MORMONISM & MAGIC
Suppressed Document? - The Gold Plates And Magic Characters - Enoch's Gold Plate - The Ultimate Case - Support Needed - Apostle McConkie Admits Brigham Young Taught Adam-God Doctrine - FBI Wins Suit
Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum are considered by the Mormon people to have been two of the greatest men who ever lived. The Doctrine and Covenants says that "their names will be classed among the martyrs of religion; . . . From age to age shall their names go down to posterity as gems for the sanctified" (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 135, verse 6). Critics, on the other hand, charge that Joseph and Hyrum led the people astray from the true Gospel of Christ. Among other things, the Smiths were charged with being involved in money digging and magic practices. Recently some new evidence has been discovered which strengthens this charge.
The Smith family's involvement with the occult goes back before the Book of Mormon was "translated." In 1971 Wesley P. Walters found an original document which proves that Joseph Smith was a "glass looker" and that he was arrested, tried and found guilty by a justice of the peace in Bainbridge, N.Y. in 1826 (see photograph in Mormonism—Shadow or Reality? page 33). This trial proves that Joseph Smith used a stone which he placed in his hat to try to locate buried treasures. This was, of course, a common practice by magicians and individuals influenced by the occult. As soon as the Book of Mormon was published, there was an attempt to link Joseph Smith with "Walters the Magician, who has strange books, and deals with familiar spirits; . . ." (Palmyra Reflector, June 1830, as cited in A New Witness For Christ in America, vol. 1, page 273). Walters had been involved with money digging in Palmyra, and it was claimed that "his mantle fell upon the Prophet. . ." (Ibid., p. 275).
In 1974 Dr. Reed Durham, who was director of the LDS Institute of Religion at the University of Utah and president of the Mormon History Association, made a discovery that was so startling that it caused great consternation among Mormon scholars and officials. Dr. Durham found that what had previously been identified as the "Masonic jewel of the Prophet Joseph Smith" was in reality a "Jupiter talisman." This is a medallion which contains material relating to astrology and magic. Dr. Durham, apparently not realizing the devastating implications of his discovery, announced this important find in his presidential address before the Mormon History Association on April 20, 1974:
. . . I should like to initiate all of you into what is perhaps the strangest, the most mysterious, occult-like esoteric, and yet Masonically oriented practice ever adopted by Joseph Smith. . . . All available evidence suggests that Joseph Smith the Prophet possessed a magical Masonic medallion, or talisman, which he worked during his lifetime and which was evidently on his person when he was martyred. . . . I wasn't able to find what this was, for—as I said—two months; and finally, in a magic book printed in England in 1801, published in America in 1804, and I traced it to Manchester, and to New York. It was a magic book by Francis Barrett and, to and behold, how thrilled I was when I saw in his list of magic seals the very talisman which Joseph Smith had in his possession at the time of his martyrdom (Mormon Miscellaneous, vol. 1, no. 1, October 1975, pages 14-15).
Recently we were given photocopies of some material which Mormon scholars say was in the possession of Joseph Smith's brother, Hyrum. We have compared it with the same book Reed Durham used to identify Joseph Smith's Jupiter talisman (The Magis, by Francis Barrett) and found that it is definitely magic material. Pearson H. Corbett describes these "Relics" of Hyrum Smith on page 453 of his book, Hyrum Smith—Patriarch:
Dagger, Masonic ten inch, stainless steel—wooden handle—Masonic symbols on blade.
Emblematic parchments—Masonic—three, original hand painted on heavy bodied paper—on border appears initials "I.H.S.". . .
Pouch, Masonic cotton fabric 4" x 4" with draw string attached.
The reader will find a photograph of one of the parchments above. Eldred G. Smith, Church Patriarch Emeritus, has possession of these relics at the present time. He is convinced that they belonged to his great-great grandfather, Hyrum Smith, and he freely admits that they may be "cabalistic" in origin—i.e., linked to occult or mystic writings. While he used to freely display these relics to groups, he is more cautious at the present time because he is not sure of what they really are. He apparently does not want to cause embarrassment to the Church.
At any rate, the photograph which appears after page 106 in Francis Barrett's book, The Magis (facsimile reprint by University Books, Inc., 1967), proves beyond all doubt that the Hyrum Smith material comes from magic. For example, the following object appears on one of the parchments.
The reader will notice that the shape of this object is almost identical to a drawing found in Barrett's book (originally printed in 1801).
The reader will also notice that the drawings in both the parchment and Barrett's book contain the name "Raphael" written in the center. The name of this archangel comes from the Apocrypha and does not appear in most Protestant Bibles. Joseph Smith, however, does refer to "the voice of . . . Raphael" in a revelation published in the Doctrine and Covenants 128:21. In any case, in the book The Grimoire of Armadel, translated and edited by S. L. McGregor Mathers, New York, 1980, page 30, we read that "Raphael is a Spirit of Science who did teach unto Solomon Knowledge and Wisdom. He is to be invoked on a Sunday before Sunrise."
The reader will notice that there are two circular objects which appear in the Hyrum Smith material. These same objects are repeated on another parchment.
Although these two circular objects are not found in Barrett's book, they do appear in other books about magic. In fact, we have found them in a book which was printed in 1584. This book, The Discoverie of Witchcraft, by Reginald Scot, was photographically reprinted in 1971. The following is taken from page 401 of that book. The reader will notice that the round objects are just like the ones found in the Hyrum Smith parchments.
Under one of the objects we find this message (we have taken the liberty of converting it into modern English): "Whoso beareth this sign about him, all spirits shall do him homage." These circular objects are apparently pentacles or talismans. It would probably be difficult for those not involved in magic to distinguish a pentacle from a talisman. In The Encyclopedia of Occult Sciences, page 332, we read that,
There are two kinds of pentacles, some universal (for invocations and spells), the others personal.
Pentacles, says Pierre Piobb, are not talismans. The latter assist in the polarisation of fluids, whereas pentacles curtain the polarised fluids. Talismans are intermediaries, pentacles generators. . .
