Elder Cook, historians tackle tough questions about Latter-day Saint history

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  • Jimmyd55 australia, 00
    Sept. 17, 2018 6:26 p.m.

    the Church is true and Joseph was a prophet of God and the Book of Mormon another testament of Christ pure and simple. Only those who know this by revelation will never stray from the truth of Josephs message and mission.
    Side Note..... the Garden of Eden was not in Jackson County MI....The whole planet was the Garden and maybe the place where Adam n Eve dwelt was, in that area... The Earth was a Celestial globe before it also became "Fallen"

  • BobP CA, 00
    Sept. 16, 2018 10:32 p.m.

    I have no problem with the way church history has been taught an dealt with since at least the late 50s. During International women's year I found a little snippet in BYU studies about my great, great grandmother.

    "And then there was Mary Morgan Rees, who when her husband was called by Brigham Young to live the principle of polygamy, walked from Brigham City to Salt Lake to discuss the matter with Brigham personally. When offered a right in a neighbors Ox Cart she refused with a curt 'no thanks I'm in a hurry'.

    Her husband's second wife turned out to be her widowed sister, his third was a younger one. I am proud as heck to be from that lineage.

  • bassoonlady OREM, UT
    Sept. 14, 2018 1:39 p.m.

    It sounds as if you are saying that because the church is currently located in SLC, it can't move headquarters to Missouri later? Just because it hasn't happened yet doesn't mean it can't/wont, after all, no one knows the future.

    Thomas Jefferson,
    You have every right to "be on a mission" to spread atheism. I think you will find that atheism is not the panacea you are looking for. People have used religion throughout the ages for horrible things, but the likelihood is that those people would still have done horrible things even if they didn't have religion as their excuse.
    I remember when I started learning things that seemed controversial about the church, like Joseph's polygamy. I questioned, I struggled, and eventually found answers. I hope this is what your mission does for those struggling teenagers. Get them to think, and learn for themselves that Jesus is the Christ.
    I testify that I have personally witnessed and experienced miracles and answers to prayers. I have also been faced with trials that God didn't remove, but for which I am extremely grateful because of what I gained from them.
    God is real. One day Every knee will bow.

  • MapleMountain Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 14, 2018 1:22 p.m.

    Add me to those who were taught about polygamy, seer stones, etc. when I was growing up outside of Utah back in the 1970s. My dad is a convert and was called as a Seventy (back when there were still Seventies at the ward and stake level) and my mother was descended directly from both polygamous and non-polygamous LDS families so I had family experiences with Church history from many viewpoints. I was blessed with seminary teachers that taught with inspiration and answered my questions about subjects like Fawn Brodie's book when I came across it during my own studies, about polygamy, and about seer stones being used by Joseph Smith during the translation process among other subjects. However, even with all those great resources, it still comes down to my experiences with the Holy Ghost bearing testimony of the Gospel as I put Moroni 10:3-5 to the test both before and after my mission. While I haven't seen a vision personally, my witness about the truthfulness of the Gospel is shared with Joseph Smith : "...I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation."

  • 1aggie Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 12, 2018 10:04 p.m.

    "I find it rather funny to hear of people claim they grew up in Utah and in the church yet never heard about Joseph practicing polygamy; claiming it wasn't in lesson manuals or such"

    "people claim?"
    (I did grow up in UT, and, in fact, my great uncle was a well-known Apostle).

    Growing up in Utah, Brigham Young's practice of polygamy was well-known. But not once in any church or seminary class was Joseph Smith's specific practice of polygamy discussed--(such as identifying Eliza Snow as one of his wives).

    Looking at the 2001 seminary manual there are two sentences quoting Bruce R. McConkie talking about concubines mentioned in D&C132:1 and another 2-3 sentences:

    "...Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord commanded the practice of plural marriage in the early days of the Church; in 1890, through President Wilford Woodruff. He ended that practice......

    .......Thereafter he added the principles relative to plurality of wives with the express stipulation that any such marriages would be valid only if authorized by the President of the Church" (D&C 132:7, 29-66)

  • joewillie12 Corpus Christi, TX
    Sept. 12, 2018 4:55 p.m.


    Marrying other men's wives and 14 yo girls wasn't my focus at all. It's the revisionist history I'm on about. Multiple posters state all this and more was available to the most casual observer 40, 50, 60 years ago. Not true.

    We were taught by ward, stake, GAs, and seminary leaders to never pick up Anti-Mormon materials. Was your experience different?

  • Golden Rules Okay, OK
    Sept. 12, 2018 3:29 p.m.

    There is a need to clarify what is right and wrong, despite what others did. LDS leaders should be taking on the issue of whether marriage is an arrangement of equality between spouses. By defending early LDS polygamy, they are teaching that equality is not an essential part of a marriage relationship.

    The issues might seem confusing for those hoping to defend early leaders, but if you consider Christ's teaching to do unto others as you would have them do unto you, it becomes much easier to determine what is right and wrong.

  • Kaladin Northern, CO
    Sept. 12, 2018 2:40 p.m.

    @joewillie - You focus on a 14 year old bride. Remember, when you are looking at history, it is like you are a tourist in a foreign country. You need to try to see it through the lens of the people who lived at the time. In 1890 the age of consent for marriage was 10 in most states. 10. In fact, would it surprise you to know that between the years 2000 and 2015 some 985 14-year-old people were married in the United States, and most minors married adults with consent of the state? In the early-to-mid 1800s it was not looked down on at all. It sounds wrong in today's world, though it still happens, but back then it wasn't odd at all. All of this information is readily available through a simple search about historical marriage ages in America.

  • joewillie12 Corpus Christi, TX
    Sept. 12, 2018 1:22 p.m.

    Does anyone else feel like we are being gaslighted by all the commentators claiming they studied Joseph Smith's marriages to 14 year old girls way back in the 1970's?

    That this and every other controversial item was taught routinely and easily accessible in mainstream church and seminary classes?

    Not in my neck of the woods growing up. That material was only found in Anti-Mormon books and literature that we were consistently counseled to leave alone. We didn't dare walk by the Utah Lighthouse bookstore let alone walk in...

  • The Caravan Moves On Enid, OK
    Sept. 12, 2018 11:50 a.m.

    I am shocked and saddened how many people on these message boards believe that truth is subjective or changeable; that if they simply do or don't believe something, that merely believing their position makes it "true". What childishness!

    I literally thank God for my testimony.

    Haters will hate and twist and distort truth, no matter what. But what I have, no man can touch because it didn't come from any man.

  • Orson2 Woods Cross, UT
    Sept. 12, 2018 11:44 a.m.

    For a Latter-day Saint that had read D&C 138, their critical thinking skills would tell them that Adam & Eve were resurrected 2000 years ago and therefore there would be no bones that could be discovered, same as with all the righteous prophets and saints from A&E to Christ's resurrection, with the only exception being those commissioned spirits remaining behind in the Spirit World as missionaries.

    Thomas Jefferson,
    Atheistic missions make me physically and spiritually ill; we are talking about eternal life with God on the line and just because someone doesn't believe they want to take that mighty blessing from others that do (including vulnerable teenagers). How sad. I believe there will be great accountability for such actions in the next life, which cannot be disbelieved away.

    D&C 50:7 relates that "there are hypocrites among you, who have deceived some, which has given the adversary power; but behold such shall be reclaimed." This gives me hope that some Latter-day Saints that atheists fool into disbelief in this life can be reclaimed in the next. Thank God for that. Knowing all things and having all power, God is always able to outwit those who oppose Him.

  • Thomas Jefferson Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 12, 2018 10:28 a.m.

    @ orson2

    "but why complain about it in a comment section for a news story about others doing the same thing very well before hundreds of thousands of viewers. Seems disingenuous to me.:"

    I am on a mission to get people to rid themselves of what I consider to be one of humanities greatest failures, religion. All of it. It isnt disingenous, it is something I believe will benefit humanity. I know I cant change your mind but if I can convince one teenager to think about it a bit more before they repeat the 'I know the church is true' mantra it will all be worth my pitiful efforts.

    Understand now?

  • CMTM , 00
    Sept. 12, 2018 9:06 a.m.

    RE: Martin Luther and the Reformation: The Priesthood of All believers. (1 Peter 2:9 NIV) But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

    Martin Luther King Jr,” a person should be judged by his or her character, not by skin color. There is no place in the life of the Christian for favoritism based not on race (James 2:1–10). The biblical view is that there is only one “race”—the human race, with everyone having descended from Adam and Eve.

    VS, JS and the Restoration: “all the seed of Adam save it were the seed of Cain; for the seed of Cain were black and had not a place among them. (Genesis 7:22 JST).

    History of the Church, V. 5, 218-219, “Had I anything to do with the negro, I would confine them by strict law to their own species, and put them on a national equalization .

  • NeifyT Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 11, 2018 6:02 p.m.

