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Is Fundamentalism Fundamental?

By Brian Hales

Copyright 1993

 During the late 1930's and early 1940's, small groups of excommunicated members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began to coalesce into a movement now described by some as " Mormon Fundamentalism." The main complaint of these "Fundamentalists" against the Church involves polygamy, but other criticisms are repeatedly leveled at the Church by them. From the 21 volumes of Truth magazine, to the more recent publications by Ogden Kraut, such as 95 Theses, the same dozen or so themes recur over and over. They seem to be republished every few years attempting to show that Church leaders have deviated from fundamental doctrines and are presently in a state of apostasy.

It is unfortunate for Fundamentalists, as well as Latter-day Saints, that these publications have been allowed even a limited distribution. This is because their claims that the Church has strayed from the fundamental doctrines restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith are entirely untrue. Since the death of Joseph Smith, the Lord has been constantly guiding His Church through continuous revelation:

We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. (Articles of Faith, 9; emphasis added.)

The Lord's prophets have never been led to depart from the fundamental doctrines restored in this dispensation. The Church's teachings and activities today are completely consistent with the fundamental doctrines given through the scriptures and prophets such as Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. However, as one compares these teachings and practices to those of the "Mormon Fundamentalists," the title of "Fundamentalist" seems to be misapplied. This conclusion becomes more apparent as we review and briefly compare many of the basic complaints repeated over and over in Fundamentalist literature to the truly fundamental doctrines of the restoration. The tables below contrast the doctrines discussed.




Plural Marriage Eternal Marriage 

required for Exaltation

Plural Marriage 

required for Exaltation



Either method: ordain directly to the office or confer priesthood, then ordain, accepted Must confer priesthood first, 

then ordain or it is not valid

Law of 


To be lived when commanded 

under Church direction

Must be lived now without 

Church participation



Will be with or without 

purse and scrip as 

commanded by the Lord

Must be without purse or scrip
Adam-God Theory Christ is the Great High Priest, Adam next, then Noah Adam is superior to Christ
One Mighty  

and Strong 

(D&C 85:7)

To establish the Church and Law of Consecration 

in Independence, Jackson County, Missouri

Will "set in order": 

1. Practice of plural marriage 

2. Church finances 

3. The redemption of Israel 

4. Being lead to Independence, Missouri 

5. Terms used to confer priesthood 

6. Law of consecration 

7. Vindication of polygamists with Church memberships restored 

8. Polygamists given leadership positions 

in the Church 


Gathering of Israel Gathering is to the Stakes 

of Zion to receive 

temple ordinances

Gathering must be to a specific physical location (though they  

don't say where)

Priesthood: Authority to act for God Also is an organization  

existing outside of the Church

Highest Office Apostle High Priest Apostle
Highest Councils First Presidency and 

Quorum of the Twelve

Council of Friends 

(Priesthood Council)

Ordinations Must be known to the Church Secret and unknown 

are acceptable

"One Man" (mentioned 

in D&C 132)

Use of sealing authority 

is always subject to him

Men may seal marriages independent of the "one man"(1)

Members and  



All are commanded to preach the gospel Not that important if attempting to live the 

principle of plural marriage

Temple Work for 

the Dead

All are commanded 

to become "saviors 

on mount Zion"

Not that important if attempting to live the 

principle of plural marriage


Modern polygamists claim that we must practice plural marriage today for exaltation in the world to come. They also teach that the Lord is incapable of removing a command to practice plural marriage, once that directive has been given. We know that the Lord has commanded selected individuals and groups of saints to practice the principle of plural marriage in the past. Elder Bruce R. McConkie has observed:

From such fragmentary scriptural records as are now available, we learn that the Lord did command some of his ancient saints to practice plural marriage. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob--among others (D. & C. 132)--conformed to this ennobling and exalting principle; the whole history of ancient Israel was one in which plurality of wives was a divinely accepted and approved order of matrimony. Those who entered this order at the Lord's command, and who kept the laws and conditions appertaining to it, have gained for themselves eternal exaltation in the highest heaven of the celestial world. (Mormon Doctrine, p. 578.)

It is also evident that some of the saints in this dispensation received a similar charge. Nevertheless, it is incorrect to teach that individuals who receive exaltation in the eternal worlds, must be polygamists during their mortal existence. Elder McConkie counseled:

Plural marriage is not essential to salvation or exaltation. Nephi and his people were denied the power to have more than one wife and yet they could gain every blessing in eternity that the Lord ever offered to any people. In our day, the Lord summarized by revelation the whole doctrine of exaltation and predicated it upon the marriage of one man to one woman. (D. & C. 132:1-28.) Thereafter he added the principles relative to plurality of wives with the express stipulation that any such marriages would be valid only if authorized by the President of the Church. (D. & C. 132:7, 29-66.)

All who pretend or assume to engage in plural marriage in this day, when the one holding the keys has withdrawn the power by which they are performed, are guilty of gross wickedness. (Mormon Doctrine, p. 578-579.)

