Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Will the Grinch Steal Christmas This Year?

            Parents can ensure that their family has a happy Christmas by planning ahead. With stores unable to obtain supplies, the toy shelves may be emptier than usual this Christmas season. In addition, inflation is rapidly increasing prices for the gifts that are available. Parents may be caught in a difficult situation in providing gifts for their children this year.

            Everyone from government officials to store managers are encouraging parents to shop early because there is no guarantee that products will be available in the weeks prior to Christmas. If there are specific items that teens and children desire, parents would be wise to get them now.

            Parents should also plan how to make Christmas happy in case of an emergency. What if they are not able to find or afford the selected items – or any related items? What will the parents do? This may be the year for parents to have an old-fashioned or homegrown Christmas. It will certainly be an enjoyable time for teaching children and teens about the birth of Jesus Christ, the reason for celebrating the Christmas season. At any rate, parents should have ideas about what they will do for plan A as well as have a plan B and a plan C.

            Christmas will come whether parents are prepared for it or not, and children will be excited to see their gifts. Children and teens have been through tough times over the past two years, and many of them are dealing with mental issues. Even though parents have also endured stress, they must step up to the duty of making Christmas memorable for their children and do so for all the right reasons. Parents who plan ahead for Christmas can strengthen their families as well as their communities and nations.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Is Another American Civil War Likely?

             The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns unity – United We Stand and Divided We May Self-Destruct. The people of the United States are more divided now than they have been since the Civil War. The Civil War raged from April 12, 1861, to May 9, 1865, and cost the lives of more than 620,000 American soldiers. It also “bankrupted much of the South, left its roads, farms, and factories in ruins, and all but wiped out an entire generation of men who wore the blue and the gray.” 

            The Civil War erupted after decades of simmering over slavery and central power. Congress tried several times to steer the nation away from war by passing the “Missouri Compromise, the Compromise of 1850, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and many others.” In the end, eleven states – South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee – left the United States of America and formed the Confederate States of America. Four long, dark, and painful years of war were followed by the surrender of the Confederate armies to the United States in April 1865 at Appomattox Court House and Bennett Place.

            There are forces in the United States who are still trying to use race to divide Americans, and the chasm growing wider and deeper as time passes. Victor Davis Hanson wonders if the United States is traveling down the same road of the Roman Empire. The huge empire split in half in A.D. 286 under the direction of the Roman emperor Diocletian. The split was “administratively – and peacefully” made and involved the control of two emperors. 

A Western empire included much of modern-day Western Europe and northwest Africa. The Eastern half controlled Eastern Europe and parts of Asia and northeastern Africa.

By 330, the Emperor Constantine institutionalized that split by moving the empire’s capital from Rome to his new imperial city of Constantinople, founded on the site of the old Greek polis of Byzantium.

The two administrative halves of the once huge empire continued to drift apart. Soon there arose two increasingly different, though still kindred versions, of a once unified Romanity.

The Western empire eventually collapsed into chaos by the latter fifth century A.D.

Yet the Roman eastern half survived for nearly 1,000 years. It was soon known as the Byzantine Empire, until overwhelmed by the Ottoman Turks in 1453 A.D.

Historians still disagree over why the East endured while the West crumbled. And they cite the various roles of differing geography, border challenges, tribal enemies, and internal challenges.

            Hanson wrote much more about the divided Roman Empire and why one half thrived much longer than the other. The “Greek-speaking, Orthodox Christian and older civilization [was] in the East, and a “more or less polyglot and often fractious Christianity [was] in the Latin West.” The Byzantium empire “held firm against ancient neighboring Persian, Middle Eastern, and Egyptian rivals. But the West disintegrated into a tribal amalgam of its own former peoples.”

            In the United States we have the divide between Red States and Blue States and even talk of another civil war. Americans who have the means, move from conservative states to liberal states and vice versa.

More conservative traditionalists head for the interior between the coast, where there is usually smaller government, fewer taxes, more religiosity, and unapologetic traditionalists.

These modern Byzantines are more apt to define their patriotism by honoring ancient customs and rituals – standing for the national anthem, attending church services on Sundays, demonstrating reverence for American history and its heroes, and emphasizing the nuclear family.

Immigration in fly-over country is still defined as melting pot assimilation and integration of new arrivals into the body politic of a hallowed and enduring America.