A pentacle must be engraved on metal corresponding to the planet whence it comes, or else on virgin parchment or china.
The books The Greater Key of Soloman and Raphael's Ancient Manuscript of Talismanic Magic show quite a number of pentacles and talismans.
On one of the Hyrum Smith parchments we find the following object (a slightly different version appears on the parchment shown on the front of this newsletter). The reader will notice that the name of God, Tetragrammaton, is written around the edge of the object. It is broken up as follows: Te-tra-gram-ma-ton. We have added some printed letters to help the reader locate the component parts of the name.
In the book, The Ancients Book of Magic, by Lewis de Claremont, page 11, we find an exact duplicate of the drawing on the Smith parchment.
The reader will notice that the word "Tetragrammaton" is written on this object in the same way it appears on the Smith parchment. This word is frequently used in books on magic. Another name which appears on one of the Smith parchments is "Agla." This name is also used in magic. We find the words "Agla" and "Tetragrammaton" written on both a magic sword and a wand in Barrett's book.
The reader will remember that when Pearson Corbett spoke of the Hyrum Smith "Relics," he listed a "Dagger" with "Masonic symbols on blade." We compared photocopies of this knife with Barrett's book (the book Dr. Durham used to identify Joseph Smith's Jupiter talisman) and found that the markings on it were also derived from magic. Some of the markings, in fact, are found on a Mars talisman which is right next to the Jupiter talisman (see drawings in The Magis, facing page 174). On the one side of the talisman we find the Hebrew characters forming the word Adonai (Lord). These same characters are found on the knife. On the second side of the talisman we find what is known as the Seal of Mars. This is also found on the second side of the knife. Below is a comparison of the Seal of Mars as it appears on the talisman (above) with the way it appears on the knife.
Knives play a very important part in magic rituals. A number of drawings of knives with mysterious markings on them are found in The Greater Key of Solomon, between pages 97 and 98.
Pearson Corbett refers to one of Hyrum Smith's relics as a "Pouch, Masonic cotton fabric. . . ." It is believed that this pouch was used to hold the magic parchments.
In a new book we are preparing, Mormonism, Magic and Masonry, we intend to have photographs of the parchments, both sides of the knife and the pouch.
Just after writing the above, we received photocopies from a manuscript entitled, "The Masonic Emblems & Parchments of Joseph & Hyrum Smith," compiled by Arturo de Hoyos. With the exception of the knife, the author has linked the Hyrum Smith material to magic sources and has even found a great deal of additional material relating to the subject. The fact that we did our research completely independently and yet arrived at the same conclusions seems to show how strong the case is that the Hyrum Smith material was derived from magic. While we found the strange object with the name "Raphael" written on it in The Magis, Mr. de Hoyos located the same drawing in The Ancients Book of Magic (a book we also used to identify one of the other objects). The drawing in The Ancients Book of Magic, was apparently taken from The Magis (the word "Raphael" is illegible in The Ancients Book of Magic and in de Hoyos' manuscript, whereas it is very readable in The Magis). While Mr. de Hoyos also used The Ancients Book of Magic to identify the pentacles or talismans on the Hyrum Smith parchments, we used The Discoverie of Witchcraft, a book originally published in 1584. The drawings in the two books appear to contain minor differences, although they are obviously representations of the same objects. In any case, we feel that Arturo de Hoyos has produced an excellent piece of work on the Hyrum Smith material. While he seems to be sympathetic to Joseph and Hyrum Smith, de Hoyos has to admit that it is puzzling that they would possess items linked to the occult:
. . . the three parchments which belonged to the Patriarch Hyrum Smith will be discussed. These parchments are presently in the possession of [the] E.G. Smith family, and to my knowledge no interpretation of the figures found on them is to be found. . . .
These parchments have been termed "Masonic," although they bear no direct relation to the Masonic ritual. There are however certain aspects of the parchments which do bear some relationship to Freemasonry. . . .
It is very possible that Hyrum Smith learned about these charms from his fellow Masons, as Masons do attach importance to certain signs and emblems, and ascribe meanings to the same. . . . One cannot help but wonder the reason why the Prophet Joseph Smith, and his brother, Hyrum, the Patriarch would possess articles such as they did unless they actually believed that these items did possess some sort of supernatural power, or that they were a "key" to receiving power or protection. Is it possible that just as the Masonic ritual, which Joseph termed the "apostate endowment" retained principles of truth, that these Pentacles which have come down through the ages to be asscociated [sic] with witchcraft, black magic, and the occult as a whole yet contain elements of truth which were recognized by the Prophet? . . .
Whatever the case may be both Joseph and Hyrum did possess these charms and it seems highly unlikely that there was not a legitimate reason for this ("The Masonic Emblem & Parchments of Joseph & Hyrum Smith," Compiled by Arturo de Hoyos, 1982, pages 1 and 2).
We have been told that there is a very important document being suppressed which may relate to the involvement of the early Mormon leaders in magic. This is a history of the Church written by Oliver Cowdery. Cowdery, of course, was one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon. According to Joseph Fielding Smith, he was "appointed to assist Joseph in . . . keeping a history of the Church. . . ." Cowdery kept this record until 1831 when John Whitmer was commanded "to keep the church record and history continually; for Oliver Cowdery I have appointed to another office" (Doctrine and Covenants 47:3). In John Whitmer's history of the Church, he wrote that "Oliver Cowdery has written the commencement of the church history, commencing at the time of the finding of the plates, up to June 12, 1831" (John Whitmer's History, page 4). While Dean C. Jessee said that the Cowdery history "has not been found" (Brigham Young University Studies, Summer 1971, page 461), Church Historian Joseph Fielding Smith, who later became the 10th President of the Church, indicated that it was in the Historian's Office:
Oliver Cowdery was the first one appointed to assist Joseph in transcribing and keeping a history of the Church; John Whitmer took his place, when Oliver Cowdery was given something else to do. We have on file in the Historian's Office the records written in the hand writing of Oliver Cowdery, the first historian, or recorder of the Church (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 2, page 201).
