Ever since Joseph Smith reported that Jesus told him not to join any church, mainstream protestant Christianity has been offended. They took it personally both then and now.
In the small town where I live (La Grande, Oregon) local ministers are still refusing Latter-day Saint outreach to participate in ecumenical activities, and why? A group of them once said it was because they’re still offended by what Joseph Smith said about their Churches. So what did Joseph report?
Pearl of Great Price, JS-History 1:18 – 19
18 My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.
19 I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”
One of my personal heroes is Frederick Douglass, one of the greatest men who ever lived and a contemporary of Joseph Smith. Here’s what Frederick Douglass said about the churches of the early 1800’s:
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass an American Slave
… For of all slaveholders with whom I have ever met, religious slaveholders are the worst. I have ever found them the meanest and basest, the most cruel and cowardly, of all others. It was my unhappy lot not only to belong to a religious slaveholder, but to live in a community of such religionists.
I FIND, since reading over the foregoing Narrative that I have, in several instances, spoken in such a tone and manner, respecting religion, as may possibly lead those unacquainted with my religious views to suppose me an opponent of all religion. To remove the liability of such misapprehension, I deem it proper to append the following brief explanation. What I have said respecting and against religion, … I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land. Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity. … I am filled with unutterable loathing when I contemplate the religious pomp and show, together with the horrible inconsistencies, which every where surround me. We have men-stealers for ministers, women-whippers for missionaries, and cradle-plunderers for church members. The man who wields the blood-clotted cowskin during the week fills the pulpit on Sunday, and claims to be a minister of the meek and lowly Jesus. The man who robs me of my earnings at the end of each week meets me as a class-leader on Sunday morning, to show me the way of life, and the path of salvation. He who sells my sister, for purposes of prostitution, stands forth as the pious advocate of purity. He who proclaims it a religious duty to read the Bible denies me the right of learning to read the name of the God who made me. He who is the religious advocate of marriage robs whole millions of its sacred influence, and leaves them to the ravages of wholesale pollution. The warm defender of the sacredness of the family relation is the same that scatters whole families,– sundering husbands and wives, parents and children, sisters and brothers, leaving the hut vacant, and the hearth desolate. We see the thief preaching against theft, and the adulterer against adultery. We have men sold to build churches, women sold to support the gospel, and babes sold to purchase Bibles for the poor heathen! all for the glory of God and the good of souls! The slave auctioneer’s bell and the church-going bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries of the heart-broken slave are drowned in the religious shouts of his pious master. Revivals of religion and revivals in the slave-trade go hand in hand together. The slave prison and the church stand near each other. … The dealer gives his blood-stained gold to support the pulpit, and the pulpit, in return, covers his infernal business with the garb of Christianity. … Such is, very briefly, my view of the religion of this land; and to avoid any misunderstanding, growing out of the use of general terms, I mean, by the religion of this land, that which is revealed in the words, deeds, and actions, of those bodies, north and south, calling themselves Christian churches, and yet in union with slaveholders. It is against religion, as presented by these bodies, that I have felt it my duty to testify.
So there you have it. If you argue against Joseph Smith on this subject then you have to argue against Frederick Douglass too.
The Latter-day Saints profess to have new revelation and divinely restored priesthood authority and simply invite all to upgrade their Christianity. Insincere and dishonest Christians prefer to hold on to their positions of authority and status and worldly considerations which lead them to reject additional words from God. And this is exactly
the stance of the ancient Pharisee’s and Sadducee’s who rejected Jesus. Sincere Christians are intrigued and open to the possibility of God speaking and acting in our day.
From Joseph Smith:
Doctrine and Covenants, Section 123:12
12 For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it—
Many Christian churches have been so offended by Latter-day Saint claims that their leaders retaliate by saying that the Latter-day Saints are not Christian – a truly arrogant stance – and one they know to be dishonest.
Yet I am heartened by the good things I see that God inspires among many of the “gentile” Christians. When I recently saw the movie FIREPROOF
I was most impressed with it’s message, inspired of God.
Book of Mormon, Moroni 7:13, 16
13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.
16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
As the events of the last days unfold and The New Jerusalem/City of ZION is established, huge numbers of people will gather together: current Latter-day Saints, non-Latter-day Saints of Gentile nations, lost (unidentified) tribes, and descendants of Lehi in the America’s. A huge number of people will gather to the City of Zion. The Latter-day Saint/covenant people gather together and the many good not yet Latter-day Saints will gather too. Events unfolding in the last days cause the process to accelerate.
Pearl of Great Price, JS-Matthew 1:26 – 27
26 For as the light of the morning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, and covereth the whole earth, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.
27 And now I show unto you a parable. Behold, wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together; so likewise shall mine elect be gathered from the four quarters of the earth.
I am a Latter-day Saint or LDS, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I prefer not to be called a “Mormon”. That name, invented by the enemies of the church, is not accurate or scriptural, and shows a lack of sensitivity. For the original pronunciation of “Mormon”, one has to heavily accent the first syllable and for just the right tone inflection, I think a slight facial sneer is required.
