Criticism of Mormonism/Books/One Nation Under Gods/Chapter 6

Response to claims made in "Chapter 6: No Rest for the Righteous"


A FairMormon Analysis of: One Nation Under Gods
A work by author: Richard Abanes
Claim Evaluation
One Nation Under Gods
Chart one nation under gods chapter 6.jpg

Quick Navigation

∗       ∗       ∗

Response to claim: 104 - "Mormons, who commonly rejected analytical thought in favor of supernatural experience"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:
 Author's quote: "Mindless devotion to Smith's teachings also raised the ire of non-Mormons attempting to reason with the Saints about the folly of their beliefs. Reason and logical thinking meant little to Mormons, who commonly rejected analytical thought in favor of supernatural experience."Author's sources: Author's opinion.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

How does the author, an evangelical Christian, describe the resurrection of Jesus Christ using "reason and logical thinking" while discounting "supernatural experience"? How was the mob who drove the Latter-day Saints out of their homes and shot them "attempting to reason" with them?

Response to claim: 521n2 - A distorted version of the Three Degrees of Glory

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:
The author provides this description of the three degrees of glory:

"The first degree of glory, which provides a very limited amount of glory/reward, is reserved for non-Mormons whose lives are marked primarily by immorality. The second degree, which offers a slightly greater glory/reward, is granted to non-Mormons and Mormons alike who live good lives marked primarily by kindness, goodness, and trying to live the best life possible. Finally, the third degree, which is basically the highest heaven attainable, is reserved for faithful Mormons who lived an exemplary life as "priests of the Most High, after the order of Melchizadeck (sic)."

Author's sources: DC 76:70-98

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

This description is simply a caricature of what Latter-day Saints actually believe regarding the three degrees of glory.

Question: Are there different degrees of glory assigned to "Mormons" versus "non-Mormons"?

Latter-day Saints who sin can receive a lower degree of glory than non-Mormon's who are more righteous

  • The lowest degree of glory is not "a very limited amount of glory/reward"—the scripture quoted by the author says that "thus we saw, in the heavenly vision, the glory of the telestial, which surpasses all understanding" (verse 89, emphasis added).
  • The lowest degree is not just for "non-Mormons," but for anyone who is guilty of such sins as: not receiving the gospel, not receiving the testimony of Jesus, liars, sorcerers, adulterers, whoremongers, and whoever loves and makes a lie. Mormons are as susceptible to such sins as others.
  • The next degree does not offer "slightly greater glory/reward," but as the "glory of the stars differs from that of the glory of the moon in the firmament" (verse 81). The key characteristic of the terrestrial is that it is those who "were not valiant in the testimony of Jesus" (verse 79).
  • The celestial is available to those are "just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood" (verse 69).


Response to claim: 105, 522n12 - Was the Latter-day Saint periodical The Evening and the Morning Star "haranguing" non-Mormons by threatening them with "imminent destruction" if they did not repent?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:
Was the Latter-day Saint periodical The Evening and the Morning Star "haranguing" non-Mormons by threatening them with "imminent destruction" if they did not repent?Author's sources:
  • "The Last Days," Evening and Morning Star, February 1833, vol. 1, no. 10, 65.
  •  Citation error: there is no p. 65 in Vol. 1, No. 10. This error exists in both the hardback and paperback. It should be Vol. 9 for that page and article name.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

This is a false claim.

Question: Was The Evening and the Morning Star threatening non-Mormon with "imminent destruction" if they did not repent?

Most of the page is given up to a quotation from the apocryphal book of 2 Esdras

The article "The Last Days," Evening and Morning Star, February 1833, vol. 9, no. 10, 65, nowhere "harangues" the non-Mormons. Most of the page is given up to a quotation from the apocryphal book of 2 Esdras. The quoted material runs from 9:28-47, 10:1-59, 13:1-36.