We understand that a number of documents which were originally stored in the Church Historian's Office were later moved to the vault of the First Presidency. This was undoubtedly done to keep them out of the hands of the public. The Mormon leaders were especially concerned about this matter when Dr. Leonard J. Arrington became Church Historian. In any case, we understand that the Cowdery history of the Church (not to be confused with the history that was published in the Messenger and Advocate) is now located in the First Presidency's vault. At one time an inventory was made of what was contained in the vault. When the Cowdery history was opened, it was discovered that it contained magic characters!
A number of years ago, we tried to get the Church to make Cowdery's history and other documents available. We were informed by the Assistant Church Historian, however, that Joseph Fielding Smith was "not interested in the project you have in mind" (Letter from A. William Lund, as cited in The Case Against Mormonism, vol. 1, page 77). Since Cowdery's history is supposed to go back to the time Joseph Smith found the plates, it may contain many things that would be embarrassing to the Church. If any of our readers have any additional information on the contents of Cowdery's history (especially with regard to the charge that it contains magic characters) we would appreciate hearing about it.
The Gold Plates And Magic Characters
On May 3, 1980, the Church Section of the Mormon newspaper, Deseret News, reported:
A hand-written sheet of paper with characters supposedly copied directly from the gold plates in 1828, and also bearing other writing and the signature of Joseph Smith, has been found. . . . Written on the back, apparently after Harris brought the paper back from his encounter with Professor Anthon, are the following words (and spellings):
These caractors were diligently coppied by my own hand from the plates of gold and given to Martin Harris who took them to New York Citty but the learned could not translate it because the Lord would not open it to them in fulfilment of the prophecy of Isaih written in the 29th chapter and 11th verse. [signed] Joseph Smith Jr.
"In my judgment, this writing is that of Joseph Smith," said Dean C. Jessee, senior historical associate in the Church Historical Department.
After the discovery of the transcript was announced, Church scholar Hugh Nibley triumphantly announced: "Of course it's translatable." (The Herald, Provo, Utah, May 1, 1980) According to The Herald,
Nibley also said he counted at least two dozen out of 47 characters in the Demotic alphabet that could be given phonetic value.
This offers as good a test as we'll ever get.
Mormon scholars have now had the transcript for two and a half years, and all attempts to translate it have ended in failure. The Mormon Egyptologist Edward H. Ashment, who originally had a great interest in the document, has now given up the idea of trying to link it to Egyptian writing. This is very important because the Book of Mormon claims to have been written in "reformed Egyptian." Since all efforts by Mormon scholars to decipher the transcript through Egyptology have failed, scholars must now look for other alternatives. Many people feel that the document is merely a product of Joseph Smith's vivid imagination. While this may be the true explanation, there are still other theories that need investigation. For instance, a former Brigham Young University professor has maintained for a number of years that the characters on the Anthon Transcript are taken from works on magic and astrology. Although we felt that he could demonstrate a few parallels, we have never taken this idea too seriously. Recently, however, evidence linking Joseph Smith and his family to magical practices has mounted to the point where we feel we have to take a closer look at this idea. We must admit that there are many magic characters which bear a striking resemblance to those on the Joseph Smith transcript. For instance, in a script found in The Greater Key of Solomon, Plate XIII, we find this character:
The reader will notice how similar this appears to a character found in Smith's transcript:
Although a number of similarities have been noted, at this point we do not think they are sufficient to prove the case. In our book, Book of Mormon "Caractors" Found, we show that there are many similarities to common English characters.
One thing that makes us suspect that there may be a connection to magic is the circular object which appears in the lower right hand corner of Joseph Smith's transcript. As we pointed out in Book of Mormon "Caractors" Found, page 11, the circular object bears some resemblance to Joseph Smith's magic talisman. In both cases we have a circle drawn within another circle with characters running around the edge and within the center circle. In magic books it is claimed that a circle drawn within a circle has great power. In The Ancients Book of Magic, page 10, we learn that a person who wants to contact the spirits must draw a circle:
Once he enters into the circle with his books, wands, incense and all things he needs, he draws the outer circle about 3 inches away from the circle he has already drawn . . . The operator must remember not to leave this circle during the whole invocation until the closing words have been said, for as long as he remains in the circle, no matter how fierce the demons may be they cannot break through the walls of the circle, . . . he is protected by the Legion of 72 who form a protecting ring around the circle whence no one can farce their way through, . . .
Like Joseph Smith's Jupiter talisman, Hyrum Smith's pentacles or talismans have a circle within a circle. Another thing that really interests us about Joseph Smith's Book of Mormon transcript is that the writing between the two circles appears to be divided into four parts. It is a common practice by those making magic circles to divide the area between the two circles into four parts and write four names of God, names of angels or other messages in these sections. Above is a drawing of a magic circle compared with the drawing Joseph Smith took from the "gold plates" of the Book of Mormon. In the magic circle the four sections are divided by crosses. In Joseph Smith's drawing the circle appears to be divided by a repeat of the same character.
If the area between the two circles in Joseph Smith's transcript is divided into four sections, as we think the evidence seems to show, then it may be possible that names for God or angels are recorded in cipher in this area. Many of these names can be found in the following books: The Magis, Raphael's Ancient Manuscript Of Talismanic Magic, The Greater Key of Solomon and The Grimoire of Armadel. While it could be possible that each character on Joseph Smith's transcript has an English equivalent, many of the magic alphabets are cipher for Hebrew or Arabic writing. Anyone who wishes to seriously test the transcript to see if it is in cipher should also be aware of the following: the first four columns of characters which are found to the left of the circular object appear to show "an intentional grouping of symbols" (BYU Studies, Spring 1980, page 335). It could very well be that these groupings are supposed to represent words. If the manuscript is in cipher, this could be very important to a person trying to break the code. A computer, of course, would be an important tool for anyone trying to decipher Joseph Smith's transcript. Below the reader will find a copy of the complete transcript with arrows marking the places where the words (if they are really words) may divide.
