EVER WIDENING CIRCLES OF LIES
Oh for a lodge in some vast wilderness,
Some boundless contiguity of shade,
Where rumour of oppression and deceit . . .
Might never reach me more!
In this chapter we look at the expanding tide of bitterness which met the Saints wherever they went. Predictions by its enemies that it would not survive because it was based on superstition and ignorance failed as did estimations that once Joseph Smith was gone the church he founded would perish. The progress of Mormonism has been overshadowed by the spectre of persecution, in spite of which it has not faltered.
Writers who write without verifying their facts will have their objectivity questioned and condemned. One scholar from whom we are entitled to expect a more substantial contribution is David Christie-Murray. He condemns Joseph Smith as "burdened by a pathological constitution" and trots out an unsupported statements redolent of Rumble's, that Joseph Smith was "subject to epileptic fits". In connection with polygamy he asserts on the strength of his fertile imagination that "three wives [were] the necessary qualification for the higher ecclesiastical offices".
Not content with this nonsense he raises the spectre of Mormon blood atonement without support, claiming that President Brigham Young exercised despotic power through this means. Had he pursued the subject with his the diligence commensurate with his alleged academic capabilities he would have been influenced by the lack of support for a libel which equals in content and spirit the anti-Jewish Blood Libel promoted by other Ministers of Hate in former years. These points illustrate the lack of primary research by those eager to condemn Mormonism as heretical, but Christie-Murray goes even further, when he asserts that Mormonism is
An actively evangelistic creed, Mormonism spread to Europe, missionaries being particularly active after the Second World War, where they tried to fill the void in Germany left by the disappearance of the Nazi creed.
Apostle Orson Hyde visited Germany in 1841. During his visit he published the first Church publication in Europe, "Ein Ruf Aus Der Wuste." The Church had a presence in Germany in 1885. In 1869 "Der Stern" was edited and published by convert Karl G Maeser as the official Latter-day Saint publication in that country.
During the early years of National Socialist (Nazi) government in Germany life remained relatively normal for most Germans including members of the Church. In time the state became more intrusive and prying into the activities of the Church.
The anxiety about future difficulties became more substantial when the Hitler Youth was introduced in place of the Boy Scout movement. However the twin facts of full employment and a buoyant economy settled the fears of many. Some members were deceived by the Nazi's success in economic matters into comparing them to the Gospel in action. On this front, it would be an easy mistake to make. The worst excesses of the party had not yet surfaced and Nazis were robust in promoting a national mentality that appealed to a people who had suffered greatly from the reparations following the First World war.
The attraction for the Saints wore thin when their hymns and literature was censored, and missionary activity was seriously curtailed. Latter-day Saints were as blind as those of other denominations concerning the true nature of the tyrannical regime. Eventually fear replaced what attraction there had been for some. Other Saints had felt dread for the party from the beginning. It became clear that the only way to survive was to avoid irritating the government. The Saints' belief that bad governments should only be changed by democratic means prevented them from open rebellion. When the Nazi's true colours were at last unfurled it was too late to do much about it, as Niemoller and many others found to their horror.
Some German Latter-day Saints opposed the regime, taking life-threatening risks. One was Helmuth Huebener a member of the Church in Hamburg. Early in 1941 he obtained a short-wave radio and tuned in regularly to BBC broadcasts. From these he learned the true nature of Nazism. Huebener was a priest and enlisted a friend and two members of his quorum to produce and distribute anti-Nazi material taken from the broadcasts. He was arrested after several months and sentenced to die by decapitation. This was accomplished with a battle-axe. Like other Germans who came to a knowledge of the truth of Nazism too late, many Latter-day Saints shared the guilt for their ignorance in the face of an evil they now felt they ought to have withstood.
Christie-Murray’s allegation that the Church tried to fill the vacuum left by the demise of National Socialism has little to commend it and less to support. What justification he has for making this extraordinary statement he neglects to say. He demonstrates the practice of anti-Mormon writers of "borrowing" from other, relying on their statements without testing their veracity. Such material serves the proposition that Mormonism is a heresy.
