Sunday, April 2, 2017

Did the Lord Lie to the Saints in Nauvoo?

On January 19th, 1841, Joseph Smith received the only revelation in our D&C for the Nauvoo time period: section 124. The church had already been forced to flee Ohio and then Missouri due to their failures there (see D&C 101:1-8) and had begun settling Nauvoo, Illinois, in the hopes that they would finally have a safe haven.

The Commandment & Time Frame

The primary direction given in section 124 was to build a temple, where the Lord explicitly commands it for that specific location:
And again, verily I say unto you, let all my saints come from afar.
    And send ye swift messengers, yea, chosen messengers,
and say unto them:
    Come ye, with all your gold,
        and your silver,
        and your precious stones,
        and with all your antiquities;
        and with all who have knowledge of antiquities, that will come, may come,
    and bring the box tree,
        and the fir tree,
        and the pine tree,
        together with all the precious trees of the earth;
and with iron, with copper, and with brass, and with zinc,
    and with all your precious things of the earth;
and Build a house to my name,
    for the Most High to dwell therein. [Is dwelling somewhere different than visiting it?]
The Lord points out the reason for this commandment is that he desires to restore something the church once had for a time but which had been taken away by the Lord:
For there is not a place found on earth that He may come to
    and restore again that which was lost unto you,
        or which he hath taken away,
        even the fulness of the priesthood.
He states that the commandment must be completed within a concrete, here-unspecified time frame:
But I command you, all ye my saints,
    to Build a house unto me;
And I grant unto you a Sufficient Time to build a house unto me;
    and during This Time your baptisms shall be acceptable unto me.

Promises on Failure

He next makes certain negative promises (states penalties) if it is not completed within the predesignated time frame:
And I grant unto you a Sufficient Time to build a house unto me;
        and during This Time your baptisms shall be acceptable unto me.
But behold, at the end of This Appointment,
        your baptisms for your dead shall not be acceptable unto me;
and If you do not these things,
        at the end of The Appointment ye shall be rejected as a church,
                with your dead, saith the Lord your God.
For verily I say unto you, that after you have had Sufficient Time
        to build a house to me,
                wherein the ordinance of baptizing for the dead belongeth,
                and for which the same was instituted from before the foundation of the world,
        your baptisms for your dead cannot be acceptable unto me;
        for therein are the keys of the holy priesthood ordained,
                that you may receive honor and glory.
And after This Time,
        your baptisms for the dead,
                by those who are scattered abroad,
        are not acceptable unto me, saith the Lord.
And it shall come to pass that If you build a house unto my name,
        and do not do the things that I say,
    I will not perform the oath which I make unto you,
        neither fulfil the promises which ye expect at my hands
, saith the Lord.
    For instead of blessings,
        ye, by your own works, bring:
            and judgments
        upon your own heads,
            by your follies,
            and by all your abominations,
                which you practice before me, saith the Lord.
I will visit upon the heads of those who hindered my work,
    unto the third and fourth generation,
    so long as they repent not,
    and hate me, saith the Lord God.

Promises upon Success

Then he promises the blessings He will give if it is completed within the predesignated time frame:
... a house to my name,
    for the Most High to dwell therein.
Therefore, verily I say unto you,
    that your anointings,
    and your washings,
    and your baptisms for the dead,
    and your solemn assemblies,
    and your memorials for your sacrifices by the sons of Levi,
    and for your oracles [=received revelations, not men] in your most holy places
        wherein you receive conversations,
    and your statutes and judgments,
    for the beginning of the revelations and foundation of Zion,
        and for the glory, honor, and endowment of all her municipals,
are ordained by the ordinance of my holy house,
And verily I say unto you:
    Let this house be built unto my name,
        that I may reveal mine ordinances therein unto my people;
    For I deign to reveal unto my church
        things which have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world,
        things that pertain to the dispensation of the fulness of times.
    And I will show unto my servant Joseph
        all things pertaining to this house,
        and the priesthood thereof,
If ye labor with all your might,
    I will consecrate that spot that it shall be made holy.
And If my people will hearken unto my voice,
    and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed to lead my people,
Behold, verily I say unto you: They shall not be moved out of their place.
With the consecration, or making holy, of the temple by the Lord, it was always intended that He should fulfill the promise made in D&C 84:5:
For verily this generation shall not all pass away
until a house shall be built unto the Lord
and a cloud shall rest upon it,
which cloud 
shall be even the glory of the Lord,
which shall fill the house

