Ask, and Ye shall Receive

Elden Watson, 12/02

A Review of

“Where Does It Say That?”

by Bob Witte


 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come

 For men shall be . . . despisers of those that are good (2 Timothy 3:1, 3.)


Physical Description

            “Where Does It Say That?” is an 8.5 by 11 inch 88 page booklet, written by Bob Witte. It is strangely formatted with some forty-nine pages printed in a quadrant format in order to accommodate four photo reduced reproductions of pages from other books or documents on each page. The source of each photocopy is identified in the adjacent margin. The inside front cover contains a Table of Contents and on the outside back cover is printed four paragraphs explaining the purpose of the book.

            Interspersed, are also twenty-four pages in double column format of citations which have been simply quoted from other works. In addition, there are six full page photocopies taken from previously marked up photocopies. The back of the volume contains a glossary of Mormon terms (four pages) followed by the index (four pages) each in triple column format.

            Although photocopying one or two pages from a larger document necessarily obliterates any semblance of context, the author further obfuscates by underlining those particular portions of the page to which he wishes to draw the attention of the reader. In section four, Joseph Smith’s King Follett sermon as well as his Plurality of Gods discourse are photocopied in full thus retaining some context, but this does not stop the author from copiously underlining those comments which he seemingly finds particularly offensive. Other than an introductory note to each section, the reproduced pages are generally printed without further comment beyond the underlining. The sequence of both underlining and quotations is designed to provide a negative context for the isolated passages.

            The volume is published by Gospel Truths, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and retails for $6.50. As in previous editions of this booklet, there is no copyright or date of publication. Mr. Witte states that he has intentionally not copyrighted the volume because he has no interest in restricting the use of the material provided.

The Author

            Bob Witte has been involved in writing and publishing anti-Mormon literature since at least 1962. The earliest of his materials which I have located are the forty-two questions which were published as Appendix II in Walter Martin’s Maze of Mormonism. In addition to his “Where Does It Say That?” he has also published an expose of the LDS temple ceremony entitled “What’s Going On In There?” In the preface to that volume Mr. Witte identifies himself as a former Mormon and temple worker and offers the following explanation for his disregard for sacred things:

Even though we know that members of the Mormon church (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Salt Lake City, Utah) will be highly offended at the publication of this work, we do not apologize for doing it. As former Mormons and temple workers who are now born again Christians, we have a great responsibility to the Christian world to let them know with exactness and without fanfare, what transpires inside the Mormon temples. We recognize that this is not the first such "expose," but it is the most current and up-to-date account of the activities of the Mormon temple "endowment." We wish to bring it to the attention of the Christian world so that they may be knowledgeable concerning this, the most sacred of all things to the modern Mormon (see John 18:20). (Witte, Bob, “What’s Going On In There” Exposing of the Secret Mormon Temple Rituals, no publisher, no date, p 1, emphasis in original)

An earlier edition of “Where Does it say That?” closes with the following remarks:

              Finally, I close with a reminder that although this kind of compilation will certainly appear to some as being "anti-"Mormon material, almost every single word quoted comes from the mouths of Mormons claiming to speak for the Lord Jesus Christ. I thus fall in line with the apostles of old to "...earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints..." I do it only because I have been "bought with a price" by Him who is worthy of all honor and glory -- and the false teachings rob the Lord Jesus Christ of His rightful place in our lives!!!

{signed] Bob Witte, Compiler

Spring 1982

Contents and Purpose of the Volume

            Outlined in the Table of Contents are ten major topics which Mr. Witte has selected and which he evidently considers to be the most damning and pejorative things he can find against Mormonism. To this list of ten, he subscribes a category 11 of “Strange Teachings” which contains a potpourri of minor complaints and tidbits, which he assures us he has selected from a much larger list. He concludes with a February 26, 1980 discourse by Elder Ezra Taft Benson entitled “Fourteen Fundamentals of Following the Prophet.” Although published here without comment beyond the usual prolific underlining, he obviously finds it objectionable. Section 13 is a definition of Mormon terms, section 14 is a bibliography and section 15 is an index.

            The table of contents appears as follows:

1. Adam-god Doctrine

2. False Prophecies

3. Changes in LDS “Scriptures”

4. Mormon Godhead Doctrines

5. Individual Blood Atonement

6. First Vision

7. Claims of Mormonism

8. Authority in Mormonism

9. Some Contradictions

10. Polygamy

11. Strange Teachings

12. 14 Fundamentals Speech

13. Definition of Mormon Terms

14. Speakers and Sources Cited

15. Topical and Reference Index

            The purpose of the volume is described on the back cover as follows:

Thus, the whole purpose for the existence of this volume is to make actual photo-copies of these original documents available to everyone. You now have at your fingertips, selected pages from several thousand dollars worth of rare books, pamphlets, diaries and manuscripts as well as companion quotations from many current Mormon sources. Use them well in your search for truth!

            The problem with the avowed purpose of this book is that the pages which are now at our fingertips were carefully selected by a dedicated anti-Mormon, who has intentionally removed each citation from its original context, and then deliberately placed it into a contrived context. All of this was done by someone who not only does not understand the statements himself, but who does not want anyone else to correctly understand them. The actual purpose of the book is to make the LDS faith look as bad as possible.

            Although this book may initially have had some documentary value, the recent proliferation of inexpensive reprints of early Mormon documents has eclipsed any value it may have once had in that regard. The book has no historical, theological, literary or scholastic value which would justify its reprinting at this time, so someone must feel that it is doing at least a reasonable job of filling its intended purpose. Although customarily a review evaluates rather than responds to the book being reviewed, in this instance nothing is more appropriate than correcting mis-information and providing responses.


            None of these quotations are new to anti-Mormon literature, and most if not all of them have been addressed multiple times, still, I believe it would be worthwhile to respond briefly to at least all of the major allegations so those responses will be available in one place for easy reference. Space will obviously preclude responding separately and in detail to each quotation produced by Mr. Witte, but because of the prevalence of some of them in anti-Mormon books and pamphlets, each of the citations in sections 2 and 3, as also 5 through 7 will be individually addressed. Sections 1, 4 and 8 through 11 will each be discussed by section instead of by citation, and since section 12 is merely a reproduction of Elder Benson’s excellent “Fourteen Fundamentals of Following the Prophet ” discourse, no response to it is necessary.


1. Adam-god Doctrine

            This is the old standard primary anti-Mormon propaganda employed by almost everyone who has ever wanted The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to look bad. In my opinion it arises from an unusual but not unreasonable belief of Brigham Young, coupled with an error in reporting made by the stenographer of Brigham Young’s best known discourse on the topic. Brigham Young’s April 9th 1852 discourse relating to Adam-God can be demonstrated to be a faulty transcription of what he actually said by comparison with private journal accounts made by Wilford Woodruff and Samuel Hollister Rogers, both of whom were present when the discourse was delivered. As published in the Journal of Discourses, the questionable segment reads:

              Now hear it, O inhabitants of the earth, Jew and Gentile, Saint and sinner! When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is MICHAEL, the Archangel, the ANCIENT OF DAYS! about whom holy men have written and spoken—HE is our FATHER and our GOD, and the only God with whom WE have to do. Every man upon the earth, professing Christians or non-professing, must hear it, and will know it sooner or later

(Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 1: 51.)

Wilford Woodruff’s synopsis of the same segment is as follows:

When our Father came into the garden, he came with his celestial body and brought one of his wives with him and eat of the fruit of the garden until he could beget a tabernacle. And Adam is Michael, or God, and all the God that we have anything to do with. (Scott G. Kenny, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Midvale, Utah, Signature Books, 1983, 4:129, emphasis added)

Citing only the same portion, the Samuel Hollister Rogers journal reads:

and that Adam helped to make the earth, that he had a Celestial body when he came to the earth, and that he brought his wife or one of his wives with him, and that Eve was also a Celestial being, that they eat of the fruit of the ground until they begat children from the Earth, he said that Adam was the only God that we would have, [Samuel Hollister Rogers Journal (typescript), MS d 1910 CHD; page 145, emphasis added)]

            The portions of the Woodruff and Rogers journal entries emphasized above agree with each other, both expressing a thought which does not appear in the original. But a synopsis account of a discourse may not legitimately contain more information than was in the original discourse. This demonstrates that a segment of the original discourse was somehow omitted in the published version, leaving the published transcription inaccurate at that point. A word count analysis of the shrinkage between Wilford Woodruff’s synopsis and the original account suggests that as many as 50 words may have been omitted from the original. The omitted and questionable portion appears at a critical juncture making it appear that Brigham Young was equating Adam with God. He was not. Both synopsis accounts provide a thought transition from talking about God to talking about Adam which has been lost in the original publication.

            The unusual belief of Brigham Young was that God has a personal name (one of many), and that this name is Adam. When God created man on the earth, he gave the man he created his own name, therefore calling him Adam. In order to unravel Brigham Young’s dark, mysterious and oft abused sayings in speaking of Adam, one need only determine from the context of the sentence whether Brigham is speaking of the first created man, or of the God who created the first man. The unusual nature of this concept has led to some additional reporting problems in a few other places, but in general the resolution is that simple.

            In the introduction to this section (1-1a) Mr. Witte asks: “just who is the God that they worship?” The answer is: We worship God the Eternal Father, in the name of his Son Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Ghost.


2. False Prophecy

            In his section on false prophecy, Bob Witte sets the common trap of citing Deuteronomy 18:20-22 as the one test of a true prophet. If all of an individuals prophecies are fulfilled, he says, then that individual is a true prophet, while if a single prophecy fails, then he must be dismissed as a false prophet (see 2-1). The criterion that fulfillment of prophecy is the sole test of a true prophet has long been dismissed by both Catholic and Protestant Bible scholars for the simple reason that there are so many examples of Bible prophecies made by Bible prophets which were not fulfilled. Kittel’s ten volume Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, which is one of the most renown works of Bible scholarship available, has the following to say on the subject:

Fulfilment or non-fulfilment of the prophecy (1 S. 3:19; 1 K. 8:56; Dt. 18:22; Jer. 28:9: “By fulfilment of the word shall the prophet be known, that the Lord has truly sent him”; and esp. Dt. Is.: 41:21 ff.; 42:9; 44:7 ff.; 44:26; 45:21; 46:10; 48:15 f.; 55:10 f.). The only point is that even in the case of acknowledged messengers of God there may be some oracles that are not fulfilled as well as the many that are. Is. 29:5 f. is right rather than Mt. 3:12. The prophets themselves explain that the Word of Yahweh is not an unalterable decree. The divine rule adjusts itself elastically to the prevailing situation (Is. 28:23 ff.). (Gerhard Kittle, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Translated by Geoffrey W. Bromiley, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1965, 3:575)

            This section contains ten pages documenting what Mr. Witte believes are false prophecies made by former presidents and leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Several of these statements are not prophecies at all, and the ones that are prophecies are not false. There are several concepts about prophecy which are frequently misunderstood and which should be briefly explained. As stated in the paragraph above, the Word of God “is not an unalterable decree. The divine rule adjusts itself elastically to the prevailing situation.” One brief biblical example will suffice to demonstrate this point.

             In 2Kings 20:1-5, the prophet Isaiah came to Hezekiah, King of Judah, and declared the word of the Lord to him:

Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live. (2 Kings 20:1b)

            But Hezekiah did not want to die, and he wept bitterly, turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord for him to alter his decree. The Lord heard Hezekiah’s prayer and before Isaiah had gone out into the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him and Isaiah was instructed:

Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears; behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the Lord. (2 Kings 20:5)

Within just a short period of time the Lord utterly and completely reversed his earlier statement which had been formally delivered by his prophet in his name. Jonah’s prophecy of the destruction of Ninevah is another well known example.

            Another concept: frequently a long period of time passes before the fulfillment of a particular prophecy. If fulfillment of prophecy is considered to be the one sure test of a prophet, and failure of any one prophecy is sufficient to condemn a man as a false prophet, then it would seem consistent that all prophecies must be fulfilled during the lifetime of the prophet, or at least during the lifetime of the individual conducting the test. That this is not the case for some of the biblical prophets is obvious. Isaiah said that the earth should reel to and fro like a drunkard (Isaiah 24:20) yet, after 2700 years, it has not. Zechariah said Christ would come and his feet would touch the mount of Olives and it would split with part of it moving to the north and part of it moving toward the south (Zechariah 14:4). Although it has been more than 2500 years it hasn’t happened. We do not doubt that it will happen, but if we were to use Deuteronomy 18:20-22 as our basis, we would have to throw out both Zechariah and Isaiah as false prophets.

            Note also that misinterpretations of prophetic statements are frequent, and when an observer interprets a prophecy differently than the Lord intended, it is not fitting for the critic to cry “foul”

            Each citation in this section will now be separately examined.

[2-1b,c] JD 2:142-143, Brigham Young - The first two pages in this section contain statements by Brigham Young, one of which has been frequently misrepresented as a prophecy. Brigham Young’s statement is:

When all the other children of Adam have had the privilege of receiving the Priesthood, and of coming into the kingdom of God, and of being redeemed from the four quarters of the earth, and have received their resurrection from the dead, then it will be time enough to remove the curse from Cain and his posterity. (Journal of Discourses 2:143)

            This has been called a prophecy, but it is not. What Brigham Young states here is that if the curse were not removed from Cain and his posterity until after everyone else had received the priesthood and been redeemed and resurrected, that would still be soon enough to suit God’s purposes in the redemption of mankind. Several other statements of Brigham Young on these pages have been underlined, but none of them can remotely be considered prophecies.

[2-1d] JD 4:40, Brigham Young - This is a case of wishful mis-interpretation. The actual statement quoted says:

In the days of Joseph it was considered a great privilege to be permitted to speak to a member of Congress, but twenty-six years will not pass away before the Elders of this Church will be as much thought of as the kings on their thrones. (Journal of Discourses 4:40)

            What Mr. Witte wants this to say is that within 26 years the Elders of the Church will be as highly respected as kings on their thrones, but there is another meaning of “as much thought of,” and that is “as frequently thought of.” The period of 26 years from 1856 brings us to 1882, and the Forty-seventh United States Congress with it’s passage of the Edmunds Tucker Act of 1882. The newspapers of the United States were a hotbed of controversy over Mormonism. Rather than just being permitted to speak to a member of Congress, George Q. Cannon addressed Congress himself. In returning to Washington after 8 days at home, George Q. Cannon stopped at a hotel in Chicago to take a bath.

What! Is this the famous Mr. Cannon of Utah?” asked the clerk.

“I am Mr. Cannon of Utah, whether I am famous or not,” he replied. Being a celebrity was not new to him, but his notoriety had grown in the wake of the huge newspaper publicity of 1882. “There was a great deal of curiosity among the people in the hotel to see me,” he wrote, “and this has been the case during the entire trip.” (Davis Bitton, George Q. Cannon, A Biography, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1999, p 260)

            Because of the huge newspaper publicity, the Mormon Elders were certainly more frequently thought of than Kings on their thrones, and perhaps by many as highly regarded.

