Response to a
Some time after we posted Malin Jacobs' article, "Alleged 56-Year Second Coming Prophecy," we received responses from two critics: 1) John Farkas of Berean Christian Ministries and Lane Thuet of Mormonism Research Ministry. Response to Mr. Farkas' criticisms were incorporated within a revised version of the article. Response to Mr. Thuet's criticisms follow. To Mr. Jacobs' reply, we have received no response from Mr. Thuet.
Mr. Thuet's comments are preceded by >. Mr. Jacobs' response is in dark blue.
>Concerning the SHIELDS research article:
>Mr. Jacobs did a very thorough job of
researching the statements quoted by Ed
But they are the same sources *everyone* uses who tries to pin a false 56-year second coming prophecy on Joseph Smith. If those sources are not reliable when Decker and Hunt use them, why should they be reliable if anyone else uses them?
>Unfortunately for Mr. Jacobs, the same
arguments that he uses to discredit the
The evidence is not circumstantial or vague. Critics simply insist on making Joseph Smith say something that the record of the 1835 sermon does not have him say. That record says nothing about a prophecy. The words attributed to Joseph Smith include the word "should." This is not a word that is used to express definiteness. This fact is important because there are a number of examples where the hearers of Joseph Smith recorded that he used the word "prophesy" and wrote it down as such in their diaries and journals, from which the HC was compiled. One of those examples occurred the very next week after the so-called 56-year prophecy occurred. See my footnote 10 where that example is discussed and 13 additional examples of actual prophesying by Joseph Smith are cited.
If you go by what Joseph Smithís hearers actually recorded, and which formed the basis for the HC, rather than what some others (who didnít personally hear that sermon) thought years later, what you have is the expression of a personal opinion, not a prophecy.
>But is a prophet of God allowed to give
a personal opinion? How are we to
[SHIELDS note: The above is a classic example of proof-texting.] How about a little context here. This passage is specifically referring to those who are sent on missions, and is instructing those missionaries when and how they are to speak when talking to those they are trying to teach:
To apply this statement to anything said by an LDS prophet under any circumstance, let alone everything he may say in an LDS meeting, is a clear perversion of the context of the revelation.
>Also, in D&C 21:4-5, we have the
following, "*give heed unto all (Joseph
You left something out, didnít you. The verses say:
So the only words of Joseph Smith which need be regarded as coming from God are those which Joseph received from GodĖnot any and every word he might say in the process of going about his daily life.
In the context of D&C 21:4-5, just how does "giving heed unto all (Joseph Smiths) words" translate into "Thou shalt accept anything recorded second or third hand and that is attributed to Joseph Smith and thought by some LDS to be prophecy, as prophecy, even if it doesnít say it is prophecy and uses less than definite, prophetic terminology?"
>Joseph Smith leaves no room here for
personal opinions. When the prophet of
Even if we follow your lead in ignoring the context of D&C 68:1-4, what you quoted stated that what they speak *when* moved upon by the Holy Ghost..." The use of the word "when" in that passage is clear evidence that there will be times (perhaps most of the time) when the prophet of the LDS church will speak (for instance, preach a sermon in a church meeting), but will *not* be moved upon by the Holy Ghost to speak for God. That is in perfect agreement with Joseph Smithís words at the very beginning of my paper, where he states that a prophet is a prophet only when he was acting as such.
Please make at least a token effort to not misrepresent what the LDS scriptures teach.
>EVERY WORD he said was to be considered to be the word of God.
That is an absurd reading of the D&C. The only words "to be considered to be the word of God" would be those words spoken "when moved upon by the Holy Ghost," or, as Joseph Smith stated, when the prophet is acting as a prophet.
> It is only when the utterance is
proved false that Mormons go against their
You donít get to say what our "own teachings" are. We do. We reject your interpretation of the D&C passages you quote as out of context and absurd.
>The Bible never teaches such blasphemy -, as I will show in a moment -
I can hardly wait.
>and their own scriptures condemn such a view as well.
As I have shown, NOT.
