Whether you are either an Ex-Mormon, or questioning Mormonism, this is the best site for you. There is absolute truth in Mormonism; but only in one church. Brigham Young was not the only one claiming to succeed Joseph Smith. He actually split from the true LDS church, was elected by a vote of man as their Prophet three and half years after the death of Joseph, and taught many doctrines contrary to the law of God. The RLDS (Community of Christ) church was organized by two apostate Strangites. It has become another part of Sectarian Christianity. James J. Strang was the only valid successor to Joseph Smith. He claimed to have been ordained to the Presidency at the very moment of Joseph’s death; although four hundred miles away. The letter from Joseph, appointing James as successor, remains in Yale University Library. His teachings reflect those of Joseph Smith and all prophets of God.
If you have become disenchanted with another LDS church, you face great danger. Men often turn to the easiest alternative to resolve conflict in their lives. Don’t flee from the net, only to fall into the pit. Carefully weigh all of the alternatives; and call upon God, in the name of Jesus, to guide you onto the path of light.
Above all things we must never throw in the towel, and give up, simply because we have found that a segment of the followers of Joseph Smith have gone astray and taught false doctrine. There is to be only a very small remnant of the saints of God that remain in Zion when Jesus returns. “8 And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. 9 Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.” (Isa. 1) “And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy.” (Isa. 4:3)
Inheriting eternal life depends on knowing the God of Israel, having faith in God and Jesus, obeying the gospel of Christ, and enduring faithful to the laws of God the rest of our lives. The Bible provides ample evidence that only one holding the Melchisedec Priesthood has divine authority to preach the gospel and administer its saving ordinances. Jesus would not even attempt such without obeying the same law. “So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he [the Father] that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.” (Heb. 5:5) Remember, there is only, “5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” (Eph. 4)
None of the major emotional conflicts that we face in life are easy to resolve. Don’t let one stumble keep you from climbing the mountain. We must be the master of our own spiritual destiny. Following the traditions of man has caused many people to walk on dark paths, “Crucify him.” Bolster your strength, be brave, and earnestly contend for truth. Truth has no fear of investigation. There are hundreds of conflicting Christian and Mormon doctrines. Only one can be true. Finding a needle in a haystack is a difficult task. You will discover here that you have found the needle. Now you can open the doorway to light and eternal life. Today is a new spiritual day in the rest of your life. The greatest of blessings that can be realized in the flesh can be yours.
Our orthodox Christian neighbors worship an invisible god that was created in the imagination of man; and described as “incomprehensible” by their creeds. They cry, “Lord, Lord;” and worship the virgin born demi-god of Babylon and Rome. The founder of their religion was the un-baptized, pagan Roman Emperor Constantine. In the early fourth century he reorganized Christianity to unite Rome under one religion; and stand as God on earth. The Jews would not honor the pagan doctrines. The Christians had begun returning to their pagan origins even before the Apostles were gone. It was easy for Constantine to simply convert Christianity to paganism. The gods, holy days, traditions, and pagan doctrines were simply given Christian names. Obtaining his authority only by the sword, he left Christianity usurping the name (authority) of God. “And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” (Heb. 5:4) “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” (Ex. 20:7)
Religious thought takes two paths: most people simply follow the traditions of their peer group; while a very few are independent thinkers and seek to be the masters of their own destiny. The Apostle Paul advised us to, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15) “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (1 Thess. 5:21)
Only those whose thirst for spiritual truth have as an integral part of their being the motivation to submit their will to the will of God. We must be open-minded like little children; while at the same time questioning every principle. Truth is most often an allusive prey. Only a very few have the moral courage to question their core beliefs; and have the strength to change beliefs when contrary to the law of God.
When there are opposing doctrines, both can be false; but, only one can be true. Only a very few will find the path of light and walk in righteousness. “13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matt. 7)
We have been given a tool for weighing the truth of a given principle. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isa. 8:20) Latter day saints have an expanded reference of Scripture; including the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. Some have the Book of the Law of the Lord.
Satan knows his time is very short. Man was given seven thousand years of mortality and six thousand have passed–giving him and extraordinary experience with morals weaknesses. He has become vicious and wise, and uses deceptions that tend to mesmerize those who are not masters of their own destiny. The Catholic Church has always claimed divine authority to administer the saving ordinances of the gospel. History belies this deception. Peter was not the first pope. The first pope was the Bishop of Rome in 570AD. They have never heard received one revelation from God; yet “…worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Rev. 19:10) Their onlu authority is that of man.
