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This response was written in 1985.  Worldwide military activities since that time have rendered the discussion on wars incomplete.  This reply is used by permission from John A. Tvedtnes of FARMS.  We are unaware of any response by Mr. Baer.


A REPLY TO DICK BAER

By John A. Tvedtnes

On October 10, 1981, Dick Baer, of Bakersfield, California, finished compiling a 35-page "letter" to his "Family and Friends," in which he indicated his reasons for believing Joseph Smith to be a false prophet.  At the conclusion of the document, he wrote (last para., p. 34):  "I believe it is the duty of everyone who reads this letter to point out where I have made mistakes in my research."  What follows is an attempt to do this.

Some Doctrinal Problems

Most of the Baer letter was designed to give evidence that Joseph Smith was a false prophet.  However, before addressing that issue, it seems appropriate to discuss some of doctrinal issues brought up by Mr. Baer.

Baer notes (page 1, para. 8) that his god is not the "god of Mormonism" and proceeds to describe the deity in terms developed in traditional Christian theology.  The Bible often speaks of God as a "man" in form, with body parts.  If Baer is correct, how is this to be explained? Ezekiel and others saw and described God as a man (Ezek. 1:26-28; Exod. 33:18-23; cf. Isa. 6:1; Amos 9:1; Exod. 24:9-11, etc.). Baer, I presume, is either unaware of these descriptions or does not believe them to be literal.  If, in fact, the body parts attributed to God in the Bible are metaphorical only, then perhaps John 4:24 (which Baer cites) is also to be explained metaphorically.  (Where does one draw the line?)  Paul speaks of the Roman saints as being "not in the flesh, but in the Spirit" (Romans 8:9), though they had bodies.  He also says that the resurrected body is spiritual (1 Cor. 15:42-44f).  Yet the resurrected Christ had a "body of flesh and bones" (Luke 24:39).  If the Godhead consists of three beings in one, then where does the body of Christ fit in?  If God is "unchangeable" in all ways, how can one explain that he became mortal in the person of Jesus?  Further, in order to include the Father, Son and Holy Ghost as one God, then, based on John 17:20-23, we must also include the apostles of Jesus' time in this godhead, for Jesus prayed that they might be one with him as he is with the Father.

Baer criticizes (page 2, penultimate para.) the change of "white and delightsome" to read "pure and delightsome" in 2 Ne 30:6. The change, however, is justified by other scriptural passages in which "white" clearly means "pure." E.g., Dan. 12:10, "Many shall be purified, and made white..." See also "pure, faire, and white, having been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb..." (Morm


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on 9:6; cf Al 13:12), referring to the time of the judgment (also Jac 3:8). It is also important to note that the next verse in the passage under question (2 Ne 30:7), speaking of the Jews, says that "as many as shall believe in Christ shall also become a delightsome people." Since the Jews are not dark-skinned (a fact which Joseph Smith must have known), it would appear that skin color is not meant here.

Mr. Baer also misquotes the passage in 2 Ne 30:6, saying that it indicates the Lamanites would change "in a few generations after accepting the gospel." The Book of Mormon passage actually says that this would happen after "[not] many generations." Despite Mr. Baer's concern, there is still time for the Lamanites to be converted. To date, the Church has not initiated any serious efforts at converting Lamanites or Indians (and the terms are not always synonymous).

Conditional Nature of Prophecy

Baer establishes a test for false prophets (page 1, last para.), based on the one given by Moses in Deut. 18:20-22. Ironically, the text can be used to prove that Moses himself was a false prophet. In Num. 25:13, he said in the name of the Lord that Phinehas, his grand nephew, would hold the priesthood eternally. But if Heb. 7:11-12 is correct, the Aaronic priesthood is not eternal. By the same standard, Jonah's prophecy that Nineveh would be destroyed failed.

There are other such examples. E.g., Isaiah told king Hezekiah, "Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live." (2 Kings 20:1) But after the king pleaded with the Lord, the prophet delivered a new message, saying that 15 years would be added to his life. The Lord told Moses that he would destroy the Israelites and make of Moses a greater nation than they. When Moses protested that this would be wrong, the Lord changed his mind (Num. 14:11-20).

The fact of the matter is that all prophecy depends on the faithfulness (or unfaithfulness) of those involved. In the case of Nineveh, the Lord revoked his threatened destruction of the city because they repented. By the same token, he can revoke promises of good if people sin. The Lord himself explained this principle through the prophet Jeremiah:

"At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will


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repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them." (Jer. 18:7-10)

Jeremiah himself illustrated the principle of conditional prophecy when he told king Zedekiah, in the name of the Lord, that he would not go captive into Babylon if he followed the prophet's instructions; otherwise, he would be taken captive and Jerusalem would be destroyed (Jer. 38:17-23).

Concerning the men of Keilah, the Lord said to David, "They will deliver thee up [to Saul]" (1 Sam. 23:12), but this didn't happen because David fled from the city (vss. 13-14)! Two centuries later, the prophet Elisha told King Joash to smite on the ground with his arrows. The king did so three times. The prophet then said that he should have smitten five or six times in order to consume Syria (2 Kings 13:18-19). Obviously, the actions of men play a role in the fulfillment of prophecy.

Near the end of his document (p. 34, para. 5-6), Baer gives another test for false prophets. However, the two Isaiah quotes he lists do not refer to Joseph Smith or to false prophets in general, but to false prophets of Isaiah's time. They were not intended as "tests" of true prophets, but only as statements of fact concerning individuals then living. They should be read in context.

Baer Breaks His Own Rules

I think what bothers me most about Baer's approach is that he does not follow his own rules. He states that a man may be considered a false prophet if what he says in the name of the Lord "has not come to pass and can not come to pass." But he is very subjective in determining what "can not come to pass" and, in fact, merely lumps everything not yet accomplished into the category of false prophecy. To make matters worse, he counts the years since the giving of the prophecy and decides that the time has passed for accepting the declaration as a true revelation from God. Of the 53 items included in Baer's list, 12 of them were included because he felt the time had past for their fulfillment. This is more than unfair. It is, at best, blindness and, at worst, dishonesty. It ignores the fact that many biblical prophecies - which are much older than those of Joseph Smith - have yet to be fulfilled, even when they indicate that the event will occur "soon." Examples of these are given below.

Baer's approach to prophecies whose time he believes has passed will remind Latter-day Saints of the unbelievers in the Book of Mormon "who began to say that the time was past for the words to be fulfilled" (3 Ne 1:5). But since Mr. Baer does not believe in the Book of Mormon, it would be more appropriate to quote from


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the Bible on the same issue. Isaiah (5:19) wrote of those who would say, "Let him [the Lord] make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it!"

Baer also breaks his own rule in that he includes, in his list of Joseph Smith's "false prophecies" items which are not at all prophetic in nature. Some of them are commandments from God, while others are expressly said to be "counsel." When the individual(s) to whom the commandment was addressed did not follow through, Baer takes this as evidence that the "prophecy" was false.

This same methodology can be used to prove the falseness of the biblical prophets. E.g., the Lord said through Elisha that the combined armies of Israel, Judah and Edom would "smite every fenced city" of Moab and that he would "deliver the Moabites also into your hand." But one city, Kir-hareseth, was not taken. When Mesha, the Moabite king, sacrificed his son on the city wall, the Israelites left and went home. The "prophecy" was not fulfilled because the Israelites would not cooperate with the Lord's wishes!

Earlier, The Lord commanded Elijah to anoint Hazael king of Assyria and Jehu king of Israel and Elisha as prophet in his stead (1 Kings 19:15-16). Elijah did, indeed, call Elisha (1 Kings 19:19-21). But it was Elisha who sent one of the prophets to anoint Jehu (2 Kings 9:1-10), and Elisha himself announced to Hazael that he would be king (2 Kings 8:7-13). I.e., Elijah did not accomplish two of the three tasks assigned to him. Does this make him a false prophet? In the LDS view, he did the right thing by designating his successor, who followed through on unfinished business.

In the same manner, some of the things which the Lord commanded the early Latter-day Saints to accomplish (e.g., settle in Zion) will be fulfilled by their descendants and successors. Likewise, the blessings pronounced on each of the tribes of Israel by Jacob (Gen. 48-49) and Moses (Deut. 33) are to be understood as blessings for their future generations, not for the men to whom the words were addressed.

In this latter respect, Baer reminds me of the Missourians who read D&C 118:5-6 as a "prophecy" rather than a commandment. The revelation, given in August of 1838, instructed the Twelve to leave on mission from Far West the following April 26. After the Saints were driven from the state, a Missouri mob swore that this would never happen and threatened to be on hand on April 26, 1839, to prevent it. This, they thought, would prove Joseph Smith a false prophet. A group of Latter-day Saint leaders met at Quincy to decide whether they should obey the commandment, and some (including Joseph Smith's father) argued that the Lord would


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forgive them for not going to Far West, since their enemies would surely kill them. It was agreed, however, that they would go anyway, and a group of apostles and elders began their journey. Along they way, they met up with others of the Twelve and, by the time they reached Far West just after midnight on the appointed day, seven of the Twelve were present - enough to form a quorum to conduct business. Some of the brethren called to the Twelve by the same revelation which sent them back to Far West were ordained on the site and a meeting was held at which the mission was planned. The group adjourned before the mob arrived. But even had they not met, this would not have made Joseph Smith a false prophet, for they were following a commandment, not trying to fulfill a prophecy.

On page 35 (para. 1), Mr. Baer pleads with his readers to not call him a liar. I shall therefore refrain from doing so, hoping that he is at least sincere. But sincerity alone is not sufficient to find the truth. Clearly, Mr. Baer has misunderstood a number of things. The inclusion of nonprophetic utterances as "false prophecies" betrays a basic problem, which may be:

  1. an ignorance of facts (to quote his para. 4, p. 35, a "decision [based] on incomplete and inaccurate information."
  2. a deliberate attempt to deceive (which he denies)
  3. a forgetting of the criteria for "prophecy" which he himself established at the outset of the paper
  4. an emotion which overrides rational analysis ("My mind is made up: don't confuse me with the facts!").

I personally believe that it is the latter - as I believe that many Latter-day Saints (perhaps most) react in the same manner. Hopefully, this response to Mr. Baer's letter will be read as a sincere and rational critique, with a view to defusing criticism founded on emotion and an incomplete examination of the facts of LDS history and of the contents of the Bible.

The Prophecies

In the commentary below, we list the prophecies attributed to Joseph Smith according to the numbers assigned to them in Mr. Baer's paper. (Baer has two items numbered "3" in his list; I have here called them "3a" and "3b" for convenience.) Some of these, however, are not prophecies at all, as we shall see, and should not be included in such a list. Of the 53 items in Baer's list, 19 are not prophecies by the definition given by Baer (i.e., they lack one or both of these elements: prophetic in


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nature and uttered in the name of the Lord).

Thirteen of the items on the list are from secondary sources. This is ironic since, in one case (No. 40), Baer rejects the validity of the utterance because its source is secondary, while accepting the others. His reason is clear: the one he rejected was fulfilled! Interestingly, he could have quoted that particular prophecy from the History of the Church rather than a journal, and the same is true of another item he includes in the list (No. 16) which is actually a variant of a revelation found in the Doctrine & Covenants. Had Baer quoted the one from D&C, however, he would not have been able to find fault with it, as he did with the version found in Parley P. Pratt's journal.

I object to using secondary sources in a study of this nature, for the simple reason that they may not reflect the exact words of Joseph Smith and hence one cannot know if they fit the criteria for "prophecy" set up in Deut. 18. This does not mean that they are totally useless, only that they should not be included in a list of alleged "false prophecies" unless a more "official" version can be examined. Therefore, I will discount journal accounts unless they come from Joseph Smith's diary.

1. Baer presumes to define the words "about to be" in JS-H 1:40-41, saying that 158 years exceeds the set time. In response, I recommend reading Isa. 55:8, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither your ways my ways, saith the Lord." God's reckoning of time cannot be compared to man. Peter wrote that "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (2 Pet. 3:8). "Soon" from God's viewpoint is not the same as it is in ours. "Man that is born of a woman is of few days" (Job 14:1), yet some live more than a century.
 
The Bible has a number of prophecies of things which the prophets said would happen "soon" but which did not, in fact, occur for a century or more. E.g., Isaiah, in his prophecy concerning the destruction of Babylon (Isa. 13:1, 19-20) wrote that "the day of the Lord is at hand" (Isa. 13:6). Yet Babylon was not even conquered until 539 BC, a century and a half after Isaiah, while its destruction came even later.
 