Here Elder McConkie points out that the great prophets and their followers in the Book of Mormon were plainly monogamists and yet they lived and died with a complete hope of exaltation based on their obedience during their earthly probations. The Lord taught that the Book of Mormon contains the "fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ" (D&C 20:8-9) which was obeyed by the righteous monogamist men and women mentioned within its pages. Yet, we note that teachings in the Book of Mormon only condemn polygamy and give no hint that it could possibly be required for exaltation.

Elder McConkie referred to the most impressive evidence that plural marriage is not required for exaltation. It is found in D&C 132:19-20 where the Lord states:

And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them --- Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths -- then shall it be written in the Lamb's Book of Life... and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in al things, as hath been sealed upon their heads which glory shall be a fullness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever. Then shall they be gods, because they have no end. (D&C 132:19-20.)

Exaltation is having a "continuation of seeds forever and ever." This is promised if "a man marry a wife" (that is one man marries one wife) through proper authority. There is no demand for plural marriage. It is no surprise that these verses is seldom discussed in Fundamentalist literature.

Fundamentalists universally claim that the Manifesto given by Wilford Woodruff was not inspired of the Lord. This too is in error. President Woodruff himself stated that the Manifesto was a revelation.(2) He also taught concerning the Manifesto:
 He [God] has told me exactly what to do...

[T]he God of heaven commanded me to do what I did do...

I wrote what the Lord told me to write.

Almighty God commanded me to do what I did.

[T]he Son of God felt disposed to have [the Manifesto] presented to the Church...(3)

 The Manifesto instructed the Saints that the Lord accepted their sacrifices associated with plural marriage and that such sacrifice was no longer required.

In their attempts to show that plural marriage is commanded today, Fundamentalists often quote the following:

Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same.

For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.

For all who will have a blessing at my hands shall abide the law which was appointed for that blessing, and the conditions thereof, as were instituted from before the foundation of the world.

And as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant, it was instituted for the fulness of my glory; and he that receiveth a fulness thereof must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned, saith the Lord God. (D&C 132:3-6.)

By interpreting "this law" and the "new and everlasting covenant" mentioned as meaning strictly plural marriage, Fundamentalists feel justified. Notwithstanding, a review of all 29 references to the "law" as found in D&C 132, as well as references to a "new and everlasting covenant" shows that neither can refer strictly to plural marriage. The Lord was in fact referring to the entire law of eternal marriage which includes the plurality of wives. That law is also called "the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage," which includes plural marriage, but is not limited to it.

It is very apparent from the language used in the verses quoted above, that once the Lord restores the knowledge of and authority for eternal marriages, those who are so privileged to understand must participate or "be damned." It is inaccurate, however, to teach that participation with plural marriage is required to avoid being "damned." Brigham Young taught this principle. Wilford Woodruff recorded in his journal dated September 24, 1871:

Pres. Young spoke 58 minutes. He said a man may embrace the Law of Celestial Marriage in his heart and not take the second wife and be justified before the Lord. (Wilford Woodruff Journals.)

Currently (1993) polygamy is neither commanded nor authorized. As we have shown, exaltation in the eternal worlds does not require participation with plural marriage during our mortal existence. This is the true and fundamental doctrine.


During the 1920's, Lorin Woolley remembered that President Taylor stated the following to him and others in 1886:

Among other things stated by President Taylor on this occasion was this, "I would be surprised if ten percent of those who claim to hold the Melchizedek priesthood will remain true and faithful to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, at the time of the seventh president, and that there would be thousands that think they hold the priesthood at that time, but would not have it properly conferred upon them. (Pamphlet, 1886 Revelation, p.8.)

This statement is based on a long standing controversy in the Church over the proper method of transmitting Priesthood authority. During the administration of Joseph F. Smith (1901-1918), the general policy was to first confer the Priesthood and then ordain to the individual offices or callings within that Priesthood. During the presidency of Heber J. Grant (1918-1945), the official policy specified that ordination to office in the Priesthood was all that was really required and that conferring of the Priesthood was a redundant, if not presumptuous, part of the ordinance. George Albert Smith (1945-1951) cautiously removed specificity in the ordinances as a general policy, thereby permitting either form to be used. (See Deseret News, Dec. 27, 1947, also Truth 14:12.) When David 0. McKay assumed the Presidency in 1951 he reverted to the form followed during Joseph F. Smith's administration, which method is still being followed as the official Church policy.

Fundamentalist theology asserts that the Church has little or no priesthood authority, thus leaving the Fundamentalists believing they probably do. However, the inverse is actually the true fundamental doctrine. The priesthood has been correctly transmitted from man to man since it was restored in 1829. Acceptable terminology has been used. Also, Fundamentalists today have no authority since they are nonmembers or have been excommunicated and can't derive any valid priesthood through their completely spurious lines of authority.

Regarding the two methods which have been implemented to transfer priesthood authority from one man to another, George Q. Cannon, a member of the First Presidency, wrote the following in 1894:

Ordaining to the Priesthood. We have been asked by several persons whether in ordaining a brother, it is right to confer the Priesthood first and then ordain him to the particular office to which he is called, or to directly ordain him to that office in the Priesthood. That is in ordaining a man an Elder, should the one officiating say: "I confer upon you the Melchizedek Priesthood and ordain you an Elder," or "I ordain you an Elder in the Melchizedek [Priesthood]" or whatever the office conferred may be?

