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Where Lyman lived – the Johnson home

Smith stays a year at the Johnson home

The revelation entitled ‘3 Degrees of Glory’ (Section 76) was received by Joseph Smith and Sydney Rigdon on 16th February 1832 at John Johnson’s home, at Hiram. (father to Lyman and Luke Johnson) Sydney Rigdon and his wife were lodged across the road in a log cabin. The Johnson property estimated 300 acres of farmland and was a big enough residence for Emma, Joseph and their two twins to stay. And they did for one year. It served as a haven in which the Prophet could live and work in peace. This was where, with the assistance of Sidney Rigdon, he laboured on the translation of the Bible.[1]

“From this home in November 1831, Luke and Lyman Johnson were called to fulfil missions. This occupied much of their time for the next six years . . . . After Joseph was tarred and feathered, however, continual harassment by the mobs forced the Johnsons to leave Hiram and move to Kirtland. In Kirtland they were given opportunities to mature spiritually and to give leadership and financial help to the growing Church . . . . In 1834 Joseph Smith organized Zion’s Camp, and Luke departed from Kirtland with a group. In a few days, Lyman and others joined them, and the two brothers marched, learned, and grew under the tutelage of the Prophet of God. They learned their lessons well and proved themselves worthy to be called, in February 1835, to be two of the original members of the Quorum of the Twelve . . . . Lyman had the privilege of being the first apostle to be ordained and set apart as member of that quorum in this dispensation. (See History of the Church, 2:187–88.)

Three months later the Twelve Apostles left on missions, departing from John Johnson’s inn in Kirtland. As members of the Twelve, Luke, Lyman, and Orson spent much of their time on missions, bringing many into the Church.”[2]

Things start going wrong at the bank

It might be less known fact, that John Johnson gave $3000 to Smith to help with the work and ministry of the Church. His sons Luke and Lyman Johnson, also John Boynton, were amongst the first apostles of the restoration. They gave great sacrifice to the Church, fulfilling missions and being obedient – that is, until the collapse of the Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Bank. Lyman had placed $6,000 in this bank and lost it all.

The failure of the Kirtland Safety Society, a bank founded by church leaders, led to widespread dissent in 1837. The church held a high council trial on September 3, 1837, which ejected Johnson, his brother Luke, and John F. Boynton from the Quorum of the Twelve. Boynton explained that his difficulties with the church resulted from “the failure of the bank” which he had understood “was instituted by the will and revelations of God, and he had been told that it would never fail.” [3] (Bold emphasis mine)

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It would seem that Boynton, Lyman and Luke started to appreciate the contrast between what Smith had predicted was going to happen to the bank, with what actually did happen. Believing and saying that the bank “was instituted by the will and revelations of God, and it would never fail” was purely from Smith’s imagination. Imagination and Vision are much the same thing. He was, after all, gifted with a powerful and fanciful imagination and over time, probably lost the ability to discern the difference between reality and illusion. For those who would like to read the lies and the truth about Smith’s bank, in more detail – see footnote [4] below.

The ‘Zion Camp’ failure

Furthermore, Lyman had witnessed first-hand, the utter failure of ‘Zion’s Camp’ (Smith’s army) to rescue the Saints in Missouri from persecution and bring about the redemption of Zion (Jackson County) This whole fiasco had occurred after Parley Pratt and Lyman Wight returned from Missouri bristling with news of the Saint’s suffering and pleading and arguing with great enthusiasm to return with an army of men to defend the Saints and reclaim their lands. This came after many months of indecision by Smith, who finally feels ‘inspired’ to receive a revelation as follows:

“Behold I say unto you, the redemption of Zion must needs come by power; Therefore, I will raise up unto my people a man, who shall lead them like as Moses led the children of Israel. For ye are the children of Israel, and of the seed of Abraham, and ye must need be led out of bondage by power, and with a stretched-out arm.” D&C Section 103:15–17

The interpretation the member’s came to (including Lyman Johnson) was the same that we would have come to – reading such language… that God was going to do it with power through the instrumentality of this army. Their fellow Saints in Missouri would see the hand of the Lord and be restored to their stolen lands and property. Smith had hoped for 500 men. In the end, only 100 could be mustered – including some females and children. The march would be 900 miles. The weather, lack of provisions, fatigue, sickness and wear and tear on wagons, added to the strain on everyone. In general, Smith was no better behaved than anyone else and the utter failure for him to complete or fulfil one shred of God’s ‘predicted’ redemption, must have been stored in Lyman’s mind and perhaps why in 1837, he was excommunicated and never returned – though he did visit a few times.