 

Isaiah had also prophesied concerning the actions of Assyria against Israel and Judah: "Be not afraid of the Assyrian: he shall smite thee with a rod, and shall lift up his staff against thee, after the manner of Egypt. For yet a little while, and the indignation shall cease, and mine anger in their destruction." (Isa. 10:24-25) Israel was taken captive by Assyria in 722 BC and the Assyrian king Sennacherib attacked Judah in 701 BC. But it was not until

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605 BC - a century later - that Assyria was defeated by a coalition of the Babylonians and Medes. I.e., the prophet's "little while" meant more than a century!
Zephaniah, writing of the destruction of Judah, wrote that "the day of the Lord is at hand" (1:7) and that "the great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and it hasteth greatly" (1:14). This was written in the days of King Josiah (1:1), nearly a century before Judah was taken captive by the Babylonians. Joel used similar words, saying, "the day of the Lord is at hand" (1:15) and "the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand" (2:1).
The New Testament Apostles used similar terminology. Jesus showed John "things which must shortly come to pass" (Rev. 1:1; cf. 22:6 and note 22:7 which says, "Behold, I come quickly."). After nearly two millennia, most of the things which John saw in the vision have not come to pass despite the fact that Jesus said they would occur "shortly." (Note also Rev. 12:12, where John wrote that the devil has "but a short time" until he is bound when the millennium begins: cf. Rom. 16:20.)
James wrote, "Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord... Be ye also patient...for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh...behold, the judge standeth before the door." (James 5:7-9) Yet Jesus has not yet come to judge and reign. Peter was even stronger than James when he wrote, "But the end of all things is at hand." (1 Pet. 4:7) Obviously, "all things" have not yet ended, despite the two millennia which have passed since these words were written.
2. Now it may be that Peter was not referring to the destruction of the last days. If so, then we must consider that Joseph Smith may also not have been referring to what Baer (or anyone else) believed he meant. In fact, were we to apply Baer's standard to Jesus, we would have to conclude that Christ himself was a false prophet, for he cited the same passage in Joel quoted to Joseph Smith by Moroni, in Matt. 24:29, saying that some of those then alive would not die before its fulfillment (Matt. 24:34).
Unlike Mr. Baer, I would not presume to judge when a certain work has been "frustrated." I have full confidence that the Lord will see his will accomplished in the end, even though mortal men may fight against it. In reality, however, D&C 3:3 has specific reference to the Lord's purpose in bringing forth the Book of Mormon (see comments in No. 5 below).
As for the conversion of the Lamanites, it is still possible for them to be converted. But D&C 3:16-20 is not, as Baer

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contends, a prophecy that the Lamanites will be converted. It says that the testimony of the Book of Mormon writers will come to the Nephites, Lamanites, etc. (vs. 18), and that the "purpose" is to bring the Lamanites to believe and repent (vss. 19-20). Though this is its purpose, it does not prophesy that they will accept it!
3a. This is from a secondary source, David Whitmer, who wrote his account in 1887, many years after the events he described, at a time when he was very hostile toward the Church. It should therefore be deleted from the list. In this same item, Baer calls B. H. Roberts an "Apostle", though he was not a member of the Twelve but a president of the Seventy. The error may have been committed out of ignorance; if not, then it looks like a deliberate attempt to bolster Mr. Baer's comments by quoting a high "authority."
3b. Again, we must deal with God's definition of "soon" or "nigh", rather than man's. As noted in No. 1 above, Christ himself spoke to his disciples two millennia ago of things to pass within that generation, which have not yet occurred.
4. Mr. Baer gets caught up in popular LDS definitions of the word "gospel", rather than determining what the Lord told Joseph Smith and others the term meant. McConkie notwithstanding (when did he have authority to get doctrinal revelations for the Church?), the term "gospel" refers to the atonement of Jesus Christ and the means whereby we can take advantage of it, specifically the first principles and ordinances of the gospel. (The real definition of the term "gospel" is discussed in No. 51, below.) More to the point of Baer's statements, however, I am not convinced that the "it" to which the nations should bow is the gospel. But even so, there is still time for fulfillment in the Lord's calendar.
5. Baer's extension of D&C 3:3 to mean that "any work that is frustrated is not from God but from men" is unwarranted, in view of the reading of that passage, even if his statement were to be true. In the overall scheme, God's work is not frustrated. But men do not always do that which God wishes, so his will is not always accomplished at the time he designates. We still look forward to the fulfillment of the prophecies regarding Missouri.
6.

 

Baer's contention that D&C 62:1, 6, 9 was not fulfilled is based on his definition of the Missouri Latter-day Saints as "faithful." This is ironic, since he does not believe them to have been faithful to God. More importantly, the Lord made it clear in other revelations that they were not faithful (D&C 101:1-2; 103:4; 105:9).

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7. Baer wrote, "Being as it is reported by a Mormon (Rich) we can assume that it is an undisputed statement of Joseph Smith." However, he declines to credit the "Mormon" source for No. 40, which he rejects as authentic. Secondary sources, even from Latter-day Saints, are useful investigative tools, but they cannot be used to prove the falsity of prophecies unless we can be sure that the wording is precisely that of Joseph Smith. Since Journal accounts are generally written after the fact (e.g., at the end of the day) and are usually not reviewed by the person who made the statement, their accuracy is questionable.
Even so, we can comment on this item. The term "Zion" is not always used in Joseph Smith's revelations to denote a geographical location in Missouri. In Moses 7:18-19, Zion refers to people and to the city in which they lived - not in Missouri. The term sometimes refers to the faithful of the Church. In any event, the flourishing of Zion in Missouri is still future.
8. There is a difference between "respecting" a person and "respecting" a person's actions. God had no "respect" to Cain and his offering because he was wicked. In fact, this statement comes from the Bible itself (Gen. 4:5). If it is true and, using Baer's standard of Judgment, then the apostle Peter was a liar, for it was he - not Joseph Smith - who first said that God was "no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34; repeated in 1 Pet. 1:17).
I don't see Baer's point concerning D&C 124:102. It's like asking why God sent Moses to free Israel from Egypt rather than Joshua or Caleb or Aaron or Dathan or Abiram or....Well, you get the idea. But I don't get his.
If Mr. Baer had done his homework, he would know that D&C 1:37 didn't refer to everything in the "Doctrine & Covenants", since the revelation was given as a preface, not to that volume, but to the "Book of Commandments" (see vs. 6), published in 1833. Let's at least be historically accurate if we're trying to prove some historical points.
9. The fulfillment of D&C 133:17, 26-30 is yet future. Again, Baer has a hang-up about the century and a half which have passed. Many of Joseph's prophecies - as many in the Bible - refer not to yesterday or even today, but to the time of the end, when Christ comes. There are yet other things to happen before that great event.
10. Technically speaking, at least part of this should not be included in a list of "false prophecies", since it is a commandment and not a prophecy (vs. 7a). The revelation in

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D&C 71 was addressed to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon (vs. 1). It was not addressed to the 20th-century Latter-day Saints. It does not apply to me any more than the Lord's commandment to Noah to build an ark applies to Mr. Baer. Besides, the revelation doesn't say when the shame of the "enemies" is to be made manifest. How about Judgment day, when the Lord tells them, "Depart from me, ye cursed" (Matt. 25:41)? In vs. 10, the Lord said that those who spoke against Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon "shall be confounded in mine own due time." Clearly, there would be no better time than when they appear before the judgment bar!
The expression "no weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper" is a quote from Isa. 54:17. Isaiah's statement was addressed to the kingdom of Judah, which was defeated by Babylon in 586 BC, when its capital, Jerusalem, was destroyed. If Mr. Baer prefers to consider this as a prophecy of Judah's (or Israel's) future, rather than of the time period of Isaiah, then we must consider how he would have reacted had he lived "147 years" after Isaiah. Would he have complained that the prophecy was false because Judah had been taken captive? If that prophecy is future, with intervening periods of hardship for the Jews, then why cannot promises made to Joseph Smith be future? Why should we apply different standards to Joseph Smith than those applied to Isaiah and other biblical prophets? Or would Mr. Baer consider the Old Testament prophets to also be false? In such a case, would it not also be necessary to question the validity of Moses' calling (and even of his test of false prophets in Deut. 18)? Well, we can see where that would lead!
11.

 

Verses 3-5 and 31 could be read as commandments instead of prophecies. Why Baer finds a problem in the fact that the Independence temple lot was dedicated "more tha[n] one year previous to receiving this revelation" is beyond me. Verse 3 of the cited revelation (D&C 84) indicates that it had already been "dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun." So where's the contradiction? In D&C 84:4, we again have the same problem with the use of the term "this generation" found in Jesus' prophecy in Matt. 24:34, which also refers to events which have not yet been accomplished. I don't pretend to know exactly what is meant, but may I suggest that there are people from Jesus' time (and Joseph Smith's) who are still alive, including John the Revelator and the three Nephite disciples, not to mention Enoch, Melchizedek, Elijah and others. (Interestingly, the prophecy in D&C 84:5 was fulfilled at the dedication of the Kirtland Temple in March, 1836, according to the journals of many then present.)

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Mr. Baer's comments become typical of anti-Mormon writings when he quotes part of Joseph Fielding Smith's "answer" on this subject, noting only that part which suits his purpose and not dealing with the "answer" itself. (Brother Smith notes his belief that the prophecy was to be fulfilled during the generation which would gather in the future to Zion in Missouri.) His conclusion that the LDS Church has encountered "another point of failure" because the temple property in Independence is owned by the Temple Lot group is premature, since we anticipate that, at some point, the Lord will rectify that situation. And his conclusion that D&C 84:114-115 has proven false because there are but few Mormons in New York City, Albany and Boston, and yet they have not been destroyed, is based on Mr. Baer's mortal interpretation of time. There is still time for fulfillment in the Lord's calendar.
He also feels the necessity of continually reminding us that "all you need is one false prophecy to have a false prophet" - a statement based on, but not directly stated in, Deut. 18:20-22. I.e., if Joseph Smith was right on 99 points but wrong (or judged to be wrong by virtue of the fact that the prophecy was not and "cannot" be fulfilled), on only one point, he must, by Mr. Baer's standards, be a false prophet! So, to follow his example, I repeat that, if one applies the same standards to the biblical prophets (including Jesus) which Mr. Baer applies to Joseph Smith, we would have to conclude that many of them (and perhaps all) were also false prophets.
This brings us to an examination of what is really "false" and what merely appears to be "unreasonable" to the human mind. I refer to the fact that the prophets Ezekiel and Jeremiah "contradicted" each other concerning an essential point, and yet were both right! Ezekiel had prophesied that king Zedekiah would go to Babylon but never see it (Ezek. 12:13), while his contemporary Jeremiah prophesied that Hezekiah would be taken captive to Babylon (Jer. 32:5). To their contemporaries, this must have been as confusing as Joseph Smith's statements sometimes are to Mr. Baer. But, in the end, the prophets proved true, for Zedekiah indeed went captive into Babylon, but did not see the city, for he had been blinded (2 Kings 25:7). Thus, we see that prophecies "impossible" of fulfillment have, in the course of time, proven true. Can we not give Joseph Smith the same benefit of a doubt, and not try to "reason away" whatever doesn't fit our pet peeves?
12. To paraphrase Shakespeare, "Methinks the gentleman doth protest too much!" Mr. Baer stresses the fact that "the state of South Carolina was already in a state of rebellion at the time. It's not much to prophesy about something that

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is already happening." His definition of "prophesy" is quite different from mine. D&C 87:1 does not necessarily imply that the rebellion was yet future: if it is describing a contemporary event, then the part about South Carolina makes no pretension to be prophetic, only to describe a current situation. On the other hand, if it is prophetic, then we must note that it was, indeed, at South Carolina that the first Civil War shots were fired on Fort Sumpter in 1861. Could not the earlier rebellion in South Carolina have prompted the revelation? Most of Joseph Smith's revelations (perhaps all of them) did, in fact, come in response to questions he asked of the Lord.
In a subsequent statement dated to 1843, Joseph Smith repeated the prophecy that war between the states would start at South Carolina. He added that a voice had told him this in 1832, while he was engaged in prayer (D&C 130:1213). It is likely that he was praying about the current rebellion in South Carolina. Of interest to us is that he continued to believe civil war would result, even after the 1832/3 crisis had been "solved." I.e., in 1843, he saw that war as still future. Had he been a phony, he could have simply torn up the 1832 revelation, which had not yet been published (and was not published until after his death, appearing in the 1851 Pearl of Great Price and in the 1876 D&C; Sect. 130 was first published in the Deseret News of July 9, 1856).
Since the Civil War did start in South Carolina, we must give Joseph Smith at least one of the 20 "points" Mr. Baer counts, even if it is "coincidental." But we must note that his examination of other points is based on some false assumptions. First, vs. 3 does not say that the Civil War would "result in war being poured out upon all nations." Rather, it states that the Civil War was the start of a series of wars, not necessarily related one to another. The prophesied sequence and its fulfilment can be outlined as follows:
1. Civil War between the northern and southern states. 1861-1865
2. South calls on Great Britain for help. This occurred during the Civil War. Assistance was prevented by Pres. Lincoln's blockade. When, in 1863, the British tried to take Alaska (recently purchased from Russia), the Czar sent a fleet to stop them.