With the Reformation, Martin Luther was left without any claim to divine authority. His only alternative was to claim that men could be saved by faith alone. The whole Bible stands as a testimony against this presumption. “19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2) Jesus will soon return, “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thess. 1:8) Here are four of the keys for distinguishing between the saints of God and their unfortunate sectarian neighbors. Combining these with the first three of the Ten Commandments we have four keys to finding the path to eternal life:
(1) We must know, worship, and love the only true and living God, (2) only one called of God has authority from God to baptize with water and the Spirit, (3) the seventh day Sabbath was given as a sign to help identify the saints of God, and (4) we must obey the gospel.
- The Jews know God. Orthodox Christians do not. When Constantine reorganized the Christian church, he changed the God of Israel to the Trinitarian god of Babylon and Rome. Almost all sectarian Christians worship this god. Brigham Young worshipped a god that he taught was once Adam. Both Joseph and James J. Strang worshiped “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob… this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.” (Ex. 3:15) “37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment.” (Matt. 22)
- The Jews lost divine authority when they rejected Jesus. The sectarian Christians lost divine authority after Constantine; when an un-baptized, pagan Roman Emperor, stood at the head of the church, as god on earth.
More recent Christian churches make no claim to divine authority. Having no authority, they are forced to preach a new gospel. “8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1) Preachers of the Reformation were first to teach a man could be saved by faith alone. “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:20) “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)
There are only two orders of divine authority noted in the Bible: the Levitical and Melchisedec Priesthoods. Only through a valid cliam to the Melchisedec Priesthood can any person enter the kingdom of God. Jesus obeyed every law of God. As a mortal man, He could not enter the kingdom of heaven without obeying the gospel. His first act was to go to John for baptism of water. John was a Priest of the Levitical order; and held divine authority to preach the gospel and baptize with water. John was aware that he needed baptism of the Spirit; and that Jesus would be given that authority. “I indeed baptize you with water… but he that cometh after me… shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.” (Matt. 3:11) Only one holding the Melchisedec Priesthood has authority to baptize with the Spirit.
After Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness, and was tempted of Satan, He was ordained at the hands of the Father; as an Apostle, Prophet, and High Priest. “4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. 5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he [the Father] that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.” (Heb. 5) “17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand [among you].” (Matt. 4)
Jesus now had authority from God to preach the gospel and administer its ordinances. Holding the highest degree in the office of Apostle, He was empowered to ordain third degree apostles: that of the twelve Apostles. “And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach.” (Mark 3:14 ) With this priesthood they, too, were given divine authority to preach the gospel and administer its saving ordinances. “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 16:19)
Having the Melchisedec Priesthood restored, Jesus called and ordained all other officers of the Melchisedec Priesthood. “11 And he gave some, apostles ; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists [high priests]; and some, pastors [elders] and teachers; 12 FOR the perfecting of the saints, FOR the work of the ministry, FOR the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 TILL we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” (Eph. 4)
The Mormons stand alone as claiming a restoration of the Melchisedec Priesthood. Only through this divine authority can any man preach and administer the saving ordinances of the gospel–just as required of Jesus. If Joseph Smith was wrong, there remains no divine authority and no way for man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Satin was given power over all the souls of man for 1,260 years; after the church–whose seat is the city of seven hills–was established. “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to OVERCOME them: and power was given him over ALL kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” (Rev. 14:7)
“7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” (Mark 7)
The Brighamite (Utah) Mormon church lost divine authority when they followed a man that was not called of God; but, was only voted as their Prophet by the voice of man. That church has never received the first revelation from God. Only James J. Strang claimed to have been appointed by Joseph and ordained at the hands of angels in accordance with the laws of God revealed through Joseph.
- The seventh day Sabbath is a sign between God and His people forever. “16 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. 17 It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” (Ex. 31)
Jesus did not change the Sabbath. The Apostles honored it all their days. The early Christians obeyed the Sabbath. The Jews still honor it. It was the pagan Roman Emperor Constantine changed it to “the venerable day of the sun.” Keeping Sunday is honoring his pagan sun god.
