Monday, July 24, 2017

The rise to power of Brigham Young

In a previous post, I discussed how the story of Amalickiah (Alma 46-49 in the Book of Mormon) is likely a story meant to teach us what to watch for in terms of the tactics that are used by those that wish to subvert, infiltrate, and come into power over a group of people.  As I mentioned earlier, Amalickiah appears to have accomplished his designs mostly undetected by the people who became his supporters.  Most of the people had no idea what actually happened.

Did something like this happen in LDS history and go mostly undetected?

Consider this letter from William Smith (Joseph Smith Jr.'s younger brother) written to Joseph's son:

"Joseph; Dear Nephew:—Several times I have taken the pen to write you on the subject of this caption, the death of the two Martyrs, and the principal causes that led to their death. But the causes have been so misunderstood and I have felt so diffident about writing the facts in the case as I understand them, that I have refrained from the task, for fear that the circumstances I have to name might throw a back [black] influence upon the character of the man whom we all esteem as the prophet of God; and the longer I have put this matter off, the more and more I have felt it impressed upon my mind that I should write.
The history and the circumstances connected with the death of your father [Joseph Smith, Jr.], and your Uncle Hyrum, are events that transpired, for the greater part while I was residing in Philadelphia in 1842–3–4, having charge of the Church in the east. But the links in the chain of circumstances that I am about to relate were occurrences that took place while I was on a visit to Nauvoo, for the purpose of attending the April Conference in 1844.
After attending the Conference held by the Church at that time, and also several of the political caucuses to nominate candidates for President of the United States, and business matters of this sort having been disposed of, (in which Lyman Wight, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Willard Richards, and H. C. KimbaI[I] were the principal speakers), I began to arrange matters to return to my family who were, as I have before stated, residing in the City of Philadelphia; and on the morning previous to my leaving Nauvoo,1
I called on your father and took breakfast with him. While seated at the table a conversation was had participated in by your mother [Emma], concerning some things that she had learned in the discharge of her mission among the Saints as one of a committee appointed by the Female Relief Society, to visit the Saints and look after the interest of the poor of [the] Church; to enquire after their occupation and financial prospect for food and means of support. In relating her report she said, that some complaint had been made to her by females whom she had visited, that John Taylor, Willard Richards, and Brigham Young had been teaching some doctrines among the Saints privately that was going to ruin the Church, unless there was a stop put to it, as it was contrary to the law and rules governing the Church. Your father remarked that he would attend to the matter as soon as he got through with his troubles with the Laws and Fosters. But mark you their conversation took place only a few days previous to your father's death. What that private teaching might have been, that those persons whom your mother named, were circulating in a clandestine manner, (since there has been so much said about a doctrine called the plural wife doctrine on this subject), I leave the reader to judge. [italics added]
One other point I wish to notice in the conversation that took place while I was eating at your father’s table, and that was, as the conversation turned upon Brigham Young, your father remarked that with regard to the charge brought against those brethren, that he expected that he would have trouble with Brigham Young, especially, and added that "should the time ever come that this man B. Young should lead the Church that he would lead it to hell." And these words I remember as plainly as though they were spoken but yesterday; as at this time I had not known that there could have been a charge of fault brought against the man. My association with this man Brigham Young for near three years previous, had been very limited, in consequence of our different localities and fields of labor.
These matters that I have thus named do not comprise the whole ground of the causes that led to your father’s death; although in part it did, as this secret evil that had crept into the Church, by means of this private teaching, gave food and material for the Expositor2 press to pour out its vials of wrath upon the head of the prophet, making him responsible for the conduct and teaching of these secret and clandestine teachers. What fixes the stain of guilt upon these parties named in this letter making them more criminally murderous, is the part that the City Council at Nauvoo took in getting up the ordinance which resulted in the destruction of the Expositor press. And I wish here to name the fact that the principal instigators in getting up that ordinance were men who feared the revelations that this organ (Expositor) was about to make of their secret and ungodly doings to the world. The persons who were most conspicuous in the work, and were the means of bringing on the scenes that finally resulted in the bloody tragedy which took place at Carthage Jail were no other than John Taylor and Willard Richards, who by constant importunities prevailed upon your father to sign his own death warrant by placing his name to that accursed ordinance which resulted in his death and the death of your Uncle Hyrum. [italics added]
To these importunities of Richards and Taylor I was a witness, and was present when Richards brought in the book containing the ordinance and asked for your father’s signature to make it a law in the City of Nauvoo. I remonstrated with Richards at the time, against my brother Joseph putting his name down in such a place, as it would most certainly result in his death. Richards, failing to secure your father’s name at this time, both he and Taylor called on your father the next morning, with feigned tears of desperation, expatiating upon the great necessity of having that Expositor removed, as a means to the further growth and prosperity not only of the City of Nauvoo, but of the cause of the Church abroad.
Thus these men, with the sophistry of their lying tongues, like wolves in sheep’s clothing, ensnared the prophet from off his watch tower, and led him as a lamb to the slaughter, they promising, also, to be his assistants in case he should fall into trouble, as a result of his name being placed to that ordinance. This accounts for the whys and the wherefores, that Taylor and Richards were both in the jail at the time your father and your uncle Hyrum were murdered. The principal reasons why these conspirators against your father’s life did not suffer the same fate that your father and your uncle Hyrum did, are, because, like cowards they hid themselves away—Taylor under a bed that was in the room where the prisoners were confined and Richards behind the door.
Thus you see, by the secret workings and secret doings of these men for years gone by, the Church was robbed of her prophet and patriarch, by a most hellish plot [a conspiracy] that had been in vogue for not only months, but years previous to the time of their deaths. When I see men whose finger stains show positive signs of their guilt in the death of the martyrs, now revelling in the spoils of the Church robbed from the innocent and unsuspecting saints, I cannot restrain my pen from writing the facts and incidents that I do know before God and man were the means of your father and uncle Hyrum’s death.
There is one more fact I will notice and that is, that however strange or great the testimony that might be brought against these men, John Taylor3 and others, in this murderous affair, the Utah Mormons would not credit it though one rose from the dead to bear witness of it, and as for the redemption of any from their blindness, who have willingly given their names in support of this great apostacy, l am in much doubt that there are many who will be saved or forsake the great error they have fallen into.
And especially do I believe this in regard to the remnants of the Smith family in Utah, whose chances for knowing the erroneous position they are in, and with ample proof from the Word of God that their whole system of church organization is founded in corruption and fraud; and still they persist in their unholy alliance with that apostate and Godforsaken people. "There are none so blind as those who will not see."
This, then, is the end of this epistle, and I conclude with many good wishes to you and to all good saints. Your brother in bonds of love. Wm. B. Smith. Kingston, Caldwell Co., Mo., March 25th, 1879. (The Saints' Herald 26 [April 15, 1879]: 117)

