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Prophecy on War Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
September 5, 2021 9:00 pm

Prophecy on War Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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September 5, 2021 9:00 pm

An article by Seventy Matthew S. Holland in the August 2021 Liahona magazine (“Prophecy of War”) and how Joseph Smith correctly predicted the Civil War. Bill and Eric go through the article and critique some of the assertions made by Holland.

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When sharing your faith with a Latter-day Saint, it helps to know what their church has taught on several basic topics. For this reason, Mormonism Research Ministry has provided its Crash Course Mormonism. Crash Course Mormonism includes concise articles highlighting what LDS leaders and church manuals have taught on issues that will probably come up in a typical conversation.

You can find these informative articles at That's Viewpoint on Mormonism, the program that examines the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from a biblical perspective. Viewpoint on Mormonism is sponsored by Mormonism Research Ministry. Since 1979, Mormonism Research Ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now, your host for today's Viewpoint on Mormonism. So glad you could be with us for this edition of Viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director of Mormonism Research Ministry, and with me today is Eric Johnson, my colleague at MRM.

There was an article in the August 2021 edition of the Liahona Magazine. It was written by Elder Matthew S. Holland. Matthew Holland is the son of Mormon Apostle Jeffrey Holland, and he was the president of the Utah Valley University between 2009 and 2018. He was also a BYU professor and served as a mission president as well. Currently a member of the First Quorum of the Seventies, so Mr. Holland does have some authority and clout when it comes to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In this edition of the Liahona Magazine, his article is titled Prophecy of War, Prescription for Peace. Now, we've talked about Joseph Smith's prophecy regarding the Civil War, and as you know, we're not all that impressed with a lot of the details that were in that prophecy, or even how that prophecy, quote unquote, came about. But because Mr. Holland brings this subject up again, we thought that we would go through his article and critique some of the points that he makes that, of course, he feels makes Joseph Smith a legitimate prophet of God.

So let's begin, Eric. Let's just start off with the second paragraph, since the first paragraph isn't all that much related to what we're going to talk about. Bill, he writes on page 28, despite the real possibility of worldwide weariness over the lingering threat of COVID-19, economic challenges and political and cultural divisiveness, chances are that most of us will set such things aside and be utterly engaged in a festive and spiritual celebration of the birth of our Savior. But in our current climate, we may sympathize with what was on Joseph Smith's mind on December 25th, 1832. And of course, that's why he makes reference to the birth of our Savior's because this prediction, as Mormons understand it, was given to Joseph Smith on December 25th, 1832. Next is the subheading, concerns led to revelation. He writes, as the year was ending, the prophet was alarmed by the increasing appearances of trouble among the nations from Doctrine and Covenants section 87, the section heading. In particular, he noted a global pandemic of cholera and the threat of the quote unquote immediate dissolution of the United States.

In his words, the state of South Carolina disagreeing with the direction and policies of the federal government, quote, passed ordinances declaring their state a free and independent nation, end quote. On December 25th, 1832, these concerns opened Joseph's heart and mind to a most remarkable revelation known today as section 87 of the Doctrine and Covenants. The revelation foretold key aspects of America's Civil War almost 30 years before it began.

It also gave clear spiritual direction for all calamitous times. Well, let's stop right there because somebody just reading that and not knowing any history behind this prediction of December 25th, 1832 can easily be led into thinking that this just pop up out of nowhere. How could Joseph Smith have come up with some of these things? Was he really unique in his thinking and hence his prediction?

And I would argue, no, folks, not at all. Remember, at this time, the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was in Kirtland, Ohio, not far away from where Joseph Smith was living at the time. There was a place called Painesville, Painesville, Ohio. Painesville, Ohio had a newspaper called the Painesville Telegraph, and just four days prior to Smith's prophecy, the Painesville Telegraph reprinted this story from the New York courier and inquirer that was titled The Crisis. And in this article, it spoke of, quote unquote, the probabilities of dismemberment stemming from discontent in South Carolina and Georgia over states' rights. This was right around the time when Andrew Jackson, as president, had really upset the southern states, and they decided to respond by saying that they had the ability to nullify any type of decree that came down from Washington, D.C. This, of course, does not set very well with the federal government, and there was at that time a lot of friction, especially between South Carolina and, as it states here, Georgia. Already, there were threats of secession. This was not new at the time. Not only did the Painesville Telegraph and the New York Courier have articles on this, but you can also check that other newspapers around the country were talking about the same thing.

So this was not unusual. Many people felt that there could very well be a coming civil war. Joseph Smith, in my opinion, is really kind of jumping the gun because he gives the impression that this is going to happen relatively quickly, which, of course, it took over 20 years for it to eventually happen.