ENOCH'S GOLD PLATE
Since Joseph Smith was involved in magic and money-digging, he must have had a keen interest in legends relating to these matters. One legend that may have had a real influence on the Book of Mormon is that concerning Enoch. In the talk Reed Durham gave in 1974, he revealed that,
There is a famous legend which the grand orator elaborates in lecture form in the ceremonies of the 13th, 14th and 21st degrees of Masonry which has some very ancient roots, bearing remarkable similarity to Mormonism. . . . Enoch is the central figure in the legend. It is with Enoch that the remarkable resemblances with Joseph Smith and Mormon history become disconcertingly dear. . . .
The parallels of Joseph Smith and the history of Mormonism are so unmistakable, that to explain them only as coincidence would be ridiculous (Mormon Miscellaneous, October 1975, pages 15-16).
Jack Adamson had pointed out parallels between the legend of Enoch many years ago. He referred to two books from which he derived most of his material. One of them was Thomas S. Webb's Freemason's Monitor. Wesley P. Walters has furnished us with photocopies from the 1802 edition from which we quote the following:
Enoch, the son of Jared, was the sixth son in descent from Adam, . . . God appeared to him in a vision, . . . a mountain seemed to rise to the heavens, and Enoch was transferred to the top thereof, where he beheld a triangular plate of gold, . . . upon which were some characters which he received a strict injunction never to pronounce.—Presently he seemed to be lowered perpendicularly into the bowels of the earth, through nine arches; in the ninth, or deepest of which, he saw the same brilliant plate which was shewn to him in the mountain.
Enoch, being inspired by the Most High, and in commemoration of this wonderful vision, built a temple under ground, . . .
This happened in that part of the world which was afterwards . . . known by the name of the Holy Land.
Enoch, in imitation of what he had seen, caused a triangular plate of gold to be made, . . . He then engraved upon it the same ineffable characters which God had shewn to him, and placed it on a triangular pedestal of white marble, which he deposited in the ninth, or deepest arch. . . .
Enoch perceiving that the knowledge of the arts was likely to be lost in the general destruction, and being desirous of preserving the principles of the sciences, . . . he built two great pillars on the top of the highest mountain, the one of brass, . . . the other of marble, . . . and he engraved on the marble pillar, hieroglyphics . . . he engraved on the pillar of brass the principles of the liberal arts, particularly of masonry . . . the pillar of brass withstood the water, by which means the ancient state of the liberal arts, and particularly masonry, has been handed down to us (The Freemason's Monitor, New York, 1802, pages 245, 246, 247 and 249).
The Freemason's Monitor goes on to relate that God promised Moses that "some of his descendants" would find the "plate of Gold." When Solomon decided to build the temple, he chose the very place where the plate was buried. In digging for the foundations "an ancient edifice" and a "Quantity of treasure" were discovered. Solomon thought it might be the remains of an idolatrous temple, and therefore "made choice of another place, where the temple was erected"—i.e., Mount Moriah. Later Solomon sent the "three grand master architects" back to the first location to hunt for more treasure. They found "a large stone, perfectly square. With much difficulty they raised it, when the mouth of a deep and dismal cavern appeared" (Ibid., p. 252).
After some problems, they went into the cavern where they found the "golden plate" and "observed certain characters engraved thereon, of the meaning of which they were then ignorant; . . ." (p. 254). The next morning the three men took the plate to Solomon. Solomon and the King of Tyre then "explained to them the sacred characters engraven upon the golden plate." Solomon had previously "caused a cavern to be built under the temple" on Mount Moriah (Ibid., p. 251), and the "golden plate" was concealed in this "secret vault" (p. 256).
The parallels to the Book of Mormon should be obvious to all those who are acquainted with that book. To begin with, Enoch was supposed to have recorded the secrets of Masonry on a "plate of gold" and a "pillar of brass." According to Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon was "written upon gold plates" (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith 2:34), and the Book of Mormon itself says that the ancient Nephites also had "plates of brass" (1 Nephi 3:3). It is interesting that in both cases the important messages would be recorded on "gold" and "brass." Even more interesting, however, is the fact that both Mormons and Masons say the sacred writings were concealed in a hill. In addition, both maintain that the treasure was transferred from one underground location to another. Thomas Webb says that the gold plate was hidden in an underground cavern by Enoch and later transferred to a cavern which was dug under the temple on Mount Moriah. In the Book of Mormon, Ammoron originally hid the "sacred" records in the hill Shim (4 Nephi 1:48; Mormon 1:3), but Mormon later went "to the hill Shim, and did take up all the records which Ammoron had hid up unto the Lord" (Mormon 4:23). These records were later deposited in "the hill Cumorah" (Mormon 6:6). Even the name of the hill (Cumorah) reminds one of Moriah. In fact, if the first two letters are removed from Cumorah, we have MORAH, which is very close to MORIAH. In Masonic tradition, Solomon is the the one who gives directions to transfer the gold plates to the cavern under the temple on Mount Moriah. In the Book of Mormon it is Mormon who brings the plates from the hill Shim to the hill Cumorah. Many years ago, before we even thought about the parallel between Solomon and Mormon, we suggested that the name Mormon "can be made by adding the first three letters of Moriah (MORiah), found in Genesis 22:2, with the last three letters of Solomon (soloMON), found in 2 Samuel 5:14. Thus we would obtain MORMON." (Mormonism—Shadow or Reality? p. 95)
It is interesting to note that Joseph Smith's own brother, Hyrum, became a member of the Mount Moriah Lodge before the Book of Mormon was written. Reed Durham says that "Masonry in the Church had its origin prior to the time Joseph Smith became a Mason. . . . Hyrum received the first degrees of Masonry in Mount Moriah Lodge No. 112 of Palmyra, New York, at about the same time that Joseph was being initiated into the presence of God and angels. . ." (Mormon Miscellaneous, Oct. 1975, p. 11). Joseph Smith may have learned of the gold plate of Enoch and Mount Moriah from his brother, although this information was also published in an anti-Masonic book printed in 1828 (Free Masonry, by Henry Dana Ward).
