By Study and Also By Faith

ssalem-thoughtsWhen 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, 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

nauvoo-temple-daguerreotypeFor 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.

the-divine-councilNowhere 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.

carl_bloch_the_christIn 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.

PassingHeavenlyGiftWe 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.


12 thoughts on “By Study and Also By Faith”

  1. Minorityofone

    Hi Tim,

    Great article on the priesthood. I have not read much denver material so bear with me. I am sure that Denver has presented this. You mentioned that the fulness of the priesthood was taken from the early saints. You quoted section 124 (which I admittedly do not accept as scripture, it has doctrine that contradicts the Book of Mormon, and other parts of the doctrine and covenants, and it seems to be all about getting rich, so be patient with me there as well) which talks about the fulness being taken and all that.
    Ok so my question is simple. When was the fulness of the priesthood given to joseph smith, or any other human in his time? I have read, and received a testimony of John the Baptist conferring the aaronic priesthood. I can remember when I received this testimony, it was reading oliver cowderys beautiful account in the pearl of great price. I received a witness that the aaronic priesthood will remain on the earth until the sons of Levi offer an offering etc. I have received a witness that this priesthood has remained in the LDS church, the RLDS church, and the temple lot church. I don’t know of the other movements but I wouldn’t be surprised if more movements have the aaronic priesthood.
    So with such a beautiful account of the aaronic priesthood being conferred, it seems only logical we would be given a detailed, specific account of when the fulness of the priesthood was given. This would have been the major turning point of the earth when a new dispensation truly began and would have involved a visitation of Christ in the flesh, in His glory, with a man raised in glory to be able to abide His physical presence and match that marvelous frequency of The Lord, and The Lord conferring the fulness of the priesthood by His own voice, just like you shared in your article and just like nephi taught. So when did that happen? I really want to read about it. Thanks Tim

  2. You know, it’s odd. I am able to come up with a cogent scriptural counter-case to most of these claims.

    For example, a one-verse takedown of 2 Nephi 32:6 necessarily implying a personal ministering of Christ.

    Enos 1:8
    8 And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. And many years pass away before he shall manifest himself in the flesh; wherefore, go to, thy faith hath made thee whole.

    A counter-counter argument may be attempted by saying “Enos clearly is seeing and hearing Christ, since to this point he had never before heard nor seen!” Except that is not necessarily meant, either, is it?

    5 And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.

    6 And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away.

    7 And I said: Lord, how is it done?

    8 And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. And many years pass away before he shall manifest himself in the flesh; wherefore, go to, thy faith hath made thee whole.

    9 Now, it came to pass that when I had heard these words I began to feel a desire for the welfare of my brethren, the Nephites; wherefore, I did pour out my whole soul unto God for them.

    10 And while I was thus struggling in the spirit, behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind again, saying: I will visit thy brethren according to their diligence in keeping my commandments. I have given unto them this land, and it is a holy land; and I curse it not save it be for the cause of iniquity; wherefore, I will visit thy brethren according as I have said; and their transgressions will I bring down with sorrow upon their own heads.

    It was not an audible voice from a person visibly present, but a voice in the mind. At least, it can be plausibly read this way.

    Now, I don’t wish to say you have to read it this way, but the fact that it can be plausibly read this way ought to give people pause before they say THIS or THAT is THE ONLY WAY to read stuff, no matter how logical.

    I ought to know. (And no, I do not necessarily condemn heretics, even if I do note beliefs that are directly contradicted by the scriptures.)

    I do not believe it is God’s intention to facilitate the creation of creeds to which men must assent, beyond the actual doctrine of Christ, but rather it is his intent to undermine them.

    1. And before someone says “But the Spirit witnessed to me that meaning!,” yeah, well, I’m talking about public evidence. I am not even saying the idea is false, so keep yer pants on.

      If you want to find it in the Book of Mormon, try this.

      Ether 12
      27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

      28 Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness, and I will show unto them that faith, hope and charity bringeth unto me—the fountain of all righteousness.

      And even THAT doesn’t necessarily have to be read as physically being brought to Christ… but it can be.

      But then we have this.

      John 14:23
      23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

      Same thing as Ether 12:28, conceptually.

      And we have this.

