A Kinder, Gentler Mormonism?

The June 2012 Ensign magazine included an article titled, “The Honor and Order of the Priesthood” by President of the Quorum of the Twelve [Mormon] Apostles, Boyd K. Packer. The article began by relating a story about Mormonism’s 12th Prophet Spencer W. Kimball’s trip to Denmark in 1976. During this trip Mr. Kimball visited the Vor Frue Church to see the original Christus statue by Bertel Thorvaldsen. (Replicas of Thorvaldsen’s sculpture currently stand in several Mormon visitors centers–and Mormon homes–around the world.)

Also displayed at the Danish church were Thorvaldsen’s statues of the biblical apostles. As Mr. Packer related the story,

“In Peter’s hand, depicted in marble, is a set of heavy keys. President Kimball pointed to those keys and explained what they symbolized. Then, in an act I shall never forget, he turned to President Benthin and with unaccustomed firmness pointed his finger at him and said, ‘I want you to tell everyone in Denmark that I hold the keys! We hold the real keys, and we use them every day.’ (Ensign, June 2012, p. 21. Emphasis in the original.)

Mr. Kimball’s words here seem to be a declaration to the Danish people that the keys of God’s kingdom are present and operative in the Mormon Church (and more specifically, operating through the president of that church). It is nothing more than an informational statement asserting belief in the Mormon Church’s possession of God’s authority. But as Mr. Packer has told this story elsewhere, the point of the message has been aimed a bit differently.

At the April 1995 General Conference Boyd Packer first set the scene and then said,

“President Kimball, this gentle prophet, turned to President Johan H. Benthin, of the Copenhagen Stake, and in a commanding voice said, ‘I want you to tell every prelate in Denmark that they do not hold the keys! I HOLD THE KEYS!’” (Ensign, May 1995, “Shield of Faith,” p. 8. See also Teachings of the Living Prophets Student Manual 333, 2010, pp. 15-16 where Mr. Kimball’s words are recounted: “I want you to tell every prelate [religious leader] in Denmark that they do not hold the keys! I hold the keys!” Brackets and emphasis in the original.)

Here Mr. Kimball’s words were not merely a message to the world that the keys of God’s kingdom are present in the Mormon Church; they were a criticism, a disparagement, a put-down if you will, of all (non-Mormon) religious leaders in Denmark who understood that they, as believers in Christ and leaders in His universal church, possessed the authority of the keys that Jesus promised in Matthew 16:18-19.

While the most recent retelling of the “I hold the keys” story takes the edge off of Mr. Kimball’s denunciation of Denmark’s ministers, Mormon missionaries in Italy are being encouraged with the sharper version of the incident. In a March 19, 2012 “letter to our missionaries and friends of Italy,” former Italy Rome Mission “President and Sister Pacini” disclosed the fact that, when finished, the new Mormon Temple in Rome will contain not only a replica of Thorvaldsen’s Christus statue, but will also house replicas of his sculptures of the twelve apostles (which were carved in Italy out of Italian marble in the early 1800s). To “close [the] thought” on this “faith-promoting” story, the letter recounted Spencer W. Kimball’s response to seeing the originals of those sculptures in Denmark. “I want you to tell every prelate in Denmark that they do not hold the keys! I HOLD THE KEYS!”

This is a “commanding” reminder for Rome’s missionaries that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not merely another “Christian denomination,” as could be inferred from Mr. Packer’s milder recounting of the story in the June Ensign. In fact, Mormon scripture insists that the Mormon Church is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which…the Lord, [is] well pleased” (D&C 1:30). Mr. Packer’s 1995 telling of the “I hold the keys” story, in all of its severity, better illustrates the true nature of Mormonism and Joseph Smith’s claim that non-Mormon churches are “all wrong…their creeds [are] an abomination…those professors [are] all corrupt” (Joseph Smith—History 1:19).

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.
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10 Responses to A Kinder, Gentler Mormonism?

  1. falcon says:

    ………and Mormons wonder why we challenge Mormonism! When a statement is made and then embellished indicating that the Mormon church is God’s authority on this earth, that’s not going to go without a very aggressive response from Christians. The Mormon grand masters make statements like this in what appears to me a bullying fashion. The way to deal with bullies is to, metaphorically speaking, punch them in the nose.
    These guys are coming on with all of this bravado and it appears they believe their own hype. Joseph Smith was into this big time as was Brigham Young. One of the reasons they got into trouble with their neighbors in Missouri was because of the way they acted toward them. On the frontier, you had better been able to back up your aggressive manner and speech.
    Now I’m talking about Mormon leadership here. The rank-and-file Mormons, with the exception of the Arrogant True Believers, just sort of march along and do what they’re told. If they’re told the Mormon church and its leadership hold the keys to God’s authority on earth they just nod in agreement and keep paying their 10% to the church. They don’t really think about the truthfulness of the claim.
    The only authority that Mormon leaders have is in their own imaginations. They are the Grand Wizards of a lodge that uses the name of Jesus but are clueless as to who He is.
    Jesus was given all authority on heaven and earth but the only way to appropriate that authority is to know who Jesus is. Being born again through faith in Jesus and being indwelt by the Spirit of God is fundamental to being a subject in Jesus’ realm. It is with authority that born again believers pray in His name through faith in Him.

