Church News: What Elder Cook and historians said about polygamy, seer stones and Church transparency during Nauvoo Face to Face

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  • Elizabeth Bennet Pemberly, UK, 00
    Feb. 11, 2019 9:15 a.m.

    There are many incidents of the early saints using seer stones, and having them work. People would go to a person who had a seer stone looking for lost animals or advice on who to marry. Perhaps as faith has waned, so has the use of such devices for revelation.

  • 🏞️Rhappahannock Arlington, VA
    Feb. 6, 2019 8:10 a.m.

    The church was right to practice polygamy, as it is a scientifically valid family unit. It is a good for building social cohesion, and good for building up a significant population.

    The church will likely never practice polygamy again, as evidenced by the fact that it does not allow for polygamy in nations where it is legal. This is in contrast to the RLDS church and many Evangelical churches that allow it in those regions.

    Still, polygamy is a fundamental practice of religious liberty, and should be legalized in the United States.

  • Breitbarts Ghost👻 , CA
    Jan. 31, 2019 8:51 a.m.

    There is nothing wrong with polygamy.

  • dUUi Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 20, 2018 2:17 p.m.

    It's funny and ironic that the Community of Christ (formerly the RLDS church) allows polygamy, while the LDS church does not. The CoC used to be extremely anti-polygamy.

    It would be helpful for the article to point out the majority religion of polygamists in the United States. That religion would be Islam - more than all the LDS break-aways combined.

  • 100MillionDead RU, 00
    Sept. 19, 2018 9:48 a.m.

    Polygamy is a scientifically-favored practice. Legalizing it would help reduce the oncoming threat of demographic winter.

  • 2close2call Los Angeles, CA
    Sept. 12, 2018 11:32 p.m.

    I listened to the presentation and it was FAR from any sort of full 'transparency' about what Joseph Smith or Brigham Young claimed was from God but is now been completely disavowed in the LDS Essays!

  • CMTM , 00
    Sept. 12, 2018 1:38 p.m.

    RE: NoNamesAccepted. The LDS Church currently disavows any practice of polygamy; but, the eternal doctrine of plural marriage is still in place. A man may be sealed to multiple wives, allowing him to have what amounts to a polygamous family in the ‘Celestial Kingdom.” VS,

    “You are mistaken because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. In the resurrection, people will neither marry nor be given in marriage. Instead, they will be like the angels in heaven. Mt 20:29-30

    @The term “telestial” originated with Joseph Smith’s use of the Latin Vulgate in the KJV; it appears that he took the first two letters of “(te)rrestrial” and added them on the ending of “ce(lestial)” to create the new word, “telestial.”

    (1 Cor 15:40 KJV) There are also*celestial bodies, and bodies **terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial = is one, and the glory of the terrestrial

    (1 Cor 15:40 NIV ) There are also* heavenly bodies and there are **earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. =(heteros) of two, a second, G. 2087 not 3

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Sept. 12, 2018 1:20 p.m.

    @nonamesaccepted. If you are so certain that there is nothing new to be learned and that there are no unknown LDS church history documents to be researched and published; then why are you so afraid of opening the church archives to independent historical study and publishing. Is your god a secret. Let the light shine in and the truth be told.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Sept. 11, 2018 6:34 p.m.

    @Flipphone: "...why their are no book of Mormon archaeological artifacts"

    Critics will never accept that such artifacts do exist, though in much lower numbers than the small number of direct artifacts supporting Biblical accounts. There are also internal evidences.

    Where are the archeological artifacts of Noah's flood? Of the Exodus of an innumerable people wandering in the desert for 40 years? A small number of truly un-informed anti-theists still try to claim there is no historic evidence that Jesus ever existed at all.

    Do you accept these Biblical accounts on faith while demanding proof of the BoM? Or do you also disbelieve the Bible but hide that view in hopes of not losing support of non-LDS Christians?

    @skeptic: "The church needs to open all its hidden files"

    What hidden files? If they are hidden, how do you know about them? Files have long been open. Remember, it was easy access to the granite vaults that helped enable Mark Hoffman's forgeries. Public access was closed. Legit scholars and researchers--regardless of faith--have retained access.

