“Imminent Martyrdom”

At the October 2009 General Conference LDS Apostle Jeffrey Holland gave a talk titled, “Safety for the Soul.” This talk has been closely examined and critiqued in a series of videos posted by FlackerMan on You Tube. In video #2 (of 5) FlackerMan examines Mr. Holland’s claim of Joseph Smith’s dying testimony of the Book of Mormon. In October 2009 Mr. Holland said,

“May I refer to a modern last-days testimony. When Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, started for Carthage, to face what they knew would be an imminent martyrdom…”

In his critique, FlackerMan disputes the frequently asserted LDS claim that Joseph Smith knew he was going to die at Carthage. FlackerMan asks some pretty interesting questions related to Joseph’s behavior in relation to his death; they, in turn, call into question the notion that Joseph was willingly going like a lamb to the slaughter as he travelled from Nauvoo to Carthage (see D&C 135:4). I have edited and listed many of FlackerMan’s questions here for your consideration.

  • Joseph removed his temple garments before going to Carthage and told others to do the same (D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, 146). Why would he do this if he were about to die a martyr’s death for his testimony?
  • Joseph, Hyrum and others drank wine while singing songs in Carthage Jail (History of the Church, 7:101). Why would Joseph disobey the Word of Wisdom, a direct revelation from God, if he knew he was very soon to stand before that God for judgment and be required to give an account of his behavior?
  • Joseph sent an order to the Nauvoo Legion instructing an attack on Carthage Jail to free the prisoners. When the mob approached, Joseph mistook them for his liberators and told the frightened jailer, “Don’t trouble yourself, they have come to rescue me” (Quinn, 141). Why would Joseph have made plans for, and expected, his escape if he knew he was going to die?
  • Joseph had and used a gun defensively during the attack (History of the Church, 7:101-103). Why would he bother to fend off his attackers if he was going “like a lamb to the slaughter” and knew he was about to die?
  • When Joseph’s gun ran out of ammunition he ran to the window and, using the Masonic distress code, called for help from fellow Masons who might have been in the mob (see E. Cecil McGavin, Mormonism and Masonry, 16-17). Why would he call for help if he knew his destiny was to die that day? Indeed, if Joseph knew his death was imminent, why did he not just give himself up for the safety of his friends who were with him?
  • After the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum, the LDS Church was in crisis.  No clear direction for succession in leadership had been set in place. This lack of direction resulted in many schisms and breakaway Mormon groups all claiming to be God’s only true church. If Joseph knew he was never to return from Carthage Jail, why didn’t he definitively name a successor before his death?

Did Joseph Smith know he was going to Carthage to die? The circumstances and Joseph’s behavior surrounding his death make that seem highly unlikely. This is yet another faith-promoting Mormon myth employed to persuade people to pin their eternal hopes to what is ultimately a lie.

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
This entry was posted in Joseph Smith, Mormon History and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

59 Responses to “Imminent Martyrdom”

  1. falcon says:

    My prediction is that any Mormon reading this will either dispute the facts or interpret them in such a way to sustain their belief that Smith was a martyr, a prophet and a hero. We see this constantly when it comes to Smith’s behavior whether it might be his seduction of women for his own sexual gratification or his involvement with the occult. Smith must be preserved in the mind of the Mormon or the whole religion goes down the tubes. There is, however, one sect of Mormonism that sees Joseph Smith as a fallen prophet and who do not accept anything after the Book of Commandments which Smith replaced with Doctrine and Covenants.
    Facing the truth about Joseph Smith is a difficult thing for the questioning Mormon, but it is one step along the path to gaining freedom from Mormonism. Finding faith in Christ and eternal life in Him causes Smith to become the incredible shrinking man.

  2. Sharon,

    Let me play a little Devil’s Advocate. I think it is fairly obvious that Joseph and company had a good idea that they might die if they went to jail. Is anyone disputing this? This was possibly a reason, or even the reason, why they were about to flee into the rocky mountains. Even if Joseph was interested in clearing his name at trial, he was not obliged to turn himself in as his safety was far from guaranteed as the historical record demonstrates. Granted, I think Joseph was engaged in at least one, and possibly multiple illegal activities (the destruction of the printing press being the foremost), but the state is supposed to better than mere criminals and on that day it was not.

    As far as the Word of Wisdom goes, I think it has nothing to do either way with Joseph’s knowledge of his impending death. I think the historical record demonstrates that 19th century Mormons, Joseph Smith included, viewed the Word of Wisdom differently than Mormons do today.

    I think that the horse at the dining room table is the often made comparison to the death of Jesus. Many Mormons have compared the two as MRM has shown. The two parallel each other in that both were religious leaders, even founders, and both died. That is about where the similarities stop.

    Lastly, I think some people forget just how savage the American frontier could be. I am surprised that the violence surrounding the Latter-day Saints was not more than it was; I am surprised that Joseph lived as long as he did. No doubt that Mormons and non-Mormons took their propensity towards violence and their distrust of one another in the Rocky Mountains in the following decades.

  3. David, I’m on the road so this will be quick, but I’m gonna push back a little on this. I do not believe Joseph and Hyrum thought they were going to die at Carthage. I think there is plenty of evidence that suggests they thought they would either be liberated by the Nauvoo Legion, or, by Habeas Corpus which had worked so well for Joseph many times before. As for the WoW, true it was not yet a commandment, yet God did allegedly give specific directions regarding alcohol which Joseph disregarded in that situation. And last quick point, I think the context of the frontier is important to keep in mind, yet we need to be careful to not go too far. Yes, there was mob justice, but even so, history shows that the people *generally* wanted to solve things within the law (demonstrated, perhaps, by your surprise that the violence was not worse than it was).

  4. Thanks Sharon. I think “might” is the key word there. I do not want to attempt to read minds either way. However, I do think it is clear that Joseph was not a “lamb to the slaughter” as many Mormons try to portray him as.

    Regarding the WoW, I think it is clear many Mormons, including Joseph, blew it off. There are anecdotes around the internet that spittoons could be found at wards and temples up into the 20th century. I would love to see some pictures of those.

    As far as violence of the time . . . in the late 1850’s and early 1860’s (and into the civil war) men could be seen with “war trophies” in the form of human body parts dangling from their necks. The massacre of the Alamo, Mountain Meadows, and Sand Creek were only a few years off. There are stories of men, who had their wives leave them for a polygamous marriage, avenge themselves with a pistol at close range (Parley Pratt was not the only one). Public executions, tar & feathering (this even happened to Joseph), and the list goes on . . .

    The people who generally wanted to solve things generally stayed back east. Many frontiers people (though not all) went west in part because of the freedom, even freedom to commit violence, that the west provided.

  5. iamse7en says:

    Did Joseph Smith know he was going to Carthage to die? The circumstances and Joseph’s behavior surrounding his death make that seem highly unlikely.

    Clearly, one cannot know for certain whether Joseph knew he was going to die. But to say the circumstances and behavior make that seem unlikely is very naive.

    Two very simple quotes show that Joseph suspected he may die if he goes to Carthage. Why you opt to ignore these important points is beyond me.