While red states welcome change, they believe America never had to be perfect to be good. It will always survive, but only if it sticks to its 234-year-old Constitution, stays united by the English language, and assimilates newcomers into an enduring and exceptional American culture.

            On the other hand, “the more liberal blue states” are on the East Coast and the West Coast. They benefit from globalist wealth gained from trade with Asia on the West Coast and the European Union on the East Coast. “The great research universities of the Ivy League” are located in the blue states. “Just as Rome was once the iconic center of the entire Roman project, so blue Washington, D.C., is the nerve center for big-government America.”

            Unlike the red states, immigrants moving into the blue states “retain and reboot their former cultural identities.” Religion is different – less orthodox with more agnosticism and atheism. The blue states on the coasts are home to “most of the recent social movements of American feminism, transgenderism, and critical race theory.”

Foreigners see blue coastal Americans as the more vibrant, sophisticated, cosmopolitan – and reckless – culture, its vast wealth predicated on technology, information, communications, finance, media, education, and entertainment.

In turn, they concede that the vast red interior – with about the same population as blue America but with vastly greater area – is the more pragmatic, predictable, and home to the food, fuels, ores, and material production of America.

Our Byzantine interior and Roman coasts are quite differently interpreting their shred American heritage as they increasingly plot radically divergent courses to survive in scary times.

But as in the past, it is far more likely that one state model will prove unsustainable and collapse than it is that either region would ever start a civil war.

            Unlike the Roman Empire, the government of the United States of America was founded on a divinely inspired document known as the Constitution. President Dallin H.Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke about the importance of “Defending Our Divinely Inspired Constitution” in the April 2021 General Conference of the Church. He outlined the principles that he considers to be divinely inspired before stating the following: 

Despite the divinely inspired principles of the United States Constitution, when exercised by imperfect mortals their intended effects have not always been achieved. Important subjects of lawmaking, such as some laws governing family relationships, have been taken from the states by the federal government. The First Amendment guarantee of free speech has sometimes been diluted by suppression of unpopular speech. The principle of separation of powers has always been under pressure with the ebb and flow of one branch of government exercising or inhibiting the powers delegated to another.

There are other threats that undermine the inspired principles of the United States Constitution. The stature of the Constitution is diminished by efforts to substitute current societal trends as the reason for its founding, instead of liberty and self-government. The authority of the Constitution is trivialized when candidates or officials ignore its principles. The dignity and force of the Constitution is reduced by those who refer to it like a loyalty test or a political slogan, instead of its lofty status as a source of authorization for and limits on government authority.

            President Oaks then explained that Latter-day Saints [and all Americans] have a “responsibility to uphold and defend the United States Constitution and principles of constitutionalism wherever we live.” He then made an important statement: “We should trust in the Lord and be positive about this nation’s future.”

            Latter-day Saints believe that Christopher Columbus was divinely guided to discover the Americas and the people who were living here. We believe that God helped the American colonists to win the Revolutionary War and inspired the Founders in writing the Constitution. Many of the writers in the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ – testified that America is a land of liberty (2 Nephi 10:11) and a “land which is choice above all other lands” (Ether 1:42; 10:28; 13:2; Doctrine and Covenants 38:20).

            The scriptures testify that America is a promised land unto those people who worship the God of the land who is Jesus Christ. God helped to establish the United States of America with its guaranty of religious liberty, and then He established His Church upon the land. He will not allow the United States of America to be destroyed even though terrible things may happen. America will most likely pass through some dark days, but I believe that its future will be glorious and bright.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Is Racial Justice Concerned with Equality or Equity?

             The cause of “racial justice” continues to gain popularity, and its most vocal advocates at the current time are progressives. However, the progressives do not seem to know the history of the movement, or even what the fight is about.

            Robert L. Woodson Sr. is the founder and president of the Woodson Center, formerly known as the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise. He has long been a warrior for racial justice, and he is calling the progressives out for their lack of knowledge. 

At the beginning of the civil rights movement, we fought to open doors that had been closed to us by law. We wanted to end the systematic legal and political restrictions on black opportunity; we wanted black people to be evaluated for our character and capability, not our skin color or assumptions people made about us because of it.

Somewhere along the way, our vision for racial justice got hijacked by bureaucrats, academics, and activists who understood civil rights to mean something entirely different.

