Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 11, 1957
NUMBER 10, PAGE 4-5b

Letters To A Mormon --- No. III.

My dear friend:

In two previous letters I have tried to point out to you that the Bible and the Book of Mormon are absolutely and forever irreconcilable — if the former is true the latter is false; if the latter be true, then the Bible is not worthy of trust or confidence. I tried to show you some of the preposterous and impossible claims of the Book of Mormon, and took occasion to cite you to some of the crudities of grammar and syntax contained in the original version.

In this letter I want to deal more fully with one of the cardinal doctrines of the system: the doctrine of continuous revelation. By this the Mormons mean that from the very beginning of the race God has continuously revealed his will; they contend that the revelation for one age or generation is not suitable for another age, and that God makes provision for this in a never-ending series of revelations. The Book of Mormon, they say, is simply a latter-day revelation; also the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price are held to be nothing more nor less than revelations of God. Mormons tell us that only by continuous revelation can God's will be known, and the unity of God's people assured.


This latter claim (that unity is possible only through continuous revelation) is a bit startling in view of the Mormon history. For within the short lifetime of Joseph Smith himself, the Mormon church had experienced three major divisions; and at the death of the Prophet, it broke up into a great number of factions, sects, and parties. Later on Brigham Young was successful in uniting most of these warring groups under his leadership; but to this very day there are three major divisions within Mormonism. They are: (1) The Church of Christ, Headquarters on the Temple Lot, Independence, Missouri; (2) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; and (3) The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

And each of these major divisions came about as a result of a "new" revelation!

David Whitmer was, as you know, one of the original "Witnesses" who solemnly swore that he had seen the golden plates, and knew they had been given to Smith by an Angel of the Lord. But when Joseph Smith claimed to receive additional "revelations" naming him prophet, seer, and revelator to the church, Whitmer violently demurred, and finally split the church over the matter. He wrote:

"We believe in the doctrine of Christ as it is taught in the New Testament and the book of Mormon, the same gospel being taught in both these books. We do not endorse the teachings of any of the so-called Mormons or Latter Day Saints which are in conflict with the gospel of Christ as taught in the New Testament and the book of Mormon. They have departed in great measure, from the faith of the above church of Christ, as it was first established by Jo. Smith, by heeding revelations given through Jo. Smith, who, after being called of God to translate the sacred word, the book of Mormon, drifted into many errors and gave many revelations to introduce doctrines, ordinances, and offices in the church in conflict with Christ's teachings. It is also a stumbling block to those who desire to investigate as to the truth of the book of Mormon to see the believers in that book divided; but the divisions have been brought about by the revelations of Jo. Smith."

Whitmer was the leader and founder of the sect of Mormonism listed above as "The Church of Christ, Headquarters on the Temple Lot, Independence, Missouri." Concerning the splits within Mormonism, he further wrote:

"If you believe my testimony to the book of Mormon, if you believe that God spoke to three witnesses by his own voice, then I tell you that in June, 1838, God spoke to me again by his own voice from the heavens, and told me to separate myself from among the Latter Day Saints, for as they sought to do unto me, so should it be done unto them." .. .

"About the same time that I came out, the Spirit of God moved upon quite a number of the brethren, who came out with their families. The church went deeper and deeper into wickedness. Only a very few rejected the revelation on polygamy. The majority of those who did not go to Salt Lake are in the Reorganized church (Number 3 above — F.Y.T) today. Many of the Reorganized church have wondered why I stood apart from them. Brethren, I will tell you why. God commanded me by his own voice to stand apart from them." (Whitmer's Address pgs. 27, 28.)

Now contrast Whitmer's statement with the words of Orson Pratt, one of the chief apostles of Mormonism:

"New revelation is the only principle which will preserve the unity of the church. God has placed within the church a great and infallible teacher or revelator, called the Comforter, who cannot err, whose decision is an end of controversy and whose judgment upon all points of doctrine cannot be otherwise than correct. Differences of opinion cannot exist in the church for any length of time, for the Holy Ghost will decide all matters of controversy and thus preserve the unity of the church." (Pratt — page 108.)

Again Pratt states:

"There is no possible way to bring about this perfect union, for which Jesus prayed, in a church composed of imperfect beings, only through the medium of immediate revelation. This, and this alone, can accomplish the work and perfect the saints in knowledge and power. Unless truth is revealed — and known, too, after it is revealed — the frail judgment of men will clash together, discordant notes will be sounded, and disunion make its appearance. Herein is the religion of heaven distinguished from all other religions. continuous revelation always was, and is now, its motto: and union, perfect union, the necessary result." (Pratt — page 110.)

But this doctrine of "continuous revelation" split the Mormon church in 1838 when David Whitmer received a "revelation" commanding him to separate himself from the revelations of Jo. Smith; it again caused a major cleavage when Smith received the revelation on polygamy in 1843, and after his death, caused the emergence of the "Reorganized" church which vehemently rejected the doctrine of polygamy.

In my next letter I want to deal further with this foundation Mormon doctrine of "continuous revelation," and contrast it with the Bible teaching that in Jesus Christ and his teaching God has "once for all" delivered the faith to his creation.

Sincerely Yours, Fanning Yater Tant