Next item for consideration:  Here is a video which discusses the ballistics issues related to the story of what happened in Carthage.  The presenter makes some interesting points showing that there are problems with the story given the layout of the jail, the types of guns used, and the evidence in artifacts left behind.

In the story of Amalickiah, it is interesting to observe how the servants - those who were true to the King of the Lamanites were kept from telling what had happened.

Alma 47

27 And it came to pass that Amalickiah commanded that his armies should march forth and see what had happened to the king; and when they had come to the spot, and found the king lying in his gore, Amalickiah pretended to be wroth, and said: Whosoever loved the king, let him go forth, and pursue his servants that they may be slain.
28 And it came to pass that all they who loved the king, when they heard these words, came forth and pursued after the servants of the king.
Is there a parallel to this?  Joseph Smith did not leave a written copy of the endowment.  While we do know that there were endowments given before Joseph died,  There is not exact record of what that was.  Many of those who have received the current LDS endowment may be unfamiliar with the Oath of Vengeance that was part of the endowment until changes were made and the oath was removed in the early 1930's.

"You and each of you do covenant and promise that you will pray and never cease to pray to Almighty God to avenge the blood of the prophets upon this nation, and that you will teach the same to your children and to your children's children unto the third and fourth generation."

According to Brigham Young, after Joseph delivered what apparently became the core of the LDS temple rites, Joseph told him:

"Brother Brigham, this is not arranged perfectly; however we have done the best we could under the circumstances in which we are placed. I wish you to take this matter in hand: organize and systematize all these ceremonies."  (L. John Nuttall Diary, 7 February 1877, quoted in BYU Studies 19 (Winter 1979): 159 fn. 77)

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed. All must be saved on the same principles.” (TPJS, p. 308)

The quote from Brigham Young regarding the endowment is problematic.  If the ordinances are not to be altered or changed, then why would Joseph Smith have told Brigham to change the endowment? Also, it is obvious that the oath of vengeance was added since Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith were alive when the original would have been given.

Even after the death of Joseph Smith and before Brigham Young could come into power, there were still a few remaining obstacles to be cleared.  Samuel Smith presented one such obstacle.  William Clayton had recorded that Samuel Smith should be Joseph's successor should he and Hyrum be killed.  Samuel died only a month after Joseph and Hyrum.  The circumstances surrounding his death at age 36 caused suspicion among many.  Even Brigham Young commented on rumors that he had been responsible for his death in 1857.

Many sites have provided more information regarding the mysterious death of Samuel Smith.  One such account can be found here:

Death of Samuel Smith

Another primary obstacle was Sidney Rigdon.  Sidney had been ordained prophet, seer, and revelator in 1941 by Joseph Smith and was the only surviving member of the first presidency.  On August 3, 1844 he arrived in Nauvoo and claimed to have received a revelation to act as a Guardian of the church.  On August 8th,  Sidney was speaking to a group of saints about his role as guardian.  He was interrupted by Brigham Young who stated his opposition to Rigdon, dismissed the gathering, and asked them to reconvene in the afternoon.

Jacob Hamblin’s diary for 8 August indicates that Young’s stunning display of brinksmanship caused the audience to turn in their seats and face his commanding presence on the stand.  “I will manage this voting for Elder Rigdon,” he bellowed.  “He does not preside here.  This child (meaning himself) will manage this flock of a season.”  He then wisely dismissed the meeting, allowing Rigdon’s rhetoric to dissipate, and announced a special assembly for 2:00 pm.
In the meeting in the afternoon, Young claimed the 12 apostles had the right to preside despite D&C 107 indicating that the twelve had no jurisdiction in the church  - only in the mission field.   A cleverly worded proposition was put forth to make it appear that there was no support for Sidney Rigdon.