    What is it you think are contained in hidden files anyway? Confessions about MMM or admissions the church is a hoax?

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Sept. 11, 2018 6:25 p.m.


    Polygamy poses no problem for me. I honor my ancestors who peacefully lived their religion despite bigoted persecution. Some endured persecution in Missouri, Ohio, or Illinois simply for being Mormon, some endured prison here in Utah for entering into consensual relationships. I fully support the rights of consenting adults today to practice polygamy. I believe they are sinning, but I support their legal rights to do so.

    In contrast, those who support marriage benefits for homosexual couples while demanding prison for consenting adult polygamists....

    As for "magic stones" what makes that unusual or notable compared to Moses' "magic staff" that turned into a snake? Or the "magic rams horns" that brought down the walls of Jericho? Or "magic talking donkeys", "magic burning bushes" or any other physical item that facilities the exercise of spiritual powers in the Bible?

    Mature minds can entertain ideas they don't necessarily accept, and can discuss what others hold sacred without mocking. Why do you resort to obvious, pejorative language? Is it a sign you are not seeking understanding, but are deliberately trying to ridicule and attack?

  • Kaladin Northern, CO
    Sept. 11, 2018 5:18 p.m.

    @Flipphone - Seer stones. Joseph and many of the people of his time believed that items could hold spiritual power. It would make sense that he would use such an item to help build his faith. Moses used his staff to channel the power of God and a staff with a serpent to heal those that looked, Samson had his hair, oil was and is used to anoint and heal, Elisha sent Naaman to wash seven times in the river, altars are used for prayer, etc. Physical items are useful in spiritual matters. Joseph used the seer stone and the urim and thummim through most of the translation process, but eventually no longer needed them as he got better acquainted with revelation.

  • Orson2 Woods Cross, UT
    Sept. 11, 2018 3:24 p.m.

    A Scientist,
    Elder Cook is not the current Church Historian; that is Elder Steven E. Snow. He was not at the meeting being discussed.

    The fact that some people are leaving the church (as they always have) indicates that the world is full of opposition and sin and doubt. You have drawn an unwarranted conclusion, thinking that because some people leave the church over whatever issues (including historical), that somehow automatically means that church leaders "hire" a bunch of people to write PR history. This is not accurate. The project was approved in 2008, ten years ago. Most of the historians assigned to the project already worked for the church. Creative writers were "hired" to enliven what was originally a boring text, which they did, WITHOUT changing the documented history.

    Church leaders are trying to get an accurate text before the members and other interested public that contains the difficult subjects; most see this as commendable. The PR department had nothing to do with it.

    Your assertions are not supported by the facts as stated in the text and in the broadcast meeting. Giving the book out free electronically nets the church no money, but costs it plenty.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Sept. 11, 2018 3:15 p.m.

    RE: Orson2. “ Catholic or Protestant), but is Restored Christianity”.

    As non-Catholic historians admit, it can be demonstrated easily that early Church writers, such as Ignatius of Antioch, Eusebius, Clement of Rome, and Polycarp, had no conception of Mormon doctrine, and they knew nothing of a "great apostasy."
    Nowhere in their writings can one find references to Christians embracing any of the peculiarly Mormon doctrines, such as polytheism, polygamy, celestial marriage, and temple ceremonies. If the Church of the apostolic age was the prototype of today’s Mormon church, it must have had all these beliefs and practices. But why is there no evidence of them in the early centuries, before the alleged apostasy began?

    @Abraham 3:26 “kept not their *first estate= (Jude 1: 6 KJV,JST) JS misunderstood the KJV translation. Context, E.g…, “….the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority,..(Jude 1: 6 NIV)or,… the angels who did not stay within the limits of authority…( Jude 1:6 NLT)
    Context,”… angels when they sinned, but sent them to (tartarÓ) hell…” 2 Peter 2:4) actually Fallen angels(demons) Not pre existence.

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    Sept. 11, 2018 3:08 p.m.

    "The passage from the Lectures on Faith you keep quoting is not canonized scripture and was likely written by Sidney Rigdon and does not represent Latter-day Saint doctrine."


    Not quite. The very controversial passage from Lectures on Faith WAS official Church doctrine, approved directly by Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the Restoration, from the original Doctrine and Covenants (1835) until 1921. That's over 85 years of being "official doctrine" of the Church.