Most Latter-day Saints don’t mind the name and yet those who use it continue to be disrespectful in their usage. To my feelings, saying “Mormon” is the same as saying “Negro” when referring to African Americans – hateful, and bigoted at worst or just ignorantly out of touch at best. Not all Latter-day Saints feel the same way explicitly but yet amongst ourselves, it is not the default term. Let’s do away with it totally! It doesn’t promote the cause of Zion.
In Latter-day Saint parlance “Jews” means Judah, Levi, and part of Benjamin. In our day the Jews gather and prosper in “Old” Jerusalem. Of course this has been going on for some time already. It was started by Orson Hyde, an Latter-day Apostle of the lineage of Judah, who first dedicated the Holy Land
for the return of the Jews in 1841. The current Jewish state is destined to overcome their current enemies and prosper. They will rebuild the Temple. They begin to believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah, and this also has been happening
for a number of years but will not be mainstream in Judaism until after Jesus the Messiah returns to Jerusalem again – after the final conflict of Armageddon. Eventually there are two great capitals, two Zions, that are united in belief and who look to Jesus Christ as their Savior and King on the earth.
Meanwhile, to those Gentiles who profess to believe in Christ, the Lord Jesus has this word for them: quit your whining, have a little appreciation, and get with the program. OK, those are my words. Here are the actual words of Jesus Christ, a great declaration. No plainer words were ever spoken:
Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 29
1 BUT behold, there shall be many—at that day when I shall proceed to do a marvelous work among them, that I may remember my covenants which I have made unto the children of men, that I may set my hand again the second time to recover my people, which are of the house of Israel;
2 And also, that I may remember the promises which I have made unto thee, Nephi, and also unto thy father, that I would remember your seed; and that the words of your seed should proceed forth out of my mouth unto your seed; and my words shall hiss forth unto the ends of the earth, for a standard unto my people, which are of the house of Israel;
3 And because my words shall hiss forth—many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible.
4 But thus saith the Lord God: O fools, they shall have a Bible; and it shall proceed forth from the Jews, mine ancient covenant people. And what thank they the Jews for the Bible which they receive from them? Yea, what do the Gentiles mean? Do they remember the travails, and the labors, and the pains of the Jews, and their diligence unto me, in bringing forth salvation unto the Gentiles?
5 O ye Gentiles, have ye remembered the Jews, mine ancient covenant people? Nay; but ye have cursed them, and have hated them, and have not sought to recover them. But behold, I will return all these things upon your own heads; for I the Lord have not forgotten my people.
6 Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews?
7 Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?
8 Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.
9 And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.
10 Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written.
11 For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written.
12 For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it.
13 And it shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites, and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews; and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel; and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews.
14 And it shall come to pass that my people, which are of the house of Israel, shall be gathered home unto the lands of their possessions; and my word also shall be gathered in one. And I will show unto them that fight against my word and against my people, who are of the house of Israel, that I am God, and that I covenanted with Abraham that I would remember his seed forever.
As used in the Holy Scriptures in the strict sense, the term Gentile refers to non-covenant peoples of the earth. Nations and individuals who have made covenant agreements with God, either now or in the past, are termed “The House of Israel”. All others are “Gentiles” if they come from traditionally Christian countries or “Heathen Nations” if they are from non-Christian countries.
The City of Zion, also known as the New Jerusalem, is the key place of gathering, and is to be centered in Jackson County, Missouri, specifically Independence, where the great Temple is to be built. Right now, baptized converts stay in their current locale. They “gather” only in the sense of meeting together. Eventually all of the House of Israel (except Judah) will be Latter-day Saints and they, along with well intentioned non-Latter-day Saint Gentiles will come to the center place of Zion and build up the New Jerusalem as a place of safety and security in a very tumultuous world.
What about our current “gentile” population and gentile governments in the US and Canada? They’ll need to assist in building Zion or be “swept from the land”. It’s not the faithful Latter-day Saints that do it but rather the judgments of God that come when the level of evil reaches the tipping point. Internal conflict and invasion from the south accomplish the deed.
The word of God is very explicit concerning the establishment of Zion in Missouri: It’s going to happen for sure. The only question is who gets on board and who gets swept away. However the future of the North American gentile peoples is not fixed. The scriptures do not decree their fate but lay out two distinct scenarios: 1) Fight against Zion and be destroyed; or 2) join in building up Zion and be prospered.
My personal take on it is that there are a great many good people in the US and Canada who will support the cause of Zion once it becomes evident to them that God is behind it. Many do not currently support the truth because they really
don’t yet know about it or have been deceived regarding it. But that won’t last forever.
As the portentous events of the latter-days develop a great division in our North American societies occurs. We can see it developing already and the division will grow to the point where gray areas shrink and the choices become stark. Those avoiding physical conflict and who want to be governed by honest leaders who follow true principles of democracy, as found in the divinely inspired US Constitution, will come physically to The City of Zion.
