Hodgepodge

It was not just one thing, necessarily, that pushed me over the edge into unbelief regarding the LDS Church. Maybe not even a few. Because there are numerous issues the sheer weight of them all did the deed. The following is a disorganized hodgepodge of some issues.

I am interested in your thoughts, dear reader. Please don’t just hit and run. I encourage comments.

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The Basics

“We declare without equivocation that God the Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, appeared in person to the boy Joseph Smith.”
“When I was interviewed by Mike Wallace on the 60 Minutes program, he asked me if I actually believed that. I replied, ‘Yes, sir. That’s the miracle of it.'”
“That is the way I feel about it. Our whole strength rests on the validity of that vision. It either occurred or it did not occur. If it did not, then this work is a fraud. If it did, then it is the most important and wonderful work under the heavens.” – Gordon B. Hinckley -October 2002 “The Marvelous Foundation of Our Faith”
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“Well, it’s either true or false. If it’s false, we’re engaged in a great fraud. If it’s true, it’s the most important thing in the world. Now, that’s the whole picture. It is either right or wrong, true or false, fraudulent or true. And that’s exactly where we stand, with a conviction in our hearts that it is true: that Joseph went into the Grove; that he saw the Father and the Son; that he talked with them; that Moroni came; that the Book of Mormon was translated from the plates; that the priesthood was restored by those who held it anciently. That’s our claim. That’s where we stand, and that’s where we fall, if we fall. But we don’t. We just stand secure in that faith.” – Gordon B. Hinckley – Interview “The Mormons” – PBS Documentary, April 2007

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“Finally, the Book of Mormon is the keystone of testimony. Just as the arch crumbles if the keystone is removed, so does all the Church stand or fall with the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. The enemies of the Church understand this clearly. This is why they go to such great lengths to try to disprove the Book of Mormon, for if it can be discredited, the Prophet Joseph Smith goes with it. So does our claim to priesthood keys, and revelation, and the restored Church. But in like manner, if the Book of Mormon be true—and millions have now testified that they have the witness of the Spirit that it is indeed true—then one must accept the claims of the Restoration and all that accompanies it.” – Ezra Taft Benson – 1986

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“Everything in the Church — everything — rises or falls on the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.” – Jeffrey R. Holland – Excerpted from a Church Educational System Religious Educators’ Symposium address given at Brigham Young University on August 9, 1994.

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“I am suggesting that we make exactly that same kind of do-or-die, bold assertion about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the divine origins of the Book of Mormon. We have to. Reason and rightness require it. Accept Joseph Smith as a prophet and the book as the miraculously revealed and revered word of the Lord it is or else consign both man and book to Hades for the devastating deception of it all, but let’s not have any bizarre middle ground about the wonderful contours of a young boy’s imagination or his remarkable facility for turning a literary phrase. That is an unacceptable position to take—morally, literarily, historically, or theologically.” – Jeffrey R. Holland, “True or False,” New Era, June 1995, Page 64 (Excerpted from a CES Symposium address given at Brigham Young University on August 9, 1994.)

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“The Book of Mormon claims to be a divinely inspired record, written by a succession of prophets who inhabited ancient America. It professes to be revealed to the present generation for the salvation of all who will receive it, and for the overthrow and damnation of all nations who reject it.

This book must be either true or false. If true, it is one of the most important messages ever sent from God to man, affecting both the temporal and eternal interests of every people under heaven to the same extent and in the same degree that the message of Noah affected the inhabitants of the old world. If false, it is one of the most cunning, wicked, bold, deep-laid impositions ever palmed upon the world, calculated to deceive and ruin millions who will sincerely receive it as the word of God, and will suppose themselves securely built upon the rock of truth until they are plunged with their families into hopeless despair. The nature of the message in the Book of Mormon is such, that if true, no one can possibly be saved and reject it; if false, no one can possibly be saved and receive it. Therefore, every soul in all the world is equally interested in ascertaining its truth or falsity.
In a matter of such infinite importance no person should rest satisfied with the conjectures or opinions of others: he should use every exertion himself to become acquainted with the nature of the message: he should carefully examine the evidences of which it is offered to the world: he should, with all patience and perseverance, seek to acquire a certain knowledge whether it be of God or not. Without such an investigation in the most careful, candid, and impartial manner, he cannot safely judge without greatly harming his future and eternal welfare. If, after a rigid examination, it be found an imposition, should be extensively published to the world as such; the evidences and arguments upon which the imposture was detected, should be clearly and logically stated, that those who have been sincerely yet unfortunately deceived, may perceive the nature of the deception, and be reclaimed, and that those who continue to publish the delusion, may be exposed and silenced, not by physical force, neither by persecutions, bare assertions, nor ridicule, but by strong and powerful arguments–by evidences adduced from scripture and reason. Such, and such only, should be the weapons employed to detect and overthrow false doctrines–to reclaim mankind from their errors, to expose religious enthusiasm, and put to silence base and wicked impostors.
But on the other hand, if investigation should prove the Book of Mormon true and of divine origin, then the importance of the message is so great, and the consequences of receiving or rejecting it so overwhelming, that the various nations–to whom it is now sent, and in whose languages it is now published, (being the first in these latter times who have been so highly favored as to receive a preparatory message for the second advent of the Son of God,) should speedily repent of all their sins, and renounce all the wicked traditions of their fathers, as they are imperatively commanded to do in the message: they should utterly reject both the Popish and Protestant ministry, together with all the churches which have been built up by them or that have sprung from them, as being entirely destitute of authority; they should turn away from all the priestcrafts and abominations practiced by these apostate churches (falsely called Christian), and bring forth fruits meet for repentance in all things: they should be immersed in water by one having authority, and receive a remission of their sins, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” – Orson Pratt -“DIVINE AUTHENTICITY OF THE BOOK OF MORMON” – 15 Wilton Street, Liverpool, October 15, 1850.
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“Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground. If Joseph Smith was a deceiver, who willfully attempted to mislead the people, then he should be exposed; his claims should be refuted, and his doctrines shown to be false, for the doctrines of an impostor cannot be made to harmonize in all particulars with divine truth. If his claims and declarations were built upon fraud and deceit, there would appear many errors and contradictions, which would be easy to detect. The doctrines of false teachers will not stand the test when tried by the accepted standards of measurement, the scriptures.” -Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1954, vol. 1, p. 188

