The confession of sin can sometimes be a painful experience, and especially for a Church as a whole as it tries to re-map its course following its recognition that it has been off-course. Though the sharing of "dirty laundry" is not always upbuilding, New Covenant Christians feel that it is important to set an example in being transparent and honest about their beginnings not only to show investigators of the present New Covenant Church that we have no "secret agenda" but to demonstrate the blessedness of "coming clean". Though our sins were sins of ignorance for the most part, sin, no matter what, is a brake on the activity of the Holy Spirit. It retards spiritual development. And as we are entering a time of cleansing -- where God is separating the sheep from the goats, and the wheat from the tares, it is essential that we set an example for all institutions clinging on to false belief. Furthermore, confession of faults is not as painful as the fallen Adamic nature would have us believe -- it is envigorating and freeing.
The following document was originally only circulated internally amongst members of the then 'New Covenant Christian Fellowship' and is being made public for the first time. As it concerns our former association with the Restoration Movement we have included it here in the LDS Archive. May you -- especially if you are LDS -- be blessed by it. Amen.
The following is a summary of the response given by the Presiding Patriarch to a question raised by members of the New Covenant Church in a special conference held on Sunday, 10 December 1995.
Q. Why were the Oracles of Mohonri a part of the witness of the [Independent] Church if they are not historically or theologically true? And what does this mean for those of us who originally came to this work because of them?
These are not easily answered questions because they dig deep into the very reasons for our presence in the different situations we find ourselves in life. To answer these questions adequately I think we must ask ourselves some related questions so that we have the wider perspective before us.
Fundamental to our belief -- a belief we have inherited from the Latter-day Saints which has not changed because we sense it is true -- is that we had a pre-existence. This doctrine of pre-existence, which I am going to take for granted as accepted by all of us, has many important consequences for the way we view life and indeed our very existence here. So I am going to start with that first.
We believe that before we were born into this world that we had a prior life in which we were able to make conscious choices and grow as spirit beings. We also believe that we were sent down to this world to experience physical mortality to develop faith by giving us a spiritual-material contrast in which to choose high principles of truth over lower ones. We believe that we cannot choose without having opposites and contrasts.
We also believe that we are born into life situations to further progress our spiritual development, even though those situations might seem to offer us no chance for progression at all. Every one of us here today has come from different backgrounds -- so different, in fact, it is a wonder that we are here at all! I know that I have marvelled that such a diverse group of people has managed to come together as one body or fellowship in Christ. But we have, and that to me is a great miracle.
We also believe that our being here together is no accident. Things have happened to us individually and collectively that are, to borrow Isaiah's words, a "marvelous work and a wonder". By some miraculous process we have come together, notwithstanding enormous differences of perception, and witnessed the birth of not only a priceless fellowship but a treasure trove of spiritual truth which even now is blessing people. So perhaps the question out to be asked: How do we come to be what we are today, and how to we come to have what we have?
The answer has already been given. We have these things because of contrasts. Like a white rabbit standing distinctly out on the background of green vegetation, so for us the truth that we know has been made visible by contrasting it with our various backgrounds. For many of us this background has been Mormonism; for others, Evangelical Protestantism; and for others, the Jehovah's Witnesses. And if you look at where this people derives its strength from, it is precisely because we have had this contrast. If we look at those who have been born or raised amongst us, however, we see that the same appreciation is not present. For them, the New Covenant is the only thing they have known, and as yet they do not know of the poverty of the traditions we have come out of.
For reasons best fully known to the Lord, He selected the most of the founding fathers and mothers of this work to come out of Mormonism. Why, then, we can ask ourselves, has He allowed the truth, as presently revealed, arise out of a religious system with such a mixture of falsehood and truth? The answer is to teach us to discern.
We are now in the process of shedding our Mormon roots completely. It has taken time because we were so deeply involved in it that to sever the links all at once would have created a spiritual vacuum in souls which could not have been filled all at once. If there is one thing we have learned in our seven years or so together it is that people take time to change. And we have learned also that even though the head may accept something as true, the heart always takes longer, with the flesh taking even longer still. Who here among us has not wrestled with a problem, made a mental decision to deal with it, got our hearts to agree with our heads, and then discovered our carnal natures going into full scale rebellion? Indeed, aren't the present troubles in France a perfect picture of this?