“In retrospect, dissenters would trace the origins of their opposition to the prophet right to the day the church was formally organized in 1830, but the first significant outburst of discontent appeared in the wake of the failure of Zion’s Camp to redeem Zion in the late summer of 1834. The camp had been born of a revelation, and it began with great excitement, mixing the exhilaration of a crusade to redeem the holy land from the infidels with righteous indignation over infringe­ment of the Saints’ republican rights. However, the spirited enthusi­asm of the brethren wore thin along with their shoes as the long hard march from Ohio to Missouri progressed. The irritation of many camp members turned to outrage when Joseph Smith called off the return to Jackson County in the face of the Missouri governor’s opposition. Although Smith attempted to mollify his followers by declaring that God had accepted their journey as an acceptable sacrifice, the whole adventure seemed a tragic farce when a deadly epidemic of cholera swept through the camp. Even recalling these events many years later, the prophet’s brother, William Smith, could find nothing redeeming in them, describing his experience as “a very fatiguing, dangerous and difficult journey; without having accomplished the object for which we undertook the task; except to visit the brethren in Missouri, suffer a great deal of trial and trouble, and come back penniless once more.

Many felt a great deal angrier than the prophet’s brother. Some loudly proclaimed their disbelief in the Book of Mormon, while others simply left the church) . . . . Smith, himself, confirmed the impression, writing on August i6 to the elders in Mis­souri, “I was met in the face and eyes, as soon as I got home, with a catalogue of charges as black as the author of lies himself . . . . [5]

Once more, Smith had been dreaming; playing Captain Moroni with his crusading war games, but when the time came to actually ‘fight’ and trust this predicted POWER of God, he capitulates. To the astonishment of his warriors, he worm’s his way out with new magic promises from his ever changing God. He promptly issues a new revelation: “Therefore it is expedient in me that mine elders should wait for a LITTLE season, for the redemption of Zion. For behold, I do not require at their hands to fight the battles of Zion . . . . I will fight your battles.” D&C105: 13–14

Well, that was 181 years ago, with no signs of fulfilment? This command to wait a LITTLE season’ is the exact opposite of the revelation ordering them to form an army and rescue the members in the first place? As God would have known in advance it would fail, why did He wait till his servants had walked 900 miles in near exhaustion, with 13 dead, before He changed His mind?

Smith was a magician. And he employed the self same deceptive tactics to fool people into trusting him. His past character and trade involved expeditions of deliberate deception to find treasure. When they failed (no record of any success) he employed the same types of excuse: (1) The incantations performed at the site were not quite correct (2) The guardian angels of the treasure had moved it further down (3) A curse has been placed upon it, etc., etc. He then pacifies them with a ‘definite’ date for Zion’s redemption: “within three years they should march to Jackson County and there should not be a dog to open his mouth against them.”[6] Very shortly he set the official date for the redemption of Zion as September 11th 1836” [7]

We are still waiting! The apologist’s tell us that Smith had long left behind his treasure seeking days, which were a mere youthful pastime – not so, two years after this cock-up, in August 1836, he pretends to receive another revelation (D&C 111) to secure riches and treasures under a house in Salem, which once more, was a complete failure.

Perhaps this bungling crusade was lodged in Lyman’s mind and would at least be a later reminder that the so-called prophet was just a man, who could get things wrong – get things so very seriously wrong! As always, when Smith failed, or when the Saints failed to get some predicted blessing, the blame was dumped squarely upon them. It is nauseatingly seen throughout most pages of the D&C. It came either as an accusation by God of some form of sin, moaning, selfishness, pride or unbelief. Alternatively, Smith’s failure was sometimes excused as merely a ‘TEST OF THEIR FAITH.’ He used this face-saving method when rejected by women, whom he had preyed upon. Indeed, this is still how the Church salvages the ‘Zion Camp’ reputation – it was a refining TEST to recognise those whom Smith could trust as his future leaders.

Lyman_E._Johnson[1]

Lyman Johnson

Misinterpreted suffering

Interestingly, at the end of Section 76, (3 Degrees of Glory) the ‘D&C Commentary’ issues a salient warning to all those who would desert the faith, by naming brother Lyman Johnson as a particular kind of apostate’ who “never had a really happy day” after leaving the fold and ended up drowning in an accident….