For these interlopers, racial justice didn’t mean equality of opportunity; it meant the fantasy of equality of outcomes. And racial justice advocates now insist on redefining the black American struggle as a quest to trust our lives to elites who promise to make sure we all get the same amount of stuff. What began as a grassroots movement for equality has become an elitist project, one that’s more about power than it is about real justice.

            Woodson condemned the “elitist condescension toward black Americans” and the idea that black people are “problems to be solved, rips in the social fabric that need to be mended by well-meaning, though often seriously misguided, public policy interventions.” He continued, “Now, we’re often viewed as nothing more than helpless victims awaiting rescue from our privileged white oppressors.” [This is the very thing that proponents of critical race theory (CRT) want to teach in our K-12 schools. They want to teach little white children that they are oppressors and little black children that they are victims – neither of which is true.]

            Woodson acknowledge that there are problems in the black community. However, “the majority of black people are doing just fine: We are middle class or wealthy, and our educational attainment continues to increase.”

The problems facing lower-income black people are the same problems facing low-income residents of any race or ethnicity: problems such as a lack of access to good schools, broken families, and a dearth of economic opportunities. Instead of targeting these problems, today’s elitist racial justice advocacy focuses on devising new ways to give black people handouts arbitrarily.

This approach not only pathologizes black people, but it also directs our attention and energy away from initiatives that could actually work to improve life for low-income people of all races….

            Poverty happens in all races, and it should not be a cause to divide the nation. Money given by corporations to help poor people never gets to the people that need it because there are too many people making a living off exploiting the poor and using the race card.

            One of the latest ideas is to change the fight from equality to equity. Equality means to level the playing field for people of all races and give them equality of opportunity. Equity is to give equality of outcomes, which can never happen because people are different. We do not all want the same thing, and we do not all have the same talents or desire to work hard. However, we can give equal opportunities.

            One place that can be equal is equality in educational opportunities. No child should be forced to attend a school where they are not taught the skills necessary to improve their lives. If teachers are not qualified to teach, they should be forced to find another occupation. All schools should be of equal quality no matter where they are located. Every child deserves the chance to learn and to develop their potential, and every adult deserves the opportunity to gainful employment.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Do Concerned Parents Deserve to Be Called Domestic Terrorists?

             Last week Attorney General Merrick Garland called on the FBI to address “violent threats against school officials and teachers.” He was referring to parents who oppose the woke ideology and critical race theory being taught in schools across the nation. Apparently, a letter from the national school board organization prompted the move.

            Luke Rosiak at The Daily Wire revealed that Scott Smith was arrested on June 22, 2021, at a Loudoun County, Virginia, school board meeting. Many people attending the meeting “vocally opposed a policy on transgender students,” and the meeting was determined to be an “unlawful assembly” because of the opposition. 

            Rosiak called Smith “the poster child” for the call by the National School Boards Association to equate parents with domestic terrorists. Smith was upset at the board meeting because his daughter was sexually assaulted during school, and the board was covering up the assault. He says that “a boy allegedly wearing a skirt entered a girls’ bathroom at nearby Stone Bridge High School, where he sexually assaulted Smith’s ninth-grade daughter.”

Yet, minutes prior to Smith’s arrest, the superintendent of the Loudoun County Public Schools “lectured the public that concerns about the transgender policy were misplaced because the school system had no record of any assault occurring in any school bathroom.”

Smith’s attorney, Elizabeth Lancaster, told The Daily Wire that “a boy was charged with two counts of forcible sodomy, one count of anal sodomy, and one count of forcible fellatio, related to an incident that day at that school.”

Rep. Christ Stewart (R-Utah) discussed the incident with Glenn Beck. He said that sixty lawmakers sent a letter to Garland “demanding answers for why the FBI is targeting parents.” 

“We want to know … what kind of coordination took place between the White House, activist groups and teachers’ unions, and the Department of Justice,” Stewart told Glenn. “Because we have evidence that there was [coordination] and, in fact, that the White House are the ones who initiated this. They asked for these activist groups to write this inflammatory letter to the Department of Justice saying they were ‘intimidated’ and that they ‘felt threatened,’ giving the Department of Justice Attorney General Garland, the excuse to say, ‘Okay, well, we have to respond’.”

Stewart went on to say he believes the federal government would only involve the FBI in such an issue if its purpose is to silence and intimidate parents concerned about the “poison” being taught to their kids in school. So, what can he and the other representatives who disagree with the Biden administration’s overreach of power do to stop it?