Fully confident, tossing off platitudes and pronouncements, Young’s afternoon address on 8 August was a remarkable assertion of the Twelve’s right to govern as well as his personal claim to be shepherd of the flock.  “For the first time since [I] became a member of the church,” Young began, “the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb, chosen by revelation, in this last dispensation of the gospel for the winding up scene, present themselves before the saints, to stand in their lot according to appointment.”  After explaining “matters so satisfactorily that every saint could see that Elijah’s mantle had truly fallen on the ‘Twelve,'”, wrote a reporter in the 2 September 1844 Times and Seasons.  Young, ever the masterful strategist, then asked, “I now want to ask each of you to tell me if you want to choose a guardian, a Prophet, evangelist, or sumthing els[e] as your head to lead you.  All that are in favor of it make it manifest by raising the right hand.”  No one did. 
In the LDS church, there is a story often told about how the Mantle of Joseph Smith came upon Brigham as he spoke and it was by this means that the people knew that Brigham Young was to be Joseph's successor.  However, there is ample evidence to support the idea that this event never happened and this this story was created many years later.

The Transfiguration of Brigham Young: Mormon Folklore?

It is also worth noting here that the people did not choose Brigham Young as president that day.  Rather, if there were a decision made by the people, it was that the twelve would lead the church.
The twelve published an epistle one week later claiming there was no single leader:

“You are now without a prophet present with you in the flesh to guide you. … Let no man presume for a moment that [Joseph Smith’s] place will be filled by another; for, remember he stands in his own place, and always will.” (Times and Seasons 5 (15 Aug. 1844): 618, quoted in Van Wagoner, 14)

One month later, Brigham Young convened a court to excommunicate Sidney Rigdon.  Sidney Rigdon did not believe that Brigham Young had the right to do so and refused to attend.  William Marks, who was the current stake president in Nauvoo  -- who did have the right and authority to convene a court -- supported this claim and laid out the following additional points.

1- The court was not proceeding according to the protocol provided in modern revelation
2- Straws must be drawn to see who defends the character of the accused and makes sure he gets a fair trial
3- It is improper to bring up old charges that Rigdon has already been tried for and found innocent of
4- The First Presidency of the Church always presides over the church
5- It does not become unorganized or dissolved when one or two members die
6- Any member of the quorum can conduct business when the other two are not present
7- The First Presidency has “power and responsibility” no other quorum has. They preside over the quorum of the Twelve
8- The quorum of the 12 are a traveling missionary quorum that has no right to preside in an established stake of Zion (with no authority to organize the First Presidency)
9- He personally helped Joseph Ordain Sidney to be a Prophet Seer and Revelator
10- A person must be a prophet seer and revelator in order to ordain another person to be a prophet seer and revelator (Marks could not have ordained Sidney himself, he could only participate in the circle while Joseph performed the ordinance)
11- Marks was aware of every ordination and Sidney was the only living person was ordained to be a prophet seer and revelator
12- A “prophet, priest and king” does not have the same authority as a “prophet seer and revelator” and does not have the right to receive the oracles for the church
13- Sidney was equal with Joseph in holding the Keys and Authority of the Kingdom
14- Sidney has sustained his authority and has not lost it through transgression
15- Sidney is the one to receive the oracles from brother Joseph and give them to the church
16- If Sidney is cut off from the church, there will be no one to obtain revelations for the church
17- Continuous revelation was essential to guide the church
18- The kingdom cannot be built without revelation

It was't until three years later that a vote was taken at Winter Quarters to appoint Brigham Young as president of the church and head of the first presidency.  On December 5, 1847; the twelve met at Orson Hyde's home in Kanesville, Iowa and after much discussion the apostles voted to sustain Brigham Young as President of a newly created first presidency.  He then chose his counselors.  D&C 107:22 indicates that the three presidents should be chosen by the membership of the church.  The twelve apostles did not have the authority to do so without the member's consent.

It is interesting, because it seems that Brigham Young himself understood that this was how it was supposed to work:

"Perhaps it may make some of you stumble, were I to ask you a question—Does a man’s being a Prophet in this Church prove that he shall be the President of it? I answer, no! A man may be a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, and it may have nothing to do with his being the president of the Church. Suffice it to say, that Joseph was the president of the Church, as long as he lived: the people chose to have it so. He always filled that responsible station by the voice of the people. Can you find any revelation appointing him the President of the Church? The keys of the Priesthood were committed to Joseph, to build up the Kingdom of God on the earth, and were not to be taken from him in time or in eternity; but when he was called to preside over the Church, it was by the voice of the people; though he held the keys of the Priesthood, independent of their voice.” (Journal of Discourses 1:133 Emphasis added.)

I wish to acknowledge that parts of this article are speculative in nature.  However, it should also be noted by the reader that many parts presented here are factual and documented. 
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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Letter from Thomas McCulley

My friend Thomas has given me permission to share this letter that he wrote to his bishop.  In it, he discusses what it means to come unto Christ and ways in which we have strayed from that course.  Because he speaks candidly about problems in organized religion; he expects that his church will discipline him and excommunicate him.

July 21, 2017
D&C 88: 81 Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.
I have been warned and it is my duty to warn others. It is not an easy thing to do. I would much rather believe as I choose and let others do so as well. However, the obligation to warn is mine.  I really do not want to do this. I have avoided it for many months now.  I know it will offend people. Good people that are trying their best to live the gospel, people that have shown love and acceptance to me and my family. People that have pure motives and that give much of their time, talent and resources to serve others and serve the church. I don’t judge anyone or claim to be more righteous than anyone else. I am simply trying to obey the voice of the Lord. It is by His voice that I do this.   

It is by the sincere desire to know the gospel and through much prayer and study that I have come to what I know. Joseph Smith taught that knowledge is what saves a man. I took that to heart and became a serious student of the gospel. I know Christ is my Lord and my redeemer. I know he lives. I know the Book of Mormon is true. It took five years of serious study and communion with the Lord to come to the knowledge I have. I don’t expect anyone can understand without that same effort. I don’t blame anyone for not believing what I say. I have no great social standing or any authority that would cause people to respect my opinion.

