A loving individual recently shared with me Elder Corbridge’s BYU talk from 2019 – Stand Forever. If you are not familiar with the devotional address, I recommend you take a few moments and either read or watch it. I like Elder Corbridge. He is forthright, direct, and down-to-earth. He is earnest in his approach and demonstrates he cares for his audience. He introduced his theme right at the beginning of his discourse. Remember, before his call as a General Authority (now emeritus), Elder Corbridge was an attorney by profession and a successful one from what I have read. He is used to arguing logically. His introduction is captivating. I was immediately drawn to his subject and frankly, I agree with his assessment at the end of his opening statement:
As part of an assignment I had as a general authority a few years ago, I needed to read through a great deal of material antagonistic to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the events of the Restoration. There may not be anything out there of that nature I haven’t read. Since that assignment changed, I have not returned to wallow in that mire again.
I also consider much of the material I have read in opposition to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be distasteful, deceitful, disdainful and disturbing. There are too many angry voices declaring and denouncing the LDS Church in ways that are demeaning and discouraging. I hope I have made it clear in my writings over the years that I enjoy my association with the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I love the brothers and sisters in my ward and stake. I worship with them each week and enjoy the uplifting faith we share. My fellow saints continue to reach out to me and my family in loving kindness. They allow me to participate with them in praise of God through song, prayer and study of the Lord’s gospel.
Most Mormons are Good People
In spite of the fact that I resigned my membership from the LDS Church nearly a decade ago, I continue to find fellowship with the members of the Mormon church in this part of California. I participate in Sacrament meetings with them, sing in our ward and stake choirs, and in many ways enjoy blessings that one normally associates with a people who believe in Christ and are striving to make Him the center of their worship service, as we did last week for Easter. I enjoy additional meetings on Sunday and Monday evenings and appreciate that these good people go with my wife to the temple often. Our ward includes members of the LA Temple presidency, past and current, along with a large number of ordinance workers. I love these good people.
I watched General Conference earlier this month with Carol at my side and for the most part enjoyed the addresses. I even felt that President Nelson’s talk on Peacemakers Needed was a much-needed message for our day, reminding all of us to “be nice.” But there is a single basic flaw in the message of the general authorities that all seems to go back to one key point, which is illustrated perfectly in Elder Corbridge’s 2019 BYU devotional address, which is why I chose to review it today. It is common. It is constant and has been a key talking point of the LDS Church for as long as I have been listening to General Conference talks or even when I was teaching the gospel as a missionary so long ago. Elder Corbridge presents that thesis as follows:
The prophet Daniel said that in the last days shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. [Dan. 2:44]. The kingdom of God is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It will “stand for ever.” The question is, Will you and I stand? Will you stand forever, or will you go away? And if you go, where will you go?
The Four Pillars
A few lines later, Elder Corbridge introduces us to the four pillars of his argument, which if you think about it, you have heard many times before. I know I have. See if you can spot the flaw in his logic as he presents those pillars. It’s a common one demonstrated by many people, repeated in Sunday School and other lesson material, but most who repeat it do so without realizing it. Once you see it, you will never forget it and see it again each time it is used. Again, I remind you Elder Corbridge is an expert at wordsmithing. He practiced for years and did so successfully. I’m sure his arguments in court were very persuasive. Here is the meat of his message, building on some common truths that I personally agree with, but making a misleading assumption at the end:
Begin by answering the primary questions. There are primary questions, and there are secondary questions. Answer the primary questions first. Not all questions are equal, and not all truths are equal. The primary questions are the most important. Everything else is subordinate. There are only a few primary questions. I will mention four:
1. Is there a God who is our Father?
2. Is Jesus Christ the Son of God, the Savior of the world?
3. Was Joseph Smith a prophet?
4. Is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the kingdom of God on the earth?
By contrast, the secondary questions are unending. They include questions about Church history, polygamy, people of African descent and the priesthood, women and the priesthood, how the Book of Mormon was translated, the Pearl of Great Price, DNA and the Book of Mormon, gay marriage, the different accounts of the First Vision, and on and on. If you answer the primary questions, the secondary questions get answered too, or they pale in significance and you can deal with things you understand and things you don’t and things you agree with and things you don’t without jumping ship altogether.