>What we are left with then, is the
account as recorded in the History of the
Sigh. You certainly didnít bother to read my paper very carefully. As I demonstrated, Joseph Smith *himself* corrected the idea of a 56-year second coming in D&C 130:14-17. See my footnote 11. During the next year after this passage was written, Joseph Smith *twice again* corrected the notion that Christ would definitely come in 1891. He may have personally thought such a second-coming was likely, but he most certainly didnít prophesy it. See my footnotes 12-17.
Just how many LDS of that period can you find that you can show believed that Joseph Smith prophesied the second coming in 1891? As opposed to those who thought that the second coming was "soon." They are virtually all discussed in my paper, and with the exception of Moses Thatcher, *none* of them were LDS presiding officers! What percentage of the LDS church population do they comprise? Even John Farkas (Berean Christian Ministries) misrepresented one of his witnesses, and I had to correct him, though he doesnít acknowledge his error or the correction on his website. See my footnotes 41-45.
>Since no correction on this belief is
documented, the silence of the leadership
As I showed above, there was indeed documented correction. And even if there werenít, the argument from silence is one of the poorest arguments there is. It proves absolutely nothing, one way or the other. Who of the LDS prophets, or members of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles from Joseph Smith to Lorenzo Snow can you show might actually have believed that Joseph Smith prophesied the time of the second coming? Only one: Moses Thatcher.
>According to the SHIELDS
article, the only published information condemning
Again, you donít read carefully. My footnotes 31 and 32 cite pre-1891 questionings of Moses Thatcherís sermon by no less than two LDS general authorities, George Q. Cannon and Wilford Woodruff. It is true that the pamphlet "The Thatcher Episode..." which I cite in footnote 33 was not published until 1896, but in it Lorenzo Snow referred to correspondence between John Taylor and Moses Thatcher on the subject that was written shortly after Thatcherís 1886 sermon. It is simply not true that "the only published information condemning this belief was by President Taylor," nor is it true that the condemnation occurred "AFTER the event did not come to pass as expected."
Perhaps you arenít interested in when something was written, but only care about when it was published by a printer. Wilford Woodruffís Journal was written during his lifetime, but was not published until the 1980s. Likewise the excerpts I cite from Abraham H. Cannonís Journal. In fact, Iím not sure that all of what I cite from Cannonís journal has been published prior to my paper. I was working from a photocopy of the journal entry that I obtained from the Special Collections Department of the Harold B. Lee Library of Brigham Young University.
How does the fact that something may not be published invalidate it as evidence?
>This can hardly be admitted as unbiased evidence.
Evidence is neither biased nor unbiased. Evidence is evidence. The person evaluating the evidence will almost certainly have a bias, but that fact does not automatically invalidate his analysis of the evidence.
>Why then should we accept the published
account of Joseph Smith's
I have no problem at all accepting the 1835 fifty-six year statement as Joseph Smithís, though, as recorded in the HC it clearly is not verbatim. However, I see no evidence at all to suggest that this statement was considered by Joseph to be a prophecy. In fact, his own statements on the subject in 1843 and 1844 demonstrate that he didnít consider it to be one.
>Because, it had a strong enough
credibility to be published there as the
Now you are simply insisting that one turn off his mind and refuse to evaluate the evidence. There is nothing sacred about the HC. In general it is a good history, but it does not meet contemporary scholarly standards for history writing. Why should it? The fact is that Joseph Smith explained the second-coming revelation in D&C 130. It was ambiguous and he didnít know what to make of it. If you want to know what Joseph Smith believed about the second coming, read what he had to say about it. But donít take as prophecy a statement that has nothing inherent in it to suggest that it is a prophecy.
>So, Joseph Smith - according the
officially accepted records of the LDS
So? The LDS donít accept this statement as a prophecy. Neither did Joseph Smith.
As I discuss in my paper, the New Testament Christians also believed that the second coming was nighĖbased on the words of Jesus Christ. See Matt. 24, especially v. 34. They had to be corrected. See 2 Thess. 2:1-3. Unless I am mistaken, you believe that Christís words as given in Matt. 24 are actual prophecy. They were supposed to come to pass before "this generation" passed away. Why arenít you critical of Christ for this "obviously failed" prophecy?