I know there is much good in the church and that good I embrace. I am thankful for it but all is not well in Zion. We come from a tradition that tells us that all is well and that our salvation is all but assured. But it is the philosophies of men mingled with scripture. It is a powerful tool of deception. It deceives even those with pure intent. As Satan says, it is being received very well. It is so powerful because the truth and light contained in the scriptures is used. People naturally follow after that because of the goodness of those words but like Adam, I do not believe the philosophies of men. Salvation comes from Christ and from Christ alone. He is the way, the only way.  What a terrible fate it would be to arrive at the end of life and to find our salvation has not been accomplished.

John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
You must know God to receive eternal life. Jesus Christ describes this relationship as a marriage. He is the bridegroom. We are to be his bride. This is an intimate relationship. (Who do you know better than your spouse?)  In the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, it is those who do not know Christ that are rejected.

JST Matt 25:9 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage, and the door was shut.
Matt 25:10 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us.
Matt 25:11 But he answered and said, Verily, I say unto you, You know me not.

The ten virgins do not represent those who do not believe in Christ or in Christ’s gospel. They are the believers. They are his followers. Christ divides them between those who know him and those who do not. This is not about knowing leaders or following prophets.

Christ wants this close relationship with us. He wants to guide our every step. We can talk with him at any time of the day or night. He is the author of our salvation. It is He that baptizes us with fire so we can hear His voice. All He asks is that we humble ourselves and come unto to Him with a broken heart and contrite spirit. It is that humility that allows us to be taught by Him. If we think we know all we need to know, we do not seek for His voice. If we think we should be following men, we do not seek for His counsel. If we think, all we need to do is listen to the Sunday school lessons or to conference, we do not seek for His voice. He will speak to any of us that will be humble enough to listen. If we listen and obey Him, we can receive our calling and election made sure. This is the path to salvation. If you have not heard the voice of God telling you your calling and election is made sure, then your calling and election is unsure. Your salvation is not assured.

No man should stand between us and Christ. The relationship is between Him and us with no mediator. Christ is the mediator.

Joseph Smith taught the following:

“The other Comforter spoken of is a subject of great interest, and perhaps understood by few of this generation. After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost, (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted.
When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and his election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints, as is recorded in the testimony of St. John, in the 14th chapter, from the 12th to the 27th verses
Now what is this other Comforter? It is no more nor less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; and this is the sum and substance of the whole matter; that when any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even He will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him, and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God; and this is the state and place the ancient Saints arrived at when they had such glorious visions--Isaiah, Ezekiel, John upon the Isle of Patmos, St. Paul in the three heavens, and all the Saints who held communion with the general assembly and Church of the Firstborn.”(The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith-TPJS pg 150).

This is how to know Christ. This is eternal life. Christ is real and he wants you to know Him. This is the fullness of the gospel. Book of Mormon prophecy predicts the Gentiles (us) will reject the fullness of the gospel. (3Nephi 16:10)

Notice it says having a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of God? So why has it been taught within our church to avoid the mysteries? Knowledge saves a man, knowledge of God and God’s mysteries. What is the opposite of that? Alma lets us know.

Alma 12:9 And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.
10 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.
11 And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.
Those who do not know the mysteries are bound by Satan and led to destruction. This is what it means to be damned. To have a hard heart means, you cannot be taught because you think you know all you need to know. You erect a dam between yourself and God. You will not seek after what he offers and if he sends a messenger, you will not receive him.  

The LDS church started off, in Nov 1831 as the only true and living church. By Sep 1832, the church was put under condemnation for taking the Book of Mormon lightly and not living by the principles contained in the book.  This condemnation has been upon us for some time now and has not been lifted.

