In 1912 some Mormon leaders doubted both the content and reliability of The King Follett Sermon

In 1912 some Mormon leaders doubted both the content and reliability of The King Follett Sermon. Mormon apostle George Albert Smith wrote:

“Sometime ago I received an invitation, mailed from the Liahona office, to contribute to a fund for the purpose of mailing copies of King Follet’s[sic] funeral sermon. At the time I was somewhat surprised, because I have thought that the report of that sermon might not be authentic and I have feared that it contained some things that might be contrary to the truth when I knew just what it was, so I did not reply to the letter. Not being very well, I did not feel like taking the matter up, and have learned since that some of the other brethren felt as I did and thought that greater publicity should not be given to that particular sermon.”

Full text here. Photos here and here.

Mormon apologist Blake Ostler writes,

“The First Presidency demonstrated its opposition to the idea of man’s necessary existence again in 1912 when it removed the King Follett discourse from [B.H.] Roberts’ Documentary History of the Church. Charles B. Penrose, in particular, doubted the authenticity and correctness of the reporting of the sermon.

Oh, what might have been 🙁

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20 Responses to In 1912 some Mormon leaders doubted both the content and reliability of The King Follett Sermon

  1. MJP says:

    Too much for some to believe, I suppose. And frankly, rightly so.

  2. falcon says:

    See the problem is that these folks needed to pray about it, get the affirming feeling and then make it part of their testimony. If Joseph Smith said it, it has to be true. He would never lead the faithful astray and when he spoke, the thinking had been done.
    Just think, these men could have as many women as they could snag and they could also become gods. What’s not to like?

  3. MJP says:

    What’s not to like? I think too many women may not be all its set up to be. 🙂

    But then again, when you are based upon a standard of a guiding spirit, whatever is truth is apt to change.

  4. falcon says:

    I’ve visited Nauvoo within the last couple of years and saw the place where the prophet preached this sermon. I didn’t feel anything!
    The interesting thing is that a person can put themselves mentally back into that time frame and think about what it must have been like. These people were sold out for Joseph Smith. How many of them knew about his taking of the sisters for “wives”, probably not many. Then he decided to go all out down the nefarious trail of many other false prophets and decided on a major new doctrine. Some people jumped on board I’m sure simply because Smith made a proclamation. But others didn’t.
    When BY crossed over the Mississippi River and took most of the crew with him, he took on more authority and ruled with an iron fist. Those who stayed behind became the Reorganized Church with, eventually, Smith’s son as the prophet. Guess what? This sect wouldn’t go any where near plural marriage and Smith’s new concept of God. Smith’s wife Emma was a member of this group.
    So the point is, it does take some courage to step out and away from the group and think for yourself. This is especially true when the prophet is in full-bore revelation mode.

  5. MJP says:

    I tend to think the Mormon group would have died out had Smith lived. I think more and more people would have gotten fed up, seen the light (so to speak), and bolted. But he did die, and Young took over and isolated everyone so that there were little to no competing ideas.

    But we continue to see this almost embarrassment from the Mormon leadership. I honestly think that is what the essays are about.

  6. falcon says:

    Interesting to see how the Reorganized sect, now known as the Community of Christ has fared. When I talked to the young man at their visitors center in Nauvoo, his approach was basically, “Well it’s part of our history.” To join their group I sense that there’s no “testimony” of Joseph Smith and the BoM required. In fact, I read one blog where a CoC wrote that converts from foreign lands might not even know what the BoM is.
    Funny thing though, the CoC own most of the good stuff in Nauvoo which I’m sure rankles the LDS.
    There is a cautionary tale here for anyone thinking about signing on to a “prophet”. I’m OK with prophets, apostles, evangelists, pastors and teachers as outlined in the NT. However these “offices” support God’s Word as it is and don’t go looking for new doctrines, scriptures and revelations.
    A couple of thing the LDS can’t get past is the idea of a “one true church” and a “prophet” who hears from God and then speaks the message to the people.
    In the NT we read about the gift of prophesy and the office of the prophet. But it’s not an OT type of prophet.