So in placing what Mr. Holland has written so far in its proper historical context, we don't really see this as being so unimaginable at that time. I'm going to recommend the listeners who would like to learn more about what we're talking about can go to an article that was written by Bill at slash civil hyphen war, and the title is called Did Joseph Smith Correctly Predict the American Civil War? We have in that article a tag to the Painesville Telegraph story. And as you mentioned, it comes from the New York Courier and Inquirer.

It's entitled The Crisis. Now, as Mr. Holland goes on, he has another subheading, and the subheading is observant or prophetic. Now, naturally, Mr. Holland, because he does believe that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, and he's trying to use this article to convince others of Joseph Smith's prophetic abilities, naturally assumes that Smith is being more prophetic rather than just observant. But I again have to stress that what Joseph Smith is going to talk about as far as the northern states and the southern states, that was pretty much common knowledge. A lot of people felt that that was probably going to happen if things did not get corrected between the southern states and Washington, D.C. He writes, the revelation began with the warning, soon the United States would be plagued with war, starting with the rebellion of South Carolina, verse one.

In the ensuing conflict, the southern states shall be divided against the northern states, verse three. Now, let me stop you there, because what Mr. Holland has written there, as I said before, is not news. That is not unique to Joseph Smith.

Others during that particular time period, if they were paying attention to current events in the United States, would have probably said that that is potentially going to happen if things are not corrected. So that's not news. In other words, folks, you don't need a revelation to tell you what we just read here. You don't need a revelation. Basically, all you really needed was the Painsville Telegraph, which we know Joseph Smith probably had access to. And a reminder, it was just four days before he gives this prophecy, so he had access to that paper for sure.

And so this would not have been something that he couldn't have found out from other sources. Holland continues on and says if this were the extent of the prophecy, it might be said that Joseph Smith was just observant, not prophetic. In 1832, it already appeared that South Carolina was in rebellion and that war might be on the way. But there is so much more to this prophecy and the events surrounding it. After that paragraph, Mr. Holland says Joseph was told that and then he has a series of bullet points that he feels vindicates Joseph Smith's calling as a prophet.

What is bullet point number one, Eric? This conflict would precede war being poured out upon all nations. Verse three, less than 50 years from the end of the Civil War, the first of two world wars began. Now, we've commented on this particular point because we feel that it is, well, to be quite honest, folks, it's silly to think that World War I or World War II had anything to do with the rebellion in South Carolina. I've challenged Latter-day Saints to show me just one historian that can come up with this connection that somehow the assassination, for instance, of Archduke Ferdinand that triggered World War I was thought to have anything to do with the rebellion of South Carolina. No historian is going to make that connection. No historian is going to connect World War II with the rebellion in South Carolina. To make that connection between World War I and II is relatively small when you consider what Elder Joseph L. Wirthlin, a Mormon apostle, said in 1958.

Listen to what he says. The Prophet Joseph gave us this marvelous revelation in 1832. The Civil War came in 1861. The war between Denmark and Prussia in 1864. Italy and Austria in 1865 and 1866. Austria and Prussia in 1866. Russia and Turkey in 1877. China and Japan in 1894 and 95. Spanish-American War in 1898. Japan and Russia in 1904 and 1905. World War I in 1914 to 1918. Then the next war was a comparatively small one. Ethiopia and Italy, when the people in that land of Ethiopia were taken over and controlled by Italy.

I am grateful to the Lord that they now have their freedom. Then the World War just passed. World War II in brackets. And of course, the Korean War. And then in brackets, it also goes on to say, since 1958 there have been among numerous other wars the Vietnam War, Southeast Asia, War in Angola, Six Day, and Yom Kippur Wars in the Holy Land and the Persian Gulf Wars. According to Joseph Wirthlin, I guess we can also connect all those wars with the rebellion in South Carolina. Did not Jesus himself predict in Matthew 24 that wars and rumors of war were going to be commonplace until the day of the Lord comes? All Joseph Smith seems to be doing is piggybacking off of something that Jesus declared centuries earlier.

It's ridiculous to assume that these wars have anything to do with the rebellion in South Carolina. They have much more to do with what Jesus said in Matthew 24. We encourage you to visit our website at, where you can request our free newsletter, Mormonism Researched. We hope you will join us again as we look at another Viewpoint on Mormonism. You hear a knock on the door and open it to find two friendly representatives from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, otherwise known as the Mormon Church. So what will you say? Will you send them away without a Christian witness, or will you engage them in a meaningful and Christ-honoring conversation? If you desire the latter, may we suggest the book Answering Mormon's Questions by Mormonism Research Ministries' Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson. Answering Mormon's Questions is available wherever you find quality Christian books.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-03 15:02:06 / 2023-09-03 15:07:10 / 5

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