D&C 84:54 And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—
55 Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.
56 And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.
57 And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written—
We give lip service to the book, and cherry pick a few verses here and there, but only a superficial study of the book is ever employed during church instruction. A closer inspection would reveal our shortcomings. In Alma, chapter one, we read about the teachings of the anti-Christ, Nehor.  He teaches that those who minister in and preach the gospel should be popular and they should not labor for their support. He teaches that the laymen should labor for the support of the minsters. Alma calls that practice priestcraft and declares that if it were allowed to continue, it would lead to the total destruction of the people.
Alma teaches the correct principles, which are: No man is to esteem himself better than another. The teacher and student are on equal standing. Those who minister in and preach the gospel are to labor for their own support.  All are to gather to hear the word. Then minsters and laymen are to return to their labors.
 Although Alma’s system is somewhat employed at the ward level, we have made the top leaders popular.  Their pictures are everywhere in church buildings, in homes of members, on the covers of manuals and magazines, on the church website and on the television. (Imagine if Moses came down from Mount Sinai and instead of giving the Ten Commandments started passing out pictures of himself, encouraging everyone to post them in their tents and meeting areas.) The members stand if a leader enters the room.  Top leaders testify and teach about each other. Lessons are given that center on the leaders and not Christ. Manuals make leaders the subject being taught instead of Christ. Members are taught to pattern their lives after leaders instead of Christ. Whole sacrament meetings center on leaders, and some meetings only mention Christ in the closing mantra of talks and prayers. We consider top leaders to be better than us. Even church rank in the ward and stake level is viewed as a sign of righteousness or being on a greater standing than others. Top leaders are praised, honored and give themselves generous compensation for the work of preaching and running the church. They do not return to their labors but make a living from preaching the gospel and running the church. True prophets do not lead people to themselves. They teach people how to repent and come unto Christ.  They teach people to receive revelation from Christ.  True prophets do not take money, worship and praise for their service. They sacrifice to serve. They bow and serve others. They don’t expect others to bow or stand for them.  
The praise and honor we give top leaders is a form of worship.
wor·ship (wûr′shĭp) n. 1. a. The reverent love and devotion accorded a deity, an idol, or a sacred object.
This praise and honor we give the brethren rightly belongs to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and his Father only. They are the only beings worthy of our worship. I have paid close attention to this for a couple of years now and the praise given the brethren is many times more than the praise we give Jesus Christ, our Lord and God, who suffered and died for our salvation. Every man is our fellow servant and not worthy of our worship even if he be a prophet, king or pope. It is hard for us to see this error because most of us have been raised with the tradition of praising and honoring a man we call a prophet and those we call apostles.
D&C 93: 39 And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers
False traditions are an effective toll of deception. Idolatry is a serious offense to God, one great enough to cause the physical destruction of those who practice it.
The current hierarchy of the church does not operate by the terms of the revelation God gave to Joseph Smith. All one needs to do is read section 107 of the D&C to see that the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve, the Quorum of the Seventies and the Stake High councils were to be equal in authority. This was actually practiced in Joseph’s day and the Quorum of the Twelve had no authority within an organized stake. They only held authority within the mission field and the branches outside of an organized stake.
The body of the priesthood is supposed to pick the members of the First Presidency by vote.
D&C 107: 22 Of the Melchizedek Priesthood, three Presiding High Priests, chosen by the body, appointed and ordained to that office, and upheld by the confidence, faith, and prayer of the church, form a quorum of the Presidency of the Church.
Even Joseph Smith abided by this when he wanted to replace Sidney Rigdon in the First Presidency but his desire to do so was voted down by the body of priesthood holders in the church. There was no dictatorship in Joseph’s day.  The church is supposed to run by the common consent of the members. Now, the vote has turned into a test of loyalty instead of the true vote it was intended to be. It is now more like a third world country election, where soldiers with guns ensure you make the correct vote. The vote is made with threat of punishment if you vote incorrectly. This is not a correct principle of the priesthood as there is no power to compel in the priesthood, only to persuade. There is no power to force or threaten obedience contained in the priesthood. Only to bless, serve and persuade. Any leader who would threaten or attempt to coerce obedience says amen to his priesthood. (See D&C 121). Every member has to the right to vote their conscience, without the threat of recourse or punishment. The vote is worthless otherwise. Every member has the right to express their dissatisfaction with the leadership and vote them down if they so desire. It is also taught that to point out a fault in leadership is wrong even if that fault is true. However, this is a false teaching as it is using priesthood to cover sins. (See D&C 121). Every member, no matter how high their priesthood office is subject to same laws and discipline as the lowest among us. There is not supposed to be special treatment for high office. Even Joseph Smith himself subjected himself to this process, something that would never happen today.
D&C 107: 81 There is not any person belonging to the church who is exempt from this council of the church.
82 And inasmuch as a President of the High Priesthood shall transgress, he shall be had in remembrance before the common council of the church, who shall be assisted by twelve counselors of the High Priesthood;
83 And their decision upon his head shall be an end of controversy concerning him.
84 Thus, none shall be exempted from the justice and the laws of God, that all things may be done in order and in solemnity before him, according to truth and righteousness.