[2-2a] JD 5:219, Heber C. Kimball - In this prophecy, Heber C. Kimball predicts that

              The Church and kingdom to which we belong will become the kingdom of our God and his Christ, and brother Brigham Young will become President of the United States. (Journal of Discourses 5:219)

            This is a rather formidable statement, with Brigham Young having passed away and all, but in trying to understand the prophecy we note that “the kingdom of our God and his Christ” has a specific meaning in LDS theology.

              We are in the Church of the living God. It is the beginning of that kingdom that is to come. Spiritually it is the Kingdom of God, and by and by all things predicted concerning God's government on the earth will be fulfilled, when all nations shall bow in obedience to Him, when they shall cease their wars, and turn their spears into pruning hooks and their swords into plow-shares, (using the figurative expressions of ancient writers), when all this will be fulfilled and the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our God and His Christ, and He shall rule and reign in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients, gloriously, as the prophets predicted. (President Charles W. Penrose., Conference Report, April 1912, p 18)

            This church will not become a part of “the kingdom of our God and his Christ” until Christ’s second coming. This prophecy was intended to be fulfilled not during Brigham Young’s lifetime, but after his resurrection and while Christ is reigning personally upon the earth. It cannot be termed a false prophecy until after Christ’s millennial reign. We will have to wait and see, but of Mr. Witte’s collection in this section on prophecies, this is to me the most likely to remain unfulfilled.

[2-2b,c] JD 7:290-291; 10:250, Brigham Young - In these pages Brigham Young is quoted as saying that the black races are descended from Cain, and they cannot receive the blessings of the priesthood until “all the other descendants of Adam have received the blessings.” Mr. Witte wants these statements to apply individually and not collectively. That is, he wants the prophecy to mean that no black man can hold any priesthood until every last individual of all other races have received their priesthood blessings. That is not what Brigham Young had in mind. Brigham Young’s intent here was that the black race collectively would not be offered the priesthood until people of all other races had been offered the priesthood. This interpretation cannot be demonstrated from the selected quotes Mr. Witte has provided here, so let me quote another statement by Brigham Young which clarifies his position on the subject:

Now then in the kingdom of God on the earth, a man who has the African blood in him cannot hold one jot nor tittle of priesthood: Why? because they are the true eternal principles the Lord Almighty has ordained, and who can help it, men cannot, the angels cannot, and all the powers of earth and hell cannot take it off, but thus saith the Eternal I am, what I am, I take it off at my pleasure, and not one particle of power can that posterity of Cain have, until the time comes that says he will have it taken away. That time will come when they will have the privilege of all we have the privilege of and more. (Elden J.Watson, Brigham Young Addresses, a Chronological Compilation of Known Addresses of the Prophet Brigham Young, Salt Lake City, Utah, [6 volumes, 1979-1984,] Volume 2, January 5, 1852, p 10)

            Prior to the atonement of Jesus Christ, only the House of Israel, or the descendants of Abraham were allowed to participate in the priesthood blessings of the gospel. After the resurrection of the Savior, Peter was given a revelation expanding those priesthood blessings to the Gentile nations, (Acts 15:7-9) but the heathen nations were still excluded. Brigham Young predicts here a momentous time when all restrictions would finally be removed and the blessings of the gospel would be available to everyone. Brigham also explained in general terms when that time would be. In this quotation, consider the people who are “raised up,” to be the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

That slavery will continue, until there is a people raised up upon the face of the earth who will contend for righteous principles, who will not only believe in but operate, with every power and faculty given to them to help to establish the kingdom of God, to overcome the devil, and drive him from the earth, then will this curse be removed. (Ibid., p 9)

In July of 1860, Brigham Young disclosed even more closely when that time would be:

Children are now born who will live until every son of Adam will have the privilege of receiving the principles of eternal life. (Journal of Discourses 8:116)

            The culmination of that promise was granted in June of 1978 with President Spencer W. Kimball’s revelation allowing every worthy male member of the church to hold the priesthood.

[2-2d] JD 10:250, Brigham Young - This prophecy by Brigham Young states that the black man will continue to be a servant of servants until the Lord removes the curse. This remarkable statement was slowly fulfilled through the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s resulting in the blacks legally achieving equal status with everyone else. Being no longer a “servant of servants,” the Lord revealed through President Kimball that they were now to be allowed to hold the priesthood, effectively demonstrating that the Lord has removed the curse.

[2-3a] JD 10:344, George Q. Cannon - This statement by George Q. Cannon is not a prophecy. Rather, it is an interpretation of a prophecy, and his interpretation was not correct. This subject will be discussed in more detail when Mr. Witte brings up the actual prophecy instead of an interpretation of it.

[2-3b] JD 11:269, Brigham Young - The following statement by Brigham Young does not say what Mr. Witte wants it to say, and because it does not, it is not a false prophecy.

              Do you think that we shall ever be admitted as a State into the Union without denying the principle of polygamy? If we are not admitted until then, we shall never be admitted. (Journal of Discourses 11:269)

            Utah was admitted into the Union without denying the principle of polygamy. The people were only required to give up the practice of polygamy. See a similar statement by Heber C. Kimball at 2-6d.

[2-3c] JD 13:138, Orson Pratt - On this page, Orson Pratt testifies that the Lord will lead the Saints back to Jackson County Missouri. This is a common teaching of the Church and anticipation of this event can still be found in manuals, lessons and teachings throughout the Church.

[2-3d] JD 13:362; 17:111, Orson Pratt - Again Orson Pratt teaches that the saints will be led back to Jackson County, Missouri, but this time he expresses his understanding that it will happen before the generation who lived in 1832 pass away. These are again interpretations of the same prophesy which George Q. Cannon interpreted similarly above. This interpretation was common prior to the 1930s and as I said above, was wrong. We will again defer the discussion until the actual prophecy is addressed.

[2-4a] HC 1:174, Lyman Wight - This quote is taken from a footnote by B. H. Roberts which was added to History of the Church by way of commentary. The prophecy being cited was made by Lyman Wight as recorded by John Whitmer, and because both of them apostatized from the Church, I don’t see any necessity of defending the prophecy.

[2-4b] HC 1:315, Joseph Smith - The next quote is a prophecy written by Joseph Smith in a letter to a Mr. Seaton.

              And now I am prepared to say by the authority of Jesus Christ, that not many years shall pass away before the United States shall present such a scene of bloodshed as has not a parallel in the history of our nation; pestilence, hail, famine, and earthquake will sweep the wicked of this generation from off the face of the land, to open and prepare the way for the return of the lost tribes of Israel from the north country. The people of the Lord, those who have complied with the requirements of the new covenant, have already commenced gathering together to Zion, which is in the state of Missouri; therefore I declare unto you the warning which the Lord has commanded to declare unto this generation, remembering that the eyes of my Maker are upon me, and that to him I am accountable for every word I say. (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1932-1951], 1:315)

            In 1953 Elder Joseph Fielding Smith wrote a discussion of this prophecy in a Melchizedek priesthood manual.

We who are living in this day, one hundred years later, must not feel that the prophecies here given will not be fulfilled. We are that much nearer to the end than were our fathers. moreover, we have seen much of these predictions fulfilled. The time came when bloodshed and war swept the united States as the Prophet predicted. It came in the great Civil War, which, according to the revelation, was the beginning of the end, out of which would come the great world struggle which eventually would bring to an end all nations. We discover from the declaration by the Prophet to the people of the world, that the cleansing of the earth of much of its iniquity, by blood, fire, earthquake, pestilence and the display of angry elements, was to assist in preparing the way for the return of the lost tribes of Israel. We should not be confused. the call for the gathering of scattered Israel had been proclaimed three years earlier, and the missionaries had been hard at work gathering into the fold those of Israel who had scattered themselves among the Gentiles. The great day of the coming of the lost tribes would be after the preparatory work had been accomplished in the destruction of wickedness in very great measure, and the way prepared in part for the coming of the lord also and the building of his Holy City and Temple. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 2 vols. [Salt Lake City: The Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1953], 1:377-378)

            Elder Smith points out that this prophecy is not of a single event. Rather, it begins with bloodshed and war sweeping the United States and then the pestilence, hail, famine, and earthquake are subsequent events which will take place over a period of time. This prophecy is in process of fulfilment.

[2-4d] HC 1:323, Joseph Smith Sr. - Joseph Smith’s father gave him a blessing in which he declared that Joseph would continue in the Priest’s office until Christ comes. Since this was stated in January of 1833 and Joseph was already a High Priest and President of the High Priesthood at that time, this can not refer to the church office of a priest, but must refer to his continuing to function in the ecclesiastical office until Christ comes. This he did and continues to do.

[2-5a] HC 3:171, Joseph Smith - This citation has nothing to do with any prophecy, but only with Joseph’s comments that David W. Patten was “one of the Twelve Apostles, and died as he lived, a man of God.” The statement is undoubtedly meant to be considered in connection with D&C 114, which will be brought up later, and will be discussed at that point.

[2-5b] HC 2:182, Joseph Smith - Here is the oft cited Feb 14, 1835 statement by Joseph Smith, that those who went to Zion

should be ordained to the ministry, and go forth to prune the vineyard for the last time, or the coming of the Lord, which was nigh–even fifty six years should wind up the scene. (Smith, History of the Church 2:182)

            I first point out that this is not a prophecy, the word “should” being anything but definite. Still, it does indicate that at this time the Prophet Joseph felt that the second coming of the Lord would be in fifty-six years. To understand this statement one needs only read Joseph’s explanation found in D&C 130:14-17

              I was once praying very earnestly to know the time of the coming of the Son of Man, when I heard a voice repeat the following: Joseph, my son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years old, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man; therefore let this suffice, and trouble me no more on this matter. I was left thus, without being able to decide whether this coming referred to the beginning of the millennium or to some previous appearing, or whether I should die and thus see his face. I believe the coming of the Son of Man will not be any sooner than that time. (Doctrine and Covenants, 130:14-17)

            Fifty-six years from February 14, 1835 would bring us to 1891, and in February of 1891 Joseph Smith would have been eighty-five years old. Prior to 1891 this statement led many Latter-day Saints to believe that the Second Coming would be in that year. When the year 1891 came and went, it became obvious that this was an incorrect interpretation of the statement, the correct interpretation being the last alternative which Joseph Smith mentioned, that he would die before that time and thus see the Lord’s face.

[2-5c] HC 2:145, Joseph Smith - The following statement is extracted and underlined from Joseph Smith’s letter to Lyman Wight, Edward Partridge, John Corrill, Isaac Morley, and others of the High Council of Zion,

              But in case the excitement continues to be allayed, and peace prevails, use every effort to prevail on the churches to gather to those regions and locate themselves, to be in readiness to move into Jackson county in two years from the eleventh of September next, which is the appointed time for the redemption of Zion. (Smith, History of the Church 2:145)

            Mr. Witte neglects to underline either the immediately following paragraphs, or the last portion of the statement which is not even included on the photocopied page, which turn this from a “false prophecy” into one that was fulfilled:

If—verily I say unto you—if the Church with one united effort perform their duties; if they do this, the work shall be complete—if they do not this in all humility, making preparation from this time forth, like Joseph in Egypt, laying up store against the time of famine, every man having his tent, his horses, his chariots, his armory, his cattle, his family, and his whole substance in readiness against the time when it shall be said: 'To your tents, O Israel! Let not this be noised abroad; let every heart beat in silence, and every mouth be shut.

Now, my beloved brethren, you will learn by this we have a great work to do, and but little time to do it in; and if we do not exert ourselves to the utmost in gathering up the strength of the Lord's house that this thing may be accomplished, behold there remaineth a scourge for the Church, even that they shall be driven from city to city, and but few shall remain to receive an inheritance; if those things are not kept, there remaineth a scourge also; therefore, be wise this once, O ye children of Zion! and give heed to my counsel, saith the Lord. (Smith, History of the Church 2:145-6)

            Although the eleventh of September 1836 was the date set for the redemption of Zion, the Saints were not ready, and as a consequence they were driven from city to city precisely as predicted.

[2-5d] HC 5:394, Joseph Smith - This is a legitimate prophecy made by the Prophet Joseph Smith on May 18, 1843 to Judge Stephen A. Douglas.

I prophesy in the name of the Lord God of Israel, unless the United States redress the wrongs committed upon the Saints in the state of Missouri and punish the crimes committed by her officers that in a few years the government will be utterly overthrown and wasted, and there will not be so much as a potsherd left. (Smith, History of the Church 5:394)

            This prophecy was conditional, but the United States did not redress the wrongs committed upon the Saints nor did they punish the crimes committed by Missouri’s officers so the conditions were not met and therefore the prophecy is in full force.

            A subsequent and similar, but even stronger prophecy of the same nature was made by Joseph Smith on December 16, 1843 before the Nauvoo city council:

I prophecy by virtue of the Holy Priesthood vested in me in the name of Jesus Christ that if Congress will not hear our petition and grant us protection they shall be broken up as a government and God shall damn them. There shall nothing be left of them, not even a grease spot.” (Scott H. Faulring ed., An American Prophet’s Record, The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith, [Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1987] p 432. All but the last five words are quoted in Smith, History of the Church 6:116)

            These prophecies certainly do not predict the demise of the United States itself, but of the government, the presidency and those in national political power at the time - those who could have granted the Latter-day Saints protection and who could have punished the crimes committed against them, but did not.

            The President of the United States at the time these prophecies were made was John Tyler. Although formerly a Democrat, Mr. Tyler had been elected on the Whig ticket as vice president in 1840 with William Henry Harrison elected as president. General Harrison, however, only lived for one month and upon his death John Tyler became president. The Whig party also dominated both Congress and the Senate in 1843. The Whig party totally disintegrated after the presidential election of 1856, so within 13 years of the above prophecies the dominating political party was “utterly overthrown and wasted,” with not even a potsherd left, “not even a grease spot.”

            There was another prophecy made by Joseph Smith in the same meeting as the one Mr. Witte quoted. Perhaps the reason he did not underline that portion was because of it’s well known and remarkable fulfilment. The above prophecy continues:

. . . Judge, you will aspire to the presidency of the united States; and if ever you turn your hand against me or the Latter-day Saints, you will feel the weight of the hand of the Almighty upon you; and you will live to see and know that I have testified the truth to you; for the conversation of this day will stick to you through life. (Smith, History of the Church 5:394)

            Judge Douglas did turn his hand against the Latter-day Saints in a public speech against the church delivered on June 12, 1857, and later he did aspire to the presidency of the United States, receiving his nomination from the Democratic party which at the time was the dominant party in national politics. Factions within the party forced him to run against J. C. Brekenridge, another Democrat, as well his Republican opponent and as a result the little known Abraham Lincoln won the election. For more detailed information see Duane S. Crowther, The Prophecies of Joseph Smith, Bookcraft, Salt Lake City, 1963, pp 336-8.