    @Thomas Jefferson,

    I feel your pain. I have the same problem here; even when posting things positive about the church.


    Yes, I have heard over the years it taught that the Garden of Eden or Adam Ondi Ahman (sp?) were in Missouri. Not sure whether I believe it; but it does remind me of an anecdote from my childhood; in my early years my mother was teaching critical thinking skills.

    She found a newspaper article (had to have been in the Deseret News, because that is all she read at the time) claiming that scientists had located the Garden of Eden because they found bones they were sure were Adam and Eve's. She asked me what was wrong with that article; my first thought was that I had been taught that it had been revealed Missouri was where the Gardner of Eden was.

    She said "no that is not what is wrong." Then I questioned how they presumed the bones were those of Adam and Even; and she that didn't matter either. Then she asked "Where is the one place in all the world Adam and Eve would not be?"

    E.G. They got driven out of the Garden of Eden; so if they really where their bones; that would not be where the Garden of Eden was!

    Lesson in Critical Thinking Skills!

  • Orson2 Woods Cross, UT
    Sept. 11, 2018 5:26 p.m.

    Thomas Jefferson,
    Explaining correct Latter-day Saint history and doctrine can indeed be considered apologetics (defending the faith/truth), and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

    If by "unbelievable" stories you are referring to the miraculous events that are recounted in Saints and that began and continued in the Restored Church of Jesus Christ, then you are welcome to your opinion, which is in opposition to that of millions of members and everyone at the broadcast meeting; but I am grateful for miracles in my church history and my personal life. I can believe in prophetic translation by the gift and power of God because I have had the gift of God to reveal to me the meaning of some French words I didn't know; I have had the gift of God reveal to me the actuality and verity of the first vision. Etc.

    So critics can complain and grouse all they want, but their arguments seem foolish to me;

    If you don't like my defending/correctly explaining church history/doctrine, that is your prerogative, but why complain about it in a comment section for a news story about others doing the same thing very well before hundreds of thousands of viewers. Seems disingenuous to me.

  • Allen South Jordan, UT
    Sept. 11, 2018 5:26 p.m.

    Joseph Smith never said how the BoM was translated. He did use a seer stone inside his hat for part of the translation, but we don't know how much of the translation was made in this way. I grew up when photographers covered their head with a black cloth so they could see the objects of their photograph. So, using a hat doesh't seem at all strange to me. There isn't much difference between a hat and a black cloth.

    The Lord told Oliver Cowdery (D&C 9:7-9) to study the characters and come up with a translation of them, and then to ask via prayer if this translation is correct. Many people, including me, think this is how the BoM was translated, but this is speculation on our part. Whether Joseph saw the English translation via the seer stone is also speculation. Joseph never said how the translation occurred, and comments about the translation are speculation.

    People are surprised to learn that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy. These people act as if polygamy was a bad thing and that a true prophet wouldn't enter into polygamy. Polygamy is just a lifestyle that some people espouse. I don't care for that lifestyle, but I don't think polygamy is a bad thing. It's just a lifestyle.

  • hbeckett Colfax, CA
    Sept. 11, 2018 5:14 p.m.

    I have a sure testimony that our father and his resurrected son did appear to Joseph Smith and answer his questions that were concerning him at the time throughout church history our prophets have asked questions of our Father and have received answers as were fitting to the questions asked Is the restoration of the church that Jesus Christ established during his time on the earth restored and is he not the head thereof does he call mortals to lead his children to the truth and how to return home to live eternally with him we were explained the plan of happiness before we came to this earth now others have their agency to believe this or not if you want to know truth then you will find it in the church of Jesus Christ of Latter day saints but only you through the testimony of the Holy Ghost can feel the truth and the Face to face visit was about getting answers to issues that are of concern to various individuals to help them on the journey through life concerning things that have transpired since the gospel was restored through Joseph Smith Historians may provide answers to things that and retaining your testimony of Jesus ChristJames1;56

  • Thomas Jefferson Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 11, 2018 3:14 p.m.

    In my opinion:

    The excuse making here is classic apologetics.

    Simply put, these stories are unbelievable...as in you shouldnt believe them

    "Comment included insensitive thoughts that were not appropriate in the context of the story."

    Actually this comment was not insensitive and is EXACTLY appropriate in the context of the story. I think you meant to say "We dont like what you are saying about our church". So just say that. I would respect that. I dont respect this cop out.

  • Flipphone Sandy, UT
    Sept. 11, 2018 2:25 p.m.

    Orson 2,

    Does the LDS Church no longer teach that the Garden of Eden was located in the state of Missouri ?

  • Orson2 Woods Cross, UT
    Sept. 11, 2018 12:48 p.m.

    Flipphone is just throwing out baseless questions and charges that are not related to the story under discussion. He/she is doing this on both this thread and the other related one, until reaching their limit for postings per story.

    I have decided to ignore the trolling.

    Having said that, I encourage everyone to read Saints and see what it says and what its sources are. What a fine addition to Latter-day Saint history! Many of the questionable comments that critics are making here are well answered in this book that they obviously haven't read and won't.

    But Latter-day Saints can inform, enlighten, and inoculate themselves from doubt and disbelief by reading this kind of quality history that lays things out in context based on credible historical sources.

  • Flipphone Sandy, UT
    Sept. 11, 2018 12:12 p.m.

    When I was a young Mormon I was taught that the garden of Eden was located in the state of Missouri and that the Church would relocate there.

  • Flipphone Sandy, UT
    Sept. 11, 2018 11:30 a.m.

    Joseph Smith would place a seer stone ( looking glass he used to located berried treasure) in his hat then pull the hat over his eyes and a world were appear and his scrip would write down the word. this is the way Joseph translated the gold plants into the book of Mormon.

  • Vonkalicious Lehi, UT
    Sept. 11, 2018 10:01 a.m.

    I have found a loving place for myself in this religion. Questions - sure! Faith necessary - absolutely! Those who must receive and have all the answers don't comprehend faith at all. This is the place for me. Those who spend their time trying to disqualify what I hold so dear only make me love the religion more. Haters are going to hate but to me this is also confirmed revelation. I love this gospel and I love all men. To each his own and I hope I can receive the same respect in return for what I hold dear to my heart. If you disagree with the teachings, go find what is right for you but be Christ-like on your journey. For those who have stepped away - your choice. Please don't feel so obligated to try to get me to see things your way and I will honor and respect your decisions as well. Too much hate in this nation. We can be better to each other. Brandon Vonk, Lehi, UT

  • Kaladin Northern, CO
    Sept. 11, 2018 9:02 a.m.

    I'm surprised that people are surprised about there being various accounts of the first vision. I have a physical copy of an ensign from the 80's that talks extensively about them. I have known about the four accounts my whole life. See the January 1985 and January 1986 Ensign magazines. You can look it up yourself. Far from hidden. I also learned about seer stones, treasure digging, polygamy, etc. as a youth.
    I do not disagree that there was some whitewashing of church history over the years in manuals and what not, but I certainly don't believe it was in an effort to deceive anyone. I am confident of this because there are so many official publications of the church over the years that discuss all these subjects. Today's era of information is a perfect time to dig deeper into the history of the church because resources like the Joseph Smith Papers are so much more accessible in the digital age.
    People complain that they didn't learn about these things in gospel doctrine or seminary. Remember, those courses went in a four-part rotation with the scriptures and that was the focus of the classes.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Sept. 11, 2018 8:39 a.m.

    @Orson, If one is a true follower of Christ then they believe in a God of light and truth and not in the defense of men's wish to write history in defense of their church blueprint history. There are volumes of non-researched and unreleased papers and documents in the church archives and vault in the Canyon. If they were made available to independent professional authorized historians then a true and complete history of the church could be objectively documented and written in one comprehensive release rather than the gradual telling of the truth over generations of time. There is no more prove or evidence of a great Hebrew nation here on the American continent than there is for a claim of a great Chinese Dynasty or Roman Legions inhabitants on the American continent. It serves no good purpose to propagate false believes, and it can't be endearing to a God of light and truth.

  • Bluto Sandy, UT
    Sept. 11, 2018 7:53 a.m.

    In 1850, Deseret ( Utah Territory) had met all of the U.S. Government qualifications to apply for and be granted Statehood.

    However, Brigham Young and the people of the Utah Territory were denied, due to Polygamy, for nearly 50 years.

    Why Polygamy in the first place?
    Why would the Lord once again institute it for a short while, as he did with many Prophets?

    Simply put.......

    There is "Strength in Numbers" !

    Without numbers, the survival of the Mormons was not sustainable.

    A sitting U.S. Governor (Boggs) actually gave an "Extermination Order" on the Saints who were Missouri and U.S. citizens.

    Just imagine that?

    Driven from 5 States, Church members were murdered, pillaged and assaulted in every way imaginable. While their lands and possessions were stolen, they were then thrown in to the harsh Western Wilderness. There were no Marriott's along the way, let alone a cozy Bed and Breakfast.

