Thursday, January 24, 2013
Letters - from a Father & Grandfather whose son has left the RLDS church
(The author of this letter, Winfield Gould, is my paternal great-great grandfather, who is saddened and disappointed that one of his many children, Leon (previously an elder in the RLDS church) has decided to leave for the Church of Christ (TL) - "All our lives since we obeyed the gospel Ma and I have hoped and prayed that we with all our children might be an unbroken family with the redeemed and loved ones that have passed on to the other side, and we shall continue to pray for that cherished blessing."
Leon is the only child who leaves the RLDS church in this family (following an experience and conversation which his son Eugene had with the Lord), which is referred to as a sad fact in the book "Trek of Faith" by Peggy Tucker. However, history bears out that this loving father Winfield was actually mistaken, as he predicted the failure of the church Leon belonged to, and predicted the RLDS to remain faithful and true (this church is now in fragments, and the main body is no longer the RLDS church of the past - it is now called the Community of Christ and unlike the previous organization. It is interesting to look back now, with gratitude to my great-grandfather and his family, who had to go against the rest of their kin in following the leadings of the Holy Spirit - I am very grateful to have been simply "born into" the Church of Christ. Winfield makes some references to the Doctrine and Covenants, which were actually altered from the original revelations. - C. (Gould) Berwick
Independence, Mo., March 1934
Dear Leon and Family:
During the past winter I have spent a good deal of time reading the scripture, and other written works in regard to this Latter Day Work. And when I think of the course you and your family have taken in regard to the church I feel like writing and telling you how I look at some of these things.
In your sermon, Earmarks of Apostasy, on Page 6, you say in regard to the restoration of the gospel in these last days that God, through his messenger divine again bestowed upon men the right to officiate as ministers in his church, to carry the gospel to the world, to organize the church, to make the same promise of knowledge through obedience and of gospel gifts to men, and that those promises were fulfilled to obedient thousands.
Well, I have believe all this ever since I obeyed the gospel, and as I read it in your sermon the blessed Spirit that I have often felt bore witness to the truth of it. Now I think you will agree with me that the man referred to as the one who was given power to organize the church was Joseph Smith, and that the divine one who gave him the right and power to organize the church was the angel who cam and ordained Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. Now let us turn to the record and see how he organized it.
In Book of Covenants, Sec. 19:1, in a revelation given the day the church was organized, the Lord speaking to Joseph Smith said, "There shall be a record kept among you and in it though shalt be called a seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle of Jesus Christ, and elder of the church through the will of God the Father and the Holy Ghost to lay the foundation thereof and to build it up unto the most holy faith; which church was organized and established in 1830 on the 6th day of April."
About five months after this in a revelation given September, 1830, speaking to Oliver Cowdry the Lord says: "Behold, I say unto thee, no one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church excepting my servant Joseph Smith Jr., for he receiveth them even as Moses." A little further along in the same verse the Lord says to Oliver, "You shall not command him who is at thy head and that the head of the church." Now see how plain all that is, and yet you have joined a church that rejects it and says that the twelve apostles are the head of the church and are the ones to receive commandments and revelations to guide the church.
In Section 104:12 the Lord says the Twelve are a traveling, presiding high council to officiate in the name of the Lord under the direction of the Presidency of the church, agreeably to the institution of heaven to build up the church and regulate all the affairs of the same in all the nations, first unto the gentiles and secondly unto the Jews..
Now this plainly shows that the Twelve are to labor under the direction of the Presidency, or the head of the church, for the Presidency is the head of the church, if they are living and teaching according to the written law, as given by the supreme law giver.
There is a passage in the Bible that says the feet must not say to the head that we have no need of thee, but that is just what the Temple Lot Church are teaching when they say they have no need of a Presidency. And so we read all along through the Book of Covenants how God directed Joseph Smith how to organize the church.
Then on page 7 and 8 of your sermon you tell of the great wickedness that crept in to the church in 1844 and how many began to withdraw from the church and form into factions and elevate men to be their leaders, never designed of God and contrary to his word.
Then on pages 8 and 9 you tell us how God began to reconstruct his work, how he came by his Spirit to a people who had not elevated any man to be their leader, but to a little band who were loyal to God, and said unto them, "As I said unto Moses my servant, see that you do all things according to the pattern. Behold the pattern is before you."
And now, Leon, I want to ask you how was the pattern before them? Why they had it right in the Book of Covenants just as God had given it to Joseph Smith.
