When the Interwebz first began to crawl (1993 – See history of Mosaic), browsers didn’t have “Favorites.” Instead, we created lists of links in raw HTML code and made it our home page. The tradition continues today with blogrolls. I update my list about once a year, sorting it by Alexa rankings. Number 150 on my current list is Russell Anderson’s Thoughts from Salem.
When I first started blogging, I would link to articles on Russell’s previous site, Lightplanet.com because it had a wealth of LDS information I was unable to find elsewhere. Russell sold that site a while back, contacted me about his current site and we began a correspondence. Knowing I was going to be in his neck of the woods this week, we made arrangements to meet for lunch.
I was delighted to discover a kindred spirit with much in common. We are both computer guys, love to study the gospel, have a strong desire to share our research and have a similar journey in what we have concluded. We both started our online efforts with the intent of defending the LDS Church, then came to realize there was something not quite right with the official LDS narrative.
The Church was Rejected
For example, in D&C 124 the Lord said the church would be rejected if it did not complete the Nauvoo temple in a timely manner. The Lord desired to restore the fullness of the priesthood which He had taken away. The official church narrative is that the temple was completed. On his website, Russell provides a detailed chronology of the Nauvoo temple showing it was otherwise.
This is a big deal. You’ve really got to think about the implications of what happened in Nauvoo. If the fullness of the priesthood was taken away, and the Lord said it was, then how is it possible the LDS Church can claim to have that priesthood today? The church has gone to great lengths to show the temple was completed, thus the fullness of the priesthood had to have been restored.
Anybody who considers the list of cursings the Lord promised in that section will realize they were each realized. The Lord did not reveal any new ordinances in the Nauvoo temple. He did not reveal things hid from before the foundation of the world. Instead, the saints were moved out of their place by their enemies. They received cursings, wrath, indignations and judgments.
Prophets and the Heavenly Council
The standard LDS interpretation of Amos 3:7 is that God will speak to his people through the prophets, specifically the fifteen men who carry the title of “prophet, seer and revelator.” The current mantra of the church, “follow the prophet” uses this verse as the foundation to support the idea of centralized hierarchical leadership, control and direction for the true people of God.
Nowhere else have I found what I consider to be the more correct interpretation of that verse than on Russell’s site. He presents a logical construction of the elements found in this scripture in such a way that, for me, brought a paradigm shift about how I can recognize a true prophet. He will be introduced to the Heavenly Council by God and will testify of having been so included.
The purpose of the Heavenly Council is not something you are taught about in the standard LDS curriculum. Of course it is referenced in Moses and especially Abraham (the Gods), but nowhere does the church teach that mortals can participate in such a council. Amos teaches us how God calls a prophet – He brings him into the Heavenly Council – then that man receives assignments.
The Doctrine of Christ
One of the purposes of the Book of Mormon is to testify of Christ and to bring us unto Christ. The doctrine of Christ is taught plainly by Nephi in 2 Nephi 32. He plainly teaches repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost and coming unto Christ. The church used to understand and correctly teach that coming unto Christ meant to receive him in the flesh. They no longer do.
In verse six we read, “Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh. And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do.” Nephi is clearly saying Christ shall manifest himself unto you and teach you much more in person.
The church discounts that claim and instead teaches Nephi’s words were fulfilled when Christ came to the Americas after his resurrection. On his website, Russell presents us with a logical deconstruction of Nephi’s instructions about receiving Christ in the flesh. The purpose of the gospel is to prepare us to receive Christ in the flesh while yet mortal. It can’t be any clearer.
Hearing the Voice of God
The church teaches the higher priesthood can be passed from one man to another. This is not so. The higher priesthood is only received directly from God, by hearing his voice declare it. This is taught plainly in the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants, especially in Section 84. Others have also explained this fact, but Russell’s page on the subject presents a sound exegesis.
We tend to overlook the fact that the ordination is simply an invitation to go and get the power. We do NOT receive the higher power of God by ordination. We MUST have the Lord declare it unto us by His own voice out the heavens. No earthly organization controls the power of God. He alone decides who receives it. President Packer understood and taught this a few years back.
In order to have the higher priesthood, we must receive Christ – literally, physically. There is an ordinance involved. Note I said ordinance, not ordination. The ordination invites the man to do all the Holy Ghost teaches him he must do to come into the presence of Christ. The Savior then confers power upon the man. That’s why the penalty for turning from the priesthood is so severe.
A Useful Website for Research
I could go on and on with great examples from Thoughts from Salem but it’s late and my intent was to simply introduce you to the site, express my opinion that it is a valuable resource and invite you to peruse it for some wonderful instructive content. This man has done his research and has provided some unique insights expressed in a logical, methodical and organized manner.
His page on Denver Snuffer is a great source for links that you may not have seen previously. His page containing links to those excommunicated from the LDS church for teaching contrary to the official doctrinal interpretation is noteworthy. Take a look at the Topics page for details on a few Mormon myths, the idea of multiple mortal probations before resurrection and quite a few more.
There is also a valuable page of links to LDS reference material such as older conference talks, periodicals and publications, books, scriptures, Joseph Smith sermons, papers and teachings. See also his page on succession in the presidency for evidence of historical inaccuracies. His post on D&C 136, Brigham’s only canonized revelation is especially revealing.