Mormon Historian Grant Palmer

Meeting with a 'General Authority' of the LDS (Mormon) Church

Mormon Historian Grant Palmer Meets with a 'General Authority' of the LDS Church

An Insiders View of Mormon Origins by Grant PalmerThree Meetings with a LDS General Authority, 2012-2013

by Grant Palmer

Editor Comment: Grant waited 6 months before releasing this report to the public because he wanted to make sure this is what the GA believed.

In mid-October 2012, a returned LDS Mission President contacted me to arrange a meeting. Several days later, he called again and said that a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy also wished to attend. He said the General Authority would attend on condition that I not name him or repeat any stories that would identify him. He explained that neither of them, including the GA's wife, believed the founding claims of the restoration were true. He clarified that they had read my book, An Insider's View of Mormon Origins, and had concluded that the LDS Church was not true; was not what it claimed to be. The GA often went to the website for information and there discovered my book. The Mission President said he received my book from the GA.

We have at this writing met three times. We first met on Tuesday, October 23, 2012 and again February 14, 2013 at my house. On March 26, 2013 we convened at the GAs house. Upon entering my home for the first meeting the GA said, "We are here to learn." I recognized him. He has been a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy for a number of years. He has served in several high profile assignments during this period. The following are the more important statements made by the GA during our first three meetings. We now meet monthly.

He said that each new member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is given one million dollars to take care of any financial obligations they have. This money gift allows them to fully focus on the ministry. He said that the overriding consideration of who is chosen is whether they are "church broke," meaning, will they do whatever they are told. He said the senior six apostles make the agenda and do most of the talking. The junior six are told to observe, listen and learn and really only comment if they are asked. He said that it takes about two to three years before the new apostle discovers that the church is not true. He said it took Dieter F. Uchtdorf a little longer because he was an outsider. He said they privately talk among themselves and know the foundational claims of the restoration are not true, but continue on boldly "because the people need it," meaning the people need the church. When the Mission President voiced skepticism and named ___ as one who surely did believe, The GA said: "No, he doesn't." The one million dollar gift, plus their totally obedient attitude makes it easy for them to go along when they find out the church is not true. For these reasons and others, he doesn't expect any apostle to ever expose the truth about the foundational claims.

When I asked the GA how he knew these things, he answered by saying that the Quorum of the Twelve today is more isolated from the Quorums of the Seventies now because there are several of them. When only one Quorum of the Seventy existed, there was more intimacy. During his one on one assignments with an apostle, conversations were more familiar. He said that none of the apostles ever said to him directly that they did not believe; but that it was his opinion based on "his interactions with them." Also, that none of the Twelve want to discuss "truth issues," meaning issues regarding the foundational claims of the church.

He said that the apostle's lives are so completely and entirely enmeshed in every detail of their lives in the church, that many of them would probably die defending the church rather than admit the truth about Joseph Smith and the foundations of the church. The GA stated that my disciplinary action (which would have occurred on the final Sunday of October 2010 had I not resigned), was mandated/ordered/approved by the First Presidency of the Church. I said that if the apostles know the church is not true and yet order a disciplinary hearing for my writing a book that is almost certainly true regarding the foundational claims of the church, then they are corrupt even evil. He replied, "That's right!"

The GA said the church is like a weakened dam. At first you don't see cracks on the face; nevertheless, things are happening behind the scenes. Eventually, small cracks appear, and then the dam will "explode." When it does, he said, the members are going to be "shocked" and will need scholars/historians like me to educate them regarding the Mormon past.

The Mission President and the GA both said they attend church every Sunday and feel like "a hypocrite and trapped." The GA said his ward treats him like a king and when he gives firesides and speaks to LDS congregations they have high expectations of him. He would like to do more in getting the truth out besides raising a few questions when speaking and gifting my book to others when feeling comfortable. Perhaps this is why he has reached out to me. The GA is a man of integrity and very loving. Upon leaving each time, he always gives me a big hug. 

What is Anti-Mormon?

from Sunstone Symposium, August 13-14, 2003

by Grant H. Palmer

World renowned LDS scientist, Dr. Henry Eyring, spoke at a number of "Challenge Weeks" during my college years at the University of Utah on the subject of science during the 1960's. At the end of one of his papers, a student mockingly asked during the question and answer period: "Joseph Smith said that men live on the moon, are dressed like Quakers -- do you believe that Dr. Eyring? Professor Eyring answered without hesitation, "I'm glad you asked that question. You see, in my religion you don't have to believe in anything that is not true." His answer reflected the definition of Mormonism that he had learned in his youth, namely, what Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and other church leaders had said on the subject.