Again I would ask you, why this people had not chosen some man to be their leader? It was because God had given them the assurance by the power of his Holy Spirit that he would raise up one from the seed of Joseph Smith to lead the church.
And now read in the Third Vol. of Church History, page 254 to page 264 how plainly this man who God said he would raise up to the lead the church was shown by vision and by the Spirit of revelation just what God wanted him to do. See how he was directed to go to that very people who had received the promise by the Holy Spirit that God would raise up from the seed of Joseph Smith a Prophet, to lead the church. See how God told him that the Saints reorganizing there were the only organized portion of the church that he accepted, that he had given them his Spirit, and that he would continue to do so while they remained humble and faithful. Then read on page 265 that when young Joseph and his mother in 1860 came to this people and met with them in a conference how the whole of them wept with joy because it was in fulfillment of what God had promised them.
Now notice one thing: Joseph did not come there to lead a faction nor a branch, but came as the successor of his father to lead the church, having been directed by the Lord to do so. Notice what he said to them. "I come not here of myself, but by the influence of the Spirit. For sometime past I have received manifestations pointing to the position I am about the assume. I wish to say that I have not come here to be dictated by any man or set of men. I have come in obedience to a power not my own, and shall be dictated to by the power that sent men." Third Volume Church History page 247.
Now in speaking of this event in your sermon on page 9, you say: "With this little handful of Saints in Wisconsin the work of reconstruction went on apace as God opened the way, until the hearts of the saints were thrilled with the hope that Zion was about to put on her beautiful garments, and men and women by the thousand again bore witness to the truthfulness of the Saviour's promise. They were given a knowledge of the truth and their faith confirmed by the signs following."
And now, Leon, I want to say that you Father and Mother and Grandparents, also Alice's Father and Mother were among those thousands that head and obeyed that glad message of the gospel and were confirmed in the truth of it by many signs and blessings they received.
Now turn to Church History, Vol. 3, page 294 and read young Joseph's first call or message to the scattered Saints and all the inhabitants of the earth. It reads as follows:
"In the name of the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob I now call upon all the scattered Saints on all the broad earth to arise and shake off the sleep that has bound them these many years, take on the armour of the Just, calling on the name of the Lord for help, and unite once more for the emancipation of the honest in heart from the power of false doctrines and the shackles of sin. In the name of bleeding Zion I call upon all those who have been wandering in by and forbidden paths and have been led astray by wicked and designing men to turn from their scenes of wickedness and sins of convenience, to turn from their servitude to Satan, in all his seductive devices from vice in every phase and from the labor of sin, the wages whereof are even death, unto their true and delightsome allegiance to the principles of the gospel of peace, to the paths of wisdom, to the homage of that God that brought the children of Israel out of bondage, to turn and remember the Book of Mormon, to lay hold anew upon the rod of iron which surely leads to the tree of life: and to remember that those who live to the Lord keep his commandments and that the promises are to the faithful and the reward unto those that endure unto the end. And in the name of the Lord of Hosts I call upon all the inhabitants of the earth to repent, believe, and be baptized, for the time cometh when the judgments of God are to be poured out upon all nations, and the besom of God's wrath shall smoke through the land; when men shall know that there is a God in Israel and he is mighty to punish or save; and that the prayers of those under the altar have been heard and a swift retribution is to come, when the despoiler will be despoiled, and when those who denied justice shall be judged, and the measure meted unto others shall be meted unto them, when the prisoner shall go free, and the oppressed be redeemed and all Israel shall cry, Glory to God in the highest be given, for he that is long suffering and slow to anger has arisen, and shall bring again Zion. Amen and amen."
Oh I do not see how anyone can read that message and not feel the thrill of the good Spirit bearing witness to the truth of the call of the man through whom it was given.
And now while thousands of scattered Saints and many new converts gave heed to the call and received the witness of God's Spirit to the truth of it, what did the Temple Lot Faction do? Did they receive and rejoice? No, they rejected it as a Faction and clung to the man that they had chosen as their leader.