    Just before Joseph turns himself in, he flees Nauvoo. He talks of fleeing to the Rocky Mountains. Emma gives a letter to Porter Rockwell for Joseph to read. She says she has confidence in Gov. Ford and calls Joseph a coward for fleeing. Others have a similar sentiment. This causes Joseph to say: “If my life is of no value to my friends it is of none to myself.” When Hyrum insists they return to Nauvoo to face legal prosecution, Joseph tells him: “If you go back I will go with you, but we shall be butchered.” This sounds like a guy who believes he might die if he returns to Nauvoo.

    Then, John Taylor wrote that Joseph said: “I am going like a lamb to the slaughter; but I am calm as a summer’s morning; I have a conscience void of offense towards God, and towards all men. I shall die innocent.” According to Smith family tradition, Joseph told his mother: “I go as a lamb to the slaughter, but if my death will atone for any faults I have committed during my life time I am willing to die.”

    On top of this, Hyrum stops by to see Mary Fielding and his son Joseph F. before turning themselves in, and tells his wife, “Never forget me. I will die for the truth.”

    There are enough quotes and instances that clearly show that Joseph and Hyrum feared they would die if they turned themselves in. Why you choose to ignore rationality and say it’s highly unlikely, I have no idea. What’s your incentive to prove this point, anyways?

  6. iamse7en says:

    Furthermore, the bullet points to support your argument are very weak. I will comment on each.

    The first: this fact is often used by Mormons to prove he DID know he was going to die. Mormons believe the garments protect the faithful, so he willingly took them off. Regardless of your beliefs, the bulletpoint is a very weak one.

    Second: this shows great ignorance. The Word of Wisdom was just that! A word of wisdom. As quoted from D&C 89: “Word OF Wisdom, for the benefit of the council of high priests…and the church, and also the saints in Zion – To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom, showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days.” The word of wisdom was given not by commandment or constraint. It only became a requirement to hold a temple recommend much later. Joseph drank wine many times. Again, this bulletpoint is extremely weak.

    Third: this one is better. When you mix this comment with his other more sure comments about his future, the only conclusion is this: he suspected he would die but still had hope that he might not. We cannot possibly know for sure what exactly was in his mind, which states my point from my very first paragraph.

    Fourth: this is also weak, because you don’t know WHY he had a gun. He was there with people very dear to him. How do you know he wasn’t using the gun out of fear for his friends’ lives? It’s all speculation.

    Fifth: again, how do you know he wasn’t calling for help for the lives of his friends? Speculation.

  7. iamse7en says:

    Sixth and last: this one is ridiculous. I laughed at this one. First off, we know Joseph said this: “Some have supposed that Brother Joseph could not die; but this is a mistake: it is true there have been times when I have had the promise of my life to accomplish such and such things, but, having now accomplished those things, I have not at present any lease of my life, I am as liable to die as other men.” It’s clear he believes he has finished what he feels the Lord wanted him to do, and that he suspected he could now die as any other man, but he didn’t know WHEN that would be. It’s clear he only started to really suspect the “when” he was going to die that moment he decided he would return to Nauvoo “as a lamb to the slaughter,” literally hours before his martyrdom. He was going to assure no crisis would occur in those 2 days or so from Carthage? Give me a break. Plus, if you read Andrew Ehat’s 1844 Succession essay, he provides great evidence that Joseph DID prepare the Church for when his life would be taken, by giving the keys to the 12 Apostles (not any of the first presidency, or his son, or whoever else claimed the right of succession) through the administration of temple ordinances, most specifically, the 2nd anointing.

  8. Ralph says:

    1 – I think one of the reasons he removed his garments would be similar to today’s problems. Many anti-LDS groups wave them around and make fun of them. How much ‘bigger and better’ would one look in those days to do the same with JS’s garments? He was respecting the sanctity of the garment by removing it and not allowing anyone to show any disrespect towards them. BTW, the church official doctrine is that the garment is only a spiritual protection, NOT a physical one if that was the point the person was trying to make – that JS would have been saved if he was wearing them.

    2 – The WoW was not ‘enforced’ in JS’s days. In the first part of the WoW it says its just a word of wisdom not a command or constraint. This did not come until the saints had moved over to Utah.

    3 – I don’t know what was going on in JS’s mind, but he possibly did not think he was going to be killed there in gaol. He may have known that going back to Nauvoo would end up with his death, but not exactly when. I don’t know. He may have thought that he would get out of gaol alive, but die a couple of days later in some other incident. He may have said what he did to the gaoler to quieten his and the others’ nerves so that the gaolers would not start shooting first which would make things worse.

    4 – We have discussed this one a number of times. No one knows what he was thinking at the time so his actions here are ambiguous. We LDS like to believe that he was only protecting his friends. He started shooting after his brother was killed. Once the gun ran out of bullets he went to the window which was away from where the others in the room were situated. This deflected the mobs’ view from those in the room to just JS. This saved 2 other’s lives. You can interpret his actions however you want.

  9. Ralph says:

    An interesting aside here about the phrase ‘lamb to the slaughter’. I have never seen lambs get slaughtered but I have been in the room when killing mice for experiments. We have to kill them in a separate room or in a closed off area so the other mice do not know what is happening. Although they cannot see what is happening they do tend to know what is going on if it’s done in the same vicinity. It may be a sound, smell (ie blood) or something else that triggers the other mice. But they get very agitated if this protocol is not adapted. What is done with lambs? Can they be killed in the same room one at a time without getting agitated after seeing another slaughtered in front of them? Or is the killing done in a separate room so the other lambs don’t know what is happening so they are kept quiet and still and accept the death when it comes? If it’s the latter, then a lamb to the slaughter can be panicked after seeing/sensing another lamb slaughtered, just like JS could have been panicked after his brother was murdered. So JS’s comment would still be applicable in this sense anyway. I do know that lambs do get agitated when they sense something is wrong, as well as when they are rough handled.

    5 – The only people that keep asserting that JS used Masonic tokens to call for help are the anti-LDS as far as I know. If this is the case, then this is a dubious claim. And I don’t mean the LDS critics today, but the only ones there at the time of JS’s murder were anti-LDS mobsters. They could say anything they want to try and discredit JS even more. If he did do it, he could have been trying to calm the mob down by appealing to any watching Masons in the mob so he could negotiate the safety of his friends and his surrender.

    6 – Don’t know any answer to this one, but hey to paraphrase a quote – 5 out of 6 ain’t bad.

    Did JS know he was going to die? Most likely he knew he was going to die if he went back to Nauvoo, but not exactly when he would die.

  10. falcon says:

    Man, the Mormons are writing fast and furious today! Usually it only gets this hot when something about the faux priesthood is posted.
    Let’s not forget, Joseph Smith ended up in jail for ordering the destruction of a printing press. Spin away Mormons but it was this lawless deed that sent him to jail and eventually to his death. Yea, I know and Brigham Young wasn’t complicit in the Mountain Meadows Massacre either.
    Smith wasn’t interested in buying the farm when he went to jail. He had every reason to want to live. He had power, money and sex the three things that corrupt men and he was corrupt. We’re not talking about a flawed prophet here. We’re talking about a religious charlatan who armed himself in order to shoot his way out of jail if necessary.
    I for one wished the guy had lived. The whole deal would have eventually crumbled around him. He would have been the author of his own destruction which I guess he was any way.

  11. Ralph says:


    The last 3 articles on MC were basically ‘who gives a damn?’ There was nothing in them that really touched on doctrine, church life style, or a main point. Since my time now is very limited I chose not to respond to them.

