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Mormon Scholars Testify


Lamanite

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Not sure what Brian's "testimony" was supposed to comprise, but if Brother Peterson requested a half hearted treatment of the reasons for Polygamy and a promotion of Brian's works then I understand. Otherwise, this is nothing like a testimony, IMO.

Brian C. Hales- pseudo testimony.

Big UP!

Lamanite

P.S. I'm not saying he doesn't have a testimony, I'm just saying perhaps he should have mentioned Jesus once or twice.

edit to add: Sorry if this was harsh but I had just read the testimonies of Jeff Bradshaw, Davis Bitton, John Gee, and Kevin Barney. In comparison, Brother Hales seemed to satisfy the prerequisites for "spiritual twinkie" and mere "fleeting factoids".

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He offered a testimony of the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith.

That may not be the testimony that you wanted, but it's the testimony that, on this particular occasion, he felt moved upon to offer -- and, coming from somebody who has devoted considerable effort (the results of which are yet to be fully published) to one particular issue that often impacts judgments of the Prophet's character and reliability, that's no small thing.

I do not prescribe what people write for "Mormon Scholars Testify," and do not substantially edit what they submit.

I certainly hope that, if you sit in similar judgment on the testimonies (or, from your point of view, the "testimonies" and "pseudo-testimonies") that are offered in your congregation on Fast Sundays, the members of your ward are unaware of it.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." (Theodore Roosevelt, "The Man in the Arena," speech at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France, on 23 April 1910)

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He offered a testimony of the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith.

That may not be the testimony that you wanted, but it's the testimony that, on this particular occasion, he felt moved upon to offer -- and, coming from somebody who has devoted considerable effort (the results of which are yet to be fully published) to one particular issue that often impacts judgments of the Prophet's character and reliability, that's no small thing.

I do not prescribe what people write for "Mormon Scholars Testify," and do not substantially edit what they submit.

I certainly hope that, if you sit in similar judgment on the testimonies (or, from your point of view, the "testimones" and "pseudo-testimonies") that are offered in your congregation on Fast Sundays, the members of your ward are unaware of it.

:P:;)

Sorry that I harp on this, but I really like informal logic. It occurs to me that this is at the core of many arguments of the critics which makes many of them a circular argument in that the assumption of the conclusion is included in their premise(s).

For example:

Joseph Smith's translation of the Book of Mormon (doesn't live up to some critic's expectation of how a true prophet would have translated the Book of Mormon)

---Therefore Joseph Smith is a false prophet.

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He offered a testimony of the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith.

That may not be the testimony that you wanted, but it's the testimony that, on this particular occasion, he felt moved upon to offer -- and, coming from somebody who has devoted considerable effort (the results of which are yet to be fully published) to one particular issue that often impacts judgments of the Prophet's character and reliability, that's no small thing.

I do not prescribe what people write for "Mormon Scholars Testify," and do not substantially edit what they submit.

I certainly hope that, if you sit in similar judgment on the testimonies (or, from your point of view, the "testimones" and "pseudo-testimonies") that are offered in your congregation on Fast Sundays, the members of your ward are unaware of it.

Oh, I'm both critic and participant. If you think you're different then you need to check yourself. Smile, you're imperfect! Our imperfections don't excuse the negative behaviors, but realizing we are imperfect helps make us less pompous and arrogant as we walk the road of discipleship.

I'm not covered in the blood and guts of the arena; I'm covered in the juices of our Ward canning assignments and the dust of Ward moving projects. LOL. But I seriously believe that is where our testimony finds traction. Charity is where testimony finds conversion, IMO. Otherwise...sounding brass and the likes.

I know the guy has a specialty, but it seemed a little light. I judge the value of testimonies all the time. I think we all do to a certain degree. I think we should evaluate how a testimony has affected us and what part our own spirituality has contributed/detracted to the process. Yeah, I judged it. It had little value to me. And compared to other testimonies at your site, I think is a little weak on testimony and heavy on "fleeting factoids".

