By Ronald D. Howes
One of the distinct advantages of growing up in Chugiak, Alaska is the opportunity to know and work with Mormons on their home territory. Alaska has long been a. Mormon mission field. One of my schoolmates, a 16 year-old Mormon priest and elder (at the time), walked up to me and said, “I can prove to you that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God.” Our discussion of that issue had been going on hot and heavy for several months. He continued, “In the Doctrine and Covenants, section 87, you will find the `Civil War’ described in great detail some 30 years before it came about.” Needless to say, that sort of threw me for a loop. He also mentioned that “We have made a lot of conversions with that prophecy.”
. . . Verily, thus saith the Lord concerning the war that will shortly come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls; And the time will come that war will be poured out on all nations, beginning at this place. For behold, the Southern states shall be divided against the Northern States, and the Southern States will call on other nations, even the nation of Great Britain, as it is called, and they shall also call upon other nations, in order to defend themselves against other nations; and then war shall be poured out on all nations. And it shall come to pass after many days, slaves shall rise up against their Masters, who shall be marshaled and disciplined for war. And it shall come to pass that the remnants who are left of the land will marshal! themselves, and shall became exceedingly angry, and shall vex the gentiles with a sore vexation. And thus, with the sword and by bloodshed the inhabitants of the earth shall be made to feel the wrath, and indignation, and chastening hand of an almighty God, until the consumption decreed hath made a full end of all nations” (Doctrine and Covenants, sec. 87, vs. 7-8 omitted). A quick reading of the Articles of Faith (pg. 25, by James E. Talmadge) will point out the tremendous importance that Mormons place on this prophecy. The reason being, of course, that this is one of the few times that our erstwhile “prophet” ever came near hitting what he was predicting. The only problem being, he missed it by a mile.
A Few Small Problems
The introduction to the prophecy gives its date as December of 1832. One month prior to this date, South Carolina had passed the Nullification Act, refusing to recognize a law recently passed by the Congress. For 40 years prior to 1832, the North and South had experienced growing tension over trade rights, tariffs and slavery. The editorials and headlines of November and December, 1832 were filled with predictions of violence. Although Micah predicted the birthplace of Christ nearly 730 years prior to that event by the influence of the Holy Spirit, all that Joe had to do was read his newspaper for the text of his prophecy.
Mormons like to point to, the astounding prediction that the South would call upon Great Britain. But, was this a prophecy in the purest sense, or just a “calculated guess?” Who else would like to see the Union weakened but her former owner who was still feeling the wounds suffered in the Revolution,’ and again in the embarrassing 1812 defeat? Joe pronounces that the call was made “in order to defend herself against other nations.” The call was made, but here Mr. Smith draws a blank. A war-weary Great Britain, with trouble in the empire, did not respond with the aid as predicted.
Nearly Everybody And His Second Cousin Gets Killed
He says that “war shall be poured out upon all nations,” and, again, Joseph’s prophecy fails the test. This war was strictly confined to the Continent, no one else worth even mentioning, became involved. Again, our prophet relates that the .slaves would marshal! for war. That did not happen, as most were faithful to their masters for the duration, and left only under pain of economic necessity. Admitting that there were slaves involved on both sides does not embarrass us a bit. We want to know where Joe’s “marshaling” took place. The seer saw a great Indian uprising to accompany the war. This time he really blew it. There were a few battles in which they took part, but no uprising. It turned out later, that it was the Gentiles who vexed the Indians with a “sore vexation” and not the other way around. In his penchant for over-statement, our revelator says that the “inhabitants of the earth shall mourn.” But where is his general famine, terrible plagues, tremendous earthquakes, and especially his bad weather? In a last terrible fit of. apocalyptic fervor, he declares a “full end of all nations” as a result of the Civil War! Republics, democracies, dictatorships, and all the rest have continued to exist, and the number of nations has increased dramatically since the 1800’s, quite contrary to Joe’s pretended curse.
Other Strange Ideas
No study of Mormonism would be complete, without at least a short perusal of some of their truly strange concepts. Under the guise of “inspiration from God” they have managed to assemble a truly unique collection of weird thought. They rival only Sun M. Moon for first place in motley collections of doctrinal trivia. Here is the Mormon doctrine regarding the nature and essence of Deity: “. . . three individuals physically distinct . . . in form and stature perfect men” (Articles of Faith, Talmadge pp. 39, 42). “. . . God has a body of flesh and bones” (Doctrine and Covenants, section 130, v. 22). Regarding the nature of man, Smith said the following: “. . . Man was in the beginning with God” (Doctrine and Covenants, section 93, v. 29). With reference to baptism for the benefit of dead persons, he said: “: . . baptizing for the Dead . . . was instituted before the foundation of the world” (Doctrine and Covenants, p. 221, v. 33).
In addition to this short list, Mormons ordain non-Jews as Levitical priests, or as they call it “the Aaronical priesthood.” A study of the Book of Mormon makes mention of the children of Joseph being ordained as priests, contrary to all the Old Testament says about only using Levites as priests. (Numbers 16:1-35) Within the complex structure of their, religion, young men are ordained “elders,” which to the reader of the New Testament is a contradiction of terms. Few Mormon elders are married and have believing children, since these are not prerequisites to their office, in Mormon doctrine.
No more fitting ending could be given to any study of this human organization that what Israel was told by Moses about false prophets many years ago, “But the prophet, that shall speak a word presumptuously in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other Gods, that same prophet shall die . . . . How shall we know the word which Jehovah hath not spoken? . . . if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which Jehovah hath not spoken: the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously, thou shalt not be afraid of him” (Deut. 18:20).
Truth Magazine XVIII: 5, pp. 71-72
December 5, 1974