[2-6a] HC 6:58, Joseph Smith - There are two separate prophecies which Mr. Witte has underlined on this page. The first prophecy states

I prophesy, in the name of the Lord God of Israel, anguish and wrath and tribulation and the withdrawing of the Spirit of God from the earth await this generation, until they are visited with utter desolation. This generation is as corrupt as the generation of the Jews that crucified Christ; and if He were here to-day, and should preach the same doctrine He did then, they would put Him to death. (Smith, History of the Church 6:58)

            I note that Mr. Witte did not underline the last sentence of the above statement. I believe the anguish, wrath, tribulation and increase in wickedness which this nation has experienced since this prophecy is sufficient to indicate its progress. The utter desolation they will experience will not happen until they have ripened in iniquity and have become as Sodom and Gomorrah, and if they repent and turn to the Lord it will not happen at all as was the case with Ninevah.

            The next prophecy which continues from the above statement is as follows:

I defy all the world to destroy the work of God; and I prophesy they never will have power to kill me till my work is accomplished, and I am ready to die. (Smith, History of the Church 6:58)

Regarding this topic, President Brigham Young said:

The Lord has never let a prophet fall on the earth until he had accomplished his work: and the Lord did not take Joseph until he had finished his work, and it is the greatest blessing to Joseph and Hyrum God could bestow to take them away, for they had suffered enough. (Smith, History of the Church 7:302)

[2-6b] David Whitmer, An address to All Believers in Christ - Here, Mr. Witte photocopies page 31 of David Whitmer’s “An Address to All Believers in Christ.” The underlined portions are as follows:

Brother Hyrum said it had been suggested to him that some of the brethren might go to Toronto, Canada, and sell the copy-right of the book of Mormon for considerable money; and he persuaded Joseph to inquire of the Lord about it. Joseph concluded to do so. He had not yet given up the stone. Joseph looked into the hat in which he placed the stone, and received a revelation that some of the brethren should go to Toronto, Canada, and that they would sell the copy-right of the Book of Mormon. Hyrum Page and Oliver Cowdery went to Toronto on this mission, but they failed entirely to sell the copy-right, returning without any money. . . . Well, we were all in great trouble; . . . Joseph did not know how it was, so he enquired of the Lord about it, and behold the following revelation came through the stone: “Some revelations are of God; some revelations are of man; and some revelations are of the devil.” (David Whitmer, “An Address to All Believers in Christ,” Richmond Missouri, 1887, p 31}

            Two major problems exist with this statement: First, it was written in 1887, some fifty-seven years after the event. Second, David Whitmer was not one of the participants in the event, so any information he had about what happened is second hand. We do, however, have available, a first hand account. In a letter written to William McLellan only fourteen years after the event, Hyrum Page who was one of those who went to Kingston (not Toronto, which was 150 miles away) to sell the copyright, supplied additional information.

Joseph heard that there was a chance to sell a copy right in Canada for any useful book that was used in the States. Joseph thought this would be a good opportunity to get a hand on a sum of money which was to be (after the expenses were taken out) for the exclusive benefit of the Smith family and was to be at the disposal of Joseph. Accordingly Oliver Cowdery, Joseph Knight, Hiram Page and Joseph Stoel were chosen (as I understand by revelation) to do the business; we were living from 30 to 100 miles apart. The necessary preparation was made (by them) in a sly manner so as to keep Martin Harris from drawing a share of the money. It was told me we were to go by revelation, but when we had assembled at Father Smiths, there was no revelation for us to go, but we were all anxious to get a revelation to go; and when it came we were to go to Kingston where we were to sell if they would not harden their hearts; but when we got there, there was no purchaser, neither were they authorized at Kingston to [purchase] but rights for the Provence; but little York was the place where such business had to be done. We were to get 8,000 dollars. We were treated with the best of respect by all we met with in Kingston - by the above we may learn how a revelation may be received and the person receiving it not be benefitted. (Letter, Hiram Page to William McLellan, Fishingriver, Feb. 2, 1848. Original in the Office of Church Historian, Community of Christ, Independence, MO. Typescript in possession of Bruce G. Stewart, spelling and punctuation corrected).

            In this first hand account, Hiram Page clarifies that the revelation was conditional, instructing them to sell the copyright to the Book of Mormon “if they would not harden their hearts.” This incident has been examined by Richard Lloyd Anderson, professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University. See Ensign, April 1987, pages 23-25.

            The remainder of the Whitmer statement is also of interest, because it indicates that Joseph himself may have fully anticipated the sale of the Book of Mormon Copyright in Canada. This is another in a lifelong sequence of learning experiences for the Prophet Joseph, and appears to be an instance in which even he did not understand fully the implications of the revelation. On more than one occasion the Lord allowed Joseph to seek for financial gain, but never allowed the culmination to any significant degree. Despite Joseph’s frugality and his many accomplishments and positions he never became a wealthy man.

[2-6c] T&S 6:956, Brigham Young - This is yet another interpretation of D&C 84 which will be discussed below.

[2-6d] MS 28:190, Jan 28, 1866, Heber C. Kimball - This was discussed above with 2-3b.

Plurality is a law which God established for his elect before the world was formed, for a continuation of seeds forever. It would be as easy for the United States to build a tower to remove the sun, as to remove polygamy, or the Church and kingdom of God. Give yourselves no trouble, for the Lord has said he will fight our battles, and will defend the kingdom or his own work. (2-6d; Latter-day Saints Millennial Star, 28:190)

            The doctrine of plurality has not been removed. The practice of having more than one living wife at the same time has been removed. If a man marries a wife and she dies, then he is free to marry again. In the resurrection we will find he is still married to both wives, which constitutes a plurality. That having been said, it should be noted that the prophecy itself states only that the United States will not be able to remove polygamy, which it has indeed not been able to do as thousands of polygamist would be willing to testify.

[2-7 top] Blessing of Joseph Smith III (forgery by Mark Hoffman)

            This is an interesting document and is made more interesting by the modifications which Mr. Witte has incorporated through various editions of his booklet. In the third edition of “Where Does It Say That?” Mr. Witte published a photo reproduction at the top of the page and then produced a transcription below the photo copy to make it more readable. In addition he added the following note:

"Of particular note is the prophecy (in the name of the Lord) that Joseph uttered over his own son regarding the succession to the LDS presidency. Both the MSS and a typed copy of the "blessing" throw you especially when you consider just how "iron clad" the blessings pronounced in the Old Testament turned out to be!!" (p 2-7)

            In other words, Mr. Witte initially accepted the forgery as being genuine and complained that it was an unfulfilled prophecy. In a subsequent edition Mr. Witte added the following notice in the margin:


Several years ago, the MSS was accepted by the LDS church authorities as a genuine artifact. However, it has recently been called into question as a possible forgery even though it previously passed severe scrutiny by a number of experts. (p 2-7)

            I have been unable to find any evidence that any LDS church authorities ever accepted this blessing as a genuine artifact. In an even later edition, Mr. Witte changed the title of this document

            from: Joseph Smith handwritten MSS of the blessing of Joseph Smith III Jan 17, 1844.

            to:       Mark Hoffman Joseph Smith III MSS Forgery

He also replaced the transcription of the blessing with the following statement:

Editor's Note::

The above "Manuscript" is an example of one of the forgeries foisted upon the world of Mormonism by Mark Hoffman. It is important because it was the "discovery" which brought Hoffman into the Mormon limelight and also significant because it was greeted by ready acceptance from the then Prophet, Seer and Revelator as being a genuine artifact. It is included in this collection for the latter reason.

The Hoffman forgeries (including the "Salamander Letter" and others) are only the most recent episodes in a long history of Mormon forgeries. Even Joseph Smith was taken in by the famous Kinderhook Plates forgery.

If the Mormon Prophet cannot discern that a document of such import was not genuine, then truly he is a "Prophet who does not prophesy; a Seer who cannot see; and a Revelator who is unable to reveal." (p 2-7)

            Mr. Witte states that the blessing is included in this collection because the forgery was accepted as genuine by the prophet. However, there is no indication that either President Spencer W. Kimball who was the prophet of the church at the time, or Elder Gordon B. Hinckley who met with Mark Hoffman regarding the document, ever stated that this blessing was genuine. Mr. Witte neglects to mention that he believed it to be genuine himself and that he included it in his collection before he ever decided that the prophet was deceived in his acceptance of it. He speaks of a “long history of Mormon forgeries” mentioning the Salamander Letter and the Kinderhook Plates forgery, neglecting to point out that these forgeries were foisted on the LDS Church, not by the LDS Church. He then accuses the Prophet of not being able to discern that the document was a forgery. Mr. Witte considers this document “of such import” that God must surely tell the prophet that it was not genuine. God, on the other hand, knew that the document was so trivial and unimportant as to ignore it completely.

            This ends the photographic reproduction portion of section 2. For the remainder of the section the items are just typewritten copies of citations. The brash underlining is also replaced by more pleasant italics.

[page 2-7] D&C 84:4-5, 31, Joseph Smith - Here at last is the actual revelation containing the prophecy that a temple would be built “in this generation.” Mr. Witte cites only verses 4, 5 and 31, while I include verses 2 and 3 for purposes of explanation:

2 Yea, the word of the Lord concerning his church, established in the last days for the restoration of his people, as he has spoken by the mouth of his prophets, and for the gathering of his saints to stand upon Mount Zion, which shall be the city of New Jerusalem.

3 Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun., and others with whom the Lord was well pleased.

4 Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation.

5 For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house.

. . .

31 Therefore, as I said concerning the sons of Moses–for the sons of Moses and also the sons of Aaron shall offer an acceptable offering and sacrifice in the house of the Lord, which house shall be built unto the Lord in this generation, upon the consecrated spot as I have appointed. (Doctrine and Covenants 84:2-5, 31)

            On page 2-3a Mr. Witte cited George Q. Cannon’s interpretation of these verses as follows:

              The day is near when a Temple shall be reared in the Center Stake of Zion, and the Lord has said his glory shall rest on that House in this generation, that is in the generation in which the revelation was given, which is upwards of thirty years ago. (Journal of discourses 10:244)

            Similarly Orson Pratt’s interpretation was cited on page 2-3d:

God promised in the year 1832 that we should, before the generation then living had passed away, return and build up the City of Zion in Jackson County; . . . We believe in these promises as much as we believe in any promise every uttered by the mouth of Jehovah. The Latter-day Saints just as much expect to receive a fulfilment of that promise during the generation that was in existence in 1832 as they expect that the sun will rise and set to-morrow. Why? Because God cannot lie. He will fulfil all His promises. He has spoken, it must come to pass. (Journal of Discourses 13:362)

            And Brigham Young’s interpretation on page 2-6c:

              And when we get into Jackson county to walk in the courts of that house, we can say we built this temple for as the Lord lives we will build up Jackson county in this generation, (cries of amen,). (Times and Seasons, 6:956)

            One hundred seventy years have now passed away since the revelation was given, and the temple in Jackson county Missouri has not yet been built. I dare say that the three interpretations cited above were incorrect. And I hasten to add that these were not isolated interpretations, but this belief was common among nearly all of the Latter-day Saints during the late 1800's. In the early 1900's the general interpretation was modified to say that “this generation” could be interpreted to mean that as long as anyone was still living who was alive when the revelation was given, “this generation” had not passed away. After 170 years, even that interpretation has been shown wrong. It has been replaced by a new interpretation in the minds of some, who now say that by “this generation” the Lord must mean this dispensation of the Gospel, which could allow the fulfilment of this prophecy to extend up until the second coming of Christ. This may be a legitimate interpretation, but in my mind is not very satisfying. May I propose an alternative.

            A close examination will allow us to separate between two different portions of the revelation. It begins by saying in verses 2 and 3 that the city of New Jerusalem will be built in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, beginning at the temple lot, which was appointed by the finger of the Lord and dedicated by Joseph Smith Jun. and others. Verses 4 and 5, which contain the actual prophecy are the problematic verses, and they begin a new thought. As published in the Book of Commandments, they begin a new paragraph:

4 Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation.

5 For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house. (Doctrine and Covenants 84:5.)

            I point out that the place of the temple spoken of in verse 4 is “this place.” Verse 31 only says “upon the consecrated spot.” The location of “this place” has been confusing because the first two verses of the revelation spoke of the New Jerusalem and the temple which will be built in Jackson county as well as the temple lot which was dedicated there. Now the revelation shifts by saying that the New Jerusalem spoken of will be begun by the gathering of the saints at “this place, even the place of the temple.” I suggest that “this place” has reference to the geographical location of Joseph Smith when the revelation was received. And where was he? He was in Kirtland, Ohio. This would suggest the possibility that the temple which “shall be reared in this generation” was the Kirtland temple. If the Lord had intended to mean that the temple would be built in Jackson county Mo., he would more appropriately have said “at that place,” because Joseph was in Kirtland, not in Missouri.

            That the temple was to be built by the “gathering of the saints, beginning at this place,” also points to Kirtland as that was the specified location where the gathering of the saints began. As early as January 1831 the Lord had commanded the saints to gather to the Ohio at which place they would receive an endowment from on high.

31 And that ye might escape the power of the enemy, and be gathered unto me a righteous people, without spot and blameless—

32 Wherefore, for this cause I gave unto you the commandment that ye should go to the Ohio; and there I will give unto you my law; and there you shall be endowed with power from on high; (Doctrine and Covenants 38:31-32.)

            And did the Kirtland temple fulfil the rest of the requirements? The revelation goes on to say that “an house” shall be built and “a cloud” will rest upon it, and the glory of the Lord will “fill the house.”

            Oliver Cowdery testified of that cloud which was the glory of the Lord as recorded in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism:

              Oliver's Church career peaked from 1834 to 1836. Minutes and letters picture him as a highly effective preacher, writer, and administrator. His 1836 journal survives, showing his devotion to religion and family, his political activities, his study of Hebrew, and the spiritual power he shared at the completion of the Kirtland Temple. Cowdery's last entry in this journal, penned the day of the temple dedication, says of the evening meeting: "I saw the glory of God, like a great cloud, come down and rest upon the house…. I also saw cloven tongues like as of fire rest upon many…while they spake with other tongues and prophesied" (Arrington, p. 426). (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1-4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 1:338)

            It should be noted that when the Kirtland temple was dedicated in 1836, the Lord appeared personally in that temple and accepted it.

7 For behold, I have accepted this house, and my name shall be here; and I will manifest myself to my people in mercy in this house. (Doctrine and Covenants 110:7.)

            In this same section Mr. Witte also cites D&C 97:18-20 and D&C 101:16-21, but these only specify that Zion shall not be removed out of her place, which is correct, she will not be moved out of her place.

[2-8 col 1] D&C 111:1-11, Joseph Smith - Mr. Witte cites the first eleven verses of D&C 111 inferring that they contain a prophecy which was not fulfilled. To the contrary I note the following:

              A man by the name of Burgess had told them he could locate a "hidden treasure" in Salem, but was unable to fulfill his promise. While in Salem, the Lord revealed to the Prophet that "there are more treasures than one for you in this city" (D&C 111:10; emphasis added).