Before these quotations, the author notes:

SOMETHING singular attaches itself to the phrase, The last days. We can take up the bible, and read what took place in the beginning, without any emotion, and generally without realizing what did happen; but when we read the prophecies touching the last days, the very soul starts to know what shall be....We see nation rising against nation; we hear of the pestilence destroying its thousands in one place, and its tens of thousands in another; the plague consuming all before it, and we witness the terror that reigns in the hearts of the wicked, and we are ready to exclaim, The Lord is certainly about bringing the world to an account of its iniquity. Let us reflect, then, in the last days, that there was to be great tribulation: for the Savior says, [Matt. 24:7] nation shall rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom, and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places; and the prophets have declared that the valleys should rise; that the mountains should be laid low; that a great earthquake should be, in which the sun should become black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon turn into blood; yea, the Eternal God hath declared that the great deep shall roll back into the north countries and that the land of Zion and the land of Jerusalem shall be joined together, as they were before they were divided in the days of Peleg. No wonder the mind starts at the sound of the last days! Great things will come to pass in them: sickness, sorrow, pain and death, will come upon the wicked; the righteous will be gathered from all nations, as well as Israel, to Zion, and the Jews assemble at Jerusalem, to behold the Lord of glory gather all things in one, that there may be on earth, one fold and one Shepherd.

The author then begins to quote 2 Esdras, and this consumes the rest of the cited page. After the long quote, the author then continues in a similar vein.

Our Savior, who knew all things that should come to pass in the last days, even when he come in his glory to reign on earth with his saints, said before the end should come, there should be great tribulations, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever should be.

Paul, who had the privilege of seeing his Lord and master in the flesh, and who knew a man that was caught up into the third heaven, while on this all important subject, thus wrote: -- [2 Tim. 3:1-5] This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away....(p. 66)

And, in the following page:

We have an earnest desire that men should escape the calamities, that will soon be poured out upon the earth, to scourge the inhabitants. Those that will not hear, as has been the case in all ages, pass on and are punished. The inhabitants before the flood, rejected the preaching of Noah, and were drowned. The men of Sodom and Gomorrah repented not of their sins, and died in their wickedness. Pharaoh, after seeing the mighty works of the Lord, died for his folly. But the Lord is merciful, the Lord is just, and, as in ancient days, so now, even in these last days, he warns, that men may repent and live. So much for the world. To the church, a word fitly spoken is like the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing life forever more. Beloved brethren, you know these are the last days, for the Lord hath said so. You, then, have not to look across the ocean for testimony, for you have it in your hearts. -- You have not to send to heaven for proof, for the judgments of God are already sent forth unto victory as evidence that the end is nigh....

Wherefore, while he is revealing unto you the great things that will shortly come to pass, learn wisdom, and rejoice for the day, even the day of righteousness that will soon come; yea, that day that was sought for by all holy men, and they found it not because of wickedness and abominations, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth; but obtained a promise that they should find it, and see it in their flesh, and so will you, if you continue faithful. Are you sensible of the blessings and privileges you enjoy? you can look upon the world and upon them that profess to worship their God, and see the course of evil, and shun it, because the Lord has shown you the right way. You can see some for gold; some for fame; some for blood; some for persecution; some for fun; some for pleasure; some for vanity; some for lying; some for this, and some for that, and you can pray to God to keep you from such follies, and he will do so, if your hearts are pure.

What blessings! you can shun the dreadful distress of nations, if you are humble and honest in all things before the Lord: you can overcome the world and enter into his rest, where trouble will cease. You ought to rejoice, with joy unspeakable; for while the nations are crumbling to pieces, and men are filling up the tombs without repentance, you know your redemption is nigh, and you believe that Israel will soon be gathered home to meet his God, when he comes in his glory.

Men without the Spirit of God to guide them into sacred truth have long labored six times as much for the perishable things of this world, as for the one thing needful: brethren, you have better knowledge, act accordingly, for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof. Counsel not the Lord but walk by faith, showing good works, that your examples may be worthy of imitation.

The love of money fills the hearts of the wicked; but what profit would it be to you, with all your knowledge, of what must shortly come to pass, if you could gain the whole world for thirty or forty years, and then loose your inheritance, and eternal life? This is a solemn question, and when the faithful enter into the joys of their Lord, they will be more apt to say: [1 Cor. 2:9] Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of men to conceive, what the Lord has prepared for them that love him. The Lord will hear when saints do pray.