>Mr. Jacobs, who wrote the article for SHIELDS
concerning this prophecy,
Only if words have meaning. "Should" is not a word of definiteness. "Would" or "will" are words of definiteness, and if the record of this sermon is to be taken the way critics think it must, one would expect a word of definiteness, rather than one of indefiniteness, to be used. Also, I believe it is significant that, unlike the 1835 so-called (by anti-Mormons) fifty-six year second-coming remarks of Joseph Smith, in each and every other case of Joseph Smith prophesying that is recorded in the HC, there is no question that a prophecy is being spoken.
>Three things make this impossible:
>1) The D&C quote referenced above
said that every word Joseph Smith speaks
Oh? Thatís not what I read in the D&C. Even if we LDS were to accept the view that every word spoken by Joseph Smith was a word from God, since when is every word spoken by God a prophecy?
>2) The widely spread common
interpretation of the LDS people of the time was
Demonstrate, please, that the "prophecy" interpretation was indeed the "common interpretation" of Josephís 1835 remarks. And even if it was, that fact would only show that the "common" LDS people thought Joseph uttered a prophecy, not that God or Joseph Smith thought he did..
>Since we were not there to judge
otherwise, their opinion carries more weight
In light of Joseph Smithís own statements concerning the second coming, as recorded in D&C 130, it is the critics who are speculating, contrary to the evidence, that Joseph Smith actually prophesied that the second coming would be in 1891.
>particularly in light of the fact that
the leadership of the Church never corrected
As I demonstrate in my paper, they did. Moses Thatcher, the only LDS general authority to publicly state views consistent with a Joseph Smith prophecy of the second-coming in 1891, was censured for his remarks.
>These men had to know that this was a
commonly held belief, and they were
This is an incorrect statement, as is demonstrated by the facts that the only LDS General Authority to ever preach anything consistent with Joseph Smithís 1835 remarks being a prophecy was Apostle Moses Thatcher (in 1886), and he was censured almost immediately.
>3) The Bible also makes this
impossible. It clearly spells out the stringent
You had better start railing against the Bible then, for by your own test (Deut. 18:18-22) Jonah was a false prophet. Jonah prophesied the destruction of Nineveh. There was no loophole in the prophecy. No provision for repentance. The prophecy was crystal clear. The prophecy didnít come to pass. Deut. 18:18-22 doesnít give God the option of changing his mind. Logically expressed:
1) Deut. 18:18-22 defines as a false prophet one who utters a prophecy that doesnít come to pass.
2) Jonah uttered a prophecy against Nineveh which didnít come to pass.
3) Therefore, Jonah was a false prophet.
If Deut. 18:18-22 is the test of a prophet, then Godís explanation to Jonah about why Nineveh was not destroyed is totally and completely irrelevant to the question of Jonahís status as a prophet. Jonah was a false prophet. Period.
Donít ignore it, deal with it. If, in your mind, Jonah was a true prophet, then you have repudiated Deuteronomy 18:18-22 as a test of a prophet. In which case, you are a hypocrite if you continue to apply that test to Joseph Smith.
>No where, in any scripture, do we see a
loophole that allowed a true prophet to
Sigh. This is not a case of a prophet expressing an opinion on a prophecy, it is the case of Joseph Smith expressing an opinion. Period. He never prophesied. Period. If he never prophesied, there was no false prophecy. The logic of this is not rocket science.
>One thing I did notice in this article,
was that Mr. Jacobs clearly states that
How does Joseph Smithís death before he was eighty-five years old make his statement a false prophecy? What required him to live that long for the prophecy to be true? Where does Deut. 18:18-22 (your preferred test of a prophet) address this situation? All it says is that if the prophecy doesnít come to pass then the prophet is a false prophet. Why are you adding to Godís word in making your determination that in this case Joseph Smith is a false prophet?
