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PREACH MY GOSPEL

A Guide for Missionary Service


Rich Kelsey

Are We Prepared?
Evangelist Rich Kelsey
September 2014

 

The following is a true account of a meeting with two LDS elders on the LDS Seattle Temple grounds on August, 29th, 2014. The dialog from the approximately 45 minute visit has been condensed down to a reasonable read. This was the last visit with the Elders.  The series of visits with the LDS elders are chronicled in the article: Ask a Mormon: Cognitive Dissonance and the LDS (Mormon) Faith

(Rich) "Hello Elder Mitchel, Elder Weakly, glad to see that you brought the copies of the Doctrines and Covenants which I asked you to bring."

(Rich) "Let's start by reading the INTRODUCTION from Section 17; as well as the first verse."

 

THE DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS

SECTION 17

INTRODUCTION
The Prophet inquired of the Lord, and this revelation was given in answer, through the Urim and Thummim. 1 – 4, By faith the Three Witnesses shall see the plates and other sacred items...

 

Verse (1) Behold, I say unto you, that you must rely upon my [God’s] word, which if you do with full purpose of heart, you shall have a view of the plates, and also of the breastplate, the sword of Laban, the Urim and Thummim … 

(Rich) "According to the story, how many objects called the Urim and Thummim were obtained with the golden plates?"

(Elder Weakly) "One."

(Rich) "Good answer; let's see where this takes us?"

(Rich) "We have just read that the Prophet Joseph Smith was looking into the Urim and Thummim, and what does he discover?  That,

"By faith the Three Witnesses shall see the plates and other sacred items,"

including,

"the Urim and Thummim …"

(Rich) "Now we have a problem with our math. Because, from the context of the revelation, there are evidently two objects called the Urim and Thummim: The one Joseph Smith is presently looking in; and, the one the witnesses are about to see by faith!"

(Rich) "The mystery is solved when we realize that a reference to one of Joseph's seer stones is right here in the Doctrine and Covenants Section 17; and, the seer stone is also called,

"the Urim and Thummim."

(Elder Mitchel) "No. 'It is not a seer stone!' 'It's the Urim and Thummim that was found with the golden plates.'"

(Rich) "If the Urim and Thummim of LDS tradition was right in front of them, then why would the witnesses be told they would need to see it by faith?"

(Elder Mitchel) "Because the Three Witnesses were not present when Joseph Smith got the revelation; so, later on the witnesses would see the Urim and Thummim by faith."

(Rich) "To the contrary, there is nothing in Section 17 to suggest that the witnesses were not present while Joseph was speaking out the revelation."

(Rich) "And, now you are disregarding the LDS Ensign Magazine quotes, as well as numerous other LDS quotes which we documented in our three previous studies, which claimed Joseph Smith used a seer stone to receive this revelation; as well as other early revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants!"

(Rich) "Also: The revelation in question was given after the angel supposedly took the golden plates, along with the Urim and Thummim, to heaven:"

[To the reader]:

What LDS apologists maintain:

"When Joseph Smith had completed the translation of the Book of Mormon, the angel Moroni appeared to him and took the plates into his possession, along with the Urim and Thummim." (Ask Gramps: What happened to the Urim and Thummim after the Book of Mormon was translated?)

LDS statement on the subject:

"... the Urim and Thummim were returned with the plates to the angel." (Doctrines of Salvation, Joseph Fielding Smith, 3, p.225)

 

(Rich) "Ok, let's move on to the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 17, verse 5."

(Elder Mitchel) "I'll read it:"

 

THE DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS

SECTION 17

5 And ye shall testify that you have seen them, even as my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., has seen them; for it is by my power that he has seen them, and it is because he had faith.

(Rich) "Notice how Joseph Smith saw the plates:"

" ... by my [God's] power ... and ... because he had faith."

(Rich) "In my right hand, I'm holding a cell phone."

(Rich) "Do either of you need a spiritual experience to see this cell phone; or, faith of any kind?"

(Elders) "No."

(Rich) "That is because it is a tangible object, unlike the golden plates."