    Moreover, that 1835 edition that included the "Lectures on Faith" as official doctrine of the Church was the edition about which the Twelve Apostles testified "were given by inspiration of God, and are profitable for all men and are verily true." That quote is still included in the current editions of the D&C, despite it actually applying to that original 1835 edition! (that seems a little deceitful, doesn't it?)

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    Sept. 11, 2018 2:49 p.m.

    Elder Marlin Jensen, the Official Church Historian prior to Cook, stated matter of factly:

    "the fifteen men that are above me in the hierarchy of the Church. They really do know. And they really care. And they realize that, maybe, since Kirtland we’ve never had a period of—I’ll call it apostasy—like we’re having right now, largely over these issues."

    So, the Church leaders have "hired" search engine optimization experts, historians, scholars, and any other experts they can "hire" (emphasis on "hire") to combat the problem.

    This PR campaign for this apologetic book of "history" is bought and paid for. Scientology is doing the same thing in reaction against the bad PR they have received lately.

    Money talks!

  • Orson2 Woods Cross, UT
    Sept. 11, 2018 2:25 p.m.

    You are stating the commonly understood doctrines of much of current Christianity/Judaism. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not part of that tradition (Catholic or Protestant), but is Restored Christianity, meaning that Joseph Smith was given revelations clarifying the common misunderstandings and misinterpretations of the Bible of the (errant) Christian world and also restored priesthood authority.

    In other words, Latter-day Saints reject your interpretations/explanations and accept those of Joseph Smith. He was in the presence of God the Father and Jesus the Son (as separate resurrected glorified beings) on several occasions; they revealed great truths to him; these are found in the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price. The passage from the Lectures on Faith you keep quoting is not canonized scripture and was likely written by Sidney Rigdon and does not represent Latter-day Saint doctrine. D&C 130:22 is the governing doctrine that supersedes that passage in the Lectures on Faith.

    You of course are welcome to your own beliefs, but they do not accord with Restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' beliefs.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Sept. 11, 2018 1:03 p.m.

    RE: Orson2 (God the Father) have been seen by Bible prophets and apostles”.
    Actually Theophanies. Manifestation of God that is tangible to the ‘human senses.’ In its most restrictive sense, and Christophanies (preincarnate appearances of Christ)

    There are five main forms or sects of Judaism . They are Orthodox, Conservative, Reformed, Reconstructionist, and Humanistic. A short list of the traditional beliefs of Judaism would include God is the creator of all that exists; He is one, incorporeal (without a body).

    @Stephen's. The "right hand of God" is not indicative of a locale or physical reality. This is an anthropomorphic expression speaking of exaltation, power, prestige, honor, and strength. Anthropomorphisms are figures of speech, speaking of God in human terminology for the purpose of understanding aspects of His The language is only figurative .E.g..,

    The Lord fills the immensity of space. What saith the Psalmist? [Psalm 139:7-10] “Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold thou art there..” God’s Omnipresence: God is everywhere. (JoD V 1. P 49-50),

  • Orson2 Woods Cross, UT
    Sept. 11, 2018 12:25 p.m.

    You seem to be engaging in the shot-gun tactic of throwing out various questionable charges/questions in hopes of generating doubt among Latter-day Saint readers. I don't see how your questions apply to the subject of the story being discussed.

    You have built into your question the false presumption that there is no archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon. Also, there is actually very little archaeological evidence for the Old and New Testament. Fewer people believe the Bible today than ever before and archaeological ruins has little effect on anyone's faith.

    You are also trying to make the sacred translation process, done by the gift and power of God, look as foolish as possible (by using the word "magic") to sway readers into disbelief.

    I for one am grateful to be able to read a miraculously produced book that will get me nearer to God than any other book; the mere fact of reading it with faith tunes the soul to the Spirit of the Lord.

    You don't believe any of this, which is fine, but I wish you wouldn't try to dissuade others who also believe and feel great joy and comfort and happiness in that belief.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Sept. 11, 2018 12:08 p.m.