  2. falcon says:

    When someone claims authority in the name of God, all I need to know is who their God is in determining if they have any authority. In the case of Mormonism, I know who its god is and I reject that god.
    I’ve had people suggest that if I really want to have credibility with Mormons, I should read the BoM. My response is two fold. Number one, I know who the god of Mormonism is and I know who the spirit of Mormonism is. I also know the methodology by which Joseph Smith supposedly translated some golden plates. So I know the BoM is false based on the spirit that drives Mormonism and I know that Mormonism has no authority on this same basis.
    Its really not all that complicated.

  3. Mike R says:

    Mormon leaders love to use the word ” key(s) ” to prove that they are different from everyone
    else , that they alone have personally appointed by God to relay His important spiritual truths
    to mankind . However when you examine their teaching track record ever since God supposedly restored these truths and directed their preaching , then we see that all their emphasis on “keys”
    is mostly a whole lot of rhetoric . It’s really sad to see how these men have cautioned rank and
    file members to refrain from doubting or calling into question the accuracy of their doctrines
    because to do so will bring God’s displeasure . May the Mormon people not be intimidated by
    their leaders , may they do what is right and test these men’s teachings with the Bible because
    false prophets/apostles can be well dressed “nice” men —-1Jn 4:1; Acts 17:11 .

  4. falcon says:

    I think the Catholic Church would give a big “I beg your pardon!” to the Mormon church regarding who has the authority.
    If someone wants to look at lineage, if that’s important, the Catholic Church has the authority they would claim all the way back to St. Peter. The Mormon church doesn’t have too far to go with its lineage. Thus they depend on some dubious visions and self-serving revelations to claim authority.
    Anyone with a little creativity can come-up with a good story of a vision or answer to prayer or a small still voice they heard that gave them the straight scoop.
    Even today, in Pentecostal groups, there is a constant flow of revelation knowledge as they call it. Getting a “word from the Lord” is as common as baptism or the celebration of communion. Maybe more so.
    This would all go under the heading of mystical happenings. I’ve posted a load of this stuff over the years that I’ve been blogging here. Part of the claim to fame that Mormons boost of is their leaders providing continuous revelation. The problem, however, is that these wonder boys never seem to clear-up any of the questions that perplex Mormons and also those of us who follow the Mormon score card.
    I was listening to Anne Wilde who is an independent Mormon fundamentalist and she was talking about how Jesus was really Michael the Archangel and how he came to earth as Adam with one of his wives Eve. This Adam-God, despite his deity standing “transgressed” which I have learned is different than sinning.
    Anyway the point is that these independent Mormon fundamentalist believe they are on the right track, fully connected to the Mormon god, who, in her case, directed her to practice polygamy.
    She had on good authority, huh?

  5. Mike R says:

    Jesus warned us to beware of false prophets who would come and mislead people , and it seems
    that in the last 100 years or so especially that there is abundant evidence of this very thing .
    The prophets of Mormonism are only one example. So many of these last days prophets , while
    not having many teachings in common , do have some claims of authority in common , namely
    that they attempt to use the Bible as reference to aid in bolstering these authoritative claims .
    Claims of being the sole channel of communication that God uses to reveal to mankind His
    important spiritual truths relative to salvation , is the most common . The attempt to use the
    Bible in this way has served as a useful tactic to aid in convincing people that their message is
    authentic and endorsed by God . Joseph Smith is’nt the only latter day prophet/religious leader
    testifying of visitations from Biblical figures ( John the Baptist , as one example) to aid him in
    starting his new movement /church . So what do we do with all these latter days prophets
    vying for our attention ? Well, since they have attempted to use the Bible as a source in which
    to bolster their claims of authority , then why not use it to evaluate their teachings ? Can we use
    what Jesus’ apostles wrote in the New Testament as a valid criteria in which to test prophets
    today ? Yes we can , and should , because some similar heresies that false prophets taught
    in N.T. times are still promulgated by those claiming to be prophets in our time , these latter
    days , such as Mormon prophets.

  6. falcon says:

    In Matthew 28: 18-20 the resurrected Jesus says: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
    Who has the authority? Jesus has the authority. These Mormon false prophets want to claim that they have been given the authority but as false prophets they get it wrong once again. But this is really important and it goes back to who Jesus is.
    Mormons don ‘t know the Biblical Jesus. Christians talk about Jesus as the Son of God. But Mormons get this idea of the “Son of God” some place that is totally blasphemous. Mormons see Jesus as a spirit offspring of the Mormon god and one of his many wives. In fact the Mormon prophet Brigham Young taught that “god” was really Michael the Archangel who came to earth with one of his wives Eve. This “god” then transgressed, this is different than committing a sin, and got bumped out of the Garden of Eden.
    Mormonism is massively messed-up. The only authority that Mormon leaders have is that given by the followers who won’t question anything they say or do. It’s a sad thing that Mormons hand power over to these false teachers and leaders.
    Jesus has the authority. He didn’t share any of it with Joseph Smith or any of the subsequent false prophets.

