“Like the First Vision story, none of the members of the Church or Joseph Smith’s family had ever heard prior to 1834 about a priesthood restoration from John the Baptist or Peter, James, and John. Although the priesthood is now taught to have been restored in 1829, Joseph and Oliver made no such claim until 1834.” (CES Letter)
Book of Commandments 1833
“Mr. Oliver Cowdry has his commission directly from the God of Heaven, and that he has credentials, written and signed by the hand of Jesus Christ, with whom he has personally conversed, and as such, said Cowdry claims that he and his associates are the only persons on earth who are qualified to administer in his name. By this authority, they proclaim to the world, that all who do not believe their testimony, and be baptized by them for the remission of sins . . . must be forever miserable.”
“They then proclaimed that there had been no religion in the world for 1500 years,–that no one had been authorized to preach for that period—that Jo Smith had now received a commission from God for that purpose… Smith (they affirmed) had seen God frequently and personally—Cowdery and his friends had frequent interviews with angels.”
“About Two weeks since some persons came along here with the book, one of whom pretends to have seen Angels, and assisted in translating the plates… holds forth that the ordinances of the gospel, have not been regularly administered since the days of the Apostles, till the said Smith and himself commenced the work.. The name of the person here, who pretends to have a divine mission, and to have seen and conversed with Angels, is Cowdray.”
“The following Curious occurrence occurred last week in Newburg about 6 miles from this Place [Cleveland, Ohio]. Joe Smith the great Mormonosity was there and held forth, and among other things he told them he had seen Jesus Christ and the Apostles and conversed with them, and that he could perform miracles.”
These are just some accounts we know about because they were written in publications. There were certainly plentiful accounts spread around word of mouth. It is true that the D&C 20 (1830 version) did not explain the ordination process in detail, but the book certainly claimed Joseph Smith was ordained by the laying on of hands. The Book of Commandments account likely dates back to 1830.
One Of The First Publications
The church did not publish much of anything prior to 1834 due to the cast of printing and the church’s difficult prior financial situation (which CES Letter already pointed out.) But still, the church made sure to explain Joseph Smith’s ordination to the priesthood in one of its very first publications, the Book of Commandments
The church and Joseph Smith produced the Book of Mormon in 1830. The Book of Commandments was in 1833, and the The Evening and Morning Star in 1832–the same year as Joseph Smith’s first writing about his First Vision. So the priesthood ordination and First Vision are actually one of the first writings produced by Joseph Smith and the church.
Printing was tough to do in those days. The Book of Commandments was printed in a small number in 1833, until anti-Mormons who hated the Mormon church for its anti-slavery stance destroyed the printing press. It wasn’t until years later that much could be printed at all. We do not know all what was intended for the Book of Commandments because the printing press was burned by the pro-slavery, anti-Mormon mob before printing was complete. The part added to Section 27 in 1835 certainly could have been intended for the earlier printing. This addition named the specific angels who restored each priesthood key.
The earlier Book of Commandments may or may not have included these specificities, but it certainly did say Joseph Smith was ordained by the laying on of hands. It explained many places about priesthood authority. Here are a couple:
“Go ye unto all the world preach the gospel to every creature acting in the authority which I have given you baptising in the name of the Father & of the Son & of the Holy Ghost “
“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 some one 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.”
“…and the voice of warning shall be unto all people, by the mouths of my disciples, whom I have chosen in these last days, and they shall go forth and none shall stay them, for I the Lord have commanded them. Behold, this is mine authority, and the authority of my servants, and my Preface unto the Book of my Commandments.”
“And they are they which are ordained of me to baptize in my name, according to that which is written; and you have that which is written before you: Wherefore you must perform it according to the words which are written.”
I don’t know how God and Joseph Smith could have been any clearer about priesthood restoration and the keys of authority to restore God’s true church. It is all right there. Indeed, I haven’t read about anyone being confused about it until anti-Mormons hundreds of years later.
Additional Details Added To D&C
After the Book of Commandments was incorporated into the Doctrine & Covenants, several sections were combined, and this is what happened with D&C 27. Specifics about the priesthood restoration were added. If Joseph Smith had fabricated these details later on, why backdate it and add it to D&C 27? Why not claim Peter, James, and John showed up later on, in 1835? Or simply add a new Section? It was a tiny detail that was not very important to publish early on–assuming they didn’t intend to publish it before the press was destroyed by the anti-Mormon, pro-slavery mob.
So this detail was added in the 1835 printing, along with a volume of additional revelations. But nobody passed it off like it had been there the whole time. It’s pretty obvious that it was added.
