The Church and Suppression

The following is an email I sent a couple of years ago to a family member who had lost her faith in the Church.  At the time, one of the big issues for her was that the Church had “supressed” it’s awful past in an attempt to deceive people into belief.  She gave a couple of examples (it was like pulling teeth to get any specifics at all!).  Below is my response. Any deletions are marked […] and additions are [inside brackets].

Dear [Kate],

Thank you for narrowing your email down.  We can now discuss your original topic of “the suppression by the Mormon Church.”

[…]

“The current Mormon Church suppresses its non-faith-promoting history.” That is your original allegation.  Webster’s Dictionary defines suppress in the following manners:  “1: To put down by authority or force 2 a: to keep secret b: to stop or prohibit the publication or revelation of 3 a: to exclude from consciousness,” etc.  I believe all of those definitions generally fit with the way you have used the word thus far.

In order to give supporting evidence to your claim that the Church “suppresses its non-faith-promoting history” you refer to the use of a pistol by Joseph Smith in Carthage Jail, the denials of Joseph Smith about his own polygamy, and the lack of information concerning Brigham Young’s polygamy in the 1998 Church manual.  I will address each of these issues specifically.

Before discussing the two topics there are two questions that have to be asked.

Why would the Church want to suppress x y or z?

What evidence is there of suppression of x y or z?

Let’s first turn our attention to the Brigham Young manual, then Carthage Jail, then to Joseph Smith’s lying about polygamy.

First then, why would the Church wish to suppress the fact the Brigham Young was a polygamist?  To this, I have no answer.  I see no motive for it.

Second, what evidence is there of suppression?  None at all.  If the Church is trying to suppress this fact, it is doing a poor job indeed.  I have yet to meet a member of the Church that wasn’t aware of this fact or even a non-member who had heard of Brigham Young that didn’t also know of his practicing polygamy.  By definition there can be no suppression where the knowledge is already common and readily available.  It is not suppression to NOT mention that the sky is blue.  Everybody already knows that.

You also have to observe the context of your allegations.   If the church were trying to suppress its history on polygamy it wouldn’t print information about it anywhere.  It would be extremely silly to “suppress” it in one place and not in another.  As a matter of fact, the Church cannot be accused of suppression at all so long as it makes the information available. Interestingly, polygamy is mentioned in the Joseph F. Smith manual, the John Taylor manual, and the Wilford Woodruff manual.  There is even a
picture of Joseph F. Smith’s plural wives in that manual on page 349 for those who prefer looking at pictures to reading. Of course it is also found in the institute manuals, the Church History volumes as well as the Doctrine and Covenants.  Also, thousands of people tour the Beehive home of Brigham Young in Salt Lake every year where the full-time missionary tour guides mention his polygamist family and the practical day-in day-out routines associated with the chores of such a large family well as many stories of the polygamist wives and so forth.  This I know from two different individuals who served full-time missions there and on Temple Square.   The overwhelming evidence is that although the manual doesn’t mention his polygamy the Church has not and is not trying to suppress its polygamist roots.

Why then doesn’t it mention it in the manual?  Well, I believe that question is answered by understanding the purpose of the manual. I quote from page v. of the introduction.  “This book reflects the desire of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to deepen the doctrinal understanding
of Church members and to awaken within them a greater desire to know the things of God.”  The book is composed of  “extracts from Brigham Young’s sermons to the early Saints” arranged topically.

Mentioning Brigham Young’s polygamous practices would in no way add to the focus of the manual to deepen doctrinal understanding or to help members of the church to have a greater desire to know the things of God.  The book is set up in sections according to doctrinal, not historical or biographical, topics.  Therefore the obvious lack of history and biography in the book.

There are a few changes in the text where Brigham Young was preaching on how a man should treat his “wives.”   The text replaces “wives” with “wife” since no Latter-day Saints are currently polygamist.  Further, the text notes the change in the book by placing the word in [brakets].  Further there are references, most of which come from the Discourses of Brigham Young (a very popular book) to which any member can refer for more information.  There is no attempt at concealing the change.