These additional "treasures" had specific reference to the precious souls of the inhabitants of that city. However, the Lord indicated that he would gather them "in due time for the benefit of Zion" (D&C 111:2). It is interesting to note that while Joseph Smith's initial visit to Salem was unsuccessful in gathering either temporal or spiritual treasures, the promise of the Lord was at least partially fulfilled several years later. In 1843 the Prophet told Erastus Snow that he felt the "due time" of the Lord had arrived and sent Elder Snow to Salem. During the next several years he was able to baptize over one hundred people in that historic town. (Erastus Snow Journal [1841-1847], pp. 3-5.) (Hoyt W. Brewster, Jr., Doctrine and Covenants Encyclopedia [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 603.)

            For a detailed discussion of this Salem prophecy see Kenneth W. Godfrey, "More Treasures Than One: Section 111" in Hearken, O Ye People: Discourses on the Doctrine and Covenants (Salt Lake City: Randall Book Co., 1984), which contains the following statement:

              It would perhaps be interesting to know how many other converts who called Salem home came into the church since 1842. It is probable that if one were to count the tithing, fast offerings, and other contributions they and their descendants have paid to the Church the last one hundred and forty-three years, that one could truthfully say that “in due time” their gold and their silver was indeed the Church’s and the figure they contributed would probably be worth far more than the gold that might have been found in a pirate chest. (Hearken, O Ye People, Discourses on the Doctrine and Covenants, Sidney B. Sperry Symposium, volume 12, Randall Book, Sandy, Utah, 1984; Kenneth W.Godfrey, “More Treasures Than One: Section 111,” pp 199-200).

            There is here one striking similarity with Joseph’s attempt to sell the copyright to the Book of Mormon in Canada. This is another instance in which the Lord allowed Joseph Smith to seek for wealth, but not to find it.

[2-8 col 1] D&C 114:1-2, Joseph Smith - In this section of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord tells David W. Patten that it would be wise for him to settle up all his business quickly because the Lord has a mission for him to perform in the spring with the twelve. On page 2-5a Mr. Witte included a quote from History of the Church which we deferred responding to until this section. Joseph Smith wrote:

              I saw Captain Patten in a most distressing condition. His wound was incurable.

Brother David Patten was a very worthy man, beloved by all good men who knew him. He was one of the Twelve Apostles, and died as he had lived, a man of God. (Smith, History of the Church 3:171)

            The question is, why would the Lord say he was going to serve a mission with the twelve, when he would have known that David Patten would die before the time for the mission came?

            The answer is that David W. Patten did go on his mission with the majority of the apostles when they went on their mission to England the next spring. While the twelve were in England a sister Ann Booth, wife of Robert Booth, both of Manchester England had a vision on the 12th of March, 1840. The vision was of such interest to Wilford Woodruff that he recorded it in his journal.

Being carried away in a vision to the place of departed souls I saw 12 prisons one above another, very large and built of solid stone. On arriving at the door of the uppermost prison, I beheld one of the 12 apostles of the Lamb who had been martyred in America standing at the door of the prison holding a key with which he unlocked the door and went in and I followed him. . . . On the right hand near the door stood John Wesley who on seeing the glorious personage raised both hands and shouted Glory, honor, praise and power be ascribed unto God and the Lamb forever and forever. Deliverance has come. The apostle then commenced to preach the baptism of repentance for remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, when the hundreds of prisoners gave a shout with a loud voice saying, Glory be to God forever and forever. (Kenney, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 1:475-476, spelling corrected)

            Ann Booth continued to observe as many, including several of her own family, her grandfather, uncle, sister and her mother, all of whom had died Methodist, accepted and received the gospel. She states that at the time she had this vision she had never heard of David W. Patten, she only knew that it was an apostle who had died in America. It is interesting that Ann Booth had this vision at about the same time that the Prophet Joseph Smith first introduced the concept of salvation for the dead.

7 Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7.)

            Many years later, In a personal revelation to Wilford Woodruff after the death of his own son, the Lord revealed to him that for the salvation of the dead it is important to have workers on both sides of the veil. (See Franklin D. Richards discourse of Feb 12, 1893 found in Brian H. Stuy, Collected Discourses, B.H.S. Publishing, Burbank, California, 5 volumes, 3:231-232). What better advice could the Lord have given David Patten than to speedily settle up all of his affairs?

[2-8 cols 1-2] D&C 115: 7-12, Joseph Smith - Like so many of the other statements collected in section 2, this is not a prophecy. It is, however, a commandment, and we should look to see why this commandment has not yet been complied with.

7 Let the city, Far West, be a holy and consecrated land unto me; and it shall be called most holy, for the ground upon which thou standest is holy.

8 Therefore, I command you to build a house unto me, for the gathering together of my saints, that they may worship me.

9 And let there be a beginning of this work, and a foundation, and a preparatory work, this following summer;

10 And let the beginning be made on the fourth day of July next; and from that time forth let my people labor diligently to build a house unto my name;

11 And in one year from this day let them re-commence laying the foundation of my house.

12 Thus let them from that time forth labor diligently until it shall be finished, from the corner stone thereof unto the top thereof, until there shall not anything remain that is not finished. (Doctrine and Covenants 115:7-12.)

On July 4th, 1838 the labor began on the temple as commanded.

The corner stones of the Temple were laid on the 4th of July, 1838. The excavation, one historian says, 120 by 80 feet in area, and 5 feet in depth was completed in half a day, more than 500 men being employed in the work. Little else was done, however, for the storm of persecution broke loose in all its fury, and the Saints at that place went into exile again. (Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl, Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, Revised Edition, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1962, p 742)

            Verses 14 and 15 of the same revelation require that the temple be built according to the pattern which the Lord will show unto the presidency of the church.

14 But let a house be built unto my name according to the pattern which I will show unto them.

15 And if my people build it not according to the pattern which I shall show unto their presidency, I will not accept it at their hands. (Doctrine and Covenants 115:14-15.)

            Because of the press of persecution, the presidency were never shown the pattern of the Far West temple. A temple at Far West which will be acceptable to the Lord cannot be built until he reveals the pattern of it to the presidency.

[2-8 col 2] D&C 117:12-15, Joseph Smith - It is unclear to me what Mr. Witte’s objection to these verses is. As recorded by him, the verses state (italics by Mr. Witte):

12. And again, I say unto you, I remember my servant Oliver Granger; behold, verily I say unto him that his name shall be had in sacred remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever, saith the Lord.

13. Therefore, let him contend earnestly for the redemption of the First Presidency of my Church, saith the Lord; and when he falls he shall rise again, for his sacrifice shall be more sacred unto me than his increase, saith the Lord.

14. Therefore, let him come up hither speedily, unto the land of Zion; and in the due time he shall be made a merchant unto my name, saith the Lord, for the benefit of my people.

15. Therefore let no man despise my servant Oliver Granger, but let the blessings of my people be on him forever and ever. (Doctrine and Covenants 117:12-15.)

Elder Joseph Fielding Smith says of him:

              Oliver Granger, who had remained faithful, was commended by the Lord and also commanded to move to Far West. The Lord promised that his name should be had in "sacred remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever, saith the Lord." Oliver Granger came as he was commanded, and fulfilled, his mission as a merchant in that place. In May, 1839, he was appointed to return to Kirtland and take charge of the temple and church property. He died while in this service, September 23, 1841. ( Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation,2:98)

            The promise that his name should be had in sacred remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever is fulfilled by these very verses being included in the Doctrine and Covenants.

[2-8 col 2] D&C 124:16-17, Joseph Smith - This quotation and the next must be taken together in order to understand Mr. Witte’s objection at this point. Here, John C. Bennett was promised that, “his reward shall not fail if he receive counsel.” and “I have seen the work he hath done, which I accept if he continue, and will crown him with blessings and great glory.” Unfortunately he rejected counsel and he did not continue in good works so the promises were lost.

[2-8 to 2-9] HC 5:42, Joseph Smith - This letter of Joseph Smith to Governor Carlin respecting the conduct of John C. Bennett appears to be included at this point to demonstrate that John C. Bennett was a charlatan, an adulterer and in general a mean man, even before the Lord promised to give him blessings and great glory. Mr. Witte inserts his own comments into the text in order to more especially emphasize the dating of some of Bennett’s sins:

More than twenty months ago (editor’s note: i.e. the Fall of 1840!) Bennett went to a lady in the city and began to teach her that promiscuous intercourse between sexes was lawful and no harm in it, and requested the privilege of gratifying his passions; but she refused in the strongest terms, saying that it was very wrong to do so, and it would bring disgrace on the church. (emphasis Mr. Witte’s) (2-9, also Smith, History of the Church, 5:42)

            It appears that in January of 1841 when the conditional promises were made to John C. Bennett, either Joseph did not yet know about Bennett’s sins, or he believed that he had repented of them. However, the Lord reveals to his prophets what he wants the prophets to know, not what either we or the prophet himself might want the Lord to reveal in a given situation. The Lord’s counsel to all men is the same,

42 Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.

43 By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them. (Doctrine and Covenants 58:42-43.)

            Irrespective of what Joseph knew or did not know, the wording of the revelation was appropriate. The conditional promises were there, but when Bennett reverted to his sins, he forfeited them.

[2-9 col 1] MS 27:675-676, Brigham Young - Mr. Witte here ascribes a number of statements about the Church never being able to give up polygamy to Brigham Young. He is in error. The article from which these statements are quoted identifies itself as being copied from the “Salt Lake Daily Telegraph,” which was not even a Mormon publication. Although it appears to have been an editorial, neither Brigham Young nor the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bear any responsibility for it whatever.

[2-9 to 2-10] Feb 5, 1852, Brigham Young - Three segments of President Brigham Young’s 1852 talk before the territorial Legislature on the subject of slavery are quoted here in order to indicate that the black race cannot hold the priesthood. There are statements, found in the same discourse, in which Brigham Young says that the day would come when the blacks will have the privilege of holding the priesthood with all of its attendant blessings. I have quoted two of these statements above, in response to a previous claim of Mr. Witte (see under 2-2b and c).

            Those portions of Brigham Young’s discourse which Mr. Witte emphasizes by italics are favorites of anti-Mormon literature, and warrant a brief explanation here. The first segment says:

the Lord told Cain that he should not receive the blessings of the priesthood nor his seed, until the last of the posterity of Able had received the priesthood, until the redemption of the earth. . . . I know that they cannot bear rule in the priesthood, for the curse on them was to remain upon them, until the resedue (sic) of the posterity of Michael and his wife receive the blessings. (2-9)

            Today is the day of the redemption of the earth. The earth is now in the process of being redeemed through the restoration of the priesthood and its associated temple blessings, but these blessings could not be offered the whole earth until the 1978 revelation to President Spencer W. Kimball, after which the priesthood was accessible to everyone.

            The comments about Able require some explanation. Able had no posterity before he was slain, so what did Brigham Young mean when he referred to Able’s posterity? He once explained his beliefs to Lorenzo Snow, who gave the following explanation as recorded by Abraham H. Cannon:

Pres. Brigham Young once told Bro. Snow that the reason negroes could not receive the Priesthood was through the exercise of their own agency before they came to the earth. Cain and Abel were princes in the first estate and stood at the head of a vast body of spirits for whom they were to beget bodies. Cain knew this and in slaying Abel he realized he was doing injury to all who acknowledged him as prince. Hence when Cain was cursed his subjects were given the privilege of selecting some other medium through which to be born, but rather than select another prince they decided to be born of Cain and become partakers of his curse. For this reason wherever negro blood exists it will at times show itself in the offspring, and not until all of Abel’s royal family have received bodies will the curse be raised from Cain’s posterity. (Abraham H. Cannon Journal, Manuscript. October 1, 1890, original at Brigham Young University, photocopy in possession of the author.)

            Thus Abel’s posterity or “royal family,” consisted of those spirits who were originally designated to be born through his lineage. When Able’s lineage was terminated by his death, those spirits had to be redirected through some other lineage. If I interpret it correctly, it was Brigham Young’s belief that Cain’s posterity would not be allowed to be heirs to the priesthood until all of those originally designated to be born through Abel (Abel’s posterity) had received their bodies by being redirected through some other lineage. This does not mean that they could not hold priesthood, but they could not hold the right of priesthood.

            Mr. Witte quotes further from Brigham Young: (the spelling and punctuation from Mr. Witte’s citation has been retained)

... in the kingdom of God on the earth, a man who has has the Affrican blood in him cannot hold one jot nor tittle of priesthood. Why? because they are the true eternal principals the Lord Almighty has ordained, and who can help it, men cannot. the angels cannot, and all the powers of earth and hell cannot take it off, but thus saith the Eternal I am, what I am, I take it off at my pleasure, and not one partical of power can that posterity of Cain have, until the time comes the says he will have it taken away. That time will come when they will have the privilege of all we have the privelege of and more. In the kingdom of god on the earth the Affricans cannot hold one partical of power in Government. (2-9)

            In May of 1978, with the revelation to President Kimball, that time came. They now have the privilege of all we have the privilege of, and we all have more privilege than those of Brigham Young’s time had.

            Mr. Witte continues to his next point: (again, the spelling, punctuation and emphasis is Mr. Witte’s)

But let me tell you further. Let my seed mingle with the seed of Cain, that brings the curse upon me, and upon my generations, – we will reap the same rewards with Cain.

. . .

Let this Church which is called the kingdom of God on the earth; we will summons the first presidency, the twelve, the high counsel, the Bishoprick, and all the elders of Isreal, suppose we summons them to apear here, and here declare that it is right to mingle our seed, with the black race of Cain, that they shall come in with with us and be pertakers with us of all the blessings God has given to us. On that very day, and hour we should do so, the priesthood is taken from this Church and kingdom and God leaves us to our fate. The moment we consent to mingle with the seed of Cain and Church must go to destruction. – we should receive the curse which has been placed upon the seed of Cain, and never more be numbered with the children of Adam who are heirs to the priesthood untill that curse be removed. (2-9 to 2-10)

            The church has never advocated interracial marriages between any races, which is the first point of Brigham Young statement here. Second, neither the church nor any of it’s presiding quorums assembled the priesthood and declared that the blacks should be partakers of the blessings of the priesthood. No such independent declaration was formulated from any assembled priesthood quorums at any level. Rather, that declaration came according to the pattern which God has established from the beginning, by direct revelation from God. The First Presidency and the ten members of the Quorum of the Twelve who were present on that occasion each bear witness that the commandment was from God. The official account as is contained in the records of the church may be read in Priesthood, 1981, Deseret Book, Bruce R. McConkie, “The New Revelation on Priesthood, 126-137. That long standing curse has now been removed.

[2-9 col 1] Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions 2:188 - It is not clear why Mr. Witte includes this quote in a section on prophecy because it is not a prophecy. It does, however, demonstrate an interpretation of Brigham Young’s statement above. This is a response to a question which had been sent in to Elder Smith by a member of the church, and would probably fit better in section seven. “Answers to Gospel Questions” was a regular feature published monthly in the Improvement Era, an official church magazine. These articles were later compiled into a series of five separate volumes of the same name. The question being responded to in this instance was:

Question: “Since the government has adopted a non-segregation policy, how can the Church maintain a doctrine of segregation which denies Negroes the right to hold the priesthood?” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1958, 2:184)

In his response, Elder Smith expressed his belief that

the Lord decreed that the children of Cain should not have the privilege of bearing the priesthood until Abel had posterity who could have the priesthood and that will have to be in the far distant future. (Ibid., 188)

            Elder Joseph Fielding Smith erred in his interpretation of what Brigham Young meant by his statement that the Negro would not receive priesthood until Abel’s posterity had received the priesthood as was discussed above. This misunderstanding caused him to also err in the timing of his expectation, as was demonstrated by the revelation received by President Spencer W. Kimball in 1978 extending priesthood and temple blessings to every worthy male member of the Church.