So far as we know, the Lord has revealed no particular form or words to be used in the ceremony of ordination to the Priesthood as he has done in the rite of baptism, neither has he given any direct instructions on the point presented by the inquirers. Certain it is that both forms have been and are being used by those officiated, ordained in either way. Consequently, we are of the opinion that both are acceptable to him, and will be until it pleases him to give the Church further light on the subject, either by direct revelation or by inspiring his servants of the First Presidency of the Church to direct exactly what shall be said. (Juvenile Instructor, 29:114.)

Thus it is evident that in 1894 "both forms [of ordination] have been and are being used by those officiating." Two years later President Cannon elaborated:

We receive communications from time to time, from theological classes and from others, making inquiries concerning the language to be used in ordaining different officers in the Church. On this and many other points there is a very manifest disposition to be technical and to attach importance of certain phraseology. Of course, no one can object to the exercise of proper care in administering the different ordinances of the Gospel, whether the ordinance of baptism, laying on of hands, administering to the sick, or the ordaining of men to various offices in the Priesthood. But while this is right, and there should be no looseness about this, people should not become too critical and technical. The form which is given us by the Lord for the administration of the ordinance of baptism is exceedingly simple and to the point. Undoubtedly the Lord knew better than anyone else whether it was proper and covered the ground or not. It would be very presumptuous in any man to think that he could improve on that which the Lord has given; though there have been times when the President of the Church has suggested language to be used in administering the ordinance of baptism that was appropriate to the then existing circumstances surrounding the candidates. This, of course, he had the right to do, as the man holding the keys. But for the administration of the ordinance of baptism under ordinary circumstances the form prescribed by the Lord in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants is the form that should always be followed. The same may be said concerning the form given by the Lord touching the administration of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. We have, on page 609 in the Book of Mormon [Moroni chapter three], described to us the manner in which John, who was known as John the Baptist, ordained Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. It is simple and to the point, and contains not an unnecessary word. Of course, in all ordinations care should be taken to bestow the authority, and should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, and, as the Book of Mormon says, by the power of the Holy Ghost which is in the men who ordain. (Juvenile Instructor, March 15, 1896, vol. 31:174-175, Ed. George Q. Cannon, Editor. Brackets added.)

In this article, President Cannon actually defends the method of ordaining directly to an office without first conferring the Priesthood as described in Moroni chapter three, but as noted above, either method was recognized by the Lord. Through their sometimes "critical and technical" assertions, Fundamentalists may claim that 90% of Church members today have no priesthood because improper words were used in conveying the priesthood to them. If this were true, a vast majority of the ordinations in the nineteenth century would also be invalid. The volumes of research available to show that this is nonsense cannot be presented here. Suffice it to say that this Fundamentalist teaching is not true or Fundamental.


Fundamentalists claim that the Lord is requiring His Saints to practice the Law of Consecration through the implementation of United Orders today. The Law of Consecration was restored through Joseph Smith in 1831 (D&C 42:30-42). Two attempts were subsequently made to live it which were unsuccessful. In 1840, the Lord then instructed Joseph regarding His will concerning the Law of Consecration:

President Joseph Smith, Jun., addressed the Council on various subjects, and in particular the consecration law; stating that the affairs now before Congress was the only thing that ought to interest the Saints at present; and till it was ascertained how it would terminate, no person ought to be brought to account before the constituted authorities of the Church for any offense whatever; and [he] was determined that no man should be brought before the Council in Nauvoo till that time, etc., etc. The law of consecration could not be kept here, and that it was the will of the Lord that we should desist from trying to keep it; and if persisted in, it would produce a perfect defeat of its object, and that he assumed the whole responsibility of not keeping it until proposed by himself. (HC 4:93.)

However, by 1874, Brigham Young felt inspired to once again organize the Church into united orders. He told the Saints:

Thus saith the Lord unto my servant Brigham, Call ye, call ye, upon the inhabitants of Zion, to organize themselves in the Order of Enoch, in the New and Everlasting Covenant, according to the Order of Heaven, for the furtherance of my kingdom upon the earth, for the perfecting of the Saints, for the salvation of the living and the dead. (JD 17:154.)

Organizing the Latter-day Saints in the "order of Enoch" included the establishment of united orders. Nevertheless, these attempts to organize the entire Church into united orders were ultimately unsuccessful. They were officially brought to an end in 1881 by President Taylor, when he said in part:

Our relations with the world and our own imperfections prevent establishment of this system at the present time, and therefore, as Joseph stated in an early day, it cannot yet be carried out."(4)

The Lord, through His prophets, has commanded the practice of the Law of Consecration in the past. In 1831 He commanded Joseph to teach its necessity and then in 1840 counseled that the lesser law of tithing was all that was then required. In 1874 through Brigham Young, the Lord renewed His instruction to live the Law of Consecration; through President John Taylor in 1881, the Lord again instructed the saints that it could "not yet be carried out." Since 1881, no true prophet has instructed the saints that the Law of Consecration is to be lived. Today, the lesser law of tithing is required, though the Law of Consecration will be re-implemented at some future date (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 123).