The message is a fairly standard Christian apocalyptic—the days are perilous, the world is becoming more wicked, and the scriptures have foretold it

But, those who accept God and his covenant need not fear, though the days are dark. Most of the message is addressed directly to Latter-day Saints; there is little here that would be out of place in any nineteenth-century Christian reflection on "the last days."

There is certainly no suggestion that the members of the Church are threatening to inflict "imminent destruction" on non-members.


Response to claim: 105, 522n13 - Did Joseph Smith define the "wicked" as anyone who rejected Latter-day Saint beliefs?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:
Did Joseph Smith define the "wicked" as anyone who rejected Latter-day Saint beliefs?Author's sources:
  • DC 84:51-53
  • Grant Underwood, The Millenarian World of Early Mormonism, 44.
  • Parley P. Pratt, An Answer to Mr. William Hewitt's Tract Against the Latter-day Saints, 8.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Grant Underwood (on the page cited) points out that this label had little to do with behavior: "Theologically, then, the Saints used the word "wicked" as a sort of generic term for all unbelievers, regardless of their personal ethics" (italics original, bold added). It is a biblical doctrine that all are under sin. All are wicked, and none can be saved unless they accept the gospel of Jesus Christ. (See, e.g., Romans 3:23, Colossians 1:21.) Accepting the gospel does not mean we do not still sin, but it does mean we will not be damned for our sins, because of the grace of Christ. This attack is hypocritical, since the author surely believes that anyone who does not accept the proper type of Christianity is likewise "wicked" and damned. Yet, he condemns Joseph and the Saints for teaching the same doctrine, with the same intention.

Response to claim: 108, 523n26 - Did Latter-day Saints alter their perception as being "adopted into Israel" to being "literal" descendants of Israel because they "were going to end up second-class Israelites"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:
Did Latter-day Saints alter their perception as being "adopted into Israel" to being "literal" descendants of Israel because they "were going to end up second-class Israelites"?Author's sources: *Underwood, 30.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

While Underwood does discuss how "Mormons could be 'adopted' into the House of Israel through conversion to God's latter-day work and thus became equal participants in the promises of the 'new covenant.'" He then notes that "With the passage of time, American and European Saints placed increasing emphasis on literally having the "blood of Israel" in their veins and rarely referred to themselves as gentiles needing to be adopted into Israel." Nowhere on page 30, however, does Underwood explain the reason for this shift, much less attribute it to fear of being "second class Israelites."

Response to claim: 108-109, 523n27-29 - Do Latter-day Saint claim today that they are literal descendants of Israel?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:
*Do Latter-day Saint claim today that they are literal descendants of Israel?
  • Brigham Young identified Joseph Smith as a "pure Ephraimite."Author's sources: *Brigham Young, April 8, 1855, Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, 268-269.
  • DC 64:36

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Daniel H. Ludlow: "Although President Young identified Joseph Smith as a “pure Ephraimite” in the above quotation, so far as the Prophet’s family or blood lines were concerned, Brigham Young and others have recognized that (1) Joseph Smith was from a Gentile nation and (2) some of Joseph Smith’s progenitors may have come from bloodlines other than that of Ephraim. (See Journal of Discourses, 2:268.)" See Ludlow, "Of the House of Israel", Ensign, January 1991. off-site

Response to claim: 110, 523n33 - Were missionaries sent to preach only to "other Caucasians"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

  • Were missionaries sent to preach only to "other Caucasians?"
  • Did this make it easier for Joseph to teach that people of African descent were "cursed by God?"Author's sources: Jerald and Sandra Tanner, "Excommunication: Mormon Leader Expelled After Charging Church with Racism," Salt Lake City messenger (#73), October 1989.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Joseph conferred the priesthood on several black men. The priesthood ban was initiated during the time of Brigham Young. The author fails to note that the "curse of Ham" was a Protestant invention used to justify slavery.

Question: When did a biblical curse become associated with the "Hamites?"