I have mentioned to you our various backgrounds, and in particular, Mormonism. Now Mormonism is a very interesting species indeed. We all recognise that there is much good in it, and that those who were a part of it have learned much of use from it in our spiritual development. We have understood that this tradition has conferred certain spiritual advantages that ordinary Protestants don't have. Likewise, we have found the reverse to be true too. The Independent Church was our "Mormon period" and the NPKF, which is fast coming to an end, was our "Protestant period". But what you may not have realised is that Mormonism is itself a strange mixture of traditions. This is a big subject so I will, of necessity, simplify for brevity. But one other important ingredient of Mormonism is occultism. And occultism, as you by now know, is one of the greatest dangers the modern world faces, what with its resurgence in the world and its new face in the New Age Movement. If we, as a people, are to fulfil our mission, we must clearly understand the greatest threats that will face us and Christianity as a whole.
The Book of Mormon is supposedly the heart of Mormonism, but in actual fact it represents only an early phase of it, namely, its evangelical Protestant phase. If you read this book apart from all the other Mormon scriptures, doctrines, and practices, you will discover that it is in fact a kind of presbyterianism. And for this reason when we, in the past, have read parts of it to friends in evangelical churches without telling them the source, it has always been received. When they have learned that it was the Book of Mormon, they have, quite hysterically, cried "wolf" and "devil". Why? Because of what followed in the wake of that book's publication.
Mormonism's next phase of development was occultic. As most of you know, Free Masonry played a major part in the development of Mormon doctrine as also the teachings of the occultist Emmanuel Swedenborg. The whole LDS priesthood structure, its doctrine of men becoming gods, the two priesthoods, the three heavens, Mormon temple worship, and many other things, were all borrowed from Free Masonry. Most of the LDS hierarchy were active Free Masons all their lives and being a member of that occultic order was not banned amongst the LDS until the leadership recognised that if its members delved too deeply into Masonic traditions they would eventually discover that Smith's Gospel was not a restoration of primitive Christianity but a mixing of evangelical Protestantism, Catholicism, and occultism.
This, brethren and sisters, is what we inherited. This was the raw material on which the Lord created this Church. And we saw the chaos that it created, if not at the beginning, then certainly at the end when it died nearly four years ago.
I have taught you, because I have clearly understood this, that the Independent Church was a preparatory Church. It was a transition church. For the New Covenant to be born we needed Mormonism and we needed Protestantism. I myself, having experienced Mormonism, became a member of a liberal LDS Church, the Reorganized Church (as one or two of you here did too) and through that learned about liberal Protestantism. Sensing the spiritual poverty of that, I moved to evangelical Protestantism and ran a double course for a while as I compared and contrasted these three systems. And as many of you know, I had previously had alot of exposure to Buddhism, the Jehovah's Witnesses, and others. My course has been a long one through many spiritual landscapes.
At this point we must become subjective. All of you have your own stories to tell and I have mine. Why were we led to Mormonism, and why did the Lord continue to allow us -- even encourage us -- to use things that were not 100% right? Flippant though it may sound, it was to teach us. We had to learn until we reached a point where there was not the slightest doubt in our minds where the truth lay both for our own salvation as well as for the salvation of others.
When the Mormon Church threw me out I spent many years studying its history and scriptures. I sifted through everything, cutting away and trying to discover its roots. For reasons which only the Lord can explain, because I do not know them fully myself, I came to a point where I had rejected everything about the Restoration except the Book of Mormon. Now this is something interesting. For me, Mormonism was mostly the Doctrine & Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. These were the scriptures that interested me the most. Though I had studied the Bible alot before investigating Mormonism, as soon as I did, it was the D&C that attracted me the most -- not because they were "revelations" but because of what was in them. I found their content much more interesting. I didn't know at the time why, though now I do. So when I came to my crisis about Mormonism after my excommunication, it was the D&C and Church History that I chopped apart with the dissecting knife. And even when I was in the Reorganized Church, it was the D&C that I was called to teach. I find that more than a coincidence.
