Purpose: To have fun with some random scriptures and to show the absurdity of some latter-day interpretations on these verses.
Let us begin with these verses.
Daniel 2:44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
D/C 4:4 For behold the field is white already to harvest;
One of the dominant themes in the Church is how it is growing in numbers at a staggering rate and it is evidence the Church is the Kingdom of God on earth. Commentary on these scriptures uses them as justification for this lofty thinking. President Spencer Kimball said this about the verses in Daniel in General Conference in 1976,”This is the kingdom, set up by God..the stone cut out of the mountain without hands that..would fill the whole earth.” Here are a few other samples in regard to this topic.
1974: “We recognize our greatest problem is our rapid growth. … This unprecedented growth pleases us, but challenges us tremendously.” — LDS.org
2001: “We are seeing the fulfillment of Joseph Smith’s prophecy today as the Church experiences unprecedented growth.” — LDS.org
Sterling W. Sill said this,”Some people believe that all of the opportunities are in the past. It has even been said by some church people that we are in the gleaning period, but that is just not so. We are living in the full bloom of the greatest harvest ever known in the world..”(November 9, 1965, BYU Speeches of the Year, 1965, p. 10.)
The reason why this topic comes up so often in the Church is because it is supposed to be a fullfillment of prophesy and is destined to fill the earth. Is this really happening? Let us take an objective look at the evidence.
The Church was organized in upper state new York in 1830 and since the early days has sent full time missionaries to all parts of the world for the purpose of gaining converts to the Church. Currently the Church has about 70,000 full time missionaries who do nothing from morning to night except proselyte. I know of no other Church in ANY religion with these staggering numbers of full time missionaries. And yet, the Church has only about 15 million members and growth rates have dropped over the last few years. The growth rate for 2016 was 1.59%, which was the lowest since 1937.
By way of comparison,the Seventh-day Adventist Church was started in 1863 and does not have full time missionaries looking to gain converts. This organization currently has about 5 million more members than Mormonism.
The Assemblies of God , officially the World Assemblies of God Fellowship, is a group of over 140 autonomous but loosely associated national groupings of churches which together form the world’s largest Pentecostal denomination The Assemblies originated from the Pentecostal revival of the early 20th century. This led to the founding of the Assemblies of God in the United States in 1914. They currently have about 68 million members.
So what is going on? From the Mormon point of view, these two organizations are man made. Why are they beating the pants off Mormonism for membership growth? Why is the field white and ready for harvest for them and not the true Church? Either God is really bad at prophesy or Joseph Smith was making stuff up.
These next verses come from section 129 of the Doctrine and Covenants. It is a strange little section about how to tell the difference between devils, angels, and pre-existence spirits(people who are spirits but have not been born yet). These verses are the classic example of contradictions that happens when someone cannot keep their story straight and forgets to read their own scriptures. Let me show you what I am talking about.
D/C 129:4 When a messenger comes saying he has a message from God, offer him your hand and request him to shake hands with you.
5 If he be an angel he will do so, and you will feel his hand.
6 If he be the spirit of a just man made perfect he will come in his glory; for that is the only way he can appear—
7 Ask him to shake hands with you, but he will not move, because it is contrary to the order of heaven for a just man to deceive; but he will still deliver his message.
8 If it be the devil as an angel of light, when you ask him to shake hands he will offer you his hand, and you will not feel anything; you may therefore detect him.
Here is the problem. The Church spends billions of dollars building and maintaining temples all over the world. In these temples they show a film. In one part Peter, James, and John appear to Adam soon after leaving the Garden of Eden. At this point, they have not been born and are spirits. According to these verses, they should not shake hands with Adam. If they do, it shows they are actually deceiving him and are only pretending to be angels of light. What do they do? They shake hands. This is not just an oversight, since Peter is clearly exchanging signs and tokens with Adam. Everything in the Church is supposed to conform with scripture. If we use the internal reasoning of the Church, this one thing should throw everything members learn in the temple into a tailspin. No wonder members are not allowed to discuss these things. Shh! It is too secret to discuss.
Since, we are in the Doctrine and Covenants, let us look at the preface to the book.
D/C 1:6 Behold, this is mine authority, and the authority of my servants, and my preface unto the book of my commandments, which I have given them to publish unto you, O inhabitants of the earth.
God had given Joe a few revelations at this point and figured the time had come to get organized and put them in a book.
The first version of the D/C was called The Book of Commandments and was published in 1833. When the Church published the update in 1835, they renamed it the Doctrine and Covenants. Here is the rub-they retroactively changed many of the revelations that had been published in 1833. This is the exact thing Joe did with the first vision story. He substantially revised and added details that did not exist in the original version. In both cases, his memory improved over time.