In the Masonic legend concerning Enoch, the cavern which held the gold plate was covered with "a large stone." In Joseph Smith's story, he also claimed that the gold plates were buried "under a stone of considerable size" (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith 2:54).
The Book of Mormon never mentions Enoch, but it does speak of "Zenock" (1 Nephi 19:10). In August 1832, the Church published an "Extract From The Prophecy of Enoch." In this revelation (later printed in the Pearl of Great Price, Moses, Chapter 7) Joseph Smith claimed that Enoch saw that the world would be destroyed by the flood (verse 43). The Masonic legend also said that Enoch was told of "the universal destruction now impending." Joseph Smith must have really identified with Enoch, for in some of his revelations he used the code name "Enoch" for himself (see Doctrine and Covenants, sections 78, 92, 96 and 104).
In our new book, Mormonism, Magic and Masonry, we will include actual photographs from The Freemason's Monitor, which was published in 1802, and photographs of the Hyrum Smith magic material.
THE ULTIMATE CASE
The July 16, 1982 issue of Christianity Today carried an interesting article about the work of ex-Mormons who have "dedicated their lives to winning Mormons away from the faith that defines the culture of the entire state." The following appears in that article:
Jerald and Sandra Tanner are easily the most respected (and, to the Mormon Church, the most threatening) ex-Mormons. They live in Salt Lake City, only miles away from the Mormon citadel. Sandra is the great-great-granddaughter of Brigham Young, the nineteenth-century Mormon leader second in importance only to founder Joseph Smith.
Jerald's family heritage is also thoroughly Mormon. The Tanners met, married, and turned away from the church of their childhood in the late 1950s. Starting with a modest mimeographed effort to convince their families Mormonism was a fraud, the Tanners have written 30 books alleging flaws in Mormon history, archaeology, and Scripture. Their masterwork is the 600-page behemoth Mormonism—Shadow or Reality? which has the bulk of a metropolitan telephone book.
The Tanners not only write, but also print, bind, and distribute their books. The sheer size and unrelenting detail of the books have prevented major publishers from publishing them (Moody Press has published a condensed version of Shadow or Reality). Thus the Tanners' work—appearing between cardboard and plastic covers—hardly looks professional or slick. But even critics within Mormonism agree the Tanners have succeeded in accomplishing what they set out to do. "We wanted to build the ultimate case against Mormonism," said Mrs. Tanner.
It is difficult to imagine a case being nearer "ultimate." Shadow or Reality includes 38 chapters touching on almost every facet of the Mormon faith. It explores the practice of polygamy, temple ceremonies, and Mormon prophecy. Six pages are devoted to a meticulous listing of parallels between the King James Bible and Joseph Smith's "new revelation," the Book of Mormon. Sources are not only quoted, but the original documents are photocopied so the Mormon reader can see discrepancies for himself. . . . Max Parkin, a Mormon historian, says the Tanners' history is "pretty good—they have done their research." Interpretation of history, however, is subjective, Parkin adds. He thinks the Tanner interpretation is "not nearly as reliable as their history."
Parkin, in fact, is unafraid to share the Tanners' work with Mormon students. "Ignorance hurts more than information," he said. And Mormon students need not be threatened by alleged historical contradictions when they understand that Mormon theology is "progressive and developmental," said Parkin.
The Tanners work and live in their home. Harassment, according to Mrs. Tanner, has been light. . . .
Neither of the Tanners is a trained historian. They learned research by raw experience, a venture taken out of necessity. "When we first started studying Mormonism, we were dissatisfied with the quality of material on it," Mrs. Tanner explains. Much of it was poorly researched and inaccurate. . . .
The Tanners often get suppressed documents from administrators and educators who have lost their faith in Mormonism but do not leave it because of family and business ties. . . . Some of the disenchanted Mormons feel guilt for staying in a church they do not believe in, Mrs. Tanner believes, and do their "silent missionary part" by letting the Tanners view suppressed documents (Christianity Today, July 16, 1982, pages 31, 47 and 48).
Mormonism—Shadow or Reality? is certainly one of the best tools for bringing Mormons to the knowledge of the truth. Unfortunately, some people are reluctant to show this book to their Mormon friends. One man told us that he had been dealing with a Mormon for many months, and although he had been using the material in Mormonism—Shadow or Reality? he had never actually shown him the book. We pointed out that this was a real mistake. Mormonism—Shadow or Reality? was designed to go right into the hands of the Mormon people. A good approach to use is to ask Mormons to read the book and point out any inaccuracies they might find. While some of them will refuse to even take it, there are others who will accept the challenge. In trying to find mistakes they will encounter historical problems which they never dreamed existed. Although they may become angry and make some very negative comments about the book, they will have a difficult time erasing from their minds what they have read. A person should not expect Mormons to immediately see they are wrong. In most cases this takes a great deal of time. During this period we need to show real love and patience with them.
Even though we have sold a large number of copies of the 1982 revised and enlarged edition of Mormonism—Shadow or Reality? many of our customers are still using the 1972 edition. While the older edition is still an excellent book, a number of important discoveries have been made since 1972. There have also been some significant developments and studies which are discussed in the new edition. The 1982 edition contains about 90 pages of new material which is very important to have when dealing with Mormons.
In an article published in Christianity Today, Rodney Clapp says that some of our critics feel that we must be engaged in this work because we make "a great deal of money." When he asked Sandra about this, she said that our 1981 tax return showed a net profit of $16,000 (the actual figure in $15,115). Since we had to pay $5,940 in payments on our printing press during 1981, this left only a little over $9,000. Trying to support a family on this amount of money would be very difficult in today's economy. Fortunately, however, some of our friends gave very generous contributions to us, and we were able to make it through the year without any problem.