    This article has a little more structure with some questions that although do not ultimately affect the truthfulness of the LDS church, can be answered effectively enough.

    As far as the reason why JS was in gaol – I know it was for destroying the printing press. Did he do it (ie was it his idea or was he following other peoples’ idea)? There is evidence for and against. Choose which evidence you want to believe. When it comes to BY and the Mountain Meadows Massacre, there is no evidence at all pointing to any involvement by him, except for maybe in a cover up after the event, but nothing at all for the event itself.

    But JS was murdered while in gaol for an entirely different reason for why he was in there. That is a civil injustice regardless of how one wishes to see it. The sentence for his internment would never amount to capitol punishment either. As for whether he was a martyr or not – depends on which side of the fence you wish to sit.

    Did he arm himself? I know a weapon was smuggled in by someone and given to him, but did he ask for it? Or did the person take it upon himself to bring it in and give it to JS? Can someone answer that one because I have not heard anything either way.

  12. Ralph wrote

    This article has a little more structure with some questions that although do not ultimately affect the truthfulness of the LDS church…

    …except that is the issue that the article addresses; is the LDS “truthful” in promoting the idea that JS went like a “lamb to the slaughter” in much the same way that Jesus went to his execution? (See Acts 8:32 and 1 Cor 5:7 etc.)

    The answer is plainly “no”, principally because this “lamb” fought back.

    But, the LDS movement continues to promulgate the association, presumably because it wants us to view Joseph Smith’s untimely death with the same reverence as Jesus’.

    An regrettable side-effect is that it doesn’t elevate Joseph Smith’s death to Jesus’; it relegates Jesus’ death to Joseph Smith; i.e. the result of an unintended and unfortunate chain of events, contrary to the clear message of Matt 16:21, Matt 20:17, Mark 8:31, Mark 10:32, Mark 10:33, Luke 18:31, John 12:33, John 18:32.

    I don’t apologize for the repetition of scripture here because its a point the Gospels make ad nauseam; Jesus knew he was going to die in Jerusalem, and he deliberately ensured that this was the fate he was going to meet. The question that we are invited to ask is why he would choose to do so.

  13. iamse7en & Ralph,

    I think the safest position is that Joseph had an idea that he would die but did not know for sure.

    You all can say that Joseph fired the pistol to protect his friends, but even still . . .
    If one does that, he loses the banner of “a lamb to the slaughter”. That does not mean his actions were wrong or even unjustified it just means he was not slaughtered like a lamb; lambs don’t shoot back. Plus, and this is huge, Joseph (and everybody else) would not be in that situation had a certain prophet not ordered the destruction of a printing press.

    As far as the Masonic connection goes, it is not far fetched. Joseph and several of the men in his inner circle (including Hyrum) were Masons. The mob was sizeable enough that there was a very good chance at least one Mason was there. And
    the phrase, “O Lord my God is there no help for the widow’s son” is a masonic distress call. Joseph said the first four words of that in a moment of extreme duress. Not a smoking gun, but not far-fetched.

  14. falcon says:

    This portrayal of Joseph Smith as a devout, reverent individual that went knowingly to his death is a characterization the LDS would like to promote but the facts don’t match the PR attempt.
    As I said in my previous post, three things tend to corrupt men in positions of authority: power, money and sex. Smith gave himself over to all three and it eventually led to his destruction. Joseph Smith didn’t die because of religious persecution. He wasn’t some ascetic living a monastic life or a humble and meek Ghandi like figure leading a nonviolent movement.
    Didn’t he after all declare himself a general and play military dress-up with a full uniform?
    No, it was his ego and his megalomaniac character that brought him down along with his lust for power, money and sex. Smith’s power base was in trouble because his sin was being exposed. Rather than coming clean by confessing his sins, repenting and turning to God, Smith sought to silence his accuser.
    He turned himself in to the authorities after being shamed by his wife in a letter. He was running away.
    Smith was no innocent lamb!

  15. rvales says:

    Instead of hearing the tag line of ‘like a lamb to slaughter’ I’d really like to see how Mormons can define that…what I mean is that we know Christ was the slaughtered lamb so I’d be interested to know how Mormons can (or do) compare JS death to Christ’s crucifiction.

  16. setfree says:

    "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God." (1 Peter 1:18-21)

    "And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. " (Rev. 7:13-17)


    It's Him that was without blemish or spot. It's HIS blood that makes us clean. It's HIM that willing was slaughtered for our sakes. It's Him alone that was innocent, was able. Jesus. Him alone.

  17. iamse7en says:


    One comment, although I probably shouldn’t even humor you with a response to your worthless drivel, but Smith must have picked a lot of infertile women, because with all this “sex” you say he was having, not a single recorded woman bore his child, other than his wife.

    Note: I’m not saying he didn’t sleep with his multiple wives, but if he wanted sex, there were much easier ways to get it than for the path that he chose. The whole “doing it for sex” argument merely ruins your credibility. It’s completely absurd and you “critics” can find much better arguments.

  18. falcon says:

    I can always tell when I’m hitting the ball solidly, the Mormons go into the personal insult attack mode.
    How foolish is it for someone to say that Joseph Smith slept with multiple wives but didn’t have sex with them. Mormons really are naive. There are ways of preventing pregnancy, even in those days if that’s your issue, and there are all kinds of ways to get sexual satisfaction/gratification. I take it your dad had at least one sex talk with you at some time in your life, if not I’m sure you’ve been able to figure out at least some of the mystery. You know the old line in the Van Morrison song, “working on mysteries without any clues.”

    I noticed that you stayed away from the power and money aspect of the corruption and sin of Smith. Mormons are living in a real fantasy land when it comes to Joseph Smith. They need to wise up!

  19. falcon says:

    Folks forgive me. I just can’t help it. I’ve been sitting here laughing almost to the point of tears about our buddy 7’s claim that maybe Smith DID sleep with those women but he didn’t have sex with them. Bill Clinton jumped into my mind with his claim that he tried weed but he didn’t inhale. And his other claim that he didn’t have sex with that woman not once.
    We’ve entered into a whole new stage of Mormon gullibility, naivete, and super rationalization when it comes to Joseph Smith. It is true that when the desire to believe something enters, thinking exits.
    I don’t want to take this thread down a different road, but suffice to say there’s enough information out there on Smith and his relations with his various women to prove the point.
    Mormons do go through a predictable pattern first to ignore, then to deny, then to rationalize, and finally to justify and then to turn to virtue the most egregious and scurrilous behavior on the part of Joseph Smith.

  20. OFF TOPIC (though with some bearing on the discussion generally)…

    It’s happened again, and it’s quite rare (maybe once a year) so we put it on video. It was my turn to give the message at Church last Sunday. If you’re interested in an unusual perspective on the Parable of the Talents and how it relates to guidance (or even ecclesiastical authority), follow the links below…


    All feedback is welcomed (maybe not on this thread)


  21. iamse7en says:

    I guess I should have clarified – Usually, when someone says “sleep with women” it refers to SEX. I mean, at least in this culture. You think I was saying he was sleeping with women next to them but wasn’t having sex? My bad, I guess. I was saying, of course, he probably had sex with his other wives. I was just pointing out that he wasn’t having tons of sex. You think he was doing it for sex, which means he would be having much sex with these wives. Actually, considering how often he was away from his wives, and how busy he was, and the fact that NONE of them bore any of his children is evidence he wasn’t having tons of sex as you would like to believe.

