Apparently Erroneous Teachings Concerning the Last Days from Doctrine and Covenants 133

(Note to reader: the following is an excerpt from a letter sent by M. S. Brothers [a pseudonym] to seven LDS apostles in early 2015.  No response was ever received.  Also, while the gathering of the lost tribes of Israel is one of the topics briefly covered in this excerpt, that topic is fully addressed in a separate essay posted under the title “The Lost Tribes of Israel.”)

Joseph Smith produced a revelation found in Doctrine and Covenants Section 133 which he claimed came from God concerning the events to transpire in the last days. The section repeats much biblical eschatology. But some of its text creates reasonable doubt regarding its authenticity in the mind of even the faithful believer because of the scriptural contradictions it creates. Verses 20 and 27, for example, indicate a highway is going to be “cast up in the midst” of the ocean to facilitate the return of the lost tribes. However, this already-implausible event is also made even more so, as well as unnecessary, by verses 23 and 24, which assert the earth’s land masses will no longer be separated by water, and the ocean will be driven back into the north countries when the lost tribes return. The reader of these things, while believing that God will of course accomplish anything he says he’ll do, justifiably wonders whether God actually said these things. This doubt seems to be justified for the following reasons:

First of all, since 1831, when the putative revelation was purportedly received, the prophesied events have not come to pass, and become more and more unlikely by the day. Airplanes have been invented, and hundreds of millions of people have come to America either to visit or to make it their home by sailing in boats or flying in airplanes. The prospects of building a highway across the two-and-a-half-mile-deep ocean, or of expelling the ocean to the north countries, now appear extremely unlikely.

Second, it’s also noteworthy that today, the overwhelming majority of converts to the church come from southern countries, not northern ones, but in Section 133 only the latter geographical area is mentioned in the text as the immigrants’ point of origin. D&C 133 seems to not anticipate the latter-day demographics of the church, apart from the modes of travel in our time.

Doctrine and Covenants sections 110 and 133 combine to create a third issue. It’s evident that Joseph Smith believed that the lost tribes were gathered and hidden in the icy north somewhere (see D&C 110: 11; 133: 26, 34), and that they knew they were descended from the Israelites. But Joseph’s beliefs on this subject are now no longer taught by the church. Presumably, this is because the northern regions of the earth are well known, and the ten lost tribes of Israel are no longer thought to be concealed there. But while the church doesn’t affirmatively teach the specifics of it, Joseph’s claimed revelation containing his belief remains in the form of an immutable quotation from God.

The fourth and most obvious indication that this revelation isn’t of God comes from D&C 133: 30, 34, which speaks of the tribe of Ephraim receiving a “richer blessing” than the other tribes after they’ve gathered to Zion. The gospel of Jesus Christ unequivocally refutes any notion that tribal lineage will determine the extent of an individual’s blessings among otherwise equally-righteous individuals. Instead, John the Baptist illustrated the meaninglessness of lineage to God when he taught in Luke 3:8 that God could “of these stones raise up children unto Abraham.” Peter taught God is no respecter of persons, Acts 10:35. And Nephi taught that God “denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.” II Nephi 26:33.

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