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Saints: The Standard of Truth Part 21: The Saints in Nauvoo

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
March 1, 2020 8:08 pm

Saints: The Standard of Truth Part 21: The Saints in Nauvoo

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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March 1, 2020 8:08 pm

This is the 5th week of shows covering the 2018 LDS Church book Saints: The Standard of Truth. Today Bill and Eric take a closer look at the history of Nauvoo.


Point is, the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints viewpoint when 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 join us for this additional viewpoint on Mormonism on your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director Mormonism research ministry and with me today is Eric Johnson. My colleague at MRM for the past several weeks we have been going through a history book produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 2018.

It's titled Saints the standard of truth and if you have not been following along, let me just reiterate the fact that this book, though it is not scripture it says in the preface that Saints is not scripture but like the Scriptures.

Each volume contains divine truth and stories of imperfect people trying to become saints through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Eric let me ask you if you were to read this as a member of the LDS church. That statement that I just read from the preface would that not tell you that what is written in this book should be believed, I think so at chapters of the book have been published in the inside magazine so the church obviously has put a lot into this to allow the historians to try to tell the story and in essence I think this is the modern-day equivalent of the history of the church volumes that have been the standard until now.

As we mentioned in this series we see some positive aspects in this book as well as negative. I think one of the major negative aspects of saints. I think you would agree Eric is the fact that it is told in a more type of a story, a narrative rather than a documentary history of the church that you just mentioned goes chronologically it by dates and there's much more excited and quoted in the other history book that I think makes it more effective as a history book but for some reason the church felt that they needed to get away from that. So they came out with this type of a format that I don't think is quite as good as the old DHC as we call it, but still it is much more transparent in showing a lot about Joseph Smith's personality, his lack of good judgment.

I would say the fact that he was not a very good judge of character and just overall made some very bad decisions. Now, maybe the church just wants to show Joseph Smith as being more human, which is certainly a switch in how they portray Smith but if, as I said earlier if I was not a Mormon and this is what I had to introduce me to the history of this movement.

I don't think I would personally be inclined to want to join the Mormon church based on what I'm reading here and our prayer is maybe that will affect other people in that same way and hopefully open the eyes and perhaps even some members who see some things in this narrative that are troubling to them. You look at some of those troubling aspects this week as we have in the past. So today we're going to be looking at chapter 34 and again I want to say this is not meant to be an exhaustive study were not going through this chapter by chapter.

But we are looking at some of the historical ramifications in early Mormonism to show some problem areas that we have picked up in going through this book. So now we start on chapter 34 on page 399. It starts in late April 1839 days after reuniting with the saints, Joseph Rd., North to inspect land that church leaders wanted to buy in and around commerce, a town 50 miles from Quincy so what were beginning to embark on here. Eric is were now looking into the era were the latter-day Saints were going to move in to what comes to be known as Nauvoo, Illinois because commerce was the original name given to this community right on the banks of the Mississippi page 400 and continues arriving in commerce. Joseph saw a marshy floodplain that rose gently to a wooded bluff overlooking a wide bend in the Mississippi River, a few homes dotted the area across the river in Iowa territory near a town called Montrose should some abandon army barracks on more land available for purchase.

Joseph believe the saints could build thriving stakes of Zion in this area. The land was not the choices he had ever seen. But the Mississippi River was navigable all the way to the ocean making commerce. A good place for gathering the saints from abroad in establishing commercial enterprises.

The area was also sparsely settled still gathering the saints, there would be risky if the church grew as Joseph hoped it would. Their neighbors might become alarmed and turned against them as people had in Missouri. Joseph prayed Lord, what wilt thou have me to do build up a city. The Lord replied, and call my saints to this place build up the city. The Lord replied Eric does that sound familiar. If you are reading this book and you remember what you read earlier in the book you will find that this is not the first time Joseph gives credit to God in telling him that he needs to build up a city I mean that religion was founded in 1830 and for that whole decade. They're moving around all the time. Three separate places that Joseph moves them, and each time it's proven to be a disaster. Well, let's go back to for instance to page 109 in this book. It's talking about the colonization of Kirtland, Ohio. And as we've read in this series. Kirtland became a problem because of the Kirtland Bank disaster the Kirtland anti-bank as it came to be known, when Joseph Smith not having enough capital and really no experience in in starting a bank starts this endeavor.

