The Question, Part 4

General Musings

In our analysis, we don’t have to have a set of blueprints of the Nauvoo temple. We don’t have to understand all the details of the plans by which we can judge whether or not the Nauvoo saints finished it. All we have to do is observe which of the two sets of promises the Lord fulfilled. Was it the first? Well, let’s see, temple, holy place and thereby protected…nope. It was ravaged by fire and a tornado and what was left had to be dismantled for safety. Were the Nauvoo saints moved out of their place? Yep. Decidedly. Whether they were moved out by the command of Brigham Young, or mobs, it really doesn’t matter. The result is the same.

So the second promises must be those the Lord kept. Which leads us to the answer that the Nauvoo temple was not finished in the Lord’s timeframe. And what determined the end of that timeframe do you suppose? I wonder if it was the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum? Ya think?

For whatever reason, the saints left Nauvoo to pursue their libidinous lifestyle in points west. We should point out a small item of business that has been maintained to this day. We will greatly compress this item but it is important to remember and ponder.

Over several years after the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum, (and also Samuel, Joseph’s brother), Brigham Young accomplished perhaps the greatest coup d'état of a religious society ever attempted. In Section 107 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord instructed Joseph in the way His church would be administratively organized.

The simple details are: Four groups. All equal in authority. All independent of the other. Vacancies in any group to be filled from the general membership and not from other groups. Group 1: A general (or first) presidency with organizational authority over the whole church. Group 2: A high council in each stake with organizational authority over their geographical stake. Group 3: A group of 12 travelling elders or “apostles” to be missionaries with authority only where there were no stakes organized. Group 4: A group of 70, (with 7 of the 70 as presidents), with authority to assist the travelling elders as needed.

When Brigham’s coup was completed, the first presidency would be abolished and remains so today. The original 12 travelling elders or quorum of the 12 apostles was increased to 15 apostles and a new presidency of the quorum of the 12 apostles created with Brigham as president. The Nauvoo high council was assigned other duties with the stake president, William Marks, essentially run out of town. The first quorum of the seventy was abolished with the 7 presidents assigned to other duties and nine additional quorums of seventy created with the original 63 remaining seventies assigned as presidents of the new quorums thereby diluting their influence.

Much detail, of course, is left out but that is, essentially, what happened and what we ended up with today. You would think that if the Lord authorized these changes, He would have provided instruction in a revelation to accomplish all these changes from His originally revealed organization.

Where, in fact, is the revelation Brigham must have received to make such sweeping administrative changes and consolidation of power? Unfortunately, the Lord never gave such instruction in a revelation, as He surely would have done. Brigham just did it. Brigham created a kingdom of his own with all the power consolidated in…him. The beautiful distribution of power and balance of authority created by the Lord was gone for the duration. And we live with the consequences of Brigham’s enterprising disobedience today. And all the while we laude Brigham as a great prophet and leader. How can we be so naïve?

With this plain and simple history laid out before us demonstrating the disobedience of the Nauvoo saints and their multi-generational condemnation, we now return to 3rd Nephi.

We wondered, moments ago, about the Lord knowing that the Nauvoo saints would not build the temple within His timeframe. Returning to the Lord’s, (actually the Father’s), remarks in 3rd Nephi 16, we can only come to the conclusion that He was speaking directly of the Nauvoo saints and their severe misbehavior when he referred to their sinning against the Gospel and rejecting its fullness. Because there is no other reference in scripture to the Lord making such an offering since His resurrection, we can only come to that conclusion.

Once the Lord made those two sweeping statements, He then provided the details:

“…and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.” 3 Nephi 16:10

I have already made reference to secret works among Brigham and his cohorts against Joseph. Who, I wonder, do we think the Lord was talking about in the above quote? Were Joseph, Hyrum, and Emma guilty of any of these sins the Lord lays down? Not by any stretch of the imagination. They say that to find the guilty party, follow the money, or power. So, we ask, “Who benefitted from the death of Joseph and Hyrum?”

Who, indeed. But if Brigham is at the center of all the Lord makes accusations about, then what of Brigham’s supposed authority to lead the church? Were keys passed? Not according to historical certainty. Only upon the flimsiest of conjectures is the key-passing offered and which, when viewed with the slightest trace of objectivity fail to convince.

However, since the entire case of the church having continuous authority passed from Joseph rests on Brigham, those who offer that case are terrified of exposure. Rather than approaching the Lord with humility and offering to dismantle the grotesque abomination that is offered as the current LDS church hierarchy and organization, and asking the Lord for help in appropriate rebuilding efforts, modern church leadership continues to prance down the street as the emperor, ostensibly wearing the magical suit of clothes. However, any objective and humble child can see the problem.