Big UP!

Lamanite

PS- I know your keyboard is much more wittier than mine, so I give up early.

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I know the guy has a specialty, but it seemed a little light. I judge the value of testimonies all the time. I think we all do to a certain degree. I think we should evaluate how a testimony has affected us and what part our own spirituality has contributed/detracted to the process. Yeah, I judged it. It had little value to me. And compared to other testimonies at your site, I think is a little weak on testimony and heavy on "fleeting factoids".

I never imagined that everybody would find all entries equally helpful. There would have been little point in having more than one, were that the case.

Different voices will appeal to different people at different times.

The same is true with sacrament meeting talks and public expressions of testimony. Some are more powerful to me than others. But I don't sit out in the audience holding up a score at the end of every talk and testimony.

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...

Throughout my analysis of their [fundamentalist Mormon] teachings, I remain unconvinced that their efforts are approved of God. Despite their apparent sincerity and traditions, I believe they are grossly misguided and in error.

...

I believe that for Latter-day Saints today, the scary part of Joseph Smith

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So in your opinion we should not criticize public expressions of testimony? Sincerely curious.

Let me tell a story:

I learned German rather well on my mission.

After I had been home for quite a while, I attended the homecoming of one of my favorite junior companions (whose German, by the way, was entirely adequate). When it came time for him to bear his testimony auf Deutsch, he explained that he wasn't going to do it because he was intimidated by the fact that I was sitting in the audience.

I was mortified. I had made it a personal rule never to correct anybody's prayer or testimony, and, frankly, don't really recall having acted the part of a "grammar Nazi" at any point.

No, I do not publicly critique testimonies, whatever I may privately think.

I find the thought abhorrent.

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Let me tell a story:

I learned German rather well on my mission.

After I had been home for quite a while, I attended the homecoming of one of my favorite junior companions (whose German, by the way, was entirely adequate). When it came time for him to bear his testimony auf Deutsch, he explained that he wasn't going to do it because he was intimidated by the fact that I was sitting in the audience.

I was mortified. I had made it a personal rule never to correct anybody's prayer or testimony, and, frankly, don't really recall having acted the part of a "grammar Nazi" at any point.

No, I do not publicly critique testimonies, whatever I may privately think.

I find the thought abhorrent.

I guess I was criticizing what I considered to be his assessment and opinions on Polygamy and Joseph. The last paragraph seems to contain his testimony and I don't take issue with that at all. I felt comfortable commenting because in my opinion, what he wrote wasn't what I would normally consider a testimony but statement of his opinion. What eternal or salvational elements could the Holy Ghost witness to in his statement? Not much if you ask me. But I'm quite certain no one asked me; so I not so graciously retract my criticism. I'd probably feel embarrassed and hurt if someone criticized my heart felt testimony.

I feel where you are coming from.

Big UP!

Lamanite

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Brian Hales knows all about the 1886 revelation to John Taylor and admits that it is most likely authentic, yet places a strained misinterpretation upon it in order to avoid facing the implications.

Before we start to dig into our respective opinions on this matter, I'd like you to reference examples where Hales "places a strained misinterpretation" on his exegesis of the 1886 Taylor revelation.

I've heard it said on this board that the statements "I have not revoked this law nor will I for it is everlasting and those who will enter into my glory must obey the conditions thereof" and the "New and Everlasting Covenant" were exclusively referring to plural marriage, and that "Celestial Marriage" as referenced at the time, was synonymous with plural marriage.

I would contend then just as it is now, that the "New and Everlasting Covenant" extends to a much broader interpretation and meaning than proponents of plural marriage are willing to believe.

EDIT: We may want to start a new thread so as to not derail this one. If you agree to it, I don't see any reason why we shouldn't.