            It gets worse. It appears that Garland has a personal interest in this issue and is “facing fresh scrutiny for his ties to a company that promotes the type of content parents are opposing in their ongoing battle with local school boards….” It seems that Garland’s “daughter is married to the cofounder of @PanoramaEd which is under fire for its multimillion [dollar] contracts with school boards.” Panorama also has ties to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his problems. 

            It appears that someone at the high levels of our government is seeking to silence parents. They are using threats from the FBI to intimidate anyone who dares to speak out against the woke agenda.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Who Is the Real Christopher Columbus?

             My VIP for this week is the real Christopher Columbus and not the “counterfeit Columbus” manufactured by “revisionist historians. Much of this essay will come from an article posted by Tad R. Callister. My purpose – like Callister’s – is to reveal the real Columbus. Callister wrote the following about the motive of Columbus to find the New World. 

For many years Columbus sought financing for his desired voyage. Finally, Queen Isabella of Spain gave her approval. Even though the voyage would have profound financial benefits for Spain, Columbus was under no misapprehension about its purpose; he knew it was much more than a secular quest. He knew it was an integral part of God’s divine master plan. He was not alone in this understanding. Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo, Spain’s royal historian, referred to the king and queen’s “faithful service to Jesus Christ and their fervent desire for the spread of His holy faith.” He then added, “It was for this purpose that the Lord brought Christopher Columbus to their notice.”

While fame and fortune may have contributed to Columbus’s interest in exploration, his main motivation, according to Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Samuel Eliot Morison, was his believe that he was an instrument in God’s hands: “There can be no doubt that the faith of Columbus was genuine and sincere, and that his frequent communion with forces unseen was a vital element in his achievement. … This conviction that God destined him to be an instrument for spreading the faith was far more potent that the desire to win glory, wealth and worldly honors, to which he was certainly far from indifferent.”

Not only did Columbus desire to spread Christianity among the natives whom he encountered, but he also sought gold and wealth for a very specific purpose – to finance a crusade that would conquer Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. In his own words, Columbus said: “I urged your Highnesses to spend all the profits of this my enterprise on the conquest of Jerusalem.” Being a devoutly religious man, Columbus believed this conquest and the rebuilding of the temple was necessary in order to prepare the way for the Second Coming of Christ. Delno C. West and August Kling, scholars on the life of Columbus, wrote: “We cannot deny that the Admiral wanted a comfortable income for himself and his heirs, but the primary motivation in his quest for gold was spiritual. On many occasions, he clearly stated that any gold found should be used first and foremost to propagate the faith and to launch the final crusade to Jerusalem.” Why is it that we seldom, if ever, hear of these sentiments from the revisionist historians?

            At this point in his article, Callister asked a “key historical question: ‘Was Columbus divinely inspired or were his voyages nothing more than secular quests?’” Callister reminded his readers that God does not have any perfect mortals to do His work. He always used imperfect men with weaknesses and makes them equal to advancing His work.

The critic sees only warts and blemishes; God sees the beauty and strengths, and then uses such attributes to further His cause. And so it was with Columbus. To deny his God-inspired role in events which ultimately made possible the birth and founding of the United States of America is to suffer from a severe case of historical myopia.

            Callister explained that he used the term “revisionist historian” to describe “those historians who would rather promote their own prejudices and perspective of history than actual facts as reflected in primary sources (meaning original sources created during the historical time under discussion). Some “primary sources” are the journal and letters of Columbus, “a biography by his son Ferdinand Columbus, contemporary historians such as Peter Martyr of Angleria, Bartolome de las Casas, and Andrés Bernáldez, and Columbus’s bitter enemy and rival – Francisco de Bobadilla.” Callister then expressed his surprise and disappointment at the revisionist history that is being pedaled by dishonest historians.

As I read about the life of Columbus, I was surprised and disappointed at the many times revisionists quoted passages out of context, cited other revisionists without reference to primary sources, or simply failed to quote primary sources that disproved or weakened their position. Lest there be any question, a partial truth presented as the whole truth is an untruth, and there is no doubt but that many revisionists have engaged in partial truths….”

            Biased historians are teaching half-truths about Columbus. Callister shares examples of the partial truths of revisionists and shares the truth as follow.