    What’s laughable is that you think Smith was in it for the sex. He sure didn’t do a great job with the sex, because it’s much easier to satisfy those urges outside of the order of polygamy. Just look to see what people do today. And, I should point out, that even with all the tools of contraception we have today, many, many women still get unwanted pregnancies. It’s just more evidence that Smith wasn’t have as much sex as you would like him to believe.

  22. iamse7en wrote

    What’s laughable is that you think Smith was in it for the sex. He sure didn’t do a great job with the sex, because it’s much easier to satisfy those urges outside of the order of polygamy.

    …but he couldn’t do it through adultery and maintain his claim to be a divinely appointed prophet.

    He had to find a way to sneak it in through the back door without anyone finding out. Solution – Celestial Marriage, carried out through a secret ceremony so only his loyal acolytes would know.


    NONE of them bore any of his children

    …have you checked the LDS genealogies? I’m informed they are quite thorough.

    Why did Sylvia Sessions Lyon tell her daughter Josephine that she was the daughter of Joseph Smith, the Prophet?

    That’s doubly ironic in the context of this thread – it was Sylvia’s “dying testimony” to her daughter.

    (From http://www.wivesofjosephsmith.org/DNA.htm)

  23. falcon says:

    You need to stop while you are ahead. Smith was having sex, but not a ton of sex? He had 33 wives man. What’s a ton of sex in your world man? Anyone who needs the gratification of having 33 women to call his own, isn’t doing it because he enjoys home cooking!
    My friend get a grip. Why do you think he used polygamy for a cover? He made adultery holy and righteous! That’s how he justified it. That’s how he manipulated the women into having sex with him. He was telling these babes that they’d be guaranteeing their salvation and that of their families by marrying him. He manipulated them using religion as a cover. That’s what cult leaders do. The guy was having sex with women that had husbands not taking into account that he was married himself.
    How far are you Mormons willing to go in an attempt to prop-up Joseph Smith?
    At the time of his death, Smith’s little empire was crumbling due to what is the downfall of many men. May I repeat, power, money and sex.

  24. mantis mutu says:

    I’ll give this a terse try:

    * Joseph removed his temple garments before going to Carthage…Why would he do this if he were about to die a martyr’s death for his testimony?

    A: To avoid desecration of sacred things. This was an issue whether or not they were to die. When you’re imprisoned (at least in the 19th cent) you don’t have liberty over your personals. They can be taken from you (and generally were), and what is done with them is out of your control. That’s the rub of imprisonment. The value of the temple garment to the believer is symbolic and hidden from the masses. It naturally does not make a good final emblem of the testator. Everyone knew what J.S. stood for if they really wanted to know. Giving his life was enough, I think.

    * Joseph, Hyrum and others drank wine…Why would Joseph disobey the Word of Wisdom…if he knew he was very soon to stand before that God for judgment…?

    D&C 89 distinguishes between “wine” and “strong drink” and forbids only the latter. It even okays “mild drink” of barley and other grains (beer, etc.) The full temperance followed by LDSs today is something they picked up at the turn of the century as a conservative, American Christian ideal. That the new LDS policy is often stated as a strict interpretation of D&C 89 is an error.

    * Joseph sent an order to the Nauvoo Legion instructing an attack on Carthage Jail to free the prisoners…Why would Joseph have made plans for, and expected, his escape if he knew he was going to die?

    A: This refutes other testimony that the Legion was ordered not to go to Carthage–which they didn’t. Neither did they respond in retaliation attacks, as many in Carthage feared would happen.

  25. mantis mutu says:

    * Joseph had and used a gun defensively during the attack… Why would he bother to fend off his attackers if he was going “like a lamb to the slaughter” and knew he was about to die?

    A. To defend himself and friends from men shooting at them??? This isn’t a fairy tale we’re talking about.

    * When Joseph’s gun ran out of ammunition he ran to the window…Why would he call for help if he knew his destiny was to die that day? …why did he not just give himself up for the safety of his friends…with him?

    A. It’s documented that a mortally wounded Smith looked at his dead brother, then in the eyes of Willard Richard, his secretary—who held the badly wounded John Taylor—and then went straight to the same window where he had just been shot—and cast himself out of the building. If he hadn’t done so, Richards and Taylor would’ve died as well.

    * After the deaths of J & H, the LDS Church was in crisis. No clear direction for succession in leadership had been set in place…If Joseph knew he was never to return from Carthage Jail, why didn’t he definitively name a successor before his death.

    A. Much of the Church’s leadership was far away on missions (many in England). Whatever the reason, I think most LDSs believe God took care of a situation that only He knew the details to. Why were the apostles of Jesus in shock when he turned himself in and was crucified? Maybe some things just happen to try the faith of the Lord’s people. Maybe?

  26. iamse7en says:


    Were the great prophets Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and even Moses in it for the sex? I hope you do realize that every time you demean polygamy, you are demeaning the Lord’s prophets, not to mention the Lord himself. The very practice was commanded of God. Secondly, the Sylvia Sessions story was second-hand, and of course conveniently on her deathbed so there’s no way to confirm with her to see if she really did tell her daughter that, and of course it made sense to keep that information a little secret, when her daughter would have been that much more beloved as the Prophet’s daughter. Again, as I said… there is NO record of Joseph Smith having ANY children born to any other women. I’m sorry to say it, but it puts a bit of damper on your narrative that he was a sex-crazed fiend running around with 33 women.

  27. iamse7en wrote

    I hope you do realize that every time you demean polygamy, you are demeaning the Lord’s prophets, not to mention the Lord himself. The very practice was commanded of God.

    When I read statements like this, I have to hold back my anger at the conflation of misinformation the LDS “Church” puts out. I’ll try to keep my language civil. Starting from the end…

    The Bible does not command polygamy. The best you can say of it is that God acquiesced to it. The myth that there is a Biblical command to commit polygamy stems from D&C 132, which only goes to show how ignorant Joseph Smith was of the Bible.

    Demeaning polygamy does not demean the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) or the Kings (David, Solomon). The accounts we have of these guys is candid, noting that their polygamy often got them into trouble. One theme that emerges from Israel’s collective experience is that dallying with polygamy is just as dangerous as dallying with polytheism.

    What Mormons and other religionists don’t seem to understand is that the message of the Prophets is not the Prophet, or even a religion but a God who works within human history, starting at the point where we are actually at (polygamous relationships included).

    Finally, the Lord Himself is NOT A POLYGAMIST. He does not have many wives. It is not a pattern that He has set for us to follow. The speculative myths about His alleged polygamous relationships do not arise from the Bible, but from Mormonism’s need to re-create its “god” in the image of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and the other polygamist fathers of the religion.

    Its quite simple. Jettison Joseph Smith and you jettison the need for a polygamous god. Then, you will be able to see the Lord Himself for who He actually is.

  28. mantis mutu says:

    Joseph Smith’s statement (from Isaiah) that he was going “as a lamb to the slaughter” were in reference to his willingness to submit to authorities without a fight, even though he knew his death was probable (if not imminent).