Joseph was allowed to hold meetings on Sunday as the Lord’s day; but, wrote that Saturday is the true Sabbath–like the early Christians that were only given the milk of the gospel, they had to progress “precept upon precept.” When James J. Strang translated the Book of the Law of the Lord, the Sabbath was instituted for all again. This left Brigham Young and his followers in disobedience of the Sabbath.
- The gospel is the gate into the kingdom of heaven. “38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” (Acts 2)
Only those holding divine authority are authorized by God; and have their ordinances sealed in heaven. “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven [priesthood]: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 16:19)
Loss of the Priesthood
The early Christians began reverting to their pagan origins, even before the death of the Apostles. In the first three chapters of Revelation, Jesus offers a strong rebuke against the Gentile churches. They were warned to repent, abandon their pagan traditions, and even to be re-baptized. If they failed to repent, “I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick [priesthood] out of his place.”
They failed to obey the will of God. Their candlestick was removed. God no longer talked to man. Why? “1 Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” (Isa. 59)
Satan made war with the Church of Christ and overcame it, with the death of the last person holding the Melchisedec Priesthood. “And the dragon was wroth with the woman [Church of Christ], and went to make war with the remnant of her seed [priesthood], which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ [spirit of prophecy].” (Rev. 12:17)
With the birth of Papal Rome, Satan was given complete control over the souls of men for 1,260 years. “5… and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months… 7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, AND TO OVERCOME THEM: and power was given him over ALL kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” (Rev. 13:7)
The Church of Christ was lost after the Apostle holding the Prophetic Office. It has an immutable organization. “11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists [high priests]; and some, pastors [elders] and teachers; 12 FOR the perfecting of the saints, FOR the work of the ministry, FOR the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 TILL we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” (Eph. 4)
“1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars [Church of Christ]… 6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days… 17 And the dragon [Pagan Rome] was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed [holy priesthood], which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ [spirit of prophecy].” (Rev. 12)
The next beast that John saw was Pagan Christian Rome, ruled by Constantine. He saw the beast wounded to death; but, was healed. Pagan Christian Rome fell in 476 AD, to be replaced by Papal Rome in 570 AD. This second form of the beast was to hold absolute power over the souls of man for 1,260 years. “5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months… 7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to OVERCOME THEM: and power was given him over ALL kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” (Rev. 13:5)
Who is this beast of Revelation? Only Rome is synonymously known as the city of seven hills. “9 And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. 10 And there are seven kings: five are fallen [Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Greece], and one is [Pagan Rome] and the other is not yet come [Pagan Christian Rome, begun by Constantine]; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space [325 – 476 AD]. 11 And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth [Papal Rome], and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.” (Rev. 17)
John also spoke of an image of the beast. Only Protestantism is an image of Catholicity. She worships the same god, usurps the authority of God, violates the Sabbath, and has changed the gospel of Christ. There is great danger here.
“And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.” (Rev. 19:20)
Restoration of the Priesthood
For John’s prophecies of the beast and the 1260 years to be fulfilled, the gospel and Melchisedec Priesthood had to be restored in 1830 (570 + 1260) “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” (Rev. 14:6) The Mormon church was organized on April 6, 1830. Mormon translated means “more good.”
The gospel dispensation was returned to the Gentiles. Again, they were to reject it; and only a very few latter day saints were to remain. “5 The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. 6 Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.” (Isa. 24)
My dear inquirer, our only hope of entering the kingdom of God is finding that very small remnant of the Melchisedec Priesthood. As there had been no other claim to a restoration of divine authority, Joseph Smith stood alone. If he was wrong, the people of the earth remained without the approbation of the gospel. The law of God stands immutable: “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God .” (John 3:5) Jesus demonstrated for us that only one holding the Melchisedec Priesthood holds the keys to administer the saving ordinances of the gospel.
Some Christians added folly to their first error of believing men could be saved by faith alone. They teach one has only to accept Jesus as their Savior. “…the devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:19) Even Jesus taught the greatest commandment is, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” (Matt. 22:37) This is not a casual relationship. Man must repent and submit his will to the will of God. “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1:8)
On June 27, 1844 , Joseph Smith was murdered. God did not leave us without instruction. “4 But verily, verily, I say unto you, that none else shall be appointed unto this gift except it be through him; for if it be taken from him he shall not have power except to appoint another in his stead. 5 And this shall be a law unto you, that ye receive not the teachings of any that shall come before you as revelations or commandments; 6 And this I give unto you that you may not be deceived, that you may know they are not of me. 7 For verily I say unto you, that he that is ordained of me shall come in at the gate and be ordained as I have told you before, to teach those revelations which you have received and shall receive through him whom I have appointed.” (D&C 43) This law was repeated in section 28:2, 6, 7; 35:17, 18; and 90:3, 4.