Other writers are equally careless concerning the material they publish. One such offers the following teaching about Mormonism:
•A. Only Mormons will go to heaven.
•B. Joseph Smith is the true Messiah--Jesus was his forerunner
•C. God is...the same person as Adam.
•D. Jesus, who did not exist before his birth on earth, was polygamously married to Mary, Martha and Mary Magdalene.
•E. During [the millennium] everyone will live to the age of 100--then suddenly be made immortal.
Each of these 'Key Beliefs' is erroneous. They are positions diametrically opposed to Latter-day Saint doctrine. The correct position on each of these points is:
•A. Mormons are often referred to as 'almost Universalists' because they believe that all humanity but a handful will achieve one degree of salvation or another.
•B. Jesus is the divine Son of God, the Messiah and the only Messiah. Joseph Smith is regarded as a prophet in the same way as are Moses and Isaiah.
•C. Adam is Michael the Archangel who served God the Father and the pre-mortal Jesus in the work of creation.
•D. Jesus did exist before his birth, he was pre-existent with the Father. Orson Pratt believed that Jesus was polygamously married but this it is not, nor has it ever been official or unofficial LDS doctrine.
•E. Regarding the millennium, readers are referred to the writings of the Prophet Isaiah which, Latter-day Saints believe refers to the eschatalogy which is embraced by both Judaism and Christianity.
Why was this misleading information included unless mischief was intended? If we are sufficiently generous as to allow that the author knew no better his scholarship is called to account. Why would he treat Mormons with such careless contempt.
The persecution of Latter-day Saints began in Palmyra and has travelled to every land where the Gospel has been proclaimed. It has pursued the Saints wherever they have sought to practice their religion. The beginning of the Church's mission in the British Isles in 1837 provoked an anti-Mormon backlash. Foster surveys the evidence of this reaction during the first 23 years of British Latter-day Saint activity. Most hostile material was American reworked for British consumption. The same is true of much current anti-Mormon publications. Early anti-Mormon literature was influenced by the demand for popular literature which, while intended to be 'improving', pandered to the appetite for sensation and lewdness.
The publication of cheap street literature had been a popular means of communicating ideas and defending causes since the sixteenth century. By the seventeenth century, there was a veritable tidal wave of printed literature in circulation in England....These [...] provided the medium of communication and entertainment for those of the lower classes...By the end of the seventeenth century, the publication of such items was a profitable business with a "brisk trade in unseemly reading matter for the masses".
The publications were, in fact, filled with sexual references and bawdy humour. the content of the reading material of the working classes did not go unnoticed by the keen eyes of the religious reformers....The Religious Tract Society [distributed] these tracts by the thousands among the poor and working class....It was within this context that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was introduced into Britain.
The increasing literacy of the British working class had created an unprecedented demand for this genre of literature. The early missionaries found a largely literate population in Great Britain who could read the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, and other Latter-day Saint literature.
Also accessible to them was plentiful, cheap, and effective anti-Mormon literature dedicated to convincing them that Mormonism was an evil foreign system posing as a Christian religion.
Early Anti-Momron pamphlets attacked the character of Joseph Smith and other Church leaders.
These trashy publications posited the low intelligence of Mormon converts, and railed against the imposition of a foreign religion on simple, overtly stupid British people by clever gain-seeking American tricksters.
When polygamy became better known it was presented in the street literature in such a form that the public appetite for salacity was readily satisfied.
The context of the reception of the Restored Gospel into the British Isles had two other important elements. One was the fear of revolution after the pattern of the French Revolution of 1789-1795 by an unemployed, hungry and alienated working-class population. The other was the experiences of the unemployed and hungry who longed for a better life.
The better educated middle classes feared that civil unrest could result from the importance Mormonism gave to the individual through the doctrine that all humanity were the children of God, who knew and cared for them individually.
The result was that the poor rose to a new and acceptable concept of their individual worth, and the promise of an inheritance in the land of Zion. To secure an inheritance many thousands of converts emigrated.