    To "Flipphone" but there is evidence of the Book of Mormon. As I stated earlier, there is everything from white skinned Indian tribes, to Spanish explorers talking to natives in Hebrew, to Indian kings declaring their Israelite heritage, to recent genetic testing showing a link between American Indians and the Middle East. What more do you want? Are you looking for a sign that says here was Zarahemla?

    Polygamy isn't hard to explain either. It is a Biblical principle. Those who practice it now are going against the agreement made between the LDS church and the Federal Government. How hard is that?

  • Flipphone Sandy, UT
    Sept. 11, 2018 11:57 a.m.

    The question of polygamy is cumbersome for Members of the LDS Church, on one hand they are forced to except and defend the doctrine because of their Mormon belief, on the other hand, they attack fundamentalist Mormons for practicing the doctrine.

  • 2close2call Los Angeles, CA
    Sept. 11, 2018 11:52 a.m.

    @SlickMick "I am skeptical of Skeptic's hidden agenda."

    Asking a church to tell the whole unvarnished truth because members and others deserve it, shows a hidden agenda? I think it shows a 'explicit' agenda requesting honesty.

  • Flipphone Sandy, UT
    Sept. 11, 2018 11:50 a.m.

    Unlike the Old and New Testament there is no archaeological evidence to support the places and people of the Book of Mormon... Why?

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

    Mistranslated passages from the Bible are not convincing to Latter-day Saints, who believe the Bible in its correctly translated parts. Therefore, quoting verses that contradict other correctly translated parts becomes meaningless. Both Jesus (God, even the Son of God) and His Father (God the Father) have been seen by Bible prophets and apostles. Stephen's account is one of the best, but the resurrected Jesus also appeared to many of the saints during his 40 day ministry and was seen & handled by them.

    Also, modern apostles have seen him.


    Around 10 or 12 or so, perhaps more, solid citizens saw and hefted the plates from which Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God. They saw the engravings on it, and felt the metal pages and turned them over in their hands. They also left a signed testimonial to that affect that is published with the translated book.

    There are also in existence a device called the interpreters, a compass, called the Liahona, a sword made of fine steel, called the sword of Laban, and a breast plate. All of these have been seen by 4 or more witnesses, who have also left a signed and published statement.

  • Flipphone Sandy, UT
    Sept. 11, 2018 11:40 a.m.

    Joseph Smith used a magic stone , seer stone, to locate burred treasure . He also used his seer stone to translate the Book of Mormon from golden plates, by placing his magic stone in his hat and pulling his hat over his eyes a word would appear and his scrip would write down that word.

    witness Mrs Smith

  • J. Smith Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 11, 2018 11:26 a.m.

    I have always questioned the origination of the LDS church from magic peep stones to Joseph's checkered past. What compels me tot he church is its history of perseverance and for the most part its righteous followers including my pioneer ancestors. I have not yet made the move to the Mormon church but should I ever it would be based on the history post Mr. Smith.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Sept. 11, 2018 8:41 a.m.

    RE: Orson. “The God of light and truth came to Joseph Smith in the spring of 1820, along with His Son, and spoke to him.”?

    no one can see me and live. (Ex 33: 18-20)… The LORD often appeared, but not in His full shekinah glory. Gen. 17:1. … he (Moses)endured, as seeing him who is invisible (Heb 11:27)

    He alone is immortal and dwells in unapproachable light. No one has ever seen Him, nor can anyone see Him. 1Tim 6:16

    No one has ever seen=(G *3708) God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.(John 1:18 NIV)

    (John 4:24).God [is] spirit. ( *pneuma hο theos). There is ‘*no article’ in the Greek text before the word spirit, and that emphasizes the quality or essence of the word. The word spirit occurs first in the sentence for emphasis. The literal idea would be something like, “Absolutely spirit in His essence is God.” Jesus did not leave any doubt about this truth. God(The Father)= spirit! E.g…

    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.)

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Sept. 11, 2018 8:24 a.m.

    To "skeptic" the church has opened up its files. In fact, the Anti-Mormon's most often used information comes from the LDS website. Granted your ilk will twist things before sending it out, but the information is there.

    To "Flipphone" they have. The best answer is this: What would a BoM artifact look like?