After David Whitmer apostatized and turned against Joseph Smith, he admitted that Joseph Smith and the others were ordained to the priesthood. CES Letter deceptively snippets out part of the quote to make it sound the other way around. Here is the entire quote:
“In the year 1829, on our way I conversed freely with them upon this great work they were bringing about, and Oliver stated to me in Josephs presence that they had baptized each other seeking by that to fulfill the command-And after our arrival at fathers sometime in June 1829. Joseph ordained Oliver Cowdery to be an Elder, and Oliver ordained Joseph to be an Elder in the Church of Christ.
Also, during this year the translation of the Book of Mormon was finished, And we preached, baptized and ordained some as Elders, And upon the Sixth day of April 1830, six Elders together with some fifty or sixty (as near as I recollect) of the members met together to effect an organization. I never heard that an Angel had ordained Joseph and Oliver to the Aaronic priesthood until the year 1834[,] 5, or 6 – in Ohio, my information from Joseph and Oliver upon this matter being as I have stated, and that they were commanded so to do by revealment through Joseph. I do not believe that John the Baptist ever ordained Joseph and Oliver as stated and believed by some. I regard that as an error, a misconception…”
|David Whitmer, who we have already proven to be a liar, wasn’t claiming that the priesthood hadn’t been restored. All he was claiming was that he didn’t know about angel appearances until a few years later–which I find hard to believe considering all the newspaper accounts about angel appearances and priesthood restoration at the time. How did anybody reading a newspaper in 1830 know about the angels yet David Whitmer, who was intimately involved with the church, heard nothing until 1836?
CES Letter even admits that the names of the angels–Peter, James, and John, and John the Baptist–was included in the 1835 printing. But David Whitmer didn’t hear about it until 1836? What, he didn’t read the Doctrine and Covenants? But at least David Whitmer admitted that they had been ordained to the priesthood.
CES Letter Logical Fallacies
The priesthood restoration was widely talked about a written about in publications inside and outside the church prior to 1835, as well as the First Vision.
CES Letter says: “Were the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood under the hand of John the Baptist recorded in the Church prior to 1833, it would have appeared in the Book of Commandments.” No, lots of material was recorded in the Church but not mentioned in the Book of Commandments. The Book of Commandments was a very short book compared to the D&C and was destroyed by the anti-Mormon mob before it could finally be completed.
CES Letter says they added the names “John the Baptist and Peter, James, and John as if those appearances were mentioned in the earlier revelations in the Book of Commandments, which they weren’t.” No, nobody tried to pass off the additional volume of revelations in D&C as original to the Book of Commandments.
This claim by CES Letter is a flat-out lie, debunked by many quotes in Church history, scripture, newspapers, and witness acounts: “Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery did not teach anyone or record anything prior to 1834 that men ordained to offices in the Church were receiving ‘priesthood authority.'”
|False Dilemma||It is possible for something to happen in church history and a certain detail of it not be mentioned in the Book of Commandments.|
|Circular Argument||CES Letter claims Joseph Smith “backdated and retrofitted Priesthood restoration events.” To “retrofit” means to add to something previously manufactured, and the whole point of this argument is to prove that the events were manufactured.|
|Etymology Fallacy||CES Letter uses poor grammar when they claim the names of the angels were not given “in any previous Church records; including Doctrine & Covenants’ precursor, The Book of Commandments, nor the original Church history as published in The Evening and Morning Star.” Are they saying it was not given in the precursor to the Doctrine & Covenants, or it was not given in either the Doctrine & Covenants or the Book of Commandments? This faulty grammar makes it sound like there could have been a different precursor to the D&C, an additional publication that did not mention this detail.|
|Just because a detail is not published in a book does not mean it didn’t happen and was not talked about. The Book of Commandments did not talk about all the revelations or give all details. Newspaper accounts and publications made it clear there were many visitations of angels in regard to the priesthood restoration and lots of details. The Book of Commandments was a book of commandments for the church, not a diary of Joseph Smith’s experiences.|
Skeptics claim First Vision accounts are inconsistent because they muddle accounts of Moroni’s visitation to restore the priesthood and First Vision accounts. But now suddenly angels weren’t visiting to restore the priesthood?
Previously, CES Letter attacked Joseph Smith for trying to raise funds because the church was very low on money. But now CES Letter complains that the church did not print publications of every detail of the priesthood restoration–which would have costed more money.
CES Letter repeats the dates and the same allegations over and over instead of providing evidence: “none of the members of the Church or Joseph Smith’s family had ever heard prior to 1834 about a priesthood restoration… Joseph and Oliver made no such claim until 1834… Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery did not teach anyone or record anything prior to 1834 that men ordained to offices in the Church were receiving “priesthood authority.”… it would have appeared in the Book of Commandments. It’s not recorded anywhere in the Book of Commandments… it would have appeared in the Book of Commandments. It’s not recorded anywhere in the Book of Commandments… It wasn’t until the 1835 edition.. none of which existed in any previous Church records…” This entire argument could be condensed into a short paragraph. Instead, CES Letter repeats the same claims over and over for an entire page.