The Fatal Flaw
Did you catch it? It’s question number four in the list above, associated with the thesis presented earlier. It is a leap of logic that is not warranted and is glossed over in this discourse by quickly bringing attention to some negative things that he labels as secondary questions. Well done, Elder Corbridge. I re-read the talk after hearing it presented and looked for where he presented evidence to support that assumption. To be clear, he is stating that the LDS Church is the fulfillment of scripture and therefore anything that assumes any other conclusion must be simply part of the the secondary questions he lists. Elder Corbridge was passionate in his delivery, focused on faith and belief, but glossed over the fatal flaw of using assumption as evidence of proof.
Let me be clear: I have no problem with answering affirmatively to the first three questions. Yes, there is a God in Heaven who is our loving Father. Yes, Jesus Christ is the Son of God and is the Savior of the world. And Yes, Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God, who was called by God and given a message for the world, as found in the Book of Mormon. I will even say that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was, at one time, the only true and living church upon the earth, because Joseph, who had been given the sealing power, was upon the earth at the time the Lord made that statement. If the leaders of the LDS Church want to help people like me, they would address what happened in Nauvoo leading up to the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum.
The Keys of the Kingdom
But wait, you say, the LDS Church has long ago given us the truth about what happened in Nauvoo prior to Joseph’s death. No. No, they haven’t. In fact, the Church lied about what happened and were very complicit in fabricating the deceitful narrative about those days. I’m not talking about the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum. I’m talking about the introduction of polygamy by Brigham Young, Willard Richards, Heber C. Kimball, Orson and Parley Pratt, John Taylor, and many others. I’m referring to the fact that the historical record was changed and the official narrative was altered to make it appear as if Joseph and Hyrum taught, endorsed and practiced plural marriage, when the exact opposite is true. This is the key point. Brigham was deceived.
The LDS Church defines the Keys of the Kingdom as authority to speak and act in the name of the Lord. I’ll admit that may be part of it, but more precisely, Joseph taught that the keys were more about having knowledge and understanding of how to ask and get an answer from the Lord on subjects pertinent to the Kingdom of God on the the earth. Where the keys are not, the kingdom is not. Let me be as clear as I possibly can be: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as it is constituted today, is not the Kingdom of God on the earth, and it will not stand forever. It was rejected by the Lord along with all it’s dead because it did not build the Nauvoo temple in the time allocated by the Lord and the higher priesthood was lost from the earth.
Joseph and Hyrum Faught Polygamy
I’ve written about this before, but haven’t been as forthright as I’m trying to be now. I appreciate that those who love me continue to reach out to me in an effort to recover me back into the fold of the LDS Church. As I’ve written many times before, that will never happen. Just as when Moses was taken from the earth, the LDS Church does not possess the higher priesthood. So many good people have been deceived by the doctored history concocted to cover up the sins of adultery by the members of the Quorum of the Twelve in Nauvoo. So many faithful Later-day Saints have been misled by the false narrative perpetuated by the proud descendants of those early polygamists. They have slandered the good name of Joseph and Hyrum to cover their sins.
I will probably never meet Elder Corbridge. I respect him and appreciate his efforts, but I do not agree with him when it comes to his interpretation of Daniel 2:44. I know he is simply emphasizing something that has been taught by the LDS Church for generations, and doing so with great persuasive argument and passion. Nevertheless, he is wrong. And so are the other general authorities of the LDS Church who continue to perpetuate this lie in defense of the adultery of Brigham Young and other leading citizens of Nauvoo. Ask yourself this: Do you believe that Joseph or Hyrum taught, authorized others to teach, or entered into plural marriages themselves? If so, you have need to repent, for you are fulfilling a part of this angel’s prophecy.