At the very moment Joseph died, James J. Strang claimed to have been ordained to the same office. James was four hundred miles away near Burlington, Wisconsin. The letter from Joseph, appointing James, was received by regular course of mail on July 9th. The letter was dated June 18th; and bore the Nauvoo postmark of June 19th.
Letter of Appointment
“Nauvoo, June 18th, 1844 , MY DEAR SON:-Your epistle of May 24th proposing the planting a Stake of Zion in Wisconsin and the gathering of the saints there, was duly received, and I, with most of the brethren whose advice I called in, were of opinion that you was deceived by a spirit not of this world, great but not good. Brother Hyrum, however, thought otherwise, and favored the project, not doubting it was of God. I, however, determined to return you an unfavorable answer for the present. But, oh, the littleness of man in his best earthly state! not so the will of the Almighty. God hath ruled it otherwise, and a message from the throne of grace directed me as it hath inspired you, and the faith which thou hast in the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel, hath been repaid to thee a thousand fold, and thou shalt be like him; but the flock shall find rest with thee, and God shall reveal to thee his will concerning them.
I have long felt that my present work was almost done, and that I should soon be called to rule a mighty host, but something whispers me it will be in the land of spirits, where the wicked cease from troubling and the bands of the prisoner fall off. My heart yearns for my little ones, but I know God will be a father to them, and I can claim face to face the fulfillment of promise from him who is a covenant keeping God, and who sweareth and performeth and faileth not to the uttermost.
The wolves are upon the scent, and I am waiting to be offered up, if such be the will of God, knowing that though my visage be more marred than that of any, it will be unscarred and fair when archangels shall place on my brow the double crown of martyr and king in a heavenly world.
In the midst of darkness and boding danger the spirit of Elijah came upon me, and I went away to inquire of God how the church should be saved.
I was upon the hill of the Temple. The calm father of waters rolled below, changeless and eternal. I beheld a light in the heavens above and streams of bright light illuminated the firmament, varied and beautiful as the rainbow, gentle, yet rapid as the fierce lightning.
The Almighty came from his throne of rest. He clothed himself with light as with a garment. He appeared, and moon and stars went out. The earth dissolved in space. I trod on air, and was borne on wings of Cherubims. The sweetest strains of heavenly music thrilled in my ear, but the notes were low and sad as though they sounded the requiem of martyred Prophets.
I bowed my head to the earth and asked only wisdom and strength for the church. The voice of God answered, My servant Joseph, thou has been faithful over many things, and thy reward is glorious; the crown and sceptre are thine, and they wait thee. But thou hast sinned in some things, and thy punishment is very bitter. The whirlwind goeth before, and its clouds are dark, but rest followeth, and to its days there shall be no end. Study the words of the vision for it tarrieth not.
And now behold my servant James J. Strang hath come to thee from far for truth when he knew it not, and hath not rejected it, but had faith in thee, the Shepherd and Stone of Israel, and to him shall the gathering of the people be, for he shall plant a stake of Zion in Wisconsin, and I will establish it; and there shall my people have peace and rest, and shall not be moved, for it shall be established on the prairie on White River, in the lands of Racine and Walworth; and behold my servants James and Aaron shall plant it, for I have given them wisdom, and Daniel shall stand in his lot on the hill beside the river looking down on the prairie, and shall instruct my people, and shall plead with them face to face.
Behold my servant James shall lengthen the cords and strengthen the stakes of Zion , and my servant Aaron shall be his counselor, for he hath wisdom in the gospel, and understandeth the doctrines, and erreth not therein.
And I will have a house built unto me there of stone, and there will I show myself to my people by my mighty works, and the name of the city shall be called Voree, which is, being interpreted, garden of peace; for there shall my people have peace and rest, and wax fat and pleasant in the presence of their enemies.
But I will again stretch out my arm over the river of waters, and on the banks thereof shall the house of my choice be. But now the city of Voree shall be a stronghold of safety to my people, and they that are faithful and obey me I will there give them great prosperity and such as they have not had before, and unto Voree shall be the gathering of my people, and there shall the oppressed flee for safety, and none shall hurt or molest them.
