Joseph Smith and his Temples
Where exactly was ‘Zion – The New Jerusalem’ to be built,
Ohio, Missouri or Illinois?
Notes from The Mormon Delusion Volume 5 and the Doctrine and Covenants. (D&C Section dates provided are consistent with the recent ‘Joseph Smith Papers’ and some may differ from those published in the current D&C. See: The Mormon Delusion, Volume 5).
Temple 1. Kirtland, Ohio. Dec 1832. Dedicated on 7 March 1836 – but incomplete.
Temple 2. Independence, Jackson County, Missouri. Announced 1831. June 1833 – plans drawn up – but never built.
Temple 3. Spring Hill, Missouri. (Adam-ondi-Ahman). Site dedicated by Brigham Young October 1838 – but never built.
Temple 4. Far West, Missouri. April 1838 announced. Site dedicated by Brigham Young 4 July 1838 – but never built.
Temple 5. Nauvoo, Illinois. 1839. Dedicated on 30 April and 1 May 1846 – but incomplete. The link for the new temple completed in 2002.
Doctrine and Covenants (D&C) Section 29. Dated: September 1830. Fayette, New York. (See: The Mormon Delusion (TMD) Vol. 5:154-155).
In D&C 29:8, we have what is essentially a prophecy. Here, Smith has Jesus explicitly state “the decree hath gone forth from the Father that they shall be gathered in unto one place on the face of this land.” This was September 1830 and the ‘one place’ turned out to be Kirtland, Ohio, where Smith resided from 1831-1837 and where they built a temple. Smith also started talking about Zion being established at Independence, Missouri, as early as 1831. Then, in 1834, Smith led ‘Zion’s Camp’ on a march to redeem Zion (Independence) but they were unsuccessful. Dejected, they returned home, with many suffering from malaria along the way.
Following Smith’s temporary stay in Far West during 1838, in 1839 they settled in Nauvoo, Illinois, but by the time they had almost completed a temple there, Smith was killed (1844); they were driven out and started heading west. Had Section 29 been a real revelation and instruction from God via Jesus – would he not have been better off saying that they should immediately travel across the plains to Utah in order to save all the trouble and bloodshed?
Despite revelation and prophecy on gathering and building a temple in Independence, and Brigham Young even talking about possibly still doing so many years later when in Salt Lake City, to this day no such gathering and no such temple have materialised. In the 1860s, Brigham Young prophesied the Civil War would continue until the land was emptied so the Mormons could return to Missouri. (See: Tanner: Mormonism – Shadow or Reality? 190-192). It did not – and they did not.
D&C 36 has seven verses and is dated 9 December 1830. Fayette, New York. (See TMD 5:168). Here, Jesus says “wherefore, gird up your loins and I will suddenly come to my temple. Even so. Amen.” Even so – he suddenly didn’t – and to this day he still hasn’t. Smith claimed Jesus appeared in the Kirtland Temple in 1836 but of course that cannot be substantiated. Many were drunk and ‘saw’ all manner of things. In any event, it was a claimed ‘visit’ and not the second coming; something which is always inferred from such claims as recorded in the above D&C reference.
D&C 42. 9th & 23rd February 1831. Kirtland, Ohio. (See TMD 5:185 on). In v.62 the Lord explains that “…it shall be revealed unto you in mine own due time where the New Jerusalem shall be built”. In the book of Revelation, which the Mormon Church accepts as scripture, the writer, who claims to be ‘John’, explains that he knew “the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God” (Rev 3:12) and that he “saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven…” (Rev. 21:2), but that is not exactly the Mormon take on their New Jerusalem.
The saints anticipated building their Zion there and then; they expected to complete it and for the Saviour to return during their lifetime. Today, almost two centuries later, the city of Zion – the New Jerusalem, along with its temple, still don’t exist and Jesus remains conspicuous by his absence, despite Smith’s countless revelations, prophecies and promises that it would all happen in that place – and in that generation.
In v.62 the Lord explains that “…it shall be revealed unto you in mine own due time where the New Jerusalem shall be built.”
Result: The location for Zion, the New Jerusalem, and the temple “to which all nations should come” was explicitly to be Independence, Jackson County, Missouri (Sec. 57). It has never been built.
D&C 57:2. Wherefore, this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion.