In France, Voltaire's contempt for the historic churches, which had encouraged the masses that the social order was ordained of God, and that they should accept their unhappy lot; Rousseau had introduced ideas of the worth of the individual and the natural rights of mankind, which challenged a social structure underpinned by traditional Christian denominations.
The Latter-day Saint Doctrine of man and his relationship to Deity had similar resonance to the ideas of Voltaire and Rousseau, and, therefore, invoked the suspicion of the nervous middle classes.
The revulsion which the French Reign of Terror introduced into the British Isles was transferred to Nonconformists, who became victims of religious abuse. Their crimes were that they made impassioned pleas for liberty of conscience and the natural rights of mankind as children of God. Ideals too close for comfort to objectives central to the French Revolution. The American Revolution had given birth to similar ideas.
We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among them are, Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Latter-day Saint missionaries from America were regarded as purveyors of a dangerous foreign ideology. Anglicans and Nonconformists were hostile to papal claims to be the supreme pontiff of Christendom. The major cause of this hostility, which had steadily grown since the days of Henry VIII, was that the pope was in reality a foreign prince who sought to impose his will in a land where rising nationalism resented foreign interference.
A similar xenophobia was exploited by anti-Mormon writers because of its American origins. Latter-day Saint doctrines were perceived as having more than an echo of ideas thought revolutionary. For this reason they were viewed with suspicion. The similarity of the Latter -day Saint teaching on the status of humanity to Nonconformism in general was another cause of suspicion and hostility.
Mormon proselytising efforts enjoyed spectacular success particularly among the poor and in communities of 'seekers.' This made ministers openly hostile although some ministers were converted. Ministerial converts occasionally persuaded their congregations to embrace their newly found 'Truth.' The religious Establishment's response to this was a widening of the attack by adding the exposure of alleged immorality of Church leaders. The practice of polygamy when it became known, was seen as proof of institutional Latter-day Saint immorality. The common people embraced the new gospel warmly, but it was less favourably received by the learned.
After Wilford Woodruff had converted two constables who had been sent to arrest him, the local clergy petitioned the Archbishop of Canterbury, asking him to bring the force of law against these troublesome preachers. He refused and suggested to them that perhaps the remedy lay in them becoming better pastors.
British Poet Laureate, William Wordsworth, one of my personkla favourites, wrote a bitter letter to his American editor in 1846. It was coloured by the fact that his wife's niece had been received into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and waseven then on her way to join the main body at Nauvoo. Although he had his own powerfully coloured opinion of the Mormon faith, he somewhat angrily seeks further information.
Do you know anything of a wretched set of religionists in your country, superstitionists I ought rather to say, called Mormonites, or latter-day Saints?
[My wife's niece] has just embarked, we believe at Liverpool, with a set of deluded followers of that wretch, in an attempt to join their society...
She is a young woman of good abilities and well educated, but early in life she took from her mother and her connections a methodistical turn, and has gone on in a course of what she supposes to be piety, till she has come to this miserable close.
Wordsworth was writing in the light of his understanding of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints according to the best information available to him, but the best information available from non-LDS sources was heavily biased against them.
The poet's prejudice is evident in the terms he uses to describe his niece's new religion. He is also critical of her earlier interest in Methodism which reflects the hostility towards Nonconformism, independence, and enthusiasm then prevalent, but is surprising in the light of his sympathy with the French revolution.
Charles Dickens, a contemporary of Wordsworth, visited a Mormon emigration ship in London Docks. Dickens is remarkable for his power of observation, which he used, to full effect in recording his observation of Mormon emigrants. In his impressions of the Latter-day Saints as recorded in The Uncommercial Traveller, he called them "the pick and flower of England."