And by this shall they know that I have spoken it; the people there and the owners of the land shall show kindness to them, for great calamities are coming on the church, and such as have not been, and if they scatter, the ungodly of the world shall swallow them up, but if they gather to my city of Voree there will I keep them under the shadow of my wings and the cities from whence my people have been driven shall be purged with a high hand, for I will do it, and my people shall be again restored to their possessions; but dark clouds are gathering, for the church is not yet wholly purged.
And now I command my servants, the Apostles and Priests and Elders of the church of the Saints, that they communicate and proclaim this my word to all the Saints of God in all the world, that they may be gathered unto and round about my city of Voree, and be saved from their enemies, for I will have a people to serve me.
And I command my servant, Moses Smith, that he go unto the saints with whom he is acquainted and unto my people, and command them in my name to go into my city of Voree and gain inheritances therein, and he shall have an inheritance therein, for he hath left all for my sake, and I will add unto him many fold if he is faithful; for he knows the land, and can testify unto them that it is very good.
So spake the Almighty God of heaven. Thy duty is made plain, and if thou lackest wisdom, ask of God, in whose hands I trust thee, and he shall give thee unsparingly; for if evil befall me, thou shalt lead the flock to pleasant pastures. God sustain thee. JOSEPH SMITH
Notes of James J. Strang
This letter was received at Burlington by regular course of mail, coming through the distributing office at Chicago, and bears the Nauvoo postmark of June 19th, the day following its date. It arrived at Burlington July 9th, and was immediately taken from the office by C. P. Barnes, Esq., a distinguished lawyer. at that place, who, in consequence of the rumors of persecution and civil war against the Mormons, and a general anxiety to hear the latest news, immediately carried it to Mr. Strang, with the request to be informed of any news of public interest which it might contain. It therefore became public the same evening.
Mrs. Emma Smith recollects well of her husband receiving a letter from Mr. Strang, and holding a council on the subject, and names Hyrum Smith, Willard Richards and John P. Green as present at that council, and also that a letter was sent to Mr. Strang in answer, but of the import of the answer she was not informed.
Immediately after the martyrdom of Joseph, John Taylor, Willard Richards and William W. Phelps took a kind of temporary direction of the affairs of the church, instructing the saints to wait patiently the hand of the Lord; assuring them that he had not left them without a shepherd, and that all things would be made known in due season. To every question of the saints, Who is the prophet? replies were made, in substance, that the saints would know in due season, but that nothing could be done until the Twelve got home, because the appointment of a prophet and the directions for salvation of the church from the perils they were in, was contained in sealed packages directed to them. Orson Hyde and others of the Twelve, who were then in the east, stated in public congregations in New York, Philadelphia and other cities, that Willard Richards had written to them that the appointment of a prophet was left with him, under seal, to be opened on the return of the Twelve. This assertion was so often made that the whole church were daily expecting to hear a new prophet proclaimed. On the 8th day of August, 1844, when Sidney Rigdon endeavored to obtain authority to lead the church, John P. Green, marshal of the city of Nauvoo, told them, “They need not trouble themselves about it, for Joseph had appointed one James J Strang, who lived up north, to stand in his stead.” The sudden death of John P. Green immediately after this declaration (under very extraordinary circumstances) left Willard Richards and John Taylor sole repositors of all documents on this subject, except this letter.
They had simply to suppress documents in their hands to set themselves up in power, or overthrow themselves and their pretensions by publishing them. These, and many other facts which we have not room to state, make an array of testimony of the strongest kind in favor of this letter. It is worthy of consideration that no one fact has been relied on against it, but that in various quarters different false tales have been told to disparage it, which a mere inspection of the letter or of public records would prove false. The only reason which can be given for this continual resort to falsehood is that there is no truth against it.”
“It is seldom that any one having a letter in possession, if its genuineness was disputed, could absolutely show it. No matter how perfect the handwriting or post stamp, it may be said, “they might have been forged.” I ask you, which one of the written revelations is surrounded by as much evidence of genuineness as this?
First of all, the letter is prophetic. Many things were predicted in it so improbable, the Brighamites formerly appealed to them as evidence that it was not genuine. Among these is the prediction of the necessity of a refuge for the saints out of Nauvoo. You know how fearfully this has been fulfilled.