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  3. Great Britain calls on "other nations" to defend itself against "other nations." From the context, it is obvious that Britain was not trying to defend itself against the Union army, but against "other nations"; hence there is no connection with the Civil War, only that this event follows it. The British called for assistance against other nations during World Wars I (1914-1918) and II (1939-1945).

 

4. "Then war shall be poured out upon all nations."

 

Nearly universal war did not, in fact, come until the two world wars, so this is in its proper sequence. For a partial list of wars since 1865, see below.
5. The "slaves" rise up against their masters, who are "marshaled and disciplined for war."

 

This does not necessarily happen after war is poured out upon all nations, but "after many days." If referring to the Civil War era, we must note that most slaves did not revolt, though some certainly did. It may be, however, that the prophecy refers to a later "rising up" of those who were "slaves" at the time of the revelation. In this case, it could refer to the civil rights movement, which gained momentum during the time the U.S. was at war in Vietnam. Or it could be a still future event. Brigham Young stated that the revelation (D&C 87) was received "when the brethren were reflecting and reasoning with regard to African slavery on this continent, and the slavery of the children of men throughout the world." (JD 8:58, May 1860)
6. The "remnants who are left on the land" will vex the Gentiles. If this refers to the "remnant of Israel" of the Book of Mormon, then it would be the Lamanites. But it could be something else.
7. Other events (vss. 6-8).

 

These are yet future and are to be performed in the Lord's time, not according to man's calendar.
  The Civil War is seen in D&C 87 as the beginning of the great international wars which are to plague the earth in the last days, but not their cause, as Mr. Baer misreads.

p. 14

  Since 1865, we have had almost continual war in various parts of the world. Here is an incomplete listing of some of these wars:
  1863-67 French invasion of Mexico, war to regain Mexican independence
1864 Austro-Prussian invasion of Denmark
1865-70 Paraguayan War (Argentina, Brazil & Uruguay invaded and slew or chased 3/4 of the Paraguayan population)
1865-76 Russo-Turkestan War
1866 Seven Weeks War (Austria defeated by Prussia & Italy)
1870-71 Franco-Prussian War
1873-74 French conquest of Tonkin (North Vietnam)
1874 British conquest of Ashanti Kingdom (Ghana)
1874-79 Egyptian-Ethiopian War
1877-78 Russo-Ottoman (Turkish) War
1879-84 War of the Pacific (Chile vs. Peru & Bolivia)
1882 Italian conquest of Eritrea (northern Ethiopia)
1882 British conquest of Egypt
1883-96 French conquest of Madagascar
1885 Serbo-Bulgarian War
1885 Revolt of the Mahdi in Sudan (against Great Britain)
1885-86 British conquest of Burma
1885-98 French conquest of most of West Africa
1894-95 Chino-Japan War
1895-96 Italo-Ethiopian War
1896-98 British conquest of Sudan
1897 Greco-Turkish War
1898 Spanish-American War
1898-1902 Philippine Rebellion (against US occupation)
1899-1902 Boer War (British conquest of South Africa)
1900-01 Boxer Rebellion (USA, Russia, Great Britain, France & Germany vs. Chinese)
1903 Panamanian Revolt (against Colombia)
1904-05 Russo-Japan War
1905 Egypto-turkish War
1906-09 American invasion of Cuba
1907 French conquest of Morocco
1907 Japanese conquest of Korea
1908 Austro-Turkish War
1911-12 Chinese Civil War (against Manchu emperor)
1911-17 Russian conquest of Persia (Iran)
1912-13 First Balkan War
1913 Second Balkan War
1914 American invasion of Mexico during Mexican Civil War
1914-19 World War I
1915 American invasion of Haiti
1916 American invasion of Mexico
1916 American invasion of Dominican Republic
1916 Irish revolt against Great Britain
1916-28 Chinese Civil War
1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia
1918-20 Russian Civil War (Reds vs. Whites)
1920-23 Greek invasion of Turkey

 p. 15

   1922 Turkish revolt against Sultan, led by Ataturk
1931 Spanish Revolt against King Alfonso XIII
1931-33 Japanese invasion of Manchuria
1932-35 Chaco War (Paraguay vs. Bolivia)
1934-36 Italo-Ethiopian War
1936-39 Spanish Civil War
1937-45 Japanese invasion of China
1938 German invasion/annexation of Austria
1939 Germany, having been ceded the Sudetenland, conquered the rest of Czechoslovakia
1939 Italian conquest of Albania
1939-45 World War II
1945-49 Indonesian War of Independence (against Netherlands)\
1945-54 Malaya War (Great Britain vs. Communists)
1945-54 Indochina War (France vs. Vietnamese)
1946-49 Greek Civil War
1946-49 Communist Revolution in China
1947-49 Indian Civil War (Muslims vs. Hindus)
1947-49 Kashmir War (India vs. Pakistan)
1947 Indian insurgencies (Sikhs & other separatists)
1948-49 Israeli War of Independence
1948 Burma insurgencies (Communists & 3 separatist groups)
1948-52 Huk insurgency in Philippines
1950-53 Korean Conflict
1950-59 Chinese conquest of Tibet
1950 Yemen War (North vs. South Yemen)
1952-53 Mau Mau uprising in Kenya (against British)
1954-58 Quemoy-Matsu conflict (Nationalist vs. Communist China)
1954-62 Algerian War of Independence (against France)
1955-59 EOKA insurgency in Cyprus (against British)
1955 Sudanese government fights blacks in south
1956 Hungarian Revolt (unsuccessful)
1956 Sinai/Suez Conflict
1956-59 Cuban Civil War (Castro vs. Batista)
1958 US troops sent to Lebanon
1959-62 China-India (Himalayas) War
1959-64 Watusi-Hutu war in Rwandu-Burundi
1959-74 PAIGC insurgency in Portuguese Guinea
1959-75 Pathet Lao insurgency in Laos
1960-67 Revolts in the Congo (provinces of Katanga and Kasai)
1960-67 Revolt in Venezuela
1960- Basque insurgency in Spain
1960- Terrorist insurgency in Colombia
1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion (US-backed Cuban troops in Cuba)
1961 Goa War (Indian forcible seizure of 3 Portuguese colonies)
1961 Kuwait War (Great Britain vs. Iraq)
1961-76 Angola War of Independence (against Portugal)
1962 West New Guinea War (Netherlands vs. Indonesia)
1962- Eritrean secession in Ethiopia
1962- Ogaden War (Ethiopia vs. Somalia)
1963 Algeria-Morocco War
1963-65 Malaysian War (Malaysia & Great Britain vs. Indonesia)

p. 16

  1964 Cyprus Civil War (Turks vs. Greeks)
1964 Zanzibar Civil War (Blacks vs. Arabs)
1964-73 Vietnam War (USA)
1964-75 Mozambique War of Independence (against Portugal)
1964-76 Insurgency in Oman
1964- CPT (Communist) insurgency in Thailand
1964- Insurgency in Brazil
1965 Rebellion in Dominican Republic put down by Dominicans, with assistance from USA and Organization of American States
1965 Pakistan-India War
1965 Rebellion in Peru
1965-66 Communist insurgency in Indonesia
1965- Chad War (Libya vs. Chad & France)
1965-79 Civil War in Rhodesia
1966- Namibia War SWAPO insurgency against South Africa)
1967 Six-Day War Israel vs. Arabs)
1967-70 Nigerian Civil War (Biafra Secession)
1967- Guatemala insurgency (left-wing allied with Mayans against government and right-wing)
1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia
1969 Soccer War (El Salvador vs. Honduras)
1969- IRA war in Northern Ireland (Catholics vs. Protestants)
1970 Polish uprising suppressed by Soviets
1970 Insurgency in Honduras
1970 Insurgency in Guinea
1970-75 Communist (Khmer Rouge) conquest of Cambodia
1970- ANC insurgency in South Africa
1970- Left-wing terrorist insurgency in Germany
1971 Bangladesh War of Independence (with India) against Pakistan
1971- Palestinian insurgencies in West Bank & Gaza Strip, controlled by Israel
1972 State of war begun in 1937 between China and Japan ends
1972- Separatist insurgency in Pakistan
1972- Philippines government fights insurgencies by Muslim MNLF & Communist NPA
1973 Chile Civil War
1973-74 Yom Kippur War (Israel vs. Egypt & Syria)
1974 Civil War in Cyprus, Turkish invasion
1974- Left-wing & right-wing separatist insurgencies in Turkey
1975 North Vietnam conquest of South Vietnam (end of a conflict begun in 1959)
1975 Moroccan invasion of Spanish Sahara
1975- Lebanon Civil War
1975- Insurgency of UNITA and other factions in Angola
1975- East Timor War (Indonesia vs. FRETILIN guerrillas)
1975- NLF guerrilla insurgency against Laos & Viet-Nam
1975- CPM (Communist) insurgency in Malaysia
1975- West Sahara War (Polisario Front vs. Morocco)
1976- Left-wing & right-wing insurgencies in Argentina
1976- Sunni guerilla insurgency in Syria
1977-78 Katanga secession in Zaire (government aided by France and Belgium)
1977 Right-wing and left-wing insurgencies in El Salvador
1978 Afghanistan Communist Revolution
1978-79 Islamic Revolution against the Shah of Iran
1978- MRM guerrilla insurgency in Mozambique

p. 17

  1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (fighting continues today)
1979 Sino-Viet War
1979- Cambodian guerrilla insurgency against Viet-Nam & Samrin government
1979- Kurdish & other separatist insurgencies in Iraq
1979- Shiite guerrilla insurgency in Iraq
1980- Iran-Iraq (Gulf) War {continues today)
1980- Maoist guerrilla insurgency in Peru
1980- Rebellion in Zimbabwe
1981- Right-wing guerrilla insurgency (allied with Miskito Indians) in Nicaragua
1981- Rebellion in Uganda
1982 Falkland Islands War (Great Britain vs. Argentina)
1982-85 Israeli invasion & occupation of southern Lebanon
1983 American invasion of Grenada

 