3. Changes in LDS “Scriptures”

            This section contains 6 photocopies. One is from the Book of Mormon, three are from the Book of Commandments, one is from The Evening and the Morning Star and one is from the “History of Joseph Smith” as printed in the Times and Seasons. They are each marked up to indicate the additions, deletions and modifications necessary to bring them into accord with their respective present day publications. Presumably the assumption is that once something which is considered scripture has been printed somewhere, it is never again allowable to make any kind of change to it. Mr. Witte is obviously not aware that that is what prophets do. Take Jeremiah for example. At the command of the Lord, Jeremiah took a roll and wrote on it all of the words which the Lord had spoken against Judah and against Israel and took it to Jehoiakim, King of Judah. Jehoiakim didn’t like it, and burned it in the fire.

Then took Jeremiah another roll, and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah; who wrote therein from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire: and there were added besides unto them many like words. (Jeremiah 36:32.)

            It should be added that of the more than 4,000 changes to the Book of Mormon, all but seven are corrections of spelling, punctuation or grammar. By comparison, there have been more than 8,000 changes of a similar nature made in the King James Bible since it’s initial publication in 1611. And not all of the changes to the King James Bible are doctrinally insignificant. Take for example Mark 10:18, which would necessitate that God is a man.

And Iesus said vnto him, Why callest thou me good? There is no man good, but one, that is God. (Mark 10:18, 1611 Edition)

And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. (Mark 10:18, 1988 Edition)

            Now, as to the specific pages reproduced by Mr. Witte:

Book of Mormon - there are twelve changes shown on the photocopied page. Six of these are spelling corrections, two are changing from “which” to “whom,” one is changing from “which” to “who,” one is changing from “that” to “and,” none of which are at all interesting. The remaining two changes would only be mildly interesting if they were not overly emphasized by some who believe they indicate a theological change in the doctrines taught by Joseph Smith between 1830 and 1837. They do not. The insertions are only a clarification of the text, not a change in theology. In these last two changes the words “the son of” were added in two places, changing

            from:   “Behold, the virgin which thou seest, is the mother of God, after the manner of the flesh.”

            to:       “Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the son of God after the manner of the flesh.” (1 Nephi 11:18)

            from:   “And the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Eternal Father!”

            to:       “And the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the son of the Eternal Father!” (1 Nephi 11:21)

            These insertions were made by Joseph Smith in the second edition (1837) of the Book of Mormon and have remained in every edition since then. The insertions make it more clear that it was Jesus Christ, the Messiah who was the Lamb of God and who was born of the virgin Mary. That this was the meaning of the original 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon and does not indicate a theological change of any kind is clear from verses preceding the two verses in question:

. . . Hosanna to the Lord, the most high God; for he is God over all the earth, yea, even above all. And blessed art thou, Nephi, because thou believest in the Son of the most high God; wherefore, thou shalt behold the things which thou hast desired. And behold this thing shall be given unto thee for a sign, that after thou hast beheld the tree which bore the fruit which thy father tasted, thou shalt also behold a man descending out of heaven, and him shall ye witness; and after ye have witnessed him ye shall bear record that it is the Son of God. (1 Nephi 11:6-7)

and also from verses following those two verses within the same context:

. . . And I looked and beheld the Redeemer of the world, of whom my father had spoken; and I also beheld the prophet who should prepare the way before him. And the Lamb of God went forth and was baptized of him; and after he was baptized, I beheld the heavens open, and the Holy Ghost come down out of heaven and abide upon him in the form of a dove. (1 Nephi 11:27)

. . . And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Son of the everlasting God was judged of the world; and I saw and bear record. And I, Nephi, saw that he was lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world (1Nephi 11:31-33)

. . . And a great and a terrible gulf divideth them; yea, even the word of the justice of the Eternal God, and the Messiah who is the Lamb of God, of whom the Holy Ghost beareth record (1Nephi 12:18)

            All of these make it clear that in the original edition the context was that of the son of God, which the insertions make more clear, avoiding any possible confusion, and hence this does not constitute a change in theology.

Doctrine and Covenants 7 - This section is included because the original publication as Chapter VI of the Book of Commandments states that it is a translation of a piece of parchment, and yet insertions have increased the size of the present publication to almost double that of the original. The question is, how can one increase the amount of information which has been written on a piece of parchment? The answer is, by revelation. As I understand it, the original publication is the translation of what is actually on the parchment, and what has been added is additional information about the events spoken of in the parchment which has been supplied by revelation in the same manner as much of the additional information supplied in Joseph Smith’s inspired revision of the Bible.

Doctrine and Covenants 20 - Mr. Witte has included this photocopy to demonstrate large changes which have been made to section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants. He could have included many more pages of changes to this section. What he does not understand is that D&C 20 is not a direct revelation from the Lord.

The historical background of Section 20, therefore, appears to be the struggle of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to put into words the basic beliefs and tenets of the Church, and to organize their thoughts, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, into a document that is not a word-for-word dictation from the Lord, but one that was inspired by his Spirit, and therefore, scripture. (Robert J. Woodford, “The Historical Development of the Doctrine and Covenants,” Doctoral Dissertation, Brigham Young University, 1974, Volume 1 p 292.)

            As the church developed from its infancy and the government, responsibilities and even offices within the church grew, additions were correspondingly made to this section throughout the lifetime of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Section 20 has therefore had more changes than any other section of the Doctrine and Covenants.

Doctrine and Covenants 27 - Section 27 of the Doctrine and Covenants is a concatenation of two separate revelations. Only the first of the two revelations was published in the Book of Commandments. The only place the second revelation was published separately was in the Pearl of Great Price from 1851 to 1891. The two revelations were combined under the direction of Joseph Smith for publication in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. Being unaware of the history, Mr. Witte believes the additional revelation to be an unwarranted change to LDS scripture.

Doctrine and Covenants 68 - The comparison is made between the D&C and the original publication of the revelation in the Missouri printing of the Evening and the Morning Star in October of 1832. Robert Woodford explains the following:

In 1831, when this revelation was given, there was no First Presidency of the Church, and it was not until March 1835 that much of the information about bishops was revealed (see Section 107). Therefore, in light of these later revelations, Section 68 contained several changes when it was published in the Kirtland reprint of the Evening and Morning Star, June 1835, and these changes have been retained in all printings since then. (Woodford, “Historical Development of the Doctrine and Covenants,” 1:854)

            It might be asked if the Lord didn’t know that there would be a First Presidency and how bishops would be called. The answer is yes, he did know, but Joseph Smith did not, and in his preface to the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord explains that these covenants were given to his servants in their weakness and after the manner of their language. (See D&C 1:24)

Joseph Smith 2:23-29 - This is now published in our scripture as Joseph Smith - History 1:23-29. There are on this page a few minor spelling and grammatical corrections, but the portion to which Mr. Witte objects is obviously an insertion to the original, softening Joseph’s description of his foibles as a youth. The published history was changed:

from:   I frequently fell into many foolish errors and displayed the weakness of youth and the corruption of human nature, which I am sorry to say led me into divers temptations, to the gratification of many appetites offensive in the sight of God. (Times and Seasons, Nauvoo, Illinois, 6 Volumes, 1839-1846, 3:749)

to:       I frequently fell into many foolish errors and displayed the weakness of youth and the foibles of human nature, which I am sorry to say led me into divers temptations, offensive in the sight of God. (Joseph Smith-History 1:28)

to which was then added the following mitigating paragraph

In making this confession, no one need suppose me guilty of any great or malignant sins. A disposition to commit such was never in my nature. But I was guilty of levity, and sometimes associated with jovial company, etc., not consistent with that character which ought to be maintained by one who was called of god as I had been. But this will not seem very strange to any one who recollects my youth, and is acquainted with my native cheery temperament. (Joseph Smith-History 1:28)

            These changes were inserted into the manuscript history of Joseph Smith, in the handwriting of Willard Richards, one of Joseph Smith’s scribes. Willard Richards wrote much of the history of Joseph Smith under Joseph’s dictation, and Willard reports in his journal that he made the above changes on December 2, 1842, which explains why it was not in the initial publication of Joseph’s History which began in March of 1842. ( Dean C. Jessee, The Papers of Joseph Smith, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, 1989, 1:276 n2.) It is possible that Joseph Smith had the note added because of comments he received after the initial publication of his history.


4. Mormon Godhead Doctrines

            The first portion of this segment [4-1b through 4-4a] photographically reproduces Joseph Smith’s King Follett discourse as printed in the Journal of Discourses 6:1-11. Mr. Witte has chosen to use the Journal of Discourses as his source, possibly because it represents the first publication of this discourse in its most familiar form. This almost gives the impression that it is a rare document, which it is not. The King Follett sermon is found in many other published works including both History of the Church and Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, two of the most readily available and frequently referenced publications in the Church. Mr. Witte has underlined approximately 6% of the total, being as I presume, those items which he finds particularly objectionable. I find none of these statements by Joseph Smith to be objectionable. To the contrary, I find them inspiring, thought provoking and insightful.

[4-4b] Wilford Woodruff, JD 6:120

              God himself is increasing and progressing in knowledge, power, and dominion, and will do so worlds without end. (Journal of Discourses 6:120)

            Although not an official church doctrine, this view is held by many in the church based upon the principle of eternal progression.

[4-4c, d] Brigham Young, JD 8:115; 11:268

            In this quotation and in the one immediately following it, which will be discussed together, President Brigham Young in a discrete and tactful manner touched lightly in passing on some personal musings about what it means that we believe Jesus Christ to be the literal son of God.

The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood–was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers. (Journal of Discourses 8:115)

In the second quotation the statement was likewise a brief aside from the topic of his discourse.

              The man Joseph, the husband of Mary, did not, that we know of have more than one wife, but Mary the wife of Joseph had another husband. (Journal of Discourses 11:268)

Mr. Witte did not feel it appropriate to continue underlining this last quotation lest it detract from the shock value of his reference. The quote continues:

. . . That very babe that was cradled in the manger, was begotten, not by Joseph, the husband of Mary, but by another Being. Do you inquire by whom? He was begotten by God our heavenly Father. This answer may suffice you—you need never inquire more upon that point. Jesus Christ is the only begotten of the Father, and he is the Saviour of the world, and full of grace and truth. (Journal of Discourses 11:268)

            According to Brigham Young, this answer is to suffice us, and we need never inquire more upon that point.

[4-5a] Brigham Young, JD 14:71

            Mr. Witte seems to object to the concept that in this universe there are worlds innumerable to man that have been created by God.

“He was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Is it so on any other earth? On every earth. How many earths are there? I observed this morning that you may take the particles of matter composing this earth, and if they could be enumerated they would only be a beginning to the number of the creations of God; and they are continually coming into existence, and undergoing changes and passing through the same experience that we are passing through. . . . consequently every earth has its redeemer, and every earth has its tempter; (Journal of discourses 14:71)

            It is, however a common teaching of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which arises mainly from the first chapter of our Book of Moses, in which the Lord speaks to Moses of creating worlds as numberless as the sand upon the sea shore.

            The last segment of this section [4-5b through 4-6d] photocopies Joseph Smith’s sermon popularly known as the Plurality of Gods sermon from Smith, History of the Church 6:473-479. As I stated before, I find nothing objectionable in the sermon.


5. Individual Blood Atonement

            Brigham Young’s teachings on Blood Atonement have long been cited as proof that the Mormons simply did away with people they didn’t like. Nothing could be farther from the truth. All of the Blood Atonement statements made by Brigham Young and his counselors came during the Reformation Movement of 1856 and 1857. This reformation has been discussed in an article written by Paul H. Peterson, an Associate Professor of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University. His article, “Brigham Young and the Mormon Reformation” appears as Chapter 11 of the book Lion of the Lord, edited by Susan Easton Black and Larry C. Porter. Dr. Peterson demonstrates that the sermons on Blood Atonement were a short lived attempt by Brigham Young to scare members of the church into living their religion. This effort may have been instigated at the suggestion of Jedediah M. Grant, Brigham Young’s new counselor in the First Presidency.

              A review of Brigham Young’s correspondence during these months makes it clear that Brigham hardly expected any Saint to shed his blood. Indeed, in private letters to Church leaders, Brigham instructed them to forgive Saints freely, even of serious sin, if they evidenced any desire to repent. But some Church members, unaware of Brigham’s penchant for calculated exaggeration [during this reformation] were undoubtedly concerned. Certainly his rhetoric caused excitement among some Latter-day Saints and contributed to the emotionally charged atmosphere that prevailed in Zion during the remainder of the year. (Paul H. Peterson, “Brigham Young and the Mormon Reformation” published in Susan E. Black and Larry C. Porter, Lion of the Lord, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1995, p 251)

            By the end of 1857 it became evident to Brigham Young that rhetorical scare tactics brought no lasting change to the people. In an 1861 discourse he said

People are not to be driven, and you can put into a gnat’s eye all the souls of the children of men that are driven into heaven by preaching hell-fire. (Ibid. 256, Journal of Discourses 9:125)

Having learned that such tactics were of no avail, Brigham Young never again broached the topic of Blood Atonement nor attempted to scare people into living their religion.


6. First Vision

            Mr. Witte divides this category up into two sections:

This chapter actually deals with two different aspects of early Mormon visions. The first centers around the confusion concerning the so-called “First Vision.” The second deals with the identity of the messenger who allegedly gave Joseph Smith the gold plates containing the Book of Mormon. (6-1a)

            Concerning the First Vision itself, Mr. Witte produces 10 photocopies of pages from the Journal of Discourses, in eight of which various individuals talk about “an angel” coming to Joseph Smith. It is interesting to note that all of the quotes cited are dated subsequent to 1853. Joseph Smith’s initial and official published accounts of his First Vision appeared in the Times and Seasons in 1842. Prior to 1853 these two official first hand accounts were both reprinted in the Deseret News and the Millennial Star, and the Church History account was reprinted in the first edition of the Pearl of Great Price, all of which were official publications of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is inconceivable that Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, and George A. Smith, all of whom were associates of Joseph Smith and became leaders in the church, would not have known that Joseph Smith claimed to have seen God himself, not just an angel. Why then would these individuals say after 1853 that Joseph Smith had seen “an angel?”