    If you want evidence it is there, you just have to Google search for it. There is everything from white skinned Indian tribes, to Spanish explorers talking to natives in Hebrew, to Indian kings declaring their Israelite heritage, to recent genetic testing showing a link between American Indians and the Middle East. What more do you want? Are you looking for a sign that says here was Zarahemla?

  • SlickMick Ashburn, VA
    Sept. 11, 2018 8:05 a.m.

    I am skeptical of Skeptic's hidden agenda.

  • EightOhOne St. George, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 10:47 p.m.

    @ Orson - Woods Cross, UT

    So are there archaeological artifacts, or not?? Please just a yes or no will do

  • bachelors of science Brigham City, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 4:55 p.m.

    I have always taught my kids that learning the truth is more important than gaining a testimony.

  • Orson Woods Cross, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 3:27 p.m.

    Your assertions of volumes of hidden records does not make it so. You obviously haven't researched in the church archives or you would know this to be true.

    If you mean minutes of meetings of general authorities, if you did research them you would find they contain no hidden or different church history.
    You might try clicking your mouse a few times and using the CHD search engine to find your hidden history. You will soon learn that it is imaginary.

    Again, there is no hidden or secret history, no hidden volumes of unresearched files, no volumes of unreleased papers, except in your imagination (which has been misinformed). The God of light and truth came to Joseph Smith in the spring of 1820, along with His Son, and spoke to him. Their conversation is on record. It wouldn't take you more than a few minutes to find it recorded in Saints, with the ability to electronically drill down to scans of the unsecret, nonhidden original accounts of the first vision, there to gaze upon with your own eyeballs on your very own computer screen.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Sept. 10, 2018 2:54 p.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.

  • Orson Woods Cross, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 1:07 p.m.

    It is your own personal assumption that there are no archaeological artifacts; many smart and well-educated Latter-day Saints see ruins in Central America and/or in the Eastern United States (Moundbuilders) and think they give strong plausibility of being ruins of Book of Mormon civilizations. Much is there to be examined.

    But Jesus doesn't want people to believe His Second Witness book because of archaeology or anthropology, but because they have obtained and felt the Spirit of Truth telling them it is true. That is the position of the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles.

    So you probably won't ever believe it.

  • Orson Woods Cross, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 12:57 p.m.

    I think you are operating on old, obsolete, and warped information. Someone has fooled you into thinking there are hidden/secret files somewhere containing the true history of the church.
    Those who actually do research in the church archives know such isn't the case. The church archives have a policy of letting legitimate researches view most every item that is not considered sacred (like temple ordinances), private (like disciplinary records), or confidential (like deeply personal family matters). All else is pretty much open for viewing, with much of it, and more every day, posted online for anyone, even uninformed skeptics, to view with a few mouse clicks in original scanned version. And sometimes legitimate exceptions to this rule are made for serious researchers.
    Minutes of FP & 12 and other GA Council Meetings are not made public so that church leaders can speak with perfect candor without regard for how critics would react. Yet many dead apostles diaries have been published one way or another in print and online with no hidden history of the church to be found.
    Please do your homework before making unfounded claims or accusations about (non-existent) hidden files.

  • Flipphone Sandy, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 12:33 p.m.

    The LDS Church never address the question, of why their are no book of Mormon archaeological artifacts

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Sept. 10, 2018 11:48 a.m.

    The church needs to open all its hidden files to outside histotians for research and publications to reveal and write a true history of the church and the Mormon people. It is the honest and Christ like right thing to do. The Mormon membership and world religion deserve God’s unvarnished truths. Just do it.

  • Orson Woods Cross, UT
    Sept. 10, 2018 10:57 a.m.

    A fine first attempt at talking about these lesser known subjects. The event could have been longer, with shorter answers that were more on-point and thereby covered more questions. It was refreshing to hear these things explained and discussed so ably, even if some things were missed or botched.
    I hope many thousands, or even millions, of Latter-day Saints will read Saints, and benefit from its presentation of historical events in context. It has some weaknesses and problems, but overall is a fine and necessary contribution.
    It was marvelous to hear Elder Cooks special witness of Jesus Christ and his sure testimony of the first vision. That was tremendous and the most important words spoken during that meeting. The power of the Holy Ghost in the testimony of the apostles trumps every historical document.