Columbus did send some slaves to Spain but his motive was not nefarious.

It is true that Columbus did send some slaves to Spain but one needs to understand the context in which Columbus did so. For example, King Guacanagari was a native chief who sought the help of Columbus to defeat an enemy tribe of cannibals who were destroying his own tribe. Columbus did assist in this request and sent the captured cannibals as slaves to Spain….

… Likewise, it is important to understand that Columbus, who the revisionists accuse as a slave trader, never personally owned a slave. In other words, any natives sent to Spain were not for the personal benefit of Columbus, but for what he thought might be the ultimate education and conversion of these natives to Christianity.

Columbus wanted to make friends, not enemies of the natives.

It is true that Columbus did kill some natives, but this was largely in response to the death of 39 Spaniards (killed by these same natives) that Columbus had left behind to govern the island of Hispaniola. As to this event Las Casas, a contemporary of Columbus and historian, wrote: “Truly, I would not dare blame the admiral’s intention, for I knew him well and all I know his intentions were good.” … [Callister and Carol Delaney came to the same conclusion after reading original sources.]

Columbus brought the natives a much better way of life.

Some revisionists would have us believe that the natives with whom Columbus interacted were all peace-loving, free of all major diseases, and living in a Garden of Eden state before Columbus “destroyed” it all. The facts reveal, however, that many tribes were continually at war. Furthermore, the facts reveal that some of these natives were cannibals, some ate their own children, some were subject to major diseases, some possessed slaves, some used captured women as sex slaves, some were addicted to cocaine, some performed human sacrifices, the vast majority were uneducated, and some practiced witchcraft, among other atrocities. To suggest that Columbus destroyed their peaceful, civilized, and harmonious societies is pure, absolute fiction.

To the contrary, Columbus brought them a much better way of life— Christianity. That is why the Americas today are filled with Christian nations where cannibalism has been eradicated, slavery abolished, human sacrifices done away, major diseases minimized, women treated with greater respect, life expectancies extended, poverty reduced, and education made available to most. That is the true legacy of Columbus.

            Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that the Holy Ghost inspired Columbus as he discovered America. The histories referred to by Callister agree with this belief. “Historical references to Columbus as an instrument in God’s hands are numerous” even though revisionist historians minimize those references.    

            In the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, a prophet named “Nephi

prophesied that a man would be wrought upon by the Spirit of God and cross the many waters unto the seed of his brethren (see 1 Nephi 13:12).” A latter-day prophet, even President Gordon B. Hinckley, observed, “We interpret [1 Nephi 13:12] to refer to Columbus.”

This could be the reason that Wilford Woodruff completed the temple work for Columbus when he did the work of the Founding Fathers in the St. George Temple. Callister wrote that Wilford Woodruff recorded that “Columbus was one of four men ordained [as] a high priest – certainly an indication of his worthiness.” Callister concluded with the following statement.

Columbus was an instrument in God’s hands to discover the New World and bring Christianity to its shores. In accordance with actual, not revisionist history, Columbus had the courage to follow God’s promptings, the daring to cross the seemingly impassible ocean, and the righteous desire to share Christianity with the natives. His discoveries led to a people that eventually abandoned slavery, cannibalism, and human sacrifices, and instead replaced it with religion, education, and a more refined civilization. What a colossal contribution to society and ultimately, the restoration of Christ’s gospel! It is now time for the real Columbus to stand up and be recognized and honored for who he really was.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Why Is America Powerful?

             The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns what causes constitutional systems and citizenship to perish. According to Victor Davis Hanson, “more than half of the current world’s 7 billion people are citizens of fully consensual governments.” This means that “50% alone enjoys constitutionally protected freedoms.” The lucky people who enjoy such freedoms usually live in Western nations or in “Westernized” nations. 

Migrants – regardless of their race, religion, or gender – almost always head for a Western nation. And most often their destination remains the United States. The more it is now fashionable for Americans to take for granted or even to ridicule the idea of their own country, the more the non-American global poor risk their lives to crash America’s borders.

Constitutional systems easily perish because they ask a lot of their citizens – to vote, to be informed about civic and political issues, and to hold elected officials accountable. That responsibility is perhaps why, of the world’s true republics and democracies, only about 22 have been in existence for a half-century or more.