Despite desires by Latter-day Saints or Fundamentalists, it is impossible for any man to begin to receive properties in the name of the Lord and His Church without proper authority. Participation in the Law of Consecration requires Church participation, primarily through its bishops. The Lord has been very specific on this point (D&C 41:9, 42:30-35, 51:1-6, 72:1-19,83:1-6 etc.). The Lord's house is a house of order (D&C 132:8). Self-appointed efforts to practice any eternal law including the Law of Consecration (see D&C 51:2) or plural marriage will not be recognized by the Lord, nor can they be (D&C 132:18). The true fundamental doctrine requires the saints to follow the Lord's prophet regarding the practice of the Law of Consecration as was done in Nauvoo with Joseph Smith. It is also fundamental that we possess the proper authority to implement it.


The Lord instructed the Saints in 1832:

Therefore, let no man among you, for this commandment is unto all the faithful who are called of God in the church unto the ministry, from this hour take purse or scrip, that goeth forth to proclaim this gospel of the kingdom. (D&C 84:86; see also 24:18.)

By denying the principle of continuous revelation, Fundamentalists often assert that all missionary work today must be accomplished without purse or scrip. However, with the changing social and economic conditions of the past century, the Lord saw fit to change His directives to His followers just as He did His disciples during the meridian of time. Originally, Jesus Christ taught his Apostles:

These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:

Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses,

Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. (Matt. 10:5, 9-10.)

Later we find, however, when the Lord commanded the Twelve as to their missionary service after his death, he told them to take both purse and scrip:

And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.

Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. (Luke 22:35-36)

In our day the Lord has made similar allowances through His prophet John Taylor:

In relation to these missionary operations which have been alluded to, I should like to see something done, I do not know that it is necessary to talk about it. We used to be in the habit of going without purse or scrip. That is the way I have travelled hundreds and thousands of miles, but then we felt as the disciples of old did. When we returned, if asked if we had lacked anything, we could say verily no. But there was a time afterwards when Jesus said--"Let him that has a purse take it with him, and let him that has no sword see his coat and buy one." We do not always remain in status quo. At that time we were the poorest people in the world, but now we are better off than the generality of mankind, and we are able to help one another, and there is no necessity for our missionaries to go under the circumstances they have done heretofore; and since it is the counsel that they shall not, why let us do what we can to help them.... (JD 12:48-49.)

An article in the Millennial Star later referred to this new instruction from the Lord's Anointed:

At this time and now about 15 years ago, the word of the Lord came as of old that from that time forth those who should be called to go on missions should take their purse and scrip with them; and I well remember President John Taylor, according to President Young's instruction, preaching a powerful sermon on the subject, setting forth his reasons why it would, in the future be necessary for the missionaries to take purse and scrip with them. (Millennial Star 49:51.)

The fundamental doctrine concerning missionary work is demonstrated in the New Testament: with or without purse and scrip as commanded by the Lord.


One of the most popular Fundamentalist doctrines involves the notion that Adam, the first man upon the earth, was a resurrected being and a god prior to his earthly existence. It is alleged that he was and is superior to Jesus Christ. These ideas contradict the teachings about Adam given in the Standard Works and by modern prophets such as Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and John Taylor. A comparison of the Adam-God theory to truly fundamental teachings about Adam shows the following:


Fundamental Teachings Adam-God Theory
His Creation From the dust(5) Resurrected body
His Probation Needed(6) Not on this earth
Christ's Atonement Needed(7) Not required or even applicable
His Death Yes(8) None
His Resurrection Through Christ(9) Unknown process

 As should be obvious from the chart above, the Adam-God theory clearly contradicts the scriptures.

Equally incorrect is the teaching that Adam is superior to our Savior Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith taught this doctrine plainly:

God purposed in himself that there should not be an eternal fulness until every dispensation should be fulfilled and gathered together in one and that all things whatsoever that should be gathered together in one in those dispensations unto the same fulness and eternal glory should be in Christ Jesus, therefore he set the ordinances to be the same forever and ever and set Adam to watch over them to reveal them from heaven to man or to send Angels to reveal them. (Hebrew 1:16.) Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation. These angels are under the direction of Michael or Adam who acts under the direction of Christ.(10)

Respecting authority, Joseph Smith noted that "Christ is the Great High Priest, Adam next" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. p. 158). Some have suggested that the Prophet was stating that Adam was "next" because he was superior to Jesus, making our Savior second to Adam in the priesthood. However, this is not so, Joseph Smith also identified who was second to Adam:

The Priesthood was first given to Adam: he obtained the First Presidency and held the keys of it, from generation to generation; he obtained it in the creation before the world was formed as in Gen. 1:26-28. He had dominion given him over every living creature. He is Michael, the Archangel, spoken of in the scriptures. Then to Noah who is Gabriel, he stands next in authority to Adam in the Priesthood. (Words of Joseph Smith., p. 8 and Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 157.)

These statements plainly show that Christ is the "Great High Priest" and that Adam is "next" and that Noah "stands next in authority to Adam in the Priesthood." It appears that Joseph Smith could not have been any clearer in this teaching.