In addition,most of the revelations collected in the Book of Commandments were first printed in the Church periodical, The Evening and Morning Star. When Doctrine and Covenants was printed, the first fourteen issues of The Evening and Morning Star were reprinted so as to agree with the revised revelations.
Can you believe the audacity of these people? Censorship at its finest. When I was transitioning out of the Church, I asked myself this- If Jesus exists and he runs this Church, would he have so much censorship? My answer was no. Only organizations and people who have something to hide engage in that type of behavior.
“It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.”
― George Orwell, 1984
Let us move on to the Book of Mormon.
1 Nephi 18:25 And it came to pass that we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men. And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper.
Joseph Smith told the brethren the Book of Mormon was the most correct book. He certainly was not speaking historically because this one verse contains all kinds of anachronisms in it.
Anachronisms happen when something in your book is out of sync with time. In other words, anachronisms are references that are out of place given the text’s chronology, sequence of events, or historical setting.
Suppose you were reading Shakespeare and you come across a part where Hamlet took on Laertes with a semi automatic, or if he texted his buddies Rosencrantz and Guildenstern with his iPhone, that would be an anachronism.Hamlet is a prince in the late Middle Ages, so modern guns and iPhones would be out of place.
This is what is going on with this verse in Nephi. Cattle, goats and horses were not in the New World during the Book of Mormon time period. When Joe put out his book, he presented it as actually history of real people who were supposed to have existed. He even said he found one of these people when he came across Zelph. The problem for Joe, is that no matter what else is in the book, if just one anachronism is found, the book is not what it pretends to be. Here is what the Smithsonian said about anachronisms in the book.
“One of the main lines of evidence supporting the scientific finding that contacts with Old World civilizations, if indeed they occurred at all, were of very little significance for the development of American Indian civilizations, is the fact that none of the principal Old World domesticated food plants or animals (except the dog) occurred in the New World in pre-Columbian times. American Indians had no wheat, barley, oats, millet, rice, cattle, pigs, chickens, horses, donkeys, camels before 1492. (Camels and horses were in the Americas, along with the bison, mammoth, and mastodon, but all these animals became extinct around 10,000 B.C. at the time when the early big game hunters spread across the Americas.” Smithsonian Institution(original response)
Let us look at another verse in the Book of Mormon.
Alma 39:11 Suffer not yourself to be led away by any vain or foolish thing; suffer not the devil to lead away your heart again after those wicked harlots. Behold, O my son, how great iniquity ye brought upon the Zoramites; for when they saw your conduct they would not believe in my words.
Let me give some quick background on this verse. A fictional prophet named Alma is angry with his fictional son Corianton for engaging in some sexual behavior. As a result of this, the Zoramites rejected the gospel as taught by Alma because they saw the bad behavior by his son.. Let us apply this same line of reasoning to Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Let us look at just a few examples to get a sense of their character.
Example 1:”But a self-possessed eighteen-year-old English girl, Martha
Brotherton, chose to speak her mind. Brigham Young, who had
not been lax in following his prophet’s lead, had set his heart
on the high-spirited English lass. He took her to the famous
rendezvous over Joseph’s store, locked the door, and proceeded
with the curious, bobtailed, hortatory courtship that was becoming
so common in the city:
“Brother Joseph has had a revelation from God that it is lawful
and right for a man to have two wives. . . . If you will
accept of me I will take you straight to the celestial kingdom,
and if you will have me in this world, I will have you in that
which is to come, and brother Joseph will marry us here today,
and you can go home this evening, and your parents will not
know anything about it.”
When the girl demurred and begged for time, Brigham called
in Joseph, who also urged her to make an immediate decision.
“Just go ahead, and do as Brigham wants you to,” he said, and
added with a laugh: “He is the best man in the world, except
me.” Then he went on more seriously: “If you will accept of
Brigham, you shall be blessed — God shall bless you, and my
blessing shall rest upon you . . . and if you do not like it in a
month or two, come to me, and I will make you free again; and
if he turns you off, I will take you on.”
“Sir, it will be too late to think in a month or two after,”
Martha answered wryly. “I want time to think first.”
To this the prophet replied: “But the old proverb is, ‘Nothing
ventured, nothing gained.’ ”
Finally and reluctantly they let her go home, where she promised
to pray in secret for guidance. The moment she arrived,
however, she wrote down the whole episode while it was still
fresh in her memory, and showed it to her parents. The Brothertons
in high dudgeon took a steamboat to St. Louis, but not
before they had given Martha’s recital enough circulation so
that everyone in Nauvoo knew it within a week. Eventually
Martha published her account in a St. Louis paper. But even
before it appeared, Joseph had taken measures to kill the rumors
her departure had set in motion.