    Many here are making much of this quote because they either (1) think it sacrilegious for JS to have used in reference to his own predicament a scripture claimed since the earliest days of Christianity as a Messianic prophecy, or (2) think that he failed to live up to the pure demands of that scripture when he used a gun in self-defense against men who were shooting at he and his friends in enclosed quarters.

    The first quibble fails to see that the scripture, besides being a prophecy of Christ, gives a very poignant and moving metaphor of sacrifice–which involves a victim who is totally innocent to the violence that is to be done against it.

    When JS went to Carthage it is well documented that he did so calmly and in total cooperation with the lawmen and jailer whom he surrendered himself to. Just because he was willing to ultimately defend he and his friends’ life from murderous attackers doesn’t mean that he didn’t approach his final imprisonment on just the terms of the scripture he quoted. Unlike Jesus, JS never saw his death as something inherently significant for his followers (nor do his followers now).

    And that’s the problem with the second quibble. It’s not like JS wanted or felt a compelling need to die that day; he just saw the reckless circumstances around him and could see the writing on the wall. And in his doom he wanted his heart to be free of the violence rampant in his enemies’ hearts.

  29. falcon says:

    I think you need to pick-up the book “In Sacred Loneliness” by Todd Compton. It is my understanding that it chronicles Smith’s forays with the women he called “wives”.
    Misinformation, half-truths and creative Biblical interpretation are how aberrant religious sects get started and keep their program rolling. Mormonism is no exception when it comes to topics such as polygamy and the Mormon claims regarding the prophets of God.
    First of all lets remind ourselves that we’re not talking about the God of the Bible in regards to Mormonism. The deity that Mormons call “god” does not appear in the Bible. Joseph Smith created a god that allowed him (Smith) to have multiple sex partners, commit adultery and declare it holy, righteous and of “god”. In Smith, we see a false prophet that basically flipped Biblical Christianity on its head and called it “restored”.
    Smith’s practices led directly to his death in that jail. His flowery hyperbolic language was pretty typical of how people expressed themselves in that day. He was also seeking the sympathy of his followers because the revelation of what he was up to with these women was more than many of those followers could stomach, and rightly so.

  30. Mutu,

    Not a problem with much of what you wrote. However (you knew one of those was coming), one of the problems non-Mormons have with the “lamb to the slaughter” phrase, and its use by Joseph, is that Christ’s death was propitiatory in nature – an atonement. Joseph’s death, even if he were totally innocent, merely rises to the level of martyrdom.

    Second, Joseph was not totally innocent. He was responsible, at least in part, for the destruction of the press for the Nauvoo Expositor. As such, the deaths of those he fired upon (and even his own) are, to a degree, on his hands. He was not “totally innocent” hence why he was incarcerated in the first place.

    Third, the self-defense angle is a bit of a cop out. Joseph’s companions were free moral agents as well. For justification’s sake it is fine and here it is definitely applicable. However, these actions are not the actions of a man inspired by God. If he anticipated violence, he should not have gone in the first place and Joseph definitely should not have accepted the smuggled pistol (or bring it in himself?). You may see him as “free of the violence rampant in his enemies’ hearts” but he was not; he killed a couple of his enemies, even if in self defense. Why submit yourselves to earthly authorities if they are unjust or incompetent (cannot or will not protect prisoners from a mob)? Why “submit” yourself to earthly authorities if you are not going to fully submit (smuggled pistol)?

    Lastly, Joseph (initially) did not want to turn himself in. He had to be coaxed into going. That fact coupled with the above does not inspire, at least in my mind, confidence in Joseph’s prophetic status. It really comes across as though Joseph was “winging it”.

    * Side Note: If D&C 89 does not forbid wine or beer, then on what basis does LDS leadership do so today? If 19th century Mormons, including J. Smith, could enter the temple even though they had a beer once in a while, then why not Mormons today?

  31. Martin,

    I have tried before with Mormons here to get the point across that the brand of polygamy practiced by non-Mormons throughout history, including the patriarchs, was way different than what 19th century version Mormons espoused. One allows it, and at times even looks down upon it, while the other commands it and makes it a requirement for the highest level of progression. Good Luck 🙂

  32. mobaby says:

    I think Sharon and the comments here have sufficiently established that the idea that Joseph Smith was going like a lamb to slaughter in Carthage is complete bunk. Apostle Jeffrey Holland, in the tradition of Joseph Smith, is telling faith-promoting tall tales. I wonder if Joseph actually started to believe his own hype? I wonder if Jeffrey Holland believes his hype? Such a shame to play fast and loose with the truth when dealing with something so important and central to individuals lives.

  33. falcon says:

    And the point of polygamy within Mormonism was what? Our Mormon friend 7 tells us that Joseph Smith didn’t father any children from his various wives. Wasn’t that the point of Mormon style polygamy, to father a bunch of kids. How many did BY father? Was Smith shooting blanks if there weren’t any children as a result of his affairs. If he wasn’t having sex and procreating future members of his own god sphere, what was the point of the entire exercise? So all the other Mormon leaders were marrying multiple women, having sex and producing progeny but Smith wasn’t? Mormon style polygamy is all about becoming a god and having wives in Celestial Kingdom to produce a bunch of spirit babies right? And this, of course, is all very Biblical. In fact it’s clearly taught in the NT if someone has the Mormon gift of inference coupled with creativity.
    Joseph Smith was corrupted by money, sex and power. He wasn’t trustworthy before he became a founder of a cult and he certainly wasn’t after. The people who believe, follow and perpetuate Smith’s hoax are as guilty as he is of fraud. He kept pushing the envelope back and it finally cost him his life. His “lamb to slaughter” claim was just more of his self-centered(ness) on display.

  34. mobaby says:

    If you watch the video it is abundantly clear that the BOM that Jeffrey Holland is holding up is not the one that has been reported to be used by Hyrum. Mr. Holland is embellishing his story with a false prop – perhaps in true fast talker fashion just like Joseph Smith claimed the Book of Abraham was written by his own hand upon the papyrus – perhaps this book similarly was read by Hyrum, meaning this is the same edition, not the same book. Same page is turned down because Mr. Holland did it! Things like this don’t matter – once you’ve prayed and know the story is true.

  35. falcon says:

    Sex, money and power are the three things that tend to do in movers and shakers in any field of endeavor.
    I’m reminded of Harry Truman who said something like, “I never had any money, I wasn’t interested in power, and the only girl I’ve ever loved is at home.” Truman was so paranoid about the sex angle that if he was at a convention and in a hotel room with his cronies and a man walked into the room with his (own) wife, Truman would get-up and leave. Someone tried to set him up one time by asking him to come to a certain hotel room for a meeting. When Truman knocked on the door, a scantily dressed woman opened it. He turned around and fled the building. Truman knew how to deal with sin using the Biblical admonition to “flee from youthful lusts.”
    When Billy Graham and his associates set-up their evangelistic organization they established a governing board to deal with the money. They also made a pact to never be alone with a woman other then their wife.
    Contrast that with the false prophet Joseph Smith who declared a new god and taught that men could make themselves into gods. He told his leaders that they needed to practice polygamy in order to reach the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom and deity status. Smith committed bank fraud and misused his authority.
    When he died, it was the direct result of his inability to come to grips with money, power and sex. The misuse of sex, money and authority became a well established standard operating procedure by Smith’s immediate successor BY. He was fortunate that he had isolated the cult out in Utah but eventually it all caught up with the LDS church and today the faithful are left to either deny or rationalize away the egregious sins of its founders.

