Brian David Mitchell, the man accused of kidnapping the young Mormon girl Elizabeth Smart in 2002, has spent most of the past six years in a mental health facility. Mr. Mitchell is now in the news again as prosecutors try to prove that he is mentally competent to stand trial. KSL.com reports:
“After Brian David Mitchell’s arrest for the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart, investigators learned he also wrote a book of scripture. In ‘The Book of Immanuel David Isaiah,’ Mitchell seems to be saying he has powers greater than God’s.
“Psychiatric experts labeled such beliefs ‘bizarre’ and said they cause Mitchell significant distress and a decline in his ability to function in society. Their conclusion: he’s delusional and mentally ill.
“But in a pretrial motion prosecutors asked the judge to allow two expert witnesses ‘to demonstrate that Mitchell’s religious expression is not “bizarre” when viewed within context.'”
One of the expert witnesses that have been requested is BYU’s Daniel Peterson. According to the prosecutors, Dr. Peterson “will speak to the coherency of Mitchell’s writings.” Dr. Peterson reportedly told KSL “that he will testify about whether Mitchell wrote his scripture in an ‘ecstatic’ mental state or whether the writings are ‘the product of a deliberate, cool mind.'”
Brian David Mitchell was excommunicated from the LDS Church after The Book of Immanuel David Isaiah appeared on the scene. In an official statement offered on March 13, 2003 the LDS Church explained that Mr. Mitchell’s excommunication was “for activity promoting bizarre teachings and lifestyle far afield from the principles and doctrines of the Church.”
The Book of Immanuel David Isaiah is comprised of 27 pages. It contains 7 revelations as well as a “Statement of Intent and Purpose.” The prophecies in the book sound a lot like the writings found in the LDS scripture Doctrine and Covenants. The book also contains many quotes from the Book of Mormon and other LDS scriptures. Consider the following examples.
Hearken! Oh ye inhabitants of the earth. Listen together and open your ears, for it is I, the Lord God of all the earth, the creator of all things that speaketh unto you. Yea, even Jesus Christ speaking by the voice of my servant whom I have called and chosen to be a light and a covenant to the world in these last days. (The Book of Immanuel David Isaiah, p. 1, 9 February 2002)
Hearken, O ye people of my church, saith the voice of him who dwells on high, and whose eyes are upon all men; …And the voice of warning shall be unto all people, by the mouths of my disciples, whom I have chosen in these last days. (D&C 1:1, 4)
…the destroying angel shall pass them by and not slay them, and they shall have health in their navel and marrow in their bones, and they shall run and not be weary and walk and not faint, and they shall have great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures… (The Book of Immanuel David Isaiah, p. 11, 27 February 2002)
…shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; and shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; and shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint. And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. (D&C 89:18-21)
…ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts. (The Book of Immanuel David Isaiah, p. 12, 27 February 2002 and Mormon 8:36)
Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same. (The Book of Immanuel David Isaiah, p. 14, 27 February 2002 and D&C 1:38)
The basic message of The Book of Immanuel David Isaiah is that the churches of this day are lacking in truth and authority; God has chosen and called a prophet (Mitchell) to be a light in this darkness, to gather people into the true and living church in its purified form — The Church of the Firstborn; and to call people to repentance and obedience to Christ. It speaks of the importance of the law of consecration and the Word of Wisdom, both doctrines introduced to the Church by Joseph Smith and valid in the LDS Church today. Mr. Mitchell talks respectfully about the Melchizedek priesthood, priesthood keys, and the new and everlasting covenant.
Of course, the book’s denunciation of modern leadership of the LDS Church as “false prophets who speak vain and foolish and lying words” including one who has “acted deceitfully…lifted up in the pride of his heart…” (The Book of Immanuel David Isaiah, pp. 2-3, 9 February 2002) would not be tolerated by the Church; but it should sound familiar. Joseph Smith (as well as other LDS Prophets) denounced the leadership of Christian churches, accusing priests and reverends of deception and pride. In fact, much of the teachings in Mitchell’s book, and the polygamous aspirations of Brian David Mitchell (the book indicates he intended to take 49 wives — the same number of wives some historians attribute to Joseph Smith) mirror Joseph Smith and his teachings.
It will be interesting to see how Dr. Peterson testifies, if allowed, about The Book of Immanuel David Isaiah. Does he believe Mitchell’s revelations are coherent? Does he think the book was written while Mitchell was in an “‘ecstatic’ mental state”? Or are the writings “the product of a deliberate, cool mind”? Will Dr. Peterson’s testimony about The Book of Immanuel David Isaiah and its author have any correspondence to Joseph Smith and his writings? Stay tuned…
For more information see Yet Another Prophet: Brian David Mitchell .
Comments within the parameters of 1 Peter 3:15 are invited.