“In one portion of this Revelation the eternal misery of a certain class of apostates is graphically set forth. But if such opponents of the Kingdom of God would tell the truth about themselves, they would reveal the fact that their sufferings have already commenced. Lyman E. Johnson, the first to be called to the Apostleship when the first Council of Twelve was organized, left the Church, but he never had a really happy day after that. According to President Brigham Young he, on one occasion, said, at a meeting of the Council:

“Brethren, – I will call you brethren – I will tell you the truth. If I could believe Mormonism – it is no matter whether it is true or not – but if I could believe Mormonism as I did when I travelled with you and preached, if I possessed the world I would give it. I would give any-thing. I would suffer my right hand to be cut off, if I could believe it again. Then I was full of joy and gladness. My dreams were pleasant. When I awoke in the morning, my spirit was cheerful. I was happy by day and by night, full of peace and joy and thanksgiving. But now it is darkness, pain, sorrow, misery in the extreme. I have never since seen a happy moment” [8]

Did we ever lose the spirit?

Notice what Young did?… like all prophets and apostles till this present day, he promoted the false idea that apostates CANNOT be happy, have sinned and are, and will, be punished.

In this supposed statement by Lyman Johnson, we might find some echoes from our own lives, coming away from a faith that once held so much value, meaning, and cherished associations. Whenever I’m talking to someone (non member) about my views on Mormonism, they don’t seem to understand ‘why’ and ‘how’ active members can do the things they do and believe the things they do? To answer, I find myself explaining their joys, their faith, their outlook, their happiness….what makes them remain… what makes them tick. I fall back on my memory – what it was like for me… what I felt like.

The advantage for us ex-Mormons, is that we now see both sides of the same coin… what made it right for us to be in Mormonism and what made it wrong to remain – what I have called ‘Double-Angled-Vision,’ being able to see BOTH sides. When we look backward, there are things we remember with nostalgia and happiness. Yes, we were – to some extent, living through a dream and we have now woken up, but when members accuse us of ‘losing the spirit,’ they mean, completely losing what we felt. But what we felt is locked into memory. It is stored forever. It is part of what has made us what we are – who we are. Orthodox Mormons do not understand that we ex Mormons have lost NOTHING. Indeed, it is by the retrieval of our past MEMORY sensations, plus past information (when we were in that spirit) that we have been able to re-evaluate and see the CONTRAST of our own mental reactions and emotions, compared with hitherto previously unknown facts.

To put it poetically (and I think, very beautifully) is John O’Donohue:

“As we journey onward in life increasingly spaces within us fill with absence. We begin to have more and more friends among the dead. Every person suffers the absence of their past. It is utterly astonishing how the force and fibre of each day unravel into the vacant air of yesterday. You look behind you and you see nothing of your days here. Our vanished days increase our experience of absence. Yet our past does not deconstruct as if it never was. Memory is the place where our vanished days secretly gather. Memory rescues experience from total disappearance. The kingdom of memory is full of the ruins of presence.

It is astonishing how faithful experience actually is; how it never vanishes completely. Experience leaves deep traces in us. It is surprising, that years after something has happened to you, the needle of thought can hit some groove in the mind and the music of a long-vanished event can rise in your soul as fresh and vital as the evening it happened. Memory provides such shelter and continuity of identity. Memory is also fascinating because it is a subtle and latent presence in one’s mind. The past seems to be gone and absent. Yet the grooves in the mind hold the traces and vestiges of everything that has ever happened to us. Nothing is ever lost or forgotten . . . . it is only through the act of remembrance, literally remembering, that we can come to poise, integrity and courage . . . . We need to retrieve the activity of remembering, for it is here that we are rooted and gathered . . . . ” [9]

It seems to me, that just as orthodox Mormons today are palpably disabled from understanding the anger, betrayal and outspokenness of ex-Mormons, so in Brigham Young’s day–they were equally incapable of understanding men like Lyman Johnson. How he could voice a regret that he no longer believed and how could he re-live his memories of how things used to be, yet not remain with the Saints? You notice he would have loved to have retained belief and admitted the loss of an emotional peace that comes with the crutch of religion. He is virtually acknowledging that it was so nice to have been in delusion (in a deep contented sleep). I wonder what Lyman (who clearly saw that God’s predicted promises had failed) would have made of today’s Church? What would he say if he saw an even wider perspective of its corruption and deception and failure in 2015? I have a notion his rhetoric would be less kindly! Lastly, you notice that this man felt at home and missed some of his LDS associates – the sociality and culture. It is why he wanted to visit occasionally – retaining friendly warmth toward the members, whilst at the same time, unable to compromise his own honesty and conviction that his religious institution was a fraud not the people.

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What have you been doing wrong?