    This appalling persecution cost 6,000 Saints their lives, crossing the plains. I have GGG Grandparents who buried 4 of their children along their journey. Countless other lives were shortened after they arrived at their Zion.

    # Polygamy = Survival.

  • CMTM , 00
    Sept. 11, 2018 7:53 a.m.

    RE: NoNamesAccepted said “ Smith's teachings and the language of scripture of the Father and son being one are not at all incompatible. Smith teaches us what that oneness means. It isn't an incomprehensible physical unity." Wrong,

    JS taught One=( heis) God, “And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is *one God.”(2 Nephi 3 1:21) (**1John 5:7-8 KJV & JST) v.7 one= (*heis, the #1. Greek, 1520)

    And a“ spiritual unity and unity of purpose.”
    “… we are one(en) John 17:22). One in unity (Preposition) different Greek words. (3 Nephi 11:36) And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one. (3Nephi 11:36)**see footnotes on 3 Nephi 11:32 a 1John 5:7-8 KJV.

    @Lectures On Faith - Q. What is the Father? A. He is a personage of glory and of power. (5:2.) Q. What is the Son? A. First, he is a personage of tabernacle. (5:2.)

  • bassoonlady OREM, UT
    Sept. 11, 2018 7:07 a.m.

    for those pointing out "discrepancies" in church doctrine/history, I would also point out that there are discrepancies all over the bible itself.
    for example, Abraham. You know, the super righteous guy. He lied about his wife being his wife when he lived in Egypt (genesis 12:11-20), and yet the old testament condemns lying (see various in proverbs) and the new testament tells us that *all* liars will be burnt with fire and brimstone . (rev 21:8)
    Even bigger and more obvious, God gave a very conflicting commandment to Abraham: to kill his son. But everywhere else, killing is one of the very worst things you can do. And Abraham would have done it! Why, in this instance, was this a commandment from God and considered not just ok, but righteous? Talk about Major contradictions!
    What about David vs Saul? Saul was ousted from being King after he failed to wait for Samuel to do a sacrifice. David committed adultery and murder and wasn't ousted, but throughout the bible it was said his heart was right before God.
    Faith isn't based on perfect stories of perfect people. When there are people involved, there will always be contradictions. What you see depends on how you look.

  • Justinstitches American Fork, UT
    Sept. 11, 2018 6:58 a.m.

    I joined the church back in 1976 as a teenager. I’ve never felt like anything about church history was hidden. Just as with any history, some things are emphasized while other things are not. That’s the nature of teaching and discussing history. Much of that depends on the purpose of the lesson and on the biases of the individual leading or writing the lesson. It’s also human nature to shy away from things that make you uncomfortable. However, in the time that I’ve been a member nothing has been deliberately hidden.

    Polygamy involving Joseph? I learned about that when I went to BYU (and I wasn’t surprised, since he was the one who had the revelation on that.) Seer stones? I learned about that while taking missionary lessons, right along with the other devices Joseph used. Everything people are saying they didn’t know is stuff I’ve known about for a long time.

    I’m certain there are things I don’t know about our history. There are things I don’t know about American history, too. That doesn’t make it deliberately hidden. It means I haven’t read all of the books written on the subject. The onus is on me. That doesn’t mean it’s being deliberately hidden or lied about.

  • mhenshaw Leesburg, VA
    Sept. 11, 2018 5:54 a.m.

    >>Now that we are being "as transparent as possible," according to Elder Cook, maybe we should have accurate visual aids/pictures showing the correct method the Book of Mormon was translated.

    I wouldn't care if Joseph translated the BoM standing on his head while wearing a chicken suit. The only relevant question is whether the BoM is what it and the Church claims it to be. If it is, then the mechanics of its translation are ultimately irrelevant. The Lord is willing to work with mortals in whatever way best helps them to accomplish His work.

    As for these accusations that "the Church didn't teach me about [historical event X]!" or "the Church never talked about [historical points Y]!"--human weakness, mistakes, and bad judgment don't affect the truthfulness of the work, the gospel, or the Church. Put your faith in the Lord and the gospel, not in the people called to called to preach it; and be forgiving towards leaders who sometimes make bad decisions--they have, they do, and they always will. The only people who've never made mistakes while leading others are those who've never had to lead others. Despite all our mistakes, the gospel will keep rolling forth anyway.

  • Woohoo Somewhere, ID
    Sept. 11, 2018 4:14 a.m.


    "Not gloss over polygamy and give the impression that those that have a problem just aren't faithful enough."

    Sorry didn't get that from the broadcast. Care to provide a quote from one of the speakers that indicated such a message?

    I think that it is great that the church is getting the current generation excited about church history. I think that that's more in line of what the Church was trying to accomplish with this broadcast than to do a scholarly level deep dive into polygamy.

  • Woohoo Somewhere, ID
    Sept. 11, 2018 4:13 a.m.


    "Perhaps someone who thinks the various accounts are an issue will explain their view?"

    Well..it is kind of interesting how God isn't as fleshed out in the first recorded version of the first vision as it is in the version found in the PGP. In the first version God and Jesus Christ are just known as "Lord" and in the PGP version you have God introducing Jesus Christ.

    Joseph words stated that he was prayed and then "..a piller of light above the brightness of the sun at noon day come down from above and rested upon me and I was filled with the spirit of god and the opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lord and he spake unto me saying Joseph thy sins are forgiven thee."

    compare to...

    "I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.
    It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"

  • Woohoo Somewhere, ID
    Sept. 11, 2018 3:53 a.m.


    "Too many Latter-day Saints have been too lazy in decades past and then blamed their lack of knowledge on the Church, which is nonsense."

    Generalizing is pretty lazy and reckless logic to me and your statement is a perfect example of it.

  • Woohoo Somewhere, ID
    Sept. 11, 2018 3:46 a.m.


    "I was told Joseph smith used a “urim and Thumin” to “translate” the gold plates.

    I read in Bushmans rough Stone Rolling, that he used a stone, and
    didn’t even look at the plates. "

    Uhh...Joseph used a few different means to produce the Book of Mormon. You said you read Bushmans Rough Stone Rolling...well...here's an excerpt that you must've missed that mentions Joseph Smith using the "Urim and Thummim"

    "...Joseph translated using the interpreters (also called the Urim and Thummim, crystals mounted on a breast plate), and Harris wrote down the text as it was dictated."

    It has been identified that Joseph used a variety of means to translate. From my understanding he started with the Urim and Thummim then used the seer stone and then nothing at all. All Joseph Smith himself stated was that he translated by the gift and power of God.

  • GrayGhost911 Eagle Mountain, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 11:53 p.m.

    I'm going to have to admit that much of this new spotlight on history has been more than a little troubling. Now this is coming from a lifelong, mission serving, Temple married member. I didn't grow up in Utah, so even as a youth and on my mission, I was regularly defending the Church against what I was taught to be "anti-Mormon" lies. Now, a good portion of these "lies" are turning out to be reality. I might actually be the one who has lied. It's definitely something that has forced a little self reflection.
    I've tried to use my benchmark as: do I think I would join the Church today if all of the unfiltered history of the Church was laid out to me for my examination? Well, now I'm not so sure.
    I think there are many in the Church that would be perfectly fine with dismissing other churches claims of authority due to their troubled history and personal qualities of their founders alone. Kind of a tricky double standard.

  • Bluto Sandy, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 8:59 p.m.

    I was reading Church History from the age of twelve.
    At 19, before my mission, I was well aware of Joseph and Brigham's multiple wives. My distant Grandad had 5 himself.

    And if people didn't know of MMM, Polygamy, 1st Vision, Word of Wisdom (Before it was a Commandment), Porter Rockwell, Fawn Brodie, BH Roberts, Solomon Spaulding, et al, then that is on them.

    It's not because the Church was "Hiding" anything.
    It's a matter of prioritizing what to emphasize.

    There was all sorts of information available. I grew up in a Home where we had the Journal of Discourses and the multi volume The History of The Church. Likewise Brodie and Brooks' books.

    However, Testimonies are obtained by taking up Moroni's promise. (Moroni 10:3-5).
    And not the words of an Abby Huntsman or the likes of John Dehlin.

    Juanita Brooks and Fawn Brodie were not a mystery to my family.
    And yes Fawn, "No Ma'am that's not history".

    When she wrote her book in 1945, the Church had a membership of just under one million "living" members......Today...16+ million.

    So much for her influence !

    Young 18 and 19 year olds can't "Persuade" anyone. It's a much higher source.
    #Moroni 10:3-5

  • NeifyT Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 8:27 p.m.

    @strom thurmond - "I was told Joseph smith used a 'urim and Thumin' to 'translate' the gold plates."

    Perhaps just a failed understanding of semantics? A "Urim and Thumin" by very definition are "seer stones." If you were taught that he used a Urim and Thumin, then you were taught that Joseph used seer stones; but perhaps you did not understand the terms?