            Part of he answer lies in the meaning of the word “angel” as utilized in the mid 1800's. Websters 1828 Dictionary of the English Language lists 7 meanings of the word “angel,” of which meaning number four specifies:

              4. Christ, the mediator and head of the church. Rev. x. (Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828, “angel”; facsimile reprint by Foundation for American Christian Education to Document and Demonstrate, San Francisco, California, 1980)

            It can be demonstrated that by “an holy angel,” John Taylor meant God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. In an account of the First Vision published by John Taylor in the Millennial Star, he introduces has statements by saying:

              The church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints was first organized in the Town of Manchester, Ontario County, State of New York, U.S.A., 6th, April 1830. Previous to this an holy angel appeared unto a young man about fifteen years of age, a farmer’s son, named Joseph Smith, and communicated unto him many things pertaining to the situation of the religious world, the necessity of a correct church organization, and unfolded many events that should transpire in the last days, as spoken of by the Prophets. (Millennial Star 12:235)

He then states “As near as possible I will give the words as he related them to me.” When he gets to the segment relating to what he meant by “an holy angel” appearing, the description is as follows:

While he was thus engaged, he was surrounded by a brilliant light, and two glorious personages presented themselves before him, who exactly resembled each other in features, and who gave him information upon the subjects which had previously agitated his mind. (Ibid.)

thereby identifying “an holy angel” as “two glorious personages who exactly resembled each other in features,” easily identified through the Wentworth Letter account as God the Father and Jesus Christ.

            In a similar manner, it may be demonstrated that Brigham Young understood who it was who appeared to the young Prophet Joseph. In an 1857 discourse he said:

The Lord chose Joseph Smith, called upon him at fourteen years of age, gave him visions, and led him along, guided and directed him in his obscurity until he brought forth the plates and translated them, and Martin Harris was prevailed upon to sustain the printing of the Book of Mormon (Journal of Discourses 8:354).

            Another portion of the answer must include the fact that since all of the individuals quoted by Mr. Witte were close friends and associates of Joseph Smith, perhaps they knew more than we do about his First Vision. In his published accounts, Joseph Smith states that he saw God the Father, who essentially introduced him to Jesus Christ, his Son. Christ then told Joseph that his sins were forgiven him and when Joseph asked about which church he should join, he was told that he should join none of them. Little else is said in the official account about what happened. However, in his 1835 account Joseph provided the additional information that “I saw many angels in this vision,” (Jesse, Joseph Smith Papers, 2:69), and in his 1832 account he said, “and there were many things that transpired which cannot be written” (Jesse, Joseph Smith Papers, 1:7) Who were these other angels? and what did they say and do? We are not informed. It is very plausible that one or more of these angels gave rise to several of Mr. Witte’s quotes representing Joseph as being instructed by an angel during his First Vision.

            The second portion of section six presents four photocopies of statements saying that it was Nephi who appeared to Joseph Smith and instructed him concerning the plates from which he was to translate the Book of Mormon. These statements are in error. It was Moroni who appeared to Joseph Smith on this occasion, which was well documented even before the preparation of Joseph Smith’s history.

            1. August 1830. In August of 1830 the Prophet received the revelation which we know as D&C section 27 in which we have the following:

Behold, this is wisdom in me; wherefore, marvel not, for the hour cometh that I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you on the earth, and with Moroni, whom I have sent unto you to reveal the Book of Mormon, containing the fullness of my everlasting gospel, to whom I have committed the keys of the record of the stick of Ephriam. (Doctrine and Covenants 27:5)

             Here, then, is a direct revelation given nearly eight years before the account in Joseph Smith's diary, telling us that the messenger was Moroni. In History of the Church 1:106 Joseph informs us that the latter part of the revelation (containing the portion quoted above) was not written until September 1830, and was not included in the first published versions. The portion quoted above was first published in section L (i.e. 50) of the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants in 1835.

            2. 1835 - In 1835 Oliver Cowdery was publishing the Messenger and Advocate in which he wrote eight letters pertaining to the early history of the Church. At this time Oliver Cowdery was assistant president of the Church, and the Messenger and Advocate was the official church publication. After naming many ancient prophets whom he (Oliver Cowdery) believes were shown in vision scenes that would transpire in the latter days, adds:

And I believe that the angel Moroni, whose words I have been rehearsing [Note: he had been rehearsing the words of the messenger who showed the plates to Joseph Smith], who communicated the knowledge of the record of the Nephites, in this age, saw also, before he hid up the same unto the Lord, great and marvellous things which were to transpire when the same should come forth. (Latter Day Saints Messenger and Advocate, Kirtland Ohio, 3 volumes, 1834-1837, 1:112)

            3. July 1838 - In the Elder's Journal (the third official Church publication) which was published at Far West and edited by the Prophet Joseph Smith, we have in an article by David W. Patten, the following statement:

And they who sin against the authority given to him -(the before mentioned man of God)- sins not against him only, but against Moroni, who holds the keys of the Stick of Ephriam. (Elders Journal, Kirtland, Ohio, 1838, 1:42, also quoted in Millennial Star 1:126)

            4. July 1838 - In the same issue of the Elder's Journal (Vol 1 #3) Joseph Smith answers various questions which were put to him. We quote the 4th question and the answer:

Question 4th. How, and where did you obtain the book of Mormon? Answer. Moroni, the person who deposited the plates, from whence the Book of Mormon was translated, in a hill in Manchester, Ontario County, New York, being dead, and raised again therefrom, appeared unto me, and told me where they were; and gave me directions how to obtain them; I obtained them, and the Urim and Thummim with them; by the means of which, I translated the plates and thus came the Book of Mormon. (Elders Journal, 1:42-43)


            5. In 1840, History of Mormonism was published (which was a reprint of the 1834, first anti-Mormon book, Mormonism Unveiled). It came out under the name of Eber D. Howe, but Philastus Hulburt wrote most of it. At any rate the anti-Mormon community knew who it was who gave the plates to Joseph Smith as can be seen by the following paragraph from the book:

After he had finished translating the Book of Mormon, he again buried up the plates in the side of a mountain, by command of the Lord; some time after this, he was going through a piece of woods, on a by-path, when he discovered an old man dressed in ordinary grey apparel, sitting on a log, having in his hand or near by, a small box. On approaching him, he asked him what he had in his box. To which the old man replied, that he had a MONKEY, and for five coppers he might see it. Joseph answered, that he would not give a cent to see a monkey, for he had seen a hundred of them. He then asked the old man where he was going, who said he was going to Chargel. Joseph then passed on, and not recollecting any such place in that part of the country, began to ponder over the strange interview, and finally asked the Lord the meaning of it. The Lord told him that the man he saw was MORONI, with the plates, and if he had given him the five coppers, he might have got his plates again. (Eber D. Howe, History of Mormonism, 277)

            Although the author obviously likes tall tales, he also quite as obviously knew just which messenger had to do with the plates - and this was in 1840.

            6. In the 1844 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants the revelation we know as section 128 (then Section 106) was first published:

And again, what do we hear? Glad tidings from Cumorah! Moroni, an angel from heaven, declaring the fulfilment of the prophets - the book to be revealed.... (Doctrine and Covenants 128:20)

            We have thus shown that in the early days of the Church, essentially everyone, even the apostates, knew that it was Moroni and not Nephi who gave Joseph Smith the plates.

             There was only one error made, not multiple errors, and it occurred in the original manuscript dictated by Joseph Smith and from which his history was published. The initial publication in the Times and Seasons placed the error into print (6-4a) The publication in the Millennial Star (6-4c) states that it was copied from the Times and Seasons. The first edition of the Pearl of Great Price (6-4b) was taken from the Millennial Star, and the final photocopy by Mr. Witte, also found in the Millennial Star (6-4d), states “when we read the history of our beloved brother, Joseph Smith.”

            Mr. Witte includes one more photocopy in this section (6-3d) which although reproduced without comment here, is sometimes used in an attempt to confuse the dating of the 1820 First Vision.

You will recollect that I mentioned the time of a religious excitement, in Palmyra and vicinity to have been in the 15th year of our Brother J. Smith Jr’s, age that was an error in the type–it should have been in the 17th.–You will please remember the correction, as it will be necessary for the full understanding of what will follow in time. This would bring the date down to the year 1823. (Times and Seasons, 2:241; originally published in Messenger and Advocate 1:78)

            The account, however, then goes on to discuss the appearance of the angel Moroni which did take place in 1823.


7. Claims of Mormonism

            Mr. Witte subdivides this section into four parts.

(1) what is scripture (i.e. the teachings of their leaders), (2) all “Christian” churches are wrong. (3) which means that their church is the only true Christianity, and (4) that they really don’t mind having their religion and doctrines examined and questioned. (7-1a)

[7-1b] John Taylor, JD 6:167

What is God going to do, to set the world right? We are the people who are called to do his work; and if so, he must put us right.

. . .

We talk about Christianity, but it is a perfect pack of nonsense ... Myself and hundreds of the Elders around me have seen the pomp, parade and glory, and what is it? It is a sounding brass and a tinkling symbol; it is as corrupt as hell; and the Devil could not invent a better engine to spread his work than the Christianity of the nineteenth century. (Journal of Discourses 6:167)

            By judicious use of underlining, Mr. Witte has removed these paragraphs from their intended context and has made it appear that John Taylor is saying that the Christian religions of his day are “a perfect pack of nonsense” and “as corrupt as hell.” He is not. In the portions of John Taylor’s speech which Mr. Witte has neglected to underline, directly preceding each of the two paragraphs above, John Taylor makes it clear that he is not complaining about Christian Churches, but he is condemning the political regimes of Christian Nations and Christian Kingdoms. He certainly believes the Christian religions to be wrong, else he would not have spent years of his life among the people trying to convert them to his own religion, but his complaint and condemnation is of the politics of the day. Before the first underlined portion John Taylor says:

As I have stated before, they have been wrong in their national affairs, they have been wrong in political affairs, they have been wrong in their religion, and they have been wrong in everything. (Journal of Discourses 6:167)

And before the second underlined portion he says:

              There is no nation now that acknowledges the hand of God; there is not a king, potentate, nor ruler that acknowledges his jurisdiction. (Journal of Discourses 6:167)

[7-1c] Brigham Young, JD 9:312 - On this page, Brigham Young has just quoted 1John 4:2-3 which says that all who confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh are of God, and the remainder are antichrist. President Young said that in our day that is no test, and he would venture to carry it a little further and suggest that in our day in order to be of God we must not only believe that Christ has come in the flesh, but also that he has called Joseph Smith to be his prophet. The portions underlined remove the context of 1 John 4:2-3.

[7-1d] Brigham Young, JD 10:251 - Here, Brigham Young acknowledges that his religion embraces all truth, wherever found. He goes on to say that “it is the only system of religion known in heaven or on earth that can exalt a man to the Godhead.” As far as I am aware, it is the only system of religion that wants to.

[7-2a] Brigham Young, JD 13:95 - Brigham Young states that he is perfectly aware of what to teach the people in order to bring them back into the presence of their God. He then states that his sermons, when properly recorded, are as good to the people as scripture. Since the Doctrine and Covenants defines scripture as whatever is spoken by the servants of God “when moved upon by the Holy Ghost ,” (D&C 68:4) he is merely expressing his personal belief that he always delivers his sermons by the power of the Holy Ghost.

[7-2b] Brigham Young, JD 13:250 - Brigham Young declares in this citation that it is the responsibility of learned men who can understand ancient languages to give us as good a translation of the Bible as they are capable. Brigham Young acknowledges that if he knew ancient languages, that is what he would do, but because he does not know ancient languages, he recommends accepting the Bible as it is. If we feel the Bible is not translated correctly, then we should wait until it is translated correctly. I presume that Mr. Witte is alluding to our article of faith in which we profess to believe “the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly.” I ask him if he believes those portions of the Bible which are not translated correctly?

[7-2c] Brigham Young, JD 13:264 - This quotation is similar to that in 7-2a above except that here Brigham Young attests that his own sermons, when properly reported and approved are as good scripture as are contained in the Bible. If they are God’s truth, delivered by the Holy Ghost as he believed, then they are. When Paul wrote his epistles to the various churches, it is doubtful that he ever contemplated the possibility that his letters of instruction would one day be compiled and given the authority of God’s infallible word.

[7-2d] George A. Smith, JD 14:216 - This is a simple attestation that all people should become familiar with the beliefs of others, and if they find anything better than their own beliefs, they should accept them and adopt them into their own beliefs.

              If a faith will not bear to be investigated; if its preachers and professors are afraid to have it examined, their foundation must be very weak. (Journal of Discourses 14:216)

            We ask only that our religion be examined honestly and sincerely, and not through deception and misrepresentation.

[7-3a] Brigham Young, JD 16:46 - Brigham Young testifies that the beliefs of his religion are true and invites the entire world to compare the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with the teachings of the Bible. We welcome open and honest investigation of our principles and teachings and only warn investigators against those who use deceptive methods to make the church appear bad where it is not.

[7-3b] Brigham Young, JD 16:161 - Again, a testimony from Brigham Young that he teaches truths which will lead those who have ears to hear toward God. He invites members of the church to point out to him any counsel he has ever given which has been wrong.

[7-3c] Wilford Woodruff, JD 18:117 - The statement stands on it’s own and disparages a search for falsehood and the practice of seeking for errors, but encourages the quest for all truth.

I am willing to exchange all the errors and false notions I have for one truth, and should consider that I had made a good bargain. We are not afraid of light and truth. Our religion embraces every truth in heaven, earth or hell; it embraces all truth. (Journal of Discourses 18:117)

[7-3d] Joseph Smith, HC 4:461 - Because this statement of the Prophet is so frequently misapplied by those who are trying to find fault, it bears brief examination and explanation.

I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book. (Smith, History of the Church 4:461)

            By “most correct of any book,” Joseph Smith did not mean that it contained fewer misspellings, grammatical inaccuracies or typesetting problems than any other book. What he did mean is that the Book of Mormon is full of easy to understand concepts, teachings and principles which if we accept and apply in our own lives, will result in our living a more righteous or “correct” life. The Bible is also a “correct” book in this sense and teaches most of the same principles taught in the Book of Mormon, but in the Bible they are sometimes not presented as simply and understandably.

[7-4a] Orson Pratt, The Seer 15 - Orson Pratt invites those not of our faith to use reason, logic and the word of God to attempt to convince us we are wrong, rather than persecution.

[7-4b] Orson Pratt, The Seer 205 - Through the use of a sequence of questions and answers, Orson Pratt traces the absence of legitimate priesthood authority through the Catholic Church, on down through the Protestants and reformers and by implication to the modern churches. Today there is neither a claim to priesthood authority nor an understanding for the need of it.

              Therefore, unless the Reformers received fresh authority from heaven by new revelation, they had no authority at all. (Orson Pratt, The Seer, Washington D.C., 1853, p 205)

[7-4c] Orson Pratt, The Seer 255 - In plain and blunt words, Orson Pratt describes the necessity of priesthood authority to perform the saving ordinances of the gospel.