Thereafter my belief in the D&C was patchy -- I never accepted it as a single "book" but as a collection of documents containing mixtures of truth and error. Many gods were challenged in the process, foremost of which was what one might call the "Joseph Smith god", the idolatry that holds the Mormon system together. And I wasn't ready to let go of that yet as that would have left a vacuum that I could not have filled at that time.
I knew there were problems with the Book of Mormon but I did not feel equipped to deal with them, so I mentally "shelved" it hoping I would obtain the keys to deal with it anon. Over time, more came -- more scholarship on the book, more historical information on its origins.
Many things happened simultaneously so it is hard for me to separate everything. For example, during my post-Mormon Church period I was both a member of the RLDS Church, involved with evangelical Baptists, and in correspondence with about 30 or 40 different LDS denominations studying their different teachings. Sifting through this lot was a monumentous work and to this day I still have books and letters that would fill 8 or 9 suitcases from these churches. I could see, like bright stars in the inky black sky, points of truth in many places but I could not see how they fitted into a whole. Most of the LDS denominations revealed a sterility of light and for the most part I was content to study them for their use in understanding Mormon history. I eventually understood that Mormonism was little more than a patchwork quilt of lots of different teachings all blended together by the imaginative mind of Joseph Smith and that this was why there were so many different expressions of Mormonism, from almost pure Protestantism to radical, fanatical occult groups. Mormonism, brethren and sisters, is not something I particularly recommend you study. It is a mass of confusion despite there being strands of truth running through it, truth which, I suspect, was what attracted us in the first place and which still finds a home in our hearts.
Of all the LDS denominations, only two seemed to remotely resemble early Mormonism -- the group formed by Davied Israel, and the one formed by another leader which Davied Israel had been a part of previously. Both brought forth revelations and one -- Mr.Israel's -- claimed to bring forth the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon. Since this was a monumental claim, I had to investigate it as it hopefully offered a solution to all the many conflicting colours of Mormonism itself and, I hoped, would vindicate the Book of Mormon.
I found the book quite unlike anything else I had read. Though its grammar was awful, it had something that moved the spirit. Many parts of it I recognise as teaching principles I had come to an independent witness of, yet many parts I could not square with what I knew to be Biblical truth. There was a "power" or "spirit" in it. I never accepted it 100% but since I had to some extent been influenced by liberal RLDS thinking to not judge the whole of a work because of supposed errors, I decided not to reject it for the sake of what was in it that was true.
The Oracles never sat comfortably with me. I soon discovered that the author was teaching radically non-Biblical and heretical doctrines, denying the Biblical Christ and denying parts of the New Testament he did not like. You all know, I think, of the struggle I had with that man, not just because of this but because of the way he destroyed my first marriage and family. Yet, despite all of this, I was not willing to throw out the Oracles because he who brought it forth had fallen into sin, no more than I was willing to reject the Book of Mormon because of Joseph Smith's sins, or the Psalms of David because of his act of murder and adultery.
I cannot paint in every corner of this picture to you at this time because the picture is far too complex and I'm not sure that I understand it all myself yet. I know there was a purpose for the Oracles in the early Independent Church. Without it, we might not be here. That is not in itself a testimony of its truth, rather, that it was an instrument in God's hands, just as I would not be here had I not been a Buddhist.
It sounds strange, doesn't it, that such things can be used by the Lord. But is it? Doesn't He use trials, temptations, suffering, and pure evil to refine our souls? I believe that only Mormonism had the right ingredients to propel us into our life as true New Covenant Christians. Even though we were misled by it, it did kindle a fire in us that could not have been found elsewhere -- and that fire was a desire to know the truth and to not be bound by traditions. This work could never have arisen in orthodox Christianity because it is too bound by its traditions, notwithstanding the wonderful truths we have obtained from that spiritual treasure store. Now I see the Oracles a bit like the first stage in a rocket that separates from the main capsule after its use has expired. I know that is a limited analogy, so don't take it too far.