As we see the anti-Tanner movement growing (Robert Brown has recently formed a non-profit corporation), we realize that we only have a small company and it would be difficult to counter any major operation that might be mounted against us. At the present time, we are not set up to give tax-deductible receipts, but we certainly welcome any gifts to our work. Even more important than gifts, however, are the prayers of those who support our work. Although we are small and insignificant, through the power of prayer we can prevail against those who are conspiring to destroy our work.
APOSTLE McCONKIE ADMITS
BRIGHAM YOUNG TAUGHT ADAM-GOD DOCTRINE
On Feb. 19, 1981, the Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie wrote a letter to Eugene England which contains some remarkable statements concerning Brigham Young (the second President of the Mormon Church) and his Adam-God doctrine. In this 10-page letter Apostle McConkie frankly admitted, "Yes, President Young did teach that Adam was the father of our spirits and all the related things that the cultists ascribe to him." Those who are acquainted with Mormon theology will recognize that this is an admission that Brigham Young taught that Adam was God the Father. Apostle McConkie's revealing statements seem to mark the end of a cover-up which has lasted for over a hundred years.
When we began our research on Mormonism, the General Authorities of the Church emphatically denied that Brigham Young taught the Adam-God doctrine. On May 13, 1966, Hugh B. Brown, a member of the First Presidency, wrote a letter in which he claimed that Brigham Young was misquoted: "The Adam-God doctrine is not the doctrine of the Church, and the reports on that subject as published in the Journal of Discourses are not accurate." In our book, Mormonism—Shadow or Reality? we demonstrated that it was ridiculous to claim that Brigham Young was misquoted in his Church's own publications. Furthermore, we presented new evidence from the journals of early Mormon leaders which demonstrated conclusively that Brigham Young taught that Adam was God and that Jesus Christ was his son. A number of scholars did research on the subject and reached the same conclusion. In an article recently published in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, the Mormon scholar David John Buerger concluded that,
Young clearly believed that Adam was the father of the spirits of mankind in addition to being the first procreator of mankind's physical bodies; . . . and that Adam was the spiritual and physical father of Jesus Christ (Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Spring 1982, page 45).
In the new enlarged 1982 edition of Mormonism—Shadow or Reality? we observed:
As time goes on, more and more evidence that Brigham Young taught the Adam-God doctrine is coming to light. In the face of this material, an increasing number of Mormon scholars are now willing to concede that the doctrine was taught. Even Apostle Bruce R. McConkie appears to be weakening. In a letter to "Honest Truth Seekers," Apostle McConkie declared:
Some prophets—I say it respectfully—know more and have greater inspiration than others. Thus, if Brigham Young, who was one of the greatest of the prophets, said something about Adam which is out of harmony with what is in the Book of Moses and in Section 78, it is the scripture that prevails (Mormonism—Shadow or Reality? page 178-C).
Although we felt Bruce R. McConkie was softening his position on the Adam-God doctrine, we never dreamed that he would completely cave in on the issue. We must admit, in fact, that we were astonished when we read his letter to Eugene England. Although the General Authorities of the Church had stubbornly fought against the ideas expressed in chapter 10 of Mormonism—Shadow or Reality? for many years, we suddenly found ourselves gazing on a letter written by a Mormon Apostle which verified almost everything we had written in that chapter. Apostle McConkie began his letter by stating: "This may well be the most important letter you have or will receive." On page 4 he calls the Adam-God doctrine a false doctrine, but he admits that it is based on "plain and clear quotations" which are found in the Church's own literature:
In that same devotional speech I said: "There are those who believe or say they believe that Adam is our father and our God, that he is the father of our spirits and our bodies, and that he is the one we worship." I, of course, indicated the utter absurdity of this doctrine and said it was totally false.
Since then I have received violent reactions from Ogden Kraut and other cultists in which they have expounded upon the views of Brigham Young and others of the early Brethren relative to Adam. They have plain and clear quotations saying all of the things about Adam which I say are false. The quotations are in our literature and form the basis of a worship system followed by many of the cultists who have been excommunicated from the Church.
On the same page of this letter, Apostle McConkie goes on to quote from a speech he gave at Brigham Young University on June 1, 1980, in which he equates the Adam-God doctrine with the worship of idols or false gods. On pages 5 and 6, Bruce R. McConkie holds up Brigham Young as a great prophet, but then he has to concede that he taught false doctrine with regard to Adam:
. . . I am a great admirer of Brigham Young and a great believer in his doctrinal presentations. . . . He was a mighty prophet. . . . He completed his work and has gone on to eternal exaltation.
Nonetheless, as Joseph Smith so pointedly taught, a prophet is not always a prophet, only when he is acting as such. Prophets are men and they make mistakes. Sometimes they err in doctrine. . . . Sometimes even wise and good men fall short in the accurate presentation of what is truth. Sometimes a prophet gives personal views which are not endorsed and approved by the Lord.
Yes, President Young did teach that Adam was the father of our spirits, and all the related things that the cultists ascribe to him. This [i.e., Brigham Young's teaching on Adam], however, is not true. He expressed views that are out of harmony with the gospel. But, be it known, Brigham Young also taught accurately and correctly, the status and position of Adam in the eternal scheme of things. What I am saying is, that Brigham Young, contradicted Brigham Young, and the issue becomes one of which Brigham Young we will believe. The answer is we will believe the expressions that accord with the teachings in the Standard Works.
On page 7 of his letter, Apostle McConkie went so far as to say that if Mormons follow the "false portions" of Brigham Young's doctrines, they are in danger of losing their souls:
This clearly means that people who teach false doctrines in the fundamental and basic things will lose their souls. The nature and kind of being that God is, is one of these fundamentals. I repeat: Brigham Young erred in some of his statements on the nature and kind of being that God is and as to the position of Adam in the plan of salvation, but Brigham Young also taught the truth in these fields on other occasions. And I repeat, that in his instance, he was a great prophet and has gone on to eternal reward. What he did is not a pattern for any of us. If we choose to believe and teach the false portions of his doctrines, we are making an election that will damn us.