              Baptism is just as essential to salvation as Faith and Repentance – Without being immersed in water no man can enter into the fulness of Celestial glory. (Pratt, The Seer 255)

            Priesthood authority is given, not taken. All those who pretend to perform holy ordinances in the name of God but have not been given that authority from the only legitimate source will ultimately incur the wrath of God’s displeasure. Modern churches have the Bible, and they have all the beauty, truths, principles, teachings and instructions which are contained therein. All they lack is the authority necessary to perform the saving ordinances of the gospel and the revelation and direct communication with God attendant to that authority, which is what produced the Bible in the first place. Why are people offended when they are told they do not have the authority from God which they already know they do not have? Orson Pratt’s concluding words are prophetic:

              We again repeat, beware of the hypocritical false teachers and imposters of Babylon. (Pratt, The Seer, 255)

[7-4d] Orson Pratt, “Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon” 1 - Orson Pratt bears testimony of the Book of Mormon. He states it must either be true or false, and if it is true it is one of the most important messages ever sent from God to man. If false, it is a wicked imposition, having deceived millions. If false, the Book of Mormon should be so demonstrated by arguments and strong evidence rather than by bare assertions and ridicule. I can do no better than to repeat what Mr. Witte has here presented and bear my witness that the Book of Mormon is true. After more than 180 years since it’s publication, the only arguments which remain against the Book of Mormon consist of bare assertions and ridicule.

            At this point section 7 changes from the quadrant photocopy format to the double column quotation format. There are the following 9 quotations in the end of section 7.

[7-5a] Orson Pratt - JD 7:372

              The authority of Jesus Christ sent down from heaven, conferred upon man by his holy angels, or by those that may have previously received Divine authority, is the true and only standard here upon the face of our earth; and to this standard all people, nations, and tongues must come, or be eventually taken from the earth; for this is the only standard which will endure, and this is the only authority which is everlasting and eternal, and which will endure in time and throughout all eternity. (Journal of Discourses 7:372)

            This is a testimony and an affirmation that Jesus Christ is the only name under heaven whereby men may be saved (Acts 4:10-12).

[7-5b] Brigham Young - JD 8:223

              Every intelligent person under the heavens that does not, when informed, acknowledge that Joseph Smith, jun., is a Prophet of God, is in darkness, and is opposed to us and to Jesus and his kingdom on the earth. What do you suppose I think of them? They cannot conceive their own degradation. If they could, they would turn away from their wickedness. (Journal of Discourses 8:223)

            This is a testimony and an affirmation that Joseph Smith is a prophet of Jesus Christ. One should expect no less from Brigham Young.

[7-5c] Charles W. Penrose - JD 24:304 - This is a witness and testimony of President Penrose that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized under the direction of God.

              Our organization is a very glorious one. It is a perfect organization - perfect - because it is divine. It was not made by man. It was not originated by Joseph Smith, or by any of his associates. It came down from above, direct from eternal worlds. It was not taken out of the bible. it was not taken out of the Book of Mormon, or any other book . . . (Journal of Discourses 24:304)

[7-5d] Joseph Smith - JS-Hist 17-19 - Here included by Mr. Witte is an historical statement made by Joseph Smith in recording the events of his first vision which is currently found in our modern scripture and which many modern Christians do find offensive.

17 It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!

18 My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.

19 I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: "they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof." (Joseph Smith-History:17-19, Emphasis by Mr. Witte.)

            Joseph Smith’s statement that he was told that all of the existing churches were wrong means that God found something that was wrong with each and every one of them. If nothing at all had been wrong with one or more of them, then it would not have been necessary for the Church to be restored. Mr. Witte’s implication, emphasized by bolding in addition to merely italicizing, is that the churches were “all” or totally “ wrong,” which is not what was said, but rather that no matter how correct or how close to right they were, there was still something wrong in each of them. Further, Joseph Smith said that the existing creeds were an abomination to God, and that the professors of these creeds were all corrupt. In a later statement, he explained what was wrong with those creeds and the profession of them.

              I cannot believe in any of the creeds of the different denominations, because they all have some things in them I cannot subscribe to, though all of them have some truth. I want to come up into the presence of God, and learn all things; but the creeds set up stakes, and say, "Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further"; which I cannot subscribe to. (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1976, p 327.)

[7-5e,f] Bruce McConkie - Mormon Doctrine (1958 ed.) 314-315; 130

            These next two quotations are from Bruce R. McConkie and have reference to a personal opinion of his expressed in his book that the “great and abominable church” spoken of in the Book of Mormon was the Catholic church and that her harlot daughters represent the protestant churches in general. These allusions were highly inappropriate and that they were recognized as inappropriate is demonstrated by their removal from all subsequent editions of the volume, hence Mr. Witte’s reference to the 1958, or first edition.

[7-5g] Joseph Fielding Smith - Doctrines of Salvation 1:186 - A simple statement by President Smith that like prophecy, all scripture comes when holy men are moved upon by the Holy Ghost. (See 2Peter 1:21)

[7-6a] Joseph Fielding Smith - Doctrines of Salvation 1:188 - This is an invitation to the world to test Joseph Smith’s claims. It is a testimony to the logical fact that Joseph Smith was either a prophet of God, or he was a fraud. If God appeared to Joseph Smith and talked with him and called him to re-establish his church on earth, then Joseph Smith is and was a prophet of God. If these things are not true, then Joseph Smith was a liar and a fraud . There is no middle ground. If a prophet, Joseph Smith should be accepted - if a fraud he should be exposed and refuted.

              The doctrines of false teachers will not stand the test when tried by the accepted standards of measurement, the scriptures. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Three volumes, Bookcraft, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1954, 1:188)

[7-6b] Ward Teachers Message - Deseret News Church Section, May 26, 1945 p 5.

            Mr. Witte quotes the now notorious ward teaching message found in the Deseret News of May 26, 1945, of course italicizing those concepts to which he most strenuously objects. Both members and leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also object to those same concepts, which mostly state that the membership of the Church should blindly follow whatever their leaders declare. Dr. J. Raymond Cope of the First Unitarian Church wrote a letter to the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in November of the same year in which the article was originally published, and President George Albert Smith responded to his letter declaring unequivocally that the church does not and never has believed or taught that men should blindly follow their leaders. That this sentence slipped into the Church News uncensored is regrettable but it is not and never was a policy of the Church.

[7-6c] Editorial, Deseret News Church Section, Sep 26, 1981 p 12 - The final quotation in this section is from the Deseret News Church Section of Sept 26, 1981 and carries the message that God has called prophets in his modern church, and that they are just as important today as they were in ancient times. These modern prophets, including Joseph Smith and each of his successors were and are called of God and are prophets, seers and revelators to declare the word of God to the saints of this day. This was and is one of the fundamental declarations of The Church of Jesus Christ to the world today, and finds abundant repetition throughout Church literature.


8. Authority in Mormonism

[8-1a] Introduction - In his introduction, Mr. Witte alludes to two different types of authority without explaining either, both of which require explanation.

            First he mentions the authority we believe our books of scripture to have. To make a distinction, we believe that books are inanimate objects and cannot of themselves have authority. Rather, we say of scripture that they are authoritative. This means that we accept what is written in them, when properly understood, as the word of God to us. The Christian world in general accepts the New Testament as being authoritative in this sense. The differences in doctrines and teachings of various denominations of Christians arise because of differing interpretations of the contents of the New Testament, not because any of them believe the New Testament or portions of it to be wrong. The Old Testament poses a bit of a problem to some modern Christians. Many of them do not accept large portions of the Old Testament as factual, relegating them instead to the realm of fable. Such belief does not, however, affect their standing as devout Christians. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints consider the entire Bible to be authoritative. In addition, we accept the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price to be authoritative books.

            Second, Mr. Witte refers to the almost absolute authority which the leaders believe themselves to have. There are two major positions on authority in modern Christianity. One is that priesthood authority is necessary in order to perform acts in the name of God. This position is held in general by the Catholic churches who claim an unbroken line of authority back through the Popes to Peter. Protestants do not generally adhere to this belief because they were cut off from Catholicism and excommunication terminates the required unbroken line of authority. For this reason Protestants generally profess the second position on authority, which is that authority is not necessary. It is not generally explained to them that this is an unbiblical position.

21 ¶ Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:21-23.)

            Here we have a statement by the Savior himself that “many” will say they have done many works “in thy name,” yet he will say they are workers of iniquity. The definition of authority is that works performed in his name will be accepted by him. The mere fact that some works which will be done in his name will not be accepted by him establishes beyond any question that authority is necessary. Because of this, some Protestants claim to have received authority from the Bible, but this is just a matter of having confused authority with authoritative. The Bible is authoritative, but it does not have nor can it confer authority. Others claim an “authority of all believers.” This is also demonstrated false by the verses above, because no one would attempt to do works in his name and yet not believe in him. Those who will have performed many wonderful works in his name but who will be denounced by Christ as workers of iniquity are all believers.

            The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes that authority is necessary, and they claim an unbroken line of authority back to the Prophet Joseph Smith to whom the authority of God was restored. They affirm that the authoritative line back through the Popes to Peter was at some time broken, else God would not have re-established that authority through Joseph Smith. The authority spoken of is that authority which is necessary for a humble servant of God to perform works and ordinances and receive revelations in the name of God, not the self-centered domineering authority of a king or a potentate to which Mr. Witte would allude.

            In the remainder of Section 8 Mr. Witte seems to have a problem with the fact that we accept the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price as standard works equal in authority with the Bible. He attempts through several quotations to elevate the authority of statements found in the Journal of Discourses and The Seer to a similar status, perhaps to justify his wide appeal to those works throughout his booklet, but in this he is wrong. These are merely writings and discourses of many of the Church leaders, some of which are excellent, and some of which are quite mediocre. He does cite several statements which point out the respect we have and the authoritative nature we ascribe to the direction and instruction of the living prophet, but he does not seem to understand that this is because the statements of a living prophet are always directed by God to the existing circumstances of the people. Documents emphasizing the authoritative nature of Brigham Young’s statements which were recorded during Brigham Young’s lifetime were indeed pertinent and valid for that people at that time, but they must today be viewed with a historical perspective and an understanding that the existing circumstances have changed dramatically.


9. Contradictions

            In section 9, Mr. Witte first dwells on some changes ( he calls them contradictions) which have occurred in the modern church since it’s restoration, but that is because he does not seem to realize that revelations, policies and commandments are flexible, and change to meet the circumstances in which the members of the church find themselves. For example, when Christ first sent his disciples out into the world to preach the gospel he told them,

7 ¶ And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits;

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

9 But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats. (Mark 6:7-9.)

            And yet at the end of his ministry when he again sent them out, his instructions were completely different. The gospel had not changed, but the circumstances had.

35 And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.

36 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.)

            One citation from this section worth noting is from the Times and Seasons. It is in a poem written by Joel Hills Johnson and one stanza states,

Or Book of Mormon not his word

Because denied, by Oliver! (9-3b, Times and Seasons 2:482)

            When Oliver Cowdery left the Church in 1838, many members of the church believed that because he had been excommunicated, he would also repudiate his testimony of the Book of Mormon. This was not the case. Oliver Cowdery never denied his witness, and always maintained that he had seen the angel who told him that the Book of Mormon had been translated by the gift and power of God. It was Joel Johnson who was in error here.

            Two quotations from David Whitmer’s “Address to all believers in Christ” are included in this section. These both allude to developments which occurred in the church after he was cut off and which he therefore saw as unwarranted and hence invalid.

            Mr. Witte pulls two quotes by President Joseph F. Smith from the Reed Smoot Hearings, which makes it appear that President Smith said he had never received a revelation. The context from which they have been removed makes it clear that he is speaking of written revelation published in the standard works of the church. On the very next page following his first quotation appears a statement which Mr. Witte does not bother to mention, demonstrating that Mr. Witte’s premise is false.

Mr. Tayler. Did Joseph Smith contend that always there was a visible appearance of the Almighty or of an angel?

Mr. Smith, No, sir; he did not.

Mr. Tayler. How otherwise did he claim to receive revelation?

Mr. Smith, By the spirit of the Lord.

Mr. Tayler. And in that way, such revelations as you have received, you have had them?

Mr. Smith, Yes sir.

              (Proceedings Before the Committee on Privileges and Elections of the United States Senate in the Matter of the Protests Against the right of Hon. Reed Smoot, a Senator from the State of Utah, to Hold his Seat, Government Printing Office, Washington D.C., 4 volumes, 1904-1906, 1:100; usually referenced as Reed Smoot Hearings)

            Two letters are also included in section 9, one from the Smithsonian Institution and the other from the National Geographic Society. They both disclaim any belief in the historicity of the Book of Mormon and state that the Book of Mormon has not been utilized by their respective organizations in any archaeologic research in the Americas. It is not clear to me why Mr. Witte has included these letters in a section entitled “contradictions.” It would seem to me more contradictory for an organization to spend money on archaeological research based on a book in which they did not believe, and an absence of archaeological research is not proof of anything.

            Two other quotations in section 9 are from Bruce R. McConkie. They are quotations from that section of his book Mormon Doctrine, entitled “Negroes.” The first is his statement as published before President Spencer W. Kimball’s revelation which now allows Negroes to hold the priesthood, and the second statement is the revised statement published after President Kimball’s revelation. The second statement represent’s Br. McConkie’s acknowledgment that he had been wrong and making appropriate corrections, which is an example directly contradicting Mr. Witte’s introductory statement in section 8 that the General Authorities believe themselves to have almost absolute authority.


10. Polygamy

[10-1a] Introduction - In both the introduction and the title of this section, Mr. Witte’s choice of terms needs to be clarified. There are several words which should be correctly understood and used in order to reasonably discuss this subject: Polygyny, which means “many wives,” Polyandry, which means “many husbands, “ and Polygamy which is a combination of the first two and means “many spouses.” What The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints practiced was polygyny, or a plurality of wives, which they also termed plural marriage. They never did teach, accept, believe in nor practice either polyandry or polygamy. In the 1850's the United States government had no correct idea of what was going on in Utah, and so they accused the Latter-day Saints of practicing polygamy, which was a completely false accusation. Unfortunately, because of the numerous accusations and responses, the term polygamy for a period of time came to be used as a synonym for polygyny, which has led to some confusion.

            Mr. Witte acknowledges that polygamy [he means polygyny] is a dead issue in the Church since 1890 when President Wilford Woodruff received a revelation known as the Manifesto directing the termination of the practice. There was some inertia and reluctance on the part of a few, but with President Joseph F. Smith’s Second Manifesto of April, 1904 the practice ceased and since that time has been sufficient grounds for excommunication from the Church.

            The issue that polygyny is a biblical doctrine is totally avoided in the quotations provided. It should be pointed out that among others whom might be named, Abraham, the father of the faithful, married Sarai, Hagar and Keturah. Isaac married Rebecca, and Jacob married Leah, Rachel, Bilhah and Zilpah. The Bible says that the wise king Solomon had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. King David married Abagail and Ahinoam (1 Sam 2:2) and then later “David took him more concubines and wives out of Jerusalem,” (2 Sam 5:13) and yet the Lord said that

5 Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. (1 Kings 15:5.)

            Four “points of interest” are listed by Mr. Witte as being documented in this section which will be discussed individually: “(1) Jesus was a polygamist, (2) only polygamists become Gods, (3) The LDS church denies the practice, and (4) so does Joseph Smith himself; even while having a number of wives already!!”