For example, Joseph Smith taught that "Truth is Mormonism" in 1839. [1] And between 1862-1870, Brigham Young, in educating the saints said that, "If there is a truth among the ungodly and wicked it belongs to us, and if there is a truth in hell it is ours." [2] "Mormonism," said Young, "is all truth in heaven, on earth or in hell. -- All truth is ours. Now if anybody wants to make a trade, come on! If you have truths, and I have errors, I will give ten errors for one truth -- bring on your truth." [3] For "Mormonism embraces all truth that is revealed and that is unrevealed, whether religious, political, scientific, or philosophical." [4] "Mormonism includes all truth," he said. [5] 

There are usually two or more viewpoints for virtually every proposition under the sun, thus it comes down to how good is the evidence? For example there are people in the United States today that do not believe that Neil Armstrong stood on the moon. They believe the whole moon landing was staged in a studio with cameras, but how good is their evidence? Some people do not believe the Jewish Holocaust occurred, but how good is their evidence? There is still a Flat Earth Club of London, but the three dimensional earth photographs of the beautiful blue and white orb taken by Buzz Aldrin from the moon, cut their club membership in half. Nevertheless, nine people still believe in a flat earth and belong to the club.

According to early Mormonism, "Truth is Mormonism" and thus it is falsehood itself that is anti-Mormon. Here are three clear examples that represent what I believe to be anti-Mormonism under this definition.

Former LDS member, Ed Decker, has made several movies on the Mormon temple ceremony. In his second film, he notes that Adam and Eve's prayer petition to God in a foreign tongue, is in reality a prayer to "wonderful Lucifer." Prior to using this foreign language prayer in his film, Decker had asked a Hebrew and Greek scholar for his interpretation of the prayer. When the scholar said such an interpretation was unwarranted, Decker said: "I'm going to use it anyway." This action is anti-Mormon.

Some people within the LDS Church itself are quick to rush to judgment about what is anti-Mormon. All too often religious literature and political positions are labeled anti-Mormon prematurely. For example, Juanita Brook's book on the Mountain Meadows Massacre, once called anti-Mormon literature, is now carried and recommended by Deseret Book employees for those inquiring about this controversial subject. Time has vindicated Brooks. Someone owes her descendants an apology. She was unofficially dis- fellowshipped for publishing her book. She was asked not to make comments at church, and even her husband was punished by never being asked to pray again in church.

For a third example, I would observe that the early Mormon teaching that "Truth is Mormonism," needs to be re-emphasized in the LDS Church today, beginning with the Book of Abraham. Brigham Young University professor, Michael Rhoades, at the behest of Apostle Neal Maxwell and using the tithing money of the church has translated and published a book on the Joseph Smith papyri that were recovered by the church in 1967. The papyri have nothing to do with Abraham. Overwhelming evidence demonstrates that the papyri are about an Egyptian priest of Amon-Re, named Hor. In Facsimile 3, for example, Joseph Smith has repeatedly said that the Egyptian language above the hands and heads of the various persons in this document are all about Abraham. He is simply wrong, and it doesn't matter how he arrived at this information. Various writers who have published this evidence are not anti-Mormon, even though speakers at the F.A.I.R. conference called them such last week. Thus, in the best tradition of Mormonism, the Book of Abraham, now embedded within Mormon scripture should be dropped from the standard works of he LDS Church. To continue to spin the Book of Abraham as authentic, in light of the overwhelming evidence, is anti-Mormon.

When something is shown by solid evidence to be false, according to the above definition, LDS prophets should be willing to modify or discard. It is not enough to say that it is through feeling that fact is found in the LDS Church, that "you shall feel that it is right," and therefore it is truth (D&C 9:8). Neither is it acceptable to encourage small children, who cannot read or write to repeat, "I know the church is true," "I know that Joseph Smith is a true Prophet." We all have hunches, intuitions and feelings and they certainly have their place in our search for truth. Sometimes the evidence supports our feelings. But when the facts and evidence do not support our hunches, intuitions and feelings, then we must decide, do facts and evidence trump feelings, or do I believe that feelings trump facts and evidence. I believe the mature person accepts the former.