(Rich) "Also, consider that almost every account of the golden plates have them hidden in the woods, covered by a cloth, hidden in the beans, under the hearth, in a wooden chest; Martin Harris was told by Joseph Smith that God would strike him dead if he tried to look at the golden plates; and then, they were taken to heaven by an angel."

(Rich) "And, doesn't it seem a bit odd that the spirit of a dead man was guarding the golden plates?"

 

[To the reader]:

The well respected LDS author/scholar Richard Bushman said:

"This, then, is the historical difficulty of the plates. Accounts of hiding the plates, wrapping the plates with cloth, showing the plates and translating from the plates become nothing more than one long attempt at fraud and make everything else Joseph Smith did doubtful. 'Like a beggar claiming to have a diamond that he allows nobody to see,' … So in the plates we have joined the two characterizations of Joseph Smith, 'the fraud and the prophet, with the plates as the hinge between the two.'" (Statements from Richard Bushman - Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum's Conference, Oct. 23, 2010)

 

(Rich) "Now let's go to Section 5 of the Doctrine and Covenants."

 

THE DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS

SECTION 5

1 Behold, I say unto you, that as my servant Martin Harris has desired a witness at my hand, that you, my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., have got the plates of which you have testified and borne record that you have received of me;

2 And now, behold, this shall you say unto him—he who spake unto you, said unto you: I, the Lord, am God, and have given these things unto you, my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and have commanded you that you should stand as a witness of these things;
...

25 And then he shall say unto the people of this generation: Behold, I have seen the things which the Lord hath shown unto Joseph Smith, Jun., and I know of a surety that they are true, for I have seen them, for they have been shown unto me by the power of God and not of man.

26 And I the Lord command him, my servant Martin Harris, that he shall say no more unto them concerning these things, except he shall say: I have seen them, and they have been shown unto me by the power of God; and these are the words which he shall say.

27 But if he deny this he will break the covenant which he has before covenanted with me, and behold, he is condemned.

(Rich) "Notice how in verse 1 it reads:"

 

THE DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS

SECTION 5

1 ... my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., have got the plates ...

 

(Rich) "But, then further down it is written:"

 

THE DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS

SECTION 5

 

25 And then he shall say unto the people of this generation: Behold, I have seen the things which the Lord hath shown unto Joseph Smith, Jun., and I know of a surety that they are true, for I have seen them, for they have been shown unto me by the power of God and not of man.

(Rich) "If Joseph had the plates in his possession; then, why were they about to be shown to the Three Witnesses by the power of God?"

(Rich) "Are you beginning to understand that the plates supposedly had properties unlike anything else in our natural world?"

(Rich) "On this subject, LDS  author/scholar Richard Bushman spelled out:

“The plates walk a fine line between magic and religion, between enchantment and disenchantment, between fraud and religious genius...  They make the claim that the supernatural has entered into the natural world.” (Presentation given at Utah State's Eccles Science Learning Center on March 22, 2012) 

 

(Rich) "Let's read verse 27 one more time:"

 

THE DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS

SECTION 5

 

27 But if he deny this he will break the covenant which he has before covenanted with me, and behold, he is condemned.

(Rich) "Here, supposedly Jesus Christ threatens Martin Harris with condemnation if he does not say he saw the golden plates."

(Rich) "Why?"

(Rich) "Martin Harris wanted to see the golden plates with his whole heart; he had asked Joseph Smith for a view of the plates while serving as his scribe, over and over again; and, he wanted to tell the world about them!"

(Rich) "Harris was obsessed with the golden plates; he even had a falling out with Joseph Smith over not being allowed to see them; then, he came back to Joseph's side still hoping to see the plates."

(Rich) "The way I see it: The content of this supposed Divine commandment lacks credibility because it was supposed to convince Martin Harris that Joseph Smith had,

"got the plates,"

yet, the story of an angel coming down from heaven with the plates to show them, from my perspective, indicates that Smith did not have possession of the plates at that time; supposedly, an angel did.  < (For a more in-depth study on this subject click HERE)

(Rich) "In the Bible, Jesus said my sheep listen to my voice and they follow me.  The concept is that the sheep know the voice of the Shepard; and, they will not follow someone else."