BOUND FOR THE GREAT SALT LAKE
Behold me on my way to an Emigrant Ship, on a hot morning early in June....My Emigrant Ship lies broadside-on to the wharf. Two great gangways made of spars and planks connect her with the wharf; and up and down these gangways, perpetually crowding to and fro and in and out, like ants, are the Emigrants who are going to sail in my Emigrant Ship....I go aboard my Emigrant Ship....But nobody is in an ill-temper, nobody is the worse for drink, nobody swears an oath or uses a coarse word, nobody appears depressed, nobody is weeping, and down upon the deck in every corner where it is possible to find a few square feet to kneel, crouch, or lie in, people, in every unsuitable attitude for writing, are writing letters.
Now I have seen emigrant ships before this day in June. And these people are so strikingly different from all other people in like circumstances whom I have ever seen, that I wonder aloud, "What would a stranger suppose these emigrants to be!"
The vigilant bright face of the weather-browned captain of the Amazon is at my shoulder, and he says, "What, indeed! The most of these came aboard yesterday evening. They came from various parts of England in small parties that had never seen one another before. Yet they had not been a couple of hours on board, when they established their own police, made their own regulations, and set their own watches at the hatchways. Before nine o'clock, the ship was as orderly and as quiet as a man-of-war."
I looked about me again, and saw the letter-writing going on with the most curious composure....On the larboard side, a woman had covered a belaying-pin with a white cloth to make a neat desk out of it, and was sitting on a little box, writing with the deliberation of a bookkeeper. Down upon her breast on the planks of the deck at this woman's feet, with her head diving in under a beam of the bulwarks on that side, as an eligible place for refuge for her sheet of paper, a neat and pretty girl wrote for a good hour (she fainted at last), only rising to the surface occasionally for a dip of ink. Alongside the boat, close to me on the poop-deck, another girl, a fresh well-grown country girl, was writing another letter on the bare deck. Later in the day, when this self-same boat was filled with a choir who sang glees and catches for a long time, one of the singers, a girl, sang her part mechanically all the while, and wrote a letter in the bottom of the boat while doing so.
"A stranger would be puzzled to guess the right name for these people, Mr. Uncommercial," says the captain.
"Indeed he would."
"If you hadn't known, could you ever have supposed---?"
"How could I! I should have said that they were in their degree, the pick and flower of England."
"So should I," says the captain.
"How many are they?"
"Eight hundred in round numbers."
I think the most noticeable characteristic in the eight hundred as a mass, was their exemption from hurry.
Eight hundred what? "Geese, villain?" EIGHT HUNDRED MORMONS. I, Uncommercial Traveller for the firm of Human Interest Brothers, had come aboard this Emigrant Ship to see what Eight hundred Latter-day Saints were like, and I found them (to the rout and overthrow of all my expectations) like what I now describe with scrupulous exactness.
UNCOMMERCIAL. These are a very fine set of people you have brought together here.
MORMON AGENT. Yes, sir, they are a very fine set of people.
UNCOMMERCIAL. (looking about). Indeed, I think it would be difficult to find Eight hundred people together anywhere else, and find so much beauty and so much strength and capacity for work among them.
MORMON AGENT. (not looking about, but looking steadily at Uncommercial). I think so. --We sent out about a thousand more yes'day, from Liverpool.
Dickens continues in similar vein for the remainder of the chapter. To his credit he deals with the Latter-day Saints fairly in spite of his presuppositions which had prepared him to encounter another kind of people than those he met on board the SS Amazon.
It is probable that before his direct experience of Latter Day Saints all he knew about them was gained from reading material containing negative imagery. It is to his credit that he describes his experiences among the Mormon emigrants "with scrupulous exactness," which is the analogue of honesty.
It is regretted that other critics of Mormonism do not act in concert with the principles which moved Dickens to alter his opinion of Latter-day Saints according to his experience. Enemies of Mormonism have either constructed powerful negative imagery, or perpetuated that which owes its existence to the work of others. The images rely on methods which involve the distortion of history, reference to the alleged immorality of Smith, Young, and other Church leaders, the division of Mormons into deceivers and the deceived and theories proposing various non-divine origins for the Book of Mormon.
Another practice is to draw an imaginary and easily moveable line on the theological ground in order to divide Latter-day Saints from other Christians. Definitions of the doctrinal content of Mormonism is deliberately one-sided, unbalanced, and often without foundation.