The origin of the "curse of Ham" pre-dates the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by hundreds of years

The basis used is Genesis 9:18-27:

18 And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan.
19 These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.
20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.
23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.
24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.
25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
26 And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
Genesis 9:18-27 (emphasis added)

Although these verses clearly state that Canaan is cursed, it is not clear that the curse would be extended to his descendants. The use of Genesis 9 to associate a biblical curse with the descendants of Ham actually began in the third and fourth centuries A.D. [1] This "curse" became associated with the Canaanites. Origen, an early Christian scholar and theologian, makes reference to Ham's "discolored posterity" and the "ignobility of the race he fathered." [2] Likewise, Augustine and Ambrose of Milan speculated that the descendants of Ham carried a curse that was associated with a darkness of skin. This concept was shared among Jews, Muslims and Christians. The first "racial justification" for slavery appeared in the fifteenth century in Spain and Portugal. In the American colonies, the "curse of Ham" was being used in the late 1600's to justify the practice of slavery. [3] As author Stephen R. Haynes puts it, "Noah's curse had become a stock weapon in the arsenal of slavery's apologists, and references to Genesis 9 appeared prominently in their publications." [4]


Question: When did the "mark of Cain" become associated with black skin?

The biblical “mark of Cain” associated with black skin by Protestants to justify slavery

The idea that the “mark of Cain” and the "curse of Ham" was a black skin is something that was used by many Protestants as a way to morally and biblically justify slavery. This idea did not originate with Latter-day Saints, although the existence of the priesthood ban prior to 1978 tends to cause some people to assume that it was a Latter-day Saint concept.

Dr. Benjamin M. Palmer, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in New Orleans from 1856 until 1902, was a "moving force" in the Southern Presbyterian church during that period. Palmer believed that the South's cause during the Civil War was supported by God. Palmer believed the Hebrew history supported the concept that God had intended for some people to be formed "apart from others" and placed in separate territories in order to "prevent admixture of races." [5] Palmer claimed that, "[t]he descendants of Ham, on the contrary, in whom the sensual and corporeal appetites predominate, are driven like an infected race beyond the deserts of Sahara, where under a glowing sky nature harmonized with their brutal and savage disposition." [6] Palmer declared:

Upon Ham was pronounced the doom of perpetual servitude—proclaimed with double emphasis, as it is twice repeated that he shall be the servant of Japheth and the servant of Shem. Accordingly, history records not a single example of any member of this group lifting itself, by any process of self-development, above the savage condition. From first to last their mental and moral characteristics, together with the guidance of Providence, have marked them for servitude; while their comparative advance in civilization and their participation in the blessings of salvation, have ever been suspended upon this decreed connexion [sic] with Japhet [sic] and with Shem. [7]

Unfortunately, among some, the Protestant concept that God has separated people by race has persisted even into modern times.

God has separated people for His own purpose. He has erected barriers between the nations, not only land and sea barriers, but also ethnic, cultural, and language barriers. God has made people different one from another and intends those differences to remain. (Letter to James Landrith from Bob Jones University, 1998) [8]


Question: How did the "curse of Ham" or "curse of Cain" become associated with Mormonism?

Early members of the Church brought this culturally-conditioned belief in the "curse of Ham" with them into Mormonism

Prior to 1978, the doctrinal folklore that blacks are the descendants of Cain and Ham and that they carry the “mark of Cain” was a belief among some members of the Church, and is occasionally heard even today. The dubious “folk doctrine” in question is no longer even relevant, since it was used to incorrectly explain and justify a Church policy that was reversed over thirty years ago. Prior to the 1978 revelation, however, the Saints used the “mark of Cain” to explain the policy of denying priesthood ordination to those of African descent—a policy for which no revelatory prophetic explanation was ever actually given.

Early members of the Church were, for the most part, converts from Protestant sects. It is understandable that they naturally brought this culturally-conditioned belief in the "curse of Ham" with them into Mormonism. Many modern members of the Church, for instance, are unaware that Joseph Smith ordained at least one African-American man to the priesthood: Elijah Abel.

At some point during Brigham Young's administration, the priesthood ban was initiated. No revelation, if there ever was one, was published, although many throughout the history of the Church have assumed that the reason for the ban must be that blacks were the cursed seed of Cain, and therefore not allowed the priesthood (usually stemming from a misreading of Abraham 1). The correct answer as to why the ban was put into place is: we don't know. For further information on the priesthood ban, see Blacks and the priesthood.