>but since he didn't, this prophecy
would make a Second Coming of Christ
> Even Mormons will agree that there
will be a Second Coming. Mr. Jacobs
There are any number of prophecies that were given with contingencies. The very first prophecy in the Bible has a contingency:
"For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" certainly reads like a prophecy, in that it predicts a future event. The only way Godís stating this prophecy makes sense is if Adam actually had the choice of eating or not eating the fruit. If he had a choice in the matter, then Godís prophecy that Adam would surely die was contingent upon Adam eating the fruit. Had Adam not eaten the fruit, he would not have died.
Any prophecy that is of the form "If this, then that will happen" has a built in contingency, even when the "If" part is not explicitly stated, but is implied.
By the way, the typical "out" for those who accept Jonah as a true prophet is to say that his prophecy against Nineveh was contingent on the people of the city *not* repenting, despite there not being a contingency stated in the prophecy. In other words, they believe that Jonahís prophecy had an implied contingency built in. This sounds reasonable, but it makes hash of the typical anti-Mormon use of Deut. 18:18-22 as a test of a prophet.
>The prophecy was given and it came to pass or the prophet was stoned.
So deal with Jonahís prophecy against Nineveh. According to Deut. 18:18-22, Jonah should have been stoned.
> At times, a prophecy of doom could be
held off by repentance, but the
But in that case it didnít come true for the specific people against whom it was directed. This sounds like a cop-out to me. In the case of Jonah, the city was to be destroyed in forty days. There was certainly nothing ambiguous about this prophecy!
>In a desperate attempt to excuse and
explain away the many false prophecies
Evidence and analysis, please, not mere assertions by one who makes no claim to be a prophet, and hence is in no position to claim any special insight into the mind of God..
>His blessings were always based on His
faithfulness, not on man, and always
Evidence and analysis, please.
> Such poor excuses though, are merely
reflections on how Joseph himself
You really should attribute your sources properly. You didnít research the original sources for this Canada Copyright revelation material, but cribbed without attribution either from Jerald and Sandra Tannerís MORMONISM: SHADOW OR REALITY, p. 186, or from someone else who cribbed from the Tanners. How do I know? Because, despite the incompleteness of what you quote, the information you present is word-for-word and in the same order as the Tannerís present it. The unscholarly practice of quoting from secondary sources, without attribution, as if they were quoting from primary sources, is SOP for the majority of anti-Mormons.
Letís get the history right:
1) David Whitmer is the only source for this statement he attributes to Joseph Smith that "Some revelations are of God: some revelations are of men: and some revelations are of the devil."
2) David Whitmer did not claim to have been present when the Canada Copyright revelation was received. He only claimed to have been a witness to the events that occurred upon the return of those who went to Canada:
David Whitmer did not go on the trip to Canada. Hiram Page and Oliver Cowdery went on the trip.
Despite Whitmerís failure to claim to be a witness to the Canada Copyright revelation, he had no qualms about treating the revelation as unconditional. This is an important point!
The Tanners make much of the fact that LDS Historian, B. H. Roberts, while acknowledging that David Whitmer, writing 57 years after the event, might have misremembered the Canada Copyright incident (Shadow or Reality, 186), essentially accepted David Whitmerís account. They quote him that "the incident must be considered as it is presented by him, since his testimony may not be set aside." (Shadow or Reality, p. 186 quoting Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church I: 165). Whitmer had a reputation for a good memory and honesty. Given this reputation, and no contradictory information, an honest scholar like Roberts had no choice but to accept Whitmerís testimony at face value.
However, David Whitmer is no longer the only source of information about the Canada Copyright revelation and trip.
3) Hiram Page, one of those who actually was present to hear the revelation and who went on the trip, left his own first-hand account in a letter to William McLellin. This letter was written thirty-nine years before Whitmer wrote his Address To All Believers In Christ. In the letter Page said the trip was to Kingston. In addition, Page made it clear that the revelation was conditional, and would come to pass
So we have two verifiable discrepancies between David Whitmerís 1887 recollection (57 years after the event) and Hiram Pageís 1848 first hand account (18 years after the event): Where the revelation sent Page and Cowdery (Page, Kingston; Whitmer, Toronto), and the conditional nature of the prophecy (Page, conditional; Whitmer, unconditional).