Accusing the Church of suppression for not mentioning the well-known fact of
Brigham Young’s polygamy in a book that is not historical or biographical in
nature is like accusing a music teacher of suppression for failing to
mention that the sky is blue while trying to teach students an appreciation
of Brahms.

I think the case for suppression here is very weak and completely unfounded.

——————————————————————————————–


Joseph Smith’s use of a gun at the martyrdom at Carthage Jail.

You said in your first email to me that “the church doesn’t tell this fact in the Carthage Jail tour, its lessons or talks.” Therefore, the church is trying to cover up this fact because it could be damaging to or less than “faith-promoting” for the members.

In response, I don’t personally know whether they have or do mention it in the Carthage Jail tour.  Both mom and dad say they heard it there before, but it could have been years ago.  Further, it may very well depend on who the missionary is that is guiding the tour and what questions those receiving the tour ask.  So, as far as that goes, in order to be perfectly honest, I would have to say I do not know for certain as to whether it is mentioned consistently or at all at the Carthage Jail tour.  I was there exactly two years ago, but I don’t remember if it was mentioned or not.

[But, the church history museum has the very pistols used on display on the first floor. So much for trying to suppress them!]

As far as lessons go, you can find it mentioned in the Institute manual entitled “Church History in the Fullness of Times” on page 282.   This manual is used in all institute classes on Church History as well as all the church history classes offered at BYU.  The Church encourages college-aged students to take as much Institute as possible.  The manual is available to any member who would like a copy and is often found in ward libraries.  The institute teachers encourage the students to read their manual.  Therefore,
the church openly encourages members to read the manual and discuss its contents, some of which refer directly to the fact that Joseph Smith successfully fired three shots and wounded three men in Carthage Jail.

As far as [other church materials] go, it is mentioned THREE times in the June 1994 ensign. The Ensign is the biggest media organ of the Church.  The first mention is in the First Presidency message of the Ensign in June 1994 where Thomas S. Monson mentions the use of a gun by Joseph Smith in Carthage jail.  The
First Presidency message is given to home teachers to relate to their families whom they are responsible for.  All families of the church, active or inactive, have home teachers assigned who are supposed to visit them [monthly] and share the message with them from the ensign.  Therefore, every family of the
Church should have had the opportunity to hear or read about it for themselves.  Further, the ensigns from the last thirty years are all found on lds.org and can be searched or read by any person in the world at any time.  Where is the basis for suppression here? How many times does it have to be mentioned in the ensign in order for it to not be “suppressed” (‘2 a: to keep secret b: to stop or prohibit the publication or revelation of’)? It is mentioned two more times in the same June Ensign (See “Martyrdom at
Carthage,” Reed Blake).

In conclusion, there is no real evidence of suppression here.  Further, there is no obvious reason or need for suppression to start with.  There is nothing to hide and nothing has been hidden.
——————————————————————————————–

Did Joseph Smith lie about his polygamous practices?

You quoted a public denial of Joseph Smith concerning his practice of polygamy.  You thereby insinuate that Joseph Smith was purposefully suppressing the truth because it was not “faith-promoting.”  Further you stated that the church is suppressing the fact that he may have been deceptive.

Let’s have a look at the facts and consider the context of Joseph Smith’s denials.

Joseph Smith and Latter-day Saints saw polygamy as a religious practice instituted by God (D&C 132).  In the 19th century such a practice was appalling to [Puritan] tradition and often contrary to the law.  The state of Illinois had an anti-bigamy act during the days of Nauvoo.  A public announcement of the practice in the 1840’s in Illinois would have provoked more persecution from the anti-Mormons and could have brought consequences imposed by the state.  What was Joseph Smith to do?