Bruce R. McConkie in 1978, after the revelation granting blacks the priesthood:

It is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young…or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world. We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter any more. It doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June of this year. It is a new day and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds light out into the world on this subject. [9]

Prior to this statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie in 1978, the doctrinal folklore that blacks are the descendants of Cain and Ham and that they carry the “mark of Cain” was a belief among some members of the Church, and is occasionally heard even today. The dubious “folk doctrine” in question is no longer even relevant, since it was used to incorrectly explain and justify a Church policy that was reversed over thirty years ago. Prior to the 1978 revelation, however, the Saints used the “mark of Cain” to explain the policy of denying priesthood ordination to those of African descent—a policy for which no revelation or prophetic explanation was ever actually given.

The speculation was that in the premortal existence, certain spirits were set aside to come to Earth through a lineage that was cursed and marked, first by Cain’s murder of his brother and covenant with Satan (Genesis 4:11–15; Moses 5:23–25, Moses 5:36–40), and then again later by Ham’s offense against his father Noah. The reasons why this lineage was set apart weren’t clear, but it was speculated they were somehow less valiant than their premortal brethren during the war in heaven. In this life, then, the holy priesthood was to be withheld from all who had had any trace of that lineage.

As neat and coherent as that scenario might seem, the scriptures typically cited in its support cannot logically be interpreted this way unless one starts with the priesthood ban itself and then works backward, looking for scriptures to support a predetermined belief.


Response to claim: 110, 524n35 - Was the Latter-day Saint periodical The Evening and Morning Star claiming that Missouri "rightfully belonged to Mormons?"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:
Was the Latter-day Saint periodical The Evening and Morning Star claiming that Missouri "rightfully belonged to Mormons?"Author's sources: "The Far West," Evening and Morning Star, October 1832, vol. 1, no. 5, 37.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

This is a distortion of the source.

Question: Was the Latter-day Saint periodical The Evening and Morning Star claiming that Missouri "rightfully belonged to Mormons?"

There is no hint here of driving others out, or of appropriating land that was not theirs.

The article claims that the Saints were to be gathered to Missouri—but they were already there. There is no hint here of driving others out, or of appropriating land that was not theirs.

The passage in question begins with a rhapsody about the beauty and characteristics of "the far west," "the section of country from the Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains."

The article finally concludes:

When we consider that the land of Missouri is the land where the saints of the living God are to be gathered together and sanctified for the second coming of the Lord Jesus, we cannot help exclaiming with the prophet, O land be glad! and O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord: [Isaiah 62:1-4] For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Thou [Jerusalem] shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land [Zion] any more be termed Desolate; but thou shalt be called Hephzi-bah, and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married, [joined together] so that the land of Zion, and the land of Jerusalem will be one, as they were before the days of Peleg: For in his days the earth was divided or separated to receive the oceans, on account of wickedness. Peleg died 305 years after Noah's flood: Abram's father was born 210 years after the flood, and Abram 288 after, which brings to mind Joshua's words unto all the people, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor, and they served other gods. The building of Babel was wickedness, and serving other gods was wickedness: so that dividing, or opening the earth to let in the waters, which were in the beginning gathered unto one place, is one of the Lord's great miracles, and shows to the world that them that look for signs among the wicked, have them to their own condemnation in all ages.

But, reader, stop and pause at the greatness of God; and remember that even Moses, when on the top of Pisgah, lifted up his eyes and looked westward first, to view the promised land. (Material in square brackets is in original)


Response to claim: 116 - In the revelation that Joseph received on August 2, 1833, was it evident that "God also was unaware of the Missouri tragedy"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:
In the revelation that Joseph received on August 2, 1833, was it evident that "God also was unaware of the Missouri tragedy"?Author's sources: DC 97:11

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

D&C 97:24-25 (the same D&C section the author uses for his citation) refers to the problems in Jackson County (Zion) (This text is also found on to 1835 D&C page 210):
24 For the indignation of the Lord is kindled against their abominations and all their wicked works.
25 Nevertheless, Zion shall escape if she observe to do all things whatsoever I have commanded her.

In addition, the description in the modern edition of D&C 97 states: "Members of the Church in Missouri were at this time subjected to severe persecution, and on July 23, 1833, had been forced to sign an agreement to leave Jackson County."