            With the knowledge that constitutional systems are fragile, why has the United States of America been in existence for more than 235 years? Where does America get her ability to survive and prosper? Many Americans do not realize that “America is a rare, precious, and perhaps even fragile idea, both in the past and in the present.”

            Hanson discusses ways that Americans are different that citizens of other nations. The first reason is that American citizens are not like peasants who lived “under the control of the rich.” Instead, America has “a broad, autonomous middle class” that has neither “the dependence of the poor” or “the insider influences of the elite.” “Suffocate the middle, and we know that a binary feudalism will soon replace it. We are seeing just that medievalization in contemporary California.”

            Hanson’s second reason is that Americans are not “mere migratory residents who drift across nonexistent borders in expectation of receiving more rights than meeting responsibilities.” “Forfeit a sacred national space – a place where common customs, language, and traditions can shelter and thrive – and a unique America disappears into a precivilizational migratory void like the fluid vastness of late imperial Rome.”

            Hanson’s third reason is that “Americans are quite different from tribal peoples whose first loyalties” are to “appearance or innate blood ties.” He stated that if America goes back to precivilizational tribalism, Americans face a future similar to former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Iraq, or other such countries.

            Even though Americans are not yet “premodern peasants, mere residents, and squabbling tribes,” we are “equally suspicious and rightfully distrustful of the top-down subversion of citizenship by postmodern elites and the privileged.” The COVID-19 pandemic brought out politicians and experts who are anxious to take away God-given freedoms of Americans in return for promised safety. Hanson compared it to “the Chinese model” – much different than “the vision of our Founders.”

Citizens object to “evolving” a 245-year-old republic into a radical socialist ochlocracy without checks and balances. That rebooting would mean scrapping ancient laws, long-held customs, and hallowed traditions – from the Electoral College and a nine-person Supreme Court to the Senate filibuster and 50-state union.

Consensual societies usually implode when desperate factions resort to subverting hallowed rules for short-term partisan gain.

            Americans are joining the movement to save America in increasing numbers because we recognize the totalitarian overreaches of Leftists and Democrat politicians. We are not interested in living in a communist country or being “citizens of the world.” According to Hanson, Americans – with our privileges, affluence, and leisure – “must always ask ourselves whether as citizens we have earned what those who died at Gettysburg or on Omaha Beach bequeathed at such costs.”

            We must not allow violation of our customs and traditions “as by breaking laws.” “Freedom requires constant reinvestment in and replenishment of a nation’s traditions and ideals.” Americans can protect and preserve our nation by understanding “that an innately self-correcting United States does not have to be perfect to be good – and especially when, in a world of innately flawed humans and failed states, it remains far better than any of the alternative abroad.”

Anyone who questions the goodness and blessings of America need only look to the masses of people who are moving to the United States. If America were as bad as the naysayers claim, people would be leaving our shores, not coming in the hundreds of thousands each month. America became the most powerful nation in the world because of its goodness, not because it is perfect. America will remain powerful as long as it maintains and preserves its constitutional way of life – not becoming a socialist/communist country.


Saturday, October 9, 2021

Did Isaiah Prophesy of Joseph Smith?

             My Come, Follow Me lesson for this week took me to Doctrine and Covenants 111-114. As you may recall from last week, Section 109-110 were about the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, which was a great spiritual experience for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The spiritual strengthening that took place with the completion and dedication of the temple helped the Saints to feel confidence and security in their faith.

            Less than a year after the dedication, troubles arose among the Saints -- financial problems, discord among the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and other difficulties. All the concerns caused members of the Church of Jesus Christ to waver in their faith and to question the authenticity of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Doctrine and Covenants 111-114 teaches many principles, but this post will focus on Joseph Smith being “a servant in the hands of Christ” (Doctrine and Covenants 113:4). The Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual – Religion 324-325 [2018] gave the following introduction to Section 113.

By July 1837, dissent among Church members in Kirtland, Ohio, had diminished. In late September 1837 the Prophet Joseph Smith and several others traveled to Missouri to conduct Church business there. When they returned to Kirtland in December 1837, they found that some Church members were once again speaking out against the Prophet. By January 1838, “divisions in Kirtland became more pronounced … as dissidents, excommunicated church members, and others made threats against the lives of [Joseph Smith] and other church leaders.” On January 12, 1838, the Prophet received a revelation that directed the members of the First Presidency and all their “faithfull friends” to leave Kirtland and go to Missouri as soon as possible. The Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon left Kirtland that night. Their families joined them in Norton, Ohio, later, and by January 16 they had left for Missouri. (See The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 5: October 1835-January 1838, 441-42.)