According to Bruce R. McConkie's reasoning, Brigham Young could teach the Adam-God doctrine and go "on to eternal reward," but those who accept this doctrine today stand in danger of losing their souls. While Apostle McConkie refers to the Adam-God doctrine as "heresy" and says that the "devil" keeps it alive, President Brigham Young claimed that it came directly from God. Over twenty years after he first publicly proclaimed the Adam-God doctrine, Brigham Young emphasized that God Himself had revealed the doctrine to him:
How much unbelief exists in the minds of the Latter-day Saints in regard to one particular doctrine which I revealed to them, and which God revealed to me—namely that Adam is our father and God—. . . (Deseret News Weekly, June 18, 1873)
On October 8, 1861, Brigham Young said:
Some years ago, I advanced a doctrine with regard to Adam being our father and God. . . . It is one of the most glorious revealments of the economy of heaven, . . . ("A Few Words of Doctrine," unpublished manuscript in the Brigham Young Collection, LDS Archives, as cited by David John Buerger in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Spring 1982, page 29).
The Mormon Church's own publication, Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star, clearly stated that the Adam-God doctrine was the word of the Lord:
. . . Adam is our Father and God, . . . the prophet and Apostle Brigham Young has declared it. . . . it is the word of the Lord (vol. 16, page 534).
Brigham Young was certainly not the only early Mormon leader who had a testimony to the doctrine. According to David John Buerger, Heber C. Kimball, a member of the First Presidency, claimed that,
"[T]he Lord told me that Adam was my father and that he was the God and father of all the inhabitants of this earth" (Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Spring 1982, page 27).
George Q. Cannon, who later became a member of the First Presidency, claimed the doctrine was revealed to him. David John Buerger informs us that,
In an 1870 meeting, "Elder Geo[rge] Q. Cannon fully endorsed the doctrine that Father Adam was our God and Father. . . ." Indeed, "the above doctrine had been revealed to him, so that he knew it was true" (Ibid., page 31).
Joseph Fielding Smith, who later became the sixth President of the Church, also endorsed the doctrine. Mr. Buerger points out that many Church leaders continued to believe the Adam-God doctrine after Brigham Young's death. Even Lorenzo Snow, who became the fifth President of the Church, still maintained a belief in the doctrine a number of years after Brigham Young's death:
Contrary to many later perceptions, Brigham Young's death in late August 1877 did not mark the end of the Adam-God doctrine. . . . many of the Church's leading authorities unquestionably retained a belief in Brigham's teachings . . . in the 1890s one also finds brief but supportive references to the doctrine by Apostles Brigham Young, Jr., Franklin D, Richards and Lorenzo Snow. Amidst discussions treated below, for example, Snow is reported as leading "out on Adam being our Father and God. How beautiful the thought it brot. God nearer to us." To this Richards added that "it made him thrill through his whole body it was new & it was inspiring" (Ibid., pages 33-34).
As time went on, of course, the Mormon leaders said less and less about Brigham Young's teachings on Adam. In 1897, the Apostle Franklin D. Richards wrote a letter in which he remarked:
This, like many other points of more advanced doctrine, is too precious a pearl to be cast before swine. But when the swine get hold of them, let us rescue them by the help of the Spirit as best we can. Thinking it may be convenient to you to have President Youngs sayings on that subject, I enclose a copy from his sermon in the first Volume of the Journal of Discourses (Letter from Apostle Franklin D. Richards to Ephraim H. Nye, dated Dec. 18, 1897, as cited in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Spring 1982, page 37).
If Bruce R. McConkie had lived in the days of Brigham Young, he would have found himself in hot water because of his opposition to the Adam-God doctrine. Apostle Orson Pratt, who was contemporary with Brigham Young, got into serious trouble because he made statements which are similar to those which have come from the pen of McConkie (see Mormonism—Shadow or Reality? pages 174, 175 and 178-B).
Another doctrine which Brigham Young taught that Bruce R. McConkie opposes is the idea that God progresses in knowledge. In a sermon delivered in the Tabernacle on Jan. 13, 1867, Brigham Young stated:
. . . Brother Orson Pratt, has in theory, bounded the capacity of God. According to his theory, God can progress no further in knowledge and power; but the God that I serve is progressing eternally, and so are his children: they will increase to all eternity, if they are faithful (Journal of Discourses, vol. 11, page 286).
In his letter to Eugene England, Apostle McConkie wrote:
On Sunday, June 1, 1980, I spoke at one of the multi-stake firesides in the Marriot Center on the subject, "The Seven Deadly Heresies." In that talk I said:
There are those who say that God is progressing in knowledge and is learning new truths.
This is false-utterly, totally, and completely. There is not one sliver of truth in it (page 2).
On page 5 of the same letter, McConkie cites a speech he gave in which he suggested that the idea of God progressing in knowledge "borders on blasphemy." On pages 6 and 7, Apostle McConkie says that Brigham Young will have "to account" for his teaching concerning God progressing in knowledge:
Yes, Brigham Young did say some things about God progressing in knowledge and understanding, but again, be it known, that Brigham Young taught emphatically and plainly, that God knows all things and has all power meaning in the infinite, eternal and ultimate and absolute sense of the word. Again, the issue is, which Brigham Young shall we believe and the answer is: We will take the one whose statements accord with what God has revealed in the Standard Works.
I think you can give me credit for having a knowledge of the quotations from Brigham Young relative to Adam. . . . I think you can also give me credit for knowing what Brigham Young said about God progressing. And again, that is something he will have to account for. As for me and my house, we will have the good sense to choose between the divergent teachings of the same man and come up with those that accord with what God has set forth in his eternal plan of salvation.