Brigham Young also taught this fundamental doctrine:

We believe in God the Father and in Jesus Christ our elder brother. We believe that God is a person of tabernacle, possessing in an infinitely higher degree all the perfections and qualifications of his mortal children. We believe that he made Adam after his own image and likeness. (JD 10:230-231; see also JD 1:238, 4:216 13:308-309, 311-12 etc.)

Regarding the man Adam, the fundamental teaching is that he was a man who underwent a period of probation and was dependent upon the atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ for his own salvation. It is also obvious that while he is very important in the priesthood, he is not superior to Jesus Christ.


On November 27, 1832, Joseph Smith received a revelation that included the following statement:

And it shall come to pass that I, the Lord God, will send one mighty and strong, holding the scepter of power in his hand, clothed with light for a covering, whose mouth shall utter words, eternal words; while his bowels shall be a fountain of truth to set in order the house of God, and to arrange by lot the inheritances of the saints whose names are found, and the names of their fathers, and of their children, enrolled in the book of the law of God. (D&C 85:7.)

Section 85 was added to the Doctrine and Covenants in 1876. Even though the revelation had been published in the Evening and Morning Star in January, 1833, references to "one mighty and strong" did not become popular among Church apostates until many years after it was added to the Doctrine and Covenants (in 1876). During the past few decades, it is quite likely the most commonly quoted scripture among Fundamentalists. This is because they have formed their own "laundry lists" of things they believe the "One Mighty and Strong" referred to is going to "set in order." The lists includes:
 Church Finances(11)

The Redemption of Israel(12)

Being lead to Independence, Missouri(13)

Polygamists being given leadership callings in the Church(14)

Change terminology used during priesthood ordinations(15)

Law of Consecration(16)

Vindication of Modern Polygamists with their Church Memberships restored(17)

 As one reviews the actual scripture (D&C 85:7), it requires an abundance of misguided faith to believe that this verse could have possibly had the scope Fundamentalists now claim. Fundamentalist interpretations completely disagree with those given by all our Church leaders.(18) The mission of the One Mighty and Strong given in D&C 85:7 includes two activities:

1. "to set in order the house of God"

2. "to arrange by lot the inheritances of the saints..."

Research into the background of this verse shows that the duties of the One Mighty and Strong involve establishing the Church and the Law of Consecration in Jackson County, Missouri. No priesthood leader, including Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor etc. has ever taught otherwise.(19) This is the true fundamental doctrine. Any further elaboration is pure speculation.


Fundamentalists may assert that the Church has changed the Lord's command to "gather." They state:

There came a time when perhaps through partial apostasy of the Saints here, or their grudging help to newcomers, the policy of gathering was changed. "Stay where you are", the word went out in Europe and the different states of the Union, "build up the churches where you are and all will be well with you". Or in other words, stay in Babylon, which is falling, and there be tempted to "partake of their sins and receive of her plagues...." (Truth 11:431.)

Criticisms such as these are plentiful in Fundamentalist literature and simply reflect an unfamiliarity with the purpose of gathering. In 1843, the Prophet Joseph Smith preached a discourse on the theme "The Purpose of the Gathering of Israel." It is a most instructive discourse and should be prayerfully studied by all. The Prophet said:

This subject was presented to me since I came to the stand. What was the object of gathering the Jews, or the people of God in any age of the world?...

The main object was to build unto the Lord a house whereby He could reveal unto His people the ordinances of His house and the glories of His kingdom, and teach the people the way of salvation; for there are certain ordinances and principles that, when they are taught and practiced, must be done in a place or house built for that purpose.

It was the design of the councils of heaven before the world was, that the principles and laws of the priesthood should be predicated upon the gathering of the people in every age of the world. Jesus did everything to gather the people, and they would not be gathered, and He therefore poured out curses upon them. Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed. All must be saved on the same principles.

It is for the same purpose that God gathers together His people in the last days, to build unto the Lord a house to prepare them for the ordinances and endowments, washings and anointings, etc. (HC 5:423-424. Compare D&C 124:36.)

Hence, the gathering is required so the saints can receive the blessings of the temple. As temples are built in lands outside the United States, the saints are able to receive those sacred blessings without physically gathering to a new location. Concerning temple building, Brigham Young observed that thousands of temples would someday be built:

To accomplish this work there will have to be not only one temple but thousands of them, and thousands and tens of thousands of men and women will go into those temples and officiate for people who have lived as far back as the Lord shall reveal. (JD 3:372. See also 10:254.)

Obviously, these thousands of temples would not be in one location. They would be located throughout the world.

Fundamentalists often claim that the Church, due to apostasy, is no longer accomplishing the gathering of Israel because its missionaries are not teaching new converts to relocate to a specific site in America. The purpose of the gathering is to "gather" the elect into the Stakes of Zion throughout the world so they can receive the ordinances of the House of the Lord from nearby temples. In times past, this required a physical separation because temples were few in number, as were Stakes. However, Stakes have been established throughout the world as contemplated by Joseph Smith (HC 3:390) into which the elect may be gathered. In these last days, the saints will fight the Lord's battles from Stakes which are found "scattered upon all the face of the earth" (see 1 Ne. 14:14).