It was received at Voree before any notice of Joseph’s death or arrest reached there, and nothing is more certain than that that fearful tragedy struck the whole country with astonishment. To suppose that such a letter would have been forged at that time, is merely ridiculous. In the chapter of accidents it would not stand one chance in a million of making a genuine hit.
Moreover, if a forgery, the crime must have been committed by some person having no conceivable interest in it, and who has never come forward to claim or seek any advantage growing out of it, and must have been worked through the postoffice somewhere by official connivance and criminal contrivance.
For it is beyond contradiction, and has been proved by an abundance of witnesses, now living, that this letter did reach Burlington in the mail, duly enveloped and billed as from Chicago, and was taken from the office and carried to me, and read, and its contents made public the same day.
To believe that it is a forgery, you must believe that all these difficulties were encountered and overcome by some persons unknown, and not yet suspected, and for what purpose? None, within man’s imagination. So much more credulous is unbelief than the strongest faith.
A fact worth all the rest is, that in the many thousand places in which this letter has been exibited, its genuineness has never been questioned, except at Florence, Michigan; and among the quarter of a million of people who have examined it, nearly all interested in discrediting it, Brighamites, because it was evidence of my calling, and Gentiles, because it was evidence of the truth of Mormonism, nobody ever questioned its genuineness, except less than a half dozen Brighamite elders. All the rest who call it a forgery are persons who never saw it.
No other fact goes further in support of the divine institution of Mormonism; no other fact in its support is so universally credited. What an infatuation on the part of Mormons to seek to discredit it. It quite equals the perversity with which several leading Mormons have long sought to destroy the credibility of the original witnesses to the Book of Mormon; a blunder and a crime of which Mr. Ferris, late Secretary of Utah, in his book against Mormonism, took advantage with most telling force.
When nearly all the world were interested in impeaching this letter, out of a quarter of a million who have examined it, less than a half dozen have questioned its genuineness. This fact alone raises about as strong a case of human evidence as the mind of man can conceive.
But, pressing the inquiry, on what ground did they dispute it? Not that the postmark was made of black ink, or was made with too large letters; for no such fact existed, and no such was ever suggested till it was stated at Nauvoo, as a kind of sweep all, to silence inquiry, not expecting it would ever reach me, to be contradicted.
The only objection made to it then, was, that the postmark, or stamp, had a dot at the left of the top of the J in “June,” which ought not to be there. This is conceded. My answer to it then was, that there were so many chances by which such a dot could be made without design, that its presence proved nothing.
The question was discussed at length, as well as every other objection made to the appointment of a prophet in that manner, and the result was that I was sustained by the Conference. Thirteen elders were present, and after a majority had expressed themselves in my favor, Green, Dunn and Jacob counseled caution and prudence, and proposed cautious and prudent resolutions, to the effect that “those of the elders who were satisfied with the evidence of my calling, might proclaim it, taking themselves the responsibility in case it should prove an error, and those who were not satisfied should say nothing on the subject, till further directions.” Such was the compromise which my opponents were glad to make, to avoid my being fully recognized by the Conference at Florence; facts which fully appear by the original records of the Conference.
After the adjournment of the Conference these men began a most assiduous effort to change the face of matters, assuming authority as I have often seen Brighamites do since then; and by threatening and cajoling, partly silencing those who had been disposed to hear me, and then called them together again and assumed to lecture me, as ill bred old women lecture disobedient children of washing days.
Being told that I was to hear and not reply, and satisfied that I could not get a hearing without a quarrel, I left with one of the brethren who received me at his house, even after which I was received as a prophet by most of the Saints who attended that Conference.
My license was demanded as I left the house, but not understanding that Elders could exercise discipline over the First President, I did not deliver it. Dunn says I had none. But if he will call on me, I will show it to him. Possibly he will say that is a forgery also. I have a good many papers that Brighamites would like to have forgeries.
So much stress was laid on the fact of the dot before the J in the mailing stamp, that a more thorough investigation was had than the subject called for, and the result was that every letter that could be found mailed at Nauvoo the 19th June, had the same dot before the J. Here then sprung up an unlooked for evidence of the genuineness of the letter of appointment, the strongest which the human mind can conceive.