It has long been held by American citizens as well as many people throughout the world, that government has no right to coerce the God-given conscience of man.  “We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience…” (D&C 134:2).  In other words, government has no place in coercing the free exercise of conscience.  What happens when government does pass laws that conflict with human conscience?  Should man submit to government?  Is the government the ultimate decider of right and
wrong?  No, not unless you believe in fascism.   As far as freedom of religion and exercise of conscience, “We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others;  but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion;  that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilty, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.”  (D&C 134:4)  In other words, so long as a person’s religious views do not infringe on the rights of another citizen, the government has no right to proscribe laws to govern religious practice or human conscience.  In this, only to God are men amenable. Further, “We believe that rulers, states, and governments have a right, and are bound to enact laws for the protection of all citizens in the free exercise of their religious belief; but we do not believe that they have a right in justice to deprive citizens of this privilege, or proscribe them in their opinions, so long as a regard and reverence are shown to the
laws and such religious opinions do not justify sedition nor conspiracy” (D&C 134:7).

Gandhi was like-minded.  “Can there not be a government in which the majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but conscience?-in which majorities decide only those questions to which the rule of expediency is applicable?  Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator?  Why has every man a conscience then?  I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward.  It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right.
The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right.”    That is, when your conscience conflicts with the “law” of the land, you must choice to follow your conscience.  A great example of this is found in Nazi Germany.  Would you be willing to “illegally” harbor Jews in your home to protect their lives or would you suppress your conscience in order to follow the will of the government?

Now, in context, Joseph Smith and the Latter-day Saints all held polygamy as a revealed truth from God  (Whether you agree or not is a non-issue at present). Therefore to practice polygamy, though considered illegal by the state or later by the nation, was a matter of the conscience. The question Joseph Smith had to answer was “to whom will I be obedient, the State of Illinois or to God?”  Ultimately, he chose God. Thus the “illegal” practice of polygamy in Illinois.  Your accusation of Joseph Smith committing
“adultery” is thus true on a technical level and in the strict sense of the law then in operation in Illinois, but not before the eyes of God, in the mind of Joseph Smith, or others who embraced the principle of polygamy contrary to the laws of the land.

Concerning his “lying” about polygamy-What were his options?  Should he publicly announce polygamy and thus bring down the wrath of the anti-Mormons, the state, and even some of the Mormons who were as yet unprepared for the principle?  That could bring about great conflict, loss of lives (both Mormon and non-Mormon), the destruction of Nauvoo, and so forth.  On the other hand, if he could teach the principle privately to the prepared and keep the practice in secret until the time came that a public statement would do no great harm, the troubles could be avoided.  What is more important?  Sometimes there are conflicts between moral choices.

Just think of the Nazi example.  You listened to your conscience and harbored the Jews to protect their lives.  The Nazi’s knock on your door and ask you if your harboring Jews.  You have several choices:

1.  You can decide that “honesty” is the most important moral value and tell the truth at the cost of lives of the your Jewish guests

2.  You can refuse to answer the question by remaining silent and thereby appear guilty and possibly infuriate the Nazi’s to kill you and your Jewish guests

3.  You can “lie” to the Nazis and perhaps even lie to your friends and neighbors in order to keep them from revealing your secret and to protect your Jewish guests.

Which would you chose?  You could  place “honesty” above the life of the Jews or your own life or you can lie in order to protect them and yourself from a “law” that in reality is contrary to the will of God.

Joseph Smith’s circumstances were not much different.  When faced with questions about polygamy on a public level he could

1.  Tell the truth and thereby reap devastation to the Church at the cost of lives, loss of property, and great persecution

2. Refuse to say whether he practiced polygamy or not and thereby appear guilty and possibly reap the same response as in example 1.

or

3.  He could publicly “lie” about the practice (even to his friends and neighbors) while continuing to teach it to all who he could trust, thus preserving the Church, lives, property, great persecution, and the practice itself that he saw as divinely instituted.

There is no real choice for a person of any moral integrity in either the Nazi situation or in the situation that confronted Joseph Smith.

Now, the question naturally arises-did any prophet of the past ever have to “lie”?  Did God ever command [or condone] deceit?   I’ll here examine a few examples.