At a future date, a gathering will take place to Jackson County, Missouri, but for now the Lord has directed us to gather the elect out of Babylon into the Stakes of Zion (wherever they are established) to receive their temple ordinances.

As we review Fundamentalist doctrines, it is perplexing to note that they themselves are not gathering into one central location, but have gathering places in Montana, Arizona, Mexico, Canada and specific sites in Utah. Their criticisms concerning the Church and the gathering appear almost hypocritical. Neither do they follow the fundamental teachings of Joseph Smith regarding the purpose of "gathering" which is to receive ordinances of salvation in the House of the Lord.


In 1934, Joseph Musser began to teach his followers some very new ideas regarding the Priesthood, its presiding councils and offices. Clearly the Priesthood doctrines presented by Musser constituted new teachings, since no Priesthood leader, nor scripture, had ever suggested anything similar. He taught:

There are three major organizations, set up in the following order:

(a) Priesthood; the higher order of which being God's immediate authority, and to which all other organizations, priesthoods and callings are subordinate.

(b) The Church; which is the vehicle used by the Priesthood in its spiritual work, both at home and abroad.

(c) The Kingdom; having to do with the temporal or civil affairs of the peoples of earth.(20)

...there is a Priesthood organization greater than that of the Church; and that Priesthood always has, can now and will continue to function aside from and independent of the Church. (A Priesthood Issue, p. 25.)

It is impossible to claim that teachings of the alleged external Priesthood organization could possibly be fundamental teachings because prior to the 1930's, no one in or out of the Church (including Joseph Musser), had ever referred to the idea.(21)

In conjunction with his doctrine of the external Priesthood organization, Musser taught that the highest Priesthood office was that of HIGH PRIEST APOSTLE(22) which was supposedly a higher office than the apostleship held by the Twelve. This clearly contradicts the fundamental doctrine taught by Brigham Young that nothing could exist which is higher in authority:

The keys of the eternal Priesthood, which is after the order of the Son of God, are comprehended by being an Apostle. All the Priesthood, all the keys, all the endowments, and everything preparatory to entering into the presence of the Father and of the Son, are in, comprehended of, circumscribed by, or I might say incorporated within the circumference of , the Apostleship. (JD 1:134-135.)

Musser also instructed that his Priesthood organization was presided over by a Council of Seven Friends or Priesthood Council.(23) This contradicts the Lord's fundamental instruction on the subject. He plainly taught that the First Presidency presided and held the keys of the kingdom (see D&C 81:1-2, 107:22). In 1857, Heber C. Kimball, First Counselor to President Brigham Young proclaimed:

You have got to render an account of everything you have, for we are all stewards. You Bishops, Seventies, High Priests, Elders, Priests, Teachers, Deacons, and members where did you get the Priesthood and authority you hold? It came from this very authority, the First Presidency that sits here in this stand. There was an authority before us, and we got our authority from that, and you got it from us, and this authority is with the First Presidency. Now do not go off and say that you are independent of that authority. Where did you get your wives? Who gave them to you? By what authority were they given to you? Where did you get anything? (JD 4:251.)

During the 1920's, Lorin C. Woolley began to claim that in 1886 President John Taylor had secretly ordained him with authority to perform plural marriages. This contradicts the fundamental teaching that those in authority will be "known to the church":

Again I say unto you, that it shall not be given to any one to go forth to preach my gospel, or to build up my church, except he be ordained by someone who has authority, and it is known to the church that he has authority and has been regularly ordained by the heads of the church. (D&C 42:11.)

Woolley's assertions are confusing concerning the "one man" mentioned in D&C 132. The fundamental doctrine teaches that it was impossible for John Taylor to give anyone sealing authority to be used indiscriminately after his (John Taylor's) death which occurred in 1877. Fundamentalist theories on priesthood might be commended for their creativity and ingenuity, however, they seem to be lacking a fundamental quality.


Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord has commanded us to preach the gospel in these latter-days. He has instructed:

Go ye into all the world, preach the gospel to every creature, acting in the authority which I have given you, baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. (D&C 68:8.)

Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor. (D&C 88:81.)

Dozens of other scriptures are available to show that the Lord expects His saints to proclaim His restored gospel. He has commanded that missionaries be sent out two-by-two (see D&C 42:6, 52:10, 62:5 etc.) and has condemned those who would not "open their mouths" (D&C 60:2).

In 1934, Joseph Musser wrote that the responsibility for missionary work rested upon his Priesthood organization, primarily his Council of Friends:

Upon them [Council of Friends] rested the responsibility of bearing the Gospel message to the world... (Supplement to the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage, p. 103.)

Notwithstanding, Fundamentalists do little or no missionary work. Their seventies will preach to individuals who seek them out, but they are not sent forth into the world to "preach the gospel to every creature." No missionaries are sent forth "two-by-two." Little or no effort is expended on behalf of fulfilling the Lord's command to "warn" our neighbors.

It appears that the bulk of Fundamentalists expend their energies attempting to live the principle of plural marriage and that little time or motivation is left to fulfill the very plain commandment, which is repeated over and over in the Doctrine and Covenants, to perform missionary work. Even in the nineteenth century, when the saints were being persecuted for polygamy, they still complied with the command to preach the gospel. Missionaries were sent to all the world to teach the gospel. Today, the actions of Fundamentalists show very clearly they feel no need to fulfill this fundamental commandment.