Response to claim: 116, 525n63-64 - Did Joseph receive a revelation which "commanded Mormons to disobey secular law and civil leaders not conforming to the commandments of God"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:
Did Joseph receive a revelation which "commanded Mormons to disobey secular law and civil leaders not conforming to the commandments of God"?Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The revelation is telling the Saints to support honest and wise men as leaders, not to disobey the law.

Question: Does Doctrine and Covenants 98:4-11 instruct Latter-day Saints to disobey secular law?

The revelation is telling the Saints to support honest and wise men as leaders, not to disobey the law

The quote is from D. Michael Quinn, and is his interpretation. The revelation is not telling the Saints to "disobey secular law and civil leaders"—it is telling them to "befriend" the law of the land, and seek to support "honest men and wise men" as leaders.

4 And now, verily I say unto you concerning the laws of the land, it is my will that my people should observe to do all things whatsoever I command them.
5 And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.
6 Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land;
7 And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil.
8 I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed; and the law also maketh you free.
9 Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn.
10 Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil.
11 And I give unto you a commandment, that ye shall forsake all evil and cleave unto all good, that ye shall live by every word which proceedeth forth out of the mouth of God. (DC 98:4-11)


Response to claim: 117 - "Their only comfort was the hope that Christ would soon deliver them"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:
 Author's quote: "They had neither provision, nor direction. some fled to nearby Clay County, but most of those exiled remained huddled in the woodlands by the Missouri River. Their only comfort was the hope that Christ would soon deliver them."Author's sources: None

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

Response to claim: 122, 526n87 - Did Joseph receive a revelation that Zion would be redeemed by September 1836?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:
Did Joseph receive a revelation that Zion would be redeemed by September 1836?Author's sources: Joseph Smith, letter to the High Council of Zion, August 16, 1834, History of the Church, vol. 2:145.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

There were many conditionals placed on this prophecy—its fulfillment relied on the members' faithfulness.

Question: Did Joseph Smith prophesy that Zion, in Jackson County, Missouri, would be redeemed by September 1836?

There were many conditionals placed on this prophecy—its fulfillment relied on the members' faithfulness

use every effort to prevail on the churches to gather to those regions and locate themselves, to be in readiness to move into Jackson county in two years from the eleventh of September next, which is the appointed time for the redemption of Zion. Ifverily I say unto youif the Church with one united effort perform their duties; if they do this, the work shall be complete....and if we do not exert ourselves to the utmost in gathering up the strength of the Lord's house that this thing may be accomplished, behold there remaineth a scourge for the Church, even that they shall be driven from city to city, and [p.146] but few shall remain to receive an inheritance; if those things are not kept, there remaineth a scourge also; therefore, be wise this once, O ye children of Zion! and give heed to my counsel, saith the Lord. (emphasis added)

Compare with:

  • DC 101:1-9- given on 16 December 1833 (History of the Church 1:458-464)
  • DC 103:1-12- given on 24 February 1834 (History of the Church 2:36-39)
  • DC 105:6-13 - given on 22 June 1834 (History of the Church 2:108-111)


Response to claim: 123, 526n91 - Did Joseph restore ceremonies found in ancient Judaism and early Christianity in order to "distance" the Church from "corrupt Christendom"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:
Did Joseph restore ceremonies found in ancient Judaism and early Christianity in order to "distance" the Church from "corrupt Christendom"?Author's sources: Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1945), 176. ( Index of claims )

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

If Joseph claimed to be restoring early Christianity, why is it strange that he would re-institute practices from early Christianity? And, how did Joseph know of these authentic practices of the early Christians?

Response to claim: 123 - "Joseph knew that nothing short of a spectacular closing to the dedication week would be acceptable to the crowds..."

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:
 Author's quote: "Joseph knew that nothing short of a spectacular closing to the dedication week would be acceptable to the crowds. So during the final April 3 service, Smith and Oliver Cowdery, with great ceremonial show, disappeared from the congregation behind two special veils that had been lowered in front of them..."Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

Response to claim: 124, 526n100 - Did Joseph believe that the ten lost tribes were at the North Pole?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:
Did Joseph believe that the ten lost tribes were at the North Pole?Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

A late, second-hand account attributed to Joseph Smith states that he believed that the ten tribes were at the "north pole," but this was not a revelation.