  7. Mike R says:

    Mormon apostle George A. Smith had reservations about some the content of the King Follett Discourse ? I’m sure this was his inner witness right? Was this suspect content in the discourse about what it said about God i.e. God was not always God , He is an exalted man and man can also become a God just like Him ; there are many such Gods etc . By 1912 had’nt these beliefs been taught to LDS for years ,even published for them to have and keep ? What has appeared in sermons by General Authorities and published for everyone to have since 1912 ?

    I doubt that Mormon authorities were that concerned about the King Follett Discourse influencing people to believe false doctrine , and I think that would their sole concern about it being widely distributed . Of course what that Discourse said about God was something that Mormon leaders may not have wanted potential converts to know — kinda of like Mormon proselytizing tactics today .
    But the Internet has made it easier for potential converts to know just how far Mormon leaders have drifted from the truth about God in their “gospel preaching ” .

  8. falcon says:

    Speaking of hidden agendas. I was talking with a young Muslim man the other day. He told me he was approached by a Mormon who told him “We are alike. In our religion you can have six wives!” The Muslim, who is not from the USA, was quite confused about this and asked me if this were true. It was a great opening to lay out the fundamental beliefs of Mormonism to him.
    I have heard that one of the sales techniques of the LDS missionaries is to, in some way, identify their religion with that of the culture/religion of the prey. The main goal is to get the person baptized and Mormonized as quickly as possible.
    So for those already in the LDS sect, they just accept what is told to them and work up the feeling and new revelation/information into their testimony. There’s not much free thought. Thinking is out sourced to the leadership.

  9. falcon says:

    I believe one of the biggest things, perhaps the most significant thing, that a faithful LDS member has to overcome when they begin to learn the truth about their sect, is their own testimony. Because questioning the personal testimony is to question whether or not the feeling they experienced regarding the BoM, was from God. The LDS premise is that a feeling is communication from God. It can’t be questioned when contrary evidence is presented. That is said to be Satan trying to lead the faithful Mormon astray.
    So what if a feeling is not proof of the truth of something? That then opens up all sorts of possibilities about what is true and false in regards to their spiritual experiences. At some point the evidence becomes to over-whelming to ignore, feelings or not.

  10. Mike R says:

    The doctrines that Joseph Smith preached in the King Follett Discourse were the capstone on his career as a religious leader and it revealed how he had drifted from what the Bible taught about God as well as the Book of Mormon , he had thus clearly identified himself as a false prophet of the latter days — Matt 24:11 . The King Follett Discourse served as evidence of His apostasy from the truth and sadly many of his followers , blind to their devotion to him , did not test his teachings like they should have to avoid being fooled into following a false prophet — 1 Jn 4:1 .

    Following false prophets has serious consequences — Isa 9:16.
    The Mormon people are in danger . We pray for them to recognize it and garner the strength to walk away from Mormonism .

  11. falcon says:

    It’s really a slippery slope isn’t it; both with the false prophets and those who follow them. The followers are so enamored with the false prophet that to question him would be to destroy the hero worship that they have for him.
    It’s the same with LDS leadership today. The rank-and-file love and adore these men. It’s been said that they are rock stars in the LDS world. Is it any wonder then, that all of the weird and wacky doctrines, utterances and teachings get a pass from the adoring LDS public.
    The false prophets and the followers will give lip service to a “he’s just a man” sentiment, but we all know that’s merely a throw away line meant to assign humility.
    Anyone who challenges the leader and points out a problem, becomes a problem. It’s simply not allowed in the culture. Remember, the church is perfect, but the people aren’t? What foolishness.

  12. Mike R says:


    Mormon leaders have kept their followers super busy with church activities , and combined with other obligations in their lives rank and file members simply did not hesitate to trust the men at the top when they introduced a new teaching .
    The last several years though have seen a ground swell of disillusionment among LDS and many have left or become inactive . We get to help steer them towards the answer their souls long for — a saving relationship with God found only when a person meets Jesus in a personal way . Being busy is not the same thing has being right — especially when it concerns a right relationship with God .