Joseph Smith expounded fundamental principles concerning our need to perform Temple Work for the Dead:

And now as the great purposes of God are hastening to their accomplishment, and the things spoken of in the Prophets are fulfilling, as the kingdom of God is established on the earth, and the ancient order of things restored, the Lord has manifest to us this day and privilege, and we are commanded to be baptized for our dead, thus fulfilling the words of Obadiah, when speaking of the glory of the latter-day: "And saviors shall come up on Mount Zion to judge the remnant of Esau, and the kingdom shall be the Lord's." A view of these things reconciles the Scriptures of truth, justifies the ways of God to man, places the human family upon an equal footing, and harmonizes with every principle of righteousness, justice and truth. We will conclude with the words of Peter: "For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles." "For, for this cause was the Gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the Spirit." (April 15, 1842. HC 4:595-599. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 223.)

The keys [of sealing authority] are to be delivered, the spirit of Elijah is to come, the Gospel to be established, the Saints of God gathered, Zion built up, and the Saints to come up as saviors on Mount Zion...

But how are they to become saviors on Mount Zion? By building their temples, erecting their baptismal fonts, and going forth and receiving all the ordinances, baptisms, confirmations, washings, anointings, ordinations and sealing powers upon their heads, in behalf of all their progenitors who are dead, and redeem them that they may come forth in the first resurrection and be exalted to thrones of glory with them; and herein is the chain that binds the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, which fulfills the mission of Elijah. And I would to God that this temple was now done, that we might go into it, and go to work and improve our time, and make use of the seals while they are on earth. (Ibid. p. 330.)

This doctrine, [Joseph Smith] said, presented in a clear light, the wisdom and mercy of God, in preparing an ordinance for the salvation of the dead, being baptized by proxy, their names recorded in heaven, and they judged according to the deeds done in the body. This doctrine was the burden of the scriptures. Those saints who neglect it, in behalf of their deceased relatives, do it at the peril of their own salvation. (Words of Joseph Smith, p. 78.)

These instructions show very clearly that we are commanded to perform work for the dead. Nonetheless, Fundamentalists do not build temples and do not perform temple ordinances of the dead.(24) Again, their preoccupation with the principle of plural marriage allows them to ignore this plain fundamental commandment.


Concerning prophets in these last days, Joseph Smith taught:

False prophets always arise to oppose the true prophets and they will prophesy so very near the truth that they will deceive almost the very chosen ones. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 365.)

Joseph also instructed:

I will give you one of the keys of the mysteries of the kingdom. It is an eternal principle that has existed with God from all Eternity that that man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly that that man is in the high road to apostasy and if he does not repent will apostatize as God lives. (The Words of Joseph Smith, p. 413.)

All of Fundamentalism's early leaders, Lorin C. Woolley, J. Leslie Broadbent, John Y. Barlow and Joseph W. Musser, were at one time members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At some point, each rose up, condemning others, finding fault with the Church, saying that the Church was out of the way while they were righteous. Each one apostatized. Concerning those who are excommunicated from the Church, the Lord has observed:

[W]o unto them who are cut off from my church, for the same are overcome of the world. (D&C 50:8.)

We have plainly observed that Fundamentalist doctrines are not truly fundamental DOCTRINES but appear to be "very near the truth." Fundamentalism is not fundamental and following it, its leaders or doctrines, will surely destroy one's soul.




Allred, Rulon C., Treasures of Knowledge, 2 vols. Hamilton, Montana: Bitterroot Publishing Co., 1981-1982

Anderson, J. Max, Polygamy Story, Fiction and Fact, Salt Lake City, Utah: Publishers Press, 1979.

Benson, Ezra Taft, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1988.

Clark, James R., Messages of the First Presidency, 6 vols., Salt lake City, Utah, Bookcraft, 1965-1975.

Hales, Brian C. and J. Max Anderson, The Leaders and Doctrines of Modern Polygamy, An LDS Perspective, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1993.

Hales, Brian C. and J. Max Anderson, The Priesthood of Modern Polygamy, An LDS Perspective, Salt Lake City, Utah: Northwest Publishing, 1992.

Johnson, LeRoy S., LeRoy S. Johnson Sermons, Hildale, Utah: Twin City Courier Press, 1984.

Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. Liverpool, England: F. D. Richards et al, 1854-1886. (Abbreviated JD.)

Kraut, Ogden, 95 Thesis, Salt Lake City, Utah: Pioneer Press, N.d.

Kraut, Ogden, The One Mighty and Strong, Salt Lake City, Utah: Pioneer Press, 1991.

Kraut, Ogden, The United Order, Salt Lake City, Utah: Pioneer Press, 1983.

McConkie, Bruce R., Mormon Doctrine, Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1966.

Musser, Joseph W., Journals, Photocopy in possession of the author.

Musser, Joseph W., A Priesthood Issue, N.p. (Truth Publishing), N.d., (1948).

Musser, Joseph W. (with J. Leslie Broadbent), Priesthood Items, N.p., N.d., (1934).

