By Marvin W. Cowan
Mormonism’s founding prophet, Joseph Smith said, “When a man goes about prophesying, and commands men to obey his teachings, he must either be a true or false prophet” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 365). The Doctrine and Covenants (D. & C.) is LDS scripture and contains “revelations,” commandments etc. that Joseph Smith claims he received from God. D. & C. 1:37 says, “Search these commandments (in the D. & C.) for they are true and faithful and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled.” D. & C. 3:1-3 further says, “The works and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught… it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men.” On April 6, 1830 Joseph Smith founded the Mormon Church and claimed that God said his followers should “give heed unto all his (Joseph’s) words and commandments…for his word ye shall receive as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith” (D. & C. 21:4-5). Smith’s words and commandments with prophecies and promises are still in the D. & C. which also says the work of God can’t be frustrated or stopped. Therefore, Smith’s prophecies in the D. & C. must all be fulfilled or he was a false prophet.
The gathering of the LDS to Independence, MO was a prophecy and a doctrine in early Mormonism. Even after Smith’s death and the LDS move to Utah, LDS Apostle Orson Pratt said “Joseph Smith…professes to have received, through revelation and commandment from God, a dispensation for the gathering of the Saints from all nations. Now the doctrine of the gathering of the Saints in the last days must either be false or true; if false, then J. Smith must be an imposter. It matters not how correct he may have been in all other points of his system, if this one point—the doctrine of the gathering be false, he must be a deceiver. Why? Because he professes to have received this doctrine by direct revelation and commandment” (“Divine Authority,” in A Series of Pamphlets, pub. by Orson Pratt in 1851). There are many prophecies in the D. & C. and elsewhere about the gathering, but our limited space here will allow a summary of just a few. See our references for more of Smith’s revelations. Below are someof Smith’sprophecies in the D. & C. about the “gathering” in chronological order and how they were fulfilled.
1. Joseph Smith said the Lord revealed D. & C. 29:1-11 to him just before September 26, 1830. It says, “Ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect” to one place to prepare them for His coming “from heaven with power and great glory” and His reign “in righteousness with men on earth a thousand years.” It also says “The hour is nigh and the day soon at hand” when the wicked will be burned up so “that wickedness shall not be upon the earth.”
Result: Smith had the LDS start gathering in MO in 1831, but they had to move often because of conflicts with their neighbors and all LDS left MO by 1838. LDS are now told “to remain in their homelands rather than immigrate to the United States” (Ensign, March 2000, p. 79). Christ hasn’t returned and set up His kingdom and wickedness is still on earth even though Smith received this revelation in 1830.
2. Smith said he received D. & C. 45:62-71 on March 7, 1831. It says to “gather up your riches that ye may purchase an inheritance which shall hereafter be appointed unto you. And it shall be called the New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the Most High God… and the wicked shall not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion…The righteous shall be gathered out from among all nations, and shall come to Zion.” In D. & C. 57:1-5 Smith said the Lord consecrated Independence, Missouri as the place for the gathering and as an everlasting inheritance. And D. & C. 133:4-7 commands “Gather ye together, O ye people of my (LDS) church, upon the land of Zion… the time has come when the voice of the Lord is unto you…gather ye out from among the nations.”
Result: LDS in 1831 were told to buy land around Independence, MO, and gather there. But they were driven out, so it was not a place of peace, safety and refuge for them. LDS from all nations never occupied “Zion” nor is it an everlasting inheritance for LDS today.
3. Smith said he received D. & C. 84:1-5 on September 22-23, 1832 in which the Lord said that Zion or New Jerusalem “shall be built, beginning at the temple lot…in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri…by the gathering of the saints beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation. For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord.” D. & C. 97:19-20 also says “Zion (in Independence, MO) is the city of our God and surely Zion cannot fall, neither be moved out of her place, for God is there, and the hand of the Lord is there and he hath sworn by the power of his might to be her salvation and her high tower.”
Result: The second LDS Prophet, Brigham Young said that a generation only lasts from 27 to 29 years (Journal of Discourses vol. 12, p.118). The generation alive in 1832 all died long ago, yet nothing in D. & C. 84:1-5 was fulfilled. Conflicts with the people in Independence, MO, led LDS leaders to enter a treaty to leave two weeks before D. & C. 97: 19-20 was given by Smith (History of the Church vol. I, p. 394). He didn’t know that because he was in Kirtland, OH when he gave that prophecy, but the Lord surely should have known it! Since these prophecies weren’t fulfilled like D. & C. 1:37 said they would be, they didn’t come from God and Smith was a false prophet.
We will continue our discussion of LDS Prophets and Prophecies next time. More is available on this subject in my book Mormon Claims Answered.