Monday, June 30, 2008

Wilford Woodruff, President of the Church

“Perhaps it may make some of you stumble, were I to ask you a question. Does a man’s being a Prophet in this Church prove that he shall be the President of it? I answer, no! A man may be a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, and it may have nothing to do with his being the President of the Church. Suffice it to say, that Joseph was the President of the Church, as long as he lived; the people chose to have it so. He always filled that responsible station, by the voice of the people. Can you find any revelation appointing him the President of the Church? The keys of the Priesthood were committed to Joseph, to build up the Kingdom of God on the earth. And were not taken from him in time or in eternity; but when he was called to preside over the Church it was by the voice of the people; though he held the keys of the Priesthood independent of their voice.” (Brigham Young 6/6/1853 JD 1:133)

In 1880, three years after the Prophet Brigham Young died and seven years before the Prophet John Taylor died, Mormon Apostle Wilford Woodruff recorded these words in his journal:

"Thus saith the Lord unto my servant John Taylor (?), and my servant Wilford Woodruff, and My servant Orson Pratt, and to all the residue of mine Apostles,… while my servant John Taylor is your President, I wish to ask the rest of my servants of the Apostles the question, although you have one to preside over your Quorum, which is the order of God in all generations, do you not, all of you, hold the apostleship, which is the highest authority ever given to men on earth? You do. Therefore you hold in common the Keys of the Kingdom of God in all the world. It is your right, privilege, and duty to inquire of the Lord as to His mind and will concerning yourselves and the inhabitants of Zion and their interests.”

Between this "revelation" and the Manifesto, Wilford Woodruff is the source of most all of the falling away of people from the truth. He was never the Prophet.

“Through some inadvertence, or perhaps mixed up with the idea of seniority of age taking precedence, Wilford Woodruff’s name was placed on the records of the time, and for many years after, before that of John Taylor. This matter was investigated some time afterwards by President Young and his council, sanctioned also by the Twelve, whether John Taylor held the precedency and stood in graduation prior to Brother Wilford Woodruff, and it was decided that his name be placed before Wilford Woodruff’s although Wilford Woodruff was the older man.” (John Taylor 10/7/1881)

“President Johnson explained to me the Wilford Woodruff held feelings against John Taylor. In some point in time, Wilford Woodruff considered he was senior over John Taylor in the Apostleship.” (Rulon T. Jeffs HOPS pg 79)

Wilford Woodruff, who was the senior in age of John Taylor but was ordained by John Taylor, wrote this “revelation” to his Priesthood head, President and Prophet John Taylor, and to all the Apostles in which he, Wilford Woodruff, is told: “Thus saith the Lord unto my servant John Taylor, and my servant Wilford Woodruff, and My servant Orson Pratt [also John Taylor’s senior in age], and to all the residue of mine Apostles,… you hold in common the Keys of the Kingdom of God in all the world. It is your right, privilege, and duty to inquire of the Lord as to His mind and will concerning … the inhabitants of Zion and their interests.”

This is something that is assumed by many Mormon Fundamentalist groups to replace D&C 132:7 Which states: “… there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred” This is not the only place this is described, but the one many feel replaced by the 1880.

The problem is Wilford Woodruff was not the Prophet or the President of the Church, John Taylor was. Note the date of the following written revelation:

Revelation to John Taylor June 27, 1882
1. “Verily thus saith the Lord, I have instituted my Kingdom and my laws, with the keys and the power thereof, and I have appointed you as my spokesman and my Constitution, with President John Taylor at your head, whom I have appointed to my Church and my Kingdom as Prophet, Seer, and Revelator unto and over my Kingdom; and I will honor him, and he shall speak forth the words that I will reveal unto him from time to time by the whisperings of my Spirit, by the revelation of my Spirit, by the revelation of my will and my word, or by mine own voice, as I will, saith the Lord, and ye shall listen to his words as my words, saith the Lord your God.”
14. “And now I speak unto you who are members of this Council, and of my Kingdom, and I say unto you, as I said unto my disciples of old, Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.
15. “I called you by my servant Joseph, and by my servant Brigham, and by my servant John. You did not teach and instruct me; but I have taught you and instructed you and organized you according to my eternal laws.
16. “Ye are my Constitution, and I am your God; and I will be acknowledged and my will and my word and my law shall bear rule in my Kingdom, saith the Lord. If it does not, then it is not my Kingdom, and then are ye not my man, and under the direction of man, then it is a kingdom of man, and it is not of me, and I will not acknowledge it, saith the Lord God.”