Latter-day Saints are portrayed as "brainwashed," unable to think for themselves, and "duped" by Satan-inspired leaders."
The success of the Latter-day Saint Church is discounted in an off-handed way as are remarkable achievements because Mormons are not "Christian." One ex-Mormon provides a typical example.
Adrian then told me that to become a Christian I would have to publicly denounce Mormonism, and I would have to do so before Christmas, just eight weeks away.
Jesus said "by their fruits ye shall know them." Horton Davies' measured and sympathetic account of Mormon history and belief, speaks of the admiration which orthodox Christians may have for
the courage, the faith, the social and educational concern and the missionary zeal of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Attempting to inject some accuracy into the "Mormon debate" he states:
Sometimes Mormons have been accused of having a Smithocentric rather than a Christocentric faith, but this is a serious misrepresentation of their view.
Most writers are unable to maintain his objectivity, and resort to intellectual contortions in their efforts to disparage everything that is or may be seen to come under the ægis of the faith of the Latter-day Saints. The results of this kind of treatment is the alienation of Mormons. Gilbert Scharffs has detailed the most common methods of achieving this.
- Statements that are not true;
- unwarranted conclusions based on known facts;
- misinterpreted statements;
- exaggerated statements;
- broad generalisations;
- significant quotes without documentation;
- significant charges without documentation;
- historical material quoted out of context which altered the meaning;
- Mormon scriptures quoted out of context which alter the meaning;
- Mormon scriptures paraphrased incorrectly which alter the meaning.
- Anti-Mormon writers ply their exaggerations, denials of truth, and misrepresentation of Latter-day Saint history, doctrine, and practice.
It is also claimed that, Latter-day saints repudiate the Biblical truth of the universality of the church: the doctrine that the true church of Jesus Christ is not to be identified exclusively with any one earthly organization, but that it includes members of various denominations scattered throughout the earth. By relegating all of present-day and most of past Christendom to the status of apostasy, Mormonism reveals its utterly anti-Scriptural sectarianism.
Mormonuisnm is dismissed as a 'cult' by those that define the word in ways that relegate Mormoinuism to its circumference. For example'
A "cult" is a religious organization founded and built upon the teachings of a religious leader whose authority is viewed as being equal to or greater than the Bible and whose teachings are in opposition to the doctrines of biblical and historic Christianity....In the light of our definition of the word "cult," it is abundantly clear that Mormonism is a "cult" and not a Christian church or denomination, because it is built entirely on Joseph Smith. The authority of the Mormon priesthood and the validity of their doctrines rest entirely on Joseph Smith's claim to be an inspired prophet of God. He is their only basis or religious authority.
Other Anti-Mormon complaints include:
- Mormon literature paints a wonderful picture of families, separated by death here, being re-united in the life to come. But it is obvious from their writings that their ideas of future bliss owe more to Islam than to the Bible...Mormon spinsters who die may be married by proxy. The men are denied the privilege for it is maintained that they have the responsibility of getting themselves married here on earth.
- The Mormons have added many of their own doctrines to what is taught in the Bible, claiming that God did not close the canon of Scripture when the Bible was completed. But God has a severe warning to those who would add anything to His Word: "If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add to him the plagues that are written in this book" (Revelations 22:18)....Let it be said that Mormons are not followers of the Christ of the Bible.
- Mormonism denies the authority of the Bible and, as has been shown, flatly contradicts the very Savior in whom they profess to believe. The Bible clearly teaches that it, as interpreted by the Holy Spirit, is the sole authority to faith and morals, but Mormons equate The Book of Mormon with the Bible despite the fact that it has been shown to be a gigantic fraud and very possibly a deliberate plagiarism on the part of Smith and his cohort.
- A Christian needs to prepare before an encounter with the Mormons, by praying. Realize that you will be in a spiritual battle for their souls, so you must be prepared spiritually. Remember that Mormons have had an emotional experience called "burning in the bosom" that Mormonism is true, and facts take second place to this experience. Take your authority as a Christian and bind the spirit of Mormon deception in the Name of Jesus Christ, and pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit during the encounter.