I try not to say anything in this blog that is not already in the Holy Scriptures in very plain speech. If you haven’t heard about these things then I suggest to read the words of Jesus on the subject. Here is an example from 3 Nephi 21 in the Book of Mormon:
3 Nephi 21:14, 22-28
14 Yea, wo be unto the Gentiles except they repent; …
22 But if they will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them, and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this the remnant of Jacob, unto whom I have given this land for their inheritance;
23 And they shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob, and also as many of the house of Israel as shall come, that they may build a city, which shall be called the New Jerusalem.
24 And then shall they assist my people that they may be gathered in, who are scattered upon all the face of the land, in unto the New Jerusalem.
25 And then shall the power of heaven come down among them; and I also will be in the midst.
26 And then shall the work of the Father commence at that day, even when this gospel shall be preached among the remnant of this people. Verily I say unto you, at that day shall the work of the Father commence among all the dispersed of my people, yea, even the tribes which have been lost, which the Father hath led away out of Jerusalem.
27 Yea, the work shall commence among all the dispersed of my people, with the Father to prepare the way whereby they may come unto me, that they may call on the Father in my name.
Some Latter-day Saints pass over the subject of the “Lost Tribes” with a bit of embarrassment because they don’t get it. According to the 10th Article of Faith*, D&C 110 & 132, they’ll be coming to the City of Zion, and in great numbers. Since they are “lost” it seems impossible because if such a single large self-aware group existed we would
know about it. So I’ve seen books written that they are in the center of the earth, in space, or some other fanciful explanation with no scientific or scriptural support whatever. I believe there is a very plausible answer, beginning with the recognition that they are not now a single group or fully self-aware.
However, first, lets list the tribes of Israel into two groups:
- Judah (Leah) [of Jewish descent]
- Benjamin (Rachel) [of Jewish descent, mixed with Judah]
- Levi (Leah) [of Jewish priestly descent]
- Joseph, Ephraim (Rachel, Asenath) [mostly European, especially northern European origins]
- Joseph, Manasseh (Rachel, Asenath) [mostly native American origins]
- Reuben (Leah)
- Simeon (Leah)
- Issachar (Leah)
- Zebulun (Leah)
- Dan (Bilhah)
- Naphtali (Bilhah)
- Gad (Zilpah)
- Asher (Zilpah)
Although Israel had twelve sons, the “tribes” are counted somewhat differently. Levi, the tribe with priesthood responsibility was “set apart” for temple service and not counted as one of the regular tribes with a land inheritance. On the other hand, Joseph got a “double portion” as each of his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, received a tribal inheritance, bringing the total back up to 12 again.
As seen in the above lists, only 8 tribes are currently “lost” because Ephraim and Manasseh are essentially “found”. The whole confusion about “lost” tribes can be better understood I think when the word “lost” is replaced with “unidentified”.
Interestingly, the tribal descendants are now in the process of being identified. Missionaries bring back the report. One missionary I know of, from Siberia, reported that individuals from every
tribe of Israel had been identified in his mission via Patriarchal blessings. Another I know of, reported others of “lost tribes” in Mongolia where he served. I spoke to a missionary recently returned from Japan, who said the Shinto temples there had, in his opinion, a remarkable similarity to the layout of the ancient tabernacle and temple of Solomon. A google search reveals many non-LDS sources with the same opinion. I am convinced that the locations and histories of all the unidentified tribes will soon be known in detail through discovery and revelatory means, including their ancient scriptures. The best article I’ve read on the subject is Beyond Arsareth: The Twelve Tribes of Israel Today
* (Pearl of Great Price | Articles of Faith 1:10)
10 We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
The purpose of this blog is to talk about Zion and all things LDS which relate to Zion. I intend to write whether I am read or not — because writing helps organize my thoughts to focus on what is important.
By “Zion” I mean primarily the City of Zion, the place of gathering and central government, and not just the Zion “in our hearts”. Why Zion, of all things? For many LDS, the belief in Jesus manifests itself primarily as a lifestyle that represents the totality of the Church and belief system and most outside of the LDS Church see us only in the same way – by our lifestyle. However for me directly, church lifestyle and social activities are important, not as an epitome of accomplishment, but rather as a step, a means to an end. Zion is a society where God comes and dwells with us. Where there are sturdy dependable individuals that exhibit no inequity, no injustice, no selfishness and corruption — but rather true love for one another and opportunity to meet our full potentials. We are just not yet ready for that level of Zion society and now live just a slice of the celestial law required for it. So, logically, it’s not where we’re at but where we’re going that counts. But we get there only one small step at a time. Church lifestyle and level of average individual progress, morally and intellectually, was quite different 100 years ago and will be quite different 100 years from now — so keeping a focus on the big picture is ever so important. Sometimes we LDS forget we’re building Zion, for the thousand year reign of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and preparing for a world dramatically different from the one seen today.
I think this blog focus has a good doctrinal foundation. Joseph Smith said: “We aught to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object …”. The building up of Zion is why gospel truths and priesthood authority are restored at this time in history, i.e. the “Latter-days”. It is also why God is moving scientific knowledge forward so rapidly.