I hope the panel will allow ample time for those in the audience to share what you think anti-Mormonism is and what it is not. Thank you.

[1] Dean C. Jessee, comp. and ed., The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1984), 389, emphasis added. 
[2] Brigham Young, January 12, 1868, in Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. (London and Liverpool: LDS Booksellers Depot, 1854-86), 12:155.
[3] Brigham Young, July 3, 1870, Ibid., 14:280-81. 
[4] BY, January 12, 1862, Ibid., 9:149.
[5] BY, April 8, 1867, Ibid., 11:375.

Religious Feeling and Truth


by Grant Palmer

Author Grant H. Palmer spent his career as a teacher within the LDS Church Educational System. In 2004, he was disciplined after writing a book that called into question Mormonism's claims about its founder, the Prophet Joseph Smith, while at the same time calling upon his church to place greater emphasis on Jesus Christ. Although Palmer is not a Southern Bapist -- indeed he still considers himself a Mormon -- we are pleased that he was willing to share with us how he came to the conclusion that one must not ultimately base the acceptance or rejection of religious truth on feelings. In making his case, Palmer challenges the central Mormon belief that the best (perhaps the only) way to be sure that the book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith really a prophet is to pray to receive a testimony, or "burning Bosom," providing assurance that they are. (The Editor)

When Pontius Pilate interrogated Jesus shortly before his death, Jesus said, I came "into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice," meaning to follow him. Pilate then asked his now famous rhetorical question, "What is truth?" and abruptly ended the interview (John 18:37-38). Earlier in his ministry the Apostle Thomas had asked: "How can we know the way?" and Jesus explicitly replied, "I am the way, [I am] the truth" (John 14:5-6). The Apostles John, Paul and Peter later repeated that "truth came by Jesus Christ," that "the truth is in Jesus" and that Jesus is "the way of truth" (John 1:17; Eph. 4:21; 2 Pet. 2:2). The truth about God for the Christian is seen in the personality, character, wisdom, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ as recorded in the New Testament. For the Christian, Christ is religious Truth.

How then does a person specifically come to know religious Truth/Christ? I like the fact that Jesus emphasized an empirical test of his teachings to "know" him rather than a metaphysical approach to truth. It is instructive to bear in mind that Jesus never invited anyone to know him by a religious feeling. Instead of advocating a controversial and highly subjective spiritual feeling methodology to know him and his teachings, Jesus taught: "If any man will do his [Father's] will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." And in one of his recorded prayers, Jesus said that taking upon us the name of God and his character is to "know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 7:17; 17:3, emphasis added).

The aged Peter reemphasized this doctrine to the saints --saying that the "divine nature" of Christ and his teachings can be known only by exemplifying the Christlike characteristics of: "Diligence [in our daily walk] -- faith [in God] -- virtue -- knowledge [of the scriptures] -- temperance [meaning self control, moderation and balance] -- patience -- godliness [goodness] -- brotherly kindness [gentleness] -- charity" [love and compassion]. Peter then explained that when these nine qualities "be in you, and abound'' then we "know -- Jesus Christ'' (2 Pet. 1:4-8, emphasis added). Paul also taught the saints "to put on Christ," to strive for these characteristics, until "Christ be in you," "until Christ be formed in you." His list of the fruits by which a Christian is known is almost identical with Peter's. He also lists nine qualities: "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance" (Rom. 8:10; 13:14; Gal. 4:19; 5:22-23). 

Shortly before leaving the earth Jesus promised his disciples that he would send to them His agent the Holy Spirit. Jesus then described the mission and responsibility of the Holy Spirit to his apostles: (1) He will "bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" --to sharpen and intensify all the words, teachings and example of Jesus' ministry to their "remembrance" (John 14:26, emphasis added); (2) "When the Comforter is come -- he shall testify of me" --he will bring "comfort," peace and tranquility to their soul that Jesus is Christ (John 15:26, emphasis added); (3) When "the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth [about me]: for he shall -- glorify me" --He will "guide" or "sanctify [them,] through the truth," which further "glorifies" Christ (John 16:13-14, emphasis added; cf. John 17:19); (4) And after the "power -- [of] the Holy Ghost is come upon you: ye shall be witnesses unto me" --He will empower, embolden, and enliven, to fill them with enthusiasm (God in us) and the confidence to compellingly testify of Christ to others (Acts 1:8, emphasis added). Shortly after the Day of Pentecost, all these promises are plainly manifested by the Apostles in Acts chapters 2-5. In summary, all of the statements made by Jesus about the Holy Spirit during his ministry have this in common --the Holy Spirit is all about Christ!