13. This prophecy has actually been fulfilled several times. E.g., when Krakatoa exploded in 1883, the atmosphere was filled with dust and ash which obscured the sun and turned the moon blood-red. There was darkness at noon over a 240-mile radius. A similar darkness covered a 500-mile radius when Tamborain volcano in Sumbawa exploded in 1815. The same phenomenon happened more recently with the explosion of Mt. St. Helens in the USA. If the "stars" are meteorites, then they, too, have fallen in great showers (e.g., the great "falling of the stars" on November 13, 1833, seen by tens of thousands of people all over what was then the United States). If, however, they are real stars, then perhaps this cannot even happen, since this would destroy the universe. If the reference is to real stars, then we must consider that Christ, who first uttered this prophecy (Matt. 24:29), is a false prophet along with Joseph Smith. Perhaps we should also add Joel, whose prophecy in 2:10, 2832; 3:15 was paraphrased by Christ, and Peter, who cited Joel 2:28-32 (Acts 2:17-21). Isaiah used similar wording when he spoke of the coming attack on Babylon by the Medes (see vs. 17) and Persians (which occurred in 539 BC):
"For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine." (Isa. 13:10; see also vs. 13) Note vs. 9, "Behold, the day of the Lord cometh..." (In Isa. 24:23, he speaks of the moon being confounded and the sun ashamed when the Lord reigns in Jerusalem.)
Christ said that there were some living in his day who would not die before the fulfilment of the prophecy in Joel! Peter said that it was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost! To John (Rev. 6:12-17), the event was yet future. (He based his writing on Isa. 13:9-13; 2:10 and Hos. 10:8; cf. Luke 23:30.) Obviously, the expression "not many days" cannot be taken as literally as Mr. Baer does (he counts the exact

p. 18

number of days up to the time of his "letter"). Prophecies are accomplished in God's time, not man's.
14. Again, we must caution that God's time is not the same as man's. If Joseph Smith was wrong about "those now living" seeing the fulfilment of these things, then why should we not apply the same standard to Jesus Christ, who said the same of people in his day concerning prophecies which have not yet happened? Joseph Smith handled this latter by saying that Jesus was referring to the "generation" in which the signs would begin (JS-M 1:34); unfortunately, Mr. Baer's beliefs would probably make him hesitate to accept this statement from a "false prophet", so he is left with the quandary of either believing Jesus to have falsely prophesied or of accepting at least one teaching from Joseph Smith. But, from another point-of-view, we know that there are people who were alive in Jesus day (and also in Joseph's) who have not died: I refer, of course, to John the Revelator and the three Nephite disciples.
On page 10, Mr. Baer says that the Ten Tribes will not return from the north country. Several Biblical prophets said that they would! E.g., Isa. 49:12; Jer. 3:18; 23:7-8, 31:8. (Even in the New Testament, James addressed his epistle "to the twelve tribes, which are scattered abroad"1:1.) If Mr. Baer is right, then these, too, were false prophets. I believe that they were true prophets and that it is Mr. Baer who is mistaken.
15. The promises cited here by Mr. Baer are quotes from the Bible. He notes the portion drawn from Isa. 40:31. The rest comes from Prov. 3:7-8: "Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones." Were Baer to treat this passage with the same standards applied to Joseph Smith, he would have to conclude that the Bible is false.
Why Mr. Baer believes (page 11) that Joseph Smith's calling is suspect because he quotes earlier prophets is beyond me. In the Bible, prophets quote other prophets, even when placing the words in the mouth of God. E.g., Isa. 2:2-4 is also found in Mic. 4:1-3, with no credit line indicating that it is a quote. The following items are virtually identical in Obadiah and Jeremiah, one of which (presumably Jeremiah) quoted from the other without giving credit to his predecessor:

 

Obadiah 1: 

 Jeremiah 49:

1-4 

 

14-16

5-6 

 9-10

 7


p. 19

   We also noted (No. 13, above) the use of passages from Isaiah and Hosea in the book of Revelation, where John, like Joseph Smith, did not credit the original source. The problem, again, is that Mr. Baer applies to Joseph Smith a standard which he does not apply to the Biblical prophets.
Mr. Baer is too "literal" concerning words like "all." If he were to be as literal with the Bible (2 Kings 19:35; Isa. 37:36), he would note that, though the angel of the Lord struck "all" of the Assyrians besieging Jerusalem, yet some of them managed to return home, including their king, Sennacherib.
At first, Mr. Baer assumes that the words "destroying angel" in D&C 89:21 mean death. "The destroyer" was much more than that in Exod. 12 (to which D&C 89:21 specifically refers), where we read that only the firstborn were struck, and only for certain reasons. Why take the words out of context and redefine them? Later, Mr. Baer considers that the "destroying angel" is nuclear fallout. This is a very specific cause of death, but is it the one referred to in D&C 89:21?

 

Baer again calls B. H. Roberts an "Apostle", apparently to provide authority for what he is going to cite. But Roberts was not a member of the Quorum of the Twelve; he was the First President of the Seventy. The question of Roberts' treatment of Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews has been taken up by a number of people, who have shown that the kinds of criticism leveled by Baer are totally unjustified. E.g., see the following:

John W. Welch, "B. H. Roberts: Seeker After Truth", Ensign, Mar 1986, & bibliography.

John W. Welch, "Finding Answers to B. H. Roberts' Questions, and `An Unparallel'", a
FARMS preliminary report, 1985.

John W. Welch & Truman G. Madsen, "Did B. H. Roberts Lose Faith in the Book of
Mormon?", a FARMS preliminary report, 1985.

Truman G. Madsen, "B. H. Roberts & the Book of Mormon", BYU Studies 19 (Summer
1979), pp. 427-45.

Spencer J. Palmer & William L. Knecht, "View of the Hebrews: Substitute for Inspiration?",
BYU Studies 5 (Winter 1964), pp. 105-113.

Ariel L. Crowley, "Analysis of Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews': A Comparison with the
Book of Mormon", in About the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret News
Press, 1961).

William Riley, "A Comparison of Passages from Isaiah & Other Old Testament Prophets in
Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon" (MA Thesis, BYU, 1971).


p. 20

16. Parley P. Pratt gave an abbreviated version of the revelation, which is found in D&C 97:19-20. In the original, we find that the words in question are what "the nations of the Gentiles shall say" of Zion at some point in the future. Quoting a secondary version which is more susceptible to interpretation as a "false prophecy" seems, dishonest. But perhaps Mr. Baer has a different explanation for his motives which he would care to share with us.
17. 148 years is not "a little season" according to Mr. Baer. But it is a very little season by the Lord's reckoning of time. Moreover, the term is actually a quote from the Bible, specifically from Rev. 6:11, where the martyrs are told that they will "rest yet for a little season." The statement is made after the opening of the fifth seal and prior to the occurrence of the many events scheduled for the sixth and seventh seals before the promise is fulfilled.
The reference to Isa. 9:16 is out-of-place, for that passage deals with a political leader, and the destruction is from another political power. Here, too, is where we may turn Mr. Baer's "logic" against him. Joseph Smith was not "hewn down and cast into the fire." If we take things literally, as Mr. Baer does when it serves his purpose, then Jesus was himself a false prophet, if Joseph Smith was one, for the prophesied hewing and casting did not take place. And if we prefer not to take this literally, then we have to ask why other things have to be taken literally!
18. This cannot be a "false prophecy", for it does not fit the criterion set up by Deut. 18 and stressed by Mr. Baer at the beginning of his paper. I.e., it was not uttered in the name of the Lord, and therefore does not even pretend to be prophetic. Indeed, Joseph clearly wrote, "this is my counsel." He does the same thing Paul did when he distinguished his own opinion from the commandments given by Jesus (e.g., 1 Cor. 7:10, 12, 25, 40). Mr. Baer is grasping at straws to include among his list of "false prophecies" opinions expressed by Joseph Smith. Again, we are reminded that "a prophet is a prophet only when acting as such."
19.

 

D&C 101:17 is termed a "false prophecy" by Mr. Baer because the people were, in fact, removed from Missouri (he writes, "They were moved out of her place."). But the verse itself does not say that the people would not be moved, only that ZION (in this case, the place so denominated) would not be moved. The same verse specifically says that the people were scattered! I'm afraid Mr. Baer reads whatever he wants to into the revelations of Joseph Smith. Is it intellectual dishonesty? outright deception? ignorance? blinded by Satan? all of the above?

p. 21

20. Baer says that this cannot be fulfilled because "Mormons will never achieve anything until they are righteous and that will NEVER happen." He adds, "This prophecy can never be fulfilled because the Mormons will never become righteous." D&C 103:5 does not ask us to be "righteous", however, only to "hearken...unto the counsel" of the Lord. Latter-day Saints are well aware that no one can be righteous without the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Mr. Baer goes overboard in offering his opinions as "evidence." Were we to use his type of "logic", we would have to conclude that no one can ever love Christ because Jesus himself said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." (John 14:15; see also vs. 21) Mr. Baer appears to believe that it is impossible for mortals to keep the Lord's commandments, despite the fact that we have been commanded to do so, even in the Bible. Moreover, he has clearly misunderstood the mission of Zion's Camp.
21. This is not a "prophecy" at all, but "counsel, and a commandment" which was not obeyed. It cannot, therefore, be honestly included in a list of prophecies, true or false. Again, Mr. Baer leaves his motives (or abilities to understand) open to question by including non-prophetic statements in his list of "false prophecies." He states, "If I were to choose a single prophecy of Joseph Smith as being false this would be it." Were he to throw away all of the others in his list and keep only this one, his argument would be ignored by all but the truly fanatical or mentally handicapped. (He should like that sentence: it's the way he writes to slant his message!)
22. If the "destroying angel" is death (e.g., by radioactive fallout) in D&C 89:21 (Baer's No. 15), why is the "destroyer" Orrin Porter Rockwell in D&C 105:15? And what is the "ample evidence" that Rockwell is the "destroyer" mentioned herein? If Joseph Smith were not a prophet, how could he possibly think that one gunman - no matter how skilled he might be - could destroy all of his enemies? The suggestion is ludicrous.
As for the destruction of people in Missouri, there were other events which occurred. In 1847, a thousand troops from Missouri (most from Jackson County) fought two battles against the Mexicans. At the battle of Sacramento, where they were outnumbered four-to-one, most perished. Ironically, the unit was commanded by General Alexander W. Doniphan, who had saved Joseph Smith's life when he was a prisoner in Missouri. Doniphan survived.
In the spring of 1855, some 5,000 Missouri "border ruffians" went into neighboring Kansas, took over the polling stations

p. 22

and cast illegal votes, in an attempt to ensure that slavery would be permitted in the new state. John Brown and other abolitionists fought back. Many people from both Kansas and Missouri died violently and suffered horribly during this period, and the episode of "bleeding Kansas" became one of the events leading to the Civil War. Of the 30,000 Missouri troops who fought in that war (on both sides of the fence), about 27,000 died!
During the Civil War, Quantrell and his raiders wreaked much havoc in Missouri, attacking Union army groups and civilians who would not support the raiders. During 1860-61, many west Missouri homes and farms were destroyed by the guerrillas and Union troops - mostly by Quantrell's men. In an effort to capture the guerrilla group and discourage local assistance to them, a force of Union soldiers arrested all residents of Independence during the spring of 1862 and destroyed much property. On August 25, 1863, Brigadier General Thomas Ewing issued General Order No. 11, which ordered the evacuation of much of Jackson and other counties within 15 days. Residents who could not prove their loyalty to the Union were to be completely removed from the military district (which encompassed Kansas and Missouri). Grains and hay were to be turned over to the military and any not surrendered was to be burned. Large numbers of people lost their homes and properties.
The problem did not end with the war, however. Several bandit gangs which arose from the Quantrell raiders (e.g., the James and Dalton brothers) and plagued much of Missouri, including Jackson County.
But we should note that vs. 15 does not say that the enemies of the Mormons would be destroyed, but "mine enemies", i.e., the Lord's enemies. This could mean that the prophecy's fulfilment is yet future.
23. This is not a prophecy, but a commandment (Joseph Smith termed it "counsel" in the passage quoted), which was not obeyed. As such, it does not fit the criteria of Deuteronomy 18, upon which Mr. Baer based his list. We cannot expect that every time someone - including Latter-day Saints - refuses to obey the Lord's instructions, this constitutes a failed prophecy. The Old Testament is replete with commandments which individuals and groups disobeyed. Yet Mr. Baer would probably not want to admit that the Old Testament comprised false prophecies.
24. The "147 years" are, as usual, irrelevant, since God's concept of time does not correspond to Mr. Baer's. Indeed, the statement quoted in D&C 106:4 resembles the one in Rev. 22:20, where John quotes Jesus as saying, "Surely I come

p. 23

quickly." (Cf. also Rev. 3:11 & 22:7, where he says, "Behold, I come quickly.") The 147 years are nothing compared to the nearly two millennia since John wrote those words. And yet Mr. Baer does not claim that John or Jesus were false prophets!
25. This quotation comprises a statement by Joseph Smith, but one which he did not claim was a prophecy. It does not, therefore, fit the criteria of Deut. 18. The only thing made known "by vision and by the Holy Spirit" was that a meeting should be called.  [See also The Alleged 56-Year Second Coming Prophecy by Joseph Smith:  An Analysis by Malin Jacobs.]
It is true, however, that Joseph Smith thought that the Lord would come in 1890. The background for this belief is rooted in the fact that William Miller, founder of the Adventist movement, had predicted, as early as 1831, that Christ would return to the earth on April 3, 1843. He based this theory on calculations he had made from the books of Daniel and Revelation. On February 12, 1843, Joseph Smith was visited by 7 or 8 young men from New York City. He spoke to them of Miller's prediction:
"I showed them the fallacy of Mr. Miller's data concerning the coming of Christ and the end of the world, or as it is commonly called, Millerism, and preached them quite a sermon; that error was in the Bible, or the translation of the Bible; that Miller was in want of correct information on the subject, and that he was not so much to blame as the translators. I told them the prophecies must all be fulfilled; the sun must be darkened and the moon turned into blood, and many more things take place before Christ would come." (HC 5:272, Feb 12, 1843)
On February 28 of the same year, Joseph wrote a letter to the editor of the Times & Seasons, in reply to a notice in the Chicago Express that one Hyrum Redding had seen the sign of the Son of Man predicted in Matthew 24:
"But I shall use my right and declare that...he has not seen the sign of the Son of Man, as foretold by Jesus; neither has any man, nor will any man, until after the sun shall have been darkened and the moon bathed in blood; for the Lord hath not shown me any such sign... Therefore hear this, O earth: The Lord will not come to reign over the righteous, in this world, in 1843, nor until everything for the Bridegroom is ready." (HC 5:290-291)
When the day predicted by Miller arrived (April 3, 1843), Joseph recorded in his journal: "Miller's day of judgment has arrived, but it is too pleasant for false prophets." (HC 5:326) Three days later, at a conference held on the floor of the temple (then under construction), he said:

p. 24

   "Were I going to prophesy, I would say the end [of the world] would not come in 1844, 5, or 6, or in forty years. There are those of the rising generation who shall not taste death till Christ come. I was once praying earnestly upon this subject, and a voice said unto me, My son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years of age, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man." I was left to draw my own conclusions concerning this; and I took the liberty to conclude that if I did live to that time, He would make His appearance. But I do not say whether He will make His appearance or I shall go where He is. I prophesy in the name of the Lord God, and let it be written - the Son of Man will not come in the clouds of heaven till I am eighty-five years old." (Part of this is quoted by Baer.)
Joseph then read from Revelation 14:6-7, "And Hosea, 6th chapter, After two days, etc. - 2,500 years; which brings it to 1890. The coming of the Son of Man never will be - never can be till the judgments spoken of for this hour are poured out: which judgments are commenced..." (HC 5:336) He then listed the things which had to occur before Christ would return - including the rebuilding of Jerusalem and its temple, the healing of the Dead Sea, darkening of the sun and moon, earthquakes, etc. (HC 5:337).
It is clear that Joseph assumed that the Lord might come in 1890 - but certainly not before that time - because of the declaration the voice had made to him. His prayer to know the time of the Lord's coming was probably in response to the excitement over William Miller's calculations current in 1843. Joseph Smith's first public mention of the declaration of the voice was given in a meeting held at Ramus on April 2, 1843 (the day before the expected fulfilment of Miller's prophecy), and it was later included in the Doctrine and Covenants (see HC 5:324):

 

"I was once praying very earnestly to know the time of the coming of the Son of Man, when I heard a voice repeat the following: Joseph, my son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years old, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man; therefore let this suffice, and trouble me no more on this matter. I was left thus, without being able to decide whether this coming referred to the beginning of the millennium or to some previous appearing, or whether I should die and thus see his face. I believe the coming of the Son of Man will not be any sooner than that time." (D&C 130:14-17)

Since Joseph did not live to the age of 85, the "if" portion of the statement clearly shows that it was conditional. Moreover, Joseph was not told that the Lord would return in

p. 25

   glory in 1890, only that he would see him at that time if he was yet alive. I.e., the Lord did not answer Joseph's question directly, for the very reason that Mr. Baer points out, that no one knows the time of his coming - not even Joseph Smith.
One might enquire about the likelihood that the Lord would "trick" Joseph Smith thus, making him think that he would see the Lord in 1890 when, in fact, Joseph would die in 1844. The question is mooted by a similar situation in the Bible. Isaiah came to King Ahaz in the name of the Lord and told him that Ephraim (head of the northern kingdom of Israel) would be broken "within threescore and five years" (Isa. 7:8). Ahaz reigned in Judah from 734 to 728 BC. Sixty-five years later would be 689-663 BC. In actual fact, however, Israel was taken captive in 722 BC, just six years after Ahaz's death, when his son Hezekiah was king of Judah.
Joseph made an assumption based on what the Lord told him, but it was only an assumption, and it was unwarranted. But this assumption guided some of his other declarations. This does not make him a false prophet, only a mortal who - like the rest of us - often let preconceived notions govern his thoughts. He was perfectly willing (and able) to change direction when the Lord contradicted any of his preconceptions. An example of this is the nature of God.
  Joseph Smith came from a traditional Protestant environment, in which there was firm belief in the trinity of the Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan Creed, which teaches that there are three persons in one god and that they are all made of the same substance (spirit). These beliefs are only slightly modified in the Lectures on Faith, prepared in 1834 for the School of the Prophets and published in the Doctrine & Covenants in 1835 (originally, the lectures were the "doctrine", while the "covenants" were the revelations received by Joseph Smith). Lecture 5 contains the following statements:
"There are two personages who constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power... They are the Father and the Son: The Father being a personage of spirit... The son... a personage of tabernacle... possessing the same mind with the Father, which mind is the Holy Spirit..." (1835 D&C, pp. 52-53)

 

"Q. How many personages are there in the Godhead?
A. Two: the Father and the Son." (p. 55)

"Q. What is the son?
A. First, he is a personage of tabernacle." (p. 56; the previous page indicates that the Father is "a


p. 26

personage of glory and power")

"Q. Do the Father and the Son possess the same mind?
A. They do...
Q. What is this mind?
A. The Holy Spirit." (p. 57)

Joseph had already seen the Father and the Son during their visit in 1820, so he was aware that there were two "personages." He knew from the Bible (Luke 24) that the Son had a body of flesh and bones. But he evidently continued to believe - in the absence of revealed information to the contrary - that the Father was a spirit only and that the Holy Ghost was merely the "mind" which united the Father and the Son. All this was to change when new information was received. On April 2, 1843, Joseph declared that "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's; the Son also: but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of spirit." (D&C 130:22) With this statement, it was seen that the Father, like the Son, has a body, and that the Holy Ghost is a "personage."
26. This is from a secondary source, so one wonders why Mr. Baer includes it, since he excludes another of this nature (No. 40) when it supports Joseph Smith's role as a true prophet. However, we can comment on the fulfilment of the prophecy.
It doesn't take "mental gymnastics" to accept this as a fulfilled prophecy, only a better knowledge of history than Mr. Baer displays. The Jews did not return in 1948, as he states, but were already there in large numbers prior to that time. A brief summary of the history of the return is given here:
  1800 There were about 10,000 Jews in Palestine, by estimates of the time.
1823 During his visit to Joseph Smith, on the night of September 21, Moroni indicated that the time for the gathering of Israel was near.
1836 On April 3, Moses restored to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery the keys of the gathering of Israel.
1839

 

Sir Moses Montefiore, in meetings held in London, mooted the idea of an autonomous Jewish state. There was support from some prominent British statesmen. Montefiore entered into negotiations with Muhammad Ali, ruler of Egypt and Palestine, to gain a charter for Jewish settlement in Palestine. The attempt failed when Muhammad Ali fell from power in 1841, deposed by the Turks.

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  1840  The first Hebrew printing press, which had been set up in Safed in 1831, was moved to Jerusalem. In this year, there were several proposals for Jewish immigration to Palestine. Rev. Wilson Filson Marsh published an article in Der Orient, proposing that a Jewish state be set up as a buffer between Egypt and Turkey. Abraham Benisch (who became editor of the London Jewish Chronicle) sent a memorandum to the Foreign Office, detailing plans for Jewish settlement in Palestine. The idea received public approval from several British notables.
1841 On October 24, Orson Hyde dedicated the land of Palestine for the return of the Jews, from atop the Mount of Olives.
1852 Judah Alkali wrote and distributed pamphlets in London, encouraging Jewish return to Palestine.
1854 Sir Moses Montefiore and others established the Jewish Hospital in Jerusalem.
1861 The Jewish population of Jerusalem had grown too large for the Old City. As a consequence, the first Jewish quarter (Mishkenot Shaananim) outside the city walls was built, under sponsorship of Sir Moses Montefiore. The first land expressly sought for agricultural purposes was purchased by Jews at Moza, where settlement began in 1873.
1863 The first Hebrew journal began publication in Jerusalem.
1869 With continued expansion of the Jewish population of Jerusalem, the suburb of Nahalot Shiva was established.
1870 The Jewish Mikveh Israel Agricultural School was opened near Jaffa, to teach immigrating Jews how to be farmers.
1872 Continued growth in the Jewish population of Jerusalem necessitated the establishment of another suburb, Mea Shearim.
1873 Because Orson Hyde, in 1841, had not had any witnesses to his dedication of the Holy Land (John E. Page had not kept his promise to accompany him to Jerusalem), Brigham Young had decided to send another group to dedicate the land. In February of 1873, this group, headed by Pres. George A. Smith, rededicated the land for the return of the Jews, in a tent erected atop the Mount of Olives.
1878 The first Palestinian Jewish agricultural settlement (Petah Tikvah} was founded.
1880 By this year, Jews had become the majority of the population of Palestine's then-largest city, Jerusalem. Ben-Yehudah arrived in Palestine and revived the Hebrew language as the official tongue of the local Jewish population.

 


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  1882 The Bilu and Hibbat Zion movements were formed in Russia and began promoting settlement in Palestine. This was the year of the "First Aliyah (immigration), when thousands fled Russia and Rumania and settled in Palestine. The first all-Jewish Palestinian town (Rishon le-Zion) was established.
1894

 

The increasing Jewish population of Jerusalem made it necessary to found another settlement (Yemin Moshe) outside the city walls.
1897 The first Zionist Congress was convened in Basel, Switzerland, under the leadership of Theodor Herzl. Plans for the resettlement of Jews in Palestine were made.
1898 On May 8, 1898, Anthon H. Lund of the Quorum of the Twelve rededicated the Holy Land from atop the Mount of Olives.
1902 Francis M. Lyman and others visited the Holy Land and rededicated it. Two prayers were offered on March 4, one atop the Mount of Olives and the other in Elder Lyman's hotel room. On March 16, another prayer was offered atop Mount Carmel in Haifa.
1905 The "Second Aliyah" (immigration) brought thousands of Jews from Russia to Palestine, following an abortive Socialist revolution in their homeland.
1909 The first kibbutz or collective farm (Deganiah) was established on the southern shore of the Sea of Galilee, by the Jewish National Fund. That same year, Tel-Aviv (now the world's largest all-Jewish city) was founded just north of Jaffa.
1914 At the outbreak of World War I, there were 85,000 Jews in Palestine.
 
1917 At the instigation of Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann, the British foreign office issued a white paper (the "Balfour Declaration") favoring the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
 
1919 The Emir Feisal, son of Emir Hussein and the chief Arab delegate to the Paris Peace Conference, met on January 3 with the Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann and an agreement was drawn up for the establishment of Palestine as a Jewish state.
1919-23 The "Third Aliyah" (immigration) brought many thousands of Jews of the Hehazlutz movement from Russia, Poland and Galicia to Palestine.
1920 The Haganah was organized as a Jewish army to protect the Palestinian Jews from Arab attacks: in 1948, it became the Israel Defense Forces. In December of 1920, the Histadrut - the Jewish labor union, still active in Israel - was founded.
1921 On November 3, Elders David O. McKay and Hugh J. Cannon, of the Quorum of the Twelve, rededicated the Holy Land. There were widespread Arab riots and attacks on Palestinian Jewish settlements, in protest over Jewish immigration.

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1922 In response to Arab riots and demands, the British issued a white paper which temporarily halted Jewish immigration to Palestine.
1924-28 The "Fourth Aliyah" (immigration) brought thousands of Jews from Poland.
1925 Official opening of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, on April 1.
1927 On Octobert 18, James E. Talmage, of the Quorum of the Twelve, rededicated the Holy Land from atop Mount Carmel. By this year, the Palestinian Jewish community was large enough to demand - and receive permission from the British mandage government to organize its own National Council.
1929 Widespread Arab riots and attacks on Palestinian Jewish settlements took place, in protest over Jewish immigration. There were already 160,000 Jews in the country.
1933 In May, Elder John A. Widtsoe, of the Quorum of Twelve, rededicated the Holy Land from atop the Mount of Olives. There were more widespread Arab riots and attacks on Palestinian Jewish settlements, in protest over Jewish immigration.
1933-36 The "Fifth Aliyah" (immigration) brought some 164,267 "letal" immigrants from Nazi Germany to Palestine. Many others slipped in illegally.
1936 By the spring of this year, there were nearly 400,000 Jews in Palestine, comprising 30% of the total population.
1936-38 Widespread Arab riots and attacks on Palestinian Jewish settlements, in protest over Jewish immigration.
1939 At the outbreak of World War II, the Jewish population of Palestine had reached half a million.