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I'd like to invite Bro. Hales to discuss the 1886 revelation with me on this board. Since someone has graciously and without warning or explanation removed my ability to start new threads, I wont be able to start a thread about it. Since Brian Hales has joined and posted here recently, maybe he will take notice and join the discussion.

As far as Hales misinterpreting the 1886 revelation, Drew Briney makes these comments:

A Textual Analysis of the 1886 Revelation

1886 REVELATION EXCERPT

My son John: You have asked me concerning the New and Everlasting Covenant

and how far it is binding upon my people. Thus saith the Lord:

Hales contends that this opening phrase referring to the new

and everlasting covenant refers to the fullness of the gospel in general

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  • 2 weeks later...

I never imagined that everybody would find all entries equally helpful. There would have been little point in having more than one, were that the case.

Different voices will appeal to different people at different times.

The same is true with sacrament meeting talks and public expressions of testimony. Some are more powerful to me than others. But I don't sit out in the audience holding up a score at the end of every talk and testimony.

A couple of months ago my oldest son and his wife and daughter came to stay with us for a couple of weeks as a kind of working vacation. My son is one of these conscientious LDS who take notes of sacrament meeting talks, and so there he was earnestly scribbling during the meeting on the first Sunday they were there. I didn't think much of it until the end of the meeting block when he showed me his notes and enthusiasitically pronounced the talks that day to be the best he had heard in a long time. I had to suppress a moment of evident incredulity, as I responded "Wha...? Oh, yes, they were good." What I meant to say was they were just as good as our talks generally are. The two speakers, a husband and wife, did a creditable job, but nothing, I thought, to write home about. Clearly I was mistaken!

I've given talks that I thought were crap, or common garden variety, only to have folks come up to me afterwards and enthusiastically praise them. One time our stake president told me he was still thinking about a talk I had given two weeks previously. I was sort of worried about that one. I still don't know if that meant he liked the talk or thought I was bordering on apostasy!

But it might be useful feedback to get someone to hold numbers up! Great suggestion, and if I think of it I will suggest this to our Bishop.

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I would not consider it a derail and would love to hear from Brother Hales, on any of the topics.

Big UP!

Lamanite

I know he's no stranger to discussion boards. I witnessed a great exchange he had with an agnostic/atheist on the "Joseph Smith the Prophet" Facebook page. He has a lot of patience...to say the least. There are a few of us from MADB who have previously debated said person who shall remain unnamed for the sake of their own privacy. I'm sure it would be worth Brian's while to come. But then again, its up to him, and he's the expert on what he's written, not me. I'd like to see his response to the information posted above concerning a particular viewpoint offered on the Manifesto.

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I never imagined that everybody would find all entries equally helpful. There would have been little point in having more than one, were that the case.

Different voices will appeal to different people at different times.

His testimony was refreshing. He spoke to a key issue of Josephs life with a measure of clarity that I have seldom seen;

"Sexual relations were present in some of the Prophet

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Brian Hales seems to have overlooked my post above, so I just sent him a private message inviting him to discuss the 1886 revelation on this board.

Hello - this is a new experience for me - I've not been much of a blogger, but the issues raised are worth discussing.

For the critic of my testimony/non-testimony I guess I could have phrased things better. It seems to me that some Church members might be worried about Joseph Smith's involvement with plural marriage - thinking that perhaps there is some dark secret hiding there. Certainly the antagonists imply as much. I've tried to read every known document dealing with the topic and I can affirm that Joseph Smith was a devout, virtuous, prophet of God.

I apologize for the self-promotion - coming across as Mr. know-it-all on JS's polygamy. There is much I don't know, but I've tried to SEE everything and I do not believe there are any secrets that will damage testimony except that the topic - polygamy - is meaty and may cause milk-drinkers to choke (D&C 19:22).

Regarding the 1886 revelation. Sorry if someone thinks I "hedge." I think is it genuine and that it says what it says, nothing more, nothing less.