- Mormons and non-Mormons can at least agree on one thing: Mormonism stands or falls on the genuineness of the Mormon claims about the origin of The Book of Mormon. Was Joseph Smith telling the truth about his visions, the plates and the translation? Or was he a fraud who made up the story for what he could get out of it? Or was he, perhaps, a sadly deluded man who was more to be pitied than blamed?
- It is out of a deep love and concern for my Christian and Mormon friends that I have spent hours in research to write this book. Too many souls have fallen prey to the misinterpreted scriptures brought forth by either the Mormon missionaries or Mormon acquaintances.
- Much has been written about Mormonism by experts. This booklet tries to make the understanding of what the Mormon church believes much easier. Trying to fathom the doctrine and beliefs of Mormonism is like trying to find your way through a maze. Some of what you are about to read you may find unbelievable. Even some Mormons do not know what their church teaches now let alone what has been taught in the past.
- [The Mormons'] is a story of courage and dedication, but it is also the sad story of a people being swept up into a grand illusion. It is the story of how apparently naive people can be led into deepest error when they don't have the spiritual and scriptural depth to be able to weigh up for themselves the claims made by ambitious leaders.
- The story of the rise and history of this cult makes tremendous demands on the credulity of the normal man. The name most prominently associated with the movement is that of Joseph Smith, an illiterate young man who, according to his own mother, was hardly able to read until manhood, and knew practically nothing of the Bible. He was unfortunate in his parentage, for his father and mother, both of them ignorant and fanatical, laid great emphasis on the relevance of dreams and visions.
- I have been disappointed with those Mormons who use their "testimony" to deal with the difficulties instead of answering them. Testimonies characterize many religions today, but a testimony can never legitimately turn error into truth, or solve contradictions. Spiritual considerations aside, I could never become a Mormon because I cannot reconcile with Biblical Christianity the contradictions, dishonesty (or ignorance), suppression, and censorship that I find in the LDS Church.
- The departure of Mormonism from the norm of historic Christianity is to be sadly lamented.
All the above extracts are from recent or current publications. It may be true that although anti-Mormon activities are older than the Mormon Church, the full flowering of anti-Mormon ministries and their activities lie in the future. It is interesting to wonder what extremes will be reached especially after reviewing Brinkerhoff's contributions.
Lori MacGregor's contributions are as far-out as are Brinkerhoff's with one significant difference: MacGregor does not pretend to scholarship, whereas Brinkerhoff does. A piece which distinguishes MacGregor's style and helps us gauge her sincerity and veracity is concerned with her claim that Mormons chant "wonderful Lucifer" in their temple ceremonies.
- However in part of this Temple ceremony in Salt Lake City the audience participates by crying out "-- -- --", "-- -- --". They're all supposed to cry that out during the time in the ceremony. And so they say it. But you know what it Semitically [sic] says in Hebrew? "-- -- --"? It says "Wonderful Lucifer" [her audience murmur]. It's no surprise then that in the Mormon Temple ceremony it is Lucifer who answers Adam when he prays
- And so many of the symbols found in and around the Temple concerned with Mormonism are symbols from the Satanic Bible, from the world of the occult..
Notwithstanding her alleged Hebrew into English translation of the words used in the Temple ceremony, which is a request for God to hear Adam and Eve's prayer, any student of Biblical Hebrew could tell Mrs MacGregor that "wonderful Lucifer" in Hebrew has no resemblance to the words of the temple rite.
A more realistic view is that "semitically in Hebrew" the words mean "wonderful" or "miraculous God." In any case it is her assumption that the language is Hebrew, but that is by no means certain. MacGregor's claim is invalidated in detail in Appendix 'B'.
What is her purpose in introducing this material? Why does she feel the need to convince her listeners that Latter-day Saints worship Satan in their Temples. Temple services explain man's divine origin as children of God, and point out humanity’s destiny as the offspring of God.