  7. falcon says:

    You know given the history of early Mormonism, I would have thought that the Mormon prophet would have said that Jesus, Peter or John the Baptist appeared to him and gave him the keys and the authority to lead God’s church on earth.
    We know that Joseph Smith and his cronies, including his witnesses to the golden plates, practiced second sight vision. This means they saw things through “the eyes of faith” and not their physical eyes. In their case what it means is that they imagined that they saw things.
    Spencer Kimball could have even said that he reached out and held the keys and then handed them back as the spirit needed to keep them locked up until the end times.
    The idea that these early Mormons would “see” things and people “in the spirit” and not in actuality, has escaped notice by today’s Mormons. In fact one of the early prophets claimed that the signers of the Declaration of Independence appeared to him demanding that temple work be done for them. They were, in his estimation, “choice spirits”.
    It’s difficult to sort out which of these appearances were just plain flim flam, imagination or perhaps some occult based spiritualism. I tend to think that most of Joseph Smith’s were a parlor game favored by psychics. I especially like his claim of an angel with a sword appearing to him and threatening to kill (him) if he didn’t practice polygamy. What a great way to justify fornication and adultery and just think, people went along with this nonsense and many of the men (I wonder why?) really got into the program.
    Yes there’s nothing like “authority” to get people to do your bidding and act against their better judgment.

  8. Mike R says:

    Falcon, I guess we should be used to the many prophets around today all with a “gospel” and
    all trying to convince us to trust them as having the exclusive authority from God to teach His
    important truths . Mormon leaders are fond of reminding everyone that they have the “keys”
    to exclusively relay important spiritual truths from God to mankind. They advertise that they
    alone are the one true church with the one true gospel of salvation. It’s interesting how they
    attempt to sell these claims to investigators . One way they do this is to claim that they have
    the very same church and gospel as when Jesus organized His church and sent His apostles
    out to preach the salvation message 2000 years ago, that church and that very gospel were
    allegedly lost but then restored in 1830 by God through Mormon prophet Joseph Smith who
    along with subsequent Mormon leaders have been personally supervised by Jesus to direct their
    teaching of His gospel truths. However , upon examining these claims we find some disturbing
    information , namely that Mormon leaders in promoting these claims have engaged in some
    questionable advertising tactics . We find upon examining these claims that the gospel Mormon
    leaders are preaching is not the same gospel of salvation that Jesus’ original apostles preached
    rather this “restored ” gospel of Mormon apostles is an altered version of Jesus’ gospel . By
    adding their own ideas onto the true authentic gospel—Rom 1:16 — Mormon apostles are thus
    guilty of diluting the true gospel and that would render it another gospel and unable to save ,
    Gal.1:8 . Sadly, but the gospel of Mormonism has’nt restored the true gospel, it’s replaced it.

  9. falcon says:

    Ephesians 4:11-16 gives a pretty good outline of the offices within the Body of Christ. In other places the role of Deacon is outlined ( Acts 6:1-3, First Timothy 3:8). The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are named and their function and instructions for use within the Body given in First Corinthians chapters 12 and 14.
    Beyond any of this is what Paul writes in First Timothy 4:1-2; “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron……” He also writes in First Timothy 1:3-4 that Timothy should “……instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith.” This is Mormonism in a nutshell.
    The point is that from earliest times we know what the Church is about. We also know that there were men inflating their worth by coming up with creative doctrines and teachings that were not consistent with the Apostolic tradition.
    False prophets assuming personal authority and attempting to convince people that they have special revelations come along almost on a continuous basis.
    We are warned to look out for them and reject them.

  10. Mike R says:

    It is interesting how the Mormon hierarchy seeks to convince people that God has
    appointed a man as the prophet , as the senior apostle to be head of His church , and His
    kingdom on earth. Mormonism has to try and distance itself from all other churches and
    their people . To do this the claim is made that God appeared to Mormon prophet
    Joseph Smith and told him all other churches ,their people and their creeds were all wrong
    all corrupt and all an abomination . In fact Mormon leaders remind everyone that
    the very church Jesus established in the first century failed and that Christianity sickened and
    died , the true followers of Jesus were exterminated . A complete apostasy of the Christian
    religion happened shortly after the death of Jesus’ original apostles. But lo and behold that
    very gospel of salvation once preached by the original apostles along with that very church
    organized by Jesus became restored by God thru Joseph Smith . Mormon leaders
    now claim exclusive authority from God to relay His important spiritual truths
    to mankind , only they claim to have the very same gospel and church as it originally
    existed . As is common with false prophets , and their gospels , there is some truth in
    with their claims , and Mormonism is no different . But sadly upon examination of these
    claims we find an extensive amount of falsehood because there was no complete apostasy ,
    and the “restored” gospel of Mormonism is but a revision of the original gospel because of a
    mixing in of additional doctrines –the precepts of men Gal1:8 [ 2Nephi 28:14]

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