“Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed. All must be saved on the same principles.” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 308—also quoted in the LDS Ensign magazine, August 2001, p. 22)
“I never told you I was perfect—but there is no error in the revelations which I have taught.” (Joseph Smith, “Thomas Bullock Report”, May 12, 1844, The Words of Joseph Smith, p. 369)
“You never can find that Prophets and Apostles clashed in their doctrines in ancient days: neither will they now, if all would at all times be led by the Spirit of salvation.” (Brigham Young, October 7, 1857, Journal of Discourses 5:329)
“I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture. Let me have the privilege of correcting a sermon, and it is as good Scripture as they deserve. The people have the oracles of God continually. In the days of Joseph, revelation was given and written, and the people were driven from city to city and place to place, until we were led into these mountains. Let this go to the people with “Thus saith the Lord,” and if they do not obey it, you will see the chastening hand of the Lord upon them.” (Brigham Young, January 2, 1870, Journal of Discourses, 13:87)
“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (James 1:22)
“If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” (John 7:17)
The laws of salvation and exaltation pertaining to the gospel of Jesus Christ are eternal. The principles required for the exaltation of a man upon the earth 6,000 years ago are the same principles that are required today. God is an unchangeable being, and is no respecter of persons—every man must obey the same laws, and keep the same commandments to achieve exaltation, no matter what his personal opinions or disposition. These fundamental doctrines, ordinances, and laws for the salvation and exaltation of mankind were set forth by the Prophet of the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times, Joseph Smith. He taught these to the main body of the Church, as well as to his intimate “friends” as he called them, in the inner circle of the leadership of the Church.
We may learn much by observing the course of religious history about man’s attempts to learn “by his own experience” to distinguish good from evil, to progress, and to perfect his character as he works out his salvation and exaltation. We see that the unfolding of events in the many periods of religious history of this earth is quite consistent as it pertains to man’s inability to preserve God’s laws intact over time. One of the unfortunate and invariable realities of man’s existence is that man in his own weakness and self-will always changes eternal principles, doctrines, and ordinances to suit his own views of what is correct, and not according to the views of God. LDS General Authority, H. Verlan Anderson, was well aware of this fact when he stated:
Religious history testifies that, with the single exception of the inhabitants of the City of Enoch, no people to whom the gospel has been given have remained faithful to their covenants for more than a few generations. Time after time the Lord has established His church among a group who have lived His commandments for a few years and then fallen away, thus bringing upon themselves His judgments. This cycle of human folly which so many prophets have noted, has repeated itself with such consistent regularity that any group which finds itself to be favored recipients of the gospel would do well to assume that their apostasy is certain, and the only question about it is how long it will take. (H. Verlan Anderson, The Great and Abominable Church of the Devil, p. 161)
Also sobering is Brother Anderson’s affirmation that members of the LDS Church are associated with the “Gentiles.” This makes the prophecies of latter-day Gentile apostasy, so prevalent in the Book of Mormon, all the more applicable to modern-day Israel, or the LDS Church:
If [LDS] Church members from Gentile nations [which includes the USA, see First Nephi 13:15-17] will bear in mind that the term “Gentile” when used in the Book of Mormon includes them, the prophecies therein will have much greater meaning and be more disturbing. (H. Verlan Anderson, The Great and Abominable Church of the Devil, p.164)
In the Kirtland Temple dedicatory prayer, which was given by revelation, Joseph Smith himself made it clear that the term “Gentiles” includes the members of the LDS Church:
Now these words, O Lord, we have spoken before thee, concerning the revelations and commandments which thou hast given unto us, who are identified with the Gentiles. (D&C 109:60)
The prophet Nephi tells us that the Gentiles did stumble many times because the “great and abominable church” had removed from the gospel many “plain and precious things” which were “plain to the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the lamb of God:”
28 Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God.
29 And after these plain and precious things were taken away it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles; and after it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles, yea, even across the many waters which thou hast seen with the Gentiles which have gone forth out of captivity, thou seest—because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book, which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God—because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceedingly great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them. (1 Nephi 13:28-29)
In the LDS Church, the above is construed to refer to the abandonment and alteration of principles, doctrines, and ordinances from the Lord’s Church at the time of Christ as evidenced in the secular religions of the day. This is correct, but true to the form of this ongoing pattern of the ways of the “natural man,” the exact same phenomenon has clearly occurred within the LDS Church between the days of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and up to the present time (year 2005). The Holy Scriptures are subject to multiple levels of understanding and application, and the above passage has again been fulfilled within the last one hundred or so years in the LDS Church. Indeed, the LDS Church stumbles greatly because of a lack of understanding and from rejecting many “plain and precious things” of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ which have been removed or altered from what was revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Every essential Zion-building principle that Joseph Smith established has been changed, omitted, or altered in some way by the LDS Church from divinely inspired origins. Thus, the people of Latter-day Israel do indeed now “stumble,” with Satan gaining “great power over them.” The most insidious aspect of this is that people never are aware that they have fallen into Satan’s traps of blindness, apathy, more popular false doctrines, and friendship with the world more than love of God.