  13. falcon says:

    We have had LDS folks show up here on occasion contending that the LDS “god” is the same “god” as that of Christianity. Even when the facts were enumerated for them, they still couldn’t or wouldn’t see it.
    In addition to this, there are LDS folks, especially new converts who have no clue regarding the difference between the Orthodox Christian doctrine of God and the multi-god doctrine of the LDS sect. I talked to a woman out in a Wyoming campground one time who was a former Mormon from Utah. She related about how she was a teenager when she asked her mother about this LDS view of god. Her mother really went into gear jammed mode.
    I would surmise that most of the Mormons who have showed up here over the years have above average intelligence. So when it comes to their TBM frame of mind it has absolutely nothing to do intellectual horse power. What it has to do with is mental/emotional conditioning and ignorance.
    Hopefully more LDS and other Mormons will begin to see the truth about Mormonism.

  14. falcon says:

    The tip-off is when some guy calling himself a prophet tells you that the original gospel had been lost but now he’s going to restore it via revelation. As he goes slip sliding away he generally gets himself in trouble sexually in one form or another and in the case of Smith, he invents a new god.
    I would think that would be a pretty obvious sign that the dude isn’t what he claims to be. Smith’s religion also was an aid in getting him some financial gain. The guy never had a real job so religious leader proved to be quite lucrative.

  15. Mike R says:

    Mormon apostle George Albert Smith felt that no further publicity should be given to the King Follett Discourse because it contained something’s which were ” contrary to the truth ” ?

    This discourse was printed several times in the years after Joseph Smith died . In 1855 Brigham Young approved of it , and it was also printed in the Deseret News in the 7-8-1857 edition . In 1909 it printed a official church publication ( The Improvement Era ) , and yet in 1912 apostle George Albert Smith felt it should not receive further distribution .
    Also , this discourse has been hailed as Joseph Smith’s greatest sermon by notable Mormons including officers . So it seems some Mormon leaders inner witness is at odds with others .

    One thing is for sure , since 1830 the ” gospel preaching ” of Mormon leaders has produced an array of false doctrines , and some of the teachings in the King Follett Discourse that concern God are at the top of the list . This Discourse , like Brigham Young’s and those of others who were greatly influenced by Joseph Smith , was the product of a latter days false prophet — Matt 24:11 . As such the Mormon people have been fooled into following men ” who teach for doctrine the commandments of men ” ( PGP Joseph Smith history 1:19 ; or 2 Nephi 28: 31 ” precepts of men ” ) .

    There is a way out of following religious leaders who have a pattern of teaching doctrines that are not sound , and the Mormon people can ask God for strength to walk away from their leaders and to trust Him to guide them into truth . The Bible’s prophets and apostles taught that truth , and also warned about latter days false prophets and their gospels .

  16. falcon says:

    That certainly opens up the “what if” possibilities. What if these Mormon leaders had just let Smith’s sermon pass into oblivion and not implemented the idiocy as a major LDS doctrine? Mormonism without the doctrine that there are millions possibly billions of gods in the universe, men becoming gods by following the LDS system, men raising their wives from the dead, an eternity of procreating spirit beings who would populate the planets that these manufactured gods rule.
    Take all of that abominable doctrine out of the LDS and you basically have what Aaron has called, Methodists with additional scripture.

  17. falcon says:

    The final line of the article is “Oh what might have been.”
    That’s a very important summary statement in that it’s a conclusion getting at the regret of these LDS people worshiping a false god.
    The LDS sect members get all wound-up when it’s suggested that they are indeed worshiping a false god but that in essence is what they are doing. They are not worshiping the God who reveals Himself in Scripture, His Word.
    In his letter to the Romans, first three chapters, the apostle Paul lays out a case against those who refuse to acknowledge God. Paul writes in Romans 1:18-23,

    18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.”