Abraham and Isaac lied about their marital status in order to preserve the lives of their families (Gen. 12:10-20; 26:6-13).  The Egyptian midwives ignored the murderous instructions of the Pharaoh, the civil leader, to kill the Israelite baby-boys and then lied about why they hadn’t killed them because they “feared God” more than Pharaoh (Exodus 1:16-19). A more interesting example is that of the commandments of the Lord to Moses. Here he gives him his prophetic call to lead Israel into the Promised Land.

“And I [the Lord] have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:17)

The Lord clearly gives his intent to liberate the Israelites from slavery and to lead them to the land of promise.  But, in the very next breath as it were, He tells Moses what to tell Pharaoh-the “public story.”

“And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The Lord God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the
Lord our God” (Exodus 3:18).

The “public stance” and the “truth” are really two different things.  The Lord gave both to Moses.  The Lord intended to free the Israelites from bondage but told Moses to tell Pharaoh that they were only going to go sacrifice for “three days.”  Why?  Undoubtedly because the Israelites would have been killed before leaving Egypt had the Pharaoh known the full story. Moses, who was the greatest prophet in Israel (Deuteronomy 34:10)  to whom Jesus Christ was likened (Deut. 18:15-19; Acts 3:22-23), “lied” by
command of the Lord.  Isn’t this identical to the “lying” of Joseph Smith in Nauvoo?   The parallels are striking indeed.

Joseph Smith’s deception was no more suppressive in nature than was that of Moses, Abraham, or Isaac.  Indeed he was a prophet as were they.

Lastly, there is no basis for the church “suppressing” this information.  It is found in the History of the Church as well as the Encyclopedia of Mormonism (which was overseen by two apostles).  The Encyclopedia of Mormonism actually gives a recommendation to read “Mormon Polygamy: A
history” by Van Wagoner, which happens to spend an entire chapter on Joseph Smith’s deceit concerning polygamy.  If the church were suppressing this fact, don’t you think they could do a better job?  You only feel that it is suppressed because you never took the opportunity to learn it for yourself until recently.  There is no suppression.
——————————————————————————-

In conclusion, anti-Mormons have for years tried to accuse the Mormon Church of suppressing “the facts” in an attempt to make people think there is something to be suppressed.  If there is something to be suppressed then something must be wrong.  Well, there is nothing wrong and nothing to be suppressed and therefore there is no suppression.  It would be welcomed relief to see such arguments blasted away by a big dose of honesty and to become a thing of the past.  However, I don’t see that as a real possibility
for people who are generally more concerned with propagating their message than with personal integrity or honesty.   Purposefully baring false witness in an attempt to tear down another person or religion is sin.  A person who thus lives knowingly in sin, according to the Bible, does not know Christ
nor is his disciple and cannot receive eternal life. “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4, cf with John 17:3).

Why would the lying continue then?

“Wherefore by their fruits ye shall no them” (Matt. 7:20)

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In the Mouth of Two or Three Witnesses (2 Cor. 13:1)

Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken. And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true. And it is marvelous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.

Oliver Cowdery
David Whitmer
Martin Harris

This testimony was never denied by any of the three witness, even though all three were at one point excommunicated from the Church. Each were embittered toward Joseph Smith personally. If they had made up such a testimony, surely they would have said so while they were estranged from the Church and Joseph Smith. However, each testified of the truthfulness of their testimony on their death beds.

This resolute never-doubting witness is something that the critics of the Church have to ignore or distort. They have no other choice.

Here are some interesting quotes and stories from each of these men.

Oliver Cowdery

I wrote, with my own pen, the entire Book of Mormon (save a few pages) as it fell from the lips of the Prophet Joseph, as he translated it by the gift and power of God, by the means of the Urim and Thummim, or as it is called by the book, Holy Interpreters. I beheld with my eyes, and handled with my hands, the gold plates from which it was transcribed. I also saw with my eyes and handled with my hands the Holy Interpreters. That book is true. Sidney Rigdon did not write it. Mr. Spaulding did not write it. I wrote it myself as it fell from the lips of the prophet.It contains the everlasting gospel, and came forth to the children of men in fulfillment of the revelations of John, where he says he saw an angel come with the everlasting gospel to preach to every nation, kindred, tongue and people. It contains principles of salvation; and if you, my hearers, will walk by its light and obey its precepts, you will be saved with an everlasting salvation in the kingdom of God on high. (Oliver Cowdery, cited in Andrew Jenson, LDS Biographical Encyclopedia [Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson History Company, 1901], 1:246.)