Present-day LDS teachings are clearly at variance with the principles espoused by Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and their contemporaries in the former-day LDS Church. Were Joseph and Brigham mistaken in their plain, clear teachings? If they were not mistaken, then the LDS Church is clearly in apostasy, since the present-day LDS leaders reject the former doctrines and ordinances, and resort to apologetics to account for the present-day views. But on the other hand if Joseph Smith himself and Brigham Young could be so mistaken in the first place on so many essential points of doctrine and correct forms of ordinances, then there is no foundation for the present-day LDS leadership, and no reason to suppose that they would be more inspired than Joseph Smith.
The purpose of this book is to provide references for many of these “plain and precious” things that were revealed by Joseph Smith as essential parts the fullness of the gospel in this the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times. In presenting the topics in this reference book, it is assumed that the reader already has a basic belief and foundation in Restoration doctrine, and a reasonable understanding of Restoration history. These references include scriptures and quotes from the men who taught these doctrines, as recorded in the scriptures and other sources in LDS Church and members’ records where were recorded the original teachings of the Restoration. These men include the Prophet Joseph Smith, his contemporaries who were taught by him, and men who were taught by those who were familiar with Joseph Smith.
It is not the purpose of this book to fully develop all points of Restoration doctrine, nor even to fully develop the several doctrinal topics included here, but to provide some references from which a study of these original teachings may begin. Nor is this reference collection intended to be exhaustive, either in the number of general topics that might be considered, or in the number of references for each topic, because an all-encompassing work would be a great undertaking. Moreover, this reference work is continually being updated. However, it is hoped that enough reference material has been included that will give the honest-in-heart reader a more correct idea of many of the true doctrines of the Restoration which have been lost or changed, and that interest will be aroused in the reader as he is touched by the Spirit to study these things further for himself or herself. Generally, it is the intent in this book to provide only references arranged by topic. However, in a few sections, there are some clarifying notes and explanations, particularly in the sections dealing with Deity. However, while these notes and explanations do develop the topics somewhat, they still do not begin to fully develop the doctrinal points of the topic. The intent of this work is to provide reference material as a basis and starting point for personal study.
A simple perusal of these references will not be sufficient, as one must research and study diligently (1 Nephi 10:19), with a hunger and thirst for righteousness to come to knowledge. One must as well as follow the Spirit in faith. The Doctrine and Covenants teaches us that we are to seek learning:
. . . even by study and also by faith. (D&C 88:118)
One would do well to learn and heed the former-day correct teachings and doctrines of the Latter-day Restoration. However one must not stop there, but further continue to study the precious truths of the gospel over and above what is referred to in this volume. We must gain knowledge through both study and through the Spirit, to come to understanding and wisdom regarding these truths, most “plain and precious,” of the Latter-day Restoration. We must also then take the courage to manifest our faith by our works, and then to act upon the witnesses that we have received—even if acting upon the principles of the true Gospel brings tremendous opposition—for such was the case and faith of our LDS pioneer ancestors.
Superficially, the LDS Church still teaches that an unchangeable doctrine is essential, and claims that the original doctrines of the Restoration are still intact in the LDS Church. This is what LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley has stated on numerous occasions. For example:
For 150 years now and more, we have held to the doctrine . . . . We modify the organization from time to time. We modify the way we do some things, but the doctrine remains fundamental. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Los Angeles Times Interview, 8 March 1997—suspension points in original article)
The doctrine has remained the same. The doctrine stands as the constitution of the church, so to speak. That has remained the same. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Salt Lake Tribune Interview, 23 February 2000)
They [people in general] think we’re becoming more mainstream and so on. But actually the theology of the Church has not changed; from the beginning we are teaching the same doctrine as was taught in the early days of the church. Our methodology, our approach to problems, our handling of situations alters according to the circumstances. But the basic doctrine remains the same. (Gordon B. Hinckley, in an interview by Tom Brokaw, during the 2002 Winter Olympics, February 2002)
We therefore kindly request that you submit to a patient, thorough, sincere, and prayerful study of the doctrines, principles, historical aspects, and truths of the Latter-day Restoration, and verify for yourself by study and by the confirmation of the Spirit if indeed “the doctrine has remained the same” in Latter-day Israel as Gordon B. Hinckley continues to affirm, or if it has not, which we feel an honest investigation will clearly demonstrate. Thomas Paine once said:
It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.
I pray to the Lord that you will have an honest desire to search truth without fear. I close this introduction with a prophecy by the Savior Himself about the Latter-day “Gentile” apostasy, or their departure from the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ:
— John W. Pratt
And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day 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, 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)