(Rich) I bore my testimony at this time: describing to the Elders my long search for the meaning of life and how it culminated the evening I asked Jesus to be my savior.

(Rich) Then I said: "I believe I know the voice of the Shepard, yet, I do not recognize the words written in the Doctrines and Covenants sections we just looked up as being his voice; even though Joseph Smith claimed it was Jesus speaking through him."

(Elder Mitchel) "You need to repent!"

(Rich) "Repent from what?"

(Elder Mitchel) [Blank stare]

(Elder Mitchel) "We are out here proclaiming the gospel under the authority of the priesthood."

(Elder Mitchel) "You need to repent!"

(Rich) "About that priesthood doctrine: David Whitmer said that the doctrine was introduced into the Church almost two years after its formation."

(Elder Weakly) "That is FALSE!"

At this point I invited the Elders over to my house to document what David Whitmer said using early LDS source material: (There is no mention of the priesthood doctrine in the early revelations; it was written in and backdated a few years after it supposedly happened: The appearance of John the Baptist, etc.)

Elder Mitchel continued to taunt me as both the Elders and I went our separate ways:

He repeated:

"You need to repent."

"You need to accept Christ."

"You need to be baptized."

Several times.

[What seems ironic to me]:

 

Right before these taunts, I shared my testimony of the night I repented and accepted Jesus Christ as my savior; and, how I experienced a blanket of love surround me, as thick as butter, and stay with me all night long giving me assurance that my prayer for salvation had been accepted.  About a week later I was baptized in a Christian Church.

 

The Elder's insulting words suggest that they are convinced no one can truly accept Christ outside of the LDS (Mormon) Church.  

 

I said one thing to the Elders as I was leaving:

"What you have is faithful history, and perhaps, wishful thinking?"

[To the reader]:

I really am sorry that the Elders chose to act the way they did. Not only did they oppose me, they ended up opposing the LDS Church History Department, LDS teachers, authors, apostles, past and current LDS publications:  < (see documentation)

We looked up over 25 quotes on Joseph Smith's use of seer stones from LDS.org, BYU Studies, the Maxwell Institute, the Joseph Smith Papers project, the Ensign Magazine, etc.; every single quote was dismissed as,

 "speculation,"

because, all of the quotes in question went against Elder Mitchel's assertion that Joseph Smith never used or possessed a seer stone!

On this subject, the tenth President of the LDS Church said:

"The Urim and Thummim so spoken of, [on the altar in the Manti Temple when that building was dedicated] however, was the seer stone which was in the possession of the Prophet Joseph Smith in early days. This seer stone is currently in the possession of the Church." (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56, 3: 225)

LDS scholars from the Church History Department explain:

"Eyewitnesses reported that he [Joseph Smith] also used a dark brown seer stone. JS referred to the pair of stones found with the plates as 'spectacles,' and he later referred to these stones and his other seer stones with the term 'Urim and Thummim ...'" (Joseph Smith Papers, Translate, Summary)

 

Following is the section on the LDS Priesthood doctrine which I asked the Elders to examine with me: (they refused)

 

A Marvelous Work and a Wonder?

 

At one point in time, Joseph Smith began telling a story of John the Baptist, who was now an angel, appearing to him and Oliver Cowdery, and ordaining them to the Aaronic Priesthood:

 

"The messenger who visited us on this occasion and conferred this [Aaronic] Priesthood upon us, said that his name was John, the same that is called John the Baptist in the New Testament, and that he acted under the direction of Peter, James and John, who held the keys of the Priesthood of Melchizedek, which Priesthood, he said, would in due time be conferred on us... It was on the fifteenth day of May, 1829, that we were ordained under the hand of this messenger, and baptized. (Joseph Smith— 1838 History, 2:72)

 

Although Smith claimed this event happened in 1829, there is no record of it during the Church's formative years.  The first revelation to mention that the Aaronic and/or Melchizedek Priesthood were offices to be conferred on members, "in the church,"

is found in section III of the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants:

 