57:3. And thus saith the Lord your God, if you will receive wisdom here is wisdom. Behold, the place which is now called Independence is the center place; and a spot for the temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the courthouse.
Unfortunately, it was never to be and left Joseph Smith with yet another monumental ‘prophecy failure’ problem. A couple of years after the prophecy, in June of 1833, Joseph Smith drew up ‘plans’ for the layout of Zion at Independence, Missouri. Smith even laid a cornerstone for the temple on 3 August 1831, but that was about as far as things ever went.
By 1841, it had become clear that there was a major problem in having this prophecy fulfilled and Smith was obliged to have his God further explain Himself. After all the promises that had been made, what could God say? Section 124 was recorded on 19 January 1841. Today, in respect of v.45-55, it includes this in the Section heading: “The Saints are excused from building the temple in Jackson County because of the oppression of their enemies.” Note the Church explains that they were ‘excused’ from building the temple at Independence – yet it had been promised to them as part of the bigger promise; Zion – the New Jerusalem.
It turns out that when God made his ‘promised land’ promises, He was in no position to do so; it was never going to happen, due to strong opposition against Smith and his ways. Yet Smith had his God make the promises, despite the fact that God should have already known what would happen. It calls Smith’s God into question, but if we accept the idea that God could and would never make such an error, that only leaves Smith to answer for the mistake. (TMD 5:226).
On 20 July 1831, D&C 57:1-5 confirmed the City of Zion would be for “an everlasting inheritance” and yet on 19 January 1841, in D&C 124 they are ‘excused’ from building it. Something in there just doesn’t sit right and as ever, there is only one remotely possible explanation. Today, the main Mormon Church still doesn’t occupy the area; two schisms, the Church of Christ (Temple Lot) and the Reorganised Church (Community of Christ) have churches in that location.
In September 1832, Jesus gets straight to confirming the building of Zion in D&C 84:2-3. “…the city of New Jerusalem …shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun., and others with whom the Lord was well pleased.”
There is no denying either confirmation of the prophecy or the exact location. (Missouri, NOT Illinois). Jesus goes even further and confirms that it will be built “in this generation” (v.4).
That undeniable prophecy was not fulfilled. Following Smith’s death and the legal battles that ensued between various schisms, the lot was eventually split between three organisations and the only temple standing there is owned by the RLDS (Community of Christ). All the Mormon (LDS) Church has there is a visitor’s centre.
D&C Section 97. 2 Aug 1833.
Regarding the proposed temple in Zion (Independence, Missouri). If they build it and don’t defile it, then his “glory shall rest upon it” (v.15).
“And the nations of the earth shall honor her, and shall say: Surely Zion is the city of our God, and surely Zion cannot fall, neither be moved out of her place, for God is there, and the hand of the Lord is there” (v.19). That was wishful thinking on the part of Smith. If that really was the Lord speaking, He couldn’t have been more wrong.
A couple of months later, the saints were driven out, never to return. Zion, along with its temple, was never built. Zion cannot ‘fall’ as it doesn’t exist. (See D&C Section 101 & TMD 5:340 on).
The Kirtland temple was dedicated on 7 March 1836 – but within two years Kirtland had become virtually abandoned by the saints. (See TMD 5:333). Following the ‘Kirtland Safety Society’ banking scandal, Joseph and Hyrum Smith fled Kirtland in the night, in fear of retribution from countless angry saints, including several of the apostles, who had lost everything. Some new schisms emerged following the debacle. Warren Parrish formed ‘The Church of Christ’ and took control of the Kirtland temple and other Church assets. The new church was incorporated in 1838 and Martin Harris, led by Warren Parrish, excommunicated Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon who had relocated to Far West, Missouri. (See TMD Vol. 2:58 & Vol. 3:42-44).
Confusion over who owned what went on for years following the death of Joseph Smith in 1844, with several factions laying claim to the Kirtland temple. At one point, it was used to house livestock during the winter, with milk cows in the basement and sheep on the ground floor. Eventually, a probate court in Ohio sold the temple, which had reportedly cost some $40,000 to build (that’s somewhere close to $1,000,000 in purchasing power today), to pay off some of the outstanding debts still owed by Joseph Smith’s estate. Eventually, legal ownership ended up with the Reorganised Church, now Community of Christ, which owns and operates the Kirtland temple today.
D&C 101. December 1833. Kirtland.
D&C 101:17. Zion shall not be moved out of her place, notwithstanding her children are scattered.