Brigham Young’s profound misunderstanding and ill informed judgement on the cause and effect of his suffering, has been continually taught and indoctrinated ever since. The very first question thrown back at me over 4 decades ago, when I admitted to a Stake Presidency Counsellor, that I no longer could say I knew the Church was true, was: “What have you been doing wrong?”

These days, it has been officially acknowledged on odd occasions, that perhaps ‘doubting,’ ‘questioning’ members, may not, after all, be guilty of any particular sin, or neglect, but just sincerely troubled, honourable Saints.

One of the most absurd and erroneous teachings, still flourishing amongst members–fed from on high–is the idea that apostasy equates with sin, laziness, rebellion or pride. Mormons are taught this explicitly through the story-line of Book of Mormon. It is endemic and imbedded into their thinking. Also endemic, is the insidious teaching that Satan will infiltrate their minds and hearts should they read, watch or listen to anything which seriously challenges their faith – particularly if it is written by an ‘apostate.’ Interestingly, all cults and dictatorships do the same to their citizens or members – limit or ban the Internet, as well as cut-off (wherever possible) or discourage correspondence with the outside world.

Under Smith and Young, the idea that the world was WICKED, (explicit in the D&C) that only SAFETY and SANCTURY could be found in Zion, and that the Wicked World would shortly be destroyed as Christ returns, was intense, but it was a lie. The legacy of this still remains amongst LDS; there is still the tendency to believe that the world is ‘wicked.’ In addition, the Church knows that if members are kept ‘busy’ with large families and working all hours for the Church, they’ll have little time to read or re-evaluate what they were once taught. If they read any non-fiction at all, it will be LDS books, LDS magazines, or LDS scriptures, or their lesson manuals. The fear, NOT to look at ‘anti Mormon’ sites or books, has been successfully engrained, but is starting to crumble.

Naturally, when members of a Mormon family see one of their own ‘apostatize’ from the faith, those suspected elements (sin, laziness, rebellion and pride) are still attached to that person. This causes accusation, confusion and loss of respect. Indeed, the possibility of the defaulting or deserting apostates ‘disease’ affecting others can be so frightening that wives will divorce husbands and husbands – their wives; prevention from seeing children and general isolation. And all this, from a church which brags about the IMPORTANCE of families?

“It will tell you that the man (husband or father) is the head of the home and should be respected in that position, yet it has been a sad reflection that after I was excommunicated I was no longer permitted to take part in any baptismal services for any one of my 20 grandchildren. I would not claim to be a superlative grandparent, but I have attended virtually all their baptisms since excommunication and watched others in my family read verses, give little talks and offer advice to the newly baptised child, but I had to remain silent. I could not offer a prayer, read a verse, extend appreciation, give direction or express profound gratitude from the stand. This is a “normal” exclusion for an excommunicated person within Mormonism. Such a person is not allowed to be thus involved. I knew this mentally as a member years before, but I had never been “emotionally” subjected to it previously, so I did not see the cruelty in it – especially for someone like me who did NOT want to come back, but still loved his family and wanted to be part of all they were doing.

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I have since thought how odd it is that once you are excommunicated, it is as if all respect or reverence for your capacity and roll as father or grandfather is denied – as if you did not have any further usefulness or any further value. As if you did not exist. How very kind and Christ-like all this exclusion is! You would have thought that despite not being able to use the priesthood, I might have been permitted to take part in other simple ways, in order to support, encourage and inspire my grandchildren’s belief in fatherhood. In excommunication, you lose the Priesthood, but that never bothered me. I never really understood this invisible authority I was repeatedly told I must magnify anyway? Teachers and leaders would say: “use you priesthood to love your wife,” or “use your Priesthood to be gentle”… to this day it seems so ridiculous. Surely we love and are kind to others through our own heart and the natural disposition we’ve developed during our life time – not through some intangible ‘authority.’ The very concept of ‘Priesthood’ is merely another layer of control and domination… a sad pathetic need of satisfying religious males.” [10]

It took 6 years for Lyman to realise Joseph Smith was not the man he thought he was (since his baptism in 1831) On May 29th 1837 he and Orson Pratt brought the following charges against Smith:

  • Lying
  • Misrepresentation
  • Extortion
  • Speaking disrespectfully about members

Investing and losing $6,000 in a bank, confidently asserted to be “instituted by the will and revelations of God” was a reality wake-up call for Lyman. He understandably became bitter when that money was lost and blamed it on the Prophet. After filing charges against him, and as a result of his behaviour towards the Church, Lyman was first disfellowshipped, then later excommunicated on April 13, 1838. He continued to remain friendly with members of the Church and regretted that he no longer believed or was part of the organization.” [11]

Many members brought accusations against Smith, but he wielded unprecedented power amongst the Councils of the Church and would bring his own ‘character assassination’ against his accusers…. that is, until William Law decided to print Smith’s iniquities from the housetop! Then Smith went absolutely bonkers and persuaded the Council to destroy Laws printing shop. Joseph Smith was a man who could not tolerate being opposed, contradicted or defied.