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“Each of us has to face the matter—either the Church is true, or it is a fraud. There is no middle ground. It is the Church and kingdom of God, or it is nothing.” -Gordon B. Hinckley, “Loyalty” – April 2003 General Conference

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There. Basic. The basis of the whole matter boils down to two things, either of which, if false, will declare the whole a fraud.

  1. Was Joseph Smith a prophet who saw what he said he saw and/or
  2. Is the Book of Mormon true?

It follows that if #1 then #2 is more likely to be true but doesn’t necessarily have to be. So, I say it boils down to #1. All the quotes above would tend to lend credence to this proposition in my opinion. All the above also demonstrate the dichotomous proposition originates in Church leadership, not with me.
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Sundry quotes

I think a full, free talk is frequently of great use; we want nothing secret nor underhanded, and I for one want no association with things that cannot be talked about and will not bear investigation. – John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 20:264

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Now, most historians, Mormon or not, who work with the sources, accept as fact Joseph Smith’s career as village magician. Too many of his closest friends and family admitted as much, and some of Joseph’s own revelations support the contention. – B. H. Roberts, Church Historian, Treasure-seeking Then and Now, Sunstone, v. 11, September 1987, p. 5

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One other subject remains to be considered in this division… viz. ‑ was Joseph Smith possessed of a sufficiently vivid and creative imagination as to produce such a work as the Book of Mormon from such materials as have been indicated in the proceeding chapters… That such power of imagination would have to be of a high order is conceded; that Joseph Smith possessed such a gift of mind there can be no question…. – B. H. Roberts, Studies of the Book of Mormon by B.H. Roberts, p. 243, 250

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In light of this evidence, there can be no doubt as to the possession of a vividly strong, creative imagination by Joseph Smith, the Prophet, an imagination, it could with reason be urged, which, given the suggestions that are found in the ‘common knowledge’ of accepted American antiquities of the times, supplemented by such a work as Ethan Smith’s View of the Hebrews [published in Palmyra in 1825], it would make it possible for him to create a book such as the Book of Mormon is. – B. H. Roberts, Studies of the Book of Mormon by B.H. Roberts, p. 243, 250

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We talk of obedience, but do we require any man or woman to ignorantly obey the counsels that are given? Do the First Presidency require it? No, never. – Joseph F. Smith, Journal of Discourses 16:248

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We must preserve freedom of the mind in the church and resist all efforts to suppress it. The church is not so much concerned with whether the thoughts of its members are orthodox or heterodox as it is that they shall have thoughts. – Hugh B. Brown, “Final Testimony” An Abundant Life: The Memoirs of Hugh B. Brown

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[Joseph Smith] described the men as averaging near six feet in height, and dressing quite uniformly in something near the Quaker style. In my patriarchal blessing, given by the father of Joseph the Prophet, in Kirtland, 1837, I was told that I should preach the gospel before I was 21 years of age; that I should preach the gospel to the inhabitants upon the islands of the sea, and ‑‑ to the inhabitants of the moon, even the planet you can now behold with your eyes. The first two promises have been fulfilled, and the latter may be verified. – Oliver B. Huntington, as told to him by Joseph Smith, Young Woman’s Journal, vol. 3, p. 263‑264 (1892)

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The coming of the Lord, which is nigh ‑‑ even fifty‑six years should wind up the scene. – Joseph Smith, History of the Church, v2, p 182

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Come on! ye prosecutors! ye false swearers! All hell, boil over! Ye burning mountains, roll down your lava! for I will come out on top at last. I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter‑day Saints never ran away from me yet…When they can get rid of me, the devil will also go. – Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 408, 409

(This one ticks me off! Blatant lie!)