However corrupt the heart, or skillful the head, how could the forger know that on that particular day for the first time since the office was established, a little splinter would get into the mailing stamp, and mark every letter with one dot which ought not to be there? He could not have known it. It was impossible. Thus the proof that this letter was duly mailed at Nauvoo the 19th of June, 1844 , is astounding; actually overwhelming.
The single fact of this dot, once the sole ground of impeachment of this letter of appointment, has thus established its genuineness by the most singularly strong combination of facts ever presented in human evidence.
This very strength of evidence is so great as to be repugnant to the human mind. It struggles for something on which to hang a doubt, unwilling that that which rests in testimony should be absolutely beyond a doubt.
The principal point made against me at the Florence Conference was not on the genuineness of the letter of appointment, but on the right of any one except a lineal descendant of Joseph Smith to preside over the Church.
The sole argument was that the priesthood went by lineage, and would descend to the oldest son of Joseph; to which I replied as God had given me utterance, showing that in the olden time the prophetic office did not go by lineage; and by sections fourteen and fifty of the Doctrine and Covenants that it did go by appointment. These two sections, unfortunately for his case, were introduced by Mr. Dunn, and thus I became aware that Joseph had given a law on the subject, and obtained my first knowledge of that book.
I do not doubt that this statement of the action of the Florence Conference will be disputed by those who support Brigham; but there are a few facts which will guide you to the truth of the matter. At that time every act of any conference which favored Brigham was selected and preserved with care, and published in the Times and Seasons. From that time forward equal care was used to obtain and publish anything they could pick up against me.
Now the proceedings of this Florence Conference, though taken to Nauvoo by Smith and Jacob, were never published at all. Yet so anxious were they to say something against me, they inserted a squib, saying I had been cut off, as though a man could be cut off without being tried, or a prophet could be brought under the yoke of the Twelve. The fact that they did not publish the doings of the Conference shows that it was against them.
Upon this I shall rest the evidence that I did receive a genuine letter of appointment to the prophetic office from Joseph Smith, written a few days previous to his death. But in preferring to rest the evidence here, I wish to notify you that there is also a mass of evidence showing the writing and sending of that letter, quite as satisfactory as this of its reception. This evidence is now in a scattered state, and the task of arraying it so as to do justice to the subject is more than I have time now to undertake. But when it is needed it will be forthcoming, and will show that some of the Brighamite leaders are just as well assured of my calling to the prophetic office as of their own to any priesthood they really and legally hold.”
Enter Brigham Young
On August 15, 1844–a month and a half after the death of Joseph–Brigham Young announced there would not be a successor to Joseph; and that the twelve Apostles would lead the church. “Let no man presume for a moment that his place will be filled by another.” The Twelve will “preside over all the affairs of the church in all the world.” (Times and Seasons, 5.618)
Three and a half years after the death Joseph, Brigham changed his doctrine during the conference held at Council Bluffs on Dec. 24, 1847 . First, “they would admit the argument of the apostates (viz., that the organization was not complete) was correct.” James J. Strang had presented himself as Prophet and President of the church from the very moment of Joseph’s death. The mission of the twelve was to the world under the direction of the Presidency.
“33 The Twelve are a Traveling Presiding High Council, to officiate in the name of the Lord, under the direction of the Presidency of the Church, agreeable to the institution of heaven; to build up the church, and regulate all the affairs of the same in all nations, first unto the Gentiles and secondly unto the Jews.” (D&C 107:33)
The Twelve had no jurisdiction in Zion. They had usurped the authority of God in attempting to stand at the head. The remedy was to establish Brigham as Prophet, by the voice of man; although the law required a calling by Joseph and ordination at the hands of angels. “7 For verily I say unto you, that he that is ordained of me shall come in at the gate and be ordained as I have told you before, to teach those revelations which you have received and shall receive through him whom I have appointed.” (D&C 43)
“It was moved and seconded that Brigham Young should be our First President. It was carried unanimously.” Brigham was never ordained as a Prophet either by God, or by man. When they split from the only true succession in the prophetic office, they lost communication with God, were driven from Nauvoo, and settled in a waste land never appointed of God. “For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.” (Jer. 17:6)
James J. Strang gathered the faithful of the saints to Voree and then to Beaver Island–places appointed by revelation. He was a Prophet, Seer, Revelator, Translator, and Lawgiver. After his calling, he dedicated his life to the kingdom of heaven.