So, it seems Lyman had the spirit of apostasy – but how could this be? Did not the Brethren prophecy he would be:

(1) Protected from Satan

(2) Live to see the gathering accomplished

(3) Be like Enoch (power over death) and

(4) Live to see the Saviour’s second coming (as were many others!)

Lyman E. Johnson: “no power of the enemy shall prevent him from going forth and doing the work of the Lord and that he shall live until the gathering is accomplished… and he shall be like unto Enoch; Satan shall tremble before him and he shall see the Savior come and stand upon the earth with power and great glory.” D.H.C., Vol. II, pp. 188-191. . . . But, three years later, he apostatized and “was cut off (excommunicated) from the church” (D.H.C., Vol. III, p. 20). Furthermore, the “gathering” to Missouri (D.&C. 84:1-5), still has not taken place, and he was not like Enoch who never died (Gen. 5:24), because Johnson died in 1856” [12]

If the priesthood works and was true, why did these key predictions upon Lyman fail?

If he was to be PROTECTED from Satan – why did he leave the Church? Why was there not the completed gathering, or Christ returning, in his life time? In its February Ensign article, the Church does not say what failed Lyman? They just accuse him of greedy financial speculation and criticising the prophet. All apologetics tarnish ‘apostates’ with character assignation, whilst the real villain (Smith) is always and every time, exonerated – no matter WHAT he does. Like Oaks today… it would seems Smith had too much vanity and arrogance to apologize about anything! But interestingly, some of these ‘nasty apostates’ like Lyman Johnson, actually confess quite humbly to their own accusations, greed and grumbles.

A Church which prays for punishment and curses upon others

Further to the idea and teaching that the WICKED were to be ‘punished’ or ‘cannot prosper,’ we find a whole array of blood thirsty curses and prophetic judgements levelled against the world in general, as well as for those who murdered the prophet and Hyrum. The Doctrine and Covenants is particularly nasty in this regard: “The whole world lieth in sin, and groaneth under darkness and under the bondage of sin” D&C 84:49. The world does NOT lie in sin. Yes, it has some nasty and unsavoury characters in it, but the general mass of people are pretty much like you and me – reasonably decent people who are busy caring for their families. What is also noticeable in The Doctrine and Covenants is that Smith keeps ‘using’ God to pretend reasons for his failures – his failures with prophecy regarding the redemption of Zion or gathering places, or safety, or prosperity – you name it. It was ‘their’ fault God did not prosper them, protect them or help them. Too little faith; too much sin; not enough humility; not enough effort; too much contention. The truth is, Smith made it up as he went along and dragged naïve souls through unnecessary suffering – and for the most part, they believed him…. we all once believed him.

Temple

It really is quite blasphemous, that a Church which boasts such allegiance to Christ and is called by His name should have a mandatory ‘CURSE’ set-up (by the prophet Brigham Young) in their temples for 85 years (1845 till 1930) which was repeated at every session:

“You and each of you do covenant and promise that you will pray and never cease to pray to Almighty God to avenge the blood of the prophets upon this nation, and that you will teach the same to your children and to your children’s children unto the third and fourth generation.”

Yet Jesus said: “. . . . Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)

“Holiness to the Lord” is engraved over the door of each temple, yet inside they ignore the words of their God and replace them with prejudice, hatred and blood oaths.

Of the fate of the persecutors who murdered the prophet, Jim Whitefield said:

“Unfortunately for Smith, from all of the evidence available, it appears the Lord never actually did anything at all about any of these people. Had the Lord really been speaking, we would expect to see at least some results of people subsequently being ‘dealt’ with. Some authors have tried to find such evidence concerning those responsible for the death of Joseph Smith. A few decades ago, a book was published by N. B. Lundwall under the title of “The Fate of the Persecutors of the Prophet Joseph Smith” which I read and blindly accepted as a member. It contained some gory detail but turned out to be full of nonsense and the claimed ‘evidence’ just speculative. The book has just been republished (May 2011) with Lundwall as ‘editor’ and a foreword by John A. Widtsoe.