Question: Did Joseph Smith believe that the lost Ten Tribes were living under the polar ice cap?

The consensus of Church teachings seems to be that the ten tribes are scattered among all peoples

The consensus of Church teachings seems to be that the ten tribes are scattered among all peoples. Missionary work is the means by which the ten tribes are "found," and they are gathered to Israel by joining the Church. Despite a late, second-hand discussion of remarks by Joseph Smith, this view has never been common, or endorsed by current Church leaders.

A late, second-hand account attributed to Joseph Smith states that he believed that the ten tribes were at the "north pole," but this was not a revelation

Those who ask this question have often encountered a remark attributed to Joseph Smith. The original source for the claim seems to be in the autobiography of Benjamin F. Johnson, an early Church member who knew Joseph Smith:

I can now see, as President George A. Smith afterwards said, that I was then really "the bosom friend and companion of the Prophet Joseph." I was as welcome at the Mansion as at my own house, and on one occasion when at a full table of his family and chosen friends, he placed me at his right hand and introduced me as his "friend, Brother B. F. Johnson, at whose house he sat at a better table than his own." Sometimes when at my house I asked him questions relating to past, present and future; some of his answers were taken by Brother William Clayton, who was then present with him, and are now recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants; the one as to what the Lord told him in relation to seeing his face at 85 years of age; also the one as to the earth becoming as a sea of glass, molten with fire. [D&C 130: 9, 14-17] Other questions were asked when Brother Clayton was not present, one of which I will relate: I asked where the nine and a half tribes of Israel were. "Well," said he, "you remember the old caldron or potash kettle you used to boil maple sap in for sugar, don't you?" I said yes. "Well," said he, "they are in the north pole in a concave just the shape of that kettle. And John the Revelator is with them, preparing them for their return." Many other things of a public or private nature I might here record, but will only note one or two, those pertaining to our own family.[10]

The problem with this source is that it is late and second hand; that is, it was not written by Joseph himself, but by someone who heard him say it, and it was written long after the conversation supposedly took place. Sources like these tend to be less than reliable because they are obscured by time and the writer's own personal bias.

We also note that the comment was made as part of a conversation with others, and not as part of a revelation. If Johnson's memory was accurate, there's nothing to distinguish Joseph's comment from idle speculation.

Other Church leaders have not seen this second-hand remark as revelatory

Mark E. Peterson wrote:

...the Ten Tribes are lost. We do not have any indication in the revelations as to their whereabouts.[11]

Joseph Fielding Smith wrote:

The promise is made that they shall return, but to this day they are lost to the world. As they journeyed to the north many of their number straggled and fell behind and mingled with the peoples in the lands through which they passed, but the main body continued on their journey and were hidden by the hand of the Lord.[12]

Bruce R. McConkie wrote:

The Lost Tribes are not lost unto the Lord. In their northward journeyings they were led by prophets and inspired leaders. They had their Moses and their Lehi, were guided by the spirit of revelation, kept the law of Moses, and carried with them the statutes and judgments which the Lord had given them in age past. They were still a distinct people many hundreds of years later, for the resurrected Lord visited and ministered among them following his ministry on this continent among the Nephites. (3 Nephi 16:1-4; 3 Nephi 17:4.) Obviously he taught them in the same way and gave them the same truths which he gave his followers in Jerusalem and on the American continent; and obviously they recorded his teachings, thus creating volumes of scripture comparable to the Bible and Book of Mormon. (2 Nephi 29:12-14.)[13]

The lost ten tribes are likely scattered among the nations of the earth

While some have seen the ten tribes together in a discrete location, Elder McConkie wrote later in life:

There is something mysterious and fascinating about believing the Ten Tribes are behind an iceberg somewhere in the land of the north, or that they are on some distant planet that will one day join itself with the earth, or that the tribe of Dan is in Denmark, the tribe of Reuben in Russia, and so forth. A common cliché asserts: "If we knew where the Lost Tribes were, they would not be lost." True it is that they are lost from the knowledge of the world; they are not seen and recognized as the kingdom they once were; but in general terms, their whereabouts is known. They are scattered in all the nations of the earth, primarily in the nations north of the lands of their first inheritance (italics added).[14]

Russell M. Nelson taught:

Here on earth, missionary work is crucial to the gathering of Israel. The gospel was to be taken first to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Consequently, servants of the Lord have gone forth proclaiming the Restoration. In many nations our missionaries have searched for those of scattered Israel; they have hunted for them “out of the holes of the rocks”; and they have fished for them as in ancient days.