Oliver Cowdery just before breathing his last, asked his attendants to raise him up in bed that he might talk to the family and his friends, who were present. He then told them to live according to the teachings contained in the Book of Mormon, and promised them, if they would do this, that they would meet him in heaven. He then said, ‘Lay me down and let me fall asleep.’ A few moments later he died without a struggle. (Lucy P. Young who witnessed this event. Cited in Andrew Jenson, LDS Biographical Encyclopedia [Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson History Company, 1901], 1:246.)

Martin Harris

On one occasion several of his old acquaintances made an effort to get him tipsy by treating him to some wine. When they thought he was in a good mood for talk they put the question very carefully to him, ‘Well, now, Martin, we want you to be frank and candid with us in regard to this story of your seeing an angel and the golden plates of the Book of Mormon that are so much talked about. We have always taken you to be an honest good farmer and neighbor of ours but could not believe that you did see an angel. Now, Martin, do you really believe that you did see an angel, when you were awake?’ ‘No,’ said Martin, ‘I do not believe it.’ The crowd were delighted, but soon a different feeling prevailed, as Martin true to his trust, said, ‘Gentlemen, what I have said is true, from the fact that my belief is swallowed up in knowledge; for I want to say to you that as the Lord lives I do know that I stood with the Prophet Joseph Smith in the presence of the angel, and it was the brightness of day.” (Letter of Elder Edward Stevenson to the Millennial Star quoted in William Edwin Berrett, The Restored Church [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1974], 57–58.)

No man ever heard me in any way deny the truth of the Book of Mormon, the administration of the angel that showed me the plates; nor the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, under the administration of Joseph Smith, Jun., the prophet whom the Lord raised up for that purpose in these latter days, that He may show forth His power and glory. The Lord has shown me these things by His Spirit, by the administration of holy angels, and confirmed the same with signs following, step by step by step, as the work has progressed, for the space of fifty-three years. (Martin Harris, letter to Hanna B. Emerson, Jan., 1871)

The Book of Mormon is no fake. I know what I know. I have seen what I have seen and I have heard what I have heard. I have seen the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon is written. An angel appeared to me and others and testified to the truthfulness of the record, and had I been willing to have perjured myself and sworn falsely to the testimony I now bear I could have been a rich man, but I could not have testified other than I have done and am now doing for these things are true. (Martin Harris on his death bed. Cited by George Godfrey, “Testimony of Martin Harris,” from an unpublished manuscript copy in the possession of his descendants, quoted in Eldin Ricks, The Case of the Book of Mormon Witnesses [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1971], 65–66.)

David Whitmer

It is recorded in the American Cyclopedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica, that I, David Whitmer, have denied my testimony as one of the Three Witnesses to the divinity of the Book of Mormon: and that the two other witnesses, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris, denied their testimony to that book. I will say once more to all mankind, that I have never at any time denied that testimony or any part thereof. I also testify to the world, that neither Oliver Cowdery nor Martin Harris ever at any time denied their testimony. They both died affirming the truth of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. (David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ by a Witness to the Divine Authenticity of The Book of Mormon [David Whitmer: Richmond, Virginia, 1887], 8.)

Unto all Nations, Kindreds, Tongues and People, unto whom these presents shall come:

It having been represented by one John Murphy, of Polo, Caldwell County, Mo., that I, in a conversation with him last summer, denied my testimony as one of the three witnesses to the “Book of Mormon.”