            Little is known about the Smiths as they traveled from Kirtland, Ohio, to Far West, Missouri. The student manual continued its description with the Prophet arriving in Missouri.

The Prophet Joseph Smith and his family arrived in Far West, Missouri, on March 14, 1838 (see Manuscript History of the Church, vol. B-1, page 784, Soon after his arrival in Missouri, the Prophet began keeping a record book that included questions about passages in Isaiah and the Lord’s answers to those questions. The historical record offers little detail about those who may have asked the questions and why, although Elias Higbee, a Church member and judge living in Far West, Missouri, in 1838, is named as having asked questions about Isaiah 52:1-2 (see D&C 113:7). (See The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 6: February 1838-August 1839, ed. Mark Ashurst-McGee and others [2017], 50-51.) Although no details are given regarding the circumstances in which these questions were asked, the questions and the Lord’s answers to these questions are recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 113.

            We know that Joseph asked questions of the Lord and received answers from Him. We do not know the origin of the questions answered in Section 113 or the circumstances of the experience. The student manual has the following information about Doctrine and Covenants 113:1-6.

On September 21, 1823, the angel Moroni appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith and told him “that God had a work for [him] to do” (Joseph Smith-History 1:33). The angel also told him about the golden plates and the Urim and Thummim and then began quoting prophecies recorded in the Old Testament (see Joseph Smith-History 1:34-41). While reciting those prophecies, Moroni quoted Isaiah 11, “saying that it was about to be fulfilled” (see Joseph Smith-History 1:40). Nearly 15 years later, in March 1838, the Prophet Joseph Smith addressed questions about Isaiah 11, and the inspired answers he received explain some elements of this prophecy.

Doctrine and Covenants 113:1-2 states that “the Stem of Jesse” is Jesus Christ. The word stem in Isaiah 11:1 is translated from a Hebrew word that refers to the trunk or stump of a tree – either a tree that has been cut down or a tree that has been planted. Doctrine and Covenants 113:3-6 indicates that “the rod spoken of” in Isaiah 11:1 “is a servant in the hands of Christ,” and “the root of Jesse” in Isaiah 11:10 “is a descendant of Jesse, as well as of Joseph, unto whom rightly belongs the priesthood, and the keys of the kingdom.”

Elder Bruce R. McConkie shared one interpretation of “the rod” and “the root of Jesse” referred to in Isaiah 11:10 and in Doctrine and Covenants 113:3-6: “Are we amiss in saying that the prophet here mentioned is Joseph Smith, to whom the priesthood came, who received the keys of the kingdom, and who raised the ensign for the gathering of the Lord’s people in our dispensation? And is he not also the ‘servant in the hands of Christ, who is partly a descendant of Jesse as well as of Ephraim, or of the house of Joseph, on whom there is laid much power’? (D&C 113:4-6.)” (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [1982], 339-40).

            One may well ask, what did the Prophet Joseph Smith accomplish as “a servant in the hands of Christ” (D&C 113:4)? Joseph Smith became a witness to the world that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are two separate Beings with glorified bodies of flesh and bone. He was the conduit of hundreds of revelations from God, showing that the heavens were open. He was the instrument in God’s hands for restoring the gospel of Jesus Christ to earth and in organizing the Church of Jesus Christ on earth once again. He accomplished much good.

            John Taylor wrote the announcement of the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum Smith the Patriarch, at Carthage, Illinois, on June 27, 1844. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints published the announcement as Doctrine and Covenants 135. Here are the words contained in the third verse.

Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. In the short space of twenty years, he has brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God, and has been the means of publishing it on two continents; has sent the fulness of the everlasting gospel, which it contained, to the four quarters of the earth; has brought forth the revelations and commandments which compose this book of Doctrine and Covenants, and many other wise documents and instructions for the benefit of the children of men; gathered many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, founded a great city, and left a fame and name that cannot be slain. He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum. In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated!

            I know that Joseph Smith was and still is a prophet of God. Through him, God restored the gospel of Jesus Christ and His plan for the eternal happiness of His children. He was in word and in deed the prophet of Isaiah’s prophecy.