I appreciate the quotes from Drew Briney's book. I went to lunch with him and his lovely wife a week ago. He and I differ on important points, but I admire his gifts and accomplishments and his ability to juggle :-)

So, what is the significance of the 1886 revelation? Does it authorize continued plural marriage? Or does the New and Everlasting Covenant mentioned include the principle of plural marriage, but is not limited strictly to it? Who can say?

Here's my take: Imagine a group of boys playing baseball. They've played hard for hours and the afternoon sun starts to set. They congregate on the pitcher's mound to decide whether they should play another inning or two. As they discuss the pro and cons of continuing, the boy who owns the ONLY baseball grabs the ball and says, "I done." He walks off with the baseball in hand. The remaining boys could disagree. They could have a testimony meeting that baseball should continue. They could have a group prayer or whatever. It wouldn't matter. Without the baseball, the game can't be played. Some of the boys might be so bothered that they find a roundish rock or and apple or a dirt clod and play with that. It wouldn't be real baseball, but a counterfeit.

You see, our opinions about the true meaning of the 1886 revelation are really immaterial. The only person whose opinion matters is the "one" man who holds the keys of sealing (D&C 132:7). If he says we're done with plural marriage, I think we're done. Creative interpretations of the 1886 revelation or the 1890 manifesto have no meaning because rhetoric and strong argument cannot conjure up genuine sealing authority.

It seems to me that any marriage, monogamous or polygamous, even if entered into sincerely with burning bosoms all around, still must be "through him whom I have anointed and appointed unto this power" or else "it is not valid neither of force when they are out of the world, because they are not joined by me, saith the Lord, neither by my word; when they are out of the world it cannot be received there, because the angels and the gods are appointed there, by whom they cannot pass; they cannot, therefore, inherit my glory; for my house is a house of order, saith the Lord God." (D&C 132:18; bold mine) .

I'm convinced that if Joseph Smith were here, he would condemn all of the "Mormon fundamentalists" because they have no authority. And I bet he would quote them D&C 132:18.

If anyone thinks that genuine authority is not needed or that John Woolley or Lorin or A. Dayer Lebaron or Elden Kingston or James Harmston or _________________ [fill in the blank] held the keys of sealing in succession from Joseph Smith, then we should probably start another thread :-)

Comments?

Brian Hales

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I think the majority of the issues raised in this thread were those recited from Drew Briney's book and posted here by kamenraider.

Your response to Briney's work is admirable and civil. I personally can learn a lot from that. You mentioned that you admire Briney's ability to "juggle" in addition to his accomplishments. Do you think Briney's book would be sold at a typical run-of-the-mill LDS bookstore, or is the content too "meaty" and potentially speculative? I'm interested in Briney's point of view, but given that I don't have his book and only have two of your books Brian...I don't feel that I have the resources necessary to properly analyze these issues point by point, though your work has been instrumental in bringing previously unknown or obscure knowledge about plural marriage to the forefront of LDS scholarship.

As with many historical issues, the 1886 Revelation is one that have proved itself controversial, even among practicing members of the Church. Ultimately the keys of prophetic authority rest with the Lord's living oracles, in whom the dispensation of the fullness of times is entrusted. I never saw Taylor's words as contradictory to later statements prohibiting plural marriage by later prophets. Plural marriage was a limited practice in the first place.

On a side note, it has been attributed to author Richard S. Van Wagoner that the number of plural marriages being performed actually increases AFTER the 1890 Manifesto. While there were several marriages that were performed well into the 20th Century, is there any evidence to suggest that the aforementioned conclusion is correct?

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Hi Bro. Hales, thanks for responding to my invitation to discuss this here.

Helaman 5:12 And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

To me the above passage of scripture means that those who endeavor to "live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God" (as Melchizedek priesthood holders do), need to give priority to instructions that are given to us by the Lord in the first person via revelation.