There is no question about who the Lord would reveal His mind and will to the Church through, and His mind and will to the Prophet, and in 1880 it was not Wilford Woodruff.

“It is my privilege as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ to have the revelations of Jesus. It is my privilege to live so as to have the gift of prophecy, and to have wisdom and knowledge from God. It is my privilege to have all these gifts and blessings resting down upon me by virtue of my calling. If I am faithful thereto they will rest upon me. But it is not my privilege to guide this ship. It is not my privilege to write revelations or commandments to this Church. Much as I may rejoice in the knowledge of God, much as I may be possessed of the revelations of Jesus, that is not a privilege which has been accorded unto me, nor has it been accorded unto any other Apostle, or officer, or member of this Church, but one, and that is the man whom God has chosen to hold the keys.”(George Q Cannon 12/2/1883)

In 1882, the U.S. Congress enacted the Edmunds-Tucker Act, a federal law which made polygamy a felony within its Territories. It also stated that anyone “in the marriage relation” with multiple spice could not vote in any election. It was written purposefully to not include adulterers, but only those who were “cohabiting as husband and wife”. Interestingly, in 1870 Utah had become the first place in the United States that allowed women to vote, and in 1975 a petition of over 22,000 Mormon women was sent to Congress asking to repeal the 1862 Morrill law. Women’s suffrage was stopped by the stronger anti-Polygamy Edmunds Act passed in 1887.

In his last public sermon, President John Taylor remarked:
"I would like to obey and place myself in subjection to every law of man. What then? Am I to disobey the law of God? Has any man a right to control my conscience, or your conscience, or to tell me I shall believe this or believe the other, or reject this or reject the other? No man has a right to do it. These principles are sacred, and the forefathers of this nation felt so and so proclaimed it in the Constitution of the United States, and said "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Now, I believe they have violated that, and have violated their oaths, those that have engaged in these things and passed that law, and those that are seeking to carry it out. Congress and the President of the United States and the Judiciary, and all administrators of the law are as much bound by that instrument as I am and as you are, and have sworn to maintain it inviolate. It is for them to settle these matters between themselves and their God. That is my faith in relation to this matter. Yet by their action they are interfering with my rights, my liberty and my religion, and with those sacred principles that bind me to my God, to my family, to my wives and my children; and shall I be recreant to all these noble principles that ought to guide and govern men? No, Never! No, NEVER! NO, NEVER! I can endure more than I have done, and all that God will enable me to endure, I can die for the truth; but I cannot as an honorable man disobey my God at their behest, forsake my wives and my children, and trample these holy and eternal obligations under foot, that God has given me to keep, and which reach into the eternities that are to come. I won't do it, so help me, God." (2/1/1885 JD 26:152).

John Taylor went into hiding after this address and died in hiding two and a half years later, on July 25, 1887

While in hiding men came to John Taylor with a “manifesto” to consider. The document was written to keep the leading men from losing their property along with the church property. The temple and all church property had been seized by the government over the belief in plural marriage. George Q. Cannon suggested for John Taylor to take the manifesto up with the Lord. On September 26, 1886 the prophet John Taylor recorded a Revelation. In it says: “All those who would enter into my glory must and shall obey my law. And have I not commanded men that if they were Abraham’s seed and would enter into my glory, they must do the works of Abraham. I HAVE NOT REVOKED THIS LAW NOR WILL I, it is everlasting, and those who will enter into my glory MUST obey the conditions thereof.” Most of the people of the church were unaware of the revelation, or of those who were at the meeting. (Read the story here)

John Taylor died ten months later, on July 25, 1887. Due to his being the senior Apostle, Wilford Woodruff then assumed the Presidency of the church.