Do Latter-day Saints worship Lucifer in the Temple or anywhere? In Latter-day Saint scripture and literature the devil, by any name whether Satan, the Adversary, the Destroyer, Lucifer, the Evil One, the Father of Lies, or the Prince of darkness, is shown to be the enemy of God and his people.
Writings and sermons of Church leaders are packed with references to Satan as the enemy of God and Christ. Those who know any Mormons will see through charges that they are involved in occultism or Satan-worship. Latter-day Saints know that the MacGregor claims are insulting, inaccurate and defective. There is nothing in the temple which suggests anything other than Satan is the enemy of God seeking the destruction of his people.
Some anti-Mormons in their attempts to show Satanic influence in the Mormonism point out that "Satanic symbols" are to be found on the exterior walls of the Salt Lake Temple. The symbols to which they refer are carvings of the sun, moon, and stars. To insist that a symbol has only a single meaning is to misunderstand the nature of symbols. Those familiar with the Latter-day Saint doctrine of salvation will be aware of their belief in the three degrees of glory, representing the kingdoms to which mankind will be assigned following the Last Judgement. The symbolism originally surfaces in the writings of Paul, who wrote of the resurrected bodies of mankind as being according to the glory of the sun, moon, and stars.
But some will say, "How are the dead raised up? and with what bodies do they come?" ... There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead.
The specific meaning of symbols is determined by those who employ them. Attempts to see Satanic influences where they do not exist were made by some Christian groups because pictures of moon and stars were printed on packages of detergent powder. Do the stars in the sky, and the sun and moon in the heavens represent Satanic influences? Christians believe that God created these things for the benefit of humanity. Aberrant readings of Mormon symbols show how far hostility can go when the only determinant of a referent is to make mischief at the expense of truth. That a symbol is mistakenly assigned a meaning is understandable if those misunderstanding its nature are outsiders from whom the truth is hidden. Only insiders know the meaning of symbols. Since Latter-day Saint symbolism is limited and easily explained by an accessible theology the conclusion is that those who assign Satanism or occultism to the carvings on the Temple are mischievous and malevolent. Such people raise a question of tremendous moment. Since the Spirit of God does not inspire anyone to lie, and since they consistently and deliberately lie about Mormonism, under the influence of what spirit do they act? Often in the pursuit of eliciting the truth about the dreadful claims they have made, when they are asked to explain their behaviour their response is a carefully maintained silence.
No account of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whether it addresses the Church's organization, or undertakes to describe its leaders, its people or their religious life, which is written without love or faith, irrespective of how sympathetic or well intentioned that account might be, can even begin to understand the vastness of the Restored Gospel, or its appeal to those souls who have been the grateful recipients of its inspiration and who, because of it, daily enjoy the blessings of God in their lives. On February 15th, 1978, the First Presidency issued the following statement
Based upon ancient and modern revelation, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gladly teaches and declares the Christian doctrine that all men and women are brothers and sisters, not only by blood relationship from common mortal progenitors, but also as literal spirit children of an Eternal Father.
The great religious leaders of the world such as Mohammed, Confucius, and the Reformers, as well as philosophers including Socrates, Plato, and others, received a portion of God's light. Moral truths were given to them by God to enlighten whole nations and to bring a higher level of understanding to individuals.
The Hebrew prophets prepared the way for the coming of Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, who should provide salvation for all mankind who believe in the gospel.
Consistent with these truths, we believe that God has given and will give to all peoples sufficient knowledge to help them on their way to eternal salvation, either in this life or in the life to come.
We also declare that the gospel of Jesus Christ restored to his Church in our day, provides the only way to a mortal life of happiness and a fulness of joy forever. For those who have not received the gospel, the opportunity will come to them in the life hereafter if not in this life.
Our message therefore is one of special love and concern for the eternal welfare of all men and women, regardless of religious belief, race, or nationality, knowing that we are truly brothers and sisters because we are the sons and daughters of the same Eternal Father.
This is what Latter-day Saints believe.