    Now, he also used another seer stone besides the set that were boxed up with golden plates; which he used even before he got the golden plates. The church still has that one; and recently posted a picture of it.

    I guess I am just a bit obsessive compulsive even regarding religious study; but, I find it inconceivable that anyone who grew up in the church didn't understand basic things like: "Also, that there were two stones in silver bows—and these stones, fastened to a breastplate, constituted what is called the Urim and Thummim—deposited with the plates; and the possession and use of these stones were what constituted “seers” in ancient or former times; and that God had prepared them for the purpose of translating the book." Joseph-Smith History 1:35 (found in the Peal of Great Price canonized LDS scripture)

  • Orson Woods Cross, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 8:19 p.m.

    Now you are simply Bible bashing, trying to use your interpretation of some New Testament scriptures to refute the revelations of Joseph Smith; this is meaningless and has nothing to do with the story being discussed.

    In Paul's day, God had not commanded plural marriage, so he taught the saints of that day correct teachings. In Joseph Smith's day, God commanded plural marriage, as discussed and reviewed in some detail at the meeting and in the story, so it was lived to some extent until He revoked His commandment.

    All of this is well-known to informed Latter-day Saints, as are the Biblical statements to Abraham commanding him to practice polygamy, and to the New Testament church, commanding them not to. God uses prophets to convey His will to His children, who then do their best to follow it.

    Again, it is best to be fully informed before making sweeping assertions or arguing out of context.

  • NeifyT Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 7:55 p.m.

    @1aggie and perhaps others.

    I find it rather funny to hear of people claim they grew up in Utah and in the church yet never heard about Joesph practicing polygamy; claiming it wasn't in lesson manuals or such.

    I grew up in the church and it was in all of the lesson manuals related to D&C, same with my parents and even my grandparents. And even published in the D&C where God commands Joseph to practice it. For someone growing up in the church anytime in the last century (if you are older than that; I don't know); the information was clearly stated in scriptures and lesson materials, there was no hiding it. Perhaps one failed to study?

    Now, some things were whitewashed for sure, no doubt about that. My first encounter of "whitewash" was learning in Primary that Joseph Smith refused alcohol as a child during an introduction to the Word of Wisdom; but was whitewashed over that he drank at least wine when he grew up. Other things are whitewashed for sure (like that he denied practicing polygamy to certain government officials), but the fact that Joseph did indeed practice polygamy has been taught in the church for at least a century; for anyone who even casually attended church.

  • FredEx Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 7:42 p.m.

    Believe it, or don't believe it. Make your choice and live with it. But don't criticize others for what they believe. What a person believes is what makes them who they are.

    My dad once said whether it's true or not, it has made him a better person. If the same can be said of any religion, why should anyone criticize them?

  • strom thurmond taylorsville, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 7:26 p.m.

    In thinking further, and watching as much as I could, I cannot imagine why they think this is effective

    And effective emetic? Yes

    An effective explanation of disturbing historical facts?

    You decide

    As for me, I couldn’t take the dishonesty anymore and showed myself the door

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 7:08 p.m.


    More bearing of false witness with half truths.

    "Nathan said to David, “....the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more."

    God gave David multiple wives. And would have given him more had he asked.

    Is the Bible the inerrant word of God or isn't it?

    When you can engage in meaningful discussion of what God did or did not approve regarding polygamy for King David, then we can have an honest discussion about what God did or did approve for Joseph Smith or Brigham Young.


    Nobody who supports homosexual marriage can say a thing about the morality of polyamorous relationships. Age of consent was much lower in the past than it is today.

    At various times, polygamy has been commanded of God since the Old Testament. He has always condemned homosexual conduct as contrary to His will. Homosexual conduct can never propagate our species and so is contrary to all scientific understanding of evolving to increase survivability.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 6:58 p.m.

    @Dart Thrower: "I stand by my definition of communism. The dictionary says communism is "a society in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs". That is the very definition of the United Order and it collapsed for the same reason that communism proved impractical."

    Better research the United Order a bit more. Under the United Order, private property--called a "stewardship"--is very much maintained. Rather than a flat 10% tithing however, all excess beyond "wants and needs"--as determined by the steward and his Bishop--is returned to the Bishop to distribute as needed. That includes caring for the poor as well as making capital available for business expansion.

    It is hard to maintain as it requires a righteous people who are free of covetousness, idleness, and other sins. Unlike communism, it is not forced; it is entered into and maintained freely.


    Smith's teachings and the language of scripture of the Father and son being "one" are not at all incompatible. Smith teaches us what that oneness means. It isn't an incomprehensible physical unity, but rather a perfect spiritual unity and unity of purpose.

  • Thid Barker Victor, ID
    Sept. 10, 2018 6:52 p.m.

    I ordered several copies of "Saints" for my own study and as gifts. Looking forward to studying it.

  • Shelama SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 5:53 p.m.

    No matter how hard I try, and no matter how much fasting & prayer, and no matter of more than 100 readings, D&C 132 always sounds the same.

    It always sounds like Joseph Smith just making it up. I can't force myself to imagine that's a God whose glory is intelligence saying that stuff in that way.

    It always sounds like Joseph Smith, after the fact, appointing himself, and self-authorizing, excusing and forgiving himself, for his many extra-Emma girls and women.

    I can't see in the Old Testament where there's such self-conscious concern about polygamy and sin. Or religious practice. I can't see where it's ever given of the Lord. Or that it's ever more than just culture, custom or royalty. (At least as long as one of the many wives and concubines don't introduce their foreign gods.

    I don't see in the OT, nor with the patriarchs and prophets named in D&C 132, where it's ever a religious practice, let alone a sacred and elect and elevated religious practice.

    I don't see in the OT where "many wives and concubines" were a whole lot different from "many sheep and goats." Or "many donkeys and oxen."

    I don't see anywhere in the OT anything close to Mormon polygamy.

  • NeifyT Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 5:53 p.m.

    My (extremely truncated) response to some of these things:

    Polygamy? God has commanded and retracted off and on throughout history. Just one of those things that is up to Him. As can be seen in the Bible (and other works) God does understands cultural changes, political necessity, and even human nature. And this is true for all His commandments; they change regularly as needed.

    Seer Stones? Joseph Smith was quite interested and really truly believed in those as a boy and young man. I find it quite a relief that God is willing to work with our imperfections to not only help us grow individually but to accomplish His larger work. Joseph Smith grew out of their use later in life. That gives me hope as a very imperfect man; that I can still be a part of God's work, despite my oddities that most people disagree with.

    Multiple versions of a story? Everyone does that, they change their stories based on 1) time vs. memory, 2) importance of information, and 3) intended audience. We remember things differently as time moves on; life circumstances make things stand out as more important; and of course all messages should be and are tailored to the intended audience.

  • Allen South Jordan, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 5:08 p.m.

    The position of the LDS church is plain and simple. If the Lord commands polygamy, it should be practiced. Otherwise, it should not be practiced.

    Jacob taught this.

    For if I will saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things [Jacob's teachings that we should have one and only one wife] (Jacob 2:30)

    The Old Testament prophets practiced polygamy, because, we believe, the Lord commanded it. The New Testament prophets did not practice it, because the Lord did not command it.

    Prior to polygamy being given to the church by Brigham Young, church members did not practice polygamy, and statements were made about having one wife. After church members received the commandment to practice polygamy, they did practice it.

    After the first manifesto, the lay church members did not practice polygamy, and after the second manifesto, all church members did not practice polygamy.

    Ending polygamy is a serious thing, because there is danger that other wives and the resulting children could be left to suffer hunger, a warm place to stay, etc. There needs to be a smooth transition away from polygamy, and this takes time.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 4:54 p.m.

    Orson. Polygamy VS. The N.T. “An elder must be blameless, the husband of “one wife”, having children who are believers and are not open to accusation of indiscretion or insubordination. Titus 1:6

    RE: “in context and without manipulation.” OK,
    D&C 132:28–39, Promises of eternal increase and exaltation are made to prophets and Saints in all ages;
    @ Verse 37 Abraham received concubines, and they bore him children; “and it was accounted unto him for righteousness”, because they were given unto him, and he abode in my law; as Isaac also and Jacob did none other things than that which they were commanded; and because they did none other things than that which they were commanded, they have entered into their exaltation, according to the promises, and sit upon thrones, and are not angels but are gods.

    VS(Gal 3:5-7)…Does God lavish His Spirit on you and work miracles among you because you practice the Law, or because you hear and believe? So also, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” understand, then, that those who have faith are the sons of Abraham.

  • Bifftacular Spanish Fork, Ut
    Sept. 10, 2018 4:28 p.m.

    @Dart Thrower, communism is/was forced at gunpoint and the United Order was voluntary...hardly semantics.

  • esodije ALBUQUERQUE, NM
    Sept. 10, 2018 4:26 p.m.