Obviously, the concept of the Lord’s retribution is still popular. However, no matter what is claimed or argued, such a thing as the Lord ever ‘dealing’ with people ‘in his own due time’ has never demonstrably happened. There is no documented or substantiated record of any such retribution by the Lord regarding anyone that Smith ever claimed the Lord would deal with in his own due time.” [13]

I too read that book and noticed how the author delighted in each suggested punishment.

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Speaking also on this very subject, Alex Beam, on page 264 of his book, ‘American Crucifixion’ explained:

“But in the main, the “respectable set of men” who murdered Joseph and Hyrum thrived in the middle of the nineteenth century.” Mark Aldrich, Jacob Davis, William Grover, Chauncey Higbee, Robert F. Smith, William Law, Thomas Sharp and Orville Browning, went on to live long and productive lives. For instance: Higbee – a man portrayed by Mormon history as a nasty piece of work – “lived a long life in Pittsfield Illinois. He worked as a judge, banker, and a State Senator. He had a high school named after him in 1908.”

William Law has been vilified by ‘official’ LDS history, as another nasty piece of work – he sticks in the gut of all indoctrinated members (at least those who have read anything) What was my surprise on leaving the Church, but to discover he was a far better man than Smith; a far better principled person – as was his wife also….

William Law and his family moved to northern Illinois, and then to Shullsburg, Wisconsin, where he practised medicine until his death in 1892 at age eighty-three. His wife Jane, and his brother, Wilson, who farmed in the area, died in 1883 and 1877, respectively. Five years before his death, the elderly, white-haired doctor spoke at length about Joseph Smith and the Saints with German journalist Wilhelm Wyl. “The greatest mistake life was my having anything to do with Mormonism,” Law told his visitor. “I feel it to be a very deep disgrace and never speak of it when I can avoid it.” Jane had long ago set fire to their only copy of the Book of Mormon, and the family had abandoned the faith. “It never was a Church of Christ, but a most wicked blasphemous humbug, gotten up for the purpose of making money,” Law said. “I have no doubt thousands of honest, virtuous people joined the Church not knowing anything of the wicked workings of the leaders, and thousands (probably in ignorance) still cling to the delusion.” [14]

John_F._Boynton[1]

John Boynton: Like Lyman Johnson, he was one of two apostles able to shed Mormonism. He became a legitimate celebrity of the 19th century, with inventions, 4,000 lectures and fame as a naturalist doctor. His ultimately unsuccessful marriage to a much younger woman in 1865 was illustrated in Harper’s Weekly. He died in 1879 in Syracuse, N.Y.[15] (Bold emphasis mine)

Lyman Johnson lived another 18 years and became a successful pioneer lawyer in Iowa and was one of the town fathers of Keokuk, Iowa.[16]

Have you noticed how ‘Graceless’ Smith’s God is?

If you want to find rhetorical descriptions of the many ‘merciful’ ‘kind’ and ‘gracious’ attributes of the Godhead in scripture, then there are thousands of them – including The Doctrine and Covenants, but, if you want to find the LEAST demonstrable example of such qualities in scripture, then dump that last Canon. You may not have noticed, but Smith’s God is ruthless, petulant, petty, unfriendly, impatient, changeable, silly, ungrateful, and plain egotistical…. or was this God just an invention – an anthropomorphic mirror of Smith?

Well anyway… let me continue. You remember those moments in your life when you failed or hurt someone? Perhaps you did not intend to, perhaps you were just tired or were caught on a bad day? The point is, you felt terrible and expected some form of retaliation, or repercussion. Then the person you let down so badly communicated with you… with love! They totally disarmed and relieved your anxious mind with kindness and forgiveness. How did you feel? (if normal, you would have felt gratitude, relief, warmth and increased friendliness toward that person – even a greater love or devotion)

People who demonstrate such traits of meekness, we call Gracious. Graciousness is being courteous, kind, and pleasant, especially towards someone of lower social status. In the religious sense, Grace is unearned. It is a love given when technically, you don’t deserve it, or you have not paid the price for it. It is Gift. In the traditional Christian sense then, God is ‘meant’ to be full of Gracetotally rammed full of it. And his servants are meant to reflect His character and follow his example.

Question: what do we find in the God of Smith – the one revealed and manifest through the pages of The Doctrine and Covenants?

Answer: A God that does not give an inch. A God so destitute of love, He is Grace-less. Almost on every page, this god (yes, he’s not worthy of a big ‘G’) is scalding, moaning, deserting and treating his little children as if they were made of solid steel – where no shred of compromise, weakness or fatigue is allowed; where forgiveness, graciousness and acceptance, is alien to him.