  36. mantis mutu says:

    David, I appreciate the many even-handed and insightful thoughts that you’ve presented in this thread.

    However (haha!) I still think you’re making the rash error of taking JS’s “like a lamb to the slaughter” comment well out of its proper and intended context.

    First, I don’t see how your opening paragraph adds anything to the point that I had just made. I had stated that Joseph Smith never intended for the Messianic/propitiatory component of the sacrificial metaphor to apply to him. He simply used it in reference to the fact that he was “as calm as a summer’s dawn” and held no violence for his fellow men–like the lamb led in innocence to its doom.

    Joseph Smith never claimed that his blood would atone for sins, and neither have his followers, so the misunderstanding here is with those unimaginative enough to understand the limitations that are inherent to all metaphors. Joseph never claimed to be giving his life and blood in a propitiatory way as Christ; rather, he used the scripture to explain that he intended to face his likely and unlawful death in the same innocent, calm terms that Jesus did. Is it suddenly wrong for any Christian to sight Christ’s example in the face of death as an inspiration in their own trial of facing of death? The basis for the criticisms on this matter simply reflect an inherent disrespect towards JS. There is nothing blasphemous, un-Christian, or particularly extraordinary about his use of this Messianic scripture as an example/inspiration to himself. On the lips of any mainstream Christian it would be perfectly fine for the simple reason that the metaphor would be respectfully understood within the limitations that were intended.

  37. mantis mutu says:

    As for JS’s failure to live up to the high ideals of that Messianic scripture when he accepted & fired a gun in his self-defense: as I explained, this holds JS to a holy standard tht again is understandably out of the contextual range intended by the quoted scripture. “As a lamb to the slaughter” was spoken to his family in private before he left to prison–indicating to them alone his fear he would be leaving to his death, & tht he had calmly accepted his fate & wouldn’t resist arrest.

    Those inclined to discredit JS, however, want to again take the metaphor to its extreme & point out tht JS accepted & used a gun in self defense & therefore failed to live up to the perfect ideal of Christ in facing the crucifixion.

    Again, this assumes from a metaphor much more than was likely ever intended. Just because JS intended to calmly faced his arrest & imprisonment as indicated by both his conduct & by his Isaiah quote, doesn’t mean that he intended to willingly give in to death as Christ had done.

    Furthermore, just because Joseph Smith returned fire on men who where firing on him doesn’t mean that he intended personal violence upon any of them. Unlike they, he was not aiming to kill; his was random, desperation fire. Eye witness accounts from both sides confirm that he stuck his arm w/ pistol through a partially opened door that was being stormed by attackers. They had opened fire at the door & he was firing blind in return. Incidentally, the reports of JS killing anyone appear to be entirely in error. Though there were rumors of this on the Moromon side, in the trial held afterward, of the several men who had knowingly stormed the door were brought to testify, none knew of any attackers tht had been killed. That one of the defendants was shot in the shoulder indicated that Smith’s gun might have found its mark, but Richards stated tht JS’s pistol misfired on all but one round (being typical of privately owned pistols, which generally contain old bullets).

  38. mantis mutu says:

    Given the well-documented craziness of the simultaneous crossfire through the opposite-facing door and window, the one non-Mormon known to have been hit in the incident most likely received his wound from friendly fire.

    Not that this matters much. JS’s random fire certainly could’ve killed someone, particularly if his gun had worked; but the fact is, he didn’t kill anyone. If he had, it certainly would’ve made news in the aftermath. I assume your conclusions to the contrary are based on the Mormon-sided rumor (oft-quoted in contemporary polemical pieces) that several of the attackers who received non-lethal wounds from JS’s gun later died horribly of infection.

  39. mantis mutu says:

    As to your last two statements, David:

    Lastly, Joseph (initially) did not want to turn himself in. He had to be coaxed into going. That fact coupled with the above does not inspire, at least in my mind, confidence in Joseph’s prophetic status. It really comes across as though Joseph was “winging it”.

    Question: Why does not wanting to face a likely death sentence somehow disqualify someone as a prophet? Again, you’re trying to claim that Joseph’s death should be understood as inherently significant (like Christ’s). This is not, and never has been, a Mormon position. In Mormonism, Joseph Smith is Martyr, not Messiah. Many “prophets” of the Bible are said to have faced violent, untimely deaths, as did nearly all of Jesus’ apostles. Yet as far as we know nearly every one of them attempted to flee from death for as long as they could. How does the fact that violent death did finally catch up with them somehow diminish their status as prophetic men of God? This is what you seem to be suggesting to me, anyways.

    * Side Note: If D&C 89 does not forbid wine or beer, then on what basis does LDS leadership do so today? If 19th century Mormons, including J. Smith, could enter the temple even though they had a beer once in a while, then why not Mormons today?

    Joseph F. Smith, the President a the turn of the 20th cent, moved the Church to adopt a full temperance stance held by many conservative Christians of the day. This was not a move tht indicated a conservative adoption of D&C 89 (as many Mormons believe). Rather, it was an extra-scriptural change in policy. As far as your final question goes, I am not a sympathizer or supporter of the policy. I don’t think such peccadillo as beer consumption or a smoking addiction should keep someone from accepting the name of Christ, nor of putting on Christ.

    Thanx for your conversation, David.

    Sincerely, mutu.

  40. Mutu,

    After all that you have written I have to ask – How is Joseph’s use of the phrase “a lamb to the slaughter” any more substantive than him merely saying “I am going to die”? Given your take on the phrase/quote it does not. If it does not live up to the standard (you call strict) then what standard does Joseph have to live up to other than merely dieing? Yeah, Joseph did not want to die and I have no problem with that. However, his first thought was not to turn himself in but rather it was the idea of one of those lower in rank than he. He had to be coaxed (shamed) into turning himself in.

    Yeah, Joseph’s blood did not atone for anyone’s sin. However (again), there are those in your camp who have elevated that site and that event to something on par to Calvary. There is a choice quote that Bill has brought out a few times concerning this and it is not the only one. This part is getting a bit off topic but there is general tendency within Mormonism to elevate Joseph Smith past the bounds of mere prophet hood.

    My main objection does not have to due with the fact that a mere man (as opposed to Christ) applied this scripture towards himself. My main problem is that Joseph used violence in self defense and the whole reason for his incarceration was in part his fault. Partial guilt and violence in self-defense does not equal an appropriate use of the phrase “a lamb to the slaughter’. If it does the phrase has lost its meaning.

    I have to ask – Where are you getting your information from? For one, if someone fires blindly out a door to men just on the other side of it, it would be difficult to not hit someone.

    Second, I have witnessed LDS accounts/depictions where the pistol fired more than once. I am fully willing to concede that the episode was chaotic and the history surrounding it is not entirely clear. But it seems that you merely brush aside evidence when it does not suit your taste. If the gun only fired once this would be easy to prove;

  41. the other cylinders would still be loaded.