The Lord, indeed, saw the problem with the Restoration of the Gospel. He know it would be short lived and quickly corrupted. But all is not lost. The Lord continues in 3rd Nephi: "But if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, saith the Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people, O house of Israel." 3 Nephi 16:13

As we come to the end of all this, we ought to arrive at a meaningful conclusion, don’t you think? Is our goal simply to criticize the LDS church and its leadership? I hope not. I’ve said for years that the most satisfying, loving, and forgiving place to serve is a local Mormon ward. In my humble opinion, there is no better organization on earth that provides opportunities to serve than a local Mormon ward. When I say the “church” that’s what I mean. I don’t refer to Salt Lake City as “the church.” Salt Lake City represents the Corporation.

I can think of no better circumstance than if Salt Lake City simply disappeared. I will not wish that Yellowstone would blow up or that a nuclear accident would happen nearby. I would not wish such a disaster on anyone. But what if Salt Lake City fell down a rabbit hole and disappeared? The how of it is irrelevant to this conversation. What would we do as Mormons? Could we survive governing ourselves?

Each ward and stake would be left on its own. Doubtless there would be legal issues regarding building ownership but is that important? Do we not have homes? Could we not meet together in smaller groups? Doubtless there would be those who might attempt to impose coercive leadership but no one would be forced to listen. We would be truly free to practice our religion with the scriptures to guide us and without “handbooks” or conference talks to interfere. We would be free to connect with the mind of God.

We would be free to become Zion. But do we have any idea how to accomplish that task? The corporation has dehydrated Zion out of us. They want no part of it. Zion is not part of any discussion of the world’s future in true-blue Mormon circles. It is not a goal or dream. 

Zion has simply vanished from our lexicon. And why is that? Because Zion has virtually nothing to do with the “church.” Zion is about the Gospel. And, as Elder Ronald J. Poelman discovered in the October 1984 general conference where he spoke about the difference between the church and the Gospel, the church will not tolerate that distinction. A study of the “Talk That Never Was” will be an eye-opener.

An adequate discussion of Zion is beyond the scope of this discussion. However, we can touch on a couple of issues with regard to preparing for a Zion environment. For that eventuality we would need to leave our sins and iniquity behind. Sins we all understand fairly well. I don’t think we need to review what they are, for the most part. Iniquity is something else again. Iniquity is against the Lord being no respecter of persons. Because of that position, we all are equal in His sight. None should doubt their access to God. None should doubt their privilege before Him. And none should take advantage of their ability to convince others of their supposed superior capability to access Him. No one should stand when any of us enters a room.

There is no question that sin must be harnessed and then banished to have any chance of creating a Zion environment. But iniquity? Who in power is willing to leave that power behind? Even if it is only power, as they suppose. Leave a six-figure income, unlimited credit card allowance, a free five-star restaurant in their office building, accolades everywhere they go, enthusiastic recognition by general membership of their claimed superior access to God, who would give that up after decades of believing their own press?

Their claims to be 15 living prophets, seers, and revelators leading the church and yet we hear no prophecy or revelations. In the economy of God, if He really needs all those prophets, He must have a huge amount to tell us. But he is silent. Oh, they say it’s too sacred. Joseph Smith approved an entire book of revelations in 1835 and then more were added. Revelations were not too sacred for him to publish. With fifteen prophets, you’d think we’d be inundated with prophecies and revelations. Why are we not? After all the Lord said in no uncertain terms that “…my works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease.” (Moses 1:4)

Why would they cease? Perhaps the Lord described a reason in a scripture we have already discussed in 3 Nephi 16. Might the Lord cease his words to us “when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations?” Would this cause a separation that could only be healed when “…the Gentiles will repent and return unto me?” Why do we never, ever discuss these verses in Sunday lessons and seek the freeing repentance we so need?

Zion can be had; but only upon principles of righteousness. There is no other way. We must be equal. We must succor the poor until there are none. We must deal justly one with another. We must be kind, patient, and extend unfeigned Christ-like love for one another. We must rid ourselves of sin and iniquity. We must become Christ-like. There is no other way.

We have come to the end of this very long presentation. I hope you have discovered the answer to the question. “Why do we allow the sins and weaknesses of man to dictate our  eternal salvation?” Why indeed. Look to God and God alone. No man, no matter what his title, can save you. “Follow the prophet” is, therefore, nothing less than blasphemy and those who preach it are guilty of priestcraft. 

Follow the Savior. He, and He alone, is able to lead you to salvation. There is no simpler answer than that. Follow the Savior, and the question becomes a statement about teaching, loving, persuading, forgiving, helping, and leading to Him to continue the quest for His grace, His counsel, His yoke, and the salvation we seek.

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