Soon after Joseph died, the Twelve rejected the revelation from God on how the church should operate and instead built an organization patterned after the militaries of the world, with orders coming from the general or prophet and everyone in the lower ranks are to obey without question.  The First presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve no longer accept common consent of the members.  The body of the priesthood no longer chooses the three Presiding High Priests which form the Presidency of the Church.  The equality taught by Alma and Joseph Smith is long gone and it seems that the gifts of the spirit associated with the offices are gone as well. We are simply compelled and threatened to give them titles of prophets, seers and revelators even though none of them display any of the gifts which should be manifested by persons with those titles. No revelations, no visions, no thus sayeth the Lord, no translation of ancient records and no new scripture. Perhaps God has withheld these gifts because we do not honor and keep his word. We are taught that they are called by revelation but there is no revelation saying seniority and outliving everyone makes you a prophet. If such revelation exists, that overturns the original revelation, why has it not been revealed?  There is even a story passed around about gaining blessings for obeying the prophet, even if he is wrong but that is not what Joseph Smith taught.
“We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark, that they would do anything they were told to do by those who presided over them, if they knew it was wrong; but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God … would despise the idea. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the saints were told to do by their presidents, they should do it without asking any questions. When Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their minds to do wrong themselves.” (Joeph Smith, Millennial Star, vol.14 #38, pp. 593-595).
The foundation of the church rests upon Joseph Smith. He is the man who communed with Jehovah, face to face. Since his death, no leader of the church has publicly testified of seeing God the Father and Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith proclaimed that he did see them. If he taught falsehoods, then the church was built upon a false foundation and is a false church. His teachings must take primacy. How can we set a revelation from God aside and run the church according to the philosophies of men and remain in God’s favor?
We are also taught the mantra: “Follow the Prophet”. It is the overriding doctrine of the church. We are taught that he cannot lead us astray. However, Joseph Smith did not teach us to depend on a prophet.
“President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel--said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church--that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls--applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall--that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves, envious towards the innocent, while they afflict the virtuous with their shafts of envy”.( TPJS Pg.237.)
The scriptures say, cursed is he that trusts in man.
2Nephi 4: 34 O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.
When the members depend on a man they call a prophet, they neglect the responsibility that belongs to them. That responsibility is to gain the spirit and depend on the Lord God. The Book of Mormon teaches us how to do that. This is the only path to salvation:
2 Nephi 31:13 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.
2 Nephi 32: 3 Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.
This is the duty that devolves upon us all and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen. D&C 107 contains instructions for the body of the priesthood to remove the president of the high priesthood or man we call a prophet for transgression. This does not sound like the office of a man who can never lead us astray. All men are flawed and anyone of them can fall from grace. This notion of not being able to lead us astray is no different than the Catholic doctrine of the Pope being infallible. We have now come full circle. Back to where we started from before Joseph Smith.
Chapter 31 of 2 Nephi describes the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, a topic barely mentioned in church teachings and if it is mentioned, it is usually described as the laying on of hands. Although it can occur with the laying on of hands, it is something Christ does to us, not man.
3 Nephi 9: 20 And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.
The requirement is a broken heart and contrite spirit. Everyone has equal opportunity to speak with Christ and to come unto him. God is no respecter of persons.
Joseph Smith went to great efforts to restore lost knowledge to us.  Much of what he restored and gave to us has been discarded like it was garbage. We have this picture of linear progression from Joseph Smith down to us through a line of living prophets but the true picture is one of ever decreasing knowledge and light. We have lost the connection with the living vine and no new revelation has been given to the church for many years. Revelation to the church is obtained by presenting the words of God to the church and having them vote on it. If the vote is affirmative, it is to be canonized in our scriptures. If this is not done, it is not revelation to the church but something else. Revelation means to reveal. Secret handbooks or anything not presented for a vote is not revelation to the church nor is any member bound to live by it. In 1835, the word of God was presented to the body of the church called the Doctrine and Covenants of the church. The first seventy pages were comprised of the Lectures on Faith. The members voted in the affirmative that it was revelation from God and it was included in our cannon. In 1921, a committee of apostles overturned that decision, without the authority to do so, and removed the lectures on Faith from our cannon. Most members today are unware of this great treasure given to us from God because it is not included in our cannon and is not used as a source for teaching materials. Joseph Smith vouched that it was the word of God. It contains many great truths and defines how the faith to gain eternal life is obtained. In it, we learn that every man is equal before God and has equal right to obtain revelation from him and see his face.
Lecture 3: 23 “But it is also necessary that men should have an idea that he is no respecter of persons; for with the idea of all the other excellencies in his character, and this one wanting, men could not exercise faith in him, because if he were a respecter of persons, they could not tell what their privileges were, nor how far they were authorized to exercise faith in him, or whether they were authorized to do it at all, but all must be confusion; but no sooner are the minds of men made acquainted with the truth on this point, that he is no respecter of persons, than they see that they have authority by faith to lay hold on eternal life the richest boon of heaven, because God is no respecter of persons, and that every man in every nation has an equal privilege.”
We must know the correct attributes of God’s character in order to obtain the faith to lay hold on eternal life.  We don’t need to be an important church leader to see Christ or to commune with him. The important attributes of God are listed in the Lectures on Faith. Without knowing them, we cannot have faith, only false belief, no matter how strongly held the belief is. Faith is had in things that are true but not seen. Therefore, belief in things that are false can never be faith.
The Lectures on Faith also teach us that God does not change. Without this knowledge man cannot have faith in God. This notion that doctrine changes from prophet to prophet is a false teaching. We must have the knowledge that what God requires is the same for all generations. That what constitutes salvation for one does so for all. This idea that living prophets trump dead ones is false. God cannot be Adam one day and not be Adam the next. In Brigham Young’s day, people were excommunicated for not agreeing with Brigham that Adam was God. Today, you will be excommunicated for agreeing with Brigham. If a prophet speaks for God, his teachings will be correct, forever. Today’s true prophet cannot be tomorrow’s false one. How can you have faith in God if He is going to change the rules in the middle of the game?