Hyrum at the April conference contradicted the report “that
a sister had been shut in a room for several days, and that they
endeavored to induce her to believe in having two wives.” The
twelve apostles all testified that Joseph’s principles were strictly
virtuous, and Joseph himself took the stand in a blistering sermon
against all adulterers and fornicators who were making
use of his name to sanction their corruption.”(No Man Knows My History)
Example 2:”When the family organization was revealed from heaven—the patriarchal order of God, and Joseph began, on the right and the left, to add to his family, what a quaking there was in Israel. Says one brother to another, “Joseph says all covenants [previous marriages] are done away, and none are binding but the new covenants [marriage by priesthood sealing power]; now suppose Joseph should come and say he wanted your wife, what would you say to that?” “I would tell him to go to hell.” This was the spirit of many in the early days of this Church. . . . What would a man of God say, who felt aright, when Joseph asked him for his money? [he would give it all willingly] Or if he came and said, “I want your wife?” “O yes,” he would say, “here she is, there are plenty more” . . . Did the Prophet Joseph want every man’s wife he asked for? He did not . . . the grand object in view was to try the people of God, to see what was in them. If such a man of God should come to me and say, “I want your gold and silver, or your wives,” I should say, “Here they are, I wish I had more to give you, take all I have got.” A man who has got the Spirit of God, and the light of eternity in him, has no trouble about such matters.”
– Apostle Jedediah M. Grant, second counselor to Brigham Young and father of President Heber J. Grant, sermon delivered on 19 February 1854 (JD 2: 13-14)
Example 3: This comes from Orson Pratt’s wife, Sarah.
“Sometime in late 1840 or early 1841, Joseph Smith confided to his friend that he was smitten by the “amiable and accomplished” Sarah Pratt and wanted her for “one of his spiritual wives, for the Lord had given her to him as a special favor for his faithfulness” (emphasis in original). Shortly afterward, the two men took some of Bennett’s sewing to Sarah’s house. During the visit, as Bennett describes it, Joseph said, “Sister Pratt, the Lord has given you to me as one of my spiritual wives. I have the blessings of Jacob granted me, as God granted holy men of old, and as I have long looked upon you with favor, and an earnest desire of connubial bliss, I hope you will not repulse or deny me.” “And is that the great secret that I am not to utter,” Sarah replied. “Am I called upon to break the marriage covenant, and prove recreant to my lawful husband! I never will.” She added, “I care not for the blessings of Jacob. I have one good husband, and that is enough for me.” But according to Bennett, the Prophet was persistent. Finally Sarah angrily told him on a subsequent visit, “Joseph, if you ever attempt any thing of the kind with me again, I will make a full disclosure to Mr. Pratt on his return home. Depend upon it, I will certainly do it.” “Sister Pratt,” the Prophet responded, “I hope you will not expose me, for if I suffer, all must suffer; so do not expose me. Will you promise me that you will not do it?” “If you will never insult me again,” Sarah replied, “I will not expose you unless strong circumstances should require it.” “If you should tell,” the Prophet added, “I will ruin your reputation, remember that.”
(Article “Sarah M. Pratt” by Richard A. Van Wagoner, Dialogue, Vol.19, No.2, p.72.)
If you were a zoramite and knew about this behavior, would you listen to the missionaries share the gospel with you?
Let us move on to the New Testament.This next verse made headlines around the Church recently with the cutting edge announcement that women who work for the Church are now allowed to wear pant suits to work.
1 Timothy 2:9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;
The Church spokesman commenting on this verse said, “The apostles have prayed like Enos of old, all day and into the night and are pleased to announce they have rejected these misogynistic verses from our dear brother, the Apostle Paul. From this point forward, starting in June 2017, the Church has a new policy for full time employees.
Besides bringing workout cloths to the office, church employees also can expand their workday wardrobe. Church headquarters now will allow women to wear professional pantsuits as well as the traditional skirts and dresses, and men can scrap those mandatory, missionary-looking white shirts and wear light-color ones.
We realize that most major corporations have made these changes a good 60 years ago, but it takes awhile to get answers from Kolob. Let the sisters rejoice!”
Of course, this is not the actual statement from the spokesperson.When I saw the announcement in the Salt Lake Tribune, I honestly thought the article would have been a good satire piece for The Onion. Unfortunately, we are talking about the Mormon Church, which has a long history of making positive moves long after society has already made those changes and accepted them as the norm.
That is it for this edition of random musings on selected scriptures 2. What scripture verses have you seen the Church twist with polemic interpretations that do not fit reality?