    I'm not what you'd call a fan of polygamy, although two of my paternal great-great grandfathers had plural wives. However., it would be difficult for the church to disavow it completely now without effectively throwing Joseph and Brigham under the bus, so I don't expect it to happen anytime soon.

    I recently toured the Kirtland Temple for the first time and was surprised to learn there that the Community of Christ (ex-RLDS church) believes in the "classic" three-in-one Trinity, based on its acceptance of one of the "alternate" accounts of Joseph's First Vision. The Godhead as the "Utah" church understands it is such a key part of its foundational beliefs that it seemed really odd to learn that another group claiming authority from Joseph Smith could believe anything else.

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    Sept. 10, 2018 4:16 p.m.

    There was confusion about polygamy. The Reorganized Church, and especially Emma claimed that Joseph’s relationship with his plural wives was spiritual, not biological; while the Utah Church claimed otherwise. The fact is that there is absolutely no DNA evidence that Joseph had any children from these women which gives credibility to the Reorganized position. We just don’t know for sure what actually happened.

    Anti-Mormon books such as "No Man Knows My History" and "Blood of the Prophets" and other biased “historical” accounts, have provided an incentive for the church to produce more accurate histories. Fortunately, we have excellent historians who can help people get an objective picture of church history.

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    Sept. 10, 2018 4:14 p.m.

    From the very beginning of the church it was under attack and lies and falsehoods were spread. As a result, for many decades the leaders of the church suppressed information that might give their enemies more ammunition—not so much lies as not telling the whole truth. In more recent years, we’ve discovered things in our history that are distressing but, for me, I’ve received a clearer picture of how difficult things were under those circumstances and how members still tried to live the gospel. My testimony has been strengthened, not undermined. Historical accounts reveal that the early saints made honest mistakes because they just didn’t know how to apply new revelations and communication was poor. After baptism for the dead was revealed, the early saints baptized for the dead in the river and records weren’t kept and people were baptized for others that weren’t the same sex. These things and many other new doctrines eventually got straightened out. CONTINUED

  • Thid Barker Victor, ID
    Sept. 10, 2018 4:15 p.m.

    I knew about polygamy in the early church from childhood so for some to claim the church kept it a secret is simply not true! I learned in my youth that when it comes to matters of faith, doctrine and church history it is extremely unwise to trust persons who have proven themselves unfaithful and faithless. You will never get living water (faith) from empty vessels. They have nothing to give you in those matters! When I want to increase my faith, I simply go to where it is dispensed freely and abundantly, not where it doesn't exist!

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 3:17 p.m.

    Orson RE: context. "D&C 132:28–39, Promises of eternal increase and exaltation are made to prophets and Saints in all ages;"

    V, 37 Abraham received concubines, and they bore him children; and it was accounted unto him for righteousness, because they were given unto him, and he abode in my law; as Isaac also and Jacob did none other things than that which they were commanded; and because they did none other things than that which they were commanded, they have entered into their exaltation, according to the promises, and sit upon thrones, and are not angels but are gods.

    VS(Gal 3:5-7)…Does God lavish His Spirit on you and work miracles among you because you practice the Law, or because you hear and believe? So also, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”Understand, then, that those who have faith are the sons of Abraham.

    @ Inspiration: The P of G. P. VS Bible: The first 6 chapters of Gen(JST)or Moses contains 311 verses, While the Septuagint and Masoretic texts contain 184 verses. JST adds “ 127” verses which are not supported by the Septuagint and Masoretic texts or Dead Sea Scrolls
    But over 123 N.T. quotes support the existing O.T.

  • Danny Chipman Lehi, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 3:10 p.m.


    I had the same question, and I prayed, and I researched it, and I was led to the book "Precept Upon Precept" by Robert Millet. My question was settled favorably, and I invite you and others to do the same.

  • Dart Thrower Ogden, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 2:27 p.m.

    I stand by my definition of communism. The dictionary says communism is "a society in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs". That is the very definition of the United Order and it collapsed for the same reason that communism proved impractical. Feel free to engage in semantics, but I can assure you if you try and parse the definition of the United Order with a non-member, you are going to look silly. Better to just fess up and say "the Church has a lot of interesting and fascinating aspects. Can I tell you some more?".

  • Ranch Here, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 2:10 p.m.

    @Allen C Christensen;

    "Yet, people remain concerned about a brief time in history when a minority church members practiced plural marriage to raise up a righteous generation."

    -- That was certainly *not* the reason for practicing polygamy. A "righteous generation" can be "raised up" quite easily w/o polygamy. In fact, societies that practice polygamy are often more violent than those that do not.

    "They do not care if a man marries a woman or a man, or woman marries another woman....They are observations concerning current moral decline."

    -- Marriage equality has nothing to do with "moral decline". It is a benefit to society as it provides for the equal treatment of certain couples who have historically been denied the benefits that accrue with marriage.


    "Feelings, nothing more than feelings..." (not very accurate or honest, imho).

  • Orson Woods Cross, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 2:04 p.m.

    Justin Martyr, Irraneaus, and Tertulian have nothing to do with Latter-day Saints doctrine and practice. Nor does scripture taken out of context and misinterpreted. Latter-day Saints only deal with correctly interpreted and understood scripture, given by inspiration.

    Most of these scriptures were explained in depth in the meeting the article reports. It becomes obvious you did not view it.

    it seems ever more important to present matters in context and without manipulation.

  • ADN Weiser, ID
    Sept. 10, 2018 1:52 p.m.

    It is important to remember that historical details do not carry the saving power of ordinances, covenants, and doctrine. To be distracted by less significant details at the expense of missing the unfolding miracle of the Restoration is like spending time analyzing a gift box and ignoring the wonder of the gift itself.

  • IZ5 Hatch, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 1:36 p.m.

    birder - Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 8:30 a.m.
    One of the most fascinating questions was left out of the article. Will people have to practice polygamy to be in the Celestial Kingdom? The answer was no.

    From my studies, members will not HAVE to practice polygamy in the Celestial Kingdom. However, according to Brigham Young, polygamy will continue in the CK.

    Today's church does stand by that belief, as many men have been sealed to additional wives upon the death of the first wife/wives. Subsequent wives cannot previously be sealed to another man.
    Modern Day priesthood leaders have been sealed to additional spouses when their first wives passed away, i.e. Howard Hunter, President Nelson, Dallin Oaks, Harold B. Lee.

    Joseph Fielding Smith was sealed to a third wife after his first and second wives died. Former UT-Gov, Jake Garn, was sealed to a second wife after consulting with Pres Hinkley, who encouraged the second sealing.

    For a full historical account of Joseph Smith's polygamy, read the book: "In Sacred Loneliness, Plural Wives of JS" by scholar Todd Compton. His historical research and sources are well documented. He is a member of the LDS Church.

  • Sylvia33 Hyrum, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 1:34 p.m.

    In response to future president, Logan Ut. The reason they don't need to show Joseph Smith looking into a hat to see the seerstone as he received revelation to translate the Book of Mormon is because he did not always do that. In fact later on he did not need the seerstone nor the Urim and Thummim. He learned how to do it by revelation.

  • Thomas Thompson Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 1:18 p.m.

    Henry Ford once famously said that "history is bunk," by which he meant, perhaps, that mere facts are not history, and that the interpretation of those facts is too often made unreliable by the bias contained in the interpretation. Consequently, the only real question, it seems to me, when contemplating a history of Mormonism, is whether one wishes to understand history as it is told by official sources within the Church, or whether one wishes to understand it from sources which may be hostile to the Church's teachings. If one is careful, however, reading history that is not from official sources can be supremely productive -- and even faith promoting. Two superb examples come to mind. One such source is the excellent "David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism," by Gregory Prince and Robert Wright; and another is the equally helpful "Confessions of a Mormon Historian," consisting of the wonderfully readable journals of Leonard Arrington.

  • figureditout American Fork, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 1:18 p.m.

    I love Elder Cook. I've had dinner with him on several occasions and think he is a wonderful, genuine man. However, I don't think he, or any other General Authority or church employee can be completely objective when it comes to church history. Why? It is a huge conflict of interest.
    There are things that are unpleasant and hard to accept or justify. The Church has floated carefully crafted explanations since the beginning but questions still remain. The church today is trying hard to disassociate itself with its controversial past by claiming a new transparency, but it is nothing more than recycling the faithful narrative of the past. The only other alternative is to let the full truth be told and accept the consequences, but we are not ready for the fallout...yet. It is a tightrope the church can only walk so long. You can hate me for saying this but save this post. One day in the future you will see it was accurate.

  • Allen C Christensen American Fork, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 1:05 p.m.

    Plural marriage was a tremendous test of religious faith. It ran against the social mores of the day. It and slavery were listed as barbaric evils. In many cases men were invited to participate after they had their first family on the road to success. It was not convenient. In the 1880s men involved in its practice were hounded by federal marshals and sent to prison when apprehended. Its purpose was to raise a righteous posterity.