Musser, Joseph W. (with J. Leslie Broadbent), Supplement to the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage, N.p., 1934.

Musser, Joseph W., editor, Truth, Salt Lake City, Utah: Truth Publishing, 21 volumes, 1935-1956.

Smith, Joseph, History of the Church, 7 vols., Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1978. (Abbreviated HC.)

Smith, Joseph, Lectures on Faith, (Included with early editions of the Doctrine and Covenants).

Smith, Joseph, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith ed., Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1977.

Smith Joseph, The Words of Joseph Smith, Andres F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook eds., Provo, Utah: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1980.

Stewart, George et. al, Priesthood and Church Welfare, Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1938.

Woodruff, Wilford, Journals, Churuch Historical Department

Woodruff, Wilford, Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, G. Homer Durham ed., Salt Lake City, Utah:Bookcraft, 1946.

1. The 1929 account of alleged 1886 ordinations signed by Lorin C. Woolley suggests that five men were given authority to seal marriages adding this cryptic clarification, "under the direction of a worthy senior." The relationship of that "worthy senior to the "one man" mentioned in D&C 132 (who holds the keys of sealing authority) was never defined by Woolley. Other authors, such as Joseph Musser, have attempted to fill the void. Questions still remain regarding his position, is the "worthy senior" and the "one man" the same person or is the "worthy senior" independent of the one man?

2. Millennial Star, 53:794-796 (1891). Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 213-217.

3. Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 217-218.

4. F. Y. Fox, Social Security Program of the Mormon Church under Joseph Smith and Brigham Young as quoted in Priesthood and Church Welfare p. 129.

5. See Genesis 2:7, Mormon 9:17, D&C 77:12 and Moses 3:7 and 4:25. Also worth noting are Genesis 3:19, Alma 42:2 and Moses 4:29.

6. See D&C 29:34-43 and Alma 42:4-14.

7. Moses 5:6-9, 6:51-52, 6:64-66.

8. Genesis 5:5, D&C 107:42, 53, D&C 29:42, Moses 3:17 and Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 38.. See also Abraham 5:13, Moses 4:9, 6:35, Alma 12:23, Lectures on Faith 2:10 and Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 367.

9. Alma 42:2-6, Helaman 14:15-17, D&C 84: 16 and Abraham 1:3. See also Alma 40:2-3.

10. The Words of Joseph Smith, p. 39. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 168. Spelling standardized.

11. Joseph Musser Journals June 14, 1922. This teaching is attributed to Lorin C. Woolley. In 1922, polygamists believed the Church was in "Financial Bondage" and "One Mighty and Strong" was to come and rescue the Church financially.

12. Ibid. June 10, 1928.

13. The One Mighty and Strong, p.15. D&C 103:16 identifies "a man, who shall lead them like as Moses led the children of Israel" for the "redemption of Zion" though Orson Pratt did not believe it was to be Joseph Smith in JD 15:362, 17:303, 21:153.

14. Joseph Musser Journals, March 8, 1933. Personal communication with several Fundamentalists.

15. Truth 14:12, 12:40-41.

16. The United Order, p. 258.

17. Joseph Musser Journals, April 30, 1943.

18. See JD 12:323, 17:305, 21:150-151 for examples from Orson Pratt.

19. See Messages of the First Presidency, 4:107-120.

20. A Priesthood Issue, pp. 15-16. See also Truth 17:164. Priesthood Items, p. 13. Supplement to the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage, p. 91.

21. See The Priesthood of Modern Polygamy, An LDS Perspective, pp. 177-210, 255-258.

22. See Supplement to the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage pp. 99-100. Fundamentalist leaders in later years have largely ignored or denied Musser's teaching of a HIGH PRIEST APOSTLE. Rulon Allred refrains from ever using the term (see Treasures of Knowledge, 2 vols., Hamilton, Montana: Bitterroot Publishing Company) as does LeRoy S. Johnson (LeRoy S. Johnson Sermons). Recently, Rulon Jeffs, leader of Fundamentalists centered in Colorado City, Arizona, completely denied the existence of the office of HIGH PRIEST APOSTLE (see page 61 of deposition given by Rulon Jeffs, May 23, 1989. Copy in possession of the author).

23. Supplement to the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage, p. 103, 109. Allegedly, this council has several other names which include: The Council of Friends of God, the Quorum of High Priest Apostles, and the Council of the Presidency. A few of the other proposed titles include: "Presidency of the Priesthood" (A Priesthood Issue, p. 18), "Presidency of the Council of High Priesthood" and "Presidency of the High Priesthood" (Supplement to the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage, p. 106), and "Council of the Church before the Presidency of the High Priesthood" (Ibid. p. 107). Some Fundamentalist groups simply refer to it as Priesthood Council (see LeRoy Johnson Sermons).

24. It is reported that at least one of the Fundamentalist groups have constructed an endowment house in Utah and another outside of Mexico City, Mexico. Endowment work for the dead can only be performed in temples. This is why the Saints were forced to wait until 1877 and the completion of the St. George, Utah, temple to begin that important work, even though the endowment house in Salt Lake City had been in use for many years.