The Lectures on Faith also teach us about the law of sacrifice:
Lecture  6. 7 “Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things: it was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things, that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God. When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has, for the truth's sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice, because he seeks to do his will, he does know most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering, and that he has not nor will not seek his face in vain. Under these circumstances, then, he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life.”
You cannot gain eternal life without the sacrifice of all earthly things. This is the exact opposite of what the church currently teaches. Now, we are taught that the gospel brings us temporary, earthly blessings and eternal blessing both. What did Joseph Smith say about that?
Lecture 6: 8 “It is in vain for persons to fancy to themselves that they are heirs with those, or can be heirs with them, who have offered their all in sacrifice, and by this means obtained faith in God and favor with him so as to obtain eternal life, unless they in like manner offer unto him the same sacrifice, and through that offering obtain the knowledge that they are accepted of him.”
It is vanity to hold to such a belief. When the next council is held in the afterlife, and you are looking for your position, will you seat yourself between Abinadi and Isaiah knowing you sacrificed all things, even unto death to follow God, like they did or will you slink to the back, with your head hung low, knowing you lived a life of comfort and ease?
The teachings of God found in the Lectures on Faith contain many things that are contrary to the current church teachings. I would recommend everyone interested in salvation to study them. Without the knowledge they contain, eternal life cannot be obtained. To believe so is in vain. The scriptures tell us there will be weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth from those who believe they are God’s elect. The Lectures on Faith teach hard things. Have we rejected the word of God because we prefer the smooth easy things?
Isaiah 30: 9 That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord:
10 Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:
Have we said, enough of the word of God? Take this back and give us easy things?
2 Nephi 28: 29 Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough!
The brethren teach us to stay in the good ship Zion but they no longer even know what Zion is.  Zion is a community of equals, with no rich and no poor. They own all things in common and all of them know the Lord. I am not content to stay in the boat. I have stepped out of the boat and on to the water. Christ calls to me as he called to Peter. You might ask if this is dangerous. Yes, it is but less so than staying in the boat. The path to the tree of life is a dangerous one and many are lost in the mist of darkness but staying in the great and spacious building is more dangerous. It is certain to fall as is the ship. To survive one must take the leap of faith and come unto Christ.
All churches built up to get gain will fall.
1Nephi 22: 23 For the time speedily shall come that all churches which are built up to get gain, and all those who are built up to get power over the flesh, and those who are built up to become popular in the eyes of the world, and those who seek the lusts of the flesh and the things of the world, and to do all manner of iniquity; yea, in fine, all those who belong to the kingdom of the devil are they who need fear, and tremble, and quake; they ar`e those who must be brought low in the dust; they are those who must be consumed as stubble; and this is according to the words of the prophet.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is now built up to get gain. With over 100 for profit corporations owned by the church, it is more a business than a church. The legal name of the church is the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Its holdings are worth many billions of dollars. No one outside the very top leadership knows the exact figure. Its assets include, the City Creek mall, which caters to the elite of society. The finest most expensive stores in the world can be found there. The corporation also owns radio and TV stations, an exclusive hunting lodge, office and apartment buildings and two percent of the state of Florida. That is just the tip of the iceberg and some of their more well-known assets. Compare that to Christ who was homeless. (The Sanhedrin had wealth and power).
The Book of Mormon was given to us as a warning for us. Every author writes for his intended audience.  We are the ones being warned to repent and what to repent of. Of what value is a warning for people who do not believe the book is true or will never read it? It is only so much wasted paper, gold plates and efforts if it is meant for people who will never read or believe in the book.
Mormon 8: 35 Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.
36 And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts.
37 For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.
There are so many warnings for us in the Book of Mormon that I can only include a small portion of them or make this letter 100s of pages long. The Book of Mormon is scripture for us, right now. In 3 Nephi, Jesus Christ gives the reader a direct commandment:
3 Nephi: 23 .1 And now, behold, I say unto you, that ye ought to search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah.
2 For surely he spake as touching all things concerning my people which are of the house of Israel; therefore it must needs be that he must speak also to the Gentiles.
We are the Gentiles spoken of in the Book of Mormon so Isaiah is speaking to us. Christ tells us why we should study Isaiah:
3 And all things that he spake have been and shall be, even according to the words which he spake.
It is because Isaiah not only tells us of what happened in ancient Israel but is telling us what will be and what is happening now. We are left without excuse because the scriptures are full of warnings for us to repent and spell out our sins in detail. Jesus Christ is telling us that Isaiah is scripture for our day. The book of Isaiah has a very dim view of us. It should make us pay attention that so much of Isaiah is in the Book of Mormon. It is there to warn us to repent.   
2 Nephi 28: 12 Because of pride, and because of false teachers, and false doctrine, their churches have become corrupted, and their churches are lifted up; because of pride they are puffed up.
13 They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing; and they persecute the meek and the poor in heart, because in their pride they are puffed up.
14 They wear stiff necks and high heads; yea, and because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations, and whoredoms, they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.
2 Nephi 28: 5 And they deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men.
Don’t we profess that God has given his power to the brethren? Don’t we claim they hold the keys to salvation?