"There are, in the church, two priesthoods, namely: the Melchizedek, and the Aaronic, including the Levitical priest-hood. Why the first is called the Melchizedek priesthood, is because Melchizedek was such a great high priest: before his  day it was called the holy priesthood, after the order of the Son of God; but out of respect or reverence to the name of the Supreme Being, to avoid the too frequent repetition of his name, they, the church, in ancient days, called that priesthood after Melchizedek, or the Melchizedek priesthood. (1835 Doctrine and Covenants p. 82 — view original document)

 

Today the LDS Church touts the restoration of the Priesthood as a foundational teaching.  Yet, the term Priesthood cannot be found in the 1833 Book of Commandments; which was a forerunner to the Doctrine and Covenants, neither can the story of John the Baptist appearing to Joseph Smith and/or Oliver Cowdery:

 

"The important details that are missing from the 'full history' of 1834 are likewise missing from the Book of Commandments in 1833. The student would expect to find all the particulars of the Restoration in this first treasured set of 65 revelations, the dates of which encompassed the bestowals of the two Priesthoods, but they are conspicuously absent.... The notable revelations on Priesthood in the Doctrine and Covenants before referred to, Sections 2 and 13, are missing, and Chapter 28 gives no hint of the Restoration which, if actual, had been known for four years. More than four hundred words were added to this revelation of August 1829 in Section 27 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the additions made to include the names of heavenly visitors and two separate ordinations. The Book of Commandments gives the duties of Elders, Priests, Teachers, and Deacons and refers to Joseph's apostolic calling but there is no mention of Melchizedek Priesthood, High Priesthood, Seventies, High Priests, nor High Councilors. These words were later inserted into the revelation on Church organization and government of April, 1830, making it appear that they were known at that date, but they do not appear in the original, Chapter 24 of the Book of Commandments three years later. Similar interpolations were made in the revelations known as Sections 42 and 68" (Problems In Mormon Text, by LaMar Petersen, pp. 7-8).

 

The 1833 Book of Commandments contains the first 65 of Joseph's Smith's revelations, dating from July 1828, to September 1831. The revelations from the Book of Commandments were reprinted in the Doctrine and Covenants. Beginning with the fourth edition in 1876, an additional revelation was inserted between revelation #1 and #2: 

 

1833 Book of Commandments 

Chapter I

Harken, O ye people of my church, saith the voice of him who dwells on high, and whose eyes are upon all men....

 

  ? ◄

 

? ◄

 

? ◄

 

? ◄

 

Chapter II

The works, and the designs, and the purpose of God, can not be frustrated, neither can they come to nought, for God doth not walk in crooked paths...

2012  Doctrine and Covenants

Section  1

1 Hearken, O ye people of my church, saith the voice of him who dwells on high, and whose eyes are upon all men....

========================================

 Section  2

1 Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promise made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers.

If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.

 

========================================

 

Section  3

1 The works, and the designs, and the purpose of God, can not be frustrated, neither can they come to nought.

2 For God doth not walk in crooked paths...

 

One might wonder if a revelation mentioning the Priesthood should rightfully have its place amongst the Church's foundational works? While addressing this issue, scholars from Brigham Young University spelled out:

 

"Details regarding the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood, including John the Baptist's role in the event, were seldom if ever shared prior to 1832..." (Priesthood Restoration Documents, Brian Q. Cannon and BYU Studies Staff, BYU Studies 35. no. 4, 1995-96, p. 164)

 

We can get some idea as to when this Priesthood doctrine was shared with the Church by comparing Joseph Smith's 1838 History, with his 1832-33 translation of the Old Testament book of Malachi: 

 

Joseph Smith—History 1838

Vol. 1

38 And again, he [the angel Moroni] quoted the fifth verse thus: 

Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

 

39 He also quoted the next verse differently:

And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming. (Joseph Smith—History 1:38-39)

Joseph Smith Translation  1832-33

Malachi Chapter 4

 

5 "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord; 

 

6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. 