    You are creating a straw-men when you state that I insist that Joseph’s life and death must parallel Christ’s. I do think that what Joseph’s life shows is what I stated before – that he was “winging it”. If Joseph was a prophet it is not unreasonable to ask (though not a smoking gun) “Did he not see this coming?” The actions of running, then turning back, turning oneself in, smuggling in or accepting a smuggled pistol, defending your life and the life of your companions, then dieing in a hail of bullets while very likely trying to utter the Masonic call of distress do not inspire confidence in Joseph’s status as a prophet.

    I was a little shocked at your last paragraph. So Joseph F. Smith got it wrong? On an issue that is pretty major (temple worthiness)? And you publicly disagree with this? Can’t you see where this puts a non-Mormon like me? I think when it comes to matters relating to Mormonism, I am safer going with the guy who has the most “keys”. And not just the first presidency but the rest of Mormondom, leadership included, went right along with it. What good is continuing revelation if the top guy(s) can get things wrong, and at times horribly wrong?

  42. Ralph says:

    Another way to look at this is the phrase ‘lamb to the slaughter’ has been used many times outside the Bible and not in any reference to a saviour-like event. I know that Roald Dahl has used it for a short story title, Geoffrey Chaucer used it in one of his works, ‘Silence of the Lambs’ was written around this saying, the Jews have been described as being led to the showers like lambs to the slaughter (and I am sure they panicked and yelled and screamed and tried to escape when they knew what was happening), are some of the uses I have heard of.

    The question is how common is the use of this phrase, especially in JS’s times? Did he use it then just because that was in common use and had no other meaning behind it as we are trying to ascribe to it today? Taken at face value it does fit JS and his predicament.

    I have found a number of webpages dealing with the killing of lambs and they do it individually so the others are not aware of what is happening. The lambs are first stunned so they do not resist, then killed. NOTE – they are stunned so they DO NOT RESIST. So even lambs can fight back.

    Did JS shoot and kill anyone? The gun he had according to LDS historical source fired only 3 out of 6 bullets. According to statements by John Taylor and Parley Pratt they HEARD that 2 men died. They never saw the bodies or received official verification, just heard, thus their statements were just hearsay.

    Other non-LDS sources indicate that 3 men were wounded by JS but none of them died. The men left the county/state quickly so they would not be held for trial as their wounds were evidence enough that they were there are JS’s murder. This may be where rumours of their deaths came about – to keep them hidden from the law.

    The references for this can be found at http://www.mormonfortress.com/gun1.html

  43. mantis mutu says:


    You say: After all that you have written I have to ask – How is Joseph’s use of the phrase “a lamb to the slaughter” any more substantive than him merely saying “I am going to die”?

    Oh, come on, David, I didn’t reduce the metaphor to anything remotely tht naked. I’m sorry, but when these exchanges amount to tht sort of rhetorical jockeying, then I tend to leave rather quickly. Unlike many on this board, you’re capable of better.

    In fitting with the Isaiah metaphor, J Smith:

    (1) made himself powerless by surrendering himself into the hands of those who would lead him to his death.

    (2) Communicated tht his conscience was clear of violence for “all men.”

    (3) implied that the graveness of his situation (not the theological significance) was like Jesus’ in being carried away for execution.

    This statement was made specifically to family members, some of whom (namely his wife) failed to understand the gravity of his situation in surrendering. Many claim tht the destruction of the Expositor Press was the main reason for JS’s danger outside of Nauvoo, but in reality, John Bennett & Thomas Sharpe of Warsaw–among others–had created a very strong polemic of hate within Illinois against JS, Nauvoo, and Mormonism for well over the year previous. JS, who was once free to travel about the state, was very careful about his whereabouts during this period.

    What is interesting about this whole debate concerning JS’s use of “like a lamb to the slaughter” is that it centers around 2 countering viewpoints (Mormon vs Evangelical) tht typically carry the statement beyond its immediate historical context. Both sides (but especially the latter) want the statement to mean something primarily about JS, & tend to miss tht it was primarily in regards to his situation. In the process, the meaning of the metaphor is used in a homiletic way–to support what JS either was or was not in terms of a man, prophet, martyr, etc.

  44. mantis mutu says:

    Sorry that my attempt to put the quote and its metaphor in its specific context was not appreciated.

    You also say: However (again), there are those in your camp who have elevated that site (Carthage jail) & that event to something on par to Calvary.

    David, this is really a polemical statement that is done, I think, in ignorance. If the LDS site at Carthage, and the LDS recounting of JS’s martyrdom strikes you in such a way, then I can assure you that you are failing to appreciate essential Mormon belief.

    You also say: You are creating a straw-men when you state that I insist that Joseph’s life and death must parallel Christ’s.

    Actually, David, my judgment of your argument is not as strong as your accusation here. What I do implicate you of is participating in a tendency to underscore how JS fails to live up to the Messianic ideals held by his quoted Isaiah metaphor. Are you now denying that you made something of how JS’s death failed to fulfill the propitiatory ends of Jesus’ death? I’m sorry, David, but I did not employ the cheap rhetorical strategy of straw man as you claim. But in accusing me of doing so, you have in fact been rhetorically savvy in dodging many of the substantial points of my argument.

    Again, I’ve come to expect better from you.

    Though I’d like to respond to some of your reservations concerning JS’s display of “violence” at Carthage, I’m not feeling up to critiquing the homiletic aims that are at its core.

    You obviously despise JS & his intentions, & you feel that his followers in many cases put him before Jesus. I got that.

    I honor JS as a prophet of God, a restorer of Christ’s Church, & a magnificent (though imperfect) human being.

    Our countering viewpoints on the man will obviously butt heads indefinitely. I’m sorry our conversation can’t be more constructive than it’s been.

  45. grindael says:

    “[Joseph:”]No official member in this church is worthy to hold an office after having the words of wisdom properly taught to him, and he, the official member, neglecting to comply with, or obey them.” Feb. 20, 1834.

    All these men should not have been called as Apostles, for they continually broke the Word of Wisdom. In particular, Brigham Young & Orson Hyde and Joseph Smith were habitual offenders.

    Almon Babbitt’s defense for breaking the Word of Wisdom: Joseph and others don’t observe it. He is admonished to keep it anyway. – Minutes of August 19, 1835

    Oliver drinks tea three times a day in winter for his health. David and John Whitmer drink tea and coffee—do not consider them hot drinks. Minutes of January 26, 1838

    George M. Hinkle denounces David Whitmer for using tea, coffee, and tobacco. Minutes of February 5–9, 1838

    February 21, 1859: Same meeting, O. Hyde said that he must confess that he was more stupid and dull than he wished to be. He thought it was in consequence of going without food and tobacco, which he had been in the habit of using. He said if we got the spirit of the Lord and pray in the spirit, we shall be agreed. -Woodruff Journals

    January 17, 1851: I spent the evening in a lyceum of the Seventies. The word of wisdom was the subject discussed. Five speakers were called upon who addressed the meeting and was followed by President Young who made many interesting remarks. He spoke upon the word of wisdom, of its origin, etc. Said it was well kept WHEN IT WAS FIRST GIVEN. – Woodruff Journals

    We then partook of some refreshments, and our hearts were made glad with the fruit of the vine (History of the Church, vol. 2, p. 369).