In the Book of Covenants we have this statement from the Lord in Section 100:2. "But verily I say unto you, that I have decreed a decree which my people shall realize, inasmuch as they hearken from this very hour, unto the counsel which I, the Lord, their God, shall give unto them. Behold, they shall, for I have decreed it, begin to prevail against mine enemies from this very hour, and by hearkening to observe all the words which I, the Lord their God, shall speak unto them, they shall never cease to prevail until the kingdoms of the world are subdued under my feet; and the earth is given unto the saints, to possess it for ever and ever. But inasmuch as they keep not my commandments, and hearken not to observe my words, the kingdoms of the world shall prevail against them, for they were set to be a light unto the world, and to be the saviour of men; and inasmuch as they are not the saviours of men, they are as salt that has lost its savor, and is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men."
Now with this statement of the Lord before us, let us cast our minds over the past sixty or seventy years and see what these two organizations claiming to be the church have done.
The followers of young Joseph, as he was often called, were organized with a First Presidency to preside over the church, just as the law in the Book of Covenants directs, and they sent their missionaries into nearly all parts of the world preaching the gospel as restored in these last days, and according to history, and according to your sermon, as stated on Page 9, men and women by the thousand received it and bore witness to the Saviour's promise. They were given a knowledge of the truth and their faith confirmed by the signs following.
You see this church could be compared to a city set upon a hill. They let their light shine and in the hands of God became the saviors of thousands who obeyed the gospel and remained faithful until the end.
But how about the Temple Lot Church, who rejected young Joseph as a prophet to preside over the church. They dwindled down to one small branch and remained so until 1925. Were they like a city set on a hill whose light could not be hid? Did they prove to be the saviors of men? Or were they like salt that had lost its savor?
In Sec. 42:12, the Lord says, "Thou shalt take the things which thou hast received, which have been given unto thee in my scriptures for a law, to be my law, to govern my church; and he that doeth accordingly to these things, shall be saved, and he that doeth them not shall be damned, if he continues."
That is a plain statement in regard to those who accept the law to govern the church and do govern it according to law. The promise is that they will be saved. And it says just as plainly that those who do not do it shall be damned if they continue.
The Reorganization accepted the law in regard to the organization of the church and the Temple Lot church rejected it. Is not the fact that the tens of thousands who received the gospel as taught by Young Joseph Smith and testified that God bore witness to them of the truth of it a proof that he had it organized right?
Joseph the martyr and also young Joseph both claim to have been sent of God to lead the church and to have held the office of President over the high priesthood, but the Temple Lot church rejects them and says there is no such office in the church. Can't you see that they had to come out and discard the Book of Covenants or else give up they were wrong?
I was in their meeting here when they were discussing the question as to whether they should reject the Book of Covenants or not. James Yates spoke against giving it up and he said, "We can't give up all those revelations," but the majority voted to discard the Book. I have often thought of the statement he made in that meeting when reading what he claims he received by the Spirit here in Independence. The spirit asks him if he will obey if my word shall conflict with your thoughts and belief. Then the spirit tells him that the Lord has rejected the Reorganized Church and that the church on the Temple Lot is the chosen one to carry on the Lord's work. And so Yates decides to obey the voice of this spirit even if it does conflict with his thoughts and former belief.
Now we have the two churches before us. Also the law that God gave to govern his church in our day, and in that law, Section 104, we are told that the church is to be presided over by a President of the High Priesthood and two counselors, but the Temple Lot church says there is no such officers in the church but that the Twelve apostles are to preside over the church. You can read all through the revelations given through the martyr, also through young Joseph how God called men to the office of high priests and tells what their duties are in the church, but the Temple Lot church claims that there is no such officer in the church.
There are many passages of scripture in all three books that show how necessary it is to keep the whole law. In the Book of Mormon, first Book of Nephi, Chapt.11. I cannot quote it all here, but read how a messenger appeared to Lehi and showed him a beautiful tree loaded with white fruit and he also saw a rod of iron that extended along a narrow path and led to the tree, and he saw multitudes of people pressing along that path, clinging to that rod of iron, and as many as clung to the rod of iron reached the tree and partook of the fruit but those that let go of the rod wandered away and were lost.
And in Chapt. 3, Verse 49 it tells how an angel showed Nephi that the rod of iron which Lehi saw was the word of God which led to the tree of life. This shows plainly that those that believe and do as the law of God tells them to will reach the tree of life, while those that reject it will be lost. And the Bible tells us we are to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
If what the Temple Lot church tells us was true in regard to the Presidency and high priests not being in the church, then the martyr and young Joseph were both guilty of giving false revelations to the church and were not true prophets.