18. They that remain, and are pure in heart, shall return, and come to their inheritances, they and their children, with songs of everlasting joy, to build up the waste places of Zion—
19. And all these things that the prophets might be fulfilled.
Zion will not be moved and the saints will return to their inheritances – along with their children. The promises made here have been repeated several times and were never fulfilled. All those people have long since departed this world – and so have all their children. Today, it is a new and different world where everyone who is now living was born long after that period. Almost two centuries later, no one has returned, Zion has not been built, and there is no (Mormon) temple there.
The next verse nails it down completely – v.20: And, behold, there is none other place appointed than that which I have appointed; neither shall there be any other place appointed than that which I have appointed, for the work of the gathering of my saints—
Despite supposedly coming directly from the Lord, that idea didn’t last very long.
D&C 116. 9 May 1838. Near Wight’s Ferry, Spring Hill, Daviess County, Missouri. (Added to the D&C in 1876).
This is the full text of Section 116 which has just one verse: “Spring Hill is named by the Lord Adam-ondi-Ahman, because, said he, it is the place where Adam shall come to visit his people, or the Ancient of Days shall sit, as spoken of by Daniel the prophet.”
In Mormonism, this little gem is the basis for a belief that this is where Adam and Eve lived and raised their family after being driven from the Garden of Eden. This would mean that everything from Adam until the time of the biblical flood transpired in North America.
The idea that Spring Hill was where God placed Adam as the ‘first’ human being is today so absurd a concept that no one other than faithful and believing Mormons could or would ever even begin to consider the idea a remotely plausible supposition. (The same is true of course for the global flood myth, with Noah and his family setting off from America, yet the Mormon Church teaches it as factual). We now know the general origin and distribution of humankind across the globe, both in terms of species and time frame, beyond reasonable doubt – and no amount of faith can overcome the truth of data which spans tens, if not hundreds of thousands of years.
Adam-Ondi-Ahman was yet another location where the Lord wanted his saints to organise a Stake and build him a temple. He seemed to like beautiful temples being built for him before the people arriving were even settled and making a proper living for themselves. Smith recorded the following: “Adam-ondi-Ahman, Missouri, Daviess county, June 25, 1838. A conference of Elders and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was held in this place this day, for the purpose of organizing this Stake of Zion, called Adam-ondi-Ahman.” (History of the Church (HC). Vol. 3 Ch. IV).
A ‘temple square’ site was chosen and dedicated in October of 1838 by Brigham Young, accompanied by Smith, Heber C. Kimball and others. Once again, the temple was never built. This time, they never even managed to lay cornerstones. This was the third temple to be prophesied and planned but it was never constructed; it was certainly not a case of ‘third time lucky’; the saints were ordered out of the settlement within days of the temple square dedication.
In the link to ‘Temple 3’ above, the Church claims the temple would have been at the centre of a new city named after the son of Adam, the ‘City of Seth’ – it was never built. On 7 November 1838, the saints were given just ten days to leave the area and they moved to Far West, Missouri; a move that turned out to be equally as disastrous as trying to settle at Spring Hill had been – regardless of what name Smith said the Lord gave it.
D&C Section 115. 26 April 1838. Far West, Missouri.
Far West, where Smith now was, suddenly became the focus of the Lord’s attention. Not surprisingly, it is now here that he wants yet another house (temple) built. They must begin work in the summer; in fact 4th July would be a good day to start; but they must build it just the way he wants it – or it will not be accepted. Smith’s God was ever fussy and always very harsh.
Brigham Young dedicated the temple site on 4 July 1838. That was the day Sidney Rigdon delivered his infamous Independence Day Oration (not to be confused with his equally infamous ‘Salt Sermon’), neither of which did the Church any favours at all.
A year from today (v.12), which will be 26 April 1839, they should re-commence laying the foundation and then there is to be no stopping until the temple is finished. “Thus let them from that time forth labor diligently until it shall be finished, from the cornerstone thereof unto the top thereof, until there shall not anything remain that is not finished.”
The temple was never built and the saints were driven out the following spring (1839). The Mormon Church repurchased the site in 1909 and the original cornerstones are now under glass cases for tourists to view. (See link to ‘Temple 4’ above for details). This link includes an assertion, using typical Mormon propaganda, that five apostles and others (at great risk to themselves) visited the site a year later ‘in fulfilment of prophecy’, on 26 April 1839. They actually secretly crept in just after midnight and didn’t hang around very long. The prophecy claimed all twelve would start a mission from that spot on that day. They didn’t, and less than half turned out – in the middle of the night (See TMD 5:413). That hardly constitutes fulfilment of prophecy.
