions regarding the doctrines contained in the Scriptures, but uninspired men would do better to impeach their own understandings than the written word. What is written is written and cannot well be altered, but apostles and prophets carry with them the spirit which has dictated the Scriptures. When God has a people on the earth He gives them living powers which are greater than the written word. These powers do not render the written word obsolete, but we want the living word, to give the mind and will of God constantly to His people. The true church of Christ, with its apostles and prophets and living priesthood is the “pillar and ground of the truth.” Joseph Smith said, some know that this work is of God, and some may not know, but if they believe the testimony of those who do know and follow on they will go into the Celestial kingdom. He also said, always follow the majority of the church, for they will never go wrong. It is not by reason and philosophy, which are after the world, that will regulate His church, but God will regulate it by the power of the Holy Ghost through His representative on the earth. If any people on the earth have reason to be faithful to God in all things it is the people of the Latter-day Saints, who have in their midst His living oracles. (Deseret News Weekly 16:106)

William G. Nelson

I have heard the Prophet speak in public on many occasions. In one meeting I heard him say:

"I will give you a key that will never rust,—if you will stay with the majority of the Twelve Apostles, and the records of the Church, you will never be led astray." The history of the Church has proven this to be true. (Young Woman's Journal 17, no. 12 (December 1906): 543.


Although some have argued the point, the majority of the Saints are and always have been in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and there never has been any question or argument about where the records and history of the Church are located. The Lord himself said:


"For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints"

(D&C 115:4, first published in August 1838 in the Elder's Journal, p58)

How could he have made it any plainer?

Elden J. Watson, April 11, 2012.