The angel that came to Joseph Smith told him that his name should yet be known among all nations for good and for evil, and so it has been wherever throughout the world this gospel has been preached. Those that accepted it called him good, and those that rejected it called him a false prophet and a deceiver. The Utah people accused him of being in polygamy, thus branding him as evil, and now the Temple Lot church joins in with the wicked people of the world and the Utah church and accuses him of giving false revelations and organizing the church right, but the Lord tells us in Section 1, Book of Covenants, in verses 4 and 5, I will only quote in part but you will find it all in the two verses. The Lord says that he called upon his servant Joseph and spake unto him from heaven and gave him commandments and also gave commandments to others that they should proclaim these things to the world, and in verse 5 he says that he gave Joseph Smith power to translate the Book of Mormon and also those to whom these commandments were given might have the power to lay the foundation of this church and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth with which I the Lord am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually.
And in Book of Covenants, Sec. 19:1, the Lord speaking to Joseph Smith says, "Behold there shall be a record kept among you, and in it thou shalt be called a seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle of Jesus Christ, and elder of the church through the will of God the Father, and the grace of your Lord Jesus Christ, being inspired of the Holy Ghost to lay the foundation thereof and to build it up unto the most holy faith which church was organized and established in the year of your Lord, 1830, and on the sixth day of the month, which is called April." And in the Book of Mormon, Second Book of Nephi Chapter 11, Verse 18, the Lord speaking of this same seer says, "Behold, that seer will the Lord bless and they that seek to destroy him shall be confounded."
Now, Leon, the above scripture that I have quoted was accepted by the church in the martyr's day and also by the Reorganized Church as the word of the Lord. Can you feel safe in rejecting it and putting your trust in some men that tell you that Joseph Smith and those other men that God called in their day to organize the church and build it up all went wrong, and did not organize it right, and that he gave false revelation to the church.
In Jeremiah 17:5, the Lord has said, "Cursed is the man that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm."
Christ also said, "He that rejecteth me and receiveth not my words hath one that judgeth him. The words that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day for I have not spoken of myself but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment what I should say, and what I should speak and I know that his commands are life everlasting." St. John 12:48,49,50.
The words that Christ has spoken and what he taught are found written in the scriptures and that is what we are to be judged by when we stand before God to be judged and not by what some man has told us.
The Temple Lot church claims that the Twelve Apostles are the ones to stand at the head of the church, but the history of the church shows that the twelve apostles were not called nor ordained until nearly five years after the church was organized. See Church History Vol. 1, page 540-541 and 542. If the claim of the Temple Lot is true, then the church was without a head for nearly five years. Now read on pages 542 and 543 and several of the following pages and learn what the duties of the twelve apostles are. Read in those pages the charges given the twelve by Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. See how they were told that their calling was to go into all the world and preach the gospel to all nations; not one word about their being called to preside over the church as its head. I don't see how you can read the charge and warning given them and not feel the witness of the good Spirit bearing witness to the truth of the charge and warnings given them. And if they had been faithful to the charge and warnings given this church would have a different history than the one it has.
And now, Leon, when I read in your sermon referred to in this letter, the one you believe you were inspired to preach, on page 7 you say that the time came at Nauvoo when men began to withdraw from the church because they could no longer sanction that which was carried on in secret, and others began to elevate men to places not desired of God and contrary to his word, and it puzzles me to see how you could go and join one of those factions who rejected the man who God called to succeed his father as a prophet and leader of the church. And when he made that God-given call to all the scattered saints and factions of the church it was their duty to have heeded the call and united with the church, but many of them rejected the prophet and his message and continued to follow leaders they had chosen instead of the one God had chosen, and not one of those factions has ever proved a light to the world.
And now I want to say that although I believe the Reorganized church has made mistakes and has suffered for it and is still suffering for it, yet I believe God has a people among them and that the authority is among them to carry on God's work, and that the faithful ones among them will assist in carrying on this great latter day work. And I would much rather have seen you and your family among the faithful ones that to see you unite with a faction that rejects much of the word of God and will surely prove a failure.
All our lives since we obeyed the gospel Ma and I have hoped and prayed that we with all our children might be an unbroken family with the redeemed and loved ones that have passed on to the other side, and we shall continue to pray for that cherished blessing. I am now past 82 years of age and we both feel the infirmities of old age pressing upon us and know we cannot remain here longer. May God help us all to be ready when the call comes.
As every your Father,
W. W. Gould.