By Marvin W. Cowan
Joseph Smith claimed the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants were revealed to him by the Lord Jesus of the New Testament. So, we should expect to see the Lord exercise the same kind of foreknowledge in Joseph Smith’s revelations in the D. & C. that He did in the Bible. Smith said on January 19, 1841 “the Lord” revealed D. & C. 124 to him in which He predicted many things about several men. John C. Bennett was one of those men, so what does D. & C. 124 say about him? And what do historical records reveal about him? Verses 16-17 state, “Again, let my servant John C. Bennett help you in your labor in sending my word to the kings and people of the earth, and stand by you, even you my servant Joseph Smith, in the hour of affliction; and his reward shall not fail if he receive counsel. And for his love he shall be great, for he shall be mine if he do this, saith the Lord. I have seen the work which he hath done, which I accept if he continue, and will crown him with blessing and great glory.”
John C. Bennett began to correspond with Joseph Smith in July 1840 and then moved to Nauvoo, IL and joined the LDS Church in January 1841, shortly before D. & C. 124 was received (History of the Church, vol. IV, pp. 168, 270). He was a medical doctor and Quartermaster-General of Illinois, so he quickly became an LDS leader. He was elected Mayor of Nauvoo on Feb. 1, 1841 (H. of C. vol. IV, p. 287) and became “Assistant President” with the First Presidency on April 8, 1841 (H. of C. vol. IV, p. 341). Few men have risen so fast in the LDS hierarchy. But Bennett’s rise to popularity didn’t last. An affidavit dated May 11, 1842 signed by the First Presidency and Twelve Apostles accused Bennett of immorality and they withdrew fellowship from him. That affidavit was published in Nauvoo in the Mormon newspaper, Times and Seasons on June 15, 1842 and Bennett was excommunicated later that year. In response Bennett said, “I never believed in them (LDS) or their doctrines. This is, and indeed was, from the first, well known to my friends and acquaintances in the western country, who were well aware of my reasons for connecting myself with the Prophet” (H. of C. vol. V, p. 80).
Whether Bennett was sincere when he joined the LDS and then became immoral or was deliberately deceiving them from the start would not change the fact that the Lord knew the real truth about him. Smith claimed “the Lord” revealed D. & C. 124, so why didn’t the Lord know Bennett was immoral like he knew that Judas Iscariot in the New Testament would betray Him? The Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual says the problem was that “Bennett did not heed the warning ifs from Him (the Lord) who knew what was in his heart” (p. 306). The “ifs” in verses 16-17 of this revelation are used by LDS to try to explain why this prophecy in D. & C. 124 wasn’t fulfilled. But, in the New Testament, the Lord didn’t use any “ifs” when he said Peter would deny Him or that Judas Iscariot would betray Him. Notice that the D. & C Student Manual says the Lord “knew what was in his (Bennett’s) heart. So, why did the Lord say, “I have seen the work which he hath done, which I accept if he continue, and will crown him with blessing and great glory” (D. & C. 124:17)? Notice that “have seen” and “hath done” refers to work Bennett had already done in the past. Why would the Lord say He accepts that work if Bennett was the scoundrel Mormons say he was? And if the Lord really knew what was in Bennett’s heart, why did He say He would “crown him with blessing and great glory” if he continued doing what he had been doing? Bennett never did help Smith send the Lord’s “word to the kings and people of the earth” as verse 16 says. He was only active in the LDS Church for about 15 months before he was disfellowshipped. What “the Lord” said about Bennett is a problem for Mormonism. Could “the Lord” really be the author of this revelation?
The LDS publications and historical records about Bennett aren’t always accurate. For example, Joseph Fielding Smith who became the tenth LDS Prophet wrote Essentials in Church History which was published in 1922 by the LDS Church and was copyrighted by Heber J. Grant, the LDS Prophet at the time. On page 320 Smith said, “Doctor John C. Bennett came to Nauvoo in August, 1841 and joined the Church.” If that is true, Bennett was voted in as Mayor of Nauvoo before he even arrived there! And he became Assistant to the First Presidency before he was even a member of the LDS Church! Even though two LDS Prophets were involved in publishing that information, the time they give for Bennett’s arrival in Nauvoo doesn’t fit with any of the other information in this article or with other historical documents. It seems as though some LDS writers are so intent making Bennett look immoral and evil that they don’t pay enough attention to things like the time frame in which he was active in the LDS Church. Yet, LDS leaders continue to claim, “The Prophet will never lead this Church astray” (See number 4 of Pres. Ezra Taft Benson’s Fourteen Fundamentals In Following the Prophets).
The Bible shows that the Lord Jesus knew what others were thinking and what their intentions were. John 2:25 says “He knew what was in man,” so He predicted Peter’s denial and Judas’ betrayal. Jesus said in John 6:64, “But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him.” John 6:70 also says, “Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” And John 13:11 says, “He (Jesus) knew who should betray Him.” In John 13:21 Jesus told the twelve, “One of you shall betray me.” John asked, “Who is it? Jesus answered, he it is to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when He had dipped the sop, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.” (John 13:25-26). That Jesus knew what He was talking about while the “Jesus” in the D. & C. was so uncertain that he put in some conditional “ifs” so that he would have an excuse if it failed to happen!