In other essays on this website, we have argued that Mormonism’s teachings were in error in teaching that the only true church had to be run by high priests holding the priesthood of Melchizedek, in that this doctrine is completely at odds with Bible and Book of Mormon teachings. Some of those essays can be read here, here, and here. We have also argued that the priesthood held by the descendants of Aaron was solely a relic of the Law of Moses, and that when Jesus fulfilled and brought to an end the Mosaic law following his resurrection and appearance to the Nephites, the priesthood of Aaron also ceased to exist and was not to be revived. See, e.g., The Righteous Offering of the Sons of Levi–2000 Years Ago elsewhere on this website. This essay will focus, not on the doctrinal problems of Mormonism’s belief in the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods in our time, but on whether the historical evidence demonstrates the authority of the Aaronic and Melchizedek “priesthoods”, as Mormons called them, were restored by resurrected heavenly messengers to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. In other words, does purely historical analysis show that these events actually occurred, or not?
In his October 2016 LDS General Conference address “If Ye Had Known Me,” Church apostle David E. Bednar began his address by citing to an example in the scriptures wherein Joseph Smith had supposedly corrected erroneous language in the King James Version (hereafter “KJV”) of the Bible. The scripture Bednar accepted as mistranslated was Matthew 7:21-23, which we find near the end of the Sermon on the Mount:
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Bednar commented: “Our understanding of this episode is enlarged as we reflect upon an inspired revision to the text. Significantly, the Lord’s phrase reported in the King James Version of the Bible, ‘I never knew you,’ was changed in the Joseph Smith Translation to ‘Ye never knew me.'” Bednar then went on to partially base his talk on the verse that Joseph Smith had reworded in his “inspired” revision–Matthew 7:23.
The problem with Brother Bednar’s assumption that Joseph Smith’s revision was inspired, and that the King James Version of this scripture was in error and not inspired, is that the Book of Mormon version of this same scripture agrees with the King James Version, and disagrees with Joseph Smith’s revision. The same Sermon on the Mount that Jesus delivered to the Jews was also delivered almost word-for-word to the Nephites. It is found in 3 Nephi 12-14. The counterpart of the King James Version verse that Joseph Smith saw fit to modify is 3 Nephi 14:23. Its wording is identical to Matthew 7:23 in the KJV; the phrase in question reads “I never knew you,” not “Ye never knew me.” Continue reading
Note: This addendum updates the March 24, 2018 essay The Joseph Bishop Scandal: Renewed Dissembling and Obfuscation at LDS Church Headquarters, elsewhere on this website.
April 4, 2018 UPDATE: New information has now emerged demonstrating that the LDS Church has mishandled this scandal to a greater extent than contemplated even in the above essay. You can read about it here. It’s now known that the outside attorney hired by the Church responded to the existence of the taped conversation with Joseph Bishop by compiling a voluminous dossier against the victim, which not only included criminal charges brought against her, her LDS church discipline history and the occasions when employers fired her, but the name of the illegitimate child whom she gave up for adoption. The lawyer then sent a letter to Greg Bishop, who is Joseph Bishop’s son and attorney, in which all such information was contained. Not surprisingly, the younger Bishop released much of said information to the media in his own letter, in which he urged the media to consider the source of the allegations against his father, but redacted the name of the victim’s female child. However, the daughter’s name was somehow thereafter leaked to the media as well. Said child, who is now a 35-year old adult, was shocked to read her name in the newspaper identified as the victim’s daughter, together with her whereabouts.
Said daughter had not been told about her birth mother because the record of the adoption had been sealed by the LDS Church’s adoption agency when the adoption took place. Through considerable effort on the daughter’s part, she was able to find out on her own who her biological mother was, despite the Church’s sealed agency records. Apparently, what the Church originally sealed in the interest of protecting the privacy of the victim, her daughter and the adoptive parents, it freely divulged to its outside attorney, despite the complete irrelevance of said information to the case. In fact, the victim’s criminal history, whatever it consists of, her church membership history and her job terminations were all completely irrelevant to the matter, since the LDS church had Joseph Bishop’s own admissions on audiotape demonstrating that the allegations against him were true in every way material to church action against him. To compile a dossier against the victim for the purpose of discrediting her, when it knew she was being truthful, was evil, and it was compounded by the initial press release detailed above wherein the church dishonestly pretended not to know who was telling the truth.
Moreover, said Church action, as many have now pointed out, will have a pronounced chilling effect on other victims who might be considering telling their own sexual abuse stories. Recent events seem to indicate a tendency on the part of the Church to say, “Air our dirty laundry and we will drag your name through the mud, truth be damned.”