    Now a Mormon may protest that they are not heathens and unrighteous. After all aren’t they sincere? Are they not devout? Don’t lead moral lives?
    There are serious consequences in rejecting God despite cries of being moral, sincere, and devout people. God has revealed Himself and in rejecting Him they are rejecting the Savior and the plan of salvation that God so clearly lays out in the Bible.
    The Mormon Jesus cannot save someone from their sins. Jesus is the eternal God-man. He proceeds from the Father. Jesus is of the same essence/substance as the Father. He is not a created being, produced by some sort of union by the Mormon god and one of his many wives. This is why we agree with Paul when he talks about the foolishness of man given to endless and fruitless speculation.
    The Mormon god is the result of foolish speculation by Joseph Smith. False prophets with a false gospel give false hope and a very bad ending.

  18. Mike R says:

    When Mormonism first sent out missionaries to preach their gospel , to teach people far and wide about God and salvation , but then slowly Joseph Smith started drifting from those teachings and ended up with introducing an array of false teachings . Brigham Young carried on his errors and even added to them .

    Mormon leaders have convinced their followers that a great apostasy occurred soon after the death of Jesus’ apostles . They claim that the main reason that started a slide away from the gospel of salvation and truths about God was that certain men altered those truths by mixing in man made teachings to it which ended up creating a false gospel and thus salvation was no longer available , that lasted for 1700 years until 1830 . Although Joseph Smith claimed to have the answer for this
    problem , he too by the time of his untimely death in 1844 had drifted from important doctrines
    which church officers had once proclaimed far and wide to gain converts .

    2 Tim 4: 3,4 is a appropriate scripture to use to see the error latter days prophets like those of
    Mormonism are guilty of .

    The Mormon people can be free from the danger that submitting to false prophets posses .

  19. falcon says:

    I know it would be the rare LDS who would look into what the Church Fathers taught regarding the nature of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The Church Fathers depended on what the scriptures said and what they were taught either directly by the apostles or by those who were the second and third generation of disciples.
    Mormonism is depending on what Joseph Smith said was “revealed” to him. Smith wasn’t all that rare in claiming special revelation and appearances by all manner of spirit beings. Smith even wrote his own scripture and that wasn’t all that unusual. It’s a common thing among false prophets
    When Mormons want to know why I won’t read the BoM I tell them why would I? I know who you’re Mormon god is and what spirit guides Mormonism. See, they’re hoping that someone will read the BoM and be over-come by the “burning in the bosom” and believe the BoM is true. They don’t quite understand that generating a “feeling” isn’t personal revelation. Actually it’s fool hearty to depend on something like that.
    And here’s another thing. If Mormons want to claim that we come to believe by personal revelation, I’ve had that revelation from God. He spoke to me through revelation regarding who Jesus is and what He has done for me. Based on that revelation, I came to Jesus in faith and received the gift of eternal life that the Father offered me. It was through the Holy Spirit, witnessing to the deity of Christ that I became a believer. Having believed, I was sealed by the Holy Spirit and know that I have eternal life.

  20. Mike R says:


    You’re right about others in Joseph Smith’s time who were coming forth with stories of being visited by heavenly beings and therefore had the truth etc . Sadly people were fooled into following them .

    You won’t read the Book of Mormon ? No problem . I have read it but because I had already learned of what Mormon leaders had taught about God and salvation etc. I simply considered it something that I did’nt need . The Book of Mormon is’nt necessary to read and believe in order to live a moral lifestyle that is consistent with being a Christian . The Bible and some common sense are sufficient to accomplish that . I would never accept the Mormon church today as Jesus’ true church by embracing the Book of Mormon . Mormon leaders ran past the Bible and BM even before Joseph Smith had died because those books were written by ” dead prophets/apostles ” , and so they were not able to provide enough truth for a person to believe in order to gain eternal life . Sadly LDS bought that claim .

    You mentioned ” personal revelation” . That is real , but it must be in concert with what the written Word of God teaches otherwise it’s only a good feeling nothing more . The Holy Spirit because He is the Spirit of Truth ( Jn 14:17 ) does not give a positive feeling , a inner witness, to false doctrine .

    We get to steer Mormons to the source where they can learn the truth about what is required to receive the gift of eternal life — the New Testament .

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