As can be readily seen from the list, "Zionist" activity increased significantly after the restoration of the keys of the gathering in 1836. In his 1841 prayer, Orson Hyde asked the Lord to inspire the Jews to return home and to inspire the heads of nations to assist them in this. This is exactly what happened. In 1950, Orson Hyde was honored by the World Zionist Organization for his work in preparing for the return of the Jews and in 1979, a park in his honor was dedicated outside Jerusalem, at the instigation of the Israeli government and the municipality of Jerusalem. Inside the park is a large plaque containing his prayer in both Hebrew and English. The present author translated that prayer into Hebrew and it was originally hand-printed on parchment for presentation to President Harold B. Lee, when he came to Israel in September, 1972. At 3:00 AM (Jerusalem time) on the day before President Lee's departure, Mayor Teddy Kolleck of Jerusalem received a call from David Kennedy, who reminded him


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of a conversation they had had a few years previous concerning Orson Hyde. Kolleck had suggested, at that time, that there should be a monument to Orson Hyde in Jerusalem. Now was the time to discuss it. The mayor presented the idea to President Lee and the Orson Hyde Park was under way. In December of 1972, David Galbraith and I called on Mayor Kolleck to give him a copy of the English/Hebrew prayer on imitation parchment (a photocopy of the original, which also formed the basis for the monument). When Mr. Kolleck unrolled the scroll, he began reading the Hebrew side, then switched to the English. After just a moment, he stopped and said, "Why, this is the Orson Hyde Prophecy. I don't need to read it; I've memorized it. Do you want to hear me repeat it?" So much for the Jews not acknowledging Orson Hyde!

27. This is a vision. Joseph Smith did not present it as a prophecy, but only as an account of what he saw, without explanation. The fact that Joseph's parents were still alive at the time he saw them in the celestial kingdom clearly shows that this was not a factual thing, but a vision. It would therefore certainly be possible for him to have seen Michael in the vision at one stage of his existence and, in the same vision, to see him in his identity as Adam. Obviously, only God determines who goes to the celestial kingdom, and there is no indication from Joseph's account that the vision was prophetic and hence subject to the criteria of Deut. 18.
Mr. Baer's paraphrase of Col. 2:18, found in the second paragraph of page 19, is cute. But it contains a major error: angels are not worshiped in Mormon theology. And Nephi is never called an angel. Moreover, angels appeared to Daniel, John (in the Revelation), Ezekiel and others, but Mr. Baer does not condemn these men as "false prophets." In fact, he has to use a double standard in order to find Joseph Smith at fault, since all of the tests he applies to Joseph would, if applied to the biblical prophets, indicate that they, too, were false prophets.
As for the boast of Joseph Smith in the third paragraph on page 19, it would have been nice to have a reference. It's difficult to accept something I've not read before unless I know its source. Why is it deleted? Did it come from an anti-Mormon book? After quoting the boast, Mr. Baer presumes to judge Joseph Smith a false prophet because he reputedly uttered the words. In doing so, he again throws out the criteria he set up from Deut. 18. He also ignores Joseph's explicit statement that "A prophet is a prophet only when acting as such." Joseph Smith was as human as the rest of us and just as liable to boast or do other wrong things. Remember what James (5:17) wrote about the prophet Elijah (NT Elias), "...a man subject to like passions as we are," who nevertheless had great power from God.

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   Joseph Smith referred to the latter passage after receiving a visitor from the east: "After hearing my name, he remarked that I was nothing but a man, indicating by this expression, that he had supposed that a person to whom the Lord should see fit to reveal his will, must be something more than a man. He seemed to have forgotten the saying that fell from the lips of Saint James, that Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, yet he had such power with God, that He, in answer to his prayers, shut the heavens..." (HC 2:302)
On another occasion, Joseph said, "Although I was called of my Heavenly Father to lay the foundation of this great work and kingdom in this dispensation, and testify of His revealed will to scattered Israel, I am subject to like passions as other men, like the prophets of olden times." (HC 5:516)
Joseph also said, "I told them I was but a man, and they must not expect me to be perfect; if they expected perfection from me, I should expect it from them; but if they would bear with my infirmities and the infirmities of the brethren, I would likewise bear with their infirmities." (HC 5:181)
If Mr. Baer finds it reasonable to reject Joseph Smith as a prophet because he "sealed his own fate" by boasting, how would he react if he honestly studied the story of how the biblical prophet Elisha, angered because young people were taunting his bald head, called she-bears out of the woods to devour them (2 Kings 2:23-24)? Or what about the time Elisha instructed the Syrian general Hazael to lie to King Ben-Hadad (2 Kings 8:9-10)? Or shall we reject Jeremiah because he followed the instructions of king Zedekiah to lie to the princes (Jer. 38:24-27). To quote Mr. Baer, "Does this sound like a prophet of God?" If we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that it is God, not man, who decides who is a prophet. If God could choose Elisha, why not Joseph Smith?
After quoting the boast, Mr. Baer cites D&C 3:4 to show that, by Joseph's own words (attributed to the Lord), a man who "boasts in his own strength...must fall and incur the vengeance of a just God upon him." He then speaks of Joseph's death and said that this is "enough evidence that Joseph Smith is a false prophet." And yet, if Joseph died only a month after his boast, did this not fulfil D&C 3:4, by Mr. Baer's standards? And if so, is that not evidence in itself that the "prophecy" is a true one? This should be the conclusion if Mr. Baer were to be consistent in his reasoning.

p. 32

Joseph Smith, however, was well aware of his limitations. He publicly stated, "Many persons think a prophet must be a great deal better than anybody else... I do not want you to think that I am very righteous, for I am not." (HC 5:401) This is hardly the kind of thing one would expect from a man given to regular boasting!
As for Joseph Smith firing at the crowd which attacked him, does Mr. Baer really expect that the prophet should meekly sit down with his hands up, waiting for some 200 men to burst into the room and riddle him with bullets? Does the fact that he fought for his life make him less a prophet? If so, then Elijah, too, was a false prophet, for he twice called down fire from heaven to destroy groups of 50 men sent by the king to arrest him (see 2 Kings 1:9-12)! Elijah slew a hundred; Joseph Smith may have slain two men (we don't know whose shots killed them, since others were also armed). Moses also slew a man he caught harming another (Exod. 2:11-14), yet God chose him to be a prophet.
28. Is the "great and dreadful day" the return of Jesus to the earth? Perhaps, but these words do not so state, and therefore it is presumptuous of Mr. Baer to say that the prophecy remains unfulfilled because Jesus has not yet returned. But more to the point, we must note that 145 years is not long by God's calendar. Besides, the term "near, even at the doors" derives from Jesus' statement in Matt. 24:33. Is the Bible untrue and is Jesus a false prophet?
29. The problem is less than Mr. Baer makes it out to be, when we consider that the Lord said, in vs. 4, that these things would happen "in due time." His due time is not Mr. Baer's, as we have seen elsewhere.
30. What Mr. Baer calls "this prophetic utterance" is not a prophecy at all, but a statement made by Joseph Smith. It does not meet the criteria of Deut. 18 (a prophecy uttered in the name of the Lord). Besides, the Mormons were not driven out of Kirtland, as Mr. Baer states. Years later, during the Nauvoo era, there was still a stake in Kirtland.
31. This is another example of conditional promises, of which there are many in the Bible as well (e.g., Jonah, as noted above). As it turned out, Thomas B. Marsh was excommunicated and forfeited his blessings. One wonders, too, whether the words "thou shalt" should always be read as prophetic. After all, the words "thou shalt not" in the Ten Commandments are not prophetic. If they are, then Moses, by Mr. Baer's standards, was a false prophet, for the commandments were often broken in ancient Israel!

p. 33

Baer writes, "The facts are that the Mormon god did not know his heart (verse 11), otherwise he would have known that he was going to be excommunicated and fight against the Church." By this reasoning, God should not have promised a throne to David, since David, in future, would commit adultery and order the death of an innocent man. This also brings up the question of Jesus' promise to his twelve apostles: "Ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, Judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (Luke 19:28) This promise was made before Judas betrayed the Master and he was obviously included among those who would sit on the "twelve thrones." How could Jesus have made such a promise to the one who would betray him, whom he termed "a devil" (John 6:70-71)?
It is wrong to assume that Marsh's heart could not be "right" at the time because the Lord knew he would apostatize. He was, in fact, faithful at that time, and only later had difficulty. To his credit, we must note - as Mr. Baer has done - that Marsh did return to the fold in later years. I wish Mr. Baer would do the same.
32. This can in no way be called a "prophecy", since it does not meet any of the standards of Deut. 18; it should therefore be excluded. Baer lists it because of its absurdity. However, these statements regarding people on the moon are second-hand and very late, and there are no known statements from Joseph Smith himself. Mr. Baer cites the Oliver B. Huntington Journal, Book 14, telling us where the original can be located. I suspect that he wants us to believe that Brother Huntington wrote the information down on the day he heard it from Joseph Smith, thus making the journal more authentic than the published account of 1892. The fact of the matter is that the journal entry is dated to 1881, nearly 40 years after Joseph Smith's death!
The evidence, therefore, is not "rather conclusive," as Mr. Baer states. Brigham Young's statement may, in fact, have no relationship whatsoever to Joseph Smith, since he never attributed the belief to Joseph.
It is possible, however, that Joseph Smith believed that the moon was inhabited. Mr. Baer's "hang-up" here is that he-like most of us today -does not believe that the sun and moon are inhabited. But it was a common belief in Joseph Smith day, held even by prominent astronomers. Sir John Herschel was the first astronomer, in 1835, to report having seen creatures on the moon who were human in form with batwings and wearing no clothing. Others reported seeing moon people who were half-human and half-dog. Amazingly, a few

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astronomers even reported seeing people living on the sun! Can we really fault Joseph for accepting as fact something which prominent scientists of his day accepted? After all, even if he did say what is quoted here, he did not attribute his knowledge to the Lord.
Mr. Baer concludes by asking, "Do you really want to risk your eternal salvation on men who make statements like these?" To which I reply, Can we risk our eternal salvation on the Bible, which reports that the sun and the moon stood still for Joshua (Josh. 10:12-14), when we know that this-like Quakers living on the moon - is a scientific impossibility? Mr. Baer might object that what the Bible describes is the standing still of the earth, rather than of the heavenly bodies (this being precisely the way the Book of Mormon puts it in Hel. 12:13-15) - which is a bit easier to accept. But my point is that the author of that portion of the Bible held an incorrect belief concerning the movement of celestial bodies which, however, does not invalidate the story he tells. So, too, Joseph Smith (and others) could have held false views concerning these same bodies and yet told the truth about the revelations he received from God. Again, let's not use a double standard. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. If we use Mr. Baer's methods to destroy Joseph Smith, we can just as easily use them to destroy the Bible (and some Bible critics do!).
33. Mr. Baer confidently writes, "There is no way that you can escape the fact that this is a false prophecy." Quite the contrary. It simply is not a prophecy at all, but a commandment. David W. Patten did not settle his business "as soon as he can", as the Lord commanded and died before he could go on the mission the Lord had for him.
34. Again, Mr. Baer's time frame is different from that the Lord; he is much too impatient. But more importantly, this is not a prophecy, but a commandment. It therefore does not fit the criteria of Deut. 18.
35. Mr. Baer believes that this blessing pronounced on Oliver Granger is a false prophecy because Granger is not "had in sacred remembrance", since few or no Mormons know who he is. It seems unlikely to me that the memory of any mortal can be called "sacred" and that D&C 117:12 refers to the fact that the Lord would remember him. After all, the verse begins with the Lord saying, "I remember my servant Oliver Granger." Mr. Baer might object that the words "from generation to generation" imply human memory. To so argue is to ignore that the term is a biblical expression meaning "forever." Indeed, in this verse, the words "from generation to generation" are paralleled by "forever and