 

The quote from Smith's 1838 History does mention the Priesthood. Yet, in the JST, there is no mention of the Priesthood. So, it appears the Priesthood doctrine was introduced sometime between 1832 and 1838. One thing is certain, the 1838 History is worded the same as the revelation in question:

 

Joseph Smith—History 1838

Vol. 1

 

38 And again, he [the angel Moroni] quoted the fifth verse thus: 

Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

 

39 He also quoted the next verse differently:

And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming. (Joseph Smith—History 1:38-39)

2012 Doctrine and Covenants

Section  2

 

1 Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

 

And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promise made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers.

If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming. 

 

If the Priesthood was not introduced until a year or more after the formation of the Church, this would invalidate the LDS doctrine which maintains that a true Church could not be established until the priesthood was first restored.  On this subject, David Whitmer, who was a witness to early Mormon history, wrote:

 

"This matter of two orders of priesthood in the Church of Christ, and lineal priesthood of the old law being in the church, all originated in the mind of Sydney Rigdon. He explained these things to Brother Joseph in his way, out of the old Scriptures, and got Brother Joseph to inquire, etc. He would inquire, and as mouthpiece speak out the revelations just as they had it fixed in their hearts. As I have said before, according to the desires of the heart, the inspiration comes, but it may be the spirit of man that gives it.... This is the way the High Priests and the 'priesthood' as you have it, was introduced into the Church of Christ almost two years after its beginning—and after we had baptized and confirmed about two thousand souls into the church" (An Address To All Believers In Christ, David Whitmer, p. 64).

The story of the Priesthood being restored in 1829, not only lacks a verifiable record; the records which do exist deny its legitimacy.

The evidence, clearly1 shows that the LDS Priesthood doctrine was introduced into the Church about two years after its formation, then backdated to appear as if it was known from the beginning. Therefore, the story of Peter, James and John appearing and conferring the Melchizedek Priesthood upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery,2 is simply not true.  And, all of the LDS (Mormon) Missionaries who maintain that they have been given priesthood authority to preach a restored gospel in this dispensation, have based their faith, hopes, and dreams on a made up story.

 

Based upon this information, perhaps it would be good for some of us to ask ourselves,

 

"If the Church were not true, would I want to know?"

 

Then, if or when reality begins to sink in, perhaps it would make sense to look for a Christian experience outside of the LDS Church's supposed authority? 

 

 

Other articles and LDS lessons which I shared with the Elders:

■  My Near Death Experience

■  My Born Again Experience

■  LDS Seer Stone Quotes

■  The Book of Mormon

■  What to say to Mormons at the door

■  FHE Lesson "Am I a Seeker of Truth?"

 

Informative FHE Lesson on Joseph's seer stone:

■  Lesson Six: Maintaining a Strong Testimony of the LDS Church Through Faithful History

 

 

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 Endnotes:

 

1 "Brethren, it is solemn mockery before God to have established in the church to-day this important office of which Christ alone is worthy. The office of Elder is spoken of all through the New Testament as being in the church, but not one High Priest; then of course they had no High Priests in the church upon the eastern continent.

Now Brethren, seeing they had no High Priests in the church of Christ of old, and none in the church of Christ in these last days until almost two years after its beginning--when the leaders began to drift into error; remembering the fact of the revelation being changed two years after it was given to include High Priests; taking these things into consideration, how is it that any one can say that the office of High Priest should be in the church of Christ to-day? I can account for it only on the grounds of your spiritual blindness. This matter is so plain and self-evident that any one should see and understand it. Brethren, your blindness must be utter blindness. May God have mercy on you is my prayer.

In no place in the word of God does it say that an Elder is after the order of Melchisedec, or after the order of the Melchisedec Priesthood. An Elder is after the order of Christ.
This matter of 'priesthood,' since the days of Sydney Rigdon, has been the great hobby and stumbling-block of the Latter Day Saints." (An Address To All Believers In Christ, David Whitmer, p. 64)

 

2 "... Peter, James and John, apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, conferred upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery the Melchizedek Priesthood, including the holy apostleship as promised by John the Baptist, which gave them the necessary authority to organize the church and kingdom of God upon the earth in this dispensation. Accordingly, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints was organized with six members at Fayette, Seneca County, New York, on the sixth day of April, 1830." (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, Legrand Richards, p.83, 1976)