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A New Dispensation? 

     Men such as Elden Kingston and James Harmston seem to acknowledge that Joseph Smith was called to head the “dispensation of the fullness of times.”  Apostle Orson F. Whitney explained “[A dispensation] stands for the opening of the heavens and the sending forth of the Gospel and the Priesthood for purposes of salvation.”1 (see D&C 124:41).  John Taylor elaborated: “We have had in the different ages various dispensations; for instance what may be called the “damic dispensation, the dispensation of Noah, the dispensation of Abraham, the dispensation of Moses... the dispensation of Jesus Christ... and in and through those various dispensations, certain principles, powers, privileges and priesthoods have been developed.”2 

        The "dispensation of the fullness of times" is the last dispensation.  Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were told that "Unto [you] I have committed the keys of my kingdom, and a dispensation of the gospel for the last times; and for the fulness of times" (D&C 27:13).  In 1837 God stated that the priesthood had been restored to the earth (to Joseph Smith) “for the last time”: “For unto you, the Twelve, and those, the First Presidency, who are appointed with you to be your counselors and your leaders, is the power of this priesthood given, for the last days and for the last time, in the which is the dispensation of the fulness of times" (D&C 112:30).

        Notwithstanding, Harmston (in the 1990s) and Kingston (in 1935) independently claimed that the priesthood authority and truths previously restored by Joseph Smith, had been lost from the earth. This alleged apostasy required God to once again send angels to earth to dispense that lost authority and truth.  Both Harmston and Elden Kingston each claimed to be the recipients of those authorities and truths.

        As noted above, God told Joseph Smith it was the last dispensation and the "last time" authority would need to be dispensed from heaven to man on earth.  Accordingly, there would be no more apostasy or need for new heavenly dispensings of truth and authority.  How could God make such a claim to Joseph Smith?  How could He know that none of Joseph's successors (subsequent Church Presidents) would ever go astray?

         A man becomes Church President as he becomes the "senior apostle" upon the earth.  Men rise in seniority through their ordination as members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. God's house is a house of order (D&C 132:8, 18).  He explained to Joseph Smith:  "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" (D&C 43:7).  The key to seniority is found in outliving all other quorum members.

         It is obvious that through this divinely designed plan, no man becomes the senior apostle on earth and Church President by accident.  Just prior to his passing in November of 1918, Joseph F. Smith counseled Heber J. Grant saying: “Always remember this is the Lord’s work, and not man’s.  The Lord is greater than any man.  He knows who He wants to lead His Church, and never makes any mistakes.”3  Brigham Young taught in 1862: “The Lord Almighty leads this Church, and he will never suffer you to be led astray if you are found doing your duty. You may go home and sleep as sweetly as a babe in its mother’s arms, as to any danger of your leaders leading you astray, for if they should try to do so the Lord would quickly sweep them from the earth.”4  Wilford Woodruff echoed this teaching: “The Lord will never permit me nor any other man who stands as the President of this Church, to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty.”5  As the Controller of life and death, God alone determines the destinies of all men including the man whose apostolic seniority places him as the senior apostle, holding the keys of the priesthood and presiding over His earthly Church.

            God knows each of us intimately including those who become Church president.  He knows how His children will respond to challenges and Church responsibilities. How does God know?  Elder John Taylor, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught that prior to our mortal births, we lived with Heavenly Father for a very long time: “although we came into corporal existence here, we existed thousands of ages before we came here.”6  During that time, the Lord was able to observe our spirituality and inclinations to accomplish righteousness.  In addition, the scriptures assert that God is not ignorant of the future: “all things are present before mine eyes" (D&C 38:2, see also Moses 1:6).  Abraham 2:8 states that the Lord knows “the end from the beginning.”  Accordingly, in ways we currently cannot understand, everything is an eternal "now" before the Lord.  In calling men to lead His Church on earth, the Lord is never choosing individuals He is unfamiliar with. No surprises are awaiting God as He watches and prompts His prophets on earth.

        With God always at the helm, His prophesies will be fulfilled.  In 1829 He told Joseph:  "this [is] the beginning of the rising up and the coming forth of my church out of the wilderness--clear as the moon, and fair as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners."  With God controlling the identity of His Church leaders on earth, it appears there would never be a need for men like James Harmston or Elden Kingston to arise out of obscurity with fantastic claims of divine theophanies and angelic ordinations dispensing to them truths and authorities.

        Despite their impressive claims, it appears that after Joseph Smith, the services offered by Harmston and Kingston could not be needed.  The last dispensation had already begun and Christ was guiding His leaders on earth. 

[1]  Orson F. Whitney, Saturday Night Thoughts; A Series of Dissertations on Spiritual, Historical and Philosophic Themes. Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1921, 93.

[2]  John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom, 101‑02. 

[3]  Quoted in Quinn, Extensions of Power, 816.

[4]  JD 9:289, February 23, 1862; Discourses of Brigham Young, 137.

[5]  Collected Discourses 2:137, October 6, 1890.

[6]  John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom, 12.