      Doctrine and Covenants 130:3
      3 John 14:23—The appearing of the Father and the Son, in that verse, is a personal appearance; and the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.

    2. “I do not believe it is God’s intention to facilitate the creation of creeds to which men must assent, beyond the actual doctrine of Christ, but rather it is his intent to undermine them.”

      What is the problem with creeds? Why not have a set of objective revealed truths that one must believe to be saved?

      Is it because people will use creeds to bash each other? Does it lower people’s vibrational energies?

      1. The basic problem is: in thinking they know they answers, they never exercise faith to find out and thus are damned, whatever they think they understand. That’s the fundamental problem with creeds, systematic theologies, and the like. It is the appearance of knowledge but is in reality nothing.

      2. And when I said they never exercise faith to find out, I meant to say they never exercise faith – at all.

  3. Tim asks: “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?”

    Actually, a Brother Snuffer answers your question in The Second Comforter: Conversing with the Lord Through the Veil, in the last paragraph of Chapter 12, (2008).

    “The power of godliness has returned to the earth. There are again, here on earth, people who hold the keys in which the fullness of Christ’s gospel is practiced anew. The key to returning to God through the veil is found in the rites of the priesthood. For without them, no one can return to God’s presence and see the face of God. But with them, any faithful follower of the covenants He has provided can return to Him. Through them every covenant-holder is invited to do so.”

    Tim, does that answer your question?

  4. Minorityofone


    Perhaps this article is in line with the type of seeing you brought up in your comments. I was very edified by this and I have no doubt this person knows something of the power of The Lord. Experiences where the Spirit is profoundly upon us, where we know The Lord is present with us very literally, and we can even see Him with an eye of faith as the burning power of His presence courses through us, is very real. I believe many people on this earth have experienced it. Personally I believe we can have greater experiences where it is not only our spiritual eyes, but even physical that can witness The Lord in his glory. Our physical body has to be raised in it’s vibration to match the vibration of the Being that we are to see, or they have to lower their own to match ours. At any rate if you have time maybe you could check this article out to see if maybe it was what you are getting at. If I misinterpreted the idea you brought up I apologize.

  5. Lynne McKinley

    Thank you Tim, for the introduction to Russell Anderson’s website. It’s so well done, so clearly organized and succinct that I count it as a valuable resource. His links and layout are worth gold to me. I’m grateful for your effort to make the connection.

  6. Tim
    Thank you for the Carl Bloch picture of the Savior. Beautiful work.
    I just read Brother Anderson’s treatise on the Doctrine of Christ. His is the nearest to what I have been taught that I have read anywhere.
    One thing I might point out: We should take careful note and not just pass off as “coincidence” that the Lord spent considerable time and effort teaching the Nephites His Doctrine, the Doctrine of Christ, JUST BEFORE He began His teachings in the Sermon at Bountiful, wh. is a reprise of the Sermon on the Mount.
    What exactly is “the strait and narrow pathway” wh. we are to find and carefully walk, wh. can ONLY be walked, by the way, AFTER receiving the Baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost, after passing thru the Gate (2 Nephi 9:41)?
    I believe He clearly laid it out in the Sermon at Bountiful. It IS the higher law wh. we are to live, wh. will cleanse and purify our hearts, and finally enable us to Come Unto Christ. Denver also expressed this belief in his wonderful teachings on 3 Nephi 11.
    James Russell Uhl

  7. Well, Tim the logical problem with your argument (which is DS argument restated) on Priesthood is the meaning of the word “fullness.” Whenever I have heard that the BOM contains the “fullness” of the gospel, it has ALWAYS been interpreted to mean “sufficient” to point the way to salvation, NEVER “all there is.” If this were not so, then NONE of the D&C & PofGP would be necessary, because the BOM would contain it all. Analagously, when DS argue “something” was lost, the Saints were to be “punished” for their failure, etc., why is he arguing that “fullness” means ALL THE PRIESTHOOD you could have? Personally, I think the amount of priesthood the leadership possesses is NOT all there is, but IT IS SUFFICIENT to the task: that is, to administer the necessary ordinances, and point the way to Eternal Life. Obviously, whatever level of priesthood leadership they have was SUFFICIENT for DS to advance and obtain whatever level of Priesthood he has now obtained directly from the Lord. I

Comments are closed.