In 1855, James J. Strang wrote, “As First President, I have regularly presided over the Church and took the direction of its affairs in all the world, according to the law of God.
“As prophet, I have foretold in the name of God, the ills that were coming on men, and directed all who received the word of the Lord how and where to come out from among the wicked, that they receive not of their plagues.
“I have obtained covenants and promises of God and at his hand obtained an everlasting inheritance for the Saints, which I have divided among them by lot, without cost or price. God is our God and we are his people forevermore.
“As a Seer, I have seen the visions of the Almighty, and as a Revelator have received knowledge of his purposes and commandments, and made them known among the children of men. As a translator, I have brought forth hidden treasures, and revealed the old record to all who love the truth, and seek unto it. The visions of the past and the hidden lore of future ages are laid by the side of present hopes and future knowledge.
“As an apostle I have borne a faithful testimony of the kingdom and the coming of the Lord Jesus. I have fought a good fight. I have kept the faith. I have not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God. In the treasure‑house of the Almighty there is laid up for me a crown of glory richer than all diadems of earthly kings.
“Of all that dwell on earth, God has made me the most happy. From men I fear no evil. May God bless you abundantly with the same blessings, and especially with the love of the truth. Truly and sincerely, JAMES J. STRANG.”
In June, 1856, two apostate followers plotted to murder James with the help of the iron steamer Michigan and Capt. McBlair. McBlair sent the Pilot to James’ house requesting that he come on board. When he stepped on the dock, Wentworth and Bedford shot him. The ship’s surgeon pronounced the wounds mortal. The murderers were taken to Mackinac, held about five minutes, and released. On June 28, the prophet was taken back to Voree. He died on July 9, 1856 . All of the saints were driven from the island and their property stolen. His greatest error was being too merciful to his enemies. Innocent blood again soaked the ground that religious freedom was supposed to protect.
James had given a revelation on August 25, 1846 . “3. And he hath chosen this nation to begin vengeance for them. And if this people will turn unto him, and repent of all their evil deeds, and no more slay the prophets which he sendeth unto them, but will hearken unto them to do the things which they shall speak unto them, and keep the words of the Lord, and his commandments to do them, then will he exalt the nation and establish it, for he hath raised it up by the hands of wise men, whom he set up for that very purpose, to be the instrument of his purpose in the last days.”
The Gentiles murdered the prophets who were sent to save them. God never called a successor to James. The saints were scattered. Only a very few of the Gentile dispensation remain; as prophesied by Isaiah (1:9) and Micah (4:7). “The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.” (Isa. 24:5)
Soon, the worst desolation to come upon the world will become news of the day. At least two asteroids/comets will fall on the earth (Rev. 8:7, 8, 10). The earth will be burned as an oven (Mal. 4:1). Fire will go before, famine will follow, and pestilence will waste the earth. An overflowing scourge will make an end of all nations. “From the time that it goeth forth it shall take you: for morning by morning shall it pass over, by day and by night: and it shall be a vexation only to understand the report.” (Isa. 28:19) Jesus will return, “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thess. 1:8) The army of the Lord will destroy all; except those who have received “the seal [gospel] of the living God.” (7:2) The last opportunity of today will soon turn into the reprobation of tomorrow.
The gospel and divine authority were restored in the last days. If there is any hope of finding one sent of God, it must be through that restoration. Do not look for a great church with all the splendor of the world. Such works of hands have been used by Satan to deceive the unwary since Constantine. Look for the same divine authority given to every minister of God since Adam. Only this divine authority is capable of washing your sins; and bringing you through the door into the kingdom of God. Only a person holding the Melchisedec Priesthood (Apostle, High Priest, Elder) has divine authority to preach and administer both baptism of water and of the Spirit.
The prophet James ordained L. D. Hickey one of the Twelve Apostles. Apostle Hickey ordained Samuel Martin a high priest, who ordained Lloyd Flanders a high priest, who ordained Samuel E. West an elder on July 8, 1956.
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matt. 7:13, 14) “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” (John 10:1)
Salvation in the kingdom of heaven can be yours. It is my assertion that the man who ordained me to the Melchisedec Priesthood was only three generations removed from an ordination at the hands of angels, in the last dispensation to the Gentiles. I want to be the best friend you ever had; and walk with you on the path of light. I am your servant in the gospel of Christ. Come with me.
Samuel E. West
Senior elder in latter day Zion