Redundant: “backdated and retrofitted”
Contradiction Strategy – This argument is blatantly false and contradicts itself. The narrative also doesn’t make sense. Why would Joseph Smith pass off additions to earlier revelations instead of just making up the angels’ appearances later on or adding an additional chapter to the book? The reason this lie is convincing is because CES Letter just got done convincing us that your testimony must either be absolute knowledge of everything or you don’t actually know anything. This argument supports this narrative, and we start to wonder if we really could have a testimony of Joseph Smith even though he omitted a small detail about the priesthood restoration early on.
The attack on faith and promotion of fake science gains considerable strength with this narrative in place, and the explanation for how Joseph Smith fabricated the founding of the church suddenly appears more credible.
The human mind is trained to find patterns. It is easy to cherry-pick a few vague similarities, dress up the context to sound more similar, and build a narrative that one thing derived from the other. Feeling the Holy Ghost is just feeling emotion because I feel emotion when I feel the Holy Ghost… This detail about the priesthood restoration should have been in the Book of Commandments because the Book of Commandments was derived from revelations. The false correlations and false causation fallacies crop up when anti-Mormons start telling Mormons what shoud have happened.
It is especially effective for CES Letter to play this game immediately following arguments where they attack faith and our method of gaining knowledge. At this point in their document, our brain is eager to understand how it can justify what it knows, so when CES Letter points out that something we believe was supposedly not even mentioned in scripture, our brain questions what should be a basis for what we know. This is the same argument that Leftists use against the bible and all the other prophets. The human brain is trained to look for discrepancies and patterns, so this trick is common. It is confirmation bias. Fools jump to conclusions.We must be careful not to be tricked when it comes to pareidolia and history, take care to use critical thought. It is easy to manipulate Satan’s followers when it comes to history because they rely only on what they can see and put no true faith in anything.
Directly after this argument, CES Letter leaps back into the silly narrative that Joseph Smith was into black magic and Ouija Boards. It totally flies in the face of the narrative that CES Letter set thus far–that Joseph Smith made the Book of Mormon by ripping off of other books. But anti-Mormons have been pushing the black magic narrative hard lately, especially among the fake scholarship scene and among Mormon infiltrators in BYU’s faculty. The LDS scholar community these days scoffs in the face of anyone who rejects the narrative, which is very unfortunate.
Occult religion is a splinter sect that ripped a lot of the old church of Jehovah in ancient days, so it is no surprise to see similarities such as the pentagram symbolism in both the occult and LDS temples. Yes, there are similarities if you look only at the surface, which is what anti-Mormons tend to do, from what I’ve seen. It makes it easy for them to generalize all religions as wrong. Ouija Boards, the bible… what’s the difference? Both are myths, pretending to get revelation. Not only does this illogical, lazy thinking rationalize an atheist’s contempt for faith, but it also excuses them if they replace Sunday church with tarot card readings and horoscopes. Either way, the truth is not the rosy image of Joseph Smith with his face studying the pages of the gold plates, right? This mode of thinking leads ex-Mormons to replace their testimony of the gospel with superstition.
What does CES Letter believe in? What tenant of faith do hold that we can verify or discredit with these kinds of comparisons? Global warming? Human evolution? Give us something! Why don’t anti-Mormons discuss their alternative belief to the beliefs of the Book of Mormon and bible, and talk about physical evidences? Instead, they nit-pick and tear down an entire belief system with unscientific appeals to fake science.
This Marxist propaganda technique of finding contradiction is especially insidious as it defines Mormons in a constrained and unfair frame, and it rallies non-Mormons or anybody who was sitting on the fence in solidarity against Mormons and their beliefs. These days, everybody knows about Joseph Smith and his peep stones, right? It’s all over the media.
Use Opponent As Authority Tactic – This is a popular Marxist tactic that anti-Mormons use. They use Mormonism’s own authorities to discredit the faith, such as an alleged Mormon scholar. What makes this argument powerful is:
- Deceptively discredits the vast libraries of study on Book of Mormon theology by LDS professionals.
- Gives more focus to a phony frame that attacks the Mormon church.
- Divides the ranks of the church.
- Establishes a frame that demands a clear, modern explanation in the Book of Mormon for every religious issue in existence, and that it be exactly corroborated by every other Mormon source.
Oh, and doesn’t CES Letter themselves backpeddle and change their publication? Don’t they introduce new versions? (Perhaps they will be introducing another version after all the falsehoods and logical fallacies I have pointed out… probably not.) So why does CES Letter get to make additions but others aren’t allowed to?