John Wickersham Woolley was the senior Apostle ordained at the 1886 meeting held in his home, who did not later support the 1890 Manifesto. He obeyed his covenants made on that Sabbath Day, and yet he still respected the Church and their officers even after they turned away from the Celestial Law.

On September 24, 1890 Wilford Woodruff issued the written Manifesto in general meeting. It was not even considered by him to be a revelation from God until later. It says:
“To Whom it may concern: Press dispatches having been sent for political purposes…allege that plural marriages are still being solemnized and that…in public discourses the leaders of the Church have taught, encouraged and urged the continuance of the practice of polygamy- I therefore, as President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, do hereby, in the most solemn manner, declare that these charges are false. We are not teaching polygamy or plural marriage, or permitting any person to enter into its practice…Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws…. And now I publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land.”

“I move that, recognizing Wilford Woodruff as the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the only man on the earth at the present time, who holds the keys of the sealing ordinances, we consider him fully authorized by virtue of his position to issue the Manifesto… and that as a Church in General Conference assembled, we accept his declaration concerning plural marriages as authoritative and binding” (Lorenzo Snow 10-6-1890)

There is our dilemma, Wilford Woodruff. Which is more binding; the revelation declaring him co- head of the church with his leader and the other Apostles in 1880, or the “Manifesto” where Lorenzo Snow (the President of the Church after Wilford Woodruff) declares that Wilford Woodruff is the only man on earth with the sealing ordinances, and has the authority to end it? The dilemma is one of testimony, and conviction. But even Wilford Woodruff did not follow the Official Declaration of 1890 himself, the church records state:

1897 Sept, Wilford Woodruff, married 6th wife, Lydia Mountford. (President of the church, married Lydia a year before he died)

Our Prophet Leroy S. Johnson said:
“When Wilford Woodruff signed the Manifesto, he didn’t only sign away his rights to the Celestial Law, but he also signed away his rights to the Priesthood.” (2/12/84)

Here is the testimony of my great grandmother, Esther Morrison:

“At the time the manifesto was signed, I was staying with Mary… I remember so vividly when the word came about this…. Everything was so quiet, and it seemed as though there was a feeling of some terrible happening taking place. It was felt in the home and outside even in my young years, about 8 or 9 years old, and not understanding the great significance of what happened, I felt the dreadful impact of it.
Years later, about 1925, I attended a Daughters of the Pioneers meeting held at the home of Mrs. Joseph J Danes, on Fifth east, who was a daughter of President Wilford Woodruff. Also another daughter, Mrs. Beatty was there. She spoke on the Manifesto. During her talk she said:
“The day father signed the manifesto I was in the front room when he came home. I shall never forget his face. He moaned, and said “O God what have I done?” He immediately went upstairs to his room. He remained there for a whole week, never speaking to any of us (his family). When he came down and joined the family he looked awful. The ravages of sickness could never have made him look worse. It was awful.”
As a note here, my children, I desire to leave this to you. I know the law of plural marriage to be a heaven truth. Your father was an issue of that great law. You have a righteous heritage. Don’t trample on it, but treasure it, and accept the pattern given to you.” - Esther E. E. Morrison (who never lived plural marriage but encouraged my grandmother to when she had the opportunity)

In the FLDS church Priesthood lineage, Wilford Woodruff never was the Prophet. He lifted his heel against his leader in 1880, and in doing so, he lost his right to be the successor to John Taylor. He was not united with John Taylor after Brigham Young passed away. John Taylor had appointed John W Woolley and others to carry on in the work of the Celestial Law. The sealing keys of Elijah were given to him who did not lift his heel against the Celestial Law and the Keyholder of Priesthood.

John W. Woolley, as David of old, did not “set on the Lords anointed” but continued on in peace while fulfilling his covenants made on that September day in 1886. He continued in the Church even after he was excommunicated in 1914 for performing marriages and teaching the Celestial Law.

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