One of the most emphasized teachings in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is found in the oft quoted passage found in the Book of Mormon: "And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things" (Moro. 10:5, emphasis added). In this verse we see a move away from the Holy Spirit's role of testifying of things Christ, as taught by Jesus in the New Testament, to the idea that one can know the truth about anything--about "all things." An extreme example of this teaching within the Book of Mormon is when Nephi stated: "I did obey the voice of the Spirit, and took Laban by the hair of the head, and I smote off his head" (1 Ne. 4:18). A more recent example of a Mormon being influenced by this teaching is when Ron and Dan Lafferty received a "revelation" of the "Spirit" to kill Brenda Lafferty and her infant child because, like Nephi's rationale, Brenda was interfering with the future progress of their religious movement.

The Holy Spirit may well tell a person the Book of Mormon is true because it testifies and brings a person to Christ, who is the Truth, but not whether the Book of Mormon's theological doctrines are true. For example, does the spirit that is felt when reading the book mean that it confirms that God and Christ is the same being [Palmer alludes to the Book of Mormon modalistic tendencies] or that man is more evil than good --both doctrines taught in the Book of Mormon, but later reversed by Joseph Smith? Since Mormons now believe that God and Christ are two separate beings, and that man is more good than evil, taught since the early 1840's in Nauvoo by Smith, which confirming spirit is a true one? Nor does the Spirit confirm the truth or falsity of whether the Book of Mormon is a real record of a historical people of the distant past. The Holy Spirit testifies of all things Christ, not "all things" as Joseph Smith taught in the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants.

When a church or group embraces the idea that when preacher and hearer "are edified," or feel the "Spirit of truth," and thus what they speak and hear is the truth (D&C 50:20-21), they open up a can of worms that leads to strange mis-directions and mischief, as witnessed throughout history. For example, many followers of the LDS and FLDS churches have received the confirming and edifying "Spirit" that Warren Jeff's or Thomas Monson is the "prophet, seer and revelator" for humankind. Moreover, some fundamentalist Mormon churches pass out literature quoting Brigham Young and others that polygamy is divine and is to be practiced. The promise being that one can know by reading, praying, pondering, and feeling the "Spirit." Some claim they receive the edifying "Spirit of truth," and join with these religious congregations. Some young Muslims become fully convinced through religious feeling that Allah wants them to strap bombs around their waist and detonate themselves and others for the glory of Allah. I was once invited by an enthusiastic promoter to invest $8,000 in a Fort Worth, Texas, oil well. After praying and pondering and feeling the "Spirit," I gave him the money but lost every cent. I also felt the "Spirit" strongly after hearing the inspiring World War II stories of Paul H. Dunn and Douglas Stringfellow, which were later found to be largely bogus. Some people claim they found their car keys only after praying and being led by the Spirit where to look. These kinds of stories are plentiful. The tendency of religious people is to report only those spiritual feeling experiences that actually come true, seldom those that fail. The reality is that God's purposes in giving the Holy Spirit did not include infallibly leading us into a very literal application of "know[ing] the truth of all things."

Throughout my life I have heard the repeated phrase, "I know the church is true," "the only true church on earth" (D&C 1:30). I have come to believe that Christian churches are not true or false, but rather good or bad depending on the degree to which they focus on the life of Jesus, his teaching ministry, his character, his wisdom, atonement, and Christ-like service. Churches that emphasize Christ and his core teachings, such as the importance of being "born again" and the sanctifying role of God's grace in that process, resulting in Christ-like love and service to the less fortunate, are the most valuable. Churches that allow Jesus to fall through the cracks, that occasionally instead of regularly focus on Christ himself, that are largely preoccupied with their own peculiar beliefs and intuitional needs, with emphasis upon service within the organization, are less valuable.


Grant H. Palmer is the author of The Incomparable Jesus (Kofford Books, 2005) and An Insider's View of Mormon Origins (Signature Books, 2002). He has also penned articles for the Salt Lake Tribune and Sunstone magazine. He retired in 2001, after thirty-four years of teaching and counseling for C.E.S. He and his wife Connie, live in Sandy, Utah.

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