If one of your infant children came home from school with their first painting on a scrap of paper, would you accept it with appreciation and love, or would you say: “I’m not prepared to accept this – it is not good enough?” Well, that is Smith’s god. He rarely ever ‘accepts’ the feeble yet sincere efforts of his Church. For him, the Church is just not good enough. A reward from his god is ALWAYS contingent on absolute obedience. Grace does not enter the picture. But if there is a God, he must (by Christian definition) be filled with Graciousness.  He is NOT. I am astonished at the stupidity, perversity and childishness of Smith’s god. How those Saints ever stuck with Smith is actually no real credit to him, but to their inherent goodness, tenacity and courage – Smith did not invent that, he just harnessed it and abused it.

The legacy I’m afraid has continued. A graceless excuse for a Church has arisen…

“We are then set up for a clerical system that says: ‘We are the God-appointed and singular dispensers of grace. Get on your knees and you may get some from us.’ The sins of the institutional Church are clearly encouraged by a theology of grace-scarcity, an ideology that separates nature from grace. In these circumstances religion plays dangerously with temptations to exaggerate its self-importance: it is no longer servant but master and it easily succumbs to an inflated ego about the exclusivity of its place in the world. What follows is a praise crisis as well, for when grace is scarce, so too are joy and praise.” [17]

Notes:

[1]http://worldconnect.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi- bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=tsmith&id=I166

[2]A House Divided: The John Johnson Family’ Ensign Magazine February 1979 https://www.lds.org/ensign/1979/02/a-house-divided-the-john-johnson-family?lang=eng

[3] (Kirtland Council Minute Book, pp. 184–86)

[4] In the first example, the Mormon 2008 Priesthood Manual, Chapter 27, makes the following statement about the Kirtland Bank failure of 1837:

“As that year wore on, a spirit of apostasy grew among some of the saints at Kirtland. Some members became proud, greedy, and disobedient to the commandments. Some blamed Church leaders for economic problems caused by the failure of a Kirtland financial institution established by Church members. This failure occurred in 1837, the same year that a banking panic swept across the United States, compounding the saints’ economic problems. As many as two or three hundred members fell away from the Church in Kirtland, sometimes joining with those who opposed the Church to torment and even physically threaten the saints. Some apostates openly claimed that the prophet was fallen and tried to have other men put in his place.”

Reading the above text, if accepting it as the truth, consider what loyal and unsuspecting Mormons today will think must have happened. Some Church members set up a bank – which failed, partly due to the economic situation encompassing the whole country. Some greedy members blamed the Church leaders for their subsequent economic problems, although Smith could have done nothing about it. Some even called him fallen, as he did not foresee the problems they consequently faced. A spirit of apostasy led some members to inappropriately oppose or even try to replace Smith.

This is nowhere close to the truth which is deliberately excluded from the 2008 manual. The following facts clearly identify outright lies as well as lies by omission in the above account. Deceiving members in this way is unforgivable.

It was Joseph Smith himself, along with Sidney Rigdon, Smith’s First Counsellor, who set up the bank, originally to be called The Kirtland Safety Society Bank. Smith sent Apostle Orson Hyde to the Ohio legislature to obtain a bank charter and at the same time he sent Oliver Cowdery to Philadelphia to obtain the plates to print money. Cowdery duly returned with the plates but Hyde failed to obtain a charter. Undeterred, Smith opened an illegal bank anyway, on 2 January 1837, as a joint stock company to serve as a quasi-bank. He added words to banknotes so the title now read The Kirtland Safety Society Anti Banking Co. The worthless banknotes were as illegal as the bank itself.

Members were encouraged to deposit all their money and property in exchange for notes, with Rigdon as Chairman and President, Warren Parrish as signatory, secretary and teller, and Joseph Smith as the cashier. There was never a chance that the bank could succeed, as the capitalisation far exceeded the resources available from the backers. However, that was nothing compared to what Smith and his cohorts did themselves which completely destroyed it.

Joseph Smith had launched a huge (and illegal) company, capitalised at $4 million when the capitalisation of all the Ohio banks combined was only just over $9 million. They issued notes with no restriction, so they bore no relation to the capital and assets. The project was thus knowingly doomed from the start. Within weeks, writs were issued against Smith and Rigdon for issuing unauthorised worthless bank paper. Most assets were in property rather than the silver which depositors had assumed and after the earlier boom, property prices were falling fast. Within a month, Smith and Rigdon had resigned from the bank, knowing full well that it would fail completely.