To the end, therefore, that he may understand me now, if he did not then; and that the world may know the truth, I wish now, standing as it were in the very sunset of life, and in the fear of God, once for all to make this public statement:

That I have never at any time denied that testimony or any part thereof, which has so long since been published with that Book, as one of the three witnesses. Those who know me best, well know that I have always adhered to that testimony. And that no man may be misled or doubt my present views in regard to the same, I do again affirm the truth of all my statements as then made and published.

“He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear;” it was no delusion! What is written is written, and he that readeth let him understand…

My sincere desire is that the world may be benefited by this plain and simple statement of truth.

And all honor be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen!
(David Whitmer, Richmond, Mo., March 19th, 1881).

Following his death the Richmond Conservator wrote:

On Sunday evening before his death he called the family and his attending physician, Dr. George W. Buchanan, to his bedside and said, “Doctor do you consider that I am in my right mind?” to which the Doctor replied, “Yes, you are in your right mind, I have just had a conversation with you.” He then addressed himself to all present and said: “I want to give my dying testimony. You must be faithful in Christ. I want to say to you all that the Bible and the record of the Nephites, (The Book of Mormon) are true, so you can say that you have heard me bear my testimony on my death bed….

On Monday morning he again called those present to his bedside, and told them that he had seen another vision which reconfirmed the divinity of the “Book of Mormon,” and said that he had seen Christ in the fullness of his glory and majesty, sitting upon his great white throne in heaven waiting to receive his children.(Richmond Conservator Report [26 January 1888])

The Richmond Democrat also added this comment:

Skeptics may laugh and scoff if they will, but no man can listen to Mr. Whitmer as he talks of his interview with the Angel of the Lord, without being most forcibly convinced that he has heard an honest man tell what he honestly believes to be true. (Richmond Democrat 16/6 [2 February 1888])

Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses

Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses by Richard Lloyd Anderson is an absolute must read for anyone even remotely interested in the Book of Mormon. If you haven’t read it, shame on you! Get a copy and read it ASAP! I had read it sometime ago, and enjoyed it a great deal. I recently purchased a copy as a Christmas present for my parents. It makes a great gift because it is fairly short and easy to read. It is, however, a pearl of great price. To give you a taste, let me quote the opening lines here. Plus, they give some great items for discussion.

Joseph Smith’s criticisms of Christianity in the nineteenth century are remarkably like Christian self-criticisms of the twentieth. The youth was confused by multiplying churches and conflicting claims. Christian leaders in recent decades have also repeated their frustration at “the scandal of the divided church.” After long inquiry young Joseph found no answers among quarreling leaders, so he turned to God alone. In past decades world councils and international committees have also sought the “renewal of the spirit.” But the results are less than convincing. Creeds have softened, inter-faith negotiations continue, but competitive Christianity remains. Its tragedy is the confusion of human systems that inadequately direct the faith of innumerable men and women of great commitment. Early Christians were “of one heart and of one soul” (Acts 4:32), but Christianity now better resembles the early world confounded after Babylonian pride “that they may not understand one another’s speech.” (Gen. 11:7.) Religious leaders can quote past prophets, but who can divinely lead God’s people out of the bondage of confusion today?

This question is even more urgent than it was on the spring day of 1820 when Joseph Smith strode into the New York woods and returned shaken by a divine decree: “I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong.” This message may be ridiculed or ignored, but precedents are on Joseph Smith’s side, for few religious systems have escaped the gradual corruption of embracing the world that they originally were called to confront….Who has aspired to God’s presence today? The blunt condemnation of current religions reported by Joseph Smith is a profound mark of credibility when read by the light of past prophets. (pp.1-2)

Come to Jesus!

Weak and wounded sinner
Lost and left to die
O, raise your head, for love is passing by
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus and live!

Now your burden’s lifted
And carried far away
And precious blood has washed away the stain, so
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus and live!

And like a newborn baby
Don’t be afraid to crawl
And remember when you walk
Sometimes we fall…so
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus and live!

Sometimes the way is lonely
And steep and filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain, then
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus and live!

O, and when the love spills over
And music fills the night
And when you can’t contain your joy inside, then
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus and live!

And with your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory’s side, and
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live!

(Chris Rice)