  46. grindael says:

    Elders Orson Hyde, Luke S. Johnson, and Warren Parrish, then presented the Presidency with three servers of glasses filled with wine to bless. And it fell to my lot to attend to this duty, which I cheerfully discharged. It was then passed round in order, then the cake in the same order; and suffice it to say, our hearts were made glad while partaking of the bounty of earth which was presented, until we had taken our fill … (History of the Church, vol. 2, p. 378).

    We do not know how often Joseph Smith used tobacco, but we do know that at one time “he rode through the streets of Nauvoo smoking a cigar” (“Joseph Smith As An Administrator,” M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, May 1969, p. 161).

    Another important change was made in the History of the Church under the date of June 27, 1844—the day of Joseph Smith’s death. In the version that was first published, Joseph Smith recommended that Apostle Willard Richards use a pipe and tobacco to settle his stomach: “Dr. Richards was taken sick, when Joseph said, ‘Brother Markham,… go and get the Doctor a pipe and some tobacco to settle his stomach,’ and Markham went out for them. When he had got the pipe and tobacco, and was returning to jail,…” (Millennial Star, vol. 24, p. 471).

    This has been changed to read as follows: “Dr. Richards was taken sick, when Joseph said, ‘Brother Markham,… go and get the doctor something he needs to settle his stomach,’ and Markham went out for medicine. When he had got the remedies desired, and was returning to jail,…” (History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 614).

    At another time Joseph Smith related that he gave some of the “brethren” a “couple of dollars, with directions to replenish” their supply of “whisky.” In modern editions of the History of the Church, twenty-three words have been deleted from this reference to cover up the fact that Joseph Smith encouraged the “brethren” to disobey the Word of Wisdom.

  47. grindael says:

    In the third instance, Joseph Smith frankly admitted that he “drank a glass of beer at Moessers.” These words have been omitted in recent printings of the History of the Church.

    It is interesting to note that Apostle John Taylor continued to use alcoholic beverages after Joseph Smith’s death. Hosea Stout recorded the following in his diary on June 3, 1847: “While I was explaining this Prests O. Hyde, P. P.Pratt and John Taylor also came in…. Says I. ‘I hope you will all conform to the rules of the police then.’ ‘Certainly’ says Taylor ‘Bring on the jug’ says I at which they were presented with a large jug of whiskey…. they all paid due respect to the jug …” (On The Mormon Frontier, The Diary of Hosea Stout; vol. 1, p. 259).

  48. Mutu,

    I continue to take issue with points 1 & 3, as you have not squarely faced these objections. He did not make himself powerless when he turned himself in; he smuggled in a pistol (or accepted one). Again, why submit to earthly authorities, ones that are incompetent and/or evil, if you are not going to submit?

    Even if the destruction of the printing press was not the main reason for his arrest, Joseph still had a hand in it (you are not denying this) and it gave his enemies just provocation for arresting him.

    For the record I do no view the Carthage jail, and the events surrounding it as sacrosanct. I do think most Mormons do, but do not elevated it to the level of Calvary. However, I think there is a tendency for some Mormons to do this, and there is little within Mormonism to put the brakes on it. Again, this is getting off topic a bit, but I do see within Mormonism the general tendency to elevate Joseph Smith beyond proper bounds.

    Mutu (and to an extent Ralph), let us suppose I am putting a spin on the “lamb to the slaughter” quote and taking it out of its 19th century Illinois context. Is that not what you have admitted that Joseph did with the quote itself in reference to the Isaiah passage? If Joseph can deconstruct it a bit and put a 19th century spin on it – can’t I deconstruct it (and Joseph’s use of it) by putting a 21st century spin on it?

    I have stated already here that my -main- problem with Joseph’s use of the phrase is his use of violence in self defense and his culpability in the crime that precipitated and provoked his arrest. Yes, I do not believe that Joseph’s death is not an atonement and in that way it does not parallel the Messiah’s. I stated that because (again) there are -some- Mormons that do start to make that connection. If we are both calling that parallel inappropriate then great but don’t take issue with my doing so and don’t make it sound like it is my
    -main- beef.

    I think you think there is more heat and animosity here

  49. than there is (although there is some). I think the issue that I, and many other Christians, have is the improper use of a metaphor or phrase. Admittedly, phrases can be used outside of their immediate context. However, at times the meaning of these phrases can actually run counter to the original meaning. The phrase “like David verses Goliath” is sometimes misused as David defeated Goliath because God and David were on the same side. The real factor in battle is God’s favor and not weaponry. Those who use the phrase in the manner popular in our culture are actually using it in a Philistine way or are thinking like Goliath.

    A similar (though not the same) comparison can be made with the “lamb to the slaughter” phrase. Its popular and flippant use often betrays its original Biblical meaning. A bunch of U.S. soldiers in Iraq could be on patrol in a dangerous area and one could utter the phrase “we are going in like lambs to the slaughter” even though they are not like lambs to the slaughter. It’s a common phrase that is often misused.

    However, one could rightly use this phrase of Steven in the book of Acts . . . Or Polycarp, or Justin, or any other martyr (not even necessarily religious ones) who were completely free of guilt in their punishment and who do not fight back in anyway. That seems to be in keeping with the spirit of the quote and the agrarian realities that gave birth to it – real lambs do not fight back and have done nothing wrong other than being lambs.

    Lastly, we touched on this a little but not much. I do not think Joseph knew his death was imminent. I think he had a good idea that he would die, but I would not go as far as you or Sharon in asserting what he really believed. I think there is solid evidence on both sides to support both positions. This why I can state that it is hard to say for sure. There is a lot of historical fog surrounding these events. Even here we have one Mormon say the pistol fired twice and another 3 times.

  50. Mike R says:


    I’ve got a few comments on some of the statements
    you’ve made.
    You said, ” Furthermore, just because J.S. return-
    ed fire on men who were firing on him
    does’nt mean that he intended personal
    violence upon any of them….he was
    firing blind in return.”

    Pointing a firearm at a crowd and firing blindly
    sure is a good safe way to ensure that no one is
    seriouly injured !
    The fact that he did’nt actually kill anyone was
    not because he did’nt try.

    Concerning the pistol J.S. used, that mis-fired
    on several shots, you said,

    ” …being typical of privately owned pistols,
    which generally contain old bullets.”

    Was this Mr. Richards opinion, or did you come up
    with this?

    Mantis, with the speculation and guessing that you
    offered, you then went and actually said something
    that I hope you won’t forget:

    ” Not that all this matters much.J.S.’s random
    fire certainly could’ve killed someone, part-
    iculary if his gun had worked…”

    Two or three days before he was killed he stated
    that his conscience was void of offense towards
    all men, so it seems that he was either not telling the truth then, or he changed his mind

    Concerning the Word of Wisdom [WofW]. What are you
    saying here? Are you saying that if a person drinks beer and/or smokes that they should be
    allowed into the temple? It appears you don’t
    agree with this “policy” of your leaders .That
    being the case what other criteria listed on the
    Temple recommend do you oppose? (I’m trying to
    see where you’re coming from etc.)

    Lastly, since it seems that you oppose the
    interpretation of the WofW that your Prophet
    espouses, does the following statement from
    your leadership apply to you:

    ” Any Latter-day Saint who denounces or opposes,
    whether actively or otherwise,any plan or
    doctrine advocated by the ‘prophets,seers,and
    revelators of the Church is cultivating the
    spirit of apostacy.”

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