2Nephi 28: 21 And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.
Isaiah says, Ephraim will take refuge in lies:
Isaiah 28: 15 Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves:
Who is modern Ephraim?
Pride instead of humility, neglect and enslavement of the poor, getting gain by taking advantage of our neighbor, spending vast sums of money on temples, like King Noah did, and on other fancy buildings instead of using that money to help the poor, idol worship which is whoredoms, because we are not faithful to the bridegroom but worship men and money instead. All these are warnings for us.
Perhaps the reason there has been an absence of the greater spiritual gifts is because God put the LDS church under a curse at the time of Joseph’s death. This is in addition to the condemnation that was placed in 1832. The evidence of this curse is right before us, unexamined, in D&C 124. Many of us carry the evidence of our curse with us to church each week where we bear testimony of how lucky and blessed we are. God commanded the saints to build the Nauvoo temple in a timely manner, and to labor with all their might to build it.  God said, they could regain what was lost to them, which was the fullness of the priesthood but it could only be done it that temple. This was like a three strikes and you’re out situation for the church because of their previous failures in Kirtland and Missouri.  The true story of the early church is one of repeated failure to obey God. The saints could not live consecration in Kirtland or Missouri. God allowed the saints to be persecuted because they would not obey him. Here is revelation God gave to the saints when they were suffering persecutions in both Kirtland and Missouri:
D&C 101: 2.  I, the Lord, have suffered the affliction to come upon them, wherewith they have been afflicted, in consequence of their transgressions;
6 Behold, I say unto you, there were jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires among them; therefore by these things they polluted their inheritances.
You cannot disobey God without suffering a loss of blessings. We make it sound as if the law of tithing is just as good and it is no big deal that the early saints failed to live the higher law. What other laws do you think we could ignore and still remain God’s holy, chosen people? The best souls saved for the last days. Perhaps we can’t live the law of chastity any longer. No big deal, God will give us a new law. Maybe he will but we gain our inheritance by living the law of the kingdom we wish to attain.
D&C 88: 22 For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory.
The early saints failed twice when God gave them an opportunity to try again in Nauvoo. God said, if the temple was completed in time, he would consecrate that spot and make it holy. He would protect the saints and they would not be moved from their place. But if they would not complete the work in time, they would be cursed and driven from Nauvoo. They would be rejected along with their dead. It is quite obvious that the saints were driven from Nauvoo. God did not protect them or keep them in Nauvoo. The temple was never fully finished and only the second story walls were up when Joseph died. Not one stone of the temple remained a top another shortly after they left Nauvoo. First fire, then a tornado destroyed the temple, completely. The saints endured starvation, deaths of children and spouses, loss of homes, possessions and many other hardships. Joseph was taken from them much like Moses was taken from the Israelites for their transgressions and unwillingness to obey God. I believe that much like in Moses’ day, God allowed the Aaronic priesthood to continue with the church but the blessings of the Melchizedek priesthood have not been evident.
D&C 107: 18 The power and authority of the higher, or Melchizedek Priesthood, is to hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church—
19 To have the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, to have the heavens opened unto them, to commune with the general assembly and church of the Firstborn, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.
The heavens have been shut up and we have not had the presence of the Father among us although I think, some few have had the presence of Christ among them.
So every year we shoot off fireworks and have a parade to celebrate our cursing. We cannot face our shortcomings so we invent a story about it that makes us heroic. It is human nature to not admit our faults.
God has sent us a prophet to declare the heavens are now open again. We are given a chance to lift the curse. It is much like Israel had to suffer being captive in Babylon for a time before God would call a prophet to lead them back.
There is a pattern found in the scriptures. History always repeats and God sends a prophet to warn the religious to repent. Our day is no different. God has sent a prophet to us. He does not ask for money or worship. He does not ask for authority to compel men. He has warned us to repent of the sins of our generation and not repeat the ones of our predecessors.  The sign God requires is for us to be re-baptized, which is another pattern found in scripture. I have listened to that prophet and have been re-baptized in an attempt to follow the Lord and show Him my faithfulness that I do not worship men or put men before God. I do not pay my tithing to the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints anymore. I pay a full tithe and pay directly to the poor so that money will not be wasted to adorn that which has no life. I still have many faults and do not claim to be righteous. I beg for God’s mercy and hope he will accept my token of repentance. I invite all to be re-baptized and to show God that you want to turn back to him.
I know most everyone will think I am crazy. That is the price one must pay to obey God. I ask you to consider what Laman and Lemuel said to Nephi:
1 Nephi 22: And we know that the people who were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people; for they kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his commandments, according to the law of Moses; wherefore, we know that they are a righteous people; and our father hath judged them, and hath led us away because we would hearken unto his words; yea, and our brother is like unto him. And after this manner of language did my brethren murmur and complain against us.
It is always the same. The religious people lose their connection to the living vine. God sends a prophet. That prophet is rejected because the people consider themselves righteous. They think their religious tradition and their works make them righteous. The people of Jerusalem were a religious people with a temple, baptism, tithing, scriptures, synagogues and a set of religious authorities, like our general authorities, who could trace their authority to Moses. It was not their lack of adherence to religion that made them apostate but it was their devotion to religion that made them think they didn’t need to repent. They couldn’t conceive that the Lord was displeased with them.  We claim to be incapable of repeating the mistakes made in the past. Joseph Smith did not agree with that. He warned, many times that God would find another people if we failed him. We are no different than ancient Israel and the Nephites. We even have a dead sea and a river named Jordan. The Book of Mormon calls us prideful. In 3 Nephi 16:10, it says, we will be the most prideful people on the face of the earth. We call ourselves God’s best generation, held in reserve for the last days. Why, because we keep a portion of the Word of Wisdom and don’t drink or smoke, the advice given to the weakest of the saints? Because we don’t watch R rated movies and don’t cuss? The reality is, we are under curse for the lack of obeying the higher laws and like the people of Moses as part of that curse have been given the law of carnal commandments. (D&C84) It is all hubris and pride. All of us lie in sin.
D&C 49: 20 But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin.
It never has been about us. The natural branches are God’s favored people, not the Gentiles. The gospel will go back under their stewardship. Sincere prayer, with deep humility and study of the scriptures will reveal this to you.
I understand that we as church members do many good things. We do much to serve each other and to serve God. I believe God is happy for every good thing we do and for every correct principle we embrace. I believe he supports us and guides us in every step towards him we are willing to take. But, there is much more to be had. More he wants us to do and embrace. He wants us to live a Celestial law so we can abide a Celestial glory.
God is looking for a people that will do his will on earth. He is looking for a people that will set aside their pursuit of money, leisure and entertainment to do his work. The work he wants done is described in 3 Nephi 21. It is to build Zion and gather Israel.  He has given us another chance to regain what was lost, the fullness of the priesthood. The spirit has told me the LDS church will never do this work. They are too occupied with building an earthly kingdom of power and wealth. To build Zion would require the leaders to come down and be equal in status with the lay member. It would require the wealthy members to surrender their wealth to the poor and to come down in humility with the poor instead of having pride in their wealth. The traditions within the LDS system are now so entrenched that they cannot be overcome. The idea of equality is so foreign to us but that is what Zion and the Celestial Kingdom is all about. God’s word in the Book of Mormon will be fulfilled. God has said, Zion will be built, Israel gathered and it will be the Gentiles that do this work. I hope to be one chosen to help God do this work. I hope and pray I have the strength to live a Celestial law. I invite you to pray and ponder about the things I have said.  

Thomas McCulley.