It should be a simple matter to determine if a revelation to the Prophet is indeed the word of the Lord:

Search the scriptures--search the revelations which we publish, and ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, to manifest the truth unto you, and if you do it with an eye single to his glory nothing doubting, He will answer you by the power of His Holy Spirit. You will then know for yourselves and not for another. You will not then be dependent on man for the knowledge of God; nor will there be any room for speculation.

--Joseph Smith, TPJS pg. 11.

You state above regarding the 1886 revelation that "...I think is it [sic] genuine and that it says what it says...", and so we can agree about that. I know it is genuine. I'm glad to see that you think so now, because in your 1992 book The Priesthood of Modern Polygamy (pg. 59) it says that "...the authenticity of the purported 1886 revelation to John Taylor is still questioned...." On the next page it says: "The alleged revelation contains the statement that God would 'not revoke this Law.' Fundamentalists interpret that to mean that the practice of plural marriage could never be suspended, [sic] the 'Law' is not strictly plural marriage." I understand you to mean by this that "the law" that the Lord said He would not revoke refers to temple marriage sealings in general, rather than just polygamy. D&C 132:31-34 says this about "the law":

D&C 132:31-34

31 This promise is yours also, because ye are of Abraham, and the promise was made unto Abraham; and by this law is the continuation of the works of my Father, wherein he glorifieth himself.

32 Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved.

33 But if ye enter not into my law ye cannot receive the promise of my Father, which he made unto Abraham.

34 God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the law; and from Hagar sprang many people. This, therefore, was fulfilling, among other things, the promises.

Regarding the meaning of "the law", William Law, who had D&C 132 read to him and explained to him by Hyrum Smith, wrote:

The revelation (so called) authorized certain men to have more wives than one at a time, in this world and in the world to come. It said this was the law, and commanded Joseph to enter into the law. -- And also that he should administer to others.

--Nauvoo Expositor Vol. I, No. 1, June 7, 1844, pg. 2, column 4, photo reproduction by Gospel Truth Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI 1989 (Italics in the original).

In the revelation given to John Taylor on October 13, 1882 it says: "You may appoint Seymour B. Young to fill up the vacancy in the presiding quorum of Seventies, if he will conform to my law; for it is not meet that men who will not abide my law shall preside over my priesthood...." The Lord here refers to plural marriage as "my law."

Do you really believe that John Taylor was asking the Lord (when he received the 1886 revelation) how far temple marriage was binding on members of the Church, and that this question just happened to coincide with the imminent passage of the dreaded Edmunds-Tucker Act, but that it did not regard plural marriage specifically?

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Here's my take: Imagine a group of boys playing baseball. They've played hard for hours and the afternoon sun starts to set. They congregate on the pitcher's mound to decide whether they should play another inning or two. As they discuss the pro and cons of continuing, the boy who owns the ONLY baseball grabs the ball and says, "I done." He walks off with the baseball in hand. The remaining boys could disagree. They could have a testimony meeting that baseball should continue. They could have a group prayer or whatever. It wouldn't matter. Without the baseball, the game can't be played. Some of the boys might be so bothered that they find a roundish rock or and apple or a dirt clod and play with that. It wouldn't be real baseball, but a counterfeit.

And that's the bottum line. Thomas S. Monson has the keys; end of story.

D&C 42:11

11)Again I say unto you, that it shall not be given to any one to go forth to preach my gospel, or to build up my church, except he be ordained by some one who has authority, and it is known to the church that he has authority and has been regularly ordained by the heads of the church.

Anyone "Mormon" who claims priesthood authority outside of the Church is either a liar or the victim of satanic deception.

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And that's the bottum line. Thomas S. Monson has the keys; end of story.

D&C 42:11

11)Again I say unto you, that it shall not be given to any one to go forth to preach my gospel, or to build up my church, except he be ordained by some one who has authority, and it is known to the church that he has authority and has been regularly ordained by the heads of the church.

Anyone "Mormon" who claims priesthood authority outside of the Church is either a liar or the victim of satanic deception.