Note that the Church felt they had to somehow try to ‘make’ the prophecy come true. The same thing happened when Erastus Snow and Benjamin Winchester were asked to go to Salem (See TMD 5:390), among other equally strange examples of ‘making’ prophecy come true, in order to cover Smith’s otherwise entirely unfulfilled predictions. In this case, the Church neglects to include the fact that the prophecy was specifically that from 26 April 1839 on, they should “…labor diligently until it shall be finished, from the cornerstone thereof unto the top thereof, until there shall not anything remain that is not finished.” Other than placing a stone on top of one of the cornerstones, the apostles did nothing on that day (or rather, night), and nothing has been done since. Other than the original corner stones, now encased in glass, all there is on the site today – is grass. That is prophecy most definitely unfulfilled.
D&C Section 124. 19 January 1841. Nauvoo, Illinois.
God wants yet another temple built. This was the fourth temple that the Lord had wanted built which was never completed. After Kirtland, God had wanted a temple in Zion (Independence) (TMD 5:224-5); Far West (TMD 5:401); Spring Hill (Adam-ondi-Ahman) (TMD 5:405-6); and now – Nauvoo. Although, this time, it was nearly finished before it was destroyed. The basement and ground floor levels were completed and used for a few weeks before the saints started moving west.
In 1999, the Mormon Church built a modern temple on the site which, inside, is nothing like the one God instructed Smith to build, although the outside is similar. It was completed in 2002.
Why was the interior not the same as the original? Times change and things had moved on in Mormonism. But why did God ask for temples to be built differently at Kirtland and in Nauvoo? The new ‘endowment’ was introduced in Nauvoo. It was not performed in Kirtland because it was yet to be invented, so naturally that temple was not designed to accommodate it. Smith invented it in the Nauvoo period; thus the interior of the new temple was entirely different.
For the very first time, God tells Smith there is no baptismal font on the earth where the saints can be baptised for the dead. There was no mention of that in Kirtland – or for that matter, for any of the other temples that were prophesied and planned yet never constructed. This is a new idea. Why did God not have a font included in the Kirtland Temple or the other planned temples? Whatever Smith’s God had previously been thinking, He now suddenly, and out of nowhere, requires a baptismal font. It is also interesting that God repeats Himself several times in typical ‘Smith revelation’ fashion in this section – a tell tale Smith error. (See D&C 124:29-36 and TMD 5:429-30. See also TMD 5: The Final Analysis – Part 2, ‘In other Words’ pp. 484-85; and Part 3, where ‘The Mormon God says the Strangest of Things’ in the D&C).
Despite everything God wanted and promised, Smith was killed when the temple was only half complete. Following the succession crisis, when Brigham Young succeeded in gaining the most followers, mob violence increased and the saints were forced to prepare to leave the city. Young encouraged members to finish the temple and although it never was fully completed, part of it was used for three months, from December 1845 to February 1846. It was dedicated once the interior of the first floor was completed (that means the ground floor in the UK), on 30 April and 1 May 1846.
When the saints left the area in September 1846, vigilantes vandalised the temple. Various attempts at leasing or selling (asking up to $200,000) failed, until it was finally sold for a pittance ($5,000) in 1848 by Church agents – to a Mormon. That may sound like a good investment but later he sold it at a loss. It was soon to be gutted by fire and then hit by a tornado in 1850 before being demolished completely a few years later.
Three times, God says that after the time allotted to build the temple, baptisms for the dead outside the temple will not be acceptable. He actually states that if they do not do these things by the end of the appointed time, “ye shall be rejected as a church, with your dead” (D&C 124:32).
Well, the fact that they didn’t even come close confirms the Mormon God (or at least Smith) had no idea what would happen next. Although it was used and later dedicated, the Nauvoo Temple was never completed. According to God’s ‘condition’ concerning His command remaining unfulfilled, He must have then ‘rejected’ Mormonism – and their dead; or it was just another false prophecy. Either way, Smith portrays his God as unknowing of future events that a real God should know and also as vindictive in the extreme. Smith’s God never did seem of much help to the Saints – he mainly appeared to castigate and threaten them, blaming them for everything that went wrong.