Apostle McConkie seems to be threatening Eugene England with some type of serious ecclesiastical action if he continues to disseminate Brigham Young's doctrine concerning the progression of God. On page 2 he warns:
I want you to know that I am extending to you the hand of fellowship though I hold over you at the same time, the scepter of judgment.
On pages 8 and 9 of the same letter, McConkie gives this threatening admonition:
If it is true, as I am advised, that you speak on this subject of the progression of God at firesides and elsewhere, you should cease to do so. If you give other people copies of the material you sent me, with the quotations it contains, you should cease to do so. . . .
Now, I think I have said enough in this letter so that if you are receptive and pliable, you will get the message. . . . Perhaps I should tell you what one of the very astute and alert General Authorities said to me when I chanced to mention to him the subject of your letter to me. He said: "Oh dear, haven't we rescued him enough times already."
On pages 8 and 9 of his letter to Eugene England, McConkie makes these emphatic statements:
It is not in your province to set in order the Church or to determine what its doctrines shall be. . . . it is my province to teach to the Church what the doctrine is. It is your province to echo what I say or to remain silent. You do not have a divine commission to correct me or any of the Brethren. The Lord does not operate that way. If I lead the Church astray, that is my responsibility, but the fact still remains that I am the one appointed with all the rest involved so to do. The appointment is not given to the faculty at Brigham Young University or to any of the members of the Church. . . . those at the head of the Church have the obligation to teach that which is in harmony with the Standard Works. If they err then be silent on the point and leave the event in the hands of the Lord. . . .
I advise you to take my counsel on the matters here involved. If I err, that is my problem; but in your case if you single out some of these things and make them the center of your philosophy, and end up being wrong, you will lose your soul. . . .
Now I hope you will ponder and pray and come to a basic understanding of fundamental things and that unless and until you can on all points, you will remain silent on those where differences exist between you and the Brethren. This is the course of safety. I advise you to pursue it. If you do not, perils lie ahead.
Notice that Apostle McConkie would have members of the Church "remain silent" even if the General Authorities "lead the Church astray." If some members of the Mormon Church who lived in Brigham Young's day had not opposed the Adam-God doctrine, it would probably be the official doctrine of the Church today. This alone should be sufficient to show that McConkie's reasoning is fallacious. The Bible warns against such a teaching: "Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm. . ." (Jeremiah 17:5)
Now that Apostle McConkie has admitted that "President Young did teach" the Adam-God doctrine, Mormons should seriously consider the grave implications of the matter. This teaching is clearly a violation of the commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3). In Deuteronomy, chapter 13, the Israelites were warned:
If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,
And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;
Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.
And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the Lord thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee (Deuteronomy 13:1-5).
In his book, Mormon Doctrine, page 270, Apostle McConkie says: "There is no salvation in the worship of false gods. For such false worship the Lord imposed the death penalty in ancient Israel. (Deut. 13:6-11.)" Since McConkie admits that Brigham Young taught the Adam-God doctrine and says that those who believe it today do "not deserve to be saved," we do not see how he can still maintain that Brigham Young was "a mighty prophet." We feel that there is only one conclusion that an unbiased person could possibly reach—i.e., Brigham Young was a false prophet who tried to lead his people into serving another God. In his booklet, Adam Is God??? Chris Vlachos points out that
if Brigham Young, Mormon prophet from 1847 to 1877, were a false prophet all along, then the claims of those who have sought to derive their priesthood authority through him are empty and void. If Brigham taught false doctrine, that cuts the ground from under Mormonism's claim of latter-day prophetic revelation and the Mormon Church is not divinely led.
When we first received Apostle McConkie's letter we were only thinking of printing some quotations from it, but as we examined this remarkable document more closely, we became convinced that it should be in the hands of the public. Therefore, we have photographically printed this startling 10-page letter as Part 1 of a booklet entitled, LDS Apostle Confesses Brigham Young Taught Adam-God Doctrine. Some may feel that the publication of this letter will tend to stir up more trouble for Eugene England. (McConkie has already stated that he holds "the scepter of judgment" over England's head, and this could possibly relate to the loss of his membership in the Church and/or his job as associate professor in the English Department at Brigham Young University.) We feel, however, that our publication of the letter will undoubtedly provide protection for England. Bruce R. McConkie will probably think twice about making a rash move if he knows many people are aware of the situation. This would be very bad public relations for the Church.
In Parts 2 and 3 of this new booklet we have photographs of manuscripts in the Church Archives which prove that Brigham Young taught that Adam was God and that Jesus Christ was his son. These documents, which were suppressed for a century, absolutely destroy the argument that Brigham Young was misquoted on the Adam-God doctrine. One manuscript throws a great deal of light on the dispute that Apostle Orson Pratt had with President Brigham Young over the nature of God and the Adam-God doctrine.
FBI WINS SUIT
In the Salt Lake City Messenger for November 1980 we told how we had learned that the FBI had material on us which dated back to at least April 30, 1970. Someone had reported that we were "allegedly communists" and had "been circulating petitions against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and that they have been 'trouble-makers' in that respect." Under the Freedom of Information Act we sought access to the file or files which the FBI had concerning us. When we received the material, we found that portions were blacked out (see photograph on page 5 of the Nov. 1980 Messenger) and that eighteen full pages were "withheld entirely." We felt that we should have access to the material that had been suppressed and filed a suit in Federal Court. (This was not a suit for damages, only a request for copies of the material.) On June 16, 1982, Judge Bruce S. Jenkins ruled in favor of the FBI. Although we lost the case with the FBI, we were able to force the CIA to come into compliance with the Freedom of Information Act. The CIA finally submitted an affidavit which said they had no records on Modern Microfilm Company. We had originally requested this information on Oct. 15, 1980, but the CIA delayed responding until Nov. 22, 1981, when they were forced to do so because of our suit. In any event, we will have to accept the decision of the the court concerning the FBI documents. We could appeal, but we do not believe it would be worth the time and expense involved. We will probably never know what was contained in the eighteen missing pages or on the portions which were blacked out.