The choice to come unto Christ is not a matter of physical location; it is a matter of individual commitment. People can be “brought to the knowledge of the Lord” without leaving their homelands. True, in the early days of the Church, conversion often meant emigration as well. But now the gathering takes place in each nation. The Lord has decreed the establishment of Zion in each realm where He has given His Saints their birth and nationality. Scripture foretells that the people “shall be gathered home to the lands of their inheritance, and shall be established in all their lands of promise.” “Every nation is the gathering place for its own people.” The place of gathering for Brazilian Saints is in Brazil; the place of gathering for Nigerian Saints is in Nigeria; the place of gathering for Korean Saints is in Korea; and so forth. Zion is “the pure in heart.” Zion is wherever righteous Saints are. Publications, communications, and congregations are now such that nearly all members have access to the doctrines, keys, ordinances, and blessings of the gospel, regardless of their location.

Spiritual security will always depend upon how one lives, not where one lives. Saints in every land have equal claim upon the blessings of the Lord.[15]


Response to claim: 124, 526n101 - Did Joseph believe that the ten lost tribes were located on a planet by the North Star?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:
Did Joseph believe that the ten lost tribes were located on a planet by the North Star?Author's sources: *Wandle Mace, Journal, 1809-1890, 38-39.
  • Eliza R. Snow, "Address to Earth", MS, vol. 13, Sep 1, 1851.
  • Charles L. Walker, Journal in Diary of Charles Lowell Walker, vol. 2, 532, 539, 540, 868.
  • Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff Journal, September 8, 1867; September 25, 1859.
  • Bathsheba W. Smith, "Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith." The Juvenile Instructor, June 1, 1892, vol. 27, 34.
  • Orson Pratt, Letter Box of Orson Pratt, LDS Church Historian's Office, letter to John C. Hall, December 13, 1875. Quoted in R. Clayton Brough, "The Lost Tribes," 50.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

According to one of the sources quoted, Orson Pratt said, "The Prophet Joseph once in my hearing advanced his opinion that the Ten Tribes were separated from the Earth; or a portion of the Earth was by a miracle broken off..." In other words, Joseph was expressing his opinion.

Notes

  1. Stephen R. Haynes, Noah's Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002)
  2. Origen, "Genesis Homily XVI," in Homilies on Genesis and Exodus, translated by Ronald E. Heine (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1982), p. 215, referenced in Haynes.
  3. Haynes, p. 7-8.
  4. Haynes, p. 8.
  5. Haynes, Noah's Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery, p. 127-8 citing Palmer, "The Import of Hebrew History," Southern Presbyterian Review 9 (April 1856) 591
  6. Haynes, p. 129, citing Palmer, Our Historic Mission, An Address Delivered before the Eunomian and PhiMu Societies of La Grange Synodical College, July 7 1858 (New Orleans: True Witness Office, 1859), 4-5.
  7. Haynes, p. 132, citing Cherry, God's New Israel, 179-180 who in turn is citing one of Palmer's sermons.
  8. Haynes, p. 161.
  9. Bruce R. McConkie, “All Are Alike unto God,” address in the Second Annual CES Symposium, Salt Lake City, August 1978.
  10. Benjamin F. Johnson, My Life's Review (Independence,Missouri: Zion's Printing and Publishing Co., 1947); reprinted (Heber City, Utah: Archive Publishers, 2001), 109. ISBN 1930679580. off-site text
  11. Mark E. Peterson, Joseph of Egypt (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co., 1981), 84.
  12. Joseph Fielding Smith, Restoration of All Things (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co., 1945), 131–132.
  13. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 457. GL direct link
  14. Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985), 520. ISBN 0877478724. ISBN 978-0877478720. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  15. Russell M. Nelson, "The Gathering of Scattered Israel," Ensign (November 2006), 79–82. (internal footnotes removed; italics in original)