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I insert fac‑similes of the six brass plates found near Kinderhook… I have translated a portion of them, and find they contain the history of the person with whom they were found. He was a descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharaoh, King of Egypt, and that he received his Kingdom from the ruler of heaven and earth. – Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church, v. 5, p. 372

(Translating a hoax? Additionally, the Church has vacillated between hoax, not hoax. Look it up.)

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To our great grief, however, we soon found that Satan had been lying in wait to deceive,… Brother Hiram Page had in his possession a certain stone, by which he obtained certain “revelations” … all of which were entirely at variance with the order of God’s house, … the Whitmer family and Oliver Cowdery, were believing much in the things set forth by this stone, we thought best to inquire of the Lord concerning so important a matter … – Joseph Smith, History of the Church, by Joseph Smith, vol. 1, pp.109‑10

(Hiram Page was getting too many followers. Joseph curtailed that. Stone against stone!)

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Now regarding Adam, He came here from Another planet, an Immortalized being, and brought his wife Eve with him, and by eating of the fruit of this earth, became subject to death and decay… was made mortal and subject to death. – Joseph Smith, Records of both Anson Call and Patriarch John M. Whitaker. Nauvoo, Illinois

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Take away the Book of Mormon and the revelations, and where is our religion? We have none. – Joseph Smith, Teachings of Presidents of the Church

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It is not always wise to relate all the truth. Even Jesus, the Son of God, had to refrain from doing so, and had to restrain His feelings many times for the safety of Himself and His followers, and had to conceal the righteous purposes of His heart in relation to many things pertaining to His Father’s kingdom. – Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 392

(Lying for the Lord stemmed from this concept. Check the Church’s teachings on honesty. An omission is dishonest.)

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[Joseph taught] that the Gentile blood was actually cleansed out of their veins, and the blood of Jacob made to circulate in them; and the revolution and change in the system were so great that it caused the beholder to think they were going into fits. – Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 2:269

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I have never preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call scripture. – Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 13:95

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Until the last ones of the residue of Adam’s children are brought up to that favourable position, the children of Cain [blacks] cannot receive the first ordinances of the Priesthood. They were the first that were cursed, and they will be the last from whom the curse will be removed. When the residue of the family of Adam come up and receive their blessings, then the curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will receive blessings in like proportion. – Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 7:290

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Adam & Eve had lived upon another Earth, were immortal when they came here. Adam assisted in forming this earth & agreed to fall when he came here, & he fell that man might be & the opposite principle to good, the devil, the serpent, the evil, was placed upon the earth that man might know the good from the evil, for without an experience in these things man could not know the one from the other. As soon as the devil was on earth he sowed the seeds of death in everything so as soon as they began to eat of the fruit of the earth they received into their system the seeds of mortality & of death so their children were mortal & subject to death, sorrow, pain & wo. Then when they partook of life, joy, ease & happiness, they would know how to prize it. Father Adam would never cease his labors to redeem his posterity & exalt them to all the glory they were capable of receiving. – Brigham Young, Journal of Wilford Woodruff, May 6, 1855

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While the statement has been made by some writers that the Prophet JS used a seer stone part of the time in his translating of the record, and information points to the fact that he did have in his possession such a stone, yet there is no authentic statement in the history of the church which states that the use of such a stone was made in that translation. The information is all hearsay, and personally, I do not believe that the stone was used for this purpose. … It hardly seems reasonable to suppose that the prophet would substitute something evidently inferior [to the U&T] under these circumstances. It may have been so, but it is so easy for a story of this kind to be circulated due to the fact that the prophet did possess a seer stone, which he may have used for some other purposes. – Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation vol.3 pg 225‑226

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Apr 11, 1842

Joseph Smith writes a letter to sixteen-year-old Nancy Rigdon in which he attempts to persuade her to become his secret, plural wife. The letter expounds Joseph’s version of situation ethics: “that which is wrong under one circumstance, may be and often is, right under another.” Willard Richards delivers the letter to Nancy. The letter makes its way to John C. Bennett who publishes it in the SANGAMO JOURNAL. Smith denies having written the letter but after his death the Church publishes its content in the HISTORY OF THE CHURCH as an “essay” written by Joseph Smith. In succeeding years portions of the letter/essay are often quoted in general conference and in official church publications.

(This is vile.)

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That suffices for now.

I extend a challenge to anyone wishing to accept it. It is possible. I know because I have completed the challenge myself. Yes, it is daunting. It is at times very tedious. It is also illuminating. One gets the “flavor” of early Church leaders, who knew and served under the direction of Joseph Smith.

The challenge is to read the 7 volumes of “The History of the Church”, the 6 volumes of “A Comprehensive History of the Church” and the 26 volumes of the “Journal of Discourses”.

Anyone willing?

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