The Oracles of Mohonri is an occult document with the language of Christianity. Its overall spirit is occultic. When Mr.Israel confessed to me that he did not believe there were literal gold plates, and when I discovered that his real god was sex, I knew that this had major repercussions not only for my understanding of the Oracles but also for the so-called unsealed portion of the Book of Mormon. Both Joseph Smith's and Davied Israel's stories are shrouded in mystery, full of contradictions, and falsehoods.
I personally believe that the young Joseph Smith was a devout Protestant Christian who dabbled in the occult. I believe he had a genuine experience in the grove at Palmyra. I believe that either Christ or an angel appeared to him and answered his question -- not concerning what the true church was (because that wasn't a question he asked until later in his career), but whether he was right before God. What happened after that I do not know for certain. I do not know if there were literal gold plates, though I doubt it. I do not know whether an angel called Moroni appeared to him or not, though I doubt it -- for one thing, because in the beginning he referred to the angel as Nephi in one of his writings. I do not know whether John the Baptist appeared to him, though I doubt it, because John the Baptist is the Patron Saint of Free Masons and this same angel appeared to other Restoration factions giving them revelations too, of a quite different character. I do not believe that Peter, James and John appeared to Joseph Smith because he never once mentions this event until years later and falsified the Doctrine & Covenants to make it appear as though they had appeared earlier in his prophetic career.
I do know that Joseph Smith was involved in the occult all his life, and that he died giving a Masonic cry and carrying in his jacket pocket an occultic Jupiter talisman. I know that Joseph Smith had a very vivid imagination and that as a boy he used to tell fantastic stories about the Indians to his family which he made up. He had the ability to write the Book of Mormon himself. I know also he was an adulterer, that he organised the Danite mobs that went assassinating the enemies of the Church. I know much more which cannot be related here.
But also know, notwithstanding his dark side, which was great, that he was a man of compassion and great knowledge. There were times when, through the occultic web of doctrines and practices that he and his associates like Cowdery and Rigdon weaved, great spiritual light flowed. But he, and the Church he created, was doomed from the beginning, because everything was so mixed up, just like the revelations he created to ensure his family a power base in eternity.
Of all his works, the Book of Mormon is the purest, but even that is impure. I cannot tell you 100% that it is not historical and neither I, nor this Church, will force you to believe that if you don't. Everyone is free to believe what they will. But the evidence, on balance, suggests to me that it is not historical. This being so, neither can the Oracles of Mohonri be historical. But more than that, the spirit of the Oracles is so completely different from that of the Book of Ether in the Book of Mormon which is supposed to be its introduction. As Joseph Smith's protestant and occultic-Free Mason background is seen to have soaked into the Book of Mormon, so we see Davied Israel's Utah Mormon and cabalistic-occult background soaked into the Oracles. By his own confession he is a gnostic of the Valentinian school, and his story of the Creation in the Oracles, so unlike anything in the Bible, resembles many of the ancient gnostic myths. Even his "translation" of the Book of Abraham facsimiles is completely different from Joseph Smith's; I know that both are entirely wrong because these facsimiles are occultic references from an ancient Egyptian funary book called the Book of the Dead (though I have read accounts claiming the facsimiles contain codes revealing their true, hidden message). And that, brethren and sisters, adequately sums up Mormonism for me, for I verily believe it to be dead in comparison to what the Lord has revealed to us.
So why did the Lord permit us to use the Oracles, even the Latter-day Saint scriptures? In answering that, we must not think like the Mormons. Our old tutoring must give way for the real reason the Lord wants us to understand. I will put it this way, adapting a truth that Davied Israel taught me -- God cannot bring to pass a restoration of anything unless there is a suitable atmosphere of expectation and longing. If there is no fire, then no power can be generated. I was a Mormon on fire once -- I was burning and could hardly contain myself, just as when I was a child I had a fire for one interest after another. Mormonism, though slippery and dangerous, was the fire that we needed.