When I was sealed to my wife in the temple, the sealer talked about how he was given sealing authority by Spencer W. Kimball. Spencer W. Kimball was dead at that time. The Prophet at the time, Gordon B. Hinckley, knew nothing about me being sealed to my wife either. Yet the ordinance was valid because it was performed by one who was authorized by a Prophet and was approved of by men who had that authority delegated to them by a Prophet.

Soooo, is it impossible for John Taylor to have set men apart to continue plural marriage, and for them to have been given authorization to perform sealings, and for them to have properly used that authority even after the Prophet who so authorized them was dead, and the living Prophet at that time knowing nothing about it? IIRC J. Reuben Clark wanted to include a comment in his 1933 statement that any sealing authority given by a Prophet ended when that Prophet died. I assume that he was prevented from including that idea because it is wrong.

Are the polygamy groups working to preach the gospel or build up the Church? Not the way I see it. In reading through Lorin C. Woolley's School of the Prophets Minutes I could see that they were very concerned about not wanting to replace or detract from or interfere with anything that the Church did, but rather to supplement it by providing ordinances or teachings that the Church no longer provided.

In Joseph Smith's day plural marriage was not practiced by the Church. It was definitely practiced though, so if that was not via "priesthood authority outside of the Church" then I don't know how it was done.

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When I was sealed to my wife in the temple, the sealer talked about how he was given sealing authority by Spencer W. Kimball. Spencer W. Kimball was dead at that time. The Prophet at the time, Gordon B. Hinckley, knew nothing about me being sealed to my wife either. Yet the ordinance was valid because it was performed by one who was authorized by a Prophet and was approved of by men who had that authority delegated to them by a Prophet.

Exactly,that sealer was ordained by some one who has authority, and it was known to the church that he has authority and has been regularly ordained by the heads of the church. He wasn't some excommunicant who claims to have recieved the authority in a secret meeting when Pres. Kimball was at his house.

Soooo, is it impossible for John Taylor to have set men apart to continue plural marriage, and for them to have been given authorization to perform sealings, and for them to have properly used that authority even after the Prophet who so authorized them was dead, and the living Prophet at that time knowing nothing about it?

OK, let me ask you this: who do you think has a better claim for being the "one man" described in D&C 132, LCW or HJG?

Are the polygamy groups working to preach the gospel or build up the Church?
YES!!! Don't they teach their children faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, receiving the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands by one having authority? Don't they pretend to give and recieve all the ordinances of the gospel, especially after 1978?
In Joseph Smith's day plural marriage was not practiced by the Church. It was definitely practiced though, so if that was not via "priesthood authority outside of the Church" then I don't know how it was done.

Nonsense, it may have been preached and practiced in secret, BUT Joseph was the President of the Church and the participants where members of the Church; he was the "one man" mentioned in D&C 132.

When he died, the Church was run by the 12. Who was the "one man" then? Brigham Young, the president of the Church.

When he died, the Church was run by the 12. Who was the "one man" then? John Taylor, the President of the Church.

When he died, the Church was run by the 12. Who was the "one man" then? Wilfurd Woodruff, the President of the Church.

When he died, the Church was run by the 12. Who was the "one man" then? Lorenzo Snow, the President of the Church.

When he died, the Church was run by the 12. Who was the "one man" then? Joseph F. Smith, the President of the Church.

When he died, the Church was run by the 12. Who was the "one man" then? Heber J. Grant, the President of the Church etc, etc, etc.

But no, the fundamentalist would have you believe that God chose an excommunicated sealer to hold the keys, who was then succeded by his tall tale telling son, who was excommunicated for "pernicious falsehood". NONSENSE.

This is why fundamentalists alaways try to create what i call a "doctrinal wedge" between the Saints and their forfathers. They claim to do things the way BY, JT, WW did so they must be the right ones. Forget continuing revelation, common consent and all that.

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