            (1) “Jesus was a polygamist.” No, Jesus was not a polygamist, nor was it ever intended that he be portrayed as being such. It is true that by some writers he was called a polygamist, but the word was used in the sense of his being a polygynist. The word polygamy was incorrectly adopted because that was the charge levied against the Saints by the United States government. During that period of church history from 1852 to 1890 when plural marriage was considered a commandment to the Church, there were some overzealous teachers who attempted to show that Jesus was a polygynist. Mr. Witte has collected several of these. There is insufficient evidence from the historical narratives to even show that Jesus was married, although from what is now known about the society in which Jesus lived, it would have been considered highly unusual for a religious preacher of that day to have remained unmarried.

            (2) “Only polygamists become Gods.” It is a teaching of the Church that those who keep the commandments of God can become gods in a lesser sense. Polygyny (not polygamy) was at that time one of the commandments. Mr. Witte has collected a few statements devoid of their historical context which indicate that polygyny was a requirement. He ignores the definitive statement in D&C 132:19-20 that one man with one wife can become gods.

            (3) “The LDS Church denies the practice.” Since the Manifesto of 1890 the Church has consistently denied the practice of polygyny and any of it’s associated misnomers. From 1852 when the principle was officially approved by the Church and accepted as a Church doctrine up until 1890, plural marriage was openly publicized by the Church as one of it’s teachings and practices.

            (4) “so does Joseph Smith himself; even while having a number of wives already!!” Prior to 1852, which was before polygyny became a teaching of the Church, the practice was restricted to a few individuals to whom the doctrine was taught when directed by revelation. It was not openly or publicly taught at that time. Joseph Smith and a few of his close associates understood the difference between polygamy and polygyny, and they knowingly used that distinction to avoid confrontation when incorrectly accused of polygamy. The situation was complicated by John C. Bennett who after attaining a high position in the Church, privately introduced his own version of plural marriage in an adulterous spiritual-wife system through which he was able to seduce several women in Nauvoo. He was quickly excommunicated for his adulterous conduct after which he began his campaign against Joseph Smith and the Church.

Those few trusted Saints who were taught by the Prophet and who embraced the revealed truth accepted the sacred obligation to keep the practice of plural marriage confidential. They understood that that which was being condemned from the pulpit was adultery and that which had been sanctioned privately by revelation was a virtuous practice exercised under priesthood authority. (Glen M. Leonard, Nauvoo, a Place of Peace, a People of Promise, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, Utah and Brigham Young University Press, Provo, Utah, 2002, p 355)

             Two items of special interest should be noted in this section. Mr. Witte has included in his photographically reproduced record, pages 233 and 234 of the sixth volume of Andrew Jensen’s Historical Record, which contains the only list of Joseph Smith’s wives which has been included in an official Church publication. These are not all of Joseph Smith’s wives, but all of these women are acknowledged by the Church to have married Joseph Smith. I find it odd that Mr. Witte has underlined the names and marriage dates of the first eleven of the twenty-five wives on the list and then he suddenly stops underlining, for no apparent reason.


11. Strange Teachings

            In this section Mr. Witte does indeed assemble some strange teachings. They are not teachings of the Church however, and they never were. He produces for example the one time statement by Heber C. Kimball that the earth upon which we live is itself a living being and as such, must have had parent earths. Mr. Witte probably never noticed that Heber was jesting with his audience at the time. As proof that the earth is alive, Heber said:

How could my head produce hair, if it was dead? Neither can the earth produce grain, if it is dead. (Journal of Discourses 6:36)

Brother Heber was nearly as bald as a cue ball. Again, Mr. Witte underlines a statement by Brigham Young about the inhabitants of the moon:

Who can tell us of the inhabitants of this little planet that shines of an evening, called the moon? (Journal of Discourses 13:271)

But Brigham continues by saying:

But these sayings are very vague, and amount to nothing; and when you inquire about the inhabitants of that sphere you find that the most learned are as ignorant in regard to them as the most ignorant of their fellows. (Journal of Discourses 11:271)

            He is essentially saying that if the moon is inhabited, then nobody, even the most learned, know anything about it. Similarly when in the same talk he discusses the possibility of life on the sun, he is not talking about life as we know it, but the possibility that angels or other glorified beings might reside in such a place, and when he says “Do you think it is inhabited? I rather think it is.” these are hardly doctrinal declarations.

            A letter is reproduced [11-2b] which was written by Joseph Smith to the editor of the Times and Seasons, explaining the origin of the word “Mormon”, with the following segments underlined:

              Sir: – Through the medium of your paper, I wish to correct an error among men . . . The error I speak of, is the definition of the word mormon.” It has been stated that this word was derived from the Greek word mormo. This is not the case. There was no Greek or Latin upon the plates from which I, through the grace of God, translated the Book of Mormon . . . I may safely say that the word Mormon stands independent of the learning and wisdom of this generation. – . . . We say from the Saxon, good; the Dane, god; the Goth, goda; the German, gut; the Dutch, goed; the Latin, bonus; the Greek, kalos; the Hebrew, tob; and the Egyptian, mon. Hence, with the addition of more, or the contraction mor, we have the word mormon; which means, literally, more good. . . . Joseph Smith. (Times and Seasons, 4:194)

            This letter has been ridiculed by some, but it in fact makes perfect linguistic sense, provided there is an Egyptian word mon which means “good.” There is indeed such a word, although it was not known during Joseph Smith’s lifetime. It can be found in E. A. Wallis Budge, An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary, Dover, 1978, 1:296b, where it appears as “men.” In the Egyptian hieroglyphic it appears simply as “mn” since regular vowels do not appear in Egyptian hieroglyphic writing. The absence of vowels makes “men” identical with “mon.”

            Lest I be accused of intentionally avoiding a delicate subject, there is included on page 11-5 a quote from Bruce R. McConkie saying that Jesus Christ was the literal son of God the Father which is similar in nature to the two quotes by Brigham Young which we have already discussed (See 4-4c,d):

              God the Father is a perfected, glorified holy Man, and immortal Personage. And Christ was born into the world as the literal Son of this Holy being; he was born in the same personal, real, and literal sense that any mortal son is born to a mortal father. There is nothing figurative about his paternity; he was begotten, conceived and born in the normal and natural course of events, for he is the Son of god, and that designation means what it says. (1 Nephi 11.) (11-5, Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, Bookcraft, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1966, p 742; emphasis by Mr. Witte)

            Although forceful and direct, Brother McConkie is again as brief and discrete as possible under the circumstances. Mr. Witte seems determined to drag certain things into public view and wave them about, which even the apostles of our Lord were embarrassed to ask. In the ancient Gospel of Bartholomew we have the following account as discussed by Dr. Hugh Nibley.

              On one occasion when the apostles were met together, "Bartholomew . . . said to Peter, Andrew, and John, 'Let us ask [Mary] the favored one how she conceived the Lord and bore him.'" This was an embarrassing question, and no one was willing to approach Mary on the subject. . . . after much hesitation he approaches Mary on behalf of the other apostles, and she agrees to enlighten them.

They form a prayer circle, "and Mary, standing before them, raised her hands to heaven"

. . .

Having taken position in the circle, Mary begins to speak:

When I was in the Temple of God [a number of early sources report that Mary served in the Temple, like Samuel, as a child] . . . there appeared to me one day a manifestation like an angel of unfamiliar aspect. . . . And he said to me, "In three years' time I shall send to you my Logos and you will bear a son, and through him all the creation will be saved. . . . Peace to thee, my beloved, forever and ever." And suddenly he was gone from me, and the Temple was as it was before.

At this point the Lord himself appeared and commanded Mary "to utter no more of this mystery," while "the Apostles were sore afraid that the Lord would be angry with them." (Hugh Nibley, Mormonism and Early Christianity, edited by Todd M. Compton and Stephen D. Ricks [Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1987], 49-51.)

            The Lord himself commanded Mary “to utter no more of this mystery,” and Brigham Young stated that the answer we have “is to suffice us, and we need never inquire more upon that point.” I conclude that seeking more detail than we have is inappropriate.

             In his introduction to section 11, Mr. Witte calls special attention to two particular items. The first is a discourse by Joseph Smith, of which Mr. Witte says that Joseph

made “boasts” that are completely alien to the nature of any man claiming to be a true prophet of God. (11-1a)

            The first two pages of Joseph’s talk have been reproduced on pages 11-2c and 11-2d and a total of 8 lines have been underscored. In making the above statement Mr. Witte ignores the fact that on this particular day Joseph Smith took as the scriptural text for his discourse, 2Corinthians chapter 11. This is the chapter in which Paul “boasts” of his own accomplishments in furthering the work of the Lord.

Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also. . . . [are any] bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also. Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; (2 Corinthians 11:18-33.)

            Paul goes on boasting of his tribulations and accomplishments for 15 verses. With all of these examples of Paul boasting as a text for his discourse, Joseph Smith also looked for things which he could boast about in the Lord. It should be obvious to everyone that since this is the only talk Joseph Smith gave which can be pointed to in which he boasts of some of his accomplishments, he was not by nature a boastful or prideful man, but in this instance was drawn to this sort of speech by the biblical text. Accusations of the type made here by Mr. Witte are both incorrect and irresponsible.

            The second item to which Mr. Witte calls special attention is a 1982 talk by Bruce R. McConkie at Brigham Young University in which he cautions students “to avoid seeking after a personal relationship with Jesus Christ” [11-1a]. The talk is retyped from the Church News of March 20, 1982 on pages 11-5 and 11-6. In order to properly understand this talk it is necessary to understand the circumstances and the reason the talk was delivered. In 1981 a book had been published which was having fairly wide circulation among the students of Brigham Young University. There were portions of this book to which Elder McConkie objected, which he said were encouraging young people to seek for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ to the exclusion of God the Father and the Holy Spirit. Seeking such an exclusive personal relationship, he said, was improper and should be avoided. With an understanding of this background setting, the talk may be read, enjoyed and properly understood.

            There are a number of other quotations found in Section 11, but they are not worth the space to respond to. There is a quote from Joseph Smith explaining that animal sacrifice was a part of the gospel in ancient dispensations and as such must be restored in this dispensation as part of the restoration of all things. There is a quote from D&C 58:43 which says we must repent of our sins and forsake them. There is a quote from Elder Joseph Fielding Smith saying that we must keep all the commandments and be worthy to receive the promised blessings. The few remaining citations are even in less need of response.

            This would complete this review of “Where Does It Say That” were it not for some totally incorrect and misleading explanations in Mr. Witte’s section on “Definition of Mormon Terms.” Although a great many of them need correcting, I will only address those three which are the most blatantly false.


Atonement of Christ – The payment made for Adam’s “transgression” which only assures one’s resurrection. It does not reconcile a person with god the Father nor give access to His presence in eternity. (13-1)

            It is reprehensible that Mr. Witte should so completely falsify the “Mormon” concept of the atonement of Christ:

"To atone is to ransom, reconcile, expiate, redeem, reclaim, absolve, propitiate, make amends, pay the penalty. Thus the atonement of Christ is designed to ransom men from the effects of the fall of Adam in that both spiritual and temporal death are conquered; their lasting effect is nullified. The spiritual death of the fall is replaced by the spiritual life of the atonement, in that all who believe and obey the gospel law gain spiritual or eternal life—life in the presence of God where those who enjoy it are alive to things of righteousness or things of the Spirit. The temporal death of the fall is replaced by the state of immortality which comes because of the atonement and resurrection of our Lord.

(Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 2: 242-243.)


Apostasy – The general application of the term refers to all of Christianity. The LDS see the entire Christian community as being in a state of total and complete apostasy from the truth.

            Mr. Witte wants everyone to believe that the LDS as a people believe the entire Christian community to be devoid of all truth. This is an enormous falsity. We believe that the Christian community possesses vast amounts of truth. We do not believe they possess all truth, but we readily admit that we do not possess all truth. We believe we are aware of some truths which they do not have, but we acknowledge that they may have some truths which we do not have. Apostasy is defined not in the sense of truth, but in the sense of authority. We believe that the LDS church has authority to perform ordinances which Christianity does not possess.


Bible – The only Mormon standard work which is not accepted as infallible (8th Article of Faith). The Bible’s use in Mormonism is basically limited to justification of their perversions of biblical truth by misapplying “prooftexts.”

            Nothing is more evident in this description than the prejudicial bias Mr. Witte has against all things Mormon. The Bible is our primary scripture. When our standard works are bound together, the Bible is always in the first position. In lists, descriptions or discussions of our standard works, the Bible is always first. It is true that one of our Articles of Faith, written by Joseph Smith, says “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly,” but we should be aware that the term “as far as it is translated correctly” is probably misunderstood because of a shift in the English language since Joseph Smith’s day.

The word 'translate' has other definitions than 'to turn one language into another' as it is most generally understood at the present time. When Joseph Smith received revelations using the word 'translate' in regard to the Revision, or when he used it in his letter to John Wentworth ('We believe the Bible . . . as far as it is translated correctly'), he probably understood the word to mean such things as to express in other words, to paraphrase, . . . to interpret, explain; to expound the significance of; also to express (one thing) in terms of another. The Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford, England: The Clarendon Press, 1961, reprint) XI (T-U), 265." (Reed C. Durham Jr. thesis, "A History of Joseph Smith's Revision of the Bible," Brigham Young University, 1963. page 24, note 34.)

            In support of this view, it would seem that if the church were aware of any mistranslations it would be in duty bound to make corrections, yet when the church in 1988 for the first time published their own edition of the King James Bible, it was stipulated that no changes were to be made:

              An initial step by President Harold B. Lee in October 1972 established a committee consisting of Elder Thomas S. Monson and Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve. Soon Elder Bruce R. McConkie was appointed by the First Presidency to the committee. Elders Marvin J. Ashton and Howard W. Hunter also served for a time. This committee, acting under the immediate direction of President Spencer W. Kimball (who at the time was President of the Quorum of the Twelve), was given a charge to prepare Bible study aids that would assist members of the Church in increasing their scriptural knowledge and improving their gospel scholarship. The committee's official name is the Scriptures Publications Committee, and the First Presidency has charged it with the responsibility of overseeing the editing and publication of all the standard works of the Church.

When the committee began its work, it was given no detailed list of plans except a stipulation that the text of the King James Bible was to be used without alteration. (“The New Publications of the Standard Works--1979, 1981" by Robert J. Matthews, Brigham Young University Studies, vol. 22, Number 4 - Fall 1982, p 388,emphasis added.)

Summary and Conclusions

            “Where Does It Say That?” has been around for a long time. The revised and enlarged edition has been circulating since 1982, and I suppose it has generally done a good job of accomplishing the purpose for which it was written: that of prejudicing its readers against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by means of providing false and incomplete information, distortions and innuendo. Interestingly, it does this while maintaining a facade of unbiased impartiality by photocopying valid LDS source materials and juggling only the historical, physical and spiritual context. Since the documents themselves are LDS, this tends to give a sense of blame reversal for the passage - making an LDS individual feel guilty that the citation exists. I hope this review will be seen by faithful Latter-day Saints as an appropriate resolution, but as a deterrent by active anti-Mormons everywhere.

            I can’t think of anyone to whom I could recommend Witte’s booklet.

                        Elden J. Watson, December 2002.