Now perhaps that will not satisfy you. I said this was a personal testimony. I have still not, to this day, untangled the giant knot that is Mormonism, and I have no intention of doing so. I used years of my life doing it. I don't need it any more. I do not need the Mormon system, its scriptures, its priesthoods, or anything else that would keep me a prisoner of it. All I need is the living Christ and the spiritual keys I have dug out of the Mormon mire, together with those the Lord has revealed to me fresh from heaven, to see my life out. You may ask: was there a need to get our hands dirty in the Mormon mire? I answer: yes, there was. Nothing of any use is accomplished without getting your hands dirty. And Mormonism is really dirty -- murder, lies, adultery, satanism, and much else. In fact, I wonder now how I managed to stick around it for so long. Of course, modern Mormonism is a far cry from the ugly creature Joseph Smith and his cronies created, but its root is the same -- that same, totalitarian, repressive spirit which I have come to know so well as being a hall mark of the devil. I am not saying he was a witting tool of the devil -- I believe, like so many people possessed of the totalitarian spirit, that he came to believe his own lies -- sincerely -- and that he genuinely wanted to create a Christian Kingdom, but that he could not break free from the forces which caused him to weave the whole Mormon system togther in the first place. To have admitted that any part of it was wrong (as we are doing today) would have undermined the whole concept of Mormon authority and its exclusive right to the whole truth. He was trapped by his own creation, as have millions been since.
Finally, I know that what is happening amongst us is right, even though I have had periods of doubt and soul-searching as one idol after another has been ripped out of my bosom. I have not understood all these things at once, but gradually. There are still question marks which I believe, through faith, will be resolved.
Brethren and sisters, we can no longer crawl back into the Mormon, Lutheran or Jehovah's Witness cradles that at first nourished us and then tried to bind us. We wouldn't fit anymore! We are in a unique situation -- a blessed situation of being forced to trust in the Lord 100% because we have no big church family or tradition to run away and hide in. Though in our blindness and stupidity we have sometimes wanted to go back, like the Israelites yearning after Egypt whilst in the desert, we have come to understand that we cannot. There is no way back. To return means certain spiritual death. To remain stagnant means to die spiritually too. We have no choice but to go on, in faith, until our worldwide mission becomes crystal clear.
And praise the Lord for that. Praise the Lord too that He allowed us to choose this path before we were born. We were not forced to go into it. We were shown in the pre-existence what it would be like, the difficulties, trials, sufferings, and eventual joys, and asked: Will you serve this mission on earth? And, I fully believe, we said: Yes! And we entered into solemn covenants to do this work, receiving the Lord's promise in return that He would be with us and guide us along the way.
If this didn't happen, then everything we have done has been a big lie, just like our enemies have said. Well, brethren and sisters, if it is a big lie, then I stand to lose the most, for I have poured my life's blood into this, setting it before everything else. And either I am a misguided fanatic or I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. And either you have all been tricked by a wicked imposter who has goodness knows what goal (other than to lead you into hell because he is a child of the devil) or this is but that gathering on the physical plane of the family we had on the spiritual. With all my heart I believe the latter. If I have done wrong, I want only to put it right, and believe you have the same sentiment about yourselves.
I could talk for hours but I think all has been said that needs to be said. The only reality is the present, important though I know it is to understand the past so that we can be freed of its errors and anything else that might retard our progress. If you have any questions I will do my best to answer them. May the Name of the Lord Jesus be blessed and may He accept our offering for the building up of His Kingdom, is my prayer. Amen.
Following and during this discourse, a discussion was held in which all those present expressed similar sentiments. The Oracles of Mohonri were discarded by the New Covenant in 1992 when the old "Independent Church" was disorganised. They had in practice fallen into disuse well before that time. The Apostolate had also, by that time, made it further known, that the Oracles and all the other Latter Day Saints scriptures, would never be used again by the New Covenant Church due to complete its reorganisation in April 1996. It was decided, and confirmed the following April (1996), not to publish the Covenants & Commandments again either, even in a limited capacity, it having been suggested that a compilation of the more important sections be made and a New Covenants & Commandments [Olive Branch] be published. The latter was published in 1997.
1. Questions About the Olive Branch I (Covenants & Commandments)
2. Prophets and the Nature of Revelation Past and Present
Published by the Committee for the
Reorganisation of the
New Covenant Church of God
10 December 1995