On 23 May 1837, Apostle Parley P. Pratt angrily wrote to Joseph Smith complaining that Smith had been wrong to turn over to the bank Smith’s personal notes for his debts to Pratt, thus effectively illegally evading them. Pratt complained Smith was “taking advantage of your brother by undue religious influence”. Smith used the illegal bank for his own purposes, reneged on personal debts, absolved himself from the bank and then left it to inevitably go under. By July it had done just that.

Thirteen suits were brought against him [Smith] between 1837 and April 1839, to collect sums totalling $25,000. The damages asked amounted to almost $35,000. He was arrested seven times in four months, and his followers managed heroically to raise the $38,428 required for bail. Of the thirteen suits only six were settled out of court – about $12,000 out of the $25,000. In the other seven the creditors either were awarded damages or won them by default. (Brodie 1963: Ch. XIV).

These were debts due to creditors outside the Church. There were many more due to Church members who were never paid. Smith and Rigdon got out early but Smith did not entirely get away with what he had done. It was not greedy members and apostates who were angry at Smith; it was actually half of his Quorum of Twelve Apostles and other Church leaders who (correctly) accused Smith of improprieties. Apostle Heber C. Kimball stated that the bank’s failure was devastating and afterwards “there were not twenty persons on earth that would declare that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.” (J. Tanner 1988: Ch 7. Insight on Hoffman). Members were clearly aware of what Smith had done. On 24 October 1837, an appeals court confirmed the conviction and $1,000 fine each, of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, for operating an illegal bank. Many trusting Church members lost absolutely everything they had through Smith’s bank when he asked them to invest in it. Members left the Church in droves when they realised Smith had conned them. Smith ran away in the night with his brother Hyrum, not from mobs, but from faithful Mormons who were up in arms that he had illegally taken them for all their money. Also not mentioned in the manual is the fact that Smith set up the bank by revelation which “like Aaron’s rod would swallow up all other banks.” 39 As with most Church history, the facts are very different from the fiction taught to Mormons today. Rationalise these facts with item 39 (on p.41), Honesty and Integrity. There is no honesty or integrity; none, absolutely none.

A reading of Fawn Brodie’s No Man Knows My History, Chapter XIV, or of Tanner’s Joseph Smith’s Kirtland Bank Failure (at http://www.utlm.org), will provide a comprehensive, historically accurate picture of what really transpired regarding Smith’s illegal Kirtland Bank scam. Comparing that knowledge with the statement made in the 2008 Priesthood Manual provides conclusive proof that leaders continue to knowingly lie concerning Church history. It is an ill-conceived notion that deliberately lying to members is an acceptable form of behaviour for men claiming to represent God. God would disown such men.  The Mormon Delusion’ Vol. 3:41-44

[5] Exiles in a Land of Liberty – Mormons in America 1830 –1846 by Kenneth H Winn. Page 108 https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ESwIEefhOWwC&pg=PA108&lpg=PA108&dq=was+lyman+johnson+part+of+zions+camp&source=bl&ots=y4Xf6YksXi&sig=as_aIVeuxOyf2C2pMm4Mu-jyde0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CDwQ6AEwBWoVChMIntXikdG6xwIVaQjbCh3bFwEo#v=onepage&q=was%20lyman%20johnson%20part%20of%20zions%20camp&f=false

[6]According to Reed peck, a member of the army. The original of the Reed Peck manuscripts, dated Quincy, Illinois, September 18, 1839 and published by L. B. Cake in 1899, is now in my possession. It was furnished me by Peck’s granddaughters Mabel Peck Myer and Hazel Peck Cass, of Bainbridge, New York.

[7] Letter from Joseph Smith to the High Council of Zion, dated August 16, 1834 History of the Church, Vol. 11, p. 145

[8] The D&C Commentary’ page 470 (Jour. of Dis., Vol. XIX., p. 41).

[9] John O’Donohue ‘Eternal echoes’ – exploring our hunger to belong.

[10] Robert Bridgstock ‘The Youngest Bishop in England’

[11] http://www.mormonwiki.com/Lyman_E._Johnson

[12] (Deseret News Church Almanac, 1989-1990, p. 49) (Bold emphasis mine)  http://thetruthaboutmormonism-creeksalmon.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/original-lds-so-called-12-apostles.html

[13] (Page 489 ‘The Mormon Delusion’ Vol. 5 Doctrine and Covenants – Deception and Concoctions)

[14] Alex Beam ‘American Crucifixion’ page 264

[15]http://www.standard.net/Staff-Columns/2014/05/14/Lost-Apostles-an-interesting-history-of-Mormonism-s-originals-who-left-the-quorum

[16] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyman_E._Johnson

[17]Natural Grace’ by Matthew Fox and Rupert Sheldrake

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