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ever", in much the same manner as Joel 3:20, where "from generation" parallels "for ever." (The same parallel is found in Dan. 4:3, 34; Isa. 13:20; 34:10, 17; 51:8; Jer. 50:39; Lam. 5:19 - often in reference to the Lord, lest anyone think that the term "generation" must refer to mortal time spans.)
36. Mr. Baer considers D&C 121:8 to be a false prophecy because Joseph Smith did not triumph over all his "foes." A similar thing was said of Jesus (Matt. 4:6), yet he died! He did triumph in the end, however, and so, too, shall Joseph Smith. We must remember that Joseph Smith said that salvation was to triumph over all one's enemies, and that the last enemy to be conquered is death. His statements - based on 1 Cor. 15:25-26 (cf. also Rev. 20:14) - are as follows:
"Salvation is nothing more nor less than to triumph over all our enemies and put them under our feet. And when we have power to put all enemies under our feet in this world...then we are saved, as in the case of Jesus, who was to reign until He had put all enemies under His feet, and the last enemy was death." (HC 5:387-8)
"Salvation is for a man to be saved from all his enemies; for until a man can triumph over death, he is not saved." (HC 5:403)
We must recall that it was Jesus himself who said, "And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." (John 11:26) If we are to take this literally, using Mr. Baer's method, we must say that either Jesus prophesied falsely or else there are none who believe in him, since all die! Again, however, we must consider the real meaning. In the eternal scheme, believers in Jesus do not die. So, too, in the eternal scheme, Joseph Smith will triumph over his enemies.
All or most of the D&C passage cited here is yet future. As for vs. 33, Mr. Baer believes it has not been fulfilled because there are no LDS "Bible Scholars...scholars in Hebrew and Greek." Actually, he is wrong in this; there are several very noted LDS scholars in these areas. To name just a few: William James Adams, an expert in Hebrew, Ugaritic and Akkadian, who has frequently spoken at meetings of the Society of Bible Literature. Thomas MacKay, a Greek and New Testament scholar who is widely published and has spoken at various scholarly meetings. Wilford Griggs and Kent Brown, renowned experts in Coptic and biblical studies, best known for their work with the Nag Hamadi texts. John Tvedtnes, whose scholarly involvement in Semitic language and Bible studies has led to publication in

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such areas as the Journal of Near Eastern Studies, the Pontifical Biblical Institute and the Scripta series at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and who has lectured at more than half a dozen universities and presented papers at scholarly gatherings in Israel and the USA.
But D&C 121:33 does not really refer to this kind of knowledge, rather to "knowledge from heaven", which is saving knowledge and testimony of Jesus Christ. Those who do not believe in continuing revelation would, of course, find this hard to accept.
37. This is a secondary source, not from Joseph Smith himself. It is, to say the least, unfair to base any conclusions concerning Joseph Smith's prophetic calling on secondary sources. Besides, the quote nowhere indicates that it was a statement made in the name of the Lord, which is one of the criteria given in Deut. 18 for a false prophecy. Mr. Baer was a "Mormon" too long, for he came to believe, as do many Latter-day Saints (unfortunately), that everything uttered by the President of the Church is revelation from heaven. To so assume denies free agency to the President and contradicts Joseph Smith's statement (referred to several times in our comments above) made on February 8, 1843:
"...visited with a brother and sister from Michigan who thought that a prophet is always a prophet;' but I told them that a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such." (HC 5:265)
38.

 

We have dealt with the same sort of issue in No. 31, above. Bishop George Miller, though later disfellowshipped, could be trusted at the time of the revelation, so there is no contradiction. Nowhere does D&C 124:20-21 indicate that he would always be trustworthy and faithful. And because this is not stated, we cannot by any stretch of the imagination (except when we have an ax to grind!) consider this to be a prophecy. Mr. Baer continues to grasp at straws in his attempts to find false prophecies in the writings of Joseph Smith - calling anything a "prophecy" which suits his fancy.
As for the "righteousness" of mortals, we certainly agree that none of us is completely righteous and that we have all sinned. To quote these passages from the Bible is typical of "missionaries to the Mormons." They believe that reciting basic New Testament doctrines - with which the Latter-day Saints agree - they can "prove" their case. I recall the brochures Reverend McGimsey used to hand out to conference visitors in Salt Lake City. One read, "God is Love" and cited all the evidences for this concept, as if the statement proved Mormonism to be false. Typically, such people quote Jesus' statement in John 17:17, "Thy word is

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truth" to prove that the Bible is infallibly the word of God -forgetting that none of the books of the New Testament had been written at the time Jesus uttered this statement! How they conclude from the passage that God wrote a book and never uttered verbal messages to his servants is beyond me. But the "logic" is typical of those who follow the peculiar train of thought of some Christian groups.
Before leaving Mr. Baer's Point No. 38, I must object to his statement (page 26, para. 3) that there are "contradictions" in the revelations of Joseph Smith. Without specific examples, this is just another unproven statement. I find Mr. Baer's double standard to be more contradictory, wherein he set up the criteria (based on Deut. 18) for determining who is a true or false prophet, and then regularly departed from it, as we have illustrated herein.
39. Again, Mr. Baer gives us a commandment, not a prophecy. Even so, what the Lord wanted actually happened. The revelation does not say that the Latter-day Saints would stay in the place forever. There are similar examples in the Old Testament. E.g., the Lord told Noah to go into the ark, but this did not mean he should stay there forever (Gen 7:1). He later told Elijah to go to the Brook Cherith, but when it dried up, the prophet was sent to Zarephath (1 Kings 17:2-9).
40. This prophecy was, in fact, fulfilled, but Baer prefers to believe that it is not authentic, evidently because it came from a secondary source (the diary of George Q. Cannon). Indeed, he calls it a "forgery." It seems unlikely that someone forged it into Brother Cannon's diary. However, it is a secondary source. Baer could have cited it from HC 5:85, but chose not to - perhaps because that would have made it appear more "authentic" then a diary-entry.
What is bothersome is that this is the only item cited from a secondary source which Baer rejects. He accepts the ones he quotes in Nos. 3a, 7, 16, 26, 32, 37, 44, 46, 49, 50 and 52 because they "prove" his case, while the one he rejects actually is evidence for Joseph Smith's prophetic calling. However, since the quote as we have it was not uttered in the name of the Lord, it does not fit the criteria of Deut. 18. I am therefore willing to omit this from the list, but also insist that other items from secondary sources and those which are not really prophetic in nature should also be eliminated.
Since Baer does not believe this to be an authentic utterance from the mouth of Joseph Smith, it seems strange that he should include it in a list of Joseph's "false prophecies." His reason is obvious: including the item

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gives him a chance to launch another of his tirades against the Mormons, giving a list of "negatives" about them. I suppose my major gripe with Mr. Baer is that he changes his standards of judgment to fit circumstances. Such intellectual dishonesty tells me that all of his purported research into Joseph Smith's "false prophecies" is essentially valueless. Mr. Baer's emotions - not sound judgment - have determined his beliefs. I don't begrudge him the right to feel as he does. But I strenuously object to his attempts to pass off his "gut reactions" as evidence of truth.
As for the list of negatives about the Mormons, I'm not sure that these are the criteria by which Joseph Smith (or the Lord) would necessarily determine "greatness" in the context of the purported prophecy. Moreover, some of the statements are blatantly false, while others are totally irrelevant in the context of negative qualities. E.g., Salt Lake City being the "stock fraud" capital of the U.S. is possible only because of the high level of honesty among most Mormons and the fact that this honesty breeds a high degree of trust. In this one, Mr. Baer again clutches at straws, using facts to prove quite the opposite of what they show, knowing that non-Mormons reading the words "stock fraud capital" will assume that it means Mormons are dishonest. Who is really being honest, Mr. Baer? Who is really perpetrating a "fraud" on his readers?
41. This is another second-hand account. Why should we accept this one and not the one noted in No. 40? Second-hand accounts are hard to place in the category of prophecy, whether false or real, because we cannot know for certain if the statement was uttered "in the name of the Lord." But let's deal with specifics here. This quote from Anson Call's Diary does not quote Joseph Smith as saying "large cities", as Mr. Baer reads it, but only "cities." "Cities" were much smaller in Joseph's day than they are today, so why split hairs on population statistics? Besides, the words may not be exactly those of Joseph Smith. Perhaps he said "towns" or "villages" or "townships" or "settlements" or the like. After all, Call notes that he could not remember the "number of others" present at the time. How can we expect him to remember the prophet's exact words? Mr. Baer's contention that this is a "clear cut false prophecy" are totally unwarranted, especially since there is no indication that Joseph Smith made the declaration in the name of the Lord, which is one of the principal criteria in Deut. 18 for a false prophecy.

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42. This topic was dealt with in No. 36, above. To this, I must add that it was not a false "Mormon god" who asked us to be perfect. It was Jesus Christ himself, in the Bible (Matt. 5:48)! (Cf. also the statement "Be ye holy, for I am holy" in Lev 11:44; 19:2; 20:26; 1 Pet. 1:16.) If, as Mr. Baer states, "Exaltation is MISSION IMPOSSIBLE", then we must blame Jesus, not Joseph Smith.
The Bible, more than any other volume of scripture, gives evidence that human beings are the spiritual offspring of God and that they are destined to become like him. John wrote that those who are born of Christ are "the sons of God" and that when Christ returns, "we shall be like him... And every man that hath this hope in himself purifieth himself, even as he is pure." (1 John 2:28-3:3) Peter noted that the Lord has given us "all things that pertain unto life and godliness", making us "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Pet. 1:3-4) And even Paul wrote that we should have in us the same "mind" or attitude as Christ, who "thought it not robbery to be equal with God" (Philip. 2:59).
That there is a plurality of gods, with one at the head, is made clear from Psalm 82:1, 6-7: "God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods... I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.  But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes."  When Jesus was accused by the Jews of blasphemy for making himself God, he cited Ps. 82:6 and said that "the scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:31-36).
There are many more such passages, but these should suffice to convince any honest reader of the Bible that the idea of God's children purifying themselves through Christ (as John wrote) and becoming like their Father is not so far-fetched.
43. We have commented on this in No. 25. above. I don't get Mr. Baer's last point.  There is nothing to preclude Joseph seeing Jesus on numerous occasions.  But since he didn't appear often to Joseph (we have only a few recorded instances), I presume that the prophet would have anxiously looked forward to seeing him no matter how many times he had already come.  [See also The Alleged 56-Year Second Coming Prophecy by Joseph Smith:  An Analysis by Malin Jacobs.]
44. Mr. Baer is wrong about Congress. It was clearly "broken up" when the representatives from the Southern states left and organized their own government.  (Cf. the comments made above about D&C 87.)  But I believe that the events mentioned here are yet future.  The passing of 138 years since their utterance is, as always, irrelevant by God's calendar.

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45. Because this is a commandment, it should not be listed with prophecies, either true or false. Even so, Mr. Baer has not read the D&C carefully. Only "he that receiveth a fullness thereof must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned." Not all early Latter-day Saints were allowed to live plural marriage, and therefore did not "receive a foulness thereof." As for the "everlasting" nature of the covenant, the term refers to eternity, not to man's time. Cf. Jacob 2:23-27, where we note that there are times when the Lord commands plural marriages and other times when he denies it. Also see Num. 25:13 (discussed above), where Moses' grand nephew, Phinehas, was promised an everlasting priesthood. The Aaronic covenant failed in time, but not in eternity. As for the "confusion [that] exists in Mormonism", it is only in the eye of the beholder - in this case, Mr. Baer - because he doesn't see the whole picture.
D&C 132:12 is not in contradiction to Paul's writings, only to the misinterpretation made of those writings by some Christian groups. The "law" by which no one is justified, in the passages Mr. Baer cites is the law of Moses, while in D&C 132 it is the law of Christ. Paul, in fact, often stressed the necessity of obedience to the commandments of God, noting that we will be judged according to our deeds (see Rom. 2:5-6: 1 Cor. 7:19; 11:1-2; Gal. 6:9; 2 Thess. 3:13; 1 Tim. 6:18). He noted that disobedience to the commandments will keep us out of the kingdom of God (Eph. 2:1-7). It was Paul who wrote that we should obey and "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Philip. 2:12). Even in some of his strongest discourses on salvation by faith and grace, Paul adds that we must perform good works (Eph. 2:8-10; Tit. 3:4-8). As concerns Gal. 2:16 and 3:10-11 (cited by Baer, who could have added Rom. 3:20), note that Paul himself wrote (Rom. 2:13) that "the doers of the law shall be justified." I.e., by Baer's standards, Paul contradicted himself. Shall we then reject his writings as Mr. Baer rejects those of Joseph Smith? Again, it is a question of applying the same standards throughout the scriptures, both ancient and modern.
The promise of vs. 53 that Joseph Smith would be strengthened is not false because he died less than a year later. The passage never says whether he was to be strengthened physically, spiritually, intellectually, or how.
As for Section 101 of the 1835 edition of D&C, which expresses a belief in monogamy, it was not and never purported to be a revelation from God. It was a declaration adopted by a conference of the Church, at which Joseph Smith was not in attendance, and was drafted by Oliver Cowdery. (There were even attempts to dissuade him from insisting on