Page was excommunicated in 1838, ten years before he wrote his letter to William McLellin. He never returned to the church. Therefore, he had no reason to shield Joseph Smith from criticism in this matter.
Since the copyright was not sold, it is understandable that Joseph Smith and the others would be upset and try to understand what (if anything) went wrong. However, if the prophecy was conditional, as Hyrum Page stated, and the condition was not fulfilled, then the condition being unfulfilled explains the failure to sell the copyright. There was no need for Joseph to supposedly be told by God that
Now that there exists first-hand evidence that contradicts David Whitmerís second-hand testimony on two substantive issues, it would be well to remember that one of Whitmerís purposes in writing his Address was to justify leaving the LDS church. His account of his difficulties and subsequent leaving (Address, 27-28) differ radically from the account in the History of the Church, which quotes the correspondence between him and the council which excommunicated him. David Whitmer states
Whitmer then goes on to describe Dr. Avardís Danite band, ascribes its origin to Joseph Smith, and infers that because of his efforts to remove the errors from the church, he was targeted by the Danites. He concludes:
Contrast Whitmerís account with that based on contemporary records:
The contemporary account reads quite different from Whitmerís 49-year-old recollection. I see no reason to believe that Joseph Smith ever stated that "Some revelations are of God: some revelations are of man: and some revelations are of the Devil."
>That Joseph Smith did make this
statement is verified by the 10th LDS
At present I am unable to check the Jan 25, 1970 Salt Lake Tribune for the context of this statement, but even if you take the statement as it appears in Shadow or Reality, it is clear that you have manipulated the evidence. According to the Tanners, what the Salt Lake Tribune actually said was
So, rather than Joseph Fielding Smith uttering in the name of God about three kinds of revelations, and rather than delivering Godís message ex cathedra that Joseph Smith unequivocately made such a statement, what we have here is another opinion, this time of Joseph Fielding Smith. President Smith accepted David Whitmerís account of the Canada Copyright revelation and aftermath, and so held the opinion that Joseph Smith actually said what Whitmer ascribed to him. This is a very long way from Joseph Fielding Smith verifying what Joseph Smith is supposed to have said.
>Why would anybody trust their salvation
to a man who claimed to sometimes
Since it cannot be established that Joseph Smith ever made the statement, and there is good reason to question David Whitmerís account of the aftermath of the Canada Copyright affair, the issue of trusting ones salvation to a false prophet (Joseph Smith) based on this supposed statement about three sources of revelation doesnít come up.
>Again, the Bible never permitted such a
thing. Deut. 18:18 says, "I will raise
Once again, this issue is irrelevant.
>Since Joseph Smith claimed to receive
some revelations that were not from
Based on the evidence I have presented in this response, I reject the idea that Joseph Smith ever claimed to receive some revelations that were not from God.
>then his own words condemn him as a
false prophet. Even if he hadn't said it
Just remember Jonah, and what his prophecy says about either his status as a prophet, or the validity of Deut. 18:18-22 as the test of a prophet.
>We should disregard all his words.
Feel free to disregard the words of the Lordís prophet. It is your salvation that is at stake.
>We are told in this SHIELDS
article that we are to use our 'intelligence' to
You demonstrate again that you canít even reference my paper without misrepresenting what I said. Can this possibly be accidental? I did not say that we are to use our intelligence to decide what category a prophetic utterance belongs in. I said
If you canít understand this plain statement, or, alternatively, insist on re-wording my statement to mean something quite different from what my actual words say, why should I, or, for that matter, anyone trust you to give them an accurate understanding of what is and what is not prophecy? You simply canít be trusted.
>It takes little, if any, intelligence
to see that if a prophecy comes to pass, it is
He has eyes, but he cannot read. He has ears, but he cannot hear. Lord, forgive him, for he hasnít a clue.