Is it just coincidence that Smith has God say this? – “And ye shall build it on the place where you have contemplated building it, for that is the spot which I have chosen for you to build it. If ye labor with all your might, I will consecrate that spot that it shall be made holy” (D&C 124:43-4). God chose the very spot that Smith had selected. What a coincidence. Holy ‘spot’ or not – the temple was destroyed.
God goes on to say that if they hearken to His voice, they will not be moved out of their place (v.45). If they don’t listen to God, or to Smith and his men, they will not be “blest”. The saints certainly appeared to try hard to accomplish what was required of them but they were driven out anyway. Did that mean they had not listened? God actually says that even if they build His house but do not do the things He says, “instead of blessings, ye, by your own works, bring cursings, wrath, indignation, and judgments upon your own heads, by your follies, and by all your abominations, which you practise before me, saith the Lord” (v.48). Were they really that bad? Of course not, but Smith was; the suffering and persecution of the saints can be traced directly back to the way he personally behaved and how he treated and tried to control people, not just in his Church but also the local community and government. The results were always inevitable.
When Smith introduced his Masonic based ceremony as the ‘Endowment’ to be received in Mormon temples, he claimed it was “received as a revelation from God.” (HC 5:1-2). It was hardly that. For complete coverage of Mormonism and Masonry, including a word by word comparison of the endowment, with Masonic ritual as it was practiced at that time, see TMD Vol. 3, Sec. 3. Smith quickly rose through Masonic ranks in days and just as quickly incorporated many of the rites into his new Endowment, which he then claimed was given to him by his God. The Endowment, which was at first performed in rooms above the printing office, as with Masonic ritual, was not initially made available to women. It later became a bargaining chip with Smith’s wife Emma.
When the Nauvoo Temple was opened for business, Brigham Young was still formulating ideas for the new ceremony which Joseph Smith had asked Young to complete. This would continue for several decades (See TMD Vol. 3: Sec. 3).
The following entry from the ‘Nauvoo Temple Journal’ gives an idea as to how far Young had got at the time. The following was new detail on that day. “Last evening an arrangement was made establishing better order in conducting the endowment. Under this order it is the province of Eloheem, Jehovah and Michael to create the world, plant the Garden and create the man and give his help meet. Eloheem gives the charge to Adam in the Garden and thrust them into the telestial kingdom or the world. Then Peter assisted by James and john conducts them through the Telestial and Terrestrial kingdom administering the charges and tokens in each and conducts them to the vail where they are received by the Eloheem and after talking with him by words and tokens are admitted by him into the Celestial Kingdom….” (Nauvoo Temple Journal, 13 December 1845). See TMD 5, Appendix C, for more details of the Nauvoo style Endowment.
D&C 104:39. This is (supposedly), actually God speaking about why He wants a temple to be built at Nauvoo: “Therefore, verily I say unto you, that your anointings, and your washings, and your baptisms for the dead, and your solemn assemblies, and your memorials for your sacrifices by the sons of Levi, and for your oracles in your most holy places wherein you receive conversations, and your statutes and judgments, for the beginning of the revelations and foundation of Zion, and for the glory, honor, and endowment of all her municipals, are ordained by the ordinance of my holy house, which my people are always commanded to build unto my holy name.” This very weird single sentence is far from grammatically correct and it makes no sense whatsoever. A real God would surely at least speak with eloquence – and make some sense. This was clearly just Smith’s rambling (and completely failing) attempt to sound like deity. It is so obvious that you really do have to cling to a deep delusion in order to accept it. Read it again and ask yourself if you could ever believe in this God that Smith so obviously invented.
The location for Zion, the New Jerusalem, and the temple “to which all nations should come” was explicitly to be Independence, Missouri (D&C Section 57).
The Church never did build the City of Zion – the New Jerusalem or a temple at Independence, Missouri. Two Mormon schisms now occupy some of that area.
D&C 84:2-3: “…the city of New Jerusalem … shall be built, beginning at the temple lot…” v.4: “in this generation.”
No temple was ever fully completed and the New Jerusalem never was built – anywhere, in any generation, despite all the prophecy and five different temple locations being established before the Saints finally fled to the Salt Lake valley. Smith and his God got everything wrong.
Copyright © Jim Whitefield, March 2015.