It ends up folding and they lose a lot of members. As a result of it, and Joseph Smith has to actually flee the area because members were so upset at him. Then we find that there was another example of police known as Far West and on page 299 of this book. It also gives you the impression that it was the Lord that told Joseph Smith to start the city of Far West Temple was supposed to be built in Far West. It was never built not remember Eric when you and I were going through Missouri. We were following a lot of the sites in Mormon history and I had commented to you that it was kind of depressing visiting the sites because if you read all of the placards and the signs in these areas clearly and this is the phrase that I use this struck me as the Mormon trail of disappointment. In other words, these faithful members are following Joseph Smith as their prophet, who, speaking on behalf of God getting directions by God himself and these people being faithful to his calling as a prophet, as they understand it, or sacrificing and really suffering as a result of following Joseph Smith's commands, you can really see this when you go through these various sites and the Mormon church owns a lot of these places and so they they're the ones that are put up the signs. It's not enemies of the church that are exposing the failures. It's the church itself that are recognizing this in this book also seems to recognize the failures because in fact if you go back one page on 399 it says at the bottom of the page after the fall of far west. So it's admitting that Far West was a failure. It was not what it was intended to be the people had to leave and now they're going to go to Nauvoo a place that's originally known as commerce and they're going to start up another city.

Now I would say that originally when they start to gather in Nauvoo, it does become a pretty prominent location for the Latter Day Saints to come and live at this time. At its peak.

Nauvoo had more of a population than even the city of Chicago so that does show you it was very popular at that time, but even Nauvoo would have to be eventually abandoned after the death of Joseph Smith in 1844 but when you see this written as it is on page 400 that the Lord told Joseph Smith to build up a city folks you need to remember this is not the first time Joseph Smith has attributed something to God in order to further a goal that he personally had you have to ask yourself, does this really sound like something that God was behind. I'm sure faithful latter-day St. was a well yeah, that was there to test us. And of course the reason why they had to eventually abandon a lot of these places would be blamed on the people themselves because they were not living up to the high standards that God apparently had for them. I don't know if that was actually true because I see a lot of these people sacrificing quite a bit to do what Joseph Smith wants to do and to attribute any type of blame on the whole group builder. I'm sure were plenty of instances when individuals did things they shouldn't have done, but to blame the whole group I think is a little unfair bill. If you look at section 115 in the doctrine and covenants. The introduction says this revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet Far West, Missouri, April 26, 1838, making known the will of God concerning the building up of that place and of the Lord's house. This revelation is addressed to the presiding officers and members of the church and if you read through here, you get to verses 1415 1617 let me just read those it says but let house be built onto my name. This is God speaking.

According to the pattern which I will show unto them, and if my people, build it, not according the pattern which I shall show under their presidency. I will not accept it at their hands, but of my people do build it, according to the pattern which I shall show unto their presidency. Even my servant Joseph and his counselors then I will accept it at the hands of my people. So it seems like he lays it out.

They need to build it. If they do it the Right Way, God's going to bless it. If they don't build it the right way, then he's not.

But verse 17 and again, verily I say unto you, it is my will that the city of Far West should be built up speedily by the gathering of my saints. So you would think that if God was behind this that that would've happened but but here's the thing they never did build the temple if you go to Far West. There are markers showing where the temple was supposed to be built but it was never built. And as this book itself says after the fall of Far West so obviously God did not feel inclined to believe the story at all to protect the saints and to keep them there. Things happen where they had to eventually abandon now. They're going on to Nauvoo commerce, Illinois, and it says on page 401 that thousands of saints soon moved to the new gathering place pitching tents were living in wagons as they went to work building homes acquiring food and clothes and clearing farmland on both sides of the river that you and I have been the Nauvoo more than once and the Mormon church still owns a lot of the property that's there now. It's divided between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the community of Christ and if you are ever in that area. I would encourage you to go visit it because it's quite fascinating.

You do see this division, especially in how the tour guides present the story and one thing I noticed when we were there the portion that is owned by the community of Christ there tour guides were much more open and honest with how they depicted Mormon history, then let's say the missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to when we were there seem to be much more guarded and how they told the story.

I just thought it was an interesting difference between how the history was told, but certainly I would encourage a person to go to Nauvoo if you ever have the opportunity and your interest in the subject of Mormonism. You're going to find it to be quite an experience. Tomorrow were going to continue in this chapter regarding the settlement in Nauvoo, Illinois.

Thank you for listening you would like more information regarding his research ministry. We encourage you to visit our website you can request a free newsletter Mormonism research.

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