Summary of Consequences

If Completed In TimeIf Not Completed In Time
  • The Lord Himself will come to dwell within it
  • A cloud will both rest upon it (a pillar of fire or smoke, as in the days of Moses when the Lord visited the Tabernacle) and fill its interior
  • The Lord (not His servants in a red brick store) will reveal His ordinances within the Temple, including anointings, washings, baptisms for the dead, solemn assemblies, sacrifices, revelations/oracles, and others never revealed in any dispensation since the foundation of the world
  • The Temple will form the "foundation of Zion," the New Jerusalem
  • The location will be consecrated and made holy
  • The Lord will restore the fullness of the priesthood
  • The Lord's people "shall not be moved out of their place"
  • The promises in the left column will not be fulfilled
  • The church will be rejected by the Lord along with its dead
  • Baptisms for the dead will not be acceptable to the Lord
  • The church will receive cursings from God
  • The church will receive God's wrath
  • The church will experience God's indignation
  • The church will receive the judgments of God
  • They will experience these due to the saints' follies and abominations which they will have practiced before the Lord
  • The church will experience these penalties until the fourth generation

We are never explicitly told the time frame the Lord has in mind here.

One of two things happened, however. Either:
  1. The saints completed the Nauvoo Temple in the time frame the Lord designated, thus receiving the promised blessings in column 1, or
  2. The saints failed to do so, thus experiencing the penalties in column 2.
It should be very possible for you, the reader, to look at our LDS history and ascertain for yourself whether the events that followed represented precisely what the Lord states in the first or second scenario. 

The historical events to consider include: the murder & loss of Joseph & Hyrum, the lack of any contemporary account of the Lord ever coming to the Nauvoo Temple, the lack of any account of a cloud of the Lord in or over the Temple, the expulsion from Nauvoo in the dead of winter and incompletion of it as Zion (the New Jerusalem), the disastrous trek west, Winter Quarters, death and suffering on the plains, starvation after arriving in the Salt Lake valley (boiling leather to soften it for eating), and the eventual complete and utter destruction of the Nauvoo Temple by fire and tornado, there not being "left one stone upon another."

Fire set by arsonists in 1848 gutted the temple, and later a tornado destroyed the rest. Frederick Piercy, a 23-year-old British artist, commented in 1853 on what he saw and drew of the remains of the Nauvoo temple: "On the banks of the river lie broken blocks of stone and shattered bricks, the visitor’s first steps are over evidences of ruin and desolation."

The Only Real Question

But the easiest of all the promises of the Lord to evaluate is the one in red above: whether the Lord's people were "moved out of their place". It is utterly apparent to anyone looking into the matter: of course they were "moved out of their place!" Nauvoo was lost and abandoned and the Temple completely destroyed.

This leads to the inescapable question: Did the Lord lie to the saints in Nauvoo?

Because, as our LDS Church teaches today, we were never rejected as a Church, never cursed, never experienced wrath, indignation, or judgments, the Nauvoo Temple was completed, and all is going fantastic in Zion. And yet the saints, including many of my ancestors, were "moved out of their place" in Nauvoo and suffered exquisitely.

What gives? The answer to this question, according to our LDS Church, is a clear, bold YES! The Lord worshiped by our LDS Church therefore cannot be a god of truth. It teaches that this god did not keep his promise to the saints in Nauvoo, and so we should expect that such a fickle, shifting god may not always be reliable in the future either. (which is why we need a church president/prophet to keep up with our changeable, unreliable god)

The only way it could be otherwise would be if our LDS Church assessment of this were somehow wrong. You might then need to consider what else the scriptures predicted would happen and when four generations could be considered to have passed.

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