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having the item included in the publication.) It was not God, therefore, who changed his mind. A close reading of the section and of its history would have shown Mr. Baer that quoting it was inappropriate. (This is the kindest thing one can say; if Baer knew of its contents and history, its inclusion in his "letter" was deliberate deception!)
As for D&C 132:66, it is not necessary that Joseph Smith (or any other Church President) write anything in order to have a revelation of more information from God. There have been many of new items which have come forth on the matter since 1843.
46. The blessing to which Mr. Baer makes reference is now known to be a forgery prepared by Mark Hoffman. So much for Mr. Baer's statement, "I believe this might be the most clear cut prophecy Joseph Smith ever gave."
As for the 8 methods of choosing a successor to Joseph Smith, they were not coexistent. E.g., it was impossible for the Twelve to choose the President prior to the time that there were Twelve Apostles. The "utter chaos" is apparent only to one who reads diachronic history as synchronic. For a good account of the history of Succession in the Presidency, see the book by that title by Reed C. Durham, Jr. and Steven D. Heath.
Also, the four First Vision versions are NOT mutually exclusive - as Milton V. Backman has shown in his book, Joseph Smith's First Vision. They have very few contradictions, all of them probably due to faulty memory. When will Mr. Baer "really start studying it" (to use his own words) objectively, rather than trying to read negatives into everything?
47. Is this a prophecy, or only a strong affirmation? The latter seems more likely, since the statement begins with the words "I therefore warn..." Joseph Smith's death is irrelevant, since this can still ultimately be fulfilled (the reference being "we", not "I" who "shall ride triumphant"). Through Micah (5:9), the Lord said that all of Israel's enemies were to be "cut off", yet he also notes that Israel's cities would be destroyed (vss. 11, 14). Obviously, the end result is the one which counts, not intervening misfortunes.

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48. Is this a "prophecy" by the criteria set at the outset of Mr. Baer's letter? And if so, why didn't Mr. Baer quote the full statement? I would have to see the wording to determine whether it really belongs in this list or whether it is a mere statement by Joseph Smith. Again, we must remember that he said "A prophet is a prophet only when acting as such."
49. Can this be considered a "prophecy" by the standards established by Mr. Baer? Did Joseph Smith say it? The Compendium, published long after Joseph's death, is hardly a primary source, so why does Baer use it, while rejecting other secondary sources (e.g., No. 40, above)? The obvious answer is that this one "proves" his point, while some others don't. But, as discussed in several examples listed above, the word "soon" is bothersome only to mortals, not to the Lord.
50. This "prophecy" is not only second-hand, it is from an infamous anti-Mormon book - hardly a reliable source for statements attributable to Joseph Smith. This is really grasping at straws!
51. Mr. Baer here takes the Book of Mormon to task on several counts. I shall discuss each of these:
What did Joseph mean when he said that the Book of Mormon was "the most correct of any book"? I suspect that he was referring to doctrinal and/or historical accuracy, not to grammatical content. In this light, any changes in grammar, spelling and punctuation are irrelevant. There were, in fact, many more changes made to the Book of Mormon than Mr. Baer acknowledges. Had he studied not only the 1830 edition, but the manuscripts, he would have found the reasons for these. Oliver wrote the text on paper as dictated by Joseph Smith. This original manuscript was then copied by Oliver onto other sheets of paper for delivery to the printer. The printer's copy was compared with the original and some corrections were inked onto it before being taken, piecemeal, to the printer each morning. The printer and his assistant did the typesetting, changed spelling, designated capitalization and punctuation, as well as chapter divisions, and made numerous mistakes.
Actually, there is not a single "first edition", as Mr. Baer seems to believe, for changes were made in the typesetting as some errors were discovered. When the printed sheets were then cut and bound, there were variants from copy to copy, because the sheets printed earlier were not discarded! Because of scribal and printer's errors, Joseph Smith had one copy of the printed version compared against the original manuscript for the second edition in 1837. At no time were all of the errors picked up, though many

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   subsequent editions (including 1981) have attempted to find more of them and make corrections.
Mr. Baer did not have available to him in 1980 the rather lengthy critical edition of the BoM prepared by FARMS, in which the various versions, including the original and printer's manuscripts, are compared. He cannot be faulted for this, of course. But it is important to note that a reading of the material clearly shows good reasons for the numerous changes made. A further point to be made is that the 1830 edition - and the original and printer's manuscripts even more - reads more like Hebrew than like English. Many of the changes made after the first edition destroyed Hebrew idioms. (I make this statement not out of the blue, but after several years of study, including a few articles on the subject, and with the qualifications of one holding an MA in Hebrew and another MA in Linguistics, with a Ph.D. in Egyptian and Semitic Languages nearly completed, having lived in Israel 8 years and having taught Hebrew and other Near Eastern topics at the University of Utah and BYU's Jerusalem and Salt Lake Centers.)
As for the 16 topics listed by Mr. Baer as not being found in the BoM, these are not "the gospel." The term "gospel" means "good news" and is specifically defined in the Doctrine & Covenants and the Book of Mormon as the atonement wrought by Jesus Christ and the principles by which we can receive the blessings of that atonement (i.e., faith, repentance, baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost). Here are some quotes:
"And verily, verily, I say unto you, he that receiveth my gospel receiveth me; and he that receiveth not my gospel receiveth not me. And this is my gospel - repentance and baptism by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost..." (D&C 39:5-6)
"Yea, repent and be baptized every one of you, for a remission of your sins; yea, be baptized even by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost. Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and remember that they shall have faith in me or they can in nowise be saved." (D&C 33:11-12; see also vss. 10, 15; cf. D&C 84:27)
"...the record which we bear is the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the Son, whom we saw..." (D&C 76:14) This testimony is of the resurrection, discussed also in vs. 39, after which Joseph recorded: "And this is the gospel, the glad tidings, which the voice out of the heavens bore record unto us - That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, to bear the sins of the world,

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   and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness; That through him all might be saved whom the Father had put into his power..." (D&C 76:40-42) In vss. 82 and 101, we learn that the gospel is equated with a "testimony of Jesus."
Joseph F. Smith wrote that Jesus Christ, in the spirit world, "preached...the everlasting gospel, the doctrine of the resurrection and the redemption of mankind from the fall, and from individual sins on conditions of repentance." (D&C 138:19) He authorized others to "carry the light of the gospel...unto all who would repent of their sins and receive the gospel... These were taught faith in God, repentance from sin, vicarious baptism for the remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost..." (vss. 30-33) Faithful deceased elders, he said, "labor in the preaching of the gospel of repentance and redemption, through the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of God... The dead who repent will be redeemed through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God." (vss. 57-58) Pres. Smith then wrote of "the great atoning sacrifice that was made by the Son of God... That through his atonement, and by obedience to the principles of the gospel, mankind might be saved." (D&C 138:2, 4)
These "principles of the gospel" are listed in Article of Faith No. 4. AoF No. 3 reads ties them in with the atonement: "We believe that through the atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel."
Other examples of the meaning of "gospel":
  3 Ne 27:13-21 Salvation is through Christ by means of repentance, baptism, being filled [with the Holy Ghost] and enduring to the end.
Morm 9:22-23 Christ told his 3 disciples to "preach the gospel to every creature," and that those who believed and are baptized would be saved. (Cf. Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16) The commission (sometimes including the signs listed in the Mark version) is also found in Ether 4:18; Moses 8:19-20; D&C 24:12-13; 35:6-12, 15-17; 42:6-7; 49:12-13; 54:64; 66:1-3; 68:1, 7-10.
D&C 18 There is mention of the gospel, the rock, repentance and baptism (vss. 4-7), a call to cry repentance (vss. 9-15; noting, in vss. 11-12 that Christ died and suffered to bring the repentant to him), then returns to the

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  gospel and rock, saying that those who have faith in Christ, repent and are baptized will receive the Holy Ghost and, if they endure to the end they will be saved (vss. 17-18, 2123).
D&C 39:18-23 Those who receive the fulness of the gospel receive Christ, are baptized with water and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Moses 5:57-59 The "gospel" has to do with belief in the Only Begotten Son of God.
3 Ne 11:22-41 Jesus taught the Nephites that they should believe, be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost (cf. 12:1-2). After the twelve had baptized the people, Jesus returned and, during his prayer, noted that the people had been "purified...because of their faith" (3 Ne 19:28-29).
3 Ne 27:19-21 Jesus spoke to the Nephites of how their garments had been "washed" in the blood of Christ because of their faith, repentance, baptism and reception of the Holy Ghost. He then added, "this is my gospel" (3 Ne 27:19-21).
From these last two items, we gain an understanding of Moroni's words that the Book of Mormon contained "the fulness of the everlasting Gospel...as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants" (JS-H 1:34). It does not mean that the Book of Mormon includes all truth or even all of the doctrines of the Church - only that it tells what is necessary to salvation. Indeed, the Book of Mormon is much more explicit on this subject than the Bible, as a reading of certain key chapters will show (see 2 Nephi 2, 9; Mosiah 15; Alma 34, 42).
Some of the items listed by Mr. Baer as "missing" from the Book of Mormon are, at best, irrelevant. E.g., Nos. 14-16. Even the modern Church didn't come full-blown with all of these offices. Each was added as needed. Besides, the Book of Mormon is not a record of the doctrines of the Nephites (except for the doctrine of Christ, which is the "gospel."). It is a clan history.
52. I have several objections to the inclusion of this item in the list. First, it is clearly second-hand information. Second, there is no indication that it was uttered in the name of the Lord, either by Joseph Smith or Brigham Young. Third, even if the quote is accurate and is prophetic, the

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  words "not many years" should be read in light of what they would mean to the Lord, not to the non-believer.

Conclusions

Mr. Baer contends (p. 34, para. 7) that Joseph Smith's teachings are not in harmony with the Bible. Actually, they are in disharmony only with Baer's misconceptions of what the Bible teaches. None contradict doctrines of Bible times, and most are actually confirmed in the Bible itself. Baer equates the Bible with the "law and testimony" of Isa. 8:20 - forgetting that the Bible contains many books which were not in existence at the time of Isaiah (e.g., Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Ezra, 1-2 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles, and the entire New Testament). If the "law and testimony" refer to any part of the Bible at all, it is to the law of Moses - with which some of the prophets (e.g., Jeremiah) and Jesus (as quoted in the gospels) are at variance.

Again, if we apply the same standards to Jesus and the biblical prophets that Mr. Baer has applied to Joseph Smith, then they are all found wanting. Why? The reasons are much too complex to discuss here, but one of them is the nature of the Bible itself, which is an imperfect document reflecting a long-ago era (actually eras) which too few people today can begin to understand. The Bible was not written by 20th-century "saved Christians" in the English language. Nor did they preserve (and modify) the text through the centuries or translate its major versions.

In saying this, I do not exclude the Latter-day Saints from those who have no complete understanding of the Bible. Our people as a whole are just as ignorant of the nature and messages of the Bible as anyone else. There is much work to do in this area. Simplistic thinking on scriptural matters is wrong on the part of Latter-day Saints or others. And Mr. Baer has fallen into many of the same traps he has seen his former coreligionists fall into. Ironically, his "Mormon" training shows through in his writing. He has the mistaken idea - held by many uninformed Latter-day Saints - that Joseph Smith and other Presidents of the Church have to be 100% right or they are false prophets. This is not so; it takes away free agency; it denies the nature of prophecy by making every opinion either divine in origin or a deliberate attempt to deceive (whether from Satan or money-grubbing leaders). Such a simplistic view is only possible in a culture where there is such heavy reliance on the word of church leaders that people do not take the time to study things out for themselves and pray (as the Lord advised Oliver Cowdery in D&C 9).


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This response is my attempt to follow through on Mr. Baer's statement (last para., p. 34): "I believe it is the duty of everyone who reads this letter to point out where I have made mistakes in my research."  I hope that I have done this.  But if I am correct in assessing Mr. Baer's reaction as essentially emotional in nature, then I prophesy - in my own name! - that nothing will change and that he will not even retract those items which are clearly not "prophecy" even by his own criteria.



For additional information on some of the issues responded to above, please see the expanding list of answers on our 42 QUESTIONS page.