    Now the LDS test of religious faith is one spouse and complete fidelity to that spouse at a time in the United States when people seemingly do not care whether or not you are even married when you bring children into the world. They do not care if a man marries a woman or a man, or woman marries another woman. America does not object to the practice serial monogamy, that is one marriage and divorce after another. Our a society has too many delinquent parents who neglect and abandon children. Yet, people remain concerned about a brief time in history when a minority church members practiced plural marriage to raise up a righteous generation.

    This is not an argument to return to plural marriage. They are observations concerning current moral decline.

  • johnpack Parker, CO
    Sept. 10, 2018 1:03 p.m.

    I have to laugh when people who were bored during school history lessons think the church should emphasize history more.

    The church has 16 million imperfect people. All those in history were also imperfect. If that bothers you, concentrate on fixing your own flaws.

    Make no mistake -- the revelations of the Lord through his prophets are perfect. Our understanding of them, the institute teacher's understanding, etc. may all be flawed. But the Lord is not nor will he allow the church to be misled. But you and I can choose to be misled at any time -- as when making assumptions (e.g., how the Book of Mormon was translated).

    I know this is hard to grasp, but the policy on the blacks and the priesthood was correct for its time. Does it mean blacks were inferior or less entitled to the blessings of the gospel? No -- that was a flawed understanding. But does it mean the church stayed out of the Civil War and its aftermath? Yes. Does it mean missionary work was focused elsewhere? Yes. Think about all the protestant churches with segregated congregations -- to this very day -- and be glad we don't have that.

    The Lord knows what He's doing and which imperfect leaders to trust.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 12:52 p.m.

    Dart, they didn't practice communism in Orderville. They made a stab at living the Law of Consecration/United Order. Trying to have everything in common.

    If you want to know what happens during communism, Read Animal Farm.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    Sept. 10, 2018 12:49 p.m.

    "Elder Cook encouraged young adults to seek out and study credible sources of church history..."

    I would encourage young adults raised in any religion to seek out and study the information that's out there about religion, their own and others. Don't simply accept what you've been taught. Question it all. Look into it all. If it's credible, it can withstand the scrutiny, whether or not your church deems the source credible.

    IMO we owe our institutions this kind of critical assessment, particularly those making the most extraordinary of claims. Yet in many cases these are the very institutions that encourage followers to take blind leaps of faith and promote unquestioning obedience as the purest of righteousness.

    So be skeptical. If feeling like you're the owner of your life is important to you, then question everything and find out what YOU believe. If there is accountability at the end of this life, don't you want to be judged on that rather than what someone else thought?

  • MaxPower Eagle Mountain, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 12:45 p.m.

    @Thid Baker

    You may find it inessential, but for me it was testimony destroying. If the Church can't be honest and forthright in little matters (things like Joseph's polygamy) how can I trust it with my eternal salvation?

    Rather than belittle people for lack of faith, why not try and come up with an answer, or say "I don't know"? However, after so many I don't know's it becomes much easier to look for more natural explanations?

    Humanity tends to be very rational in their logic, until religion gets involved.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 12:44 p.m.

    RE: NoNamesAccepted “God gave David his multiple wives and would have given him more:… Mormon history.”OK,

    Jacob 2:24 Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.

    Jacob 2:27 Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none.

    RE: Orson , Please make a greater effort to get your facts straight .E.g..,

    -A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife,..”(I Tim 3:2).,The Apostles did not maintain any O.T. pattern of polygamy and they and the early church condemned it.

    1. Justin Martyr (c.160) rebukes the Jews for allowing polygamy: "Your imprudent and blind masters even until this time permit each man to have four or five wives." 2. Irenaeus (c.180) condemns the Gnostics for, among other things, polygamy...." 3. Tertullian (c.207)-Marriage to one wife.

    JS. Abraham received concubines, and they bore him children; and it was accounted unto him for righteousness(D&C 132:37)?
    VS Paul… Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.(Gal 3:6)

  • Third try screen name Mapleton, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 12:33 p.m.

    Very few things happen at the right time and the rest do not happen at all. The conscientious historian will correct these defects.

  • C-3P0 Saint George, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 12:26 p.m.

    The information has always been out there. I knew about all this stuff by the time I was in high school. Still surprises me when I hear people say they never knew about the seer stone.

  • SorryNotSorry Draper, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 12:15 p.m.

    Having been through my own faith crisis years ago, I can say approaching questions from the standpoint of faith is much more productive.

    Obtain truth from God or from internet commentators.

    I choose God and that’s why my faith crisis ended.

    That said, I don’t have a great answer to Joseph Smith’s polyandry nor blacks being denied the Priesthood after Brigham Young.

    But I’m willing to put things on the shelf because of how I’ve felt in the temple, teaching a lesson to my little ones, serving a mission, singing and listening to sacred music, studying the scriptures (albeit casually), and feeling the intervening hand of the Lord in countless moments in my life.

    My way to say thanks is to have faith.

  • 1aggie Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 11:46 a.m.

    First try:

    One question I have is Eliza Snow is never identified in lesson manuals/curriculum as one of Joseph Smith’s wives, when in fact, her gravestone identifies her as
    “Eliza Snow Smith?”

    If we haven’t been trying to avoid tough history these past many years, it would seem she should be referred to by her chosen name.

    Growing up in Utah I never heard or read about Joseph Smih’s practice of polygamy. Looking at my children’s old seminary manuals it doesn’t mention the practice of plural marriage.

    Better to say we are now being more forthright than trying to pretend we weren’t hiding/avoiding difficult history. That would give me more trust/ faith in our leaders. We make truth claims—we set a high bar.

  • Meckofahess Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 11:43 a.m.

    One of the things I love about learning the "true" history of Joseph Smith and our Church is that we know that with human beings mistakes are made and yet God can still work with imperfect humans to bring about divine purposes and blessings. That gives hope to imperfect people like myself!

    I for one am not afraid to embrace our true history, I know we can learn from it and we can learn to try to not repeat previous mistakes that may have been made.

    Sure, some things must be accepted on faith, but we are able to explain most of the strange things about our history if we simply own up to it. I also understand that well meaning people over the years simply wanted to promote the Church and the Gospel and they sincerely felt it was best to not "hang out the dirty laundry" because they feared what people would think. Well, that caused a lot of damage that could have been avoided simply by being truthful. about the facts.

  • future president Logan, Utah
    Sept. 10, 2018 11:37 a.m.

    Now that we are being "as transparent as possible," according to Elder Cook, maybe we should have accurate visual aids/pictures showing the correct method the Book of Mormon was translated.

    For example, we need to stop showing the usual pictures of Joseph Smith translating the golden plates with the plates open and Joseph looking at them giving the impression that he is translating them. Instead we should have pictures of Joseph Smith with his face inside a hat looking at a seer stone and the plates covered with a piece of fabric.

  • Justiciaparatodos Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 11:33 a.m.

    I applaud the Church for being more forthcoming and transparent in the last 5 years. The problem is that for many years, a host of controversial historical facts were sort of kept way in the background. Sure, a few LDS scholars new about the history but there were leaders who for a long time didn't wish the controversial items to be highlighted. The late Leonard Arrington, former Church Historian, once remarked and I paraphrase "the history of the church shouldn't be written by it's PR department".

    Now the church has this problem that as the history has come forth, people are troubled that a lot of this history was "covered up" as if there was something to hide. In reality, there were "warts" out there that were and are embarrassing in some ways. Happily, now we are trying to understand the "warts" - not hide them!

    As an active member of the Church, I am grateful for the new and long-over-due transparency. I believe there should be a greater acknowledgment that there was hesitancy to bring out the facts such as the now well known true history of the Mountain Meadows Massacre which was covered up for many-many years. Sometime the truth simply hurts.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 11:31 a.m.

    @Semi-PRO: "My whole life I was taught that polygamy was established to take care of the widows."

    Someone from rural Utah didn't have a bunch of friends and family who were descended from polygamous marriages? The article notes that 20% of current church members have a polygamous ancestor. Obviously, that doesn't happen if only widows and older women are entering into plural marriage.

    But where were you taught this mistaken history? Primary? Seminary? Institute?

    There is no doubt that in many settings, The Church has focused much more on the core message of the Savior of faith, repentance, baptism, etc, than on the particulars of church history.

    Neither has it much focused on Jewish or larger Christian history, or other cultural norms that would make clear that through much of history a young woman was considered eligible for marriage by 14 1/2 (Jewish law) or 15 (Hispanic Quinceanera). Mary, the mother of Jewish is widely believed to have been 14 or 15 at the time of her marriage to Joseph.

    History must be understood in context of the times, not subjected to our modern mores and standards.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 11:22 a.m.

    @Dart Thrower: "Transparency and illumination of factual history is always the best move. I am descended from LDS people who practiced polygamy and communism in Orderville."

    Your ancestors very well may have practiced polygamy. They most certainly did not practice "communism". They practiced the "United Order", from when Orderville takes its name, having been among the last Mormon communities to maintain that social order. The United Order, or Consecration, was a communitarian social order. It was not "communism", which is Satan's counterfeit to the Lord's true economic and social order. Study the relative dates of Smith's revelation on the United Order and Marx's writings.


    As @orson points out, your overly-simplistic, non-contextual attack on LDS history is greatly lacking. I'd suggest it is lacking to the point of moving into the category of bearing false witness by telling half truths.

    When you actually engage in civil, serious discussion regarding the Lord approving Old Testament polygamy (God's prophet Nathan makes clear God gave David his multiple wives and would have given him more if he wanted them.), we can then discuss the practice in Mormon history.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 11:03 a.m.

    AT- Samuel Smith died due to what happened to him. He was headed back from Carthage prior to the assassination of Joseph and Hyrum. As he passed by the various militia groups in Carthage, some stabbed at him with their bayonets in his legs which caused some blood loss. He fell ill when he got back to Nauvoo and basically died of what amounts to pneumonia about a month later to his immunity being compromised to the initial blood loss and I'm guessing also a bout of Malaria that didn't help. It was Nauvoo after all and that type of disease didn't go away with the drainage ditches.

    I've know about Fanny Alger, the Seer Stone, and multiple First Vison stories since I did a report back in 1976 in high school for Seminary. Not anything earth shaking there. The information has been out there for decades. Not hidden, but also not well sourced.

    No big deal. I don't base my testimony on Church History. That only adds to it.

  • elpis Blue Springs, MO
    Sept. 10, 2018 10:22 a.m.

    It was good to hear from Matthew Grow PhD in history from Notre Dame about his testimony of the Savior, and his confidence in the faith-promoting truthfulness of the unusual aspects of Joseph Smith's eternal sealings to mothers and daughters, three pairs of sisters, and wives married only for time to other men. I thought Katie Holbrook PhD Harvard did an excellent job manifesting the truth with a smile about her testimony of how polygamy began in 1835 with Fanny Alger and the warm approval, acceptance of the Lord's will and rejoicing to be chosen to sacrifice exemplified by Joseph's wife Emma.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 10:18 a.m.

    It wouldn't be an issue if the LDS church had been forthright in the first place.

  • Semi-PRO Brigham City, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 10:15 a.m.

    My whole life I was taught that polygamy was established to take care of the widows. And that early church leaders only married the older women who didn't have a chance to marry in this life and were getting older.

    My spouse was taught the same thing. After reading the Gospel Topic essays on the church website and found out Joseph Smith married a 14 year old girl, along with a few other teenage girls, I was completely blown away. Was I not paying attention in Sunday School or seminary all these years? Did they forget to mention this during my stay at the MTC? How could I have missed this important information?

  • IQ92 hi, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 10:15 a.m.

    Anyone attempting to gain a testimony through any other means than spiritual witness is destined to be disappointed—as it should be.

  • elpis Blue Springs, MO
    Sept. 10, 2018 10:14 a.m.

    I was glad to read in the footnotes to the Saints book that Sally Chase let Joseph borrow her green glass so he could receive a vision in 1819 of where to find the brown seer stone in an iron kettle 15 feet under the ground near lake Erie so he could use it to receive second sight on the book of mormon revelation.

  • Orson Woods Cross, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 10:11 a.m.

    Plural marriage beginnings and endings were far more complicated than your simplistic attempts to make church leaders look like frauds/liars, which they weren't.

    Either of the scholars mentioned in the article, if given sufficient time, could easily explain the context and circumstances around each of your attempts at finding contradictions (as could I).

    The federal government was on an anti-Mormon crusade for several decades of the late 1800s, purposely passing legislation antithetical to plural marriage. This caused great difficulty and decisions for both church leaders and members. Your oversimplification detracts from the purpose of the broadcast--to teach truth about hard subjects, but also to teach where to find good and sound information in context (instead of easily manipulated facts taken out of true context). The Constitution says people can practice their religion free of government interference and that was the case until the anti-Mormons in Congress and the Courts passed laws to stop the Latter-day Saints from practicing plural marriage. Events after the manifesto are also very complicated. Please make a greater effort to get your facts straight.

  • Dart Thrower Ogden, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 9:59 a.m.

    Transparency and illumination of factual history is always the best move. I am descended from LDS people who practiced polygamy and communism in Orderville. This is a straight up fact, but when I tell this to some of the faithful, they turn a greenish gray color and run away. The Church has an amazing, colorful history of innovation where new ideas for social governance were tried with some being embraced and others rejected. No one should be afraid of this and I commend the Church on providing a full and transparent history.

  • Bifftacular Spanish Fork, Ut
    Sept. 10, 2018 10:00 a.m.

    The church will always have its detractors and enemies - it's been foretold many, many times over the centuries and is a natural force against anything good. I'd be more alarmed if there wasn't great opposition. But for those that have taken the time and effort to study the scriptures, pray to God with real intent, and then attempted to live the commandments,...they have a testimony of the truth that not only speaks to their intellect, but more importantly speaks to their spirit. When that has occurred, so-called historical controversies like the exact manner Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, what he said or wrote in one setting as a 15 year old as opposed to he wrote or said in another forum as a 30 year old, become superfluous. Whether they can be explained by us or not at this exact moment in time, is non essential to my testimony.

  • Dal Pal Rexburg, ID
    Sept. 10, 2018 9:58 a.m.


    That's a great question, there is archaeological evidence, but I think since it is still for speculation, the church hasn't come up with official declarations of things. If you find the works of Brother Wright at BYU in the religion department, you can find some precious gems. He has his doctorate in archaeology and spends a lot of time in central america. He found very strong evidence for where all of the locations were in the events in The Book of Mormon. His theory is that the Nephites, Lamanites and Jaredites did not occupy much space. Here's the map: Just type "byu map of central america" in Google, click on images, and it will be the 2nd image.

  • Flipphone Sandy, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 9:35 a.m.

    The Book of Mormon is the foundation of the LDS Church. One Question the LDS Church never discusses is Why there are no archaeological evidence to support the People and places mentioned in the Book of Mormon.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 9:32 a.m.

    Allen @D&C 101: 4,”Inasmuch as this Church of Christ(JS) has been reproached with the crime of fornication and polygamy, we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife, and one woman but one husband”, also (H of C, vol. 2, pg. 247 August 1835.)

    This scripture remained in the LDS canon until 1876,The general body of the church were informed about polygamy in 1852, at which time many practiced it because leaders like Brigham professed the necessity of it for exaltation. Since ( July 1843), contradicted 101:4, It was removed in 1876, when section 132 was placed in the new edition.

    ..Polygamy continued despite the promise to abandon it. In 1899, then Apostle Heber J. Grant President would plead guilty to unlawful cohabitation and be fined $100. In 1906, sixth LDS President Joseph F. Smith "pleaded guilty before Judge M. L. Rictchie in the District Court Friday to the charge of cohabitating with four women in addition to his lawful wife." He was fined $300, the maximum allowed.

    AOF # 12. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law?

  • Kaladin Northern, CO
    Sept. 10, 2018 8:59 a.m.

    Studying church history has strengthened my faith. I love the Joseph Smith Papers. I have studied the supposed controversies of the church and have come away with a greater sense of awe at the faith early members of the church had, the difficulties early leaders had in finding the will of the Lord, and the winding steps the church has taken over the last 200 years to where it is today. It is faith-inspiring to see imperfect men and women do the work. Only Christ was perfect, no prophet was or will be in this life. Church history teaches us that those that follow the prophet will be blessed and those that don't will not. Some ask why we should follow imperfect leaders - the answer I have found is that although their ability to know the will of God is not 100%, it is much closer to 100% than is mine due to the mantel they hold. Look at all the prophets of the Bible and you will find imperfection, but you will also find a pattern of blessings for the people of God when they follow the prophet.

  • Fabled Soul Provo, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 8:56 a.m.

    As a missionary, I memorized in a foreign language what I thought was the only version of the first vision. I was used, and I resent it.

  • Allen South Jordan, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 8:49 a.m.

    I've known about the various accounts of the first vision for several years, ever since the first vision was discussed in a book by an LDS author (I've forgotten his name). I don't understand why this is an issue. Perhaps someone who thinks the various accounts are an issue will explain their view?

  • Elsleuith Eagle Mountain, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 8:43 a.m.

    For me a through, sound, prayerful reading of the Book of Mormon results in a daily witness of the divinity of this work and Joseph Smith as a prophet. Yes there are unusual things in church history. Yes there are things I don't understand. But when it comes to the Book of Mormon I have no doubts. I am rock solid.

  • AT Elk River, MN
    Sept. 10, 2018 8:35 a.m.

    Any move toward being more open and transparent should be celebrated. Hopefully this will encourage more LDS members to study LDS Church history.

    For example, I learned, just yesterday, that Samuel Smith's (Joseph Smiths brother - who some thought might lead the Church after Joseph Smith's death - but how mysteriously died within a few days after Joseph) daughter believed that Samuel was poisoned by Hosea Stout at Willard Richard's direction - to keep him out of the running to lead the Church. Now, I don't at all believe that for a second. However, this story does provide an interesting perspective on how contentious things were after Joseph's death. Studying Church history is fascinating.

  • Allen South Jordan, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 8:34 a.m.

    "If I was taught, by employed church officials, things as fact, wven approved curricula, which were then denied or said to be false, how is that not lying?"

    Lying implies an attempt to deceive. That is, one knows the situation is one way but he/she says it is another way. Mistakes are when one thinks the situation is one way and then finds out the situation is another way. The point at issue is whether one thinks an issue is one way or knows it is a different way but takes the position that the issue is true even though he/she knows the issue is actually false.

    I was a missionary from 1956 and 1957. My mission "mother", prior to becoming a missionary, was a member of a committee who approved Sunday School curriculum. The committee withdrew a particular book from being used in SS, because they learned the book had false ideas. The book had been previously approved. Was this a mistake by the committee in approving the book, or a lie? I've always felt it was a mistake to approve a book that contained false things and then later to find out the truth about the book. She, and other members of the committee were human and made mistakes in their work.

  • birder Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 8:30 a.m.

    One of the most fascinating questions was left out of the article. Will people have to practice polygamy to be in the Celestial Kingdom? The answer was no. Listen to the broadcast for the full context. It was very interesting.

  • Thid Barker Victor, ID
    Sept. 10, 2018 8:10 a.m.

    Either the Church is true or it isn't. Focusing on and hyperventilating about a few inessential historical gaps is not wise because you might be rejecting the essential along with the inessential.

  • MarkMAN West Columbia, TX
    Sept. 10, 2018 8:11 a.m.

    Because they didn’t know, didn’t study or it wasn’t important or didn’t understand. Add the next or . .

    The great message of the gospel is God is patient with all of us all of us all of us all of us, in giving us space to work out our own desires and wishes. All of us. No exception, none.

    And than God has under that major restriction us and only us to do the lion share of His work. The true testimony of the truth of the this work inmyhumbleopinion is simple that our History backs that up. An example, You see major struggles especially in the beginning with even its most select leaders which over generations has changed dramatically.

    God is no respecter of persons. None. None. This is why it is critical that we have the Holy Ghost to back its teachings.


  • conservative scientist Lindon, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 8:01 a.m.

    I have studied a lot of church history and have always found it to be inspiring and faith-promoting. By way of example, I have known about the different accounts of the first vision for many years, ever since I was taught about them and reviewed all of them in some detail in a church history class at BYU.

    I don't believe the Church of Jesus Christ has ever tried to hide it's history, although obviously some things have been emphasized and those are typically the stories most likely to build faith. I am very excited to read the new history of the church and how the church deals with what critics would call difficult topics. I do appreciate the candor of our leaders in addressing concerns that some have, as well as addressing misinformation which is so readily available on the internet and propagated by those who want to discredit the church.

  • Bigger Bubba Herriman, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 7:54 a.m.

    I thought the historians did a good job at answering tough questions. Nothing seemed scripted. There was occasionally some emotion that came through, which is expected when talking about controversial issues. They spoke directly to people's concerns. Well done!

  • macnkat Riverton, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 7:54 a.m.

    Openness and candor would be answering the hard questions like why did Joseph find in necessary to marry women that were already married? Not gloss over polygamy and give the impression that those that have a problem just aren't faithful enough.

  • jeanie orem, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 7:46 a.m.

    This was a great event. It is an important thing to consider historical events in the context of history.

    As a student of history, I think one of the best things that was said: Understanding historical events is like traveling to a foreign country. Expecting things to be as we would think makes us an ignorant tourist.

  • Orson Woods Cross, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 7:38 a.m.

    In truth, the questions weren't all that tough and the historians dodged some of the specifics of the questions. Having said that, it was still a very nice overview with discussion of some of the subjects that doubters often get exercised about.

    Some of the answers were better than others and it seemed to take the historians a few minutes to get warmed up (less nervous). They were obviously pre-selected questions with pre-rehearsed answers, something I have no problem with. I just wish the answers would have been shorter and more on-point.

    They could have said something like: "It is not the Church's purpose or goal to dwell on imperfections and mistakes of the past, but to use its resources to bring people to Christ" and "Good answers to the tough questions have always been available to those diligent enough to research for them." Too many Latter-day Saints have been too lazy in decades past and then blamed their lack of knowledge on the Church, which is nonsense.

    Overall, a fine event that probably did some real good. It was especially moving to hear Elder Cook's special witness of Jesus Christ and his sure knowledge that the first vision took place as Joseph said it did.

  • windsor Logan, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 7:26 a.m.

    If people put half as much thought and effort getting a testimony and a witness from God as they do searching questionable and blatant faith-mocking internet sites with their 'questions', they would get a witness for themselves that would have them answering much as this man has, and I have been able to do: I have Questions but they are put to rest enough that they can be 'put on the back burner' as President Packer once said and my worry about them has been swallowed up in my personal witness from God and my personal experiences WITH God.

  • BYU Sports Nut Heber City, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 7:27 a.m.

    This was a great broadcast, I am sorry that it didn’t go as originally planned with the two other locations being brought in. I think that would have been interesting to see what was really planned versus what was adlibbed.
    As far as the Polygamy and concent question raised by my friend on this comment board, I have a grandfather who had 4 wives. They were all concerting adults and wrote in their journals about being part of a loving relationship with their husband and the other wives. There was one of the 4 who did not necessarily get along and so she and her boys were given a ranch in Logan. They were checked on regularly and well taken care of. There was one teen bride, a fifth, who did not want to be there and she was promptly taken back to her parents. It was her parents idea in the first place.
    The vast majority of polygamous wives consented to the relationship.

  • windsor Logan, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 7:26 a.m.

    Your intent and the feeling you have behind asking questions will determine what answers you find/or are given (by whatever sources....)

    If you ask with mocking and disbelief, you will receive a very different answer (from a very different source) than if you ask with a testimony and a believing heart.

    To Quote a somewhat famous LDS person:

    "A testimony turns doubts into questions...After we have received this witness, however, we can still have many questions...A testimony changes the way we approach the unknown. We realize there are many things we don't know, but that doesn't doesn't change our knowledge that we know the gospel is true. As we approach our questions in faith, we may find ourselves answering like Nephi, 'I do not know the meaning of all things.'
    I have found myself saying 'I don't know why the Lord, or Joseph Smith, or the Church said or did that, but I have received a witness that God loves us, that Joseph was a true prophet, and that this is the church of Christ.' The question remains, but the doubt has been swallowed up in testimony."

    I totally agree.

  • strom thurmond taylorsville, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 6:45 a.m.

    Mrs Holbrook said that the church didn’t hide things about history

    Then why are all the paintings depicting Joseph Smith prior to 2017 without any basis in historical description?

    I was told Joseph smith used a “urim and Thumin” to “translate” the gold plates.

    I read in Bushmans rough Stone Rolling, that he used a stone, and
    didn’t even look at the plates.

    But, again, tell me it’s my fault for finding that obscene

    I was taught omission was also a lie

  • Ranch Here, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 6:42 a.m.

    When you begin with the truth, there is no need to "defend" or "rephrase" or whatever the latest excuse for the discrepancies is. LDS leaders could use the lesson.

  • strom thurmond taylorsville, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 6:25 a.m.

    If I was taught, by employed church officials, things as fact, wven approved curricula, which were then denied or said to be false, how is that not lying?

  • emb Pleasant Grove, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 6:11 a.m.

    Nice to see the openness and candor.

  • Shelama SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 12:45 a.m.

    The bigger issue with the "first vision" is NOT simply that there are multiple versions.

    The bigger issue is that after a vision with a stunning and unmistakable non-credal, non-orthodox theology & christology, Joseph Smith filled his Book of Mormon anyway with a highly orthodox credal theology, where Jesus and God are One and the same in a highly traditional sense, whether Trinitarian or Sabellian modalist or some hybrid.

    Likewise, in D&C 20, Joseph Smith wrote his own highly orthodox Christian creed, with no hint of any first vision theology.

    Later, Joseph Smith very deliberately and self-consciously changed KJV Luke 10:22 into his JST Luke 10:23, and made it the most highly orthodox and credal verse in the entire Bible, where Jesus and God the Father are again One and the same, with no hint of Smith's later concept of "Godhead."

    Nowhere in Smith's record before 1838 is there a theology that is explicitly incompatible with the Christian creeds that Smith would have known were an "abomination."

    Even the theology in the1835 Lectures on Faith is compatible